Welcome AwakenYou listeners, welcome to another week of upgrading your intimate relationship! This week I have to check in with all of you to see how you are doing with that goal you set for yourself in the beginning of this month. Last week I did an interview with Aimée Gianni MS, who is a Marriage & Family therapist and a Master Coach who specializes in helping people create intimate relationships filled with love, connection and joy as well as teaching coaches to do the same. If you haven’t listened to my conversation with Aimée, get it in your “up next” listening list because I think what she has to share will be helpful for all of you. I bring that up because since I did an interview I didn’t check in on your goals, so tell me, how are you doing? Let’s start by asking the following three questions and taking 5 minutes tonight or this morning to write your answers down.
- What has been working well in your relationship work?
- How am I neglecting my personal relationship goals?
- What one thing can I do this week to keep my relationship goal top priority?
If you didn’t set a goal for this month, no worries, let’s decide right now what you want to create for yourself this week while also realizing that we have only a couple more days until September when we will be setting another relationship goal together. I’d suggest you get yourself a jump start by going to my website and downloading my Abundant Love Free Mini-Course and using that for September’s project.
I’m enjoying using the podcast as a way to be intentional about checking in with how we’re doing with our relationship goals and working through the obstacles that are getting in the way of us achieving those goals. Remember, if you are finding yourself stuck and not moving forward with your plan, schedule a free mini-coaching session and let’s work on a strategy to move through this block you are having.
This week I am doing something new, I am going to share highlights from a book I just read in my Relationship Master Coach Training that is rocking my relationship boat. I think it will rock yours as well, so come along and listen to what Terrance Real has to say about relationships in his new book titled “US: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship” Terry has been a family therapist and teacher for over 25 years, a best-selling author and leads couples on a step-by-step journey to greater intimacy — and greater personal fulfillment.
This book is FILLED with so much goodness that I found it difficult to slim it down to under 60 minutes. What I suggest when listening to the gems I chose to share is to pick one that resonates the most with you, mark the time in the episode that I talk about this gem, and then write it down and write about how it resonates with you. Make sure you stick around to the end because I have something I want to share with you to help you create awareness around interactions with your partner and help you decide on purpose where you want to respond from. Recognize that much of what I will be sharing are direct quotes from the book so take a big, deep breath, and let’s dive in!
Real talks about conflict, moments when you feel unheard and remembering that you and your partner stand on the same side, but when you are in the heat of the moment, when fear and righteous anger course through your veins, it’s hard to remember that you love this person. In these moments, the truth is that you don’t. In these heated moments, the sense of the two of you acting as a team facing the world together looks more like two individuals fighting for their safety. He says, “the good news is that the love is still there. The bad news is that it’s stored in parts of your brain, body, and nervous system that, in those flash moments, you no longer inhabit. The higher functions of your brain, the prefrontal cortex, have gone completely offline, while the more primitive parts of your brain, the amygdala, have decisively taken over.” You are no longer present but acting from your past.
He differentiates the difference between acting from our higher brain and our primitive brain as acting from our Wise Adult or our Adaptive Child. The Wise Adult is the part of us that cares about US with traits such as: nuanced, realistic, forgiving, flexible, warm, yielding, humble and relaxed in the body. The Adaptive Child part of us is a triggered part of you, the adversarial you and me part of you. It is the fight, flight, fix, fleeing, lying, omitting, evading automatic response in us with traits such as: black & white thinking, perfectionistic, relentless, rigid, harsh, hard, certain, tight in the body.
He talks about interpersonal neurobiology which is the study of how our brains and central nervous systems form through our relationships in childhood and how relationships impact our neurobiology as intimate adults. Partners in close relationships co-regulate each other’s nervous systems, cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and immune responsiveness. Secure relationships lead to increased immunity and less disease, to say nothing of lower scores in depression, anxiety, and higher reported well-being. Insecure relationships stress you out and can make you ill.
Co-regulation helps the pre-frontal cortex to work less – it is the largest energy draw in the brain, so when we interact with others our pre-frontal cortex almost always slows down and grows quieter. When we co-regulate less of us needs to be regulated and the more intimate the bond, and the greater the relaxation.
And on the other hand, we know from experience that few things can trigger us or make us go crazy like our intimate relationships can! This is where we shift into the protective Adaptive Child mode, shift out of our Wise Adult prefrontal cortices and are led instead by our more emotional, more primitive limbic system – we no longer value the relational.
How we lose perspective of the US
“When we get trauma-triggered in our close relationships, our Wise Adult shuts off, and we are seized by our Adaptive Child. Our Adaptive Child is not some toxic force you must banish or destroy – it is the young part of you that learned to cope the best way she could at the time. What she needs to learn is to be parented and the only person who can reliably do that at this point is you. There is a spiritual principle here: to move beyond some part of you, you must first get to know it and ultimately befriend it. Moral: we need to parent ourselves.”
Is a child ego state – adults don’t get abandoned. Abandonment means: if I leave you, you die, children get abandoned, not adults. When you feel petrified, desperate that someone is going to leave you, you are no longer your adult self, you are in your child ego state. We all want our partners to reach in and heal the young wounded parts of us with their love, they always, to some degree, fail us. Because they are human and therefore imperfect.
Five losing strategies the Adaptive Child will turn to:
- Being right
- Controlling your partner
- Practicing unbridled self-expression
- Retaliating against your partner
- Withdrawing from your partner
Core negative image:
When our partners seem utterly unbearable, we will see them as insufferable in pretty much the same way that they always seem insufferable. The idea that most couples have the same fight over all the years they are married. Your partner’s core negative image of you is a cartoon version of you at your worst. It is a colorful exaggeration of you at your worst. Example: men see women often as: controlling, insatiable, complaining witch, women see men often as: undependable, self-centered, charming, narcissistic boy. When we see them as their core negative image triggered we will usually fight them! TIPS: 1. Don’t deny their vision of you when it flares up, otherwise you’ll reinforce it. Admit to the kernel of truth to it which will help their exaggeration relax.
Take turns going crazy in your relationships – this is relational integrity, which means you hold the fort (wise adult) while your partner is going off (adaptive child). YOU MAY NOT HAVE ACHIEVED THE RESULT YOU WISHED FOR BUT YOU REMAINED STEADILY IN THE YOU THAT YOU WISH FOR. WHEN YOU REMAIN CALM/MATURE YOU WIN.
“We don’t ask someone why they cheat – that’s obvious. Affairs are flattering, new, and sexually pleasurable. We ask someone why they don’t cheat. What makes someone say no?” “Because I don’t want to hurt my partner. I don’t want to look into my kid’s eyes and explain why Daddy/Mommy screwed around on Mom/Dad. I don’t want my reputation ruined. And, believe it or not, I’d rather live in a state of integrity.”
He talks about the repair cycle of harmony, disharmony and repair. He calls the stage of repair knowing love. In this stage of repair, you are aware of your partner’s failings and shortfalls – the temper that’s too big, the affection that’s too small, the sloppiness, or stinginess or impulse to control – and yet you choose to love them anyway. What the relationship gives you far outweighs what it lacks so you embrace those parts of your partner that, left on their own, you might avoid. He talks about how many couples skip the repair cycle and leave themselves marinating in disharmony, eventually sweeping it under the rug until they trip over it again.
There are two types of couples: those who fight and those who distance.
He talks about Fierce Intimacy which is the essential capacity to confront issues, to take each other on, navigating the bumps that makes for true intimacy. He says “smooth, functioning avoidance is romantic death!
Repair demands assertion – not aggression, from the unhappy partner met with care and responsiveness, not defensiveness, from the other.
He shares a repair cycle that is a one way street; so when you are faced with an upset spouse it’s not your turn to air your conflicts – it’s your time to listen. Repair goes in one direction. When the other is in a state of disrepair, your only job is to help them get back into harmony with you, to deal with their upset and to support them in reconnecting. Don’t focus on what the other is doing wrong: focus on how you might be contributing. Don’t focus on how you are unheard: focus on how you might speak more effectively. Start with compassion: it doesn’t focus on who’s right or who’s wrong. Let them know that you care about them.
Typically, too often, we speak from a place of both anger and authority instead, speak up with love to exercise soft power. You can be connected or you can be powerful but you can’t be both at the same time. Power is OVER, not with, you break the thread of mutual connection when you move into power. Dominance does not breed intimacy. Powerful women often look an awful lot like powerful men YUCK! Soft power gives voice to the I and cherishes the we at the same time. Even starting out by saying “I love you.” “The first and most important thing I want to say is that I love you.”
In AwakenYou I have my clients work through a four-step process that helps them walk through the repair cycle in a way that brings intimacy back to the relationship after conflict versus disconnection and bitter anger. Then I also teach them how to receive when their partner is sharing what went on for them where you yield and listen.
He also emphasizes how to keep the repair process limited to the one instance you are in conflict over, to never bring up anything from the past, keep it there. Then both of you allow the repair to happen
There is so much more I want to share but I want to summarize my top take away which is to pay attention to what state you are in during disagreements. Know your relationship default dynamic and the part you play in that dynamic, while starting to see what your spouse’s default dynamic is. If you see yourself in the adaptive child state ask to take a break, ask to come back together to discuss at a different time and then make time to self-soothe and regulate your emotions. Take responsibility for your part of the disharmony and make time to repair. What I also want you all to take away is that intimate relationships are hard work, if you’re not up for the sweet results of intimacy that you never imagined possible then staying where you are is 100% a possible option.
For those of you who stuck around until the end I want to share a special gift with you that will help you determine whether you are in Adaptive Child personality or Wise Adult personality. When you can create this awareness that is when you will be able to start creating something different, something that will help you work through your disharmony and move back into harmony. If you are struggling with implementation please book that free coaching session now before you forget. Have an amazing week and keep this month’s goal top of mind! Happy hugging, ciao!
I am a marriage coach who helps women and couples go from feeling powerless to change how they feel about their marriage to feeling powerful and taking ownership of how they feel. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage, and through this process, you will begin to find that your partner will change as well! Schedule your free mini-coaching session today to discover how coaching can help you take your next steps forward toward what you want in your marriage.