Interviewee: Good. Great, glad to be here. I appreciate your time today.
Interviewer: How can you… Who are you?
Interviewee: Who am I? I'm not the guy in the movie but I originally come from Minnesota, currently living in Santa Rosa, California and I'm a relationship trainer. So, basically helping people have the best quality relationships, teaching the skills that you need. There is a lot of stuff out there that you can get, books and everything like that, but not a lot of practical “here is what you do” skills. And research-based, as well. So it's pretty amazing stuff that is out there now.
Interviewer: Just before you told me that you have a kind of system with five points.
Interviewer: So how… With your system, how can build a meaningful relationship?
Interviewee: Yeah. So one of the things that I've developed over time is called the five attractions. Five attractions… If we can find the person that has those for us, you know and they…for you, that's gonna be a great relationship. So the five attractions you probably wanna know what they are. You know one of them is obviously, the physical one. That's the first one that hits us when we see someone, is that physical attraction or some people you know have different things that they are attracted to, physically. The other one is emotional. Emotional, can you be vulnerable with this person? Do you feel safe? Do you feel like you can connect emotionally with this person?
Interviewer: And it's interesting, that you can feel it immediately.
Interviewee: For some, yeah. You can have a natural emotional connection. For my wife and I is like, from day one. I was like, I knew and i felt connected to her. I could tell her things and I felt like they just flowed naturally. I didn't even have to force it out of me, it just came out. So, for me, that flow was a sign to me that this is an awesome fit for me. If I can have that conversation and then it comes out more natural, that’s great.
Interviewer: So that is the second. What is the third?
Interviewee: So physical attraction, emotional attraction… Intellectual attraction, can you have a conversation where you both are engaged? Because if one is always doing the conversation and the other one always just there, over time you are gonna want someone else that interacts. So, can you both engage in a meaningful intellectual conversation together? Or is one dominating all the intellectual stuff and… You know. So everyone wants in-out, back and forth somehow.
Interviewer: Do you mean that you have to be at the same intelligence?
Interviewee: No. Not necessarily the same intelligence. It could be perspective. You know, because some people are more analytical thinking, some people might be more feeling thinking and, “Oh, have you thought about this?” And for instance, my wife does that to me a lot, is like, “Oh, I have this great idea”, and she’d be like, “Oh, have you thought about this?” And then adding a new perspective. Like, adding that value in the relationship in that intellectual level of a different way of looking at the same thing. So, that way adds value to the attraction. Like you wanna know what their input is. You know, you don't want them to just sit there and listen all the time. You wanna say, “I wanna hear you.”
Interviewer: Yeah. You are interested about what the other thinks, right?
Interviewee: Their opinion. Yeah.
Interviewer: Your opinion.
Interviewee: Could be opinions.
Interviewer: Okay. What you believe is his or her opinion has a value to be listened to right? Something like that.
Interviewee: Yeah. So you value what their input is and you're gonna actually really consider that and use it.
Interviewer: Yeah. Okay.
Interviewer: And what is the first one?
Interviewee: Well there's physical emotional, intellectual, there is financial as well. Like, if you're in a relationship and you find this person has a lot of financial issues, you know and you have your own, do you wanna compound that together? And is that gonna change over time in your relationship? You know, if they have bad habits right now and you do too, you have to kind of think of, “All right, maybe we need help in this area.”
Interviewer: So do you think we have to find someone who has the same level of financial education?
Interviewee: No. Not necessarily the same level. Just being maybe someone who is mindful of how they do things. Now like, it’s an on the fly kind of thing or you know, spending, next thing you know I have 10 credit cards up to the maximum limits and now you're doing bankruptcy or something like that. That's not where you wanna be. Finances cause a lot of friction in a relationship as well.
And then, spiritual attraction. You know, the belief systems in a relationship because that's gonna impact how you raise your kids, how you make decisions, how you do things together with friends that you hang around. Things like that, your beliefs are gonna be a big impact.
Interviewer: And how do you check this very spiritual attraction?
Interviewee: So the way is having a conversation, conversations about it, like trying to find out what their beliefs are. You know, do they want kids? How do you think the ways to rise kids are? How… Where… Do you go to church? Or how you do those things and you know, there's a lot of friction causing relationships when one's of one faith and another is of another faith because then when kids are in the mix it’s like, “Now which one do they go to?” It causes its own issues. You know, if one is of one faith and the other is one faith, you know, now what? So just being aware of that and being… It’s an attraction of, “Hey, do you have the same values as me?” And that's what we want instill in our family and…whether it’ll just be us for a while or us and kids in the future or us and other family members, like our parents.
Interviewee: You know and those kind of things all integrate into that.
Interviewer: And I have few things about that.
Interviewer: So the first one, do you think we need to have the five?
Interviewee: Well, I think.. One thing I've been doing with people, is helping them, “Hey, let’s rate where you are at on a 1-10 scale on each of these five with you and your girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever it is.” And my opinion on that is that if it is above five on each of those areas, you are on track for an awesome relationship. If you are below on that, that one part is gonna influence all these other parts as time goes on in your relationship. You know, because once you start having kids, once you start having more responsibilities…
Interviewer: So everything, every external thing will emphasize?
Interviewee: Yeah. So I always train in medical family therapy and basically, it's following a model of bio-psycho-social-spiritual model. Like, what you feel physically is gonna impact how you think about things, like your psychology. And who you hang around. Whether you wanna go hang around anyone, and those kinda things and also your spiritual beliefs like, I work with people who are sick a lot. You know, worked with them in clinics, in hospitals, different things like these. People with diabetes and heart disease and all these things and I would ask them questions like, “Why do you think you have what you have?” Some people would be like “Well, it's because I cheated on my wife two years ago and that's why I feel like I'm sick like this.”
And that's their spiritual belief behind it and it's impacting their physical health, and it's impacting everything they do, people they hang around, what they do at home, what they feel and think. You know, they let this kind of guilt build up and impact every area. So no area can be separated, be it physical, you know you are in pain and your back hurts, that's gonna limit what you do and where you go and what you think each day and a lot of people end up over time, with chronic pain, being more and more depressed. And so they do less and less things with people and they, naturally, worse health.
Interviewer: I understand. I know someone, and I know that they are some people who are thinking, wondering something. Let's imagine that woman in front of the computer now, is wondering “Oh, shit my relationship has only two of the five points. Do I have to give up?”
Interviewee: No. It's like..not divorce. Maybe those two out of five are powerful ones, right? Or you can find ways to make it more meaningful in other ways.
Interviewer: You think we can increase? Or to grow the other parts?
Interviewee: Yes. Kinda like there's that mantra out there, “Choose who you love and love your choice.” And we can do that, like right now, a lot of people are doing work that they don't like to do but if you can go in there and teach them like, “Hey, there is actually something's you do love about your work. And that’s why you show up here every day.” You know, there's things you love about your relationship and that's why you’re still in it.
And so all these areas can grow with a relationship and that's what my training will do is actually teach people the skills to communicate, have a meaningful bond in each one of those areas. Because if over time you don't, what you gonna look for over time is other people you can have those bonds with. Like you're gonna tell your girlfriends everything and not your partner. You're gonna tell your brother or sister more than you tell your spouse. And that is tearing away at that core relationship. A lot of people, when they have issues or they are in their work place or they are in the sporting arena, like, one of my target markets is sports athletes, or musicians.
People who are in the limelight who have a lot more publicity to lose when they have bad relationships or they get divorced or they get these issues, it's impacting how they perform in the field. How they feel and what they do on the field is gonna impact how they do at their home too, so that goes back and forth. So if you can have a great relationship at home, it's gonna help you enjoy those other things in life as well.
Interviewer: Okay. I understand that. I would also like to know your point of view about… Do you think a couple that divorced can come back together? Do you think it's possible to rebuild a relationship after a bad break?
Interviewee: For sure, there's always a way to mend and if both are willing to mend. You know one of the best terminologies that I've heard about relationships, about marriage, and so forth are like, in the ocean in a row boat and you are in one boat and your spouse or partner in the other boat. Now, calm waters it's easy to stay together and it's easy to stay connected and row close to each other and have that connection but when the storms come, you have to row harder to stay together. That's when it's like, the two efforts in… That's what separates people who do well in relationships and those who don't is that both are willing to row together. If one is always chasing the other in the storm, it's… Over time it's gonna get tiring and people are gonna get worn out and just give up.
Interviewer: So can we say that the storm builds the relationship?
Interviewee: Yeah. Storms, the challenges are what really test the character of the relationship. A lot of people wonder like what are… You know, they go out there and they say, “Well, he's the problem. If only he did this better, I would be a better wife. Or if only she did stop nagging on me, I would be a better husband. I would do it on my own anyway.” But what they find is, you know, their attitude they bring to the relationship about the other is a very toxic thing if they're blaming it on the other for the bad relationship.
Interviewer: I understand.
Interviewee: So, yeah, that's toxic when you say, “You're such an idiot for thinking like that or doing that thing. No one else would ever do it that way. What were you thinking?” You know, that's called contempt and that is the most toxic thing in a relationship. John Gottman did a lot of research on that.
Interviewer: Let's continue with this topic. What are the main toxic factors that destroy a relationship?
Interviewee: That's a great question. Number one is contempt, is the number one predictor of worse and dissatisfaction in a marriage. So it's kinda like over time, the realization that 70% of all the issues you face as a couple, isn't about right or wrong ways of doing it, it's about different ways of doing things. And the other person thinking their way is better over time is contemptuous. But when you can keep in value in your mind like, “Hey, their opinion is just as valid as my opinion.” That's a healthy thing. But when you say, “Oh, my opinion’s better than yours, my way’s better than yours.” You know, that's when it gets toxic. That's contempt.
Interviewer: First [inaudible 00:15:59] to destroy a couple.
Interviewee: Yes. Exactly. So then there's this relationship dance that Susan Johnson talks about, she’s an emotional family therapist, she is really well known for it. And she call it a dance and she is really good at explaining it. And one of the things with this dance is the pursue/withdraw, which I hinted out in the robot analogy. You know, where one is chasing the other because they just gone the other way? And that's what happens in relationships is one usually pursues issues and the other one wants to avoid the issues. And usually, in research, its women pursue. And when I talk about the issues and get it out there open and the men tend to be like, “I'm gonna go drink, I'm gonna go play with my friends, I'm gonna go do this other stuff.”
Interviewee: But it has gone the other way, as well, as many…a lot of times, as well, but more often than other times, it's the women pursuing the issues, wanting you get them resolved to get him take care of them and gone, “I'm sick of having this conversation. I'm just gonna shut down and go to my room or watch this game on the TV,” and you know, those kinda things happen. That's called the pursue/withdraw and the danger of that is when the pursuer stops. That means they're checked out. They're like, “I pursued this for the last six years, seven years. I'm done.”
And this other one who is always withdrawing and walking away is like, “What's going on? They’re not coming after me anymore?” So now he starts or she starts going back and they become the pursuer and the other one becomes the withdrawer, and that's usually when it's too late, because the other one checked out emotionally. That's why part of the five attractions is the emotional attraction. Can you be open and vulnerable with each other so you don't have that dance? The pursue-withdraw. And if you can be open with that…
Interviewer: So how can a couple change this dance?
Interviewee: That's a great question. There's… One of the… I'm trying to think, one of the best ways to do it is reconnecting. And the best way to reconnect is on a daily level, as often as possible. If you are not around each other on a daily level or don't have that, research has found that if you can connect for twenty minutes a day, that will restore relationship strength and quality and emotional connectedness more than other things. So in that twenty minutes, it's crucial how you use that twenty minutes. Like for some, it's kinda like, “All right, what we're gonna do right now, for the next 10 minutes, is I'm gonna let you just vent about your day. Whatever happened at work…” Not about the relationship, if it's a hard relationship I don't recommend going like vent about personal relationship issues is not a good way to start.
A good way to start is actually, what happened outside the relationship today? Like, oh I just got this awful phone call from my boss or from my friend or from this and this. Or whatever happened that day, could have been great, could have been bad, just let them spew it out for 10 minutes without you interjecting your own stuff. Just let them go. And what you can do in that time is find out questions like, “Hey, how… That's interesting. Tell me what that was like when your boss called you.” And finding out questions. Don't put yourself all in there that, “If I was in that situation, here is what I would've done kinda thing.” That's taking it away from them now. So you want them to bring it out and you want them to show, “What was that like?” And bring it out.
Interviewer: Okay. You're right. So is this the only key secret? Do you have other secret to destroy a relationship?
Interviewee: What was that one?
Interviewer: Do you have a key secret to destroy a relationship?
Interviewee: Third one is criticism. Criticism is the other Gottman. Gottmann I think has done the most research in this area as far as like, what makes or breaks relationship. So criticism is the step, kind of like before contempt. You know, critical would be like, just like, “I wish you hadn't done it that way.” You know, kind of thinking is like… Almost to the point of, I can do it better, but it's more of just being critical be like, “You do it this way instead.” You know, just being critical in everything that they do like loading the dish washer or just something simple. It would be like, pretty soon in the relationship the other feels devalued like everything they do is like, “I'm not good enough?”
So there's nothing I'm gonna do, this you are now, I'm not gonna touch it anymore because every time I touch it, you don't even let me do it and I know in some of those issues, like 70% of those issues are re-current and they're gonna be there. Like for me and my wife, is like laundry. Like I'm okay doing it, putting it from the washer to the dryer but she wants to put it in the washer because I tend to just pile things in it. But she has a reason with colors and whites and all that stuff. And you know, I try to adopt to it and then, “Oh, you have to turn this inside out,” and stuff like and I don't remember all the stuff to turn inside out. You know, all those different little details. I'm just tossing it in there because I'm like, “Let's get this done.”
And so I'm okay putting the washer to the dryer and stuff like that and may be help fold a few clothes and there are certain things that I won’t even touch folding because I was… And we've already worked that out. You know, we're okay with that and there's gonna be things like that in your relationship that no matter what you do, it's not gonna be to the level that they want to see it at. So it's okay and work those out or work out an agreement like I'm okay doing the washer to the dryer thing and I'm okay with, I can put them all on the pile kinda stuff. And then she can do the little things and I can help gather, do the garbage and I do all this other stuff too. You know we just work out our agreements of what we're okay with putting up with.
Interviewer: Great. I love that. Thank you very much and thank you very much for all the key issues.
Interviewee: Yeah. I appreciate your time and it's a great honor.