I’ll never forget the day my life came crashing down. It was 2003. Despite being together since we were teens, things weren’t going well in our marriage. Both Kim and I had grown complacent.
Everyone is amazed when they find out my wife and I have been together since the eighth grade. What they don’t realize is how hard it is to be with someone that long. You change as you grow up. Neither of us is the same person we were at fifteen, twenty or even thirty.
During this time I was also having issues at work. In the span of a month Kim and I separated and I lost my job. Six months later divorce papers were signed. The only thing left to do was to file them.
We never did.
Instead, we started talking again. Eventually, a couple times a week, we shared a family dinner. This contact evolved into dating. A year after the initial separation we moved back in together. I couldn’t believe I had my life back, a second chance. I challenged myself to be a better husband for Kim.
But finding balance in this unbalanced world is difficult. For me, trying to balance marriage, raising two special needs children, and working to support them all, constantly pulled me in so many different directions.
In 2017 Kim asked me to attend Oolapalooza with her. She had been following the Oola Guys for over a year. In 2016 she attended the event by herself. I saw Kim’s personal growth first hand as she followed the Oola framework. But, being a guy, I was skeptical.
In the end I agreed to go. At the very least we would enjoy a nice getaway. Little did I know the impact that weekend would have on my life.
I tend to not take things too seriously. I like to laugh and find a joke in everything. Knowing this, Kim asked me to please try and take this event seriously. She encouraged me to embrace the Oola framework. I assured her I would. I figured that was the least I could do.
I spent the whole first day listening closely to Dr. Dave, the Oola Seeker, and Dr. Troy, the Oola Guru. They explained the seven F’s of Oola (Fitness, Finance, Family, Field(which is your career), Faith, Friends and Fun). And while they taught how to balance these seven key areas, I realized my life was not balanced. My focused was on only two areas: Finance and Field.
Later, when Dr. Dave talked about marriage, I experienced my first big breakthrough. He explained that if you’re not actively working on your marriage you’re working on your divorce.
As soon as he said this it felt as if I was hit by a flying brick. I wasn’t working on my marriage. I wasn’t even sure what working on it looked like. I figured our past was behind us and now everything was good.
On day two Dr. Troy read messages from the hashtag Oolapalooza on Social Media. The guys had encouraged us to share our stories and tag them. One message he read stated:
Last year I placed a goal on this surfboard to work on my marriage. After two days of soul searching I realized all my goals led to this man. He was worth fighting for. We were worth fighting for. This year we are in a better place and we are working together to make our marriage work. 2018 will be a great year. We've got this Oola Guru thank you for your support.
When I heard this powerful message I instantly teared up. Because I almost lost my marriage, I have a soft spot when it comes to love. Then Dr. Troy read who wrote it. It was Kim. I was shocked.
I had no idea my complacent attitude about our marriage was hurting her. I truly thought we were in a good place. I was wrong. That moment changed my life forever.
I embraced the Oola process in 2018. I worked on goals. I finally found a better balance in my life. But the one area I still struggled with was Finance.
Looking back I can see I lived as if money was the key to our marriage. I thought the more we had, the happier we’d be. It never worked out that way, in fact I think the opposite happened. I realize now I was trying to buy happiness.
That December we attended Oolapalooza in Las Vegas. Our marriage was in a much better place but our finances still needed work.
I found it hard talking about money with Kim. Somehow it always turned into a fight. Even though I knew I needed to include her, it just seemed easier to avoid it. I justified it because I didn’t think we were struggling financially. But we were spending money as fast as it came in.
At the end of Oolapalooza I put a Financial Sticker on the surfboard. My goal was for Kim and I to be on the same page for our finances. I knew the only way to do that was to talk with her about money.
Coincidently, a month later, our church hosted a financial course. We signed up. During this course I took the opportunity to talk about money. It was a very painful conversation. Even though it ended in a huge fight, and I endured silent car rides back and forth to the course, we came up with a budget. Together we developed a plan to get out of debt.
Our marriage improved tenfold once our finances fell into place. And when we attended Oolapalooza in 2019, we walked in with some 2018 goals completed.
It was the best Oolapalooza yet. The process was familiar and we knew what to expect. One of the first exercises is called The Year in Review. As I sat there reflecting over the previous year, I couldn’t help smiling. I imagined what my life would look like if I hadn’t attended Oolapalooza. I’m so grateful I said yes when my wife invited me.
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Joe and Kim Motzko are both Certified Oola Life Coaches. You can find them at ooladuology.com and @kim.motzko on Instagram.