Ferne Kotlyar

Once again, it’s the end of the week. And you know what that means...

In this Fridays with Ferne episode of The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast, Ferne describes a case study about a woman named Julie who can no longer handle her nitpicky husband.

Julie loves her husband, but he is so specific about the way everything must be done, that it is driving Julie crazy. If the sheets aren’t ironed or there’s a single crumb on the couch, he is not happy. Julie doesn’t know what to do.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? Do you have a case you’d like to talk about? Share your story! If there's a challenge you'd like to discuss here on the podcast or privately, please reach out to us:



Episode Transcript

Kim Ades: [00:00:05]
Hello, hello. This is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching, and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, where we typically invite leaders from all over the world to get coached live and in person. But today we have another special episode with my daughter Ferne Kotlyar.

She's actually in Montreal right now and she's joining us to discuss a special case that she's put together.

Ferne, welcome.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:00:29]
Hi, thank you so much. Are you ready for your case today?

Kim Ades: [00:00:33]
Well, before we start, I think some people want to know a little bit about you. What are you doing in Montreal? Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:00:42]
Well, I just finished my undergrad at McGill University in Plant Science, and I'm going to do my Master's at UFT, starting in September. So I'm spending the summer hanging out, actually, helping out with Frame of Mind Coaching and getting ready for my next degree.

Kim Ades: [00:01:01]
Amazing. Well, I'm very, very happy to be doing this with you. People are very excited about these episodes. I've been getting a lot feedback, a lot of emails from different people. So maybe we're going to keep going with this. So Ferne, you're on. What do you have for me today?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:01:18]
All right. I think some people might relate to this case today.

Today it's about a lady named Julie. Now, Julie is, in general, pretty happy. She's got a great job, great children, a nice house. Her husband on the other hand, she loves him to death, but he's been getting on her nerves.

Her husband is very particular... VERY particular. He needs the shoes to be aligned in a very specific way. If one is flipped over or slightly ajar, he's upset. The sheets to be ironed before they go on the bed and his underwear ironed before he puts them on his body. They cannot eat in front of the TV. God forbid, there's a crumb on the couch. Meals must be eaten at a certain time. And no, there cannot be breakfast after 10.

They cannot eat between meals and elbows cannot go on the table. They cannot chew with their mouth open, and they cannot eat around the fork, all the food must be cut properly before going into their mouth. Now this applies to him, her and the children.

Her husband even has particularities about the dog. Of course he cannot poo inside the house or bark too loudly. If he does any of these things, the poor dog gets a little kick. Her husband doesn't necessarily punish her or the children, but he makes a comment if they don't follow these rules and they will know that he is dissatisfied.

She is fed up with constantly being not good-- she feels as though she's not good enough and that if it's not perfect, it's not good. It's hard for her to keep up this level of perfection. And while she adores her husband and he's, you know, a super good guy, smart, dedicated, kind, great husband. She loves him. She doesn't know how to deal with this particularity.

Kim Ades: [00:03:11]
Okay. Interesting situation. So I'll ask the question.

When they do something that's not in line with his desires, what kind of comments does he make? What does he say? What does he do? How does he react? Does he storm off? Does he just give a glare? What does he do?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:03:34]
He makes a comment and lets them know that it's their fault and not his, and that they shouldn't be doing this thing like that.

So for example, if he's-- someone's in the washroom and they didn't lock the door and he walks in on them, he lets them know that it's the other person's fault for not locking the door. He doesn't apologize or, you know, take any sort of responsibility for feeling-- for getting upset over small things.

Kim Ades: [00:04:02]
And how does Julie typically handle it? How has she handled it in the past?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:04:07]
Usually she just kind of does what he asks and abides by his rules, but now she's getting fed up.

Kim Ades: [00:04:14]
So she's been tiptoeing around him.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:04:17]

Kim Ades: [00:04:18]
Okay. So I see this in two different ways. Okay? I see it very kind of almost two ways that are diametrically opposed. Okay. So let's look at those two different ways.

If Julie's husband, let's call him Mark.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:04:35]

Kim Ades: [00:04:36]
Okay. If Mark had a diagnosed issue, let's say with OCD, then the angle would be for Julie to understand his diagnosed issue and not to work around it necessarily, but to understand where he's coming from.

And so that she does not take his words, his comments, his point of view, his way of life too personally. Right? So I think it's very important to understand where this urge for perfection and specificity is coming from.

And I think that part of the problem is she doesn't really know where it's coming from and she doesn't know if it's something that is hard wired in him, like some kind of debilitation or if it's just he's being a pain, and he's taking  that out on her.

And so I think that's a very important element because, you know, if I saw perhaps my husband, for example, lose his eyesight, then I would understand that he's tripping over things or he needs the counters clean, or he needs the cupboard doors closed, I would understand where that's coming from and I wouldn't fight it. I would try to make his life as easy as possible.

If I thought that he's just, you know, likes to have cupboard doors closed just because that's the way he is, then I probably experienced some resistance. So in her case, understanding where it's coming from is really, really important. And if he's willing to get some sort of an assessment that would help her and him be on the same page a lot more about this issue.

The other side of the coin, which is, again, diametrically opposed, is that perhaps he is just being particular and there is no diagnosed issue. And so the question becomes, how far does she bend herself, contort herself to accommodate him? And at what point does that bend start to really hurt?

And so, from my perspective, if that's the case and there is no diagnosed issue, then I would recommend to Julie to live her life. Do what she thinks is right. If she wants to eat around the fork, let her eat around the fork. If she wants to eat with her hands, let her eat with her hands. If he's unhappy with it, that's okay, too.

And so the idea for Julie is to find a way to understand her husband and where he's coming from. And/or not really tuned in to his view of life and his desires and his demands.

If he wants to eat with a fork and knife, by all means it's his right. But the idea is for her to own her life and live the life that she wants to live, how she wants to live it. And if he does make comments, then the issue is to teach her how to deal with those comments and not take them personally, not resist them, not fight them.

He makes a comment. Okay. Some people have a tick. Okay. Right? And so we can allow them to be without necessarily pointing them out, or resisting them or doing anything about them. They just exist.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:08:23]
So these two options seem very opposite, and the only thing that hinges on the difference between them is this diagnosis. Now who's to say that, like, the doctor is necessarily correct about this diagnosis, like, why does that completely change the way she should react?

Kim Ades: [00:08:43]
Yeah, it's a great question. And it's not that the doctor knows, but there are well known assessments that help us understand what's going on with a person. So it's not just one doctor's opinion. She can get 10 doctors opinions. It doesn't really matter.

But understanding where someone's coming from gives us a higher degree of acceptance, and it helps us to look at someone and not necessarily feel like they have to change in order for us to be happy.

Now, by the way, nobody has to change in order for us to be happy, but that goes both ways. Right? So, for Julie, we want her to accept her husband the way he is. If we were coaching her husband, Mark, we would also encourage him to accept the people around him the way they are.

It sounds like that's going to be a challenge for him because he's so particular. And so for me, I'm interested in Julie and I'm interested in Julie finding a life that she's at peace with, but also building a relationship that she's okay with. Right?

So, the coaching is not for Julie to go and sit down and have a chat with Mark. I'm sure she's done that before. I'm sure she's expressed her frustration and her unhappiness about the constant nitpicking or the constant identification of their imperfections.

And so she has a choice, right? She could say, "I can't live with this anymore" and move along with her life. Or she could say, "gee, I see how he is. I see where he's coming from. I don't have to abide by his rules. I don't have to enable this. But he's going to be the way he is. And so I'm not going to use his behavior and his perspective, his attitude as my reason for being completely miserable in life. But also I'm not going to tiptoe around him".

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:10:38]
That makes sense. I guess my second question would be about the children. How does she make sure that they're not taking too much of his-- too many of his comments to heart because you know, at that delicate age, it can be a big shot to your confidence.

Kim Ades: [00:10:54]
Yeah, and that's why I think the diagnosis is super important. And the same rules apply to her kids too, but it's very important for her to help her kids understand what's going on with Dad. Why it's so important for him to have everything so particular, so exact.

And they too can make choices to accommodate him, because it does make his life easier, because he has something going on. Or to live their lives and be okay with the fact that sometimes he'll make a comment or make a face, but to not get in the ring with him, to not get into a battle with him, and just allow that comment or that moment, that exchange to pass.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:11:33]
Yeah. I guess not taking it personally and letting it affect the way they think and feel. The only thing is that, like, I feel like their father has a big impact on that and it's maybe hard for them to not necessarily believe what the father says.

Kim Ades: [00:11:49]
You're right, the father does have a big impact. And that's why the mother, Julie, needs to create an anchor for her children.

Number one, by showing them how to behave in the face of Mark and his behavior. By helping them understand what's going on. And by giving them tools to react and respond to their father. Sometimes the tool is to walk away. Sometimes the tool is to accommodate. Sometimes the tool is to say, you know, " Hey dad, I understand that this makes you upset, but I'm still gonna do it this way for today". Right?

Enable her kids to make decisions, given the different circumstances. And to really be aware and tuned in to what is happening with Mark, but not take it on personally.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:12:46]
That makes sense. So, if you were to give Julie one last overall piece of advice, what would you say to her?

Kim Ades: [00:12:55]
I would say to her that it's very important for her to take the time to really identify where it's coming from. And my suspicion is there's something going on. And to understand that and to decide if this is something she wants to live with or not.

But before she makes any kind of decision it's to assume positive intent. Mark doesn't want to be a pain in the butt, right? He wants to have a loving relationship. You know, she has a great relationship, she loves him to death, all that stuff. But he doesn't mean to be hard or difficult. This may be beyond his ability to control.

So my advice to Julie is really get to the core of this and understand where it's coming from and then make decisions from there.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:13:42]
Interesting. I like that. Thank you.

Kim Ades: [00:13:44]
Thank you! That was a good one. You're always throwing some interesting cases at me. I never will know what I'm getting. For those of you who are listening, I hear these cases at the same time as you. This is the first time.

Again, if you are interested in sharing a challenge on the podcast, please reach out to me.

My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com

If you have a challenge that perhaps you want to talk about privately, please reach out to me as well.

My email is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com

And for those of you who are listening and giving feedback, keep it coming, please! We love to hear what you're thinking. Please send us some cases, we'd love to work on those as well on the podcast. Let us know what you think. Share, like, comment, review, do all the things and we will see you next time.

Ferne, thank you. You were awesome.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:14:37]
Thank you.

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