Why We Need People – The Rules for Constructive Communication

Tony dives into the research of why we need connection with others from Sue Johnson’s book “Hold Me Tight.” And he then shares his Rules Of Constructive Kommunication (ROCK). These 6 rules are designed to help couples move past unproductive conversations around “hot topics” that typically lead to frustration, fighting, and turning away from each other. If you often find yourself avoiding certain topics or situations with your partner, like finances, intimacy, and parenting, because the conversations never go well, you need to follow Tony’s ROCK. These rules will help you cultivate an attitude of empathy for your partner and lead to the world of productive communication.

With the continuing “sheltering” rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

You can learn more about Tony’s pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

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[00:00:00] So today I want to talk about attachment, why we need attachment to other people. And I’m going to be quoting the book Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson. Hold Me Tight seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love and let me take you back to the seventeen hundreds of all places to start. Clues to Love’s true purpose, according to Sue Johnson, have been circulating for a long time and we’re talking back in seventeen sixty. There was a Spanish bishop writing to his superiors in Rome, and he noted that children in what he called foundling homes, though they were sheltered and they were fed that they regularly died from sadness. So fast forward to the nineteen thirties and the nineteen forties in the halls of American hospitals. Orphaned children deprived only of touch in emotional contact were dying in droves. Psychiatrists also began identifying children who were physically healthy but who seemed indifferent or calloused or unable to relate to others. And David Levy, reporting his observations in a nineteen thirty seven article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, attributed such youngsters behavior to what he called emotional starvation. Now, nineteen Forties American analyst Rene Spitz coined the term failure to thrive for children separated from their parents and caught in this debilitating grief. And Sue Johnson goes on to talk about that.

[00:01:15] It remained there for John Bowlby, and he was a British psychiatrist and it was his job. Then he felt like to figure out exactly what was going on. And she says, Let me be honest, as a psychologist and a human being, she said, if I had to give an award for the single best set of ideas anybody ever had. Sue Johnson says she would give it to John Bowlby, hands down over Freud or anybody else in the business of understanding people because she said he grabbed the threads of observations and reports and wove them into this coherent and masterful theory of attachment. So today we’re going to get into a little bit of what that theory of attachment is. We’re going to touch a little bit on the history. We’re going to go a little bit more into Bowlby. We’re going to work our way into Mary Ainsworth and we’re eventually land the plane on Sue Johnson. And her just revolutionary couples therapy model are attachment therapy model called emotionally focused therapy, which has led to my very own four pillars of a connected conversation. And where I’m going to land this plane today is we’re going to go back and review a podcast I did almost three years ago, and it’s called Rules of Constructive Communication.

[00:02:18] And the reason this is necessary is the more that I’m listening to people that are implementing the four pillars or taking my magnetic marriage course and seeing these amazing results of having a framework to work from a really positive new way to communicate that is helping them truly feel heard that they’re still their body, they’re still reacts. Best still, Vander Best coined it with the name of his book The Body Keeps the Score. And so often, even when people have the best of intentions and they’re trying to communicate with a spouse or a kid or someone that that communication is just not gone well in the past, that even when they step into the room with this person, they start to feel their heart rate elevate and they start to feel like they’re just sucked into this tractor beam of reaction. So we’re going to talk about the importance of being able to call an effective time out today and still stay engaged in a conversation or with the promise that we’re going to get back to that conversation as I feel like most couples don’t do when they leave a conversation that hasn’t gone well. So we are going to cover that and so much more coming up on today’s episode of the virtual couch.

[00:03:34] Come on in, take a seat.

[00:03:41] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode three hundred and eight of the virtual couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, a certified mindful habit coach, a writer, a speaker, a husband, father of four and creator of The Path Back, which is an amazing online pornography recovery program that is helping people just like you, turn to healthier coping mechanisms to start realizing that when they feel the siren song of the pull of an unhealthy coping mechanism and truthfully, whether it’s pornography or it’s their phones or it’s eating or whatever, that looks like that those tools are there, their strength based, hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be tools and they’re available in the path back. So head over to Pathbackrecovery.com or you can contact me through my website if you want more information about the Path Back Pornography Recovery program, and also I am so excited about another round of the magnetic marriage course is coming very soon with my friend, my co-creator Preston Pug Meyer. This will be the fourth round of the magnetic marriage course and I hope you can hear my enthusiasm in the past. I would just mention it casually, but it’s an amazing program. It really is. It’s an amazing program that has modules and we have group coaching calls and we go in and we follow up after each round of the magnetic marriage course. And we’re I feel very confident we are literally changing lives, which is amazing and phenomenal, and it’s everything that I wanted this course to be.

[00:05:00] So you can look for more information there or go to Tony over bait and shoot me a note through the contact form and tell me that you want to find out more. You want to be first on the wait list because the last actually all three have sold out pretty quickly once we open the cart and we’ll be doing that pretty soon and last. Let’s just get the business out of the way. If you are looking for therapy and you’re having a hard time finding a therapist, then head over to Betterhelp.com virtual couch. You get 10 percent off your first month’s services, and Betterhelp.com has a pretty amazing assessment tool. It’s it’s pretty thorough. You fill out a lot of you answer a lot of questions, you fill out some forms and they match you with a licensed professional counselor, a licensed marriage and family therapist, someone that can help you. And they can do so via telehealth. They can do so via video or email or text or any of those sort of things. And well over a million people now have taken advantage of Betterhelp.com. So you owe it to yourself to start really working on your self-care. We’re coming out of this hopefully knock on wood coming out of this worldwide pandemic, and that is it’s done a number on a lot of people I know from my practice and it is it’s time to just really, let’s just grab the bull by the horns and just take control of your life.

[00:06:10] And that starts with self-care. Self-care is absolutely not selfish, and so go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch, get 10 percent off your first month’s services. So they’re all of the businesses out of the way, and I want you to just settle back and we’re going to talk about a lot of things that do with attachment couples relationships. The best way to communicate. We’re going to hit my four pillars, and we’re also going to talk about when and how to call a time out. Because even sometimes with the best of intentions, you can go in with these new communication tools and your body is still going to feel like this isn’t safe and it’s going to raise your heart rate and you’re going to maybe become a little bit emotionally elevated. And then sometimes the conversation doesn’t go as well, even with new tools. And then our brain bless its heart, says, See, you can’t even do that, right? What’s wrong with you? Instead, it’s learning is a process. It really is. And it’s it takes a lot of practice and trial and error. And so I would love for you to give yourself a little grace. So today we’re going to give you a new tool to use that will help you if you do find yourself getting a little bit frustrated, even with a new communication tool like the four pillars of a connected conversation.

[00:07:14] So back to the intro, I want to give you a little bit more information about John Bowlby and an attachment theory. And then we’re going to work right into the four pillars and can I get a time out? So where we left off, we were talking about John. Bobby and Bobby was born in nineteen, oh, seven, so we’re talking. Quite a while ago, Bobby was the son of a baronet, and I do not know what that is, and I was going to Google that, and I did not. But he was the son of a baronet. He was raised in the fashion of the upper class, primarily by nannies and governesses. And what was unique at the time was his parents allowed him to join them at the dinner table after he turned 12. And it’s just interesting to look at the way that culture worked then and then only for dessert. He was sent off to boarding school. Then he attended Trinity College in Cambridge, and Bobby’s life departed from tradition when he volunteered to work in these, where they considered innovative residential schools for emotionally maladjusted children that were being started by what Sue Johnson called visionaries like as Neil. And these schools focused on offering emotional support rather than usually stern discipline, and that was significant, absolutely significant at the time.

[00:08:17] So Bowlby said that being intrigued by his experiences, he then went on to medical school and then he took psychiatric training, which included undergoing seven years of psychoanalysis and his his analyst apparently found him to be a pretty difficult patient influenced by mentors like Roger Fehr. Influenced by mentors like Ronald Fairbairn, who argued which again controversial at the time that Freud had underestimated the need for other people. Bowlby rebelled against the professional dictum that the crux of the patient’s problems lay in their internal conflicts and unconscious fantasies, which is one of the things that Freud will often be criticized about. And so Bobby insisted that the problems were mostly external, that they were rooted in real relationships with real people. And again, that was pretty revolutionary at the time. So he worked with disturbed youngsters, as what Sue Johnson said at the child guidance clinics in London, and he began to believe that relationships these bad relationships with parents had left them with only a few negative ways to deal with basic feelings and needs. So later, in nineteen thirty eight, as a beginning clinician under the supervision of another noted analyst named Melanie Klein, Bobby was assigned to a young hyperactive boy who had an extremely anxious mother. I don’t know if anyone listening can resonate with that hyperactive boy, extremely anxious mother, and he was not allowed to talk to the mother. However, since only the child’s projections and fantasies were deemed of interest, that just infuriated Bobby because his experience had spurred him to formulate his own ideas, namely that the quality of the connection to loved ones in an early emotional deprivation is pretty key to the development of personality into an individual’s habitual way of connecting with others.

[00:09:55] So in nineteen forty four, Bowlby published the very first paper on family therapy. It was called Forty Four Juvenile Thieves, where he noted that behind the mask of indifference is bottomless misery and behind apparent callousness is despair. And if you’re familiar with my four pillars, my first pillar is this assumption of good intentions or there’s a reason why people do what they do, and I find that you can see that just roots in this attachment theory of behind a mask of indifference, bottomless misery behind apparent callousness, despair. So Bobby’s young charges were frozen in the attitude of I will never be heard again, and then they become paralyzed in desperation and rage. And I think that’s so key if you even look in our romantic or, yeah, our couple’s relationships of when we feel hurt and we don’t have the tools to communicate and we’re misaligned with our attachment that we start to then build these walls because those walls come from this place. So I will never be hurt again, and I’m going to express myself in ways to make sure that I don’t get hurt, whether it’s withdrawal, whether it’s with anger.

[00:10:54] So following World War Two, Bowlby was asked by the World Health Organization to do a study of European children left homeless and orphaned by the conflict, and his findings confirm this belief in the reality of emotional starvation and his conviction that loving contact is just as important as physical nutrition. And again, this was pretty revolutionary at the time, but we was impressed, he said by Charles Darwin’s ideas of how natural selection favors responses that help survival. So then Bobby came to the conclusion that keeping precious others close is a brilliant survival technique, and it’s wired in by evolution. So we have this need for others. This attachment need and Bobby’s theory. It was again at the time radical and Sue Johnson said it was noisily rejected and it almost got him thrown out of the British psychoanalytic society because conventional wisdom held that by coddling or that coddling mothers and other family members, that they created clingy over dependent youngsters who grew up into incompetent adults. And so the belief at the time was he had to keep almost this antiseptic, rational distance, and that was the proper way to rear children. And that stance was held even when youngsters were distressed or even physically ill that people parents would just leave their kids without touch, without interaction or just very limited touch or very limited interaction. In essence, because they didn’t want to create these clingy, codependent kids and some of my other episodes on parenting, I often say that I know that a parent means well when they say I need to get them out of the house to make sure you know, I need to make sure they don’t know that they can stay in my basement or else they’ll be there forever.

[00:12:24] When in reality, if you’ve got a secure attachment with your kid, they need to know that they can live in your basement so that they can then go out and explore the world and know they have a safe base to return to that. That is the way that they will thrive. So in Bobby’s era, parents weren’t even allowed to stay in the hospital when their six sons or daughters were ill and they had to drop the children off at the door. In nineteen fifty one, Bobby and a young social worker, James Robertson, made a movie called a two year old goes to a hospital, and it graphically showed a little girl’s angry protests and terror and despair of being left alone in a hospital. And Robertson showed the film to the Royal Society of Medicine in London and hope that physicians would comprehend that a child’s stress, a separation from loved ones and a need for connection and comfort was important, but that the movie it was dismissed as a fraud and it was literally almost banned. And then well into the nineteen sixties. And Britain and the U.S. parents still typically were allowed to visit their hospitalized offspring, but only for one hour a week a week, not a day a week.

[00:13:22] So Bobby needed to find another way to prove to the world what he knew in his heart. He then had a Canadian researcher, an assistant named Mary Ainsworth, that becomes a very important person in this. And so she showed him how to do that, she devised a very simple experiment to look at what these four behaviors that Bobby was trying to examine and she believed were basic to attachment that we monitor and maintain emotional and physical closeness with our beloved that we reach out for this person when we’re unsure or upset or feeling down that we miss this person when we are apart and that we count on this person to be there for us when we go out into the world and explore. Let me go over this again. These four things that we monitor and maintain emotional and physical closeness with our beloved. So think of your spouse or think of your relationship with your kids or and that we reach out to this person when we are unsure, upset or feeling down that it’s OK for us to reach out and ask, Are you there? For me, that is not the cleanest and that we miss the person when we are apart and that we count on this person to be there for us when we go out into the world to explore.

[00:14:25] Not that we are pushed out into the world to explore, but we can count on this person to be there for us as we go out into the world and explore that they need to feel safe and going out into the world and explore. So often we have to double down, triple down or spend as much time repairing that attachment wound or showing up to be safe so that that person can go out into the world and explore. So the experiment that they devised was called the strange situation, and it’s generated. Sue Johnson noted literally thousands of scientific studies, and it revolutionized developmental psychology. A researcher invites a mother and a child into an unfamiliar room, and after a few minutes, the mother leaves the child alone with the researcher who tries to offer comfort if it is needed, because sometimes the kids react differently. Three minutes later, the mother comes back. The separation and reunion are repeated once more, and the majority of children are upset when their mothers walk out. They rock themselves. They cry, they throw toys, but some prove more emotionally resilient. They calm themselves quickly and effectively. They reconnect easily with their mothers on the return, and they rapidly resume playing while checking in to make sure that their moms are still around. They seem confident that their mothers will be there if needed. Less resilient youngsters, however, are anxious and aggressive or detached and distant when their mothers return, and the kids who can calm themselves usually have warmer, more responsive mothers, while the moms of the angry kids are unpredictable in their behavior.

[00:15:44] And then the moms of completely detached kids are colder and dismissive. So in these simple studies of disconnection and reconnection, bulbasaur love in action. And he said that he began to code his patterns. So Bobby’s theory gained even greater currency. A few years later, when he produced what Sue Johnson called it, it was a famed trilogy on human attachment, separation and loss. His colleague Harry Harlow, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, also drew attention to the power of what he called contact comfort by reporting his own dramatic research. And you’ve probably heard about this with young monkeys that were separated from their mothers at birth. And he discovered that isolated infants were so hungry for connection that when given the choice between a mother and that’s an air quotes made out of wire who dispensed food and a soft cloth mother without food, they would choose the squishy rag mother almost every time. And generally, Harlow’s experiments showed the toxicity of early isolation that physically healthy infant primates who were separated from their mothers during the first year of life grew into socially crippled adults, and the monkeys failed to develop the ability to solve problems or understand the social cues of others, and they became depressed and self-destructive and unable to mate. So Sue Johnson mentions that attachment theory at first ridiculed and despised, eventually revolutionized child rearing methods in North America.

[00:16:58] And she said that now when I get to sleep beside my child’s bed as he recovers from an appendicitis operation, she said, I think John Bowlby and today it is widely accepted that children have an absolute requirement for safe, ongoing, ongoing being the key physical and emotional closeness, and that we ignore this only at great costs. And I understand, I understand that there’s this push and pull that we feel like if we are too enmeshed and codependent that then we are going to create these anxiously attached creatures, people. And that is the case because if it’s an anxious attachment, if we view our kids or our spouse as merely this extension of who we are, if we don’t help them develop their autonomous individual self, then that is where we create this anxious attachment or this avoidant attachment. Because the key is to have your own stuff together to not need external validation from your kid or from your spouse, but then to be there to have that closeness, to let them know I’m here for you. I’ve got your back and you can count on me and I love you. And so what do you want to do? Not. Here’s what I think you need to do, or else you don’t care about me. That’s where things start to then go in different directions of what a secure attachment looks like.

[00:18:10] So a parent needs to do their own work to be secure in their own with themselves. Because if you cannot love yourself, how do you expect others to love you and then you’re constantly trying to make sure, do you love me? Do you love me? Are you sure? Do you not love me? What did I do? What should I do versus a man? I’m OK. I found my talents, my abilities. I’m aware of what my value. You are not what the values that people tell me that I’m supposed to think are supposed to feel and when I can be confident with myself, then I can show up and be this secure, attached person that shows up, whether it’s in my marriage, my parenting and so on. So love in adults. Sue Johnson said Bowlby died in 1990. He didn’t live to see the second revolution sparked by his work the application of attachment theory to adult love. Bobby himself had maintained that adults have the same need for attachment that he had studied with World War Two widows and discover that they exhibited behavior patterns similar to those of homeless youngsters, and that this need is the force that shapes adult relationships. But again, his ideas were rejected. Nobody expected this reserved class conservative Englishman to solve the riddle of romantic love. And Sue Johnson says Anyway, we thought we already knew all there was to know about love.

[00:19:24] But she says love is simply short lived, disguised sexual infatuation that was for Freud’s Basic Instinct dressed up. Or we thought that love was this kind of immature need to rely on others. Or that love is just a moral stance. It’s a selfless sacrifice. It’s all about giving rather than needing or getting. But more important, however. Sue Johnson says that the attachment view of love was, and perhaps still is radically out of line with our cultures, established social and psychological ideas of adulthood. That maturity means being independent and self-sufficient, the notion of invulnerable warrior who faces life and danger alone. She said it’s long ingrained in the culture, she said. Consider James Bond, the iconic impervious man, and still going strong after four or five decades. And psychologists use words like undifferentiated, codependent, symbiotic or even fuzed to describe people who seem unable to be self sufficient or definitively assert themselves with others. And in contrast, Bowlby talked about effective dependency and how being able to from cradle to grave turn to others for emotional support is a sign and source of strength. And that is so key emotional support, not external validation, but emotional support. Because if we just leave things up to ourselves in our own mind, and that is it, period identified in previous podcast The Mind, typically it does. It goes toward the negative because it’s a survival mechanism or brain again as it don’t get killed device.

[00:20:45] If we look out on the plane and proverbially need to go kill the Impala to feed ourselves in our village, but we see a lion creeping up, then we are not going to take that risk because if we get that wrong one time, then we don’t have a second time. And today, what that looks like is we feel like we have to have the stars aligned. Everything needs to be perfect before I even try to have a conversation or we’re so afraid of our feelings. We’re so afraid of things going to contention that then we avoid tension altogether. So the significance of this podcast today and why I wanted to give you a little bit of a history lesson is to know that the data is so clear there that we do need connection and attachment and that as we show up and we show up looking only for external validation, or if we feel like someone else has a different opinion, then that means that something is wrong with me. And so therefore I need to break down their world or their reality. These are all the unhealthy types of this is codependency. But Bowlby talked about effective dependency and how being able again from cradle to grave to turn to others for emotional support, and that that is a sign of source of strength. So research documenting adult attachment began just before Bobby’s death, and there was a social psychologist, Phil Shaver and Cindy Hazen, then at the University of Denver, and they decided to ask men and women questions about their love relationships and see if they exhibited the same responses and patterns as mothers and children.

[00:22:01] And they wrote up a love quiz that at the time was published in the local The Rocky Mountain News. And in their answers, adults spoke of needing emotional closeness from their lover, wanting assurance that their lover would respond when they were upset or being distressed, when they felt separate and distanced from their loved one and feeling more confident about exploring the world when they knew that their lover. I feel like I’ve said that word now 15 times their sound. A little odd had their back. They also indicated different ways of dealing with their partners when they felt secure with their love. Or how about their partner when they felt secure with their partner? They could reach out and connect easily when they felt insecure. They either became anxious, angry or controlling, and they avoided contact altogether, and they stayed distant because I’ll add in certain here because that’s the way that they felt they needed to get their needs met. So just what Bowlby and Aynesworth had found with mothers and children, and Hazen and Shaver followed up with the serious formal studies that reinforced the findings and Bobby’s theories, and their work set off an avalanche of research. Hundreds of studies now validate Bobby’s predictions about adult attachment, and Sue Johnson said, You find them cited throughout the book Hold Me Tight and her next book, Love Sense and All Over the Internet.

[00:23:07] The overall conclusion a sense of secure connection between partners, romantic partners partners is key in positive, loving relationships and a huge source of strength for the individuals and those relationships, she said. Among the more significant findings, when we feel generally secure that we are comfortable with closeness and confident about depending on loved ones, and we are better than at seeking support and better at giving it and a study by psychology. Just Geoff Simpson at the University of Minnesota, each of 83 dating couples filled out questionnaires about their relationship, and then they sat in a room, and the female partner had been warned that she would soon be participating in an activity that made most people very anxious. The activity wasn’t spelled out. The women who described themselves as feeling secure in love relationships on the questionnaires were able to share their unhappiness about the upcoming task openly and ask for support from their partners. But the women who generally denied their attachment needs and avoided closeness with drew more. At these moments, men responded to their partners in two ways when they describe themselves as secure in the relationship, they became even more supportive than usual, touching and smiling with their partners and offering comfort. But if they describe themselves as uncomfortable with attachment needs, they became markedly less sympathetic with their partner’s express their needs.

[00:24:17] They were downplaying their partner’s distress, showing less warmth than touching less. So Sue Johnson says that when we feel safely linked to our partners, we more easily roll with the hurts that they inevitably inflict, and we are less likely to be aggressively hostile when we get mad at them. A gentleman named Mario and with a very difficult last name from Bar-Ilan University in Israel, conducted a series of studies asking participants questions about how they connected and how they felt in relationships and how they dealt with anger when conflict arose and their heart rates were monitored as they responded to scenarios of couples in conflict. Those who felt close to and could depend on their partners reported feeling less angry and attributing less malicious intent to their partners. They describe themselves as expressing anger in a more controlled way, and they expressed more positive goals, such as solving problems and reconnecting with their partner. So a secure connection to a loved one is empowering. And in a group of studies, this researcher also showed that when we feel safely connected to others, we understand ourselves better and we like ourselves more because in that world, we aren’t continually trying to monitor everyone around us to see if we’re OK, we are OK. And so therefore that is that secure connection and then we’re able to understand ourselves better. It’s almost like we don’t have to spend as much emotional energy or calories or thought on me, OK, do you think I’m OK? Am I OK? What do you think? It’s like I’m OK, and now I’m going to reengage with people as this differentiated, interdependent, autonomous, confident person in a relationship with someone.

[00:25:44] Likewise. And now we’re going to go conquer the world because we’re two different people with two different opinions. And so now the it’s the edifying one plus one is three. And so in this research, he said, when given a list of adjectives to describe themselves, the more secure folks picked out positive traits. And when asked about their weak points, they they readily said they fell short of their own ideals, but they still felt pretty good about themselves. And this researcher also found, as Bobby predicted, that securely bonded adults were more curious and they were more open to new information. They were comfortable with ambiguity, saying that they liked questions that could be answered in many different ways, and one task a person’s behavior was described to them, and they were asked to evaluate this person’s negative and positive traits. So connected participants more easily absorbed new information about the person and revise their own assessments. So they were more open to this new experience and they were more flexible with their beliefs of that. Someone can have their own opinion because they felt safe and connected. So curiosity comes out of a sense of safety. And Sue Johnson says rigidity out of being vigilant to threats.

[00:26:45] And Sue Johnson says the more we can reach out to our partners, the more separate and independent we can be. Although this flies in the face of our core of our culture’s creed of self sufficiency, psychologist Brooke Feeney of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found exactly that in observations of two hundred and eighty couples that those who felt that their needs were accepted by their partners were more confident about solving problems on their own, and we’re more likely to successfully achieve their own goals. So we’re going to spend just a little bit more time and hold me tight. Sue Johnson talks about a wealth of evidence. She said science from all fields is telling us very clearly that we’re not only social animals, but we’re animals who need a special kind of close connection with others, and we deny this, she says. At our own peril. And indeed, historians long ago observed that in the death camps of World War Two, the unit of survival was the pair, not the solitary individual. And it’s long been known to that married men and women generally live longer than do their single peers. And so she says that having close ties with others is vital to every aspect of our health. Mental, emotional and physical. Louise Hockley of the Center of Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago calculates that loneliness raises blood pressure to the point where the risk of heart attack and stroke is doubled.

[00:27:55] And sociologist James House of the University of Michigan declares that emotional isolation is more of a dangerous health risk than smoking or high blood pressure. And we now warn everybody, she said about these two. And she says that perhaps the findings reflect the time honored, saying the suffering is a given, but suffering alone can be intolerable. But it’s not just whether or not we have close relationships in our lives, but here’s where we want to talk about. It’s the quality. So before you find yourself saying, I guess I just need to stick in a in a relationship period because if I’m alone, that suffering alone is intolerable. No, it means that we need to find ourselves in healthy relationships and if we’re not. And healthy relationship, then it can actually do more harm than good. So Sue Johnson said again, it’s not just whether or not we have the close relationships, but the quality of that relationship. She said negative relationships undermine our health. In Cleveland, researchers at Case Western Reserve University asked men with a history of angina and high blood pressure. Does your wife show her love? And those who answered no? Suffered almost twice as many angina episodes during the next five years, as did those who replied Yes. And women’s hearts are affected. Sue Johnson shared the women who view their marriage as a strained and have regular hostile interaction with their partners, or more likely to have significantly elevated blood pressure and higher levels of stress hormones.

[00:29:10] There’s our friend cortisol compared with women in happy marriages, and yet another study found that women who had had a heart attack stood a three fold higher risk of having another if there was discord in their marriage. Hey, but wait, there’s more distress in a relationship adversely affects our immune and hormonal systems and even our ability to heal. In one study, psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of Ohio State University had newlyweds fight, and then she took blood samples over the next several hours, and she found that the more belligerent and contemptuous the partners were, the higher level of stress hormones and the more depressed the immune system was. So the effects persisted, she said, for up to twenty four hours and an even more astounding study. Kiecolt-glaser used a vacuum pump to produce small blisters on the hands of women volunteers and then had them fight with their husbands. And the nastier the fight, the longer it took for the women’s skin to heal. So Sue Johnson says the quality of our love relationships is also a big factor in how mentally and emotionally healthy we are that we have this epidemic of anxiety and depression. And she said he’s even our most affluent societies, and that’s because conflict with and hostile criticism from loved ones increases our self doubts and creates this sense of helplessness and classic triggers for depression because we need this validation from our loved ones.

[00:30:22] Researchers say that marital distress raises the risk for depression tenfold because we are seeking that external validation. But if we can find ourselves and show up as this unique autonomous person in a relationship and know that that person is there for us, then this is where there’s good news. She said the hundreds of studies show that positive loving connections with others actually then protect us from stress and help us cope better with life’s challenges and traumas. Israeli researchers report that couples with a secure emotional attachment are much more able to deal with the dangers, such as they were researching Scud missile attacks than other, less connected couples. They’re less anxious, they have fewer physical problems after the attacks, and this is the whole reason I went down this path. To begin with, I actually have already recorded the part about the four pillars and calling a timeout, so to speak. But I got to this part where I wanted to reference one study and then I thought, Oh my gosh, I don’t even know if I have the study right? And more so I don’t think I’ve ever gone into this depth of why we need this connection. And so here’s the reference that I wanted so desperately as I was recording earlier. Simply holding the hand of a loving partner can affect this profoundly and literally calming the jittery neurons and the brain.

[00:31:31] Psychologist Jim Cohen of the University of Virginia told women patients having an MRI brain scan that when a little red light on the machine came on, they might receive a small electrical shock on their feet or they might not. And this information lit up the stress centers in patients brains. But when partners held their hands, the patients registered less stress when they were shocked. They experienced less pain. This effect was noticeably stronger in the happiest relationships the ones where partners scored high on measures of satisfaction and that the researchers called they called them super couples contact with the loving partner literally acts as a buffer against shock, stress and pain. And so Sue Johnson says the people we love she’s quoting now, this asserts Cohn, are the hidden regulators of our bodily processes and our emotional lives. When love doesn’t work, we hurt and indeed hurt. Feelings is a it’s absolutely this precisely accurate phrase, according to psychologist Naomi Eisenberger of the University of California. Her brain imaging studies show that rejection and exclusion trigger the same circuits in the same part of the brain. This anterior cingulate as physical pain. So again, emotional pain and and physical pain operate in that same area of the brain. So in fact, this part of the brain turns on any time where emotionally separated from those who are close to us. And Sue Johnson said, When I read this study, I remember being shocked by my own physical experience of grief.

[00:32:55] After hearing that my mother had died, I felt battered like I had literally been hit by a truck. And when we’re close to hold or, she says, make love with their partners, we’re flooded with the cuddle hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones seem to turn on reward centers in the brain, flooding us with calm and happiness chemicals like dopamine and turning off the stress hormones like cortisol. So, she says, we have come a long way in our understanding of love and its importance. In 1939, women ranked love fifth as a factor in choosing a mate. By the nineteen nineties, it topped the list for both women and men, and college students now say that the key expectation from a. Marriage is emotional security, and she says love is not the icing on the cake of life. It is a basic primary need like oxygen or water. And once we understand and accept this, we can more easily get to the heart of relationship problems. And this is all said, not going back on everything I talk about with becoming interdependent and autonomous and differentiated, but doing so so that I can connect on a more emotionally mature level with a person so we can go through life and and have this new math equation of one plus one equals three. So let’s get to this is a long one today, and I’m making no apologies for that because I think this is absolutely necessary. So let’s get to how we get out of unhealthy or unproductive conversations

[00:34:21] A long time ago, which is really fun to say. I did a podcast called Rules for Engagement for Difficult Conversations between Couples, and I really tried to be clever with the acronym I did. Broke rules of constructive communication, but I wanted it to be clever and spell the word rock. So we did communication with the K, and I really liked the rules of constructive communication. I’ve thought about redoing this podcast several times, but I want to now redo it and implement my four pillars of a connected conversation around it. Because when I initially did this episode and I think it was in maybe the seventies in today’s episodes, three hundred and eight, so this was years ago, I was still 100 percent on board with emotionally focused therapy. Eft and EFT is the basis of my four pillars of a connected conversation, and now the four pillars are so solid I will go to my grave with that that I think that implementing or going over this rules of constructive conversations or rules of constructive communication and how to deal with difficult conversations and then put these four pillars in, I think is going to just make even more sense if anyone has listened to this episode in the past, at the beginning. And so in essence, I feel like I’m doing as a reaction video to my old podcast. I have the transcript here in front of me, so I’m going to be reading from the transcript and I’m going to I’m going to implement the four pillars over this and any new insights.

[00:35:40] So I started that podcast long ago by saying, we don’t read a quote that I remember this Reddit quote during the week leading up to the podcast that said, we don’t get to decide what happens to us, but we get to decide what we do. And the quote was life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent of life is about what you decide to do with it. And in that vein, what do we do when we find ourselves in difficult situations, difficult conversations, but is truly learning how to be present? And then how do you react? What do you do with that data? So you find yourself in the midst of a heated conversation talking about a high charged topic? And then I talked about going back to one of my favorite books, The Road Less traveled by M. Scott Peck, which begins with the phrase Life is difficult, and that is one of those truths. One of the great tenets of life that once we accept that life is difficult, then the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. Once we accept that fact that life is difficult, then we it’s what do we do with it? We can transcend that concept of life is difficult accepting that. Yeah, it is. So now what? Instead of feeling like, well, it shouldn’t be difficult or it’s not difficult for other people.

[00:36:40] So why is it difficult for me? So it is. It’s difficult, and it’s 10 percent of what happens to us and 90 percent about what we decide to do with it. So how to have difficult conversations? In that episode, I talked about people getting quote spun up by difficult topics, whether it’s money, sex or parenting. And now when I do my magnetic marriage course, I talk very, very intentionally about the highest of high charge topics are sex, parenting, finances, religion and politics. So we do. We get often spun up or when we go to these difficult topics, these high church topics, then we don’t have a real framework to communicate. Then the conversation may not go well, if ever. And then we get to the point where why do we even want to talk about high church topics if we don’t think it’s going to go well or when we finally feel like I have to talk about these high church topics? Our body is already so ready for battle that we are already up in our amygdala. We’re not thinking rationally. And so then that’s why these conversations continue to not go well. And by the way, very big, very big. Intentional plug magnetic marriage The fourth round of the magnetic marriage course with Preston Pug Meyer is coming soon and the landing page will be up soon.

[00:37:50] But in the meantime, if you want to, if you want to reserve a spot or to learn more about the magnetic niche course, shoot me an email at my through my contact form on Tony Over. But I wrote a an example and I said money. So here’s the common example, and I’m just going to go some very gender stereotypes here. So bear with me. I said, Let’s just say that the wife spends money on clothes for the kids or make up for daughters or shoes for the son and dad comes home from work and he sees the bags. He sees a lot of bags and immediately gets angry because he feels that they are struggling financially. And he’s made plenty of passive aggressive comments like, I guess I won’t take a half a day off Friday because I’m kind of freaking out right now about our finances. The wife in this situation says nothing because she knows that this is going to be an unproductive conversation. What she wants to say is, OK, so you tell me that we’re strapped financially, but I see you go out to lunch every day and that costs money or you just bought that new pair of running shoes and we didn’t talk about it. So I guess we’re not that bad off. Or if she says, Well, I feel like you’re angry that I bought the kids clothes. And then he says, Well, I feel like we never talk about finances, and I come home and see all these bags that we didn’t talk about to them, which she can easily say, Well, you say that you don’t want to be the one in charge of finances, but when I try to help you, you get defensive and then you’ll say, get defensive because you know how you have no clue of how stressful it is that I care around the financial load and I don’t get any support.

[00:39:03] To which she can say, OK, sorry, I only take care of the kids all day and we’re off. And both partners and I say in this previous episode now get down in their bunkers and they lob insults until one of them retreats and shuts down, and nothing is discussed. And eventually things cool down and they will resume their days and the marriage, and then a few days down the road that come out of their bunker. They see if the coast is clear and then they say, OK, are we good? And so then they move on. But every time that happens, they feel less and less attached. And so the problem is that this then becomes the pattern around how most every conversation goes, especially around these high charged topics. So then we get to the point where it’s better to avoid them at all costs. And in what we could do is go right in here and let’s do this to form a foundation so we can get to these rules of constructive conversation, rules of constructive communication.

[00:39:53] Let’s throw any of these in the four pillars of a connected conversation. So let’s say in the scenario that, yeah, the husband comes home and he sees a lot of bags and they are on the counter, and then he immediately gets defensive because he feels unheard. He feels like she’s doing that to something against him. So whoever starts in the conversation, and if you have been, I’m going to say if you take in my magnetic marriage course or if you are very well versed in these four pillars, they connect the conversation and they are vital to it essential to have this framework to work from, I am convinced. But at that point, if he is now going to say, All right, I’m going to, I’m going to, I’m going to step in here and I’m going to be the listener and my wife is going to be the speaker. Then he is going to see those bags and pillar number one, he is going to assume good intentions or there is a reason why she does whatever she is doing or has done what she’s done. So the assumption of good intentions is that she did not wake up that day and think, I know how I’m going to get him. I’m going to go shopping and leave all the bags out on the counter.

[00:40:52] And when he walks in, Bam, there we go. Then he’ll get, I’ll show him. So the assumption of good intentions, and for some couples, for some people, that one’s easier than others. I have couples at times that say that one’s really hard for me. The second pillar is more of almost this mindset where he needs to go into this by saying, and I am not going to say I don’t believe her or that’s ridiculous with whatever she’s going to say. Again, understanding that a violation of any of these pillars is how we start to what I like to say get off into the weeds. Now we’re going to be arguing about something completely different. We’re going to be so far away from productive conversation. So that Pillar two is that assumption of good intentions. Or there’s a reason that pillar one assumption of good intentions, or there’s a reason why we do the things that we do. Pillar number two, I cannot say you are wrong or I don’t believe you, and this is so important if you’re listening. It’s even if you do think that they are wrong or you don’t believe them. So I’m not saying that you have to just magically then say, OK, I guess I believe them. No, but hang with me here. Pillar three, then, is questions questions before comments. So in this scenario, he sees the bags.

[00:41:54] He assumes good intentions. He’s not going to he’s going in with this mindset. It’s not. I’m not going to say that’s ridiculous or she’s wrong, and I’m going to say, Hey, tell me about your day. Tell me what’s going on. Tell me about one of the store. Tell me about these clothes. Because if we here at this point where, OK, Johnny’s shoes had holes in them or Sally has grown so large that she has been made fun of on the playground today because, you know, the concept of floods, I don’t know if they still call them that these days, but where you can see big patches of your socks or that sort of thing, then hopefully if he’s asking questions before making comments, then he’s going to have a little bit more empathy and say, Man, OK, I got to be honest, if that would be hard if my kids have holes in their shoes or that sort of thing. And I know I’m giving such an easy scenario than if his wife says that maybe it’s really easy for the guy to say, OK, and then pillar four is you must stay present. So Pillar four is the guy could do the first three right. He get off set, he could go in and say, I’m going to sue him with good intentions. She’s not trying to hurt me with all those bags in the shopping pillar two, I’m not going to say she’s wrong or that’s ridiculous or don’t believe her, even if I feel that way.

[00:42:56] Or three am and ask those questions. Hey, tell me about your day. Tell me what’s going on so I can understand that. Seek first to understand Stephen Covey principle before being understood. And then I’m going to stay present because if he did the first three correctly and then said, OK, I mean, I guess you don’t need to talk to me about anything, and all I am is a paycheck, but that’s fine. Then he just wanted to make them. Mode is retreating into his bunker. He wants his wife in the scenario to go rescue him and say, No, you’re more than a paycheck. I so appreciate you and you’re right, I should have talked to you because then he can say, OK, but is that a productive conversation? So he stays present and then if they know if they’re both? I was going to say playing the four pillar game, it’s not a game, but if they’re both engaged in the four pillar concepts, then she will now feel heard and understood, not attacked. And we did not get off into the weeds talking about, Well, you never do this or you never do this, or I guess my opinion doesn’t matter, or why didn’t you do it this way? Well, why didn’t you go to this store instead of that store? Because now we’re basically saying you are wrong, which is it’s unproductive.

[00:43:54] But once she feels heard now, he becomes speaker. She becomes a listener. And now, if he has thoughts and opinions and that sort of course, I want to hear them. And so at this point, then if he says, Man, I appreciate that and I appreciate what you do. I just I worry about finances. I worry that at times the kids are, you know, I worry at times that the kids just want. They just want, want, want. And but I appreciate you letting me know that this was there. They had holes in their shoes or they had grown too big for their clothes or so. But I struggle because I sometimes see this inconsistency, or I worry at times that we’re going to run out of money. Or I feel like I can’t necessarily take some of the time off because I worry that we’re not going to be able to pay bills, but because what is he doing there? He’s not saying, you don’t know what it’s like. You don’t understand. He’s saying, I worry, I feel, and that is much less critical of his wife’s experience or what her opinion is in that scenario. So you could plug those four pillars into any of these things. The part about finances, if she says, I feel like we never talk about finances and then, OK, so the point where she says, I get defensive, you don’t want to be the one in charge of finances, but when I try to help you, you get defensive.

[00:45:02] And so we could for pillar that. And then in that scenario, then let’s say that she now I’m going to turn it around. So if she’s she has to assume good intentions that when he gets defensive about finances, that that is not he is not trying to hurt her. There’s a reason why. And then he can’t. She can’t then say that, well, that’s ridiculous or wrong. And then she can ask questions. Tell me your biggest stresses around the finances. Tell me what’s so difficult about that for you. And the more that we create this safe environment, that’s why this framework is so important. That’s when we’re going to get to things like accountability. That is the only way I believe to get to a place where that finances when where he may say, Yeah, I just I don’t know why it’s such a struggle. I have a hard time keeping a budget. I have a hard time writing things down every time I go to categorize things in our software that we are tracking your budget with. I just get this overwhelming feeling of that. I’m not doing enough that I need to work more. And so if he can say those things and she’s saying, Wow, that would be hard, tell me more about that.

[00:45:57] Then we are far more likely to have a productive conversation, and we’re far more likely to then say, OK, let’s work toward change versus will you just need to do this? Or you need to not worry about it, or you just need to just do it. Those things are aren’t helpful. They aren’t at times they may sound very motivational, but at the core we’ve still got that psychological reactants. Us, if somebody is telling us, well, you just need to. Our first reaction is, no, I don’t or I’m not going to. That doesn’t feel safe. These four pillars are absolutely essential, and I wanted to go more into those because back when I did this first episode, I didn’t have four pillars. I talked about emotional bids. I talked about that she’s going to put her heart and her heart out to him in her hands, and if he doesn’t treat it right, he’s grabbing it and throwing it on the ground and stomping on it. And then he has to turn off his fixing and judgment brain. So I had the makings the underpinnings of four pillars. But I want that foundation because now what we’re going to talk about is that I wanted to lay out some rules of constructive communication. In essence, it’s the can I get a time out method? And this is so significant now because before if people were getting into highly charged conversations and someone would in essence call a timeout or walk away that I can understand that, that that is when somebody feels emotionally flooded and they feel like they’re going to say something or they don’t want to say something negative or something they’ll regret, then I can understand.

[00:47:15] But too often I think what happens is somebody exits a conversation, even if it’s for the best of intentions, but then they don’t come back to it because they don’t have the tools or the framework to come back to that conversation. So then when someone leaves, let’s say in the scenario, it’s the guy that leaves because he doesn’t want to say something that will say incendiary. There’s a 50 cent word, but doesn’t want to say something. Mean, and he doesn’t want. He doesn’t want to find himself getting really angry or yelling at his spouse. And he may walk away. But then if they don’t come back to the conversation, I’m going to say ever, but mostly never. Then when he walks away, I can only imagine and I processed so many of these that then the wife in that scenario says, Don’t don’t leave, because in essence, it’s almost feels like an abandonment of that, OK? My my feelings don’t matter because you can just walk away and then we never come back to dealing with it. So that’s why I feel like this is so important. We have the framework of the four pillars to have a connected conversation.

[00:48:13] But then there are going to be times where from this day forward, if you have worked on the framework that if you need to call a timeout, that it’s done so intentionally and that there are rules around it, a framework around even calling the timeout so that you can come back to the conversation and have a much more productive conversation again. Using these four pillars. I’m going to read this a little bit and you’ll see where I was at that time. Now that we just laid out the four pillars, so I said I wanted to create a podcast, a document that give us some rules of engagement for couples, for people who can’t seem to get out of the negative communication pattern. And I said, I just want to lay out thoughts for unproductive conversations in a perfect world. And I said, Remember that I’m a huge EFT, emotionally focused couples therapist. I’d like to think that once a person understands the concepts of EFT. So now I would say, once the person understands the four pillars and how they’re what they call an emotionally focused therapy, they’re daemon dialogs, a.k.a. the arguments or heated discussions, or any type of unproductive dialog that seems to happen over and over typically play out. Then they’ll be able to break these patterns or the cycle that the underlying goal to be able to break the pattern is to be able to truly have empathy for their partner’s emotional bids, as I call them at the time or the information that their partner is providing, whatever their partner is sharing, whatever they are doing and being able to turn off.

[00:49:28] Here we go that fixing engagement brain to seek awareness so that turning off the fixing and brain worked into pillar two of not saying that you were wrong or I don’t believe you. And then pillar three tell me, tell me more about your experience. Tell me what that’s like for you or tell me what I’m missing. Help me see my blind spots, because that’s really where we start to get to empathy. Because then if we say that’s not true, I don’t believe you. Then we’re off to the races where both parties get defensive. They start taking shots at each other. And as I like to say and I said back in the day, they quickly retreat into their bunkers and then they heave insults or tit-for-tat comments designed to convince their partner that they are the ones who don’t get it and that they meaning the partner, need to just understand. At that point, there’s really no empathy work going on, and now we know that they’re both up in their amygdala as they’re both in this fight or flight response fight, flight freeze or fawn. We now learn as well, but none of that is conducive to healthy conversation.

[00:50:20] So let’s let’s jump to then what I put in the document here. I did not want to call rules of fighting because I really don’t believe that the fighting is productive. So this is called the rules of engagement for difficult conversations with their spouse. And here we go. So background a fight almost always begins with some type of trigger, whether realized or not, and sometimes oftentimes the trigger can be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, meaning that there could be a lot of things that have gone into this final straw, such as and I gave the acronym the old acronym halt. Are you hungry, angry, lonely, tired, tired can be a huge trigger. I wanted to do podcasts after podcast on Try not to have heated conversations after, I don’t know, 10 o’clock, because so many of the conversations I have as a couples therapist are where the people tell me that, and I understand they’ve had a rough day. There’s been kids, there’s been work. And then they finally sit down together at 11. Maybe they’re in the bedroom and then things get heated and they can go late into the night because now we’re into the early morning because we are now emotionally flooded. And that’s where I feel like the old advice of never go to bed angry. Not the best advice is sometimes we just need to go to bed and go to sleep and get rest.

[00:51:28] And then we and then things look a lot different in the morning when the waters are more calm, especially if we have a framework to go to at that point. Now, part of even what this this podcast is about today is this time out and then coming back to a conversation that I do feel like if you say, Hey, I just need to go to sleep and we can talk about this later. It is with the not just the intention, but we will talk about it later because if not, I understand that the person that is hearing I’m just going to sleep, this one off feels a little. I’m not going to be heard or we’re not going to get back to really what we need to talk about and and triggers. I also say that there can be work stressors, kids stressors witnessing what appears to be another couple being happy either for real or on TV or on a movie. I’ve seen triggers, some being a colleague, catching a break at work. When you feel like you’ve been overlooked finances, those are a huge trigger. Physical intimacy is a huge trigger. Who is there a high desire and low desire partner? Or are there times where you just neither of you feel on sexually? That can be a huge trigger. So just keep in mind moving forward that what truly led to the argument and we’re finding more and more now that things like social media can be a trigger as we all can only see the best side of people and couples, which often lead to a feeling like you’re the only ones who are problems in your marriage.

[00:52:40] And I will tell you right now is a couples therapist for over 15 years and thousand plus couples. We all have challenges. We all have struggles. I am so confident of that. If someone is telling me that they don’t, I feel like if we really dig deep and this is judgmental of me, but I’ll accept that. Then at times someone has fallen into a dynamic of where they just feel like it’s not worth stating my opinion because I will go right back to every couple starts off as this codependent and enmeshed, because that’s the way that we show up because we have our own attachment wounds from childhood, we are trying to figure out the best way to show up so that this person will like me. And so we have this core programing that abandonment equals death. So we are so afraid initially that if I really open up or share my deepest thoughts or feelings or emotions that this person will, then all of a sudden say, Oh man, I didn’t know that I’m out of here. So we’re still playing this attachment game of like, what do you think about something? What did you think about that movie? And kind of.

[00:53:32] Your spouse saying, yeah, I don’t know, what did you think? Well, I kind of like it. Yeah, me too. Until that, we get down the road and as we become more hopefully emotionally mature, we realize, man, I have all my own thoughts and opinions, and that’s OK because I’m a completely different individual. So when we hit these almost road marks where we hit, whether it’s excuse me, getting out of college, getting her jobs, buying a house, having kids financial difficulties, death of loved ones, those sort of things. We’re going to hit those milestones and we’re going to react and we’re not going to react the exact same way as our spouse because we’re two different people coming from two different backgrounds or two different experiences. And that’s OK. That’s normal. So then when we start recognizing that we have our own thoughts or opinions, and if we have always had this, we’ve often had this relationship where we feel like I can’t I don’t want to offend the other person or I don’t want to be put down or dismissed that then as we start to recognize that we have these just difficult things that can occur and we have really different opinions, but we’re afraid to have conversations around those. You can start to see where that can drive a wedge in a relationship and especially if one person feels more controlled by their spouse.

[00:54:37] I say often you can have love or control and adult relationship, not both. And so if you feel like you can’t, you are being controlled and you can’t express yourself, then that is going to be really difficult because you’re going to start to feel more and more of a wedge develop in the relationship as you start to feel like I can’t be my end that I know I’ve done a bunch of podcasts around those concepts and maybe that one, we need to go and do another one of those on a different day because today we are talking about that. We are going to now have a conversation. So the first rule is going to be awareness, and then I say, acknowledge it, label it, call it what it is at this point, trying to bring some awareness to the point that an argument is happening or about to happen. Give it a voice, acknowledge it. And then I just give examples here. Hey, I can see that we’re starting to get amped up or whatever words and phrases you use. I find that a lot of couples see the argument coming, acknowledge that I call them transparency statements in the magnetic marriage course, saying things like I worry that I won’t be able to say the right thing that will satisfy your questions. Or I feel like when we talk about this topic, it often doesn’t end well and I really want to fight.

[00:55:36] And Mansi, there are so many things I can add now that I’m not saying avoid tension. Tension is where the growth occurs, but the fight is contention. So we’re so worried about contention that we avoid tension altogether. So over over this over time, this will be where you can step back and maybe identify your own role or your own trigger. But right now, one of the first things to do is acknowledge or give it a voice. Bring some awareness to if you feel like we are heading into choppy waters in a conversation. So the second thing I say, here I go. I thought I was so clever back in the day, ref, can I get a timeout? So your brain then is ready for battle thanks to what is likely been patterns of negative behaviors and interactions over the years. So you fight flight or freeze that part of the brain kicks in and the adrenaline starts flowing. And in this mode, your rational brain, your let’s make sense of this, that part of the brain is pushed to the back of the bus because your brain doesn’t feel like it’s feasible or rational, or that it’s that it’s even a productive way to communicate if you’re talking to a saber tooth tiger. So the logical part of your brain says, I’m not needed here, I’ll go to the back. So this is where you tend to run to your bunkers and you are.

[00:56:41] You start lobbing the insults, the tit for tat, whatever you can find to hurt the other person or try to get that point across that you aren’t being heard or you’re not being understood, or that you feel like there’s a lack of empathy or attempt at understanding where your partner is coming from. So this is where I often say step away for at least 20 minutes. Give the brain time to calm timeouts to have the. I feel like the best case scenario is they have a limit and agreements to come back to the conversation. And there’s a fair amount of data now that shows that maybe it’s 20 to 30 minutes is ample time to let the heart rate lower, allowing the adrenalin to run its course and then the rational or reasoning part of your brain to kick back in. But again, the key to calling a timeout is that you’re not going to go away and never talk about this again. This is most likely been the case. You’re agreeing that you need to address the issue or the topic and that you will come back after the timeout back in 30 minutes. Talk the next morning later when you get home from work and put a little note here in the notes of the previous podcast or said notes for the podcast. Initial thoughts on timeouts The brain is doing exactly what it believes it’s supposed to do for survival, and I’d even put in here debunking that don’t go to bed angry because I had had that exact advice when I was married.

[00:57:44] There are times where the argument is going to be so far from where it actually started. By the time that you go to bed that it really can be more productive to just go to bed because you won’t all of a sudden have clarity later on and the wee hours of the morning. And if you have to get up the next day or work or that sort of thing that then we can even start to go into more of a panic because your brain is saying, I don’t know how else to get out of this, so they’re going to get really angry. I’m just going to shut down because your brain is trying to do you a favor. And so that can be just a clear indication that a couple simply gets locked in battle. And at that point, it’s absolutely not being productive and it’s not going to be good for the conversation. And the key about this timeout in, we’re going to get to some of this here in a little bit. But if you are saying you haven’t, that’s never worked before. Again, new sheriff in town, we’ve got different rules. The four pillars are there. We’re intentionally on the same page with calling a timeout so that we can come back.

[00:58:31] Two things later and that we’re going to come back to things, and I honestly don’t remember if I addressed this later in the podcast, so maybe we’ll hit this twice. But I want you to know that the goal isn’t always that we’re going to have to leave the conversation. What we’re trying to do is get to a place where we can reengage or we can accept where we’re at right now. And if we get triggered and we get angry and then the conversation doesn’t go well, then we’re coming up with a way that we can start to understand what we can do to come back to these conversations. That’s a long way to say that I feel like my wife and I have gotten to the point where even when one of us may say something impulsively and take offense that we know we’ve got these four pillars that we can go back to. And so sometimes we’ll even instead of calling the timeout, we may just sit there with each other. We might play a game together. I might just hold her hand. We let that oxytocin, the cuddle hormone kick in, and that’s going to help lower one’s stress. There’s a study and hold me tight by Sue Johnson, and this is so funny. I’ve done so much in the last couple of years around the concept of where we don’t really always have the best memory, even if we think we do.

[00:59:35] And I’ve quoted this study for a long time, but I probably need to go back and read what it said. But I’m pretty sure that in essence, she talks about the reason why we need each other. The reason why we we are attachment based creatures. And she gives an example, I believe of where there was. It was in essence, a woman was going to get, I want to say, a shot or blood drawn or something like that. And they can measure her stress, reaction or cortisol levels. And if she was in the room by herself, let’s say it was really high. If her husband was in the room that the cortisol level was lower and if the husband was in the room and was making physical contact with her, holding her hand, putting his hand on her arm, and that touch was there, that oxytocin was flowing, that her cortisol level was even lower. So that’s where I feel like even having this framework of a timeout is designed so that we can eventually get to a point where even if we need to call a timeout in the moment, we can just stay there, we can stay present. We can maybe just hold each other’s hand, we can watch it on TV, we can play a game with each other on our phones and then reengage.

[01:00:33] Ok, number three, breathe. And in the original document, I said breathe no. Like for reals, not figuratively speaking, but literally. Hopefully you have some sort of mindfulness practice in your life. If you don’t, I highly recommend one and I can help with recommendations. But in through the nose out, through the mouth breathing, this lowers the heart rate. And if your heart rate begins to decrease, your brain starts to release chemicals that clear out the adrenaline that lower the cortisol level, that lower that stress hormone. So it is pretty imperative to try and find yourself in a calm state when you disengage because you cannot continue to actively resent your partner and be able to have a productive conversation. And I’ve done a number of podcasts on mindfulness, on meditation, but just think of the physiology of what’s going on that the more that you argue, the more that your heart rate elevates, the more your amygdala, your fight, flight or freeze part of your brain is firing up and the less access you have to that prefrontal cortex, that logical part of your brain. So if you have already then acknowledge, label it, call it what it is. I think that this might not be a healthy or productive conversation, and you call that timeout, then the first thing to do is let’s let’s bring ourselves back to the present some good in through the nose out, through the mouth breathing. And so we’ve called the timeout and now we’re breathing.

[01:01:49] We’re trying to calm ourselves down. And then number four, I say empathy, empathy, and you guess that more empathy. So now that you do walk away and you’ve lowered your heart rate, I want you to step back and take a look at what this must feel like from your partner’s perspective, not what they have done to you. So part of the step is trying to discover empathy and also having empathy toward you. Don’t go into a guilt or shame cycle. Don’t think yourself. Here we go again. What am I doing? But empathy towards self and toward your partner clearly shift your focus to empathy on your partner of think about man again, these four pillars. There’s a reason why they are acting or saying or doing the things they’re doing, and it’s not to try and hurt me. It’s for them to be heard. And as you as you shift that focus of empathy to your partner, what must they be feeling? What were they trying to convey, even if you disagree with their view or their perspective? Because no one starts that day off saying, What can I do to hurt my partner or destroy my relationship? So try your best to view that situation from where they are, because the step is this is so key to breaking this pattern and cycle because you cannot walk away, promise to come back to the conversation and then think horrible thoughts about your partner.

[01:02:55] You need to use this time to cultivate an attitude of empathy. And I realize that that empathy, this truly is the key, the turning point, something that needs to start being your first response instead of what I often see where one feels like, they will eventually get the empathy as soon as their partner understands that what they have done. No, we’re not doing this with your elbow. It’s not like what you’ve done. It’s what have I done and I’ve done accountability episodes where start with? It’s not about my partner. How am I showing up here? And because I’m such a fan of the seek first to understand before being understood, and that’s my third pillar is questions before comments because it might. That truly needs to be I would love for it to be your factory setting. And trust me, you are eventually going to be heard now that you have this new framework. It might not be necessary once you truly hear your partner or as intense as if you truly listen to them with empathy. Ok, we’re almost there. So next talk, talk, talk and use this new four pillar framework. Now that you’ve been stewing and I’m talking to positive, how do I make my favorite stew kind of away, stewing in empathy? Honestly thinking about where your partner is coming from, respecting the fact that we needed to call a timeout so that we could get to a place where we could communicate.

[01:04:03] Then we go back into the conversation and now we ask the questions, ask them where they were coming from. Tell me more. What was your train of thought that led you to the way that you were showing up? Tell me you tell me about what your day was like leading up to the conversation. You will learn very important things about your partner, about their beliefs, about their fears, their concerns. If you truly can listen with empathy, turn off your fixing and judgment brain. And this is that pillar two, even if you don’t agree or you think that that is absolutely ridiculous. This is not the time to share that. There’s never a time to share it in that way. But if you can hear them and understand them and say, OK, I appreciate that and then validate have empathy for what they’re going through because you’re going to now get to that place where you get to say, Man, here’s where I’m at. Here’s my train of thought, or here’s what that means to me, or I feel, or I believe or I worry that not you don’t understand. You need to get the point because we’re just throwing that to that psychological reactants right in their face. We’re saying you need to do this. So their brain is going to say, No, I don’t. I need to protect myself. And as you go back into the mindset of needing to discredit your partner in order to make yourself feel better or your point to be more valid, then you’re right back into this world of unproductive conversation.

[01:05:11] And at this point, I really believe the quote fight is over and you’re having a productive conversation. They acknowledge it, recognize it. Be grateful that you’re heading in the right direction because now we’re working more in the realm of content and not simply emotion. And welcome to the world of productive conversations. And then in my original podcast on this, this concept, I said number six in the scene and read the reviews. Remember, compromise is not the desired outcome. It’s being able to be heard. To be heard is to be healed. We have to get out of this mindset of that. My only goal is to get my point across. Instead, it’s I need to understand the message that my partner is trying to convey so that I can then understand them and then share my thoughts as well with greater understanding, with more empathy from your partner’s position. And so that you’re able to then feel safe and you can go to your spouse, your partner with anything. So what are some of the desired outcomes then of your conversation? Then we resolve the current situation. I feel it’s very helpful to drop the goal of resolution and that if we just focus on being heard, that then resolution naturally occurs. And when we’re able to do this more effectively and safely share thoughts and feelings in hopes and dreams without being shut down, you’re going to have this overall greater sense of awareness of a situation or a topic of conversation.

[01:06:21] You can go to your spouse and say, Hey, here’s where I’ve been today. Here’s here’s my train of thought, and they’re going to look at that not as an attack, but about it. Tell me. And so I really feel like this is a key concept that when we start trying to change the direction of our couple’s conversations or communication that we are going to get triggered, we are and that’s normal. We’re human. And so then being able to stay in a conversation eventually becomes absolutely imperative in the goal. But at first, if you find that you cannot stay present in that conversation, then here’s your productive way to call it time out. But knowing that in the past, if the time outs haven’t worked because that meant that we’re never going to get back to the conversation, then I hear you and I understand, but we got a new sheriff in town. It’s the four pillars of a connected conversation. It’s attachment theory. It’s that we’re designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being, and it needs to feel safe and secure. And if it doesn’t, then get get help. And man, I didn’t mean that this sounds so dramatic, but you deserve to have a connection.

[01:07:25] That’s why I laid out all that information at the beginning of this podcast, because life is far too short to be continually worrying about. What do I say? How do I say it? Walking on eggshells? Because we see that that can have physical effects. It can have mental health effects, and those are not the things that we want to be dealing with. We want to be able to just go and thrive and find ourselves in life and know that we have a partner there beside us to support us and equally, that we are supporting them, that they can wear the things they want to wear or they can think the things they want to think. They can believe the things they want to believe because they’re because they do, because those come from their experiences in life. And then we can explore these ideas and views with curiosity, not from this emotionally immature version of, well, I don’t like that. You shouldn’t think that because that disagrees with me. Again, that is absolutely emotionally immature goal. The goal here is getting to emotional maturity, and that is this nirvana of a relationship. So I’m going to leave it right there. I am so grateful for for any of you who have stayed on to this point and taken this journey, and I hope you have an amazing week. We will leave as per usual with the wonderful, the talented Aurora Florence with her. Song, it’s

[01:08:32] Wonderful, we’ll see you next time. Crystal motions flying.

[01:08:36] So heading out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind, it’s wonderful. And plastic waste and rubber ghost are floating past the midnight hour. They push aside the things that matter most wonderful. She’s.

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