Today’s episode is cool because you’ve had the opportunity to hear from both guests recently. A few weeks ago, Ashley Bledsoe taught us about how a creative practice – drawing mandalas – had benefits that transcended creating beautiful works of art. And last week, we heard from Mike Bledsoe about the inner work necessary to be coachable, and what to look out for in a coach.

This week, Mike and Ashley share stories and lessons about their open marriage and delivers the principles of an open marriage that are important EVEN if you are in a monogamous marriage and in friendships.

We will cover many of the topics you might be wondering about- including the jealousy piece of this puzzle. But this story doesn’t start with an open relationship. In fact, it begins with a marriage where neither Mike nor Ashley felt comfortable enough to communicate their desires and fears with each other.

This show is brought to you by us, Beyond Macros, a nutrition coaching company that helps you make a sustainable transformation through realistic habit changes rather than restrictive dieting.

Make sure you are subscribed to the show on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, if you enjoy the show, please leave a rating on iTunes, and if you want to get leaner, stronger, and perform better by learning how to count macros go to beyondmacros.com/worksheet

In This Episode:

[03:23] How their open relationship started.
[04:01] How they were basically strangers although they were married.
[04:44] An affair that was kept bottled up for far too long.
[05:53] How they got comfortable enough to share the secrets between them.
[07:22] What the real message here is.
[08:32] The benefits Mike has found from their open relationship.
[11:11] Some recommendations for how to approach expressing your fears and vulnerabilities with your partner or close friends.
[15:21] How Mike is an advocate of instant sharing.
[13:41] Ashley’s similar but gentler approach to sharing.
[15:24] Mike’s point about openly communicating the positive, and asking for what you need.

Connect with my guest:

Shrugged Collective

The Strong Coach

Mike on Instagram

Ashley on Instagram

Read Full Transcript:

Read Full Transcript

Script-

Welcome back to the beyond macros podcast. We are THE sustainable transformation nutrition coaches, and our show will help you make your transformation that lasts with episodes on nutrition and the all important art of inner work.

This week I am excited to announce that starting December 14th we will have open registration for our online nutrition coaching program. Historically we have only opened the doors once per quarter, and now you can join whenever you’re ready, as long as space is available. We will be capping membership to maintain our commitment to having the best client to coach ratio so that you get a truly personalized coaching experience versus getting forced onto a cookie-cutter template. You’ll also be able to lock in a discounted coaching rate if you register by January 1st. For more information you can visit beyondmacros.com/services and set up an initial call.

In the meantime, you can also take the next step in your transformation by downloading our calorie and macro calculator worksheet at beyondmacros.com/worksheet. We are working on creating another free service around the worksheet that will help guide you, but only those who have already downloaded the worksheet and are on our email list will get notified about it. So if you haven’t already, download that and get started by November 16th to be included!

I just heard back from a listener, Thomas, who downloaded the worksheet to help him as he moves through the hectic process of planning a wedding. And he said “I used the sheet for about 1 month, until things got too busy with life/work for me to be able to commit to full time tracking. I still am careful of what I eat and the sheet has given me a good baseline to be able to ballpark. I do feel better, mentally and physically, which is reflected in my performance in the box.”

That just goes to show you that even if you can commit SOME time to the process, you can extract some lasting lessons out of the experience. Which is way better than doing nothing and staying stuck!

Today’s episode is cool because you’ve had the opportunity to hear from both guests recently. A few weeks ago, Ashley Bledsoe taught us about how a creative practice- drawing mandalas- had benefits that transcended creating beautiful works of art. And last week, we heard from Mike Bledsoe about the inner work necessary to be coachable, and what to look out for in a coach.

This week, Mike and Ashley share stories and lessons about their open marriage, and delivers the principles of an open marriage that are important EVEN if you are in a monogamous marriage and in friendships.

We will cover many of the topics you might be wondering about- including the jealousy piece of this puzzle. But this story doesn’t start with an open relationship. In fact, it begins with a marriage where neither Mike nor Ashley felt comfortable enough to communicate their desires and fears with each other.

1 - Ashley on what it was like before 23:47-2412 Oh, I, I, I hardly ever told him how I really felt or I told him what I thought he wanted to hear. And,
and I think a lot of people do that. And relationships sometimes. And
yeah, I would, I would say things that I think he would want to hear from me or share things or I would, you know, share the things that like, I knew he would be okay with.

This created a relationship where they felt insecure in their roles as partners, and unsure how to ask for what they needed for fear of the others’ reaction. Although they were married, in a way they were strangers with a lot hidden beneath the curtain.

2 - Ashley on her identity before25:09-25:45 during that time, I identified myself as Michael's wife. Yeah, you know, ally Michael's wife, Ashley. That's how I would introduce myself. You know, I lost a sense of who I was, I thought I had to prove myself to Michael as a good wife. cook and clean, you know, oh, I, you. You work. Okay. I don't make the money right now. Oh, I'm gonna make sure that everything's taken care of. And I wasn't doing a great job at it either, you know,
and it and it built resentment as well. You know, I for me, I I didn't like having to play that. Like, I put myself in that role. And I didn't like that role.

And this set the stage for an affair that was kept bottled up for far too long.

3 - Ashley on cheating 24:13-25:00 There was one point in our relationship. We were married for three years. And I cheated on him. And I held that for three years, three more years. And so that was,
I think, for me, when I was able to share that with him. That was one of the biggest turning points for our relationship was because I had this deep, dark hidden secret that I was ashamed of. that kept me from sharing a lot of other things. And so when I was able to share with him that and he was able just to hold space for me and tell me, he forgave me, and they loves me. And I saw how freeing I didn't see, I felt how freeing that was. Yeah, and I felt like I was able to breathe for first time in three years.

And now you might be wondering how Mike & Ashley got to the point in their relationship where she felt comfortable enough to share the secret she’d been hiding for 3 whole years. For them, it came from opening up communication, and for them that all happened when Ashley was heading to Burning Man without Michael for the first time in 3-years.

4- Ashley on the opening conversation 26:02-27:14 Michael and I went to Bernie man, two years together. My, my third year, I went without him, he stayed back for some work stuff. And I went and
on the drive, he was driving me up to meet up with some people that was going to go to Burning Man with, you know, he, he really was just like, hey, I want you to have fun. I want you to experience Burning Man to your fullest. And I'm giving you permission to do whatever that looks like for you. Yeah, and we, you know, set some ground or set some boundaries and stuff, you know, and it was like,
go have fun. I, you know, if you want to, if you want to have an intimate relationship with someone, go for it. If you want to have sex with someone, go for it. I, you know, my ask is that it's someone that we know, or that we, we know, that is in like, our community of thinking. And so I, I went to Burning Man, I was like, You know what, he really wants me to do this, okay, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this. And, and I did. And so we can, I came back and I share that experience with him. And his reaction was like, Okay, awesome. You know, is it was freeing. And then that is actually after that was when I told him that I had cheated on him, you know, a couple of days, months, maybe some time somewhere around them. And then we started having a conversation around opening our relationship.

As I said before, the message here isn’t that you have to open up your relationship to additional partners to open up communication. That’s just how Mike & Ashley’s journey began.

5 - Ashley on open communication 21:56-22:51 when we did decide to go, you know, to have an open relationship, I felt what really happened for us as an open communication, we were able to share, you know, our desires more deeply, we were able to share, like, oh, that guy's He's cute. Or, oh, that girl, she's cute, you know, more freely, and just like, have that open, relating open communication with each other. And then that just showed us how to communicate in a deeper way of being able to trust each other, trust ourselves, then trust our partner, you know, and to be able to share freely, and just knowing that they love me, and I love that, you know, love him. And they love the parts of me that I have a hard time loving. And, you know, I love the parts of Michael that he has a hard time loving.

For Mike, he has found that this openness of communication with Ashley has had the benefi of teaching him that he can be vulnerable about the parts of himself he’s not proud of and still be loved both by his wife, and with those in his inner circle.

6 - Mike on vulnerability and the time it takes to tell Ashley 36:46-39:03 my challenge to myself now is the thing
I'm working onis, for instance, with my wife, Ashley, I am 100% vulnerable. I tell her everything, everything I've come back and spend time filling her and all this stuff. I'm not proud up from my past. And then when things are happening currently, if, if any part of me wants to hide it from her, I tell it to her. And soI now have the practice of the moment. I feel like not telling her the thing. I tell her the thing how little time how small is the gap between me not wanting to tell her and telling her and I had I had that happen recently, something happened. And I really didn't want to tell her and I letand it was the longest period of time I had gone without telling her and over I would say in about 10 months, I'd say in the last year. So I had I had not waited longer than like 15 seconds. And then I waited about three to five minutes for this one. That three to five minutes was fucking agonizing, so agonizing. I've gotten so used to laying it all out. There's so much peace that comes with that. And the level of vulnerability that I'm practicing now is with the understanding that the thing I have to tell myself is, it's better that everybody knows everything that's, you know, in my inner circle, at least it's better than everybody knows everything than it is for me to have a secret. It's, it's better for people to unfriend me It's better for people to break up with me, it's better for people to hate me or whatever, than it is for me to to hold something between me and that person. And so that's that's where I'm at with vulnerability at this point. So it's I like to take things as far as I possibly can.

I also understand that being vulnerable and sharing your fears, especially if they’ve been bottled up for a while, or if you’ve been waiting for the “right time” to share them is stressful and scary for some people. And Ashley has some recommendations for how to approach expressing your fears and vulnerabilities with your partner or close friends.

7 - Ashley on openly communicating fears 40:54-41:33 I think, if you can journal, it's a little easier to write, you know, your thoughts down and just like, go and, and you can write it down, you know, what's your deepest fears in the relationship? What is your deepest fear in this relationship, and you can be able to write that down, and I think there's something be able to share that with your partner, you know, and let them know, Hey, this is a big fear of mine, you know, and be like, oh, wow, there's no need to worry about that ROI. Let's talk more about this. And, like, really, why, you know, and so I think it's just a reflection of like, once again, why are you in the relationship, the purpose of it, and then and then looking at, like, your fears of the relationship to

I also have had situations in the past where even though I get the fear onto paper, and rationally know I need to communicate the fear to a friend or partner that I’ve driven myself crazy waiting for the “right time” to communicate it. And both Mike and Ashley have recommendations for getting it out there. Mike’s approach is a little bit more straightforward and might challenge you initially. He is an advocate of “instant sharing”.

8 - Mike on the benefits of instant sharing vs holding it in 39:12-40:26 Yeah, the the benefits of instant sharing our clear mind when I hear people talk about the quality of their mind, I remember I go, Oh, I remember what that was like.
When I mean by quality of mind is where's their attention throughout the day, I was talking to somebody the other day, and they were talking about worrying about the future. I'm worried about this, seeing about all these different possibilities, this could happen, or that can happen. This could happen. I go, Well, how much time do you spend thinking about things that could possibly happen that you don't want to happen? And there you go,
Well, not very much. I said, Well, how much is not very much. He said, Well, about half the day.
And I go, Wow, I didn't say this. But I thought myself, How much time do I spend in that space?
And I realized that I've gotten that down to less than 10 minutes a day.

Ashley has a similar approach that might feel a bit gentler when you first start opening lines of communication in your relationships.

9 - 42:30-43:58 But just going, you know, for a walk, and just opening up being, like, I like to share something with you. And I'm really scared, you know,
I'm scared of what your reaction may be. But I I'd like to share something with you and I, I that in that self will help set the tone for the other person just be like, oh, wow, okay, this is, this is important to you to let me let me be here with you, you know, and, and even in that you can, like, have you I want to share this with you. I'm really scared. I I asked that you just let me finish. And then we can have a conversation afterwards. You know, and that in itself is scary, you know, and that's vulnerability.
And the outcome of that is always beautiful, it's freeing, you know, like, you've had something on you, you know, just this weight on you, and then you get to share it. And it's like,
I felt good. Yeah, you know, it's just that moment of, like, bringing it up, that's like, and then how freeing and courageous is it to, like, really share in those moments with your partner. And, and that's the thing is, is the person that you know, you're, you're with, you know, there's the connection already, you know, they they love you, you know, your partners are your reflection, you know, they get to be your mirrors and so they get to see our best and they get to see our worst and so it's beautiful to be able to even drop that in deeper and just to share like, Yo, I'm scared

Now that covers communication on what might be considered the negative end of the spectrum. And Mike made a great point to me about openly communicating the positive, and asking for what you need. Especially asking for fulfillment of your fanatasies and desires.

10 - Mike on the positive side, asking for fantasy 41:34-43:35
I think about negative and positive, right, and so on. The negative side is like, worried about potential outcomes. You don't want to happen. But what about what's on the other side spectrum is fantasy? How much time do we spend fantasizing about what could be right? But we never take action. Because we spend so much time thinking on people confuse thinking with action. And
for me, I also have the challenge which is how quick Can I get fantasy to a request for me to ask for that to come true. somewhere.
Everyone's saying about sex right? Now. And that's a good thing. But now people fantasize about that car, they want to drive they fantasize they do fantasize about that three, some they do fantasize about, you know, that maybe I can get to that person to be my business partner or they fantasize about shit with whatever that you know how it's kind of play out for Christmas, or whatever. It's like, simply like, as soon as the desire comes rolling in, ask for it or take some action to make that start happening. And so that's another challenge I have myself that frees up tons of mental bandwidth because I spend very little time you know, I like I like to, I like my fantasies these days, a lot asked about 10 seconds, a fantasy last about 10 seconds to know if I like it or not, you know, okay, I've done the mental
thought process. Like, I think I'd like that to happen. I let's go down that road for a minute. All right, let's start putting request be surprised at how things how many things that you want to do, will simply happen. And then also, a lot of times, it's like, you may have a fantasy and you start putting the things in place, realize you didn't want it at all. Or you realize that no one wants to help you fulfill that fantasy and need new friends.

And speaking of fantasies and desires, Ashley brought up something that struck me. When these lines of communication were open, and as she became more comfortable expressing her fears and needs in the relationship, things improved in the bedroom for her.

11 - Ashley on being timid in the bedroom until deeper converations 38:49-39:21 I know, for a long time, I don't, I feel like I was timid, you know, in the bedroom, you know, and the more we started having those deeper connections, and conversation and getting to know each other at more of like, this, like, deeper level, soul level, was when I was able to start opening up and exploring more sexually, within just with Michael even, and being willing to try new things and giggling at it, you know, it just didn't work out well as we thought it would,

On the topic of the bedroom, I know you’re probably wondering about the whole having relationships outside the primary relationship. How does that work? The cool thing is that with any intimate relationship, you have the power to affect how that relationship looks. And Ashley brought up the point that opening up is all about starting slow and communicating boundaries and agreements. One way she and Michael do that is using a 1 to 10 scale.

12 - Ashley on the “checking in scale” 35:40-37:08 I'm one to 10, we scale as far as, like, where our comfort is, one is
easy going that I've no problem, whatever, no, no issue. And then 10 is about to lose my mind, you know, no, red flags, you know, headaches, bloating, all that. And so, we, we stay within the three, you know, that gives a little discomfort, you know, of being able to, to push
those new edges a little, and seeing how, like, expanded and extract stretched we can get and how we can still hold and then, you know, if it's out of five, then we try to work it down to three. And if it's at an eight, then we work it down to five. And then we work it down to three. So it's, it's scalable, you know, and that could be, you know, Michael taking girl on a date. You know, Michael, it could be, you know, maybe that's it. That's a three and let's say they get a hotel room. Well, that's an eight. You know, that could be an eight. So how about we just go on dinner, we stay out till midnight. Okay, that's it. You know, okay, I can do that. Yeah, like setting those things. And so it's just, that's where the open communication and open relating come in is, like, all it's just checking in and seeing where each other's at, you know, checking on, you know, just recently we were saying like, how's your heart? Like, where's your heart? Like, how's your heart done? You know, and that's another thing like, Oh, it's, it's feels a little constricted right now. Okay, well, what's going on?

When Mike and Ashley were first opening up their relationship, Ashley said they realized that a lot of the discomfort was stemming from an unhealthy feeling of needing to possess the other person.

13 - Ashley on posession 27:14-29:24 And then we started having a conversation around opening our relationship. And it was more of how we went into it was talking about possession and ownership. And a lot of times in relationships, you know, you're, you're my boyfriend, or my husband, you're my girlfriend, you're my wife. And there's ownership in that. And
when, when we were talking about, I was like, that doesn't feel good. I don't want to be owned, you know, I don't want to be possessed. I want to be free. I want to be able to, you know, experience anything I want. And so, um, yeah, it started around, you know, possession and, and it just is slowly entered into, like, let's, let's explore this. And so we had had an open relationship, but we had really hadn't experienced it with anyone else. There's been times where, you know, he'd gone some dates with some girls, but it was more on a friendship based. Like, we, by doing that, in our relationship, we were able to create deep connections with the opposite sex without the other feeling like without the without the worry of the other feeling jealous or upset. And so it really just allowed more trust in our relationship, especially for me, and, you know, oh, he's going out having dinner with a friend, you know, or girlfriend or whatever. And, okay, yeah, you know, it was just, it was able to, like, what, what am I upset about? You know, why am I feeling uncomfortable? Because he's spending time with someone else? Well, why am I upset, they spending time with someone else that he wants to spend time with? Oh, it's because I want him to my son. You know, it's like that went in back into the possession peace. And so it was, it's been one of the most self work things I've ever been in, like, anytime, those feelings of uncomfortable jealous feelings. I can go in and self reflect in like, what's really coming up for me? Why am I feeling this way? You know, what, where, where, where's my little girl hurt? You know, how can I tend to her, make sure she's okay. And then when I do that, then I feel more free. And it's okay. Like, it doesn't bother me as much.
You might remember from my episode with Ashley a few weeks back that she was bursting at the seams while being the caretaker for her brother who just had heart surgery while Michael was back home exploring a new relationship. I know if I were in her shoes, I’d be feeling jealous. And some of her frustration was certainly jealousy, but a huge part of it as Ashley pointed out is that she wasn’t taking care of her needs.

Ashley shared a story with me that perfectly highlights the importance of using jealousy or frustration as a cue for looking inside.

14 - Ashley on Jealousy 31:57-33:55 well, it still comes up know, it really does. And, you know, what, I, what I do is, I can recognize when, when it is that most of the time
but I in and, and then, you know, if I don't, right away, it does come around like, Oh, that's what that is. Got it, you know, um, but I really just go back into, like, Hey, what's, what's really going on? What are you needing? What are you wanting? You know, how can I, how can I come for you, you know, there was a time where we were actually doing a retreat, we were helping with training camp for the soul. And I had a big realization around appreciation. And, and it was tending it was part of tending to myself and I were working, and I was cooking, I was doing all these things, and I was like, I don't feel appreciated. I feel like I'm just being told what to do all the time. And I'm just like, t runner, and, you know, this, and that, and no one really appreciate. So what I'm really doing and holding space. And I was like, whoa, I'm, I'm seeking some appreciation. And then I was like, how can I give myself appreciation. And so that's, that's where, and I was like, Oh, I can go bubble bath is my go to go take a bubble bath, you know. And then I had lotion, and I just putting on lotion. I was like, man, I really, really appreciate you. I appreciate all that you've been doing. You've been working hard, you know. And I was able to give myself appreciation. I went to bed. The next day, I woke up and I was floored with the amount of appreciation that I saw from everyone else. And so with that, that's where anytime going back to the jealousy when jealousy shows up. And I asked myself, What am I needing? What am I wanting? How can I give it to myself? And then when I can give it to myself, I can fully receive it and see it from everyone else.

And with that I leave you with three questions where I hope you take action with the answers. First, What will you do to open up lines of communication with the people in your inner circle? Second, What have you been bottling up or waiting for the “right time” to tell someone that needs to be expressed?
Third, I’d like you to remember this episode next time you’re feeling jealous, insecure, frustrated, or a similar emotion and ask yourself what you need to be good for yourself.

I hope you enjoyed this episode. Ashley is a coach who helps entrepreneurs and their partners who are having miscommunications and misunderstandings to feel more appreciated and desired and can be found Instagram @mrs.bledsopia
Mike is pretty easy to find these days as he is the CEO of the Shrugged collective, host of the Bledsoe Show podcast, is on Instagram @mike_bledsoe and pre-registration for his strong coach program just opened up.

And as with any episode you listen to I hope you will take action on it. And I sincerely want to hear about those actions. So snap a screenshot of this podcast, and post it to your instagram story. Let us know what you learned and will take action on. You can even shoot it to us in the DM! And as always, some massively appreciated actions are subscribing to the show and sharing it with one person who you think will enjoy it.

Next week I will be bringing you an updated episode about how to manage your nutrition during the holidays. Because we are THE sustainable transformation coaches, you know this episode will be different than a lot of the other garbage out there with unrealistic advice. So hit subscribe, thanks for listening, and I look forward to seeing you next week!

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