A Relationship Success Story with Alicia Castaneda Ep 55

A Relationship Success Story with Alicia Castaneda | Relationship Coach

Heading into spring with episode fifty-five and an interview with one of my AwakenYou in your marriage graduates, Alicia Castaneda. Alicia shares what she achieved, and her next steps, in AwakenYou and how it has changed her already successful life and partnership. They just celebrated four years together after thinking that it was over a year ago. Enjoy this client success story and inspire you to create your success.

Alicia Castaneda is a mindset coach and certified nutrition coach helping individuals to shift their focus from their body fat to their self-worth, feel at home in their bodies, and not only make peace with but enjoy food and exercise. She began coaching fitness and nutrition in 2016. As aesthetics started to take a back seat to food relationships and body image, she later transitioned her primary focus to health psychology. She has helped nearly 400 individuals transform their minds and bodies to date.

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If you’ve been curious about how working through my AwakenYou in your marriage program can change your life and your marriage, this week’s interview will help bring you some clarity. As you listen to this interview, what you will hear over and over is Alicia’s commitment to learning more about herself and becoming a partner willing to open up and dig into what she wants in her intimate relationship. Alicia went from feeling desperate to keep the relationship together to feeling good about herself, her life, her business, and her partnership believing in herself and creating what she wants in her life regardless of what life brings to her. This month’s interview is a must-listen, and fun listen, enjoy!

I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.

What Your Body Language Is Saying To Your Spouse Ep 54

Hello, my AwakenYou listeners! Is anyone else besides me wondering how this can be the last week of February? Two-thirds of the way through the first quarter of 2022, wow! I have been doing some amazing things over here in AwakenYou, including re-vamping my Abundant Love free course, which you can grab from my website by following the link in the show notes, and then there is my monthly Marriage Masterclass, where in March we will be exploring How To Get To Know Them. This class will be beneficial for those of you who feel so distanced in your relationship that the idea of coming back together and re-creating something beautiful truly seems like a fairytale. This class will teach you how to start taking steps towards rebuilding your marriage and feeling so much better than you do now because when we invest time and effort into what we want, it feels so good! This week I want to pause everything you have been learning about how we show up in our high-stake relationships that actually push us further away from what we want. I will dig into what your body language is saying to your spouse.

As you listen to this series about divorce-proofing your marriage I want to help you create awareness of where your brain may be going. I have heard back from several listeners who are telling me that their partner is a classic example of some of these traits; criticizing, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling, etc. while it is good for us to see what is happening for our partner, I want to help you navigate this in a way that is most useful for you. I first want to make sure that you are looking inward before pointing fingers; I want you to look at how you are showing up and how this dynamic has been playing out in your relationship. From here, I want you to focus on how you are working on showing up more helpfully without pointing fingers but from a place of wanting the relationship to grow and flourish. Pay attention to what comes up for you when you want to start conversations and practice having empathy for whatever your partner may be experiencing. So often, we tell ourselves a story about the other person that has us sitting in the victim position; the victim position has a very narrow focus; all we can see is how we are losing in this situation. What we know is true is that being open and honest and confronting that which is creating conflict within us may bring up habitual coping mechanisms in our partners that have nothing to do with us as a person but how they perceive our words. Our job here is to notice our part, become aware of common reaction mechanisms in your partner, and start figuring out how to create a new pattern. Your job isn’t to fix your partner but to be the partner willing to open up and create a new dynamic.

Body language is an indicator of how you are feeling

You will often hear me say that how we show up reflects how we are feeling and that when we say words or take action from a negative emotion’s energy, they will always be received negatively. For example, you can say the words “I love you.” from many different emotions, and depending upon what emotion you are feeling at the time, the words will be received differently. Imagine saying those words after an unresolved argument where you feel angry, hurt, or resentful. Now, imagine saying those words from a place of disconnection or discouragement, or disappointment. Lastly, imagine how you say those words when you feel happy, content, joyful, passionate.

Using these three examples, not only will the energy in the delivery be different, but your body language will be different, and the other person feels and sees this come through. In the first case of anger and feeling hurt, you might look to the side when you say the words, your actions might be stiff and forced, you might be internally forcing yourself to spit the words out in a smooth way and contemptuously rolling your eyes. This won’t feel like the sort of love we crave, but it will feel more like forced love.

Next, let’s look at saying “I love you.” from a place of disconnection, discouraged or disappointed. The words might be soft; your body might feel soft and withdrawn, you probably won’t make eye contact. Inside, your heart might be crushed, and you might be wondering if things will ever get better; this sort of “I love you” feels uncommitted and fake and obligatory.

Now, think about times when you have been so full of joy and passion, the delivery of “I love you!” looks and feels like true, genuine love. It’s light and airy, energetic and free; it screams, “I want to be with you forever!” “My heart is overflowing.” There is no eye-rolling and tensing up going on, you are relaxed and without boundaries, you are open to receiving all that the other has and giving all that you have to offer. It feels like heaven.

So this week, as you work through some of the possible divorce predictors found in your marriage, I want you to pay attention to what your body is saying. Start again with awareness within yourself and start working on feeling the emotions you are experiencing while working on connecting to the origin of that emotion without blaming someone else; look within. When you begin to notice your body language, you can start working on how you want to show up – as you do this work, that alone will soften up how your spouse shows up – mirror neurons.

When it comes to your spouse and their body language, start paying closer attention, later writing it down, seeing where they may have been coming from and what might have triggered their reaction. Process through it, and then during your intentional time together, ask if you can talk about it and share what you have noticed from YOUR perspective and how it makes YOU feel, as well as what you think might be a helpful way to work on changing together. When one of you notices disconnecting, turning away or against, behaviors like turning away, picking up the phone, changing the subject, being defensive, tensing up, turning red in the face, eye-rolling, and the other partner points it out, please don’t deny – this is gaslighting – if they see it you are somehow conveying negative energy. Instead, pause, count to 5, check-in with your body and if you are feeling light and happy, then acknowledge that and share with your spouse that you didn’t mean to convey what they are accusing you of. The opposite is true; if you are feeling tense, pause and let yourself come back down, acknowledge that you need some space, and process what just happened for you.

Remember, we are creating discomfort when we don’t talk about what is happening for us; when we don’t talk about our inner conflict and don’t align with our true selves AND confrontation and working through our conflict IS uncomfortable, but the difference is this: the discomfort of working towards a relationship that you want that has both of you working towards resolving conflict and creating connection gives you a result that feels amazing. The hiding and not addressing what you are struggling with might feel like the comfortable solution, but that inner conflict will never go away; it will grow, it will feel awful until many, many years later you have to start the work of facing them. As my coach Aimee Gianni says, “The amount to which we are willing to open up honestly to our spouses will dictate the level of our relationship intimacy.” So my question to you today is this: how close do you want to get with your spouse?

I am a life coach who works with women and couples struggling with how their lives and marriage feel through awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your life and marriage, which by the way, will have you see your partner changing as well. If you’re ready to take yourself to a place where you can fall back in love with your life and your spouse, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s talk about your next steps to a life you are crazy in love with!

Is Flooding Drowning Your Marriage? Ep 53

Does Flooding Have Your Marriage Underwater? | Relationship Coach

Hello, my dear friends! We are one day past Valentine’s Day, and my heart is filled knowing that so many of you took the work we did in this month’s Marriage Masterclass and used it to create the first Valentine’s Day that felt good in years. We enjoyed a day of love on Sunday with quite a few tears for me because one year ago, on February 13, I suddenly lost my pup Zeta, so Valentine’s Day now holds an even more special place in my heart. A whole different type of emotional flooding than we are talking about today, so with that, let’s move into today’s topic! This week I’m going to elaborate on a concept I have brought up in several previous episodes, including last week’s, where we discussed stonewalling (Stonewalling To A Disengaged Marriage), John Gottman’s fourth horsemen. This concept is Gottman’s third sign divorce is in your future; let’s answer the question: does flooding have your marriage underwater?

Get your note app or your notebook ready so that if something sounds familiar to you, you can jot it down and pay attention to how it might come up in your marriage. I’m going to start with helping you understand what emotional flooding is to better recognize it in yourself and/or your partner and then help discover why it might be happening for either of you. Then we’ll look at both sides of the relationship to determine how each of you can best navigate this dynamic and bring your marriage back to shore and dry ground.

What exactly is flooding?

In short, flooding is what happens when you perceive danger. It is the “breaking point” of what you can handle emotionally, and when you reach this point, your body and mind react as if it is in danger. Your pre-frontal cortex, the part of your brain that can rationalize what is happening, shuts down, and your primitive brain kicks in. Basically, our nervous system has kicked into overdrive flashing “danger,” and we go into primitive brain thinking: we do whatever it takes to feel better, avoid pain and conserve every bit of energy that is flooding out into our body. This could look like running or shutting down-stonewalling (flight) or an angry explosion (fight).

There are times when what on the outside appears to be a minimal problem escalates into flooding; some would use the term “trigger” to describe what happens or even the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” An example could be your spouse disappearing right when the meal is ready to be served. This may have been happening for quite a while. One day your reaction is to get mad at him and tell him how disrespectful he is for hanging around and watching the meal get made and then disappearing when the food is served and that you would really like it if he could be kind enough to be ready to eat when the meal is served so you can have a meal together. First, there is more going on here because this was a lingering problem for the partner getting mad, and they neglected to bring this up in conversation when things were calmer, and now it’s a blown-up argument. In contrast, the other partner is taken by such a surprise that they shut down and maybe leave or lash back out over something as “simple as” not being at the dinner table when dinner is served.

Why does flooding happen?

What is happening is our sympathetic nervous system or our involuntary nervous system detects danger and reacts to avoid the danger. It doesn’t know that there is no wild animal in the room wanting to eat you for a snack; it defaults to fight or flight. We want to recognize that what feels threatening is different for each of us; it might be part of a habitual defense mechanism developed in early childhood around feelings of rejection or abandonment. Extreme emotional flooding experienced consistently is most likely stemming from your brain seeing similarities to past trauma and then repeating whatever response you adopted to protect yourself from the emotions you weren’t ready to experience.

In other cases, it could be less complex where negative life circumstances have you in a more easily aggravated place; lack of sleep, sickness, bad news at work, or any combination of these unresolved life circumstances.

How flooding affects your marriage

If flooding is a response, people have to conflict well; guess what, it will affect any relationship that contains conflict, which is true of all marriages. All marriages will contain conflict and disagreement; it’s normal if each partner is open and honest, not hiding and people-pleasing. It takes deliberate steps to resolve conflict, and if one or both partners get flooded, they are no longer able to think rationally and hear the other person’s perspective. No solutions or compromises are being worked out, and often the flooding escalates into an argument that leaves both partners frustrated and unresolved, making moving forward more and more difficult.

What to do when your spouse is the one getting flooding

I recommend you start by paying attention to what happens when a difficult conversation is initiated. Be curious about what you see and don’t react. Then during a quieter time, bring the subject up in conversation, and it could look like you expressing concern around how they react when you want to have discussions.

Secondly, I would like you to go back and listen to Ep 45, where I talked about creating better marital communication by considering the start-up of your conversation. How you start the conversation will impact your spouse’s reaction, allowing them to stay in the conversation longer. When you can sit down with your partner, express your concern and share how you are working on changing your start-up, if necessary, you both have awareness around this situation and can start working on it. During this conversation, you can come up with your signal that one is approaching the line of flooding or has already crossed it and that you both need a time out.

Lastly, this one is so important for all of us to practice. When we decide it’s time to have a conversation around something that might present some conflict, check-in with each other. You don’t have to say, “Hey, I have some difficult stuff to talk about, are you up for it?” because that right there can put the other immediately on the defensive and already closed down before the topic is even presented. Instead, start with a light conversation, “How are you feeling today?” “What type of day did you have? Do you feel rested from work stress, or do you need some downtime?” Maybe even transition into something you want to share about your day and make sure that you have come up with a way to bring up your discussion without criticism, contempt, or defensiveness. Share how you are feeling about whatever you want to discuss and why you are feeling this way, keep the focus on you and then share what resolution might look like for you. Also, I want to suggest that if you know your partner struggles with flooding, you can share that all you are doing right now is sharing your perspective and what you are struggling with and that they don’t even need to have the discussion now, that you are empathetic and understanding enough that you want to work on resolving your conflict differences. Let them decide what they want to do and come up with a day and time to revisit the topic. I suggest you post a reminder somewhere where you will see it, so you both continue to process, prepare, and show up for each other at your set time.

What to do when it is us who is getting flooded

First and foremost, understand that flooding isn’t something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about; it is an instinctual reaction to needing to feel safe. Understanding this will help you see that there is a different way and that it might take some time to change, and you can ask your partner to help you with this. You can start to understand a bit more about yourself and why you react the way you do, exploring what you really need and how you might start setting up boundaries to protect yourself from getting to the state of flooding. You might need to use your sign that you came up with your partner in Ep 35 Emotional Regulation when they start a conversation in a way that triggers you to become overwhelmed.

Second, start paying attention to what happens in your body when you are triggered. Pay attention to your heart rate, tensing of muscles, zoning out, or tuning out your partner. You are responsible for yourself; remember that defensiveness (Ep 51 How Defensiveness Hurts Our Marriage) and blaming your partner aren’t tactics for good conflict management. Start getting familiar with your responses so you can start to see them coming. Then start paying attention to actions and words your partner might say that trigger your flooding response so that you can recognize them as they come and later share these discoveries with your partner, which is part of getting to know each other.

Third, start taking better care of yourself. 80% of the people flooding are men, and I don’t mean to generalize, but from my experience, there is no scientific data here, but men, in general, seem to be less into their self-care routine than women. So start considering your sleep hygiene, stress management protocol, diet, and exercise. An episode to re-visit would be Ep 38, Self-Soothe To A Happier Marriage. This is also where another tactic comes in: learning how to set boundaries for yourself. Boundaries might look like saying no and potentially disappointing someone else. It might look like questioning your “need” to do something you think is expected of you versus standing up for what is right for you and your value system.

Fourth, take intentional time to process and journal about what happens when flooding occurs. Look at the before, during, and after and then commit to a time to come back and re-visit the conversation.

Fifth, learn how to disengage from familiar protective styles by learning where your style came from and understanding that this is an old pattern. Recognizing that you are actually safe where you are, learning how to be present, and seeing that you aren’t actually in any danger.

Sixth, working with a therapist might be a necessary step and a loving action for yourself, your spouse, and the future of your relationship.

This information is important to understand and share; it could be the difference between staying married and developing your relationship into something beautiful or divorced. Because both flooding and stonewalling are so dominant in the male culture and with women who tend to live more in their masculine energy, this information needs to be shared with them to recognize and choose something different. Our men and a lot of us women need to hear this information and understand that there is a better way and that this better way will lead to so much more than a happy marriage; it will lead to a healthier life, a longer life, and more than likely a promotion!

I want to share that this episode and the stonewalling episode are dear to my heart because I see this dynamic repeatedly when I work with couples through their conflict styles and help them manage so that they can actually hear and understand each other. I’d love to hear how this might resonate with you and what you learned while listening and how I can help you work through what might be coming up for you. I have been weaving couples coaching into my practice and would love to have either you or both book a call to talk about your struggles within your marriage and how my program might help you. A happy household, a happy community, and a happy world start with you and your marriage.

I am a life coach who works with women and couples struggling with how their lives and marriage feel through awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your life and marriage, which by the way, will have you see how your partner is magically changing too. If you’re ready to take yourself to a place where you can fall back in love with your life and your spouse, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s talk about your next steps to a brand new life you are crazy in love with!

Stonewalling To A Disengaged Marriage Ep 52

Stonewalling To A Disengaged Marriage | Relationship Coach

Here we are, gathering together, talking about our life and marital struggles to learn how to create a life that feels more like what we once dreamed of being married would be like. I love these cozy conversations because they are so different from those conversations where all we do is commiserate together about what is wrong with our spouse and how difficult it is to love them the way they are. These conversations help us look objectively at what is happening in our marriage without pointing fingers of blame so that we can look beyond what we see and experience on the surface and start understanding what we are seeing. This place of awareness is sometimes an awkward position because we still feel stuck in the pattern, but as we commit to learning and changing, we start to see the fruit of our labors. This week we are looking at what relationship expert John Gottman calls the fourth horseman, stonewalling, and we’re going to talk about stonewalling to a disengaged marriage.

Stonewalling typically begins to appear a bit later in the marital relationship, usually after the negativity from criticism, contempt, and defensiveness become so unbearable that shutting down and disengaging begins to be a viable way to deal with the emotional flooding occurring for the individual that is shutting down. During a normal conversation, each person is engaging. While one person is talking, the other person indicates that they are listening by making eye contact, nodding their head, throwing in an understanding word, or asking clarifying questions. When a spouse is stonewalling, they are not providing any signs that they are engaged, which often has the partner reacting in ways that push the stonewaller deeper into their state of emotional overload.

Today I’m going to dig into a bit more of what stonewalling could look like, why people resort to stonewalling, why it is so destructive to your relationship, and steps to start eliminating it.

If you remember episode 40 where I shared about Bids For Connection and then the follow up to that in episode 41 where I talked about Your Response To Bids For Connection, the partner starting the conversation is sharing a bid for their spouse’s attention, now, how that bid for connection was initiated is so very important because it sets the tone for where the conversation can go, in episode 45 I shared how to have Better Marital Communication By Considering The Start-Up or how you initiate the conversation. Now, how the spouse responds to that bid for connection determines whether they are creating connection or disconnection, stonewalling is turning away from your partner, and it is a withdrawal from your relationship’s Emotional Bank Account and you know what happens to our bank accounts when we take out more that we deposit. The interesting thing, though, is that when it comes to our emotional bank account, now that I think about it, it’s sort of like what happens to our emotions when our bank account gets low, we stop interacting in healthy ways, our unhealthy habits kick in and quickly wipe out our account, heading us into walking on thin ice in our intimate relationship.

What stonewalling looks like

There are many ways to disengage from an uncomfortable conversation, start watching peoples interactions, and learn for yourself, but here are a few examples:

  • Not listening, engaging, ignoring, turning away, looking at the dog, getting up and doing something, looking at the phone
  • Changing the subject
  • Reacting with defensiveness instead of engaging in an adult conversation
  • Telling the other person that they are making up stories about how they are acting (this could be more along the lines of gaslighting), denying participation in the act of stonewalling
  • Being dismissive about what is brought up in conversation, including physical actions like eye-rolling or head shaking
  • Being physically absent: working long hours, hiding in the garage or in front of the screen for long periods or finding ways to be away from the house disproportionaltely from the time spent at home
  • Silent treatment, acting better than, dismissing
  • Physically up and leaving the conversation
  • Never addressing their dismissiveness at a later time when they are emotionally regulated, avoiding bringing the topic back up
  • Short disengaged responses like “I’m fine.” “It doesn’t matter.”
  • Avoiding conversation to avoid conflict

When you start to recognize that your partner is stonewalling, your best reaction is to stop the conversation because your partner has shut you and what you are saying out. Tell them that you perceive that they are disengaged and that you are going to exit the conversation and that if they are willing to re-engage, let you know, and you’ll come back to the discussion. By no means do you want to raise your voice or criticize because it will only create more disengagement. It is not your job to “fix” your partner’s emotional patterns, but as you learn to empathize and understand what may be going on for them, it is your opportunity to open up to how you are feeling and give them space. Again, you are influencing the health and future of your relationship because you aren’t engaging in unhealthy interaction. This is your opportunity to step back and take some time to self-soothe, regulate, evaluate YOUR actions and let them decide how they want to move forward.

Why people resort to stonewalling

Often people haven’t learned how to deal with conflict, so they shut down (freeze), retaliate (fight), pacify, and people please (fawn), or run (flight), and all of these are primal protective reactions. The ones you or your partner gravitate towards are the ones you adopted early on in your life in response to what you perceived as a threat, and now it has become your go-to response when “danger” appears. The truth, though, is that actual danger isn’t what is happening; you can pause and ask yourself, “Am I in danger right now?” most likely, the answer is no, and if it is yes, then we have a whole different conversation to dive into.

Stonewalling or silent treatment could also have been a taught behavior; maybe a parent or early childhood mentor used it in their marital relationship, or it could have been used on the child as a way of parenting. When one has been mentored in this way of dealing with conflict, they don’t learn the opposite of stonewalling, which is to have an open, honest conversation about working through the conflict.

Learning how to communicate with each other is crucial, and all it takes is being open and honest. Ask yourself why you are hiding from the one person you vowed to be closest to. Stonewalling appears on the outside to be a way to control an outcome and appear powerful but often is utilized because they feel powerless and have low self-confidence in themselves and their ability to present their ideas and have them potentially be “rejected.” But we know here that other people can’t reject us and our opinions. We can only do that to ourselves, and having different opinions in our marriages helps create conversation and growth.

Stonewalling seems like a way out, but it isn’t effective in building the relationship; it only erodes and pushes intimacy away. If you are having intimacy problems in your relationship, you can look at all of the topics we have discussed over the last few months and conclude why. When you are disconnected emotionally from your partner, sex isn’t desirable; sex becomes an action you do because “you’re supposed to” or an activity you participate in in hopes of controlling your spouse. What you will discover is that as you work through many of the emotional issues I talk about here in AwakenYou in your marriage, the intimate connection begins to grow in your relationship where you are then sharing sex out of desire instead of obligation or fear.

Why stonewalling is so destructive to your marriage

Stonewalling in of itself has you shutting down. When you are shut down, you are disengaged, which does nothing to build the relationship up, resolve problems, better get to know your (and yourself), and create connection. It does the opposite, which is how it slowly erodes a relationship. By the time the relationship gets to stonewalling, it has already gotten to a place where the couple isn’t working together; they are often at the point of living parallel lives. Studies show that up to 85% of men are the stonewallers in relationships; according to John Gottman, men often react to conflict with more physiological stress than women do, and stonewalling is a way to appear neutral and stay out of conflict.

Because women are better able to deal with physiological stress, it is more difficult for them to understand why their partner is withdrawing and familiar for them to push against it, blaming them for not participating in the relationship. Secondly, when a woman gets to the place in the marriage where she is resorting to stonewalling, the relationship is often in a more sensitive state and closer to the possibility of divorce.

Stonewalling indicates an unwillingness to work on relationship differences which is crucial to the success of the marriage and often can have the other person feeling neglected or abused.

How to eradicate this destructive habit

Can we say it all together: AWARENESS. By now, you all have heard this word on auto-repeat for a good reason, what we don’t know can hurt us, what we can start to see from a different perspective can give us insight and a new way to seek solutions. You are taking the first step to eliminating this destructive habit by becoming aware of the roots of where this defense mechanism comes from. Now, you could take this information and throw it in the face of your partner if they are the stonewaller, but that is not useful. From here, you are first going to become aware of how you are showing up and how you may be doing your version of stonewalling, or you may be contributing to your partner’s reaction. Let me remind you that we are all in control of how we show up in life. Regardless of how someone else is showing up, we can always choose a reaction that dissipates conflict instead of inflaming it.

Begin to pay attention to how your partner shows up when you bring up conversations that typically shut them down; how do they react? How can you find empathy and understanding with how they show up or even curiosity? Could you eventually find space to ask them about how they are reacting and why? Go back to my episode on conversation startups and start planning different ways to bring up important conversations. When you see your partner slipping into their version of stonewalling, put up your white flag version of a pause (go back to Emotional Regulation In Your Marriage, episode 35).

For the person who is stonewalling, learning how to regulate your emotions is so important and learning how to recognize that you are slipping into withdrawal or wanting to run away and then paying attention, get in touch with your senses, really listen to what your partner is saying and letting them know that you might not be able to participate in the conversation right now, and then promise that you will come back to it after taking time to self-soothe, find out more about Self-Soothing To A Happier Marriage, ep 38. It’s so important to recognize what you are experiencing and then share it with your partner so that you both can learn and grow.

Being frustrated is a normal emotion and taking the action of stonewalling is not helping eliminate the cause of the frustration; it is only keeping you in a cycle of being frustrated numbing out.

So now you have something new to pay attention to in your life and your marriage, and I want to hear what you see more clearly in your marriage. Stonewalling is giving the impression to your partner that you couldn’t care less about the relationship or where it is headed – is that the message you want to come through because one day your partner might decide to follow through on that action, and wouldn’t it be sad if you never expressed what you were really feeling?

If you have discovered that you or your partner is stonewalling and you’d like some help navigating to the other side where you can open up and share honestly, then I’d love to talk to you about what that process looks like; I’d love to help you AwakenYou in your marriage! Book your consult today!

I am a life coach who works with women and couples struggling with how their lives and marriage feel through awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your life and marriage, which by the way, will have you see how your partner is magically changing too. If you’re ready to take yourself to a place where you can fall back in love with your life and your spouse, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s talk about your next steps to a brand new life you are crazy in love with!

How Defensiveness Hurts Our Marriages Ep 51

How Defensiveness Hurts Our Marriages | Relationship Coach

Hello AwakenYou listeners, how are you all doing this week? How many of you are noticing and relishing the longer days we have been experiencing? Even though it has been brutally cold here this winter, I see signs of spring every day on our morning walk, including hearing those birds singing their praises! This week we are diving back into looking at signs that your marriage might be headed in the wrong direction, and if you missed last week’s client success story with Arlene Mojica, you must take a listen. Arlene shares all of the unexpected results she achieved by pouring herself into the work and believing that the process would change her life and her marriage. Over the past couple of months, I have been taking you through different signs that your marriage might be headed for divorce; Ep 44 Is Divorce In Your Future? This week, we will look at how defensiveness is hurting your marriage.

What I’m going to talk about with you is what defensiveness is and how it is destructive to your marriage, why we are defensive, ways we are defensive, and how to transition away from being defensive. Ready? Let’s dig in!

What is defensiveness and why are we using it in our marriage?

Defensiveness distracts you from those underlying negative feelings that come up when your spouse says something that has you thinking in ways that make you feel hurt, angry, guilty, or ashamed. It denies your responsibility for the presented problem because it has you deflecting the other person instead of seeing and addressing the issue as a relationship problem you need to work out together.

Defensiveness might seem justified, but it never helps to solve any problem; it only makes the problem worse, which of course, then creates less connection and more disconnection. It blocks creativity and tells your spouse that their feelings don’t matter.

Why we chose defensiveness

  • It could be an old reaction to feeling insecure, possibly a learned auto-response that could easily be changed by pausing and re-considering your reaction
  • You could be reacting to something you want to hide, if you’re lying about something or withholding the truth an instinctual response could be defensiveness
  • You haven’t learned how to state your case and let it be different from your spouses so instead you resort to defensiveness
  • It could be a natural response to early childhood trauma or abuse because it takes you out of a percieved weakened position and makes you feel more powerful
  • Insecurity to how someone is reacting to your character or a behavior makes you feel like you have to defend yourself

Ways of being defensive

  • Not accepting responsibility for your part in the disagreement
  • Making excuses instead of owning the truth in your part
  • Counter-complaining which is responding to a complaint with your own complaint which is trying to one-up your partner, ignoring their comment and presenting something you percieve to be worse or more worthy of complaining about
  • Childish playback is like what we did as children, repeating the complaint and then putting it back on them
  • Using “yes-but” instead of “what I love about that is – and…” The “but” negates your partner’s suggestion which then stops forward connection
  • Continuing to repeat your stance while ignoring and not considering your partner’s perspective. This has you continuing to repeat a version of your story/perspective over and over without hearing what it is your spouse is asking for.
  • Whining which has you deflecting any responsibility and claiming innocence

We are responsible for our own actions in our marriages

Staying focused on ourselves and what is happening inside us is the key to ending criticism (ep 46), contempt (ep 48), and defensiveness. Our job is to keep the focus on how we can improve instead of what the other is doing. Though how our partners’ act can undoubtedly affect how you feel, it doesn’t have to determine how you respond.

It’s crucial to remember that we want to be allies in our marriages, not enemies (Ep 25: From Enemy To Ally). When you notice that you have moved to defensive lines, just be conscious of that and allow yourself to move back to the ally lines.

How to move away from the habit of being defensive

First, you must learn how to regulate your emotions; listen to episode 35 to get more information on how to regulate your emotions. Noticing that we are being flooded with negative emotions is something I often talk about here on AwakenYou. Identifying and feeling our feelings is one of the first things we work on in my coaching program because our feelings are indicators of what is happening emotionally for us. Knowing how to regulate our emotions to stay calm and not resort to defending ourselves is critical in building connections in our marriages.

Secondly, learn how to self-soothe. When you notice your emotions and see that you want to react and defend yourself, you can stop, pause, self-soothe and choose something different; even nothing might be a choice to let the dust settle before you move on. Listening to episode 38 on how to self-soothe to a happier marriage will help tremendously. You can count to five, focus on your senses, look your partner in the eyes, focus on your breathing, and then be able to explain to your partner what is going on for you. You can tell them that you are feeling defensive and that you want to do something different by taking time to process what is happening for you and better hear what they have to say. You can ask for a pause to better hear what they need, and this is where you as a couple can throw out that signal I have talked about in the past, which allows both of you to know what is happening and that one or both of you needs some space.

Thirdly, owning your part of the problem will go a long way in moving forward. A simple acknowledgment of how the other is right will go so far. There is never a “need” to be right, and both of you own a “right” part in the conversation or disagreement.

Fourth, commit to noticing your negative thoughts and learning how to re-direct them. My free Relationship Abundance mini-course will help with this practice. Focusing on negative thoughts keeps you in a negative thought and emotional loop pattern. Here is an example of how self-soothing can come into the picture: Let’s say you are thinking your spouse is “so hard-headed” – this keeps you thinking about more of their “negative” traits while you could recognize this and then think something along the lines of “Don’t internalize his actions and words, you are just getting flooded with emotions which are driving you to think negative thoughts, take a deep breath, go do some writing and know that this will pass.

Fifth, stop taking everything so literally. We read into what others say based on our insecurities so how can you instead get curious about their experience? Ask yourself why you are focusing on this one thing, and what if I’m missing the point and not understanding? Then repeat to your spouse what you hear them saying and ask questions to learn more about what they are presenting instead of prying into their comments to see how they might be directed at you. Notice how sometimes we are so in our head trying to figure out how our spouse is being critical that we are no longer present in the conversation, listening to what our partners have to say.

Managing our differences in our marriages is crucial to building a successfully satisfying relationship. When we don’t feel the need to defend, we allow for our differences to be present and ok so we can do things like have more fun in our marriage!

Notice how all of what we discussed today has roots in our self-security and how well we know, accept, and strengthen our relationship with ourselves. When we are insecure, we twist around our spouse’s words to mean something negative about ourselves. As we do the work of building our relationship with ourselves, as we do in AwakenYou, we start letting go of assumptions while hearing our partners from a more curious and interested space. From here, we can let go of our defensiveness.

Remember, all of these practices start with awareness, so now that you are aware of the danger of defensiveness, you can start noticing when it comes up, not only in your marriage but check out when you might be using it in other less vulnerable relationships, and now you can start taking steps towards a different choice.

I am a life coach who works with women who are struggling with how their lives and marriage feel through the process of awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your life and marriage, which by the way will have you see how your partner is magically changing too. If you’re ready to take yourself to a place where you can fall back in love with your life and your spouse, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s talk about your next steps to a brand new life you are crazy in love with!

A Client Success Story with Arlene Mojica Ep 50

Kicking 2022 off with episode fifty and an interview with one of my AwakenYou in your marriage graduates, Arlene Mojica. Arlene shares what you can expect to achieve through the program and how it has changed her already successful life and marriage of 17 years. Enjoy this client success story and may it inspire you to create your own year of success.

Arlene is the creator of Pinnacle Health Transformation and Fitness Cafe. Arlene moved here from Puerto Rico in 1988. Her history in fitness started early in life when she discovered a passion for bodybuilding in her early 20s. She went on to win the Bev Francis overall best bodybuilder and compete in the NPC nationals.  She now inspires her own clients to find their love for health and fitness.  She is happily married to her wonderful wife of 18 years and shares a life with her 2 beautiful children.  

Pinnacle Health Transformation LLC and Pinnacle Health Fitness Cafe LLC



If you’ve been curious about how working through my AwakenYou in your marriage program can change your life, this week’s interview will help shed some light. As you listen to this interview, what you will hear over and over is Arlene’s belief in how the program could change her life. Her belief in something she didn’t even realize she needed is evidence of the astonishing results one can achieve when one puts their trust in their mentor and process. This month’s interview is a must-listen, and fun listen, enjoy!

I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true self. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.