fbpx

Tony welcomes Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife back to The Virtual Couch for the 5th time! They discuss a variety of topics, including ADHD, the challenge of helping couples envision a version of a relationship they haven't seen modeled or experienced, narcissism and emotional immaturity, and how to help a spouse "lean in" when they see their partner begin to show up differently in a relationship where the spouse had previously felt unseen. They explore Emotionally Focused Therapy, the differentiation models of couples therapy, and the role of self-confrontation not only for their clients but also in their own lives and relationships. 

Jennifer is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. She focuses primarily on teaching couples and individuals how to strengthen their relationships, overcome relational and sexual roadblocks, and increase their capacity for intimacy, love, and sexual expression. You can learn more about Jennifer at https://www.finlayson-fife.com/, where she offers online courses and her subscription-based podcast “Room For Two.” 

Find all the latest links to podcasts, courses, Tony's newsletter, and more at https://linktr.ee/virtualcouch

Inside ACT for Anxiety Disorder Course is Open! Visit https://praxiscet.com/virtualcouch Inside ACT for Anxiety Disorders; Dr. Michael Twohig will teach you the industry-standard treatment anxiety-treatment experts use worldwide. Through 6 modules of clear instruction and clinical demonstrations, you will learn how to create opportunities for clients to practice psychological flexibility in the presence of anxiety. 

After completing the course material, you'll have a new, highly effective anxiety treatment tool that can be used with every anxiety-related disorder, from OCD to panic disorder to generalized anxiety disorder.

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. Check out a trailer for the podcast here https://youtu.be/s7K8dqJ0uD0 and you can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

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.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Virtual Couch Jennifer Finlayson-Fife Transcript

Tony: Are you okay if I'm very, if we're very vulnerable about the fact that you were admitting that you aren't quite sure what we're talking about today? Okay. No, that's good. So, welcome Jennifer. I think this is maybe your fifth time on the couch. The Virtual Couch. So welcome back. I wonder as well, and I was even gonna, when I was thinking about the things, I would just love to know if you have thoughts on, and you may not, but ADHD in relationships. And I'm very open about my adhd. And that's taken me down this path of where I wonder if having 900 tabs open does anything as far as the bandwidth of a podcast. I dunno. Do you, do you have much experience with ADHD in relationships in coaching or therapy?

Jennifer: Yeah, actually because everybody in my family has a little bit. 

Tony: Okay. 

Jennifer: Although, I don't know if I think of myself as an expert on it though. Certainly a topic I'd be happy to talk about.

Tony: I just started doing a little bit of research on it because I notice it more, the more that I do a little parallel processing and understanding what mine looks like in my relationship because there's rejection sensitivity and there's impulsivity in some of those things that can play a role. So, all right. Maybe that's our sixth episode, I think. I think it will be good. 

Jennifer: Yeah. A lot of ADHD people marry someone who's more organized and you know, or more creative, innovative people are, they're that sort of expansive and then they kind of marry someone. That's the structure. And so then there's that tension that can get played out even though they both kind of wanted a little bit of what the other had, but it can play out in conflict

Tony: Because first of all, my first thought was, okay, I have seen this organization my wife has and it does look fascinating. I mean, but there was a book by Hallowell and Ratey called “ADHD 2.0” that I now refer to as scripture. It's really, it's incredible. But there's one part where I will say this and then we can move on. But they lay out this concept where apparently, non-ADHD people, there’s almost these switches where when they're doing, their thinking switch is also. And when the ADHD person is doing their thinking switch is still going thinking, thinking a hundred percent. And that one, so then when I see something more novel, then I'm gonna go do that. And then when somebody says, well, why don't you finish it? And that one resonated to me so much because, well, of course I'm gonna go do something else if it's really cool. But then if my wife's saying, well, why don't you finish what you were doing, then I don't have a good answer for that. Well, because I didn't, because something else. But then being aware of that's been nice because then I have to build in that pause.

Jennifer: Yeah it's an interesting concept. I, you know, anyway, I'll say this and then we can move on to what we hired. I have a sister-in-law, we used to work together back when I was working for my brother's company. The two of us were working for him in the summer between school semesters and so on. And she's just one of these people that's organized, on top of things,  she just, she just has a good, and so we would be doing parallel things, the exact same thing, which was lots of just clerical, like stamping and organizing and she was just so much faster at it than me. And I'd be like, just trying so hard to keep up and I would have to make my mind stay on the activity because my mind would go to other things, which is a part of who I am, right? I was, my mind was always like figuring out ideas and things, but it would slow me down. And so I'd be like, what is the matter with me? Why is she able to be so efficient? So on task at all times? It's just not really the way my brain works. 

Tony: Yeah. But I like it because that would kind of speak to even almost this spectrum concept because if you know you're a little bit off and if I'm just, I need to make jokes, I need to go get water, I need to find something else to do and come back, I'll do, and then they also, my family are much more.

Jennifer: I look like the organized one.

Tony: You do? Okay. How fun is that right? 

Jennifer: Well I just look like the one who's more on task anyway. And so anyway, it's interesting because I love a lot of people that are not particularly orderly in their way of thinking and doing things. There's a lot of gifts that come with it, and then things that are there. My son right now is on his way, flying here, but he forgot his wallet, didn’t remember his passport. I don't wanna talk about him, but it's a little bit like, wow. You know, that's not easy. So, yeah. 

Tony: That's great. Okay. Well, okay, I think we even started with this too, was I love your honesty about not being 100% sure what we were gonna talk about today. And then I love it because I had emailed Christie a month ago and said, I want to talk about this. And I kind of forgot about that, which maybe is part of this ADHD thing we're talking about. And so then I felt like, oh, I need to let her know. So I sent some stuff over this morning. So I do have some thoughts, but staying on this note a little bit too, I feel like maybe that the way that ADHD does show up is it does bring a lot of discomfort and I really have had to recognize and lately I'm on this kick on the Virtual Couch talking about what we do with our discomfort and, so I think that at times I want to then quickly turn to get that dopamine hit of novelty instead of sitting with feelings of discomfort. And then I'm watching that in my couple's situations. Some, even if they're using a really healthy framework to communicate, it's still gonna be uncomfortable. And then I feel like an ADHD person is really, really good at distracting or saying, but you don't understand to get outta that discomfort because by nature that's what we do. Because if we're doing something and that thinking switch keeps coming up, we're used to following that. So, I don’t know. 

Jennifer: Yeah. Can I just give another idea about that? Human beings are always wrestling with anxiety and our ability to stay present and be living life within the reality of life. So that's a human challenge. People that are more impulsive or ADHD are gonna bounce quickly to a new idea. They bounce away, perhaps. And they move into activity. But you know, somebody who's more organized or routinized may well handle it by moving into routine, by moving into, so that it's not necessarily more that ADHD people are less able to be present. So what I mean is that the mind is organizing and managing stress in the ways that it knows how. But the other thing I would say is some people are very, very anxious and are really struggling with self-regulation, and it looks more like ADHD than it is. And so there may be an ADHD element there, but it might be more of an anxiety response getting handled through distraction through, high, what's the word? Frenetic energy. But that's more about anxiety.

Tony:  It can be. Well, okay. And while I'm just talking, I'm giving some theories here, but the book also has a great chapter on medication, this “ADHD 2.0”. And it does say that the ADHD medication when administered properly is far more, I don't know, efficacious than other medications. And it says that how it can, it's the only thing that can change somebody's life within an hour. But then if the wrong person takes it and I think if somebody with anxiety takes it, it amps that anxiety. And so I will have people tell me, oh, I'm ADHD as well. But they say, but every time I take medication I just get really jittery or anxious. And when I took medication I felt hope. I mean it is all of the sudden everything came into place. That's a good diagnostic. 

Jennifer: Yeah. Right. It’s the primary factor. Anxiety. Also, ADHD really shows prior to age 12, when it's really just adhd. So it's a fundamental feature. So this same son, you know, it's my child on the autism spectrum, that was a co-occurring reality. And yes, when he started taking it, it's like his whole life changed. It was, you know, I became an addict to his medication because when he was taking it, he was able to self-regulate. He was much more capable socially. He was kinder to his sibling, like it just helped him get a handle on something and he didn't, we sometimes wanted to give him medication holidays because we worried a little bit about a younger person taking medication. He never wanted to take them. He's like, everybody gets upset with me when I'm not taking it. And you know, his ability to be social would go up. So it was a definite indicator that, I mean, maybe he felt some anxiety because of adhd, but yes, that was not the primary issue. 

Tony: No, I love that too because, man, look, we're now the, I'm gonna get to be able to put ADHD in the title with you and I'm so excited. No, I'm giddy about it, Jennifer. I am. But I had this situation where after I was, I had been on my medication and I didn't get my diagnosis till 46, so a few years ago. And, a year or two year into it, I'm supposed to go get a urine test to show that I'm, I don't know that that's what you do after a year, but I was so killing it at work and everything, and clients and writing a book and the podcast, and I didn't wanna take the time and finally they were gonna cut me off. And this is a funny thing I've learned since, is that there's two time frames with adhd. It's either now or later. So I was gonna do it later, and then later became now when they were gonna cut off my supply. Yeah. But, I think the story is, this relieved my anxiety. I would take it in the morning while I went and did the urine test later in the day. And then I get the call maybe a day or two later and they said, we need you to come in. And I thought, oh no, they found, I must have some sort of something I'm gonna die from in my urine. And I went in there and she said, hey, so why is there no methyl phenyl date? The ADHD medication, Ritalin, why is that not in your urine? And I didn't understand, and I was, I don't know I just, I take it and then I realized, I said, oh, wait a minute, you, so you think I'm selling it to middle school kids? Because it wasn't in the urine. And then, and so then I said, oh no, the last time I took it, I think it was maybe one o'clock that afternoon. And then, and I have the immediate release. So then I had metabolized it cause I drink a lot of water and yeah. And actually that made me feel good because it was something that was outta my system by the evening. And at that point I felt like, okay, you know, this is, this is really helpful. 

Jennifer: Yeah, it's great. 

Tony: But adhd, my go-to is I make jokes about everything internally. So when I really did say you think I'm selling it to middle school kids, and that was not funny to say to a psychiatrist apparently, because they didn't enjoy that joke at all. And I thought it was hilarious. But you know, you live and you learn a little bit, you know? So one thing that I was curious to get your take on, so I would love to know what you either tell people or what your idea of the ideal relationship is. And the tiny bit of backstory is that when I talk to people, and I think I'm so clever when I say, I laid out from the womb till the wedding. And I just said that to Christie and I said, man, I'm trademarking that because I'd never put it that way before. But like, then I can talk about abandonment and attachment issues in our childhood and then we show up in relationships and we're trying to figure out how do I show up so that this person will like me because I don't want to be alone. And then I always say we then we're enmeshed and codependent and then we go through life and we have experiences and. Say, this is how I feel, and this is how I feel. And if we're immature, then we jump back into enmeshment like, oh, I can't believe you think that. And then we're afraid of abandonment, so we jump back in. And so then I'm trying to tell people, all right, the goal is differentiated and interdependent and there's gonna be invalidation and all those things. But then at that point, I realize I sound like the, like a peanuts adult character, where I think, think that people are like, wa wa what are you talking about? And I don't know why it took me so long, Jennifer. Maybe it's because I felt like I was getting validation by people nodding their heads and, oh, I want that. But then I realized, oh, they don't even know what I'm talking about. And so do you, how do you, or do you lay out the, here's where we're headed?

Jennifer: I do a little bit, sometimes through role play or role modeling. What differentiate sounds like, and people can recognize it almost immediately as mature dealing with an issue, but not reactive or punitive or manipulative, but like anchored and centered. And so, you know, I do think it's sometimes the quickest way to give people a picture of it. But it's very conceptual for a lot of people. That there's something, this is really like, what I actually think is that this is something you feel your way towards. It's something you live your way towards, and then when you put language to it, it sounds interdependent and self-regulated. You use those words, but it's very hard to describe in words, especially because most people do not experience it. And so you're trying to use language that we don't have a lot of in our culture, in society. Because most of us are pretty immature, and so most of us are living pretty reactively in our relationships, so we know those words well, and so it, it's like trying to give people a sense of something to reach towards. And sometimes the best way to do it actually is to help people see what they're actually doing that is undermining the friendship because if they can stop doing it, what happens is their brain then has to be at a higher level. If they won't allow themselves to do the indulgent behavior, that's how people start to feel what more mature feels like.

Like if I'm not gonna manipulate my wife, but I really would like to have sex with her, maybe I need to just be more honest. But that feels scary. But yes, if I'm not gonna be manipulative and deceptive and I do really desire a sexual relationship, then maybe I need to tolerate the exposure of speaking more honestly. Well then they start to, well, you know, it doesn't mean that the partner's just gonna be like, oh, thank you so much for being honest. They may push in the opposite direction to get you back, but people start to feel better when they're functioning at a higher level. They start to acknowledge that something there feels more solid, more respect worthy. And at a minimum they start to respect themselves more. And you know, they're actually more of a force to be reckoned with in their marriage than when they were in their more petulant or reactive state. So I like your question because it's often like, how do you show people what we're talking about? But I find the most helpful thing is to help people see what they're doing and how it's interfering with their own goals.

Tony: Yeah. Right. Okay. And I like what you're saying, and it's funny because I wanted to make the joke and now that we've established adhd, I wanted to say at some point people are listening right now and hearing the wa wa wa from both of us, that's fine. Because that is okay. But I also feel like, and then if someone, when you hit on that discomfort for someone, if I'm gonna go back to the ADHD or the rejection sensitivity is, man, do you watch that? Do you see that person? Not necessarily just an ADHD person, but, shut down. Or do you see that person try to queue up their yeah, buts?  I mean, when are you watching that happen as well?

Jennifer: Give me a little more of an example. 

Tony: So, I feel like I love everything you're saying. And then I'm, I think maybe this is the part where now having been doing couples therapy for so long, I start thinking, I don't want to call it cynically, but the worst case scenario of what happens with that, so when I get people into that place of where, no, it's okay and you're gonna feel uncomfortable and let me show you what, what that looks like, that then when that person now is met with having to really express themselves, that I just, I watch that reactivity or I watch that, that hesitancy or hesitation and then I think that can be a hard thing to get somebody to move through.

Jennifer: It is, it is hard, but I would say when I'm being my most helpful, I'm not trying to get people to do it. I'm trying to help people see how they're capitulating to their fear, how they're, how they're moving into a guarded or deceptive position, and it becomes their own courage or their own unhappiness with themselves that pushes them into a clearer position. Now, the person on the other side may then get reactive or may want to push away from it, but then I would go to that person and help them see how they're handling themselves in the face. You know, you say you wanna know your partner, but then when he starts to talk straight to you, you punish him for that. So I'm just helping them see what they're doing, because we're so good at lying to ourselves. All of us, we're good at telling ourselves the story that we like about ourselves. Not the one that accounts most data. And so when someone is speaking honestly to you, or when a therapist or coach is being helpful, they're showing you something that you tend to stay blind to and giving you your mind the opportunity to deal with that truth better. And that's what helps people get stronger is their minds accommodate more truth about themselves.

Tony: I love your Room For Two podcasts. I do. I listen to that often, and then I find myself becoming a little, pulling some Jennifer cards out in my own sessions. Of course, I take credit for them, you know, a lot. And, even my, I always say it but I feel like that it's no scarcity mentality in mental health is what I tell, what I tell myself at least. But I, but I think you've said some things, like at one point, I think you've said something like, we put a version of ourselves out and we say, hey, validate this. And then the person is saying but what if I can't? Then it's, how dare you? But so I really like having that opportunity to say, okay, well this is some information and, yeah, it's an opportunity to self confront, but that doesn't mean the person absolutely has to. And I find that, yeah, when you frame it in a certain way, I feel like then it's almost a welcoming opportunity. Okay, I'll take a look at that. And maybe, and that does seem to go well, more than it doesn't. Maybe it's just because people are secretly we want to, we want to grow, we want to be better, but that's, it is scary. 

Jennifer: Yeah. The psyche, it is scary. And I, you know, the psyche is pushing us to be whole. It is pushing us. I like that to accommodate more truth, but we then also have our reactive mind that's afraid of it. We're afraid to go to our shadow work, afraid to go to the dark parts of ourselves or the parts of ourselves that we haven't yet accommodated. And so when our spouse is the messenger, which they often are because they see us better than we see ourselves. You know, we try to take them down rather than deal with our darker selves. And that's marriage. I mean, that's really what marriage is. So often the healthier a couple is, the less pressure it takes to accommodate more truth. The more willing they are to look at themselves and how they're impacting their partner and do something about it. Not to make the partner happy, but to be a better self in relationship to their partner.

Tony: Okay, can I ask you too, Jennifer? I do feel like I don't know if we touched on this maybe the last time we spoke, but, how we become therapists and we don't think we're doing it to fix ourselves within, maybe along the way we realize, I mean, I love that opportunity to self confront and I have found, and maybe even recently where I think I wanted more interaction with my son and he's 19, and so then he threw out this offer to go play golf and I immediately reacted with a pause. And I, thank goodness, I did a little, I was able to get a do-over and was very present. But, you know, my wife then I had a good conversation about it and I loved it because she was able to say, hey, here's what that looked like. And I feel like, yeah, when you practice this and there's safety and we're not gonna be perfect at it, I was really grateful that she was able to point out a couple of things that, you know, I, and I wanted to immediately defend my ego and say, oh no, I, you know, I've read this book and masculine in the relationship, and I asked for a do-over and I was back, and that's a good thing. And I was like saying, oh, that sounds good to alleviate my discomfort. But instead, let me hear what it was like. And she had a few extra details that I think really helped with everything from body language to tone that I wasn't even aware of or I didn't want to think. Are you finding yourself doing the same thing in your own relationship or, because I imagine a lot of people feel like, well you, you must already have all this stuff down pat. 

Jennifer: Well, let's see. I'm just thinking about your example. I'm trying to, I don't know if I completely followed what you're saying, but I think I know what you're saying, which is that you were getting feedback from your wife that was elucidating or showing you something like she could track your mind better than you could track your mind. Okay. Yeah, and she's saying like, you were making this gesture and you were doing this, and that's a hundred percent true. Like spouses can track our minds, kids can track our minds, like my teenager was making fun of me because he's imitating me and my false modesty about something like somebody complimented me and then afterwards he's like, oh yeah, no, it's nothing. You know? And the way he's doing it, you know, is like using my words and it's super embarrassing. He's totally, he's saying, I see you, mom. You're not that modest. You know, you love it. So, but yeah, so our, our kids, our spouses see us, but you're asking about my own marriage, how does it go? Like do you have a more specific question? 

Tony: Yeah, I do actually. So I mean, have you had those opportunities that are things that you weren't necessarily aware of? And I'll tell you a more vulnerable one for me was my wife, she was sharing with me this concept around sometimes the kids aren't 100% sure or she isn't, of which version of me that she was gonna get. And thankfully I was in, I was looking for this feedback. We were talking about some things that I was sharing with her about as a couple's therapist and she said, yeah, sometimes you come in and you are really excited and happy. And in essence, I felt like she was saying, I'm making it rain, throwing out dollar bills, you know, that sort of thing. And other times I might, I might come in and I would say, man, I just feel like everybody, I'm just a paycheck and everybody's taken advantage of me. But I was so grateful to be able to say, okay, let me take a look at that and is there truth in that? And there really was. And then I was able to step back and recognize the days where I, maybe there's something else going on and then I'm coming in and I'm bringing that into the home, and I didn't like that, so I dunno. Do you have some of those? 

Jennifer: Well, yeah. No, I mean, I'm trying to think of examples, but absolutely. I mean, I guess I would say that's the thing that's been, that I'm probably the most grateful for about my husband is that he really is a kind soul, like the way that people will describe him is very kind and, not nice necessarily, do you know what I mean? He's not a nice guy. He really is a kind person and he is willing to be inconvenienced to help other people. So that is really who he is, but he's also a very honest person. So he's quite loyal and I actually think he sees me through a bit of a rose colored lens a lot of the time, which I like. I'll take it. But on the other hand, he is honest and he will be honest with me and he'll say what he really thinks and he's not saying it usually to get me to think something. He's just willing to reveal his own mind. And I guess while he can get upset sometimes or be mad, I don't have the feeling like he's trying to hurt me or trying to, that's not the agenda there. And so that's extremely helpful. It doesn't mean that when he gives me, you know, says things that are truthful that I'm, you know, I'm often like, ah, you know, I often will react with, at first, like, you know, no, you're wrong. And defensively, but the thing is he makes himself highly credible because he doesn't have an agenda to hurt me or take me down or even prove his mind to me. Most of the time it's usually about just, this is what I think, or this is what I see, or this is what I see you do.

And so that's harder to do, I do care about being honest with myself. And I care about being fair to him. I don't mean to say that I'm always being honest with myself and always being fair. Of course. Right? But I do value those things and so it matters to me to deal with what he's saying. But he also really does make it easier, which I'm really grateful for because if he were meaner about it or whatever, I could justify not looking at it, if he were more defensive or had his own kind of insecurities playing out in that, even if he was saying exactly what's true about me, it would make it easier to justify not seeing myself. And so, yeah. And you know, it goes both ways. I'll give my honest thoughts about things. You know, I do think it's why we get along is because there is a basic sense of honesty, and that makes the marriage feel freer. Well, I like what you said, couples are trying to manage each other a lot that they feel, you know, I was working with a couple yesterday and the sex is just always awkward and the interactions are often awkward, but that's because they are always pretending they really struggle to be honest. And so there's a lot of manipulation and management. When I say manipulative, I don't mean dark, mean manipulative. I mean masking, managing what's said, managing what's shown, and rather than I would like to have sex, it's more like, do you wanna have sex or what do you have in mind for tonight or whatever. And there's just this kind of constant masking of minds. So it always, there's always pretending. And then whenever you're pretending with someone, it's super awkward. There's no real intimacy. And a lot of couples do a lot of pretending because they don't tolerate more honesty in themselves or in their partner or their spouse punishes a lot if they speak honestly. So they've learned to not do it. But there's, you know, that people claim to love the truth, but the truth is hard. The truth is challenging. The truth pushes us to grow up. And like you said, we want it, but we avoid it. Yung said something like, the information we most need is hiding in the places we least want to look. And that's the kind of the realities about ourselves that scare us because they push us into growth. But yeah, if we avoid them, then they really do run our lives.

Tony: I agree. And I like that because the more I think we talk about the sitting with the uncomfortable feelings and, tell me if you agree and you don't have to agree with this at all, but I feel like we are so unused to doing that, that it isn't as scary as we think it is once we practice it. There's a researcher named, well researcher, writer, Terrence McKenna of olden days. And he used to say, “it's like jumping out into the great abyss and finding out it's a feather bed”. And I love that example because I feel like when we can sit through some of that discomfort and then I love what you're saying, find then all of a sudden, well, I do, I, when you say the psyche is pushed that way, I want growth and now I'm excited about it. 

Jennifer: I think the psyche, I mean, Yung talks about this a lot and you know, that we're striving for wholeness, that that's what our minds are trying to do, or you know, that our dreams are trying, is the psyche trying to reveal aspects of our lives ourselves are tending to not wanna deal with. And so it's kind of the psyche pushing towards wholeness. But we have another part of our brain that wants stasis, that wants control, that wants, it's the ego, right? And the ego, we need the ego, but the ego can be the enemy sometimes because the ego loves control. And yet we have so very little control. And the more we cling, the less and less control we actually have. And so we've got two pressures, but there's certainly one that's pushing us towards growth. Like, you know, a lot of times when the body is in reaction, I had a client who always was having pain and rashing and all these things, and she would blame her body like, my body's turned against me, my body doesn't want me to be happy. My body's working against me. But this, you know, she started working with a doctor that did this, was also a therapist in working with a lot of these kinds of meanings, and as she started to pay attention to her body, she saw that her body was trying to help her. Her body would go into a physical reaction when there was something going on in her relationships that was working against the best in her.

And so once she stopped blaming her body and understanding her body wanted her to thrive, well, then it really changed it because first of all, it allowed her to address things that were going on in her life. It allowed her to stop being in a combative relationship with her body that's really trying to sustain. And also allowed her to address things and change things, so her body reacts less, way less now, and even when it does, she sees it as a gift to pay attention to what's happening in our relationships. 

Tony: Oh, that, I mean, the body keeps the score, the Bessel van der Kolk. And I have to tell you as well, I don't ever get a chance to do this, but, I've had a couple of people that have reached out to me and said that you've said nice things, referred people if I'm working in the world of emotional immaturity or narcissism or that sort of thing. And I think that that's really come up a lot there where, if I'm helping people, you know, I've got these tenants where you know, no one wants to say  my partner is narcissistic, so I feel like I meet people where they're at. Because if they read material that talks about narcissism, it says don't finish the paragraph, leave. And no one, no one's gonna do that because they don't even know what that means or what that looks like. And so, yeah, so I say raise your baseline. That's self-care. Get your PhD in gaslighting. Get out of unproductive conversations, set boundaries and know that boundary is a challenge to the emotionally immature. And then I talk about, you know, nothing you will do will cause them to have this aha moment or epiphany that they have to come up with that on their own. And I feel like that one's the hardest one for people to break. And I feel like their body ends up being the thing that is the thing that I feel like they eventually realize that every time I try to go back in and try to make sense of explain, care take, you know, then they start to feel panic attacks or headaches or memory is a challenge. And so I like what you're saying because I mean, that is, yeah, I feel like that's the final straw of helping somebody recognize maybe that they aren't safe in the relationship when their body is trying to say, I'm trying everything. I'm trying anxiety, I'm trying depression. Don't make me give you a heart attack. And, that's what I think can happen.

Jennifer: Exactly. Whenever we're trying to control what we don't have control over, especially another, a partner that won't self-confront, you know, that illusion is often hard to let go of because you want the control, the fantasy that if you say the right thing, do the right thing, whatever, they're gonna space themselves, they're gonna become a kinder person or whatever. And often, you know, the body is in reaction to that, but also giving up that project is the only chance that something will shift. 

Tony: Yeah. So, okay. This did actually lead to, I think what I initially reached out, to ask Christie to bring up was when I do get a guy into therapy, and I was even gonna tell you a funny thing when we were gonna jump on and then I forgot, but I was just talking with my intern, my associate, Nate Christensen, and he's a big brain guy, but he said he just was reading that therapy was initially, someone was saying that therapy was initially for women and that's why it's all about feelings. That was Freud's, I guess, goal. And that, you know, some men, he worked with a lot of women. And that men need to do things differently. And so that's why, and then he went into this thing about suppression and that it's about aggression and that men can feel close even when there is stress or aggression. And then how that can, and I thought that was an interesting thing. I thought that was really fascinating. But where I was going with that was, so I get a lot of men that come to me, I think because, I dunno, maybe it's as simple as I'm a guy, I don't know. But then when I can get a guy to feel heard and understood, maybe do a little self confrontation, I find that there are times where, I have examples, where the wife has said this is what I want. I want this guy who will hear me and open up and stay present. And now I, you know, on occasion I can get a guy to that place and then it's as if the wife now starts to push more buttons. And when I did some betrayal trauma training with Dr. Skinner, Kevin Skinner, a long time ago, he would talk about, you know, okay, that they're testing for safety or things may go well and a couple of years down the road, you know, she may say, I don't, I don't even know if this is, if I should have come back and, and if the guy says, man, thank you for sharing. I'm here. It keeps her amygdala calm, and still testing. But I found that, I'm curious if you see or what your thoughts are on that. If I do have this guy show up differently and the wife has said, this is all I've ever wanted, but now that more buttons are pressed and I will have a guy, all of a sudden I'll say, well, wait a minute. Now, is she the narcissist or is she the emotionally immature? And I wanted to say, okay, I hear you, but let's slow down a little, but it's, I don't know if that's just her body, can a change happen too fast? What do you think? 

Jennifer: Well, I, you know, so a couple things. I tend, when I'm working with people, to not just think, okay, let's say that you have a narcissistic, I mean, there's a lot that I would even say about that because that's…

Tony: Yes. Let's just say like somebody that is emotionally immature.

Jennifer: Who's been emotionally immature has tended to dominate situations. And take too much. And let's say that, that there's the, let's just put it in the, this form that the woman is the one who's been kind of burned by that. And she is exhausted by it and he's starting to self confront and change. The way I tend to talk to the person in the woman's position in this example is that your goal isn't just to trust your partner and your goal isn't just to wait until they have become safe. I'm not, I don't really think in that frame so much. The goal is if you're gonna choose this person, they need to grow into somebody who's more capable of handling themselves while they know you, that they need to learn how to be a self without dominating or taking too much and that matters. But you also, wife, have been operating in a marriage in which you are an over functioner. It doesn't look like it from what I'm saying, but for the person in a relationship with a narcissist, the person is over-functioning. They're trying to make things right. They're trying to manage that guy's ego. They're trying to keep him happy, give him the sex that will keep him. And so they're doing all these things in the fantasy that if they do everything, he will be okay and they will be okay. And so she has to also grow out of that. And let's just say the guy really does start to self confront and really is dealing with him. There's a certain amount of testing you, you know, are you really legit? Are you really there for me? 

But what is also, and I'm not saying this is always the case for me, it means I've gotta discern what, what's happening here? Is this guy really not as developed as he's saying, and she can track it. Or is it that she wants the too little, too late position because then she doesn't have to. Because something that's, that's trying to solve the husband all the time in this case, you know, doing everything to make that person okay, is also intimacy avoidant, even though it doesn't look like it. They want to be needed. They want to be the solution. They want to be the one that the guy needs in a sense. And so that's, that's a need-based frame, not an intimacy. Somebody that thinks they have to follow all over themselves to prove themselves to the narcissistic guy. Doesn't have a solid sense of self. Isn't clear that being knowledgeable is a safe thing for anyone, right? So part of the reason they chose this guy is because they don't have to be that known by him when he's the only party, when he's the only show in town in his mind. So if he's growing out of that, that's a very different thing than she wants to actually be. Now a lot of us talk about, I don't feel seen, don't feel well. I don't know that many people that actually wanna be seen. They just want the good parts to be seen, you know? 

Tony: Yes. 

Jennifer: A lot of times people are complaining about that.

Tony: Let me just, I have to tell you, Jennifer, as you were saying this, and this is actually, this is so good because I could talk about this, for the light, then went through your blinds and shown, and it was just you. All of a sudden, you, the sky's parted, heaven smiled upon you and then you, you gave the world this gift. Exactly right? 

Jennifer: Yeah totally, that’s what it was. So, her ability to actually be knowable, right? How many of us really want our partner to look into our soul? Unmitigated, right. Flaws and all. I mean, you know, that takes some real, that's scary. Courage. Scary. Yeah. And so, it's often like, I still don't trust you. I still don't trust you. Is a way of getting away from that anxiety, all of that. And you know, and there may be things going on on his side, but you don't want to keep his growth from, it doesn't have to be, he must be fully grown up before you deal with yourself. She also needs to be dealing with her own over-functioning and her need to be needed and her anxiety about her.

Tony: That is so good. And I feel like this is where, and I would, I mean, there is real, incredibly emotionally immature, or strong narcissistic trait and tendency, people that are still looking for the buttons pressed and the way to manipulate. So I do, you know, and I know I work a lot with that population. And that can be really difficult. But I like what you're saying because I do feel at some point, because if it really isn't the narcissist, I would imagine, in this scenario we're talking about a wife who then grew up not necessarily seeing the boundaries modeled or secure attachment in childhood. So she didn't know how to say no or that sort of thing. And so maybe that has led to that. And so I know that can be hard, but I love what you're saying because I think this is where it's hard for me because I want to at times just say, not to, hey, give him a chance. I like this concept of, I call it, introducing positive tension. So now let's, let's have a chance to really use the tools. I've got these four pillars of a connected conversation based off of emotionally focused therapy, and that's where I feel like, we no longer have to have the guy to say, no, I get it now. And she says, oh, okay. Now I want her to say, well, tell me more. What, what do you get? What do you understand? What is different now? Because I find that the real emotionally immature says it. I mean, I get, I'm telling you I get it. And that's where I feel like you'll find quickly how, if the guy is really self confronting or, or able to sit with that.

Jennifer: Yeah. Okay. Something to say about it. It's not just, you know, like sometimes, well then I went and I apologize. What did you apologize for? What exactly? Like if it's deep, if it's true, self confrontation, there's something there. I can see that I do this to you. Something that I tend to say with people is that, you know, we're all kind, we're all narcissistic. I mean, in a sense we all start out very self preoccupied. Even if we are somebody who is always nice and can never let anybody be disappointed. It's about managing our ego needs. And so there is a self-centric element to it. And as we are willing to self confront no other people's experience of us, know ourselves in relationship, we're able to grow out of our egocentrism. So narcissistic people are often ego-centric in a particular way. But I try to make a distinction with people narcissistic and narcissistically impaired. Narcissistically impaired person is a person that is not going to yield. They're not gonna change. They aren't able or willing to actually self confront. They may give all the verbiage and know how to make it look like it, but they're not actually in any kind of self confrontation in the wee hours of the night. And that's very different from somebody who's inclined to go one up, to look honestly at themselves and to start dealing with who they are.

That's a person. You don't have to be perfect to trust that person. You just have to be with someone who's willing and able to do that, and it matters to them to be a decent human. If it only matters to you when you're trying to convince your narcissistic partner that they should be a decent person, that's not gonna go. No, if they want to be a decent person and you can tell it and they're willing to deal with themselves and you see them doing it, you know that's a good person to be challenged with and to be addressing your half of that dynamic with not, because you gotta wait for them to be perfect because you can see that they do wanna grow and they wanna be better and they're willing to be honest. Even if it takes some work sometimes, they're willing to grow. That's trustworthy, the people that get entrenched and stay there and won't, won't be challenged. Well, it's not a good choice to be in a relationship.

Tony: And and I don't know if I gave you credit for this last time we spoke, but when we spoke a couple of times ago and we were talking about narcissism, you had mentioned everybody's a little narcissistic. And at that time I remember feeling a little bit like, well, well, no, I mean, I don't think, I think I framed the question wrong. You’re absolutely right. And then in, so I've got the Waking Up to Narcissism podcast, which is now as big as the Virtual Couch, and in that one I was very intentional about nine or 10 episodes in, I had an episode called, wait, am I the narcissist? And I really did lay out the narcissistic personality disorders, maybe two or 3% of the population. But if you start with, we're all emotionally immature, and that's where I give you a little nod, you know, then we can work from there. And I have found that it is a much better place to operate from. And I feel like the people I work with are willing to say, okay, I can take a look at emotional immaturity, but narcissism, I think it just carries so much. It's out in the zeitgeist so much, a lot of negativity out. Everybody’s ex is a narcissist.  You know what I mean? That is a fact, I've been told on TikTok, as a matter of fact. That makes me laugh. So in that part, I appreciate that too. And, okay, if you have a couple more minutes, there is now that I feel like, boy, I feel like we've covered all these fun things today. As a, from a therapist standpoint, I would love your thoughts on another thing, and maybe I'm wanting you to validate me or compliment my fragile ego. So there are some of the, there are some groups that I'm a part of and I love, and a lot of them quote you, which is amazing and wonderful. And there will be something that we brought up where someone will talk, you know, the crucible method versus EFT, for example.

And then people will get pretty, pretty discouraged about it. And I have a copy and paste available now where I say, as an EFT therapist and a thousand couples later or whatever, and I've tried to make it into these four pillars of a connected conversation. Preston Pugmire, who I know you know, helped me create this course. And so that was him helping coach these tangible steps and I love it so much. And so then I feel like then I'm all on board with differentiation and cleaning up your side of the street and not looking for that external validation. But I find my copy and paste says that, that is amazing. But I feel like sometimes what I'm reading is somebody says, this is all I can do is take care of me, and if my partner doesn't show up, then this is not a viable relationship. And so I've been saying, well, I feel like the EFT, emotionally focused therapy, my four pillars, that's the conduit to communication to then maybe help get to that place of differentiation or, but I would love to know your thoughts. Like do you have just the overall thoughts on the EFT versus the crucible method or those two things?

Jennifer: I mean, I do, I do, I don't tend to like to get into that, well, I'm, I'm happy to answer it, but I'm just saying I don't tend to like to get in the conversation because I don't feel like I understand EFT enough. And I don't, I'm happy to give you some ideas though, but just like sometimes I will critique sex addiction programs. I've learned I don't wanna do that because some are very on point and very valuable. So it, so what I do sometimes is I say, if a program is teaching you this idea, I think it's dangerous. If a program is teaching you this idea, I think it's dangerous. So it's more like that, if it's teaching you this, it will be helpful in my view. But I think the fundamentals, so first of all, Adam Miller, and these were both people that happened to be in my ward and Hardy, I can't remember his first name right now. They wrote, they co-authored, they were Northwestern students and they co-authored a paper about really laying out the tenets of EFT and differentiation theory and kind of arguing. So, it was very, it's very well written and well done and worth reading, did I say Adam Miller? I mean Adam Fisher. Adam Fisher and Nathan Hardy, so that's worth reading. What I would say in my rudimentary understanding is the question of locus of control or where is the center of change in these models as they were originally understood.

Now how practitioners use them, it may be very different. Maybe EFT has shifted since its sort of initial idea, but that's what I think is the core issue is in the EFT model. It's that we attached, which we are, we attach at an early age, and then we have attachment styles, which all, which I agree with. But the idea of the model is often that change happens through the marriage by the partner being the attachment object that was needed, right? So validating feelings, reflecting back, communicating in a certain way. And so the change, the locus of control is in the partner. 

Tony: I see what you're saying.

Jennifer: Okay. Now, I don't know. You know, somebody might say, no, no, you don't get it, and I may not get it. So I'm, I'm not here to say like, I get it and I know. I'm just saying that's my view from the first time I read about it. Where in differentiation theory, one attaches no question. And we attach and we do things in a certain way. And not only do we attach, but we also, so we, not only do we wanna be in relationship to others, we also wanna be in relationship to our, and, but the locus of change is within the self. Now this is not to say that people don't affect our sense of self. They deeply do. They're very, very entangled with other people, but what the change agent is, is helping people see how they are in relationship to others and how they're trying to have a self in relationship to others. And the ways that that effort is creating trouble in their relationships to others and themselves. And in that awakening to change, to change their behavior in relationships. So the locus of control is within the self, it's in the self-regulation. And so it's just a different, it's helping people see more. Truthfully, the problem I have with, if it's in your partners, like you both have a half empty tank of gas and you're looking for the other one to fill it up, right? Because people, your spouse doesn't have it to give usually right now. I don't mean to say your spouse doesn't affect you and when they grow, it does positively impact you. 

But a lot of times we're trying to show forth love, make our spouse feel loved, give them security, and while it can help a little, I think that it's still got the focus in the wrong place. Now, I don't know if this is how EFT therapy runs or how it is at this, but to the degree that that's the model operating in any therapy, like Imago therapy, I think is almost a hundred percent that. And so to the degree that it's doing that, I think it's only minimally effectual. And there can, there can be things that are beneficial about a conversation style. I'm just gonna sit and validate what I can. I'm not saying that as a tool, there can't be some value in that for helping people to settle down, not react and just listen. But I think as a kind of fundamental model of change, I think it has some limitations.

Tony: No, Jennifer, I do love that. And there's a part of me that feels like, okay, I don't want to now throw my 2 cents in, but then I realize, oh wait, we're on my podcast. And my people, my people, that sounds very egotistical, but your listeners are, you know, I talk about my four pillars all the time, and I actually feel very validated by that because I do feel like, I look at and I think you're actually right where I may not even know where EFT, I think I've slowly morphed my own version of EFT into this. I mean, a lot of, you know, it's like, yeah, right. And so I feel like the model that I use. It really is almost as simple as someone expresses something to their partner and their partner then immediately that has a meaning to them. And they can be, they can take offense. They can. So I, you know, my first pillar is assuming good intentions or there's a reason why somebody says what they do. And I feel like it's core is because that's the way that they express themselves or that's the way that they feel like they have to show up in order to be heard. And then I, you know, my second one is, you can't tell that person they're wrong or I disagree. Even if you think they're wrong and you disagree because any of these are gonna take the conversation out into the weeds. And then my third pillar is, okay, I'm gonna ask questions before I make comments. Well, tell me what that means for you. Help me understand. And that's where that discomfort kicks in and some empathy. 

And then I, and then my fourth one, I say stay present. And you can't go into a victim mentality. If you follow those first three pillars and then say, okay, no, you're right. I guess I'm a horrible piece of garbage No. To rescue me. Right. And so I do feel like I like what you're saying because I feel like I'm trying to use it as a communication tool to stay present so that then we can self because I feel like it's too easy for the emotionally mature to take any conversation out into the weeds. Then they never get to accountability or self confrontation. But I think as you're expressing that, why I feel validated is because I actually think I have taken that off on a little bit of my own path. And so yeah, when I, when I come in and say, oh, I hear people that talk about the differentiation model and then because I validate it and I feel like maybe they're waiting for me to say, that's dumb, you know, EFT is it? And I love, I love your concept about the locus of change because I think you're right and maybe we're both wrong, but we're both right as well and that sure feels good.

Jennifer: Yeah and I do think communication models, for example, can be very helpful for just giving people tools. Something to kind of anchor their anxiety to as they're walking through a difficult conversation, in online, the Strengthening Your Relationship course, I do the same thing. I'm giving them a communication model that is as anchored as I can make it in their own integrity. And self confrontation. Before they even open their app, you know that they are dealing with themselves. First, rather than trying to get their self, their spouse to buy into a view that's not even true. However, one can do that model. So what that's, your model would work very well if it's two people who are really trying to deal honestly with themselves, be fair. And that model can just help them manage themselves through, so it can really be helpful. But what I think is that people can also use models whether yours or mine to not deal with themselves, you know what I mean? Like they can go through the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.

Tony: Absolutely, I say they weaponize the tool. And what's interesting then is in the, again, I found myself working with a lot of emotionally immature or narcissistic traits people and surprise, because I have a podcast that has narcissism in the name, so I'm not, I'm not shocked by that, but I feel like even the having a framework has allowed people to then see that the emotionally immature person can't play in the sand. That they're so special that when they tell me how crazy their wife is, even, I will put away my beloved four pillars, and now we will join in triangulation and let her know how bad she is. And, and I feel like that's what you end up seeing kind of back to what we were saying earlier versus the person saying, oh my gosh, I didn't know what I didn't know. Here's a tool, let's use it. And then I do. I feel like that's the part and then the, and then it's, our brains love that. 

Jennifer: I mean, we all do that. Just start using the words differentiation and self regulation. You sound like you're really, you know, I know. I love ideas too. I'd much rather talk about ideas than actually go through the horrors of self confrontation. I mean, who wants to do that?

Tony: Yeah.

Jennifer: Right. So it's easy to talk about ideas. Christ talked about this. We love the letter of the law. Spirit of the law is much. 

Tony: Yeah, it is. Yes. Yeah. I love it, man, Jennifer. Okay. Thank you. This was so funny because when we look back on today's interview, it was, it was kind of, it was, it was everything, which to me that felt so satisfying and very good for this interview. So thank you so much for meeting me. What a joy. And I just looked down. I can't even, I feel like it's been 30 minutes and so thank you and I would love to have you on it. I'll do the research now on ADHD and relationships and then, man, I would love to have you back on and talk about that too.

Jennifer: Sure. That would be fun. 

Tony: Okay. That'd be good. All right. Thanks so much. It's always good to see you. Thanks. Bye-bye. 

Geoff Steurer, LMFT talks with Tony about how to rebuild trust in a relationship even after situations that couples believed they would a) never stand for in their marriage and b) believe healing was even possible, like infidelity and betrayal. Geoff is the host of the podcast "From Crisis to Connection" and co-author of the book, "Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity."

You can find Geoff at https://www.geoffsteurer.com or on Instagram: @geoffsteurer or Facebook: @geoffsteurerMFT

-

Sign up for Geoff's Trust Building Bootcamp by following this link https://www.geoffsteurer.com/a/18461/ZB9Pb8qW and enter VIRTUALCOUCH15 for 15% off the course.

-

Tony appeared on two episodes of Geoff's podcast "Protecting your marriage in a faith crisis (part 1) - Tony Overbay - Episode 93" https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/from-crisis-to-connection-with-geoff-steurer/id1290359940?i=1000522608518 and "Protecting your marriage in a faith crisis (part 2) - Tony Overbay - Episode 94" https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/from-crisis-to-connection-with-geoff-steurer/id1290359940?i=1000523235363

-

Sign up today to be the first to know when the next round of The Magnetic Marriage Course will launch http://tonyoverbay.com/magnetic

-------------------------- TRANSCRIPT ------------------------

[00:00:00] I have so many things I want to say, two stories to tell about about my guests today. People would ask me if I knew Jeff. I just feel like there was a nice instant connection. I was on just podcasts for not one, but two episodes because we were just vibing so well. So, Gestur, welcome to the virtual couch.

[00:00:18] Tony, my brother from another mother man just now.

[00:00:21] Right. I love this. I couldn't wait to do the joke, I think, on your podcast where I was saying when I was looking over your website, we are the same other than you are far more handsome, have a lot more hair. And then you've both written books about pornography, addiction and recovery. And we've got podcast, I guess. Oh, that's so crazy.

[00:00:39] Same thing. When I first started, it said people like, hey, Tony, I said, looking at your stuff. And I'm like, wait a second, we almost do the exact same thing. This is so dang cool. But some people might feel threatened by that.

[00:00:50] But that's what I was going to say. Fantast. Yeah, because I really think there's a cool thing there with the concept of scarcity mindset versus that growth or, you know, growth mindset, because we're both just we're both just trying to change the world.

[00:01:03] Right, Jeff? Absolutely. Absolutely. People are hurting, man.

[00:01:06] I was going to mention something that then someday this will seem dated. When I was waiting for us to begin. I was looking at my phone to see what the air quality is, to see if we're going to watch high school football tonight, because there are so many fires in the area that I met. And and I feel like anywhere I talk to someone, there's some sort of a natural disaster. How are things in Southern?

[00:01:24] Yeah, air quality stinks, as definitely have some. Yeah, we've got fires in California that are the smoke is wafting over here and yeah, it's tough. Yes, we have beautiful, clear blue skies here, but it's just hazy. So so we don't usually get that kind of weather over here except the fire season.

[00:01:38] But yeah. And it's it's unfortunate there's a fire season. Hey, help my listeners know a little bit more about you. Give me your background. Tell me tell me about you, Jeff.

[00:01:47] Totally. I bet I actually have celebrating 25 years of marriage on Monday. Oh, congratulations. My wife, Jody, thank you. Yeah. And so, yeah, we've got four kids, ages 22 to 12. And yeah, I went to BYU, studied to be a journalist, and then I ended up at Auburn University doing marriage and family therapy. And I've been in marriage.

[00:02:08] Ok, I got to stop you right there. Little did I know what I'm saying. We have all these things. So that was my initial major in college as well as journalism. So that is why did why did you change your major or why did you stop?

[00:02:19] I didn't change it. I, I graduated with a communications degree and the same same.

[00:02:24] I did not know this about you. Mine's mass communications.

[00:02:27] Yeah. Mass communications, communications studies from BYU. And and then my senior year, I my wife and I had been married just a few weeks. I just met Wally Goddard, maybe, who, you know, and he lived next door to them. And we ended up living with them for two years in their basement. And it was from that experience that I decided I wanted to be a marriage family therapist. We just talked about marriages and families and all kinds of parenting, about these fictitious kids we didn't have yet. Yeah, I figured I would start talking about parenting stuff. And it was just so dynamic and interesting. And I just thought I got to do this for a living. And this is nuts. People talk about this for a living. And so I ended up this was my senior year, so I ended up changing a few classes around and got what I needed. And I ended up getting accepted into Auburn and did my my master's degree in MFT over there, moved to Alabama. Oh, wow. So, yeah, so I've worked now as an empty since I've been doing therapy with people for twenty three, twenty two years.

[00:03:24] Wow. Ok, I have so many questions about that, but I do not know about either. First of all, I think I missed the opportunity for a joke of were you an amazing parent, the fictitious kids, much better than with the best.

[00:03:34] Oh, dang. My wife and I would have actual real arguments about fake children that didn't exist. Right. I think we would we would all of a sudden just start discovering kind of all the different things that we had opinions about that you don't know you have opinions about. Yeah. And it was just really funny, because some points we would stop each other and go like we don't even have children. Why are we even talking about this? Yeah, but it was the collision of our ideas, our values, our backgrounds. But yeah. So interesting those conversations.

[00:04:02] No, I love that, because it's funny. We have kids that are for kids, as well as 22 or 23 to 17 somewhere around there. I know I'm in the ballpark and things do get a lot different. And we were just commenting a few days ago about, boy, when we were young, we really did feel like this isn't so bad. We've got this whole parenting thing figured out. And I've had a couple of people in my office lately that have said, boy, I wish I could go back there and because it seems so much easier. And so, yeah,

[00:04:29] I have all the answers. Be so confident. I know.

[00:04:31] Yeah. And so go ahead. Oh, no, go ahead. No, I'm so sorry, Jeff. I've got ridiculous follow up questions. Another one that I have is I didn't realize you've been doing actively doing therapy for so long. And I'm always fascinated by people that come out and they are working as therapists in their early 20s without kids, without they're just now married. And what was that experience like for you? Did people respect you? Did they did they want somebody that had already been through the been through the ringer, so to.

[00:05:00] Well, I think the people that were brave enough to say something would say things to me like I'm old enough to be your mother or stuff like that, but I think overall, like I had really good training from Auburn, great supervisors, great professors. And then my first job out of grad school was at a rural mental health clinic in Arizona. And I worked there. I worked there for six years. And so that gave me you would just call like street smarts. Like I joke with so many different kinds of cases, cradle to grave, every issue under the sun, serious illness, marriages, parenting and child therapy, everything. And so my my skill set just it really accelerated during that time. It was I just I felt like at the time that everybody needs to come work in a place like this because it was good, exposed me to so many things. And it was there that I learned what I really wanted to do. But yeah, no, it was tough. Like I was trying to do therapy with teenagers, but I had a one year old or I was trying to work with these marriages that have been married 30 years and I've been married five years. And so, yes, now that I've been married 25 years, I'm forty seven years old. I've got all these over two decades of experience under my belt. My obviously, my confidence is a lot higher now in terms of my ability to not only my training and experience, but also just lived experience. I just am not rattled by as much. Yeah, I think a way to put a confidence that things are going to work out or there's there's figure ways to figure it out. We can get there from here. Right. Like there's just things we can do.

[00:06:28] I love that that confidence that things will work out. I love that, because that's going to play a lot into what we're talking about today with trust and boundaries. And let me stay on that being, too. How did you you talk about you started to find the population you wanted to work with. What was that experience like and how did you find the population?

[00:06:45] Yeah, so I was working. I was doing so much child therapy. I had to play therapy room, the puppets, the whole works. Wow. And I loved it. But then I noticed that I would go home and not want to play with my own kids because I was so played out, OK. And I thought, OK, this isn't good. My kids will eventually grow up. But I love this. Is it really my thing? And what I found myself doing was I was always wanting to meet with the parents. I wanted to get my hands on the marriage. I was like, let's go up to the headwaters man. Like these kids obviously may have their own issues and temperaments and challenges, but I knew that there was something systemically going on upstream that I wanted to get my hands on. And so I ended up doing a lot of marriage therapy and billing it under the child's name. Ok.

[00:07:30] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:07:31] Right. So it and so for that, just because I wanted those parents to get a better environment for themselves and their kids, and that's where I was like, OK, I need to do I need to work with marriages that I registered my business, moved to Utah and started my marriage therapy practice.

[00:07:47] If anybody was this is the first time they're they're hearing me the comment. I'm sure the quote would be, if they're following you over here to this podcast, they're going to say, all right, Tony, back off talking about yourself here. But I can't I had no idea about this part of your career. I started with kid therapy as well. Of course

[00:08:02] You did, Tony, because we have the same

[00:08:04] Is the same. And the whole reason I didn't I went away from it was surprisingly because I wanted to deal with the parents because I felt like I was just giving the kid coping skills.

[00:08:13] Exactly right.

[00:08:14] Oh, that's crazy, Jeff. That is. All right. So then you go to Utah and now you're doing more couples

[00:08:19] At that point. So when I moved to Utah in 2006, I was starting to I was starting to do some work in my agency in Arizona. I was starting to run into online pornography issues, sexuality issues. And this was in 2006. So the Internet had been high speed, Internet was in homes. Now, at this point in the early 2000s. And you were starting now to see like the tsunami of online sexual betrayals starting to come into our offices, at least in my office. And this was in a rural community where there's no dirty magazine stores or strip clubs or nothing. This was like rural conservative community. But people were just blown apart their marriages with all this stuff. And I was like, oh, wow, this is definitely a problem. And I need I don't know what to do. I had training in marriage therapy and some other stuff, but I just I didn't have I wasn't equipped. So I reached out and got some training from the LIFESTAR network, from Damrey Toddles and those guys. Yeah. And they ended up saying, hey, we'll give you the rights, if you will, or the territory for southern Utah. And I moved out there, moved out to St. George and opened up a sexual addiction treatment program that I ran for 15 years.

[00:09:25] Wow. And I recently sold it. And but I'm that I really cut my teeth working with this population here in St. George. And Mark Chamberlain brought me on as a coauthor for his book a few years later. Kevin Skinner, I just started really connecting with a lot of these great therapists and mentors here in Utah, these guys that were doing some really great cutting edge work at the time and are still still doing great work. And it just was I just fell into this community of professionals and friends that were working with these issues and helping a lot of couples. And they have just. Come in over the years, and we've just been able to help so many people with pornography issues, sexual betrayal and fidelity, and then really learned how to put these marriages back together. Especially as I worked and did my training and emotionally focused couples therapy back in 2009 with Sue Johnson and her team. And so I just I just have had the opportunity and have been so fortunate to get great training, great mentors, great thought leaders. And we've just been able to do a lot of good things with these couples that are just looking for help, you know?

[00:10:29] Yeah. And again, and I think I don't think I even stress this enough at the beginning of this show. I loved being on your podcast so much. And we talked about some people that are navigating a faith journey. And we and then we ended up landing a little bit around the F.T. principles or about my battler's of a conversation. But so I feel like that is so important to have that framework. But what I feel like I, I would love to hear your thoughts on, and I think you've got such good ideas here on. So, you know, let's say we've got this framework to communicate, but how do we how do we start rebuilding trust? And I feel like that is the biggest thing that you see, especially when those couples come in and they just feel like they are in such crisis. And I don't know. What's that like for you? Where do you go first? What do you do?

[00:11:14] Yeah, that's the biggest reason why I built my trust building course and spent so much of my I wanted to really focus in on this because so many couples would come in and they would have a church leader or a loved one or themselves. Just think we just need to work on our marriage. We need to go on more dates and they're bleeding out. There's been a major betrayal, there's been a discovery, there's been some major infidelity or something. And the couple just is trying to now put back the marriage. But it's like putting back together something that it's like the pieces don't even fit. It's so shattered. And so it's like you just the things don't line up. And the couples is in trauma, one or both of them. And it's just very overwhelming. So you can't just start by pushing the marriage in front and trying to work on the marriage. It's another sort of way I've talked about this, is that when there's been a secret or a discovery of a secret. It's there's a big crater blowing in the ground. And so the one betrayed partner drops to a different level than the person who's had the information, had the had the upper hand in a way.

[00:12:16] And it's really critical for marriage therapy to work for marriage enrichment and these things we like to talk about with strengthening marriages. There's an assumption that the couple is on level ground to one degree or another. Ok. And so there has to be you have to backfill that crater and you have to do things to get that love that that relationship, get that person down in the hole, back up to level ground, because there's been such a huge violation. There's been such a power imbalance, a huge shift in the dynamic, in the relationship. So that starts with telling the truth, knowing exactly what's going on, safety, making sure there's healthy boundaries, making sure that that there's deep accountability from the person who broke the trust that they're they're actively serving in a role of trying to help the relationship, help the wounded partner. It's trauma. This is not just, hey, I have a bunch of needs. You have needs. Let's work on our needs together. It's not like that early on when there's a very Fermat trail like this. So that's where I start caino.

[00:13:18] I love it. And I would love to we could break down each one of those. And I'd love to get your thoughts. The part about telling the truth and maybe I'd love to get your thoughts, too, on the whole concept of I always say No. One, when they're going to confess or right after they got caught, let's say either of those situations, they don't say, all right, let's just take a time out before we say anything, you know, dumb. And a lot of times, that's where and right now I'll just say, let's say that's the guy that is the betrayer. Just the we we both work with men or women that have done that. But then they just at times, yeah, they're going to just unload and then. And tell me if you also see at first where people come into your office and the guy has he really has wanted to now say, OK, here's what's happened. But he's still working from this place. And this is where my first pillar of assuming good intentions of that, I still don't want to devastate my wife. So I'm going to tell her some things. But I really would just assume conscious or subconscious, tell her just enough so that she will understand. But then I don't want to tell her more. You know what I mean by that?

[00:14:20] Oh, absolutely. And a lot in this case, a lot of guys will will believe that they're doing this for their wife. But the truth, I believe, is that they're doing it to manage their own shame, their own. Yeah. They're so overwhelmed because they can't handle the reality of their own story. And so basically, they're oftentimes going to give her the light version. They're going to spotlight just generally the behaviors that are either already been discovered or the ones that they think she can handle. Exactly. Yeah. But where that needs to go is that he needs to have some time with his own story first, because he's been lying to himself about it. And before he can ever really do a full inventory disclosure, whatever you want to call it, I call it a form of disclosure before he can do that. He's got to have some practice telling his story to a therapist, to if he's in a group, just 12 step group or church leader, he's got to have practice reducing his own shame and internal reactivity around that story before he can pass it over in full truth and humility to his wife.

[00:15:22] That's I love the way you put that. I mean, because. Yeah, that's a that's so good, because then when he's trying to share some things, there is that shame. And I feel like oftentimes then he will then he will pull back, which I feel like it causes the wife to just want to know more or and I'm sure you see this often, too. But OK, now wife is now been hit with this this trauma, this devastation, and now goes back and starts asking more questions. And so if he only gave a little bit of the information to begin with. Ok, now. Sure. All right. He'll tell a little bit more thinking, OK, she needs to know a little bit more. But now what? Are we training her brain? Is that OK? He obviously didn't tell me the truth. And the more I dig now, I'll get the truth. And then we're starting to create this unhealthy dynamic.

[00:16:06] Yeah. Oh, yeah. The flow of the information is going the wrong direction. It's coming it's being pulled out of him versus flowing out of him. And she needs to know that he'll bring her the truth. And so a lot of these guys, again, they're caught up in their own shame. And so that can come that can come out in different ways. They can withhold and say less information, which is what we're talking about. Right. They can even like fire hoser with all their shame and guilt and tell her way more stuff than she needs to know. There can be he he can sometimes collapse into a heap of shame and feel like such a victim and like an awful person in some ways, expect her to take care of him.

[00:16:47] Exactly. Yeah, a little bit of victim mode and want her to rest

[00:16:51] And be all kinds of different ways. This will show up. And so telling your story, you would think it would be just straightforward. Just tell the truth, man. It's not that simple because you're dealing with a lot of that reactivity and shame inside of them that they have to manage in a. Healthy way, otherwise, they're going to overwhelm their partner and it's going to delay the trust building.

[00:17:12] So, Jeff, it's funny. I always say that what I literally just said to you, that no one is going to say, let me hit pause, let me go meet with somebody before I even express or we try to do this. But people listen to my podcast. That may be on the verge of saying, all right, I need to deal with this. I do need to confess something to my spouse. So what do you say? Do you say go see the therapist first? You do give a do you go and confess and then say, but before we go any further, we really need to do this the right way? I don't know. I've never asked this question. You're an expert. I mean, what are your thoughts?

[00:17:45] Yeah. Yeah, that is so tricky because you know, what you're asking them to do essentially is schedule a trauma. Right? You're basically. I know.

[00:17:53] Ok, yeah.

[00:17:55] You're like, OK. So I guess a couple of scenarios. One scenarios where somebody comes into my office and by themself and they've never told their partner, they pulled me aside and say, hey, I'm basically sitting on this huge secret. I've never told my partner, will you work with us as a couple or what do I do that I can count on one hand the amount of times that has happened in my career? It's super rare. And it happened recently, happened probably a year ago. And I had a client come in and she had never told her husband anything about any of this. And so I, I did not I worked with her for about four or five weeks, and we worked on her story. I helped her prepare disclosure. And then I actually had her go do it with him out in the desert, like they took a drive. I had to do it out there because I sense that he would be safe the way she described. She felt comfortable doing it. And it went really well. He actually it worked out fine because I didn't want to double team with her and have him feel double team that these two people were going to basically just dump this reality on him. And I didn't have be with him at all. I didn't know him at all. Wow.

[00:19:00] Oh, that's a really unique, rare way to. Yeah. So if you're listening to this and you're sitting on a bunch of secrets and you've never told your partner, it's important to go meet with a therapist and figure out what your options are, because dumping it on your partner can can cause a ton of unintended trauma. Yeah, this guy there, healing has accelerated because she came in and when she disclosed to him, she was very prepared. I had her totally ready to talk about it from a place of humility. She had all the things worked out, which she'd written it all down. It was organized. There was no drama. It was just like heartfelt and humble. And it went better than it could have gone if she had just blown it up. Wow. So that's one example. But the most common one is where somebody comes into my office and there's already been I would say this is ninety nine percent of the time. Yeah. And I just made that number up. But that's basically what I see as the pattern is the couple comes in and there's already been some kind of a discovery. Either he's confessed or she's confessed something, or there's been a discovery, totally unintended. And what we're doing now is I'm having to make a case with them and say, look. Do you believe that this is everything again? Most of the time it's no, I don't trust them.

[00:20:15] I discovered this much. They've only told me this much. So what I'll do next is basically say then we're going to structure form disclosure. You just disappear the truth completely one time versus dragging this out. And you need to have practice city with your story and really learning how to get deep into your heart. I'll do this over the course of a couple of meetings, but the vision of it is basically, OK, we're going to have a redo on this and we're going to do it correctly. It's going to like that. You came in with your came in with your like your duct tape and baling wire version of trying to fix this thing up. We're going to take all that apart and we're going to put in some anchors and some bolts and we're going to really lock this thing down so that you don't ever have to go through this process again, because otherwise it just becomes like a limp in the marriage for the rest of their life. Do I really know everything? Were they fully honest? How do I know we want to get rid of that? And have there be a rock solid assurance that, OK, I know everything. Now we're working on current stuff, not past.

[00:21:15] That's brilliant. That is. So then if I go back to that concept of being truthful, of telling the truth. How scared do you see people of that? Or again, I feel like sometimes when people get this thing off their chest, they want to just go back to now. Can we just go back to the way we were?

[00:21:31] Yeah, it's awful. Yeah. Telling telling the truth is so scary, especially when you're up against. Losing that secure bond with the other person, right, innately we just are so we're just constantly on guard against losing that, and we just were defenseless. And so we'll do almost anything, including manipulate somebody with lies. Yeah, that's how strong our commitment to security is. A lot of people think, well, they're doing this because they they don't respect me or care about me or they hate me. And it's no it's because I don't want to lose you. But it's a terrible it's a terrible outcome. It's not OK. So, yeah, telling the truth is terrifying. But again, part of what good recovery looks like for a couple is learning how to tell the truth first about the big behaviors. And they get practice through that disclosure process, but then they learn how to tell the truth just about, let's say, how they're feeling or what they want. Absolutely. Or what they need. And those can feel like secrets. I don't dare tell them that I'm lonely. I don't dare tell them I want that I want to have more sexual intimacy. I don't dare tell them that that hurts my feelings. And so they start to learn and practice telling the truth so that if they can tell the truth about that stuff down the road, it's less likely they're going to end up having other secrets that are much more consequential.

[00:22:50] Absolutely. And I feel like and I say this so often, but I want this I want to hear more from you today. But we're so afraid of contention that we avoid tension altogether, but that tensions where the growth can happen and that and. But where are you now that we're so afraid of any tension? Because what if what if they leave? What if what if this is too much? And and I feel like all they're closer than they think to where that that really can be an amazing growth opportunity. We're different. We're different people. We are. And I feel like this is where we get this chance to now have a relationship where there's legitimate curiosity because we can be different instead of that fear of like, I don't know if I'm too different, you know, they might leave.

[00:23:27] Absolutely. Yeah. And I think it takes a while to get there. I know even just my own twenty five year marriage, like the kinds of questions I'm able to ask now and the kinds of security we have, I wouldn't have had that the first 5 or 10 years. There's no way. And so with couples that are coming out of a betrayal or coming, you know, trying to rebuild safety first, they have to they have to know that it's not going to keep happening and they have to know that their partner is in deep accountability and remorse. They've heard everything. And then and then that that intimacy, that curiosity that you're talking about, being able to tolerate differences and ask for what you need and really kind of embrace a lot of disowned feelings and wants and needs and desires all that. And that's just good material to work. It is the rest of your marriage. That's to me, that's the gold and that. Yeah. And the couples that that avoid that stuff or shove it down, ignore it or shame it or criticize it like that. Just to me, they're missing out on what marriage was designed for, because my individual growth as a man has skyrocketed because of feedback from my own wife about. Absolutely. That if it weren't working for her and I have to look at myself and what I'm bringing in, man, it's just like dynamic and rich.

[00:24:38] Yeah, OK. I want to get to some trust things. I want to throw a theory out as I'm saying this, I might end up have to edit it out because it might go against the very marriage course. I'm trying to pitch. But I've noticed that, you know, in my mind, it's the people that have had the most success in in even my marriage course are those that have they've been through some things. And I have this vision where I would love to teach every young couple to. We don't. How about we get to the point where we don't have to go through so much and we learn how to communicate and be vulnerable and deal with tension and we can be different and that sort of thing. But as I almost want to say is I beta tested some of these principles on on newlyweds. And you kind of oh, you know, you need to express this or the assumption of good intentions or or don't tell them they're wrong or or questions or comments. They're like not it's really not a big deal. And that's where I want to say, OK, but but it's things are eventually going to become a big deal. How about we go out and start talking about him now? And I'm finding that it's the old people don't know what they don't know. Right. Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. We had to solve that one. We had to figure out.

[00:25:43] Yeah, I think I think I think it's experiential. And I and I think that we have to. I don't know. I just think that. The longer I live, the longer I do this with clients of my own marriage, stuff like that, I just don't want people to be afraid of embracing as much as I don't want people to, like, be betrayed sexually or some of them. Sure. We're talking about something's going to go wrong, right. Somebody is going to there's something's going to go sideways. There's going to be some hurt somewhere. And I just want people to know what to do with that when it shows up, whatever that is. And because it's experiential, like like the gut level, like nervous system instinct, response. I have the love, the connection I have with my wife that's been forged out of a lot of trial, a lot of heartache, disappointments, misunderstandings, even some betrayals that have been really damaging around in our own relationship, things that we had to work through early on that that were just so hard. And I would never be able to probably get that gut level instinct in those those kind of that rock solid commitment and some of these things that I feel today without that and I don't know that we need to like engineer those conditions for it. They're just you put two people together. Stuffs going to happen, man.

[00:26:59] It is. It is. And if they've got the framework and they they they're going to get the. So can you talk to me? And again, full authenticity and as you say, full disclosure. That's in my head. I kept I kept saying when we were trade messages about today, I like Jeff. You're the I want to know I want to hear you talk boundaries. But then as I would go deep, dove more into the material that you provide. You have this trust boot camp, this trust workshop. So and then when we jumped on before we hit record, I was saying, do we talk about trust? We talk about boundaries. And what are your thoughts on differences, similarities? Where do we go from here?

[00:27:31] Oh, man. Boundaries are are a lot of people think of boundaries. Just as for the person that has been betrayed, like, oh, I need boundaries to protect myself from from being lied to or being taken advantage over being abused or whatever. And absolutely like that's that to me is sort of like the obvious boundary stuff. But if you think about people that break trust, they have serious problems with boundaries. They they they are a lot of times they're self neglecting. They're not they're not even paying attention to their own needs and desires and stuff. And so there's there's they're crossing lines there. That could be like not getting enough sleep or not eating correctly. Just physical maintenance stuff. Yeah. Or it could even be flirting or other boundaries around other people or poor digital habits or the list of boundaries can go on. That could be like not saying no to stuff or taking on too much or having terrible work habits or people pleasing. So so boundaries to me are just the framework of how to live a really emotionally and physically and emotionally and spiritually healthy, balanced life. I don't I don't think you can separate out boundaries from almost any discussion, because that's what keeps us upright. That's what keeps us healthy and functioning. And that's how I believe boundaries are. What bring us joy.

[00:28:42] Yeah. No, I love that. I really do. I talk with the Preston Pug Maya, who helped me create this course. And we talk about the concept of presence and radiance and the flowing river and the riverbank or the the artwork and the picture frame or and so in that concept of a boundary, that we do need something to kind of keep things what's the right way to put it. So I don't know. So something can be more igby more structure to it. I don't know. So it doesn't just go everywhere. Right. I might add that I was get.

[00:29:15] Yeah, I'm not I'm not sure exactly like in terms of are you asking like I

[00:29:19] Like the idea of personal boundaries, because I feel like when I am just kind of all over the place and at times where I've said, oh, well, that's just my 8D, as I just did right there, or this is just the way I vibe. But when there's more of that structure in terms of personal boundaries, with regard, like you say, at a time of self care, saying no to things, basically all the last four or five things you just listed that then I do feel a lot more productive. I feel more connected. And so I really like that idea of starting with the personal boundaries. I really like that.

[00:29:51] Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I just know that a lot of a lot of the heartache and pain when I've put it on other people, like, well, that person's not give me what I need or this whatever. I have to look very clearly and see, like, have I even asked for it? Have I ever have I even set any clear expectations? Am I managing even my schedule or my time or my business? Am I am I am I showing up in a boundary, healthy, clear way? And when I do, I find that most people adapt and adjust and things go pretty dang well. But but when I'm not boundary, when I'm just chaotic and all over the place, then and I just invite so much trouble into my life.

[00:30:30] Hey, can I ask a specific question and tell me your thoughts on this? I appreciate when you were saying a lot of times we think about the betrayed is the one that then needs to set the boundaries, which I totally agree. Yeah, but I have had those times, or even when you put the betrayal trauma structure in place where the person who who the betrayer will kind of be there for the I'm going to be present. I'm going to be here for you and I'm going to left language, maybe the attachment injury, apologies, and I'm going to show you that I'm not going to go anywhere. But then when it continues to go at times and I've been trying to work with people to set that boundary to say, man, I, I, I'm here, but I feel like we're starting to get into some really unhealthy territory or unproductive conversations. And I don't know. Do you have any thoughts on that, what that boundary looks like for the betrayer without it feeling like they're just running away from a conversation?

[00:31:24] Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's a really sensitive one. I do talk about this and of course, I get into it specifically around even like what if the betrayed starts becoming abusive? Yeah. Yeah. What if what if they strike me verbally abusive or physically abusive in some cases, which I've had people get their nose broken or I've had or people just really get aggressive because they're so hurt. So does does the betrayer have any right to say, hey, that doesn't work for me? Or is that just part of them taking it because. Right, because they broke trust. So they should just take whatever is given to them. I think that obviously an extreme examples are Padilla's legal things, like physical violence or stuff like that. Of course, they need to be able to set boundaries and protect themselves. But when it comes to that, that line of do I have any rights to express my needs? The thing is, is that I believe everybody everybody's feelings are valid. Everybody's needs are totally legitimate. It's a triage thing. It's basically being able to say, if you're deep in your accountability, if you're deep in your your honesty around the impact you've had and you're listening to your partner talk about how hurtful that may feel, like you're being abused. But the truth is, they may just be sharing a lot of like, truthful, hurtful things about the impact you've had on them. And and for you to bail out of that and say like, well, I'm not going to hear that.

[00:32:41] I'm not going to be talked to that way, that would damage more trust. That's a problem. Yeah. And on the other hand, if the betrayed partner is saying things like UAF and this and that, and I hate your guts and I don't want to be like if there might be again, it's like climate versus weather, like if there's an occasional lightning bolt of that, you probably ought to just take it and have some compassion. But if it's the climate, if it's like it's like you've now moved into this, like really tumultuous, verbally attacking kind of aggressive climate that's just like that every single day in and out, every conversation that it's important to to basically describe this. Ok, this is a pattern. This is this is actually destructive for the betrayed to be there, obviously, in so much distress. I can't let this continue anymore. And I'm not going to do it from a place of self-protection as much as I'm doing it from place of I'm protecting the relationship I'm protecting. I like it or him. I protect like this is just unhealthy. So I think if it's coming from a place of self-preservation, in my experience, that's generally coming from avoidance. But if it's coming from a place of this is toxic, this is really damaging, we're not getting anywhere that's that's going to land a little differently. So that makes

[00:33:55] Soga. Oh, yeah, it makes so much sense. And so so that's you say that's Covered in your in your in your workshop and your course. Yeah, I love it. I know. I'm grateful. I'm grateful that that that is there, because I think that will give and I like it. But when I was even reading about your course, I think sometimes people just want to know that there is hope or there is a plan. Oftentimes, I feel like that's enough. To keep somebody engaged in the process, and so I liked it, if anybody is hearing this and they are the betrayer that just to know that, OK, yeah, it's normal for them to feel at times this is too much. And I and I love the climate versus weather. I really do. That's so good. So how do people start, in your opinion? Again, I want people to take your course because I want them because it's now sound like I'm doing the sales pitch for you. But it goes into so much detail. And I want people to be able that this is such a big topic that I think it needs more than 15, 20 minute discussion on a podcast. But in that vein of giving people hope, what do you what do you tell people as far as how to start rebuilding trust?

[00:34:53] Well, the the first place so are we talking to the person who broke the trust where they can start or the.

[00:35:00] I think the couple I would love to know, because I think. Well, I don't know. You tell me, where do you go with that?

[00:35:06] Well, there's there's kind of two we talk about. There's three that there's that there's two individual recoveries. Yeah. And then there's this couple recovery. Yeah. The couple recovery clearly depends on it depends on how well those individual recoveries are going. So if you have one person who is working really hard, so a lot of times you'll have the betrayed who's super motivated because they're hurting so badly. So they're they're motivated and they're they're coming. They're working and working. And then the person who's been unfaithful or betrayed, the relationship is being dragged in like that. Dynamics in terms of where to start. It's going to be hard to do any marriage stuff there, so we're we're going to start is we're probably I'm probably going to start working on help if both people are coming in. I'm probably going to split them a little bit and work a lot with just creating some safety and some containment with the betrayed so that they can just get their emotional bearings and get some safety and get some clarity about what's happened to them, what they need. A lot of the times they're in trauma, they're dealing with physical stuff.

[00:36:06] Sometimes if there's sexual betrayal, we have to make sure that they're safe, even go get an STD test. You think it can get really hard to try and help people feel safe and with the person who broke the trust. Early on, I'm just in a lot of ways, it's sort of like it's kind of like the old 12 step thing. It's like even just helping them wake up to the fact that they even have a problem. Yeah. And that's that a lot of the times they may come in just wanting to get this over with. And so what I'm wanting to do is help them settle in to the journey, help them settle into the benefits of rebuilding this thing from the ground up. And that's going to come from honesty, transparency, accountability, caring about and really recognizing that they are a source of comfort to their partner if they'll do this work. They're so in touch to the fact that they're a source of pain, but they don't realize that they're actually a huge source of comfort if they'll if they'll do the work.

[00:37:03] No, I love it. I do. And I feel like that helps people understand it again. There is a plan or there can be this structures, which means there is hope. So I almost like they're realizing the more I'm asking these questions, that they are a bit ambiguous. I feel like I'm almost asking what The Huffington Post seven things to rebuild trust and you'll never believe. Number four for kind of a thing. But I don't know if you have that kind of advice that you even give people or if if they're in this kind of a situation, it's so much more than just that. Really?

[00:37:29] Yeah. Yeah. I do have an acronym that I use in the course quite a bit, which is ACT, which is stands for accountability, compassion and time. And and those those principles for the person who broke the trust are critical that that it all comes back down to if they want to be a safe person, if they want to be a trustworthy person, they have to learn to live in accountability, not be afraid of that. Ok, and that's and that's that's going to show up in lots of forms. And I tell people all the time, look, there's no expiration date on your accountability. It's not like you can be accountable for the first six months. And then after that, you can't say to your partner, hey, you can't bring this up anymore because of that. Right? It's now you're accountable. If I betrayed my what I remembered, I first was married to my wife, like we were married like two weeks. And I totally hurt her feelings. It involved like my ex girlfriend. I ran into her on campus, didn't introduce my wife. My wife was sitting right there feeling stupid. It just the whole thing was such a mess. And I was so immature. And to this day, sometimes it will come up as even as a joke and laugh about it with other people or tell stories.

[00:38:31] And I'll seriously get back in the car and say to my wife, like, I know we're joking about that, but like, seriously, I'm just so sorry that that happened. That's just like, no, no brand new wife should have to, like, feel so stupid and humiliated. I'm so sorry. I still feel really badly about that. And that accountability. Twenty five years later is so important. And then and then the compassion, of course, is just caring deeply about the impact you've had in your partner, and that that compassion shows up everywhere. It's like I care about your pain and I will make sure that I am the kind of person that will sooth that, tend to it. That's proximity, closeness, softness, kindness. Like I'm just going to be a source of comfort for you. And then the time thing is it's not only it's going to take a long time, but it's just multiple times that there's going to be repeated over and over and over again. It's it's going to be like, yes, we've had this conversation before and we'll we'll have it again. And this might feel like a broken record, but the repetition is going to help you start to experience me as a consistent, safe person.

[00:39:37] So that is so good. Yeah. No, I mean, it came up at that part I love because I feel like and I'm sure you hear this often, too, where or how many times are we gonna have to go through this? And it's as many as you need to. And I love what you said so that I can show them that that I can be there for them. I can be consistent. And I love when you see in the scenario, let's say it's the guy again where they look at it like, oh, no, I know what to do with this. I'm grateful that she's expressing this trigger or this hurt, because I know what to do with this and knowing that the wrong thing is the look, we've already talked about it. When are you getting it over? It's absolutely the wrong thing. And I think there is that fear of, well, what if this goes on forever? And that's where I want to say, OK, what if but if we're doing the work each time, then we're not going to we're maybe not going to need to worry about that. Right. Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I love it. So the the acronym is wonderful. So that helps a lot, too. So any other thoughts there? I feel like I feel like I had an aha moment about five minutes ago where it really isn't just these cliches. It's it's being willing to get in there and do the work and admit the things that you don't know, because no one's been through this process until they've been through the process. And so going in there with humility and not going in there with trying to tell their their spouse how they're supposed to experience this trauma, pain.

[00:40:55] Yeah, and I, I tend to not be very good at like acronyms and breaking things down into steps in general, it's just not one of my strengths. So I don't I don't I don't think like that, but. I also don't I also think that this trust building process doesn't play well to that, like you were saying, I think that what I want them to do is to tune in and settle in, to settle into a journey of of being curious and understanding the way that they've impacted their partner. Because if you start get into steps of like, well, do you do this and this and this and that happens, it almost it almost kind of creates this environment where the person who like you're almost kind of creating like a finish line. And I want to say like this is not the goal, isn't to like get through it. The goal is to integrate this into your story and have this become something that draws you both closer together so that you feel like you've overcome something together. Yeah. And instead of just like we got past that, never talk about it again, I think you're missing a huge opportunity for deep intimacy. Long term, it takes years, though, for people to really get there. And I want them to settle in for the long journey.

[00:42:02] And I love the concept of settling in. I love that where when people say, well, OK, but if we're still doing this in a year and I often want to just stop them and say we're that's the wrong that's the entire wrong parallel work from. Right. It's like I hope that they still feel like they can come to me and bring something up in a year, because I want them to know that we can have these conversations, because that's going to mean we can have all kinds of conversations. And I feel like that's that part where people don't even understand what that relationship can look like because they didn't see it modeled maybe growing up. And they certainly haven't had to be this honest and accountable until this happen, which is going back to what I think you and I were talking about. I want to create something that is going to make this happen. But, boy, when we when we got this opportunity, it's kind of let's do this. I wanted to throw I want to random train of thought, but I do a lot of my podcast talking about marriage.

[00:42:52] And I've been talking so much lately about interdependent versus codependent then. And so we're interdependent. And we're and then when you're differentiated, where one person ends, the other begins. And and when we're breaking free from this enmeshment or this codependence, and as we become differentiated, it will come with some invalidation. And I think that's where that uncomfortable place is. And that's where I feel like and here's where I'm going with this, is I feel like what we're talking about is I will have people sometimes say, oh, wait a minute, if I might. If we're interdependent and we're differentiated, then that sure doesn't sound like a marriage. And that's what I'm saying. We don't even know what that looks like is that is safety and that's curiosity. And now we're going through the life one through our life, being able to say, hey, what do you think about that? And we're processing emotion as as a couple. And and that is just something that is beautiful. But people don't know what that even looks like until they're there. Do you know anything about that?

[00:43:43] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It reminds me that quote and I'll paraphrase it from Anthony DeMello, who basically said something like, We don't really love people. We love the idea of people. Right. We love the idea of what we think they should be. And that's that's that lack of differentiation. That's yeah. Basically, in my own marriage, like I like I can honestly say I did not love my wife. In a mature love when I first married her at age 22. Yeah. I love the idea of her. I love the idea of a wife and who I thought she was. But as I've gotten to know her, I've had to confront a lot of things that are very different than how I do things. And and and that challenge, if she were just to kind of like mold into the version of what I thought she should be, I'd be a very unhappy person. And I think she would, too. And so, yeah, the richness is in. To me, it's like endless curiosity, if you ever wonder, like a lot of couples, like we have nothing to talk about them all. Oh, but if you're both like really healthy individuals and you have things going on and opinions and thoughts and things that you're interested in exploring and preferences. Oh, that's given me all the material I need to talk about with my wife.

[00:44:52] More getta so good. And I feel like I love what you're saying because I feel like I thought we will hit thirty one years of marriage here in just a month or so. Awesome. And I and I but it's the last even few that the more of that there is that differentiation. My wife wife's dress a little bit more stylish. You might wear a little more jewelry or things that I know that in a less mature version of that I talk to guys all the time are like, well, geez, well, why are you wearing that? Versus, Oh, man, I love this. Tell me more like tell me, tell me. That's right. Oh, and and it breaks my heart to think if there was a part of her that felt like she can't be herself because of the fear of well, I don't know if Tony's going to like it or not. And that's that part where I feel like people don't even know what that looks like to say, oh, this is different, but tell me more or not. Well, this is different. What what's this all about? And it's a whole different energy

[00:45:38] Partner as an individual that exists. And I think we get married. I know I did. A lot of couples get married because of how that person makes you feel. Yeah, we we talk about it like oh, they're amazing because they make they make me feel so loved or me, me, me, me, me egocentric. But yeah, I think I think mature love is really about it's like we do with our kids. Like we don't want them to just be like carbon copies of us. We want to really get to know them and figure out what their journey is. And I just feel honored that my wife wants to take her journey with me.

[00:46:09] Oh, that's so good. That's so good.

[00:46:11] Yeah, chose me to have it with.

[00:46:13] No, thank you for the laugh. Now, like I know what our next topic will be. I'd love to go deep into the differences in marriage or differentiation next time with spouses or mature relationships. I could talk to you about that all day, too. I love that. I really do. I do. Ok, this is better than I even imagined. Jeff, so thank you so much. And then so awesome. It is. I want people to go take your course. So tell them where to go. That always sounds funny to me. Tell where to go, Jeff. Tell them tell me where to get your course. And then that you've been very kind to give them my my people, my people a code. So, yeah. Where do they go?

[00:46:45] Yeah, I might. I definitely want your your listeners to to access the course. And there's a 15 percent off coupon. Virtualcouch15. Thank you, Virtual Couch. Just put that in at check in and save you 15 percent on the course. But yeah, it's it's it's a it's a 12 week course. One lesson or one module per week. And there's like four or five, three or four lessons inside each module with videos and worksheets. And and then as part of the course, I offer a one year question answer live monthly webinar with me where you can get on it. That's good. And connect with me and and get additional support, because I know it takes longer than 12 weeks. I just do the lessons over 12 weeks. And then you can have a year to kind of work things out and get get support. But yeah, you can just go on my website, just your dot com if you don't know how to spell my name, which is really hard to spell. You can just go to from crisis to connection. That's another website and you'll see it on there under courses.

[00:47:38] What I'll have I'll have links to everything, too. And I really do mean it. The the I don't I don't know if you've gotten a lot of feedback, but I now point people who are struggling with faith. I mean, even talk about that. But that's what I loved talking with you about, that. We we covered stages of faith. We covered faith journeys. We covered as I've been pointing people that are coming to me for that to your podcast, because I just I appreciated your you've been answering all the questions. Amazing here. But you're you're an amazing interviewer as well. And you've been getting a lot of pretty darn amazing guests on your podcast as well. So I highly recommend that, too.

[00:48:10] Yeah. No, it's it's fun. I love podcasting.

[00:48:13] Yeah. So we will do it again soon.

[00:48:16] I look forward to it, man.

[00:48:17] And I cannot believe you did. Therapy. Communication brings the whole thing. Just I don't know what we'll find out next, but I can't wait. So. All right, Jeff, thank you so much for coming on.

[00:48:26] Hey, thanks, Tony.

Proudly designed with Oxygen, the world's best visual website design software
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram