Adding Synergy to you Communication with your Partner with Dr. Ray and Jean Kadkhodaian – Love Vitamins for Relationships
Dr. Ray & Jean have been married since Valentine’s Day in 1998, and in 2002, they Co-Founded the Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center, a counseling center in the Chicagoland area. They created and perfected a unique approach to coach couples to have amazing relationships, called Couples Synergy, and have helped thousands of couples transform their relationships. When it comes to relationships, they believe that they cannot teach it unless they live it. They are a real couple who have worked hard to create an amazing relationship through the difficult challenges life brings us all. They cohost the podcast, Couples Synergy: Real Couples, Real Storie… Real Relationships. Dr. Ray & Jean help couples create the relationship of their dreams, with the partner they fell in love with!
The quotes below are taken from the episode transcription and might have some minor errors or missing words.
Relationship Check Ins – Time for Hearts
When asked about the value of doing regular check ins in a relationship and how to check in with your partner, Dr. Ray had the below to share
It’s not a surprise that we are all locked up in our head, right? We are ultimately alone in our experience, our human experience, and it is very common for couples to feel alone, even within a loving, committed partnership. And if couples are not checking in with each other. And getting to know their partner, where they’re at in that moment, then we lose that opportunity of consistent evolution together. And so that check in is not just about, how you doing, but it’s really about what is, what is your experience right now in this world, in this moment.
And so one of the things, we definitely do. As a check in and as a show of affection towards each other, is that we always start and end the day off with a show of affection, of an embrace, so the first thing that you’re doing in the morning when you wake up is you are starting that day off with an embrace with your partner, and that the last thing you do at the end of the night is you are closing out that day with that embrace.
Jean adds that this a practice in time that they call as time for our hearts to have a conversation
And it reduces anxiety, it reduces depression, it increases oxytocin and the bonding hormones. So it just makes you feel better. And there are certain days we don’t get to do it cuz like we gotta catch a plane or something and we feel off. All day.
We touch on the above need for check ins in a relationship as a trigger and not necessarily a long conversation. On the topic of how to get to a deeper level if there is something that needs to be discussed in more details, Dr. Ray shares the below
A lot of times people have the cart before the horse. Think that when I have a conversation with my partner, I’ve gotta jump into the deep stuff, and so what happens is they, they have this long periods of time where they are not connecting with their partner. And then when they do have that time now, they try to stuff all of these deep conversations into a small period of time. Typically, it’s maybe a vacation. They’re not spending time together, they don’t have quality time. And then they say, well, you know, when we go on vacation in a month, then we can connect. And then what happens is they go on vacation and then everything that’s stuffed in the closet comes out. They end up in a fight.
So it’s, it’s the, the smaller touch points, the smaller connections that add up. To be able to have , those deeper conversations. And by that time you already are connecting with each other, priming each other, understanding all of the different dynamics that are occurring. So when you are having the deeper conversation, half of it is already done.
To summarize: Check-ins really are like cashing into your emotional bank account. They are creating deposits of happiness and love and care and affection, which you are then able to leverage as that healthy foundation for when you do need to have those deeper conversations. But the concept of a daily check-in doesn’t need to be a conversation per se. It could be something more, a little bit more intimate, like a physical touch, which is what the embrace example is kind of catering too. Usually when we think of check-in, our brains automatically does go to a conversation like, “oh hey, how’s your day doing?” Or “How’s your day been?” Or “you seem a little off, you wanna talk about it?”
Finding time with your partner
If there is a conversation that you do wanna have on a deeper level, how do you get alignment from your partner? What sort of techniques do you use to get each other’s attention? Do you block some time on your shared calendar, if you have any or anything else? Jean shares
This idea of time, we hear it all the time. That We don’t have time. We very rarely spend time on screens. So once our day is done, we typically go outside, we have a fire and we talk, or we have records if we’re inside, cuz it’s cold out and we listen to records and we talk and we do this five times a week. We’ve always enjoyed doing stuff like that more than, being distracted by something. Those allow you to have those more organic conversations.
Dr Ray adds
I think that it depends for each couple, for some couples. Maybe they do need to schedule a time to talk and they say, Hey, if you got some time this week, I really want to connect. I really want to talk some things out. And that might be okay for that couple, but for another couple, that actually might be a trigger, it may be a way of having power and control over each other. It may be a way of putting off your partner. So it really comes down to each couple. How each couple needs space and time, emotional consideration in order to have those deeper conversations. So the investment in the account is happening separate from the rebuilding and the healing.
We all know that the most successful people in the world, they always talk about meditation and starting their day out. Because we need to be able to center ourselves before we, go out into the world and, and deal with everything that we’re being bombarded with. Well, now you have the complication of two people coming together and, having different needs. And how do you find that that sync between the two of you when the world is going to be affecting you in many different ways.
The research says: that couples should be spending a minimum of five to six hours of quality time per week, and that is without screens. So it’s not even cuddling up and watching the same show together. That doesn’t count. Or going out with another couple that doesn’t count either. It’s spending that time connecting and bonding and talking about each other’s experiences through this world.
3 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP RIGHT NOW
To get to a better future and change your relationships, Dr. Ray and Jean explain 3 things you can do right now
1️⃣ Do something new, exciting and thrilling together.
When focused on an activity, especially if something new, allows you to bond at a different level. For a while it substitutes the labels of you being partners for being friends and lets you stay away from bigger topics and just focus on having fun.
2️⃣ Surprise each other
Surprising each other is a really good way to add to that connection so that you can get into the more difficult stuff later. Surprises can add that missing spark and help you communicate how much you care for each other
3️⃣ Sleep naked together
Yes, sleeping naked. Shocker right. Experts found 57% of couples who slept in the nude claimed to be happy together, compared with 48% of those in pyjamas, 43% of nightie wearers and 38% of those in onesies.
These three things shared, remind us of the concept of reconnection through recalibration. A jolting of your system by doing things that you don’t normally do, a complete opposite of monotony. By introducing these elements into our everyday life, we make it easier to talk about the harder stuff later.
Dealing with Conflicts
On the topic of dealing with conflicts and tips on solving the problems in relationships, Jean suggests.
What we focus on grows and the human brain is designed to seek out negativity or potential threats much faster than something positive and so people wanna talk about the problem instead of where do we wanna reach for.
When we’re first interviewing a couple, we ask them, “if you had a magic wand, how would you like your relationship to be?” And sometimes they’ll say, “well, I don’t like that.” We’re not doing this. Like, no, what do you want? that place. Which then it’s like if, if you get that agreement that you both have a common vision of where you wanna be, well then you can work backwards and and reverse engineer it. If you start focusing on the positive stuff what you like about your partner, what they’re doing well, it’s easier for you to do more positive stuff and you’ll see more. And that is the momentum because the other stuff, we don’t have to practice.
When you think about in the beginning it’s what can I get? And the longer you’re together and the more common experiences you have, the more your brains mirror each other. Cuz our brains are designed to do that. And so then you want to say, what can I give? Because if I give him something that makes him happy. My brain becomes happy too. If I give him grief, I get grief. You can feel what your partner’s feeling and it’s not so selfish anymore. And, and the selfishness in the beginning, it’s not good or bad, it’s just the way we’re wired. It’s the way we’re designed, and as we mature, we care more about making sure they’re. because we can’t be happy if they’re not happy.
When we’re younger, we can, when we’re younger, we think, you know, I can keep score and I can win and, and my partner’s gonna lose and I’m gonna win. you don’t keep score with your teammate.
Dr. Ray adds
The fact of the matter is conflict is inevitable in every relationship. We can expect it to happen. We just don’t know when or where, but it’s gonna happen. Analogy I use when it comes to conflict is that it, it’s like a credit card bill and the the bill is always gonna be due. And the choice you have at that point is whether you’re gonna pay it now or you’re gonna pay it later with interest? This calibration has to happen. It has to happen consistently. When you are focusing on the problems, then that is what you’re gonna create more of.
Keeping Love Exciting and New
In the beginning of a relationships, everything’s new and exciting. You’re interested to learn more. But as you spend more time with your partner, your frequency tune in sync and the sense of security makes you start feeling comfortable. So how do we keep exploring and how does one keep maintaining that curiosity, that mysteriousness within each other?
What is it that you do to keep exploring and how do we keep maintaining that curiosity that mysteriousness within each other? Let us know in the comments below. Listen to the episode to learn about our guests story and learn what they do to keep the fire burning.
Comfort vs Discipline for Dealing with Pain
Jean shares an analogy of comfort and discipline. We notice a trend here, which is that a relationship is built over time and discipline. That component of showing up, checking in with your partner, doing the fun activities, creating that organic space that’s disconnected from tech to be able to have those deeper conversations. All of these are forms of discipline so that eventually one day when that fire say, diminished a little bit, instead of feeling like “everything’s breaking apart and I don’t know what to do”, you can be like, “hey, I have a feeling that things are getting a little bit cold in this relationship. Can we do something about it?” All of the work that you would’ve done previously enables you to then have a successful and healthy conversation at the end. But really it’s the building up of those smaller things that we do every day, rather than taking the easy way out and choosing the route of comfort and being like – oh, I don’t need to worry about this.
When we’re in pain, we have two choices. The first choice is to comfort ourselves so we drink, eat, stuff we shouldn’t eat, watch tv, distract ourselves. All of those things make us numb. and make us sicker over time. so the pain comes, I hurt my back. I’m gonna take a pill and lay on the couch. Well, now my muscles are getting atrophy. And, and you need more and more of that comfort stuff. And you get less and less sensitive to the subtle pain where you could actually do something. The other thing you can do when you’re in pain is discipline. Really takes discipline to love another human. takes the discipline of, if we are using the back as an example, I gotta go to physical therapy and it’s gonna hurt and I’m gonna push through it and I’m gonna get stronger and I’m gonna heal and I’m gonna get you joy. comfort leads to temporary pleasure that goes away where doing the discipline consistently leads to a joy and, and a feeling of safety in the. And connection, and you cannot have that without work. You have to know yourself. You have to know your partner. You have to invest, you have to do your work just in the same way, taking care of your body.
First we talk about how to channel your pains and communicate with your partner without assigning blame, to which Dr, Ray says
You can’t prevent that from happening. You are going to dish out blame from time to time. It doesn’t matter how, how peaceful a person you are, at some point it’s gonna happen. And that’s, that’s, it’s one of the rules that we came up with when we did the hike. You know, we, we hiked 180 miles. It was grueling. We crossed 10 mountain passes, all our food survival gear on our backs, and the first thing we noticed is that when you go through difficult times, you go through pain, you go through discomfort, the first thing you’re gonna do is you’re gonna blame your partner. Yeah. It’s just, it’s just what happens. You know? It, you, your partner is your closest, the closest human. The closest connection you can have to another human being, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. And so when we hurt on the inside, we have to get it out. Yeah. And the first thing that that we’re gonna do is it’s gonna go at our partner.
It’s really important when your partner does blame you to not take that personally as best as possible. And also to to understand everything is a 50 50 in a relationship, meaning that you’re both contributing equally to what’s going. And so the question I always ask myself is, what is it about me that chooses to hang out with someone like this? Ha. if this is not that pleasant in that moment. So what, what have I done to teach him how to treat me? What, what boundaries do I need? What, what do I need to show up at? Maybe nurture him because he’s hurting and I’m treating him in a way that maybe someone else did and, and I’m activating that and, and. Tricky things to figure out and they require a lot of calmness. Yep. That you don’t have initially in blame. When you’re in blame, you can’t figure that out. Your brain doesn’t even work. You’re just like, what? You’re, you’re in fight or flight and it doesn’t work. And then later you can dial it back and you can look at what, what’s going on here? And typically if you’re the person who, you know, stepped on your partner and they got a reaction, Blasted you, you didn’t even know you did it. And you’re like, what, what did you hear me say? And it’s like the telephone game. They’re hearing something that they heard 20 years ago. And if you take that personally, you keep it up at the surface and now you’re fighting about whatever toilet paper, right? not about that. It’s about what it brings up. And that’s true for all of us.
Dr. Ray explains the above with an example and something they call Iceberg Moments
Those moments where you’re in pain and. Have this need to blame your partner. Or that it happens. It is something we call iceberg moments, and you think about an iceberg, 15% above the water, 85% under the water. And when, when each of us as individuals go through something painful it brings up something from our past that 85% under the. And we are dishing out a hundred percent onto our partner when maybe they’re only part 15% part of what the issue is. And so when couples do that deep dive and they really start understanding more and more about their partner and where they came from and what they brought with them, it’s easier than. Like easy at all. But it’s easier to see that moment as an iceberg moment, and to not take it personally. Oh, my partner is hurting right now. And what’s being brought up for them is this whole past history that I was not part of, but it’s being played out in the moment.
and you’ll always attract a partner. Who knows exactly how to smash into your iceberg because your iceberg smashes into theirs and if it didn’t, you probably wouldn’t have a relationship. And so it’s designed that way because we get wounded through relationship and we heal through relationship. And so we come with all our wounds and no one teaches us how to heal that. And a lot of it is very unconscious. We’re not very aware of why we’re so activated by someone. and it’s, it’s that discovery that can lead to a deep sense of healing between two people. That’s where the work is and it’s, it’s incredibly beautiful and most often when we first meet a couple, they’re saying, if my partner would just change this, I’d be fine and of course it’s never about that, but they don’t even know that. They don’t even know what it’s really about. And, and that discovery of bringing that deeper stuff up into consciousness, I think someone said we learned how to have a conversation we didn’t even know we were supposed to have. Mm-and it takes that type of, eyes to see it. We can’t see it. Just if two people are so close, they can’t and you have to get that distance and sometimes that pain can give you some distance to understand yourself and then to come back to your partner and go, this is what I discovered through that.
Walkabout – Conversation with yourself
We then talk about our last topic of how do you work on your own individual self and Jean sheds her insights on this with a practice they call Walkabout.
There’s an exercise we practice and we give to people, and that is to go on a walkabout. And a walkabout is 48 to 72 hours. By your to go somewhere you’ve never been and you can’t have any agenda. You have to feel what you feel at any given moment. Are you hungry? Go find food. Do you wanna sleep? Sleep? Do you want to learn something? Go out in nature, whatever you wanna do. And people are so scared, they’re like, well what if I don’t wanna go home in the end? Or what if my partner doesn’t wanna come back? We’ve never seen that happen, but I’m sure it could. But we don’t have that type of time cuz the. 24 hours, you’re just all in your head. And then it starts to go, and then you can have a conversation with yourself in, in, in a bigger part of yourself, a higher self and the universe. And then you can come back. And I do it when I’m angry. You, you do it more regular, like as a schedule. Right. I’m a runner, so that’s kind of my process. Right. But, but it’s a difficult thing. Absolutely impactful.
Dr Ray then shares a beautiful idea below. It is scary to ask because a lot of the times, people are afraid of what they’re going to find. If they do take the time to have that conversation with themselves, they’re afraid of the scary things that might come up and therefore the reckoning that they’ll have to do. By embedding this as a daily practice, it becomes a little bit less scary and you don’t have to indulge in it or schedule time and make it into the special big thing. You can also just piecemeal it and that makes it a lot less scary and therefore just a part of your everyday life. And that’s how you’re able to bring not only the best of yourself to the relationship, but also help yourself grow in the process.
The whole point is to completely, unplug, to disconnect yourself from, the monotony of life and everything that is. All the pressure that you have. So you can’t be online. , you can’t be on your phone, you radio, read books, drink. If you check into a hotel, you can’t watch tv. You can’t listen to the radio while you’re driving. you can’t talk to anyone either. Mm. So you know, you can order at a restaurant if you’re going to. Or you could check in a hotel, but from that point forward, you don’t have conversations with people because that is gonna pull you outside of yourself, and we need that time within to really understand our insecurities. And, the things that we wrestle with, Carl Young talked about it being the shadow, the shadow. Part of ourself that we hide from the world, and if we don’t understand that and our focus is just on removing it, well, it is going to permeate into our relationship for sure.
Connect with Dr. Ray and Jean
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