by Michelle K. Brode
My husband, David, always said he would try anything once. I have to admit, that’s been pretty helpful in the course of our marriage. His willingness has ranged from trying things like tofu chili made with peanut butter all the way to home birth.
When I started my Certificate in Positive Psychology (CIPP), I had lost sight of this great trait of David’s. To be honest, I had lost sight of most of his great traits. During the first intensive, one of my classmates spoke about how much she admired her husband. At the time, mired in the disappointments and misunderstandings that can pile up after more than a decade of partnership, and nearly as long parenting together, I listened longingly to my classmate’s reflections, wishing that I felt that way about David.
As I explored the concept of “permission to be human” (which is central to CIPP), I began to acknowledge my hurts and disappointments within our marriage. At first, this was an internal process. With permission to feel difficult feelings, I could look at where we were, and where I wanted to be in our relationship. I could consider the ways in which I was not being the partner I wished to be. When I extended this permission to be human to David, I could make space for his humanness and be gracious about his imperfections, as I was learning to do with my own. Over time, I got brave enough to talk about the realities of my partnership with a few close friends, and heard similar reflections from them. We decided to meet weekly to discuss our experiences and how we could contribute more positively to our relationships.
As I was reminded to appreciate the positive, I reconnected with David’s kindness, reliability, presence, support, and active parenting. I looked for and found the strengths in our relationship. And, as I appreciated the positive, the positive appreciated.
Over time, I began to feel a bit guilty about being the only one of us to be part of this Positive Psychology community. When David mentioned a desire to explore professional growth, I suggested CIPP. Although he had always been supportive of my ventures in personal growth, it had never really been his thing. But he had watched several online lectures with me, and had been touched by Tal’s teachings, and the ways in which he made psychology accessible to everyone. David was seeing the benefits I was experiencing, and was cautiously excited to check it out for himself.
David began CIPP as I finished. I sent Megan a picture of both of us on our laptops, watching different episodes of “Tal TV,” as we all call it. As he moved through the course, our marriage gained its own permission to be human—to have its challenges, to require attentive cultivation.
Inspired by the Relationships module of the course, we took a weekend workshop with Drs. John and Julie Gottman. Through that work, we connected with the idea that “doing conflict” is a way to get to know each other better—and learned that not “doing conflict” builds walls of isolation. We got a road map to guide us in having difficult conversations in a loving and balanced way. We now have check-in conversations with regularity, go out without the kids more often, and offer each other appreciations more readily.
Our shared experiences with Positive Psychology have given us a common language and a mutual toolkit that bolsters our connection to each other. We find that it also impacts our parenting and our interactions with friends, family, and colleagues. We offer appreciations to our kids and others. We help the kids reframe anxiety-provoking situations into “interesting opportunities” to practice taking on challenges. We use our annual holiday letter as a template for sharing Positive Psychology precepts with our wider community.
David’s willingness to try anything once was the gateway to reconnecting with the strengths in our relationship.
Click here to learn more about the Certificate in Positive Psychology.
Michelle K. Brode, her husband, David Kroopkin, and their two daughters live outside Seattle, Washington.
Michelle, thank you for this wonderful post. Love to you and David! xo
Thank you, Lynda. Sending lots of love your way.
Inspiring to read!
Thank you, Megan. We appreciate all of your work in support of all of this flourishing- in our lives, and countless others.
Michelle: I still see and feel your loving presence and also can connect with that same energy of David. What a complete joy to have met you both in cipp and had the pleasure of spending time with you both. This post was so uplifting and reflects how you both have applied and now embody the cipp teachings in such an authentic grounded way. What a beautiful gift and lesson for us all to have. Thank you. I still have the visual snapshot from your cipp1 project that you facilitated for our small group and reference it often as a reminder of my ideal self. Happy V Day!! Love BF style! sending positivity resonance to you both.
Phoebe- What a treat to hear from you. I so treasure the time we spent together, and appreciate the ways in which you have brought Positive Psychology to the world. How cool that your creation from that workshop still speaks to you. May it continue to support you in bringing more and more of your ideal self into your days. Sending you lots of love this Valentine’s Day (and always!).
This is wonderful to read! I know David was in my CiPP class, but I had no idea Michelle had embarked on the journey beforehand. Since the material is so rich and benefits numerous, I can only imagine how your whole family is living PP regularly. Very inspiring, and thanks for sharing your story.
Thanks for your kind words, Tracy. It is an honor to be able to share our story.
this is a very meaningful article Michelle. I didn’t enter CIPP to work on myself but to enter a new career of my life. The greatness that has come out of me taking CIPP is how my personal life has flourished because of it.
If you’re ever in Portland please let me know so so we can visit.
I have a very close CIPP friend in Portland with whom I would love to connect you. And I may be down there for a conference in the fall, and would love to meet up.
I have a complicated marriage with a significant wound. The 7th module in cipp3 saved my relationship and as we continue to read the suggested books like intimacy and desire. .i can honestly say that I have found kindness forgiveness and gratitude . Thank ypu for your story it inspires me to continue to look for the possibilities.
May we continue to inspire each other as we pursue more and more possibilities.
So glad I caught Maria’s sharing of this. A treat to read as a CiPP2 grad; seeing that your husband is “that David.” 🙂 Oh, the ways we have all grown! Lovely, so glad you wrote of it.
Thanks for your kind words, Melissa. So cool how the work keeps working within us.
I am in tears and smiles reading this beautiful piece. Congratulations to both of you for such wonderful work. Isn’t it just great and having TAL TV, CiPP, and these wonderful tools to make a beautiful, inspired life. Much love to you both!
These tools are awesome and powerful. Your work is an amazing piece of the magic, too. Sending love and appreciation to you, Megha.
Thank you Michele for an inspiring path!! Warm hugs to both of you.
We’re sending love your way, too, Rouben. Good to hear from you.
Hi, Michelle — What a beautiful trip you’re on. Sharing this is so appreciated. Thank you. And the kayaking trip you organized in CiPP I has led to more Pungos and delight in my world! 🙂 xoxo
Thank you for your appreciation, Ann. The memories of that kayaking trip have stayed with me, too! Glad you’re doing more of that. Enjoy.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!
Many thanks, Kim.
Thank you, Bill.
what a beautiful story, thank You Michelle for taking the time and sharing this beautiful and inspiring story. I did CiPP to understand myself better, to have a better marriage and family. I have verified in my own life that it really works!
Thank you, Alexandra. It is cool to find that the power to influence our own well-being (and that of our relationships) is so very much in our hands.
This is so beautiful and I relate to it because although my husband would not take the CiPP course if his life depended on it, so much of what I learned (and shared relentlessly over the year) has rubbed off and I see the difference in him and in us. More importantly he does too.
Tell David hi from the Millers. I have thought of you both often, but never kept in contact.