Improving Relationships and Healthy Boundaries with Genesis Games
Hey, everyone. This is your host Michelle, and you’re listening to The Mindful Podcast, the show that aims to break the stigma associated with mental health. Today, we’ll be talking about relationships, couples therapy, therapeutic techniques, and healthy boundaries with your partners with Genesis Gamis, who is a level three Gottman Method trained couples therapist. Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Mindful Podcast. Today we have Genesis Gamis with us. How are you, Genesis? I’m well, thank you. Welcome to mindful, Podcast. Yay. Thank you for having me. Thank you for coming. Can you tell us or tell our audience a little bit about your professional and personal background, please? Yes. So I am Cuban American, first generation. Most of my life, I’ve lived in Miami, and I own a boutique private practice that focuses on millennials. Because it’s a virtual practice, I’m able to work with clients all over the state of Florida. And like I said, I specialize in Millennials, so I deal with millennial individuals, millennial couples, trying to figure out adulting and also trying to figure out relationships and big life. So you deal with a lot? Yes. Present moment kind of issues. A lot of present moment kind of issues. Okay, nice. When did your journey in the psychology world like? It’s hard to find a specific time. I would say that it was a mixture of taking, like, an AP Psychology class in high school and also as a teenager, being in therapy myself, and kind of having that experience. Latino culture, we don’t really believe in mental health. It’s not something that’s very talked about. So the fact that experience was very new to me, but it was also life changing and so mixed. Doing AP Psychology and kind of learning the basics of psychology and then also having that personal experience with a therapist just made me realize I wanted to do that for other people. I wanted to be able to help other people achieve things that they didn’t think were possible. Yeah. I feel like anybody who studied psychology, it’s either their passion, like psychology found them, or they went through their own process and through a therapist, and they decided they wanted to help somebody else. I would mean at least that’s what I always hear about. Yeah. Now, you specialize, or one of your specialties would be couples therapy relationships, and you are certified trainer in the Gottman theory. I am a level three Gottman trained couples therapist. What does that entail? What does that mean? So what it means is that there’s a method that I’m using that’s evidence based. So I’m not just sitting in a room with two people, just kind of hearing them out and just, like, being like, oh, yeah. How does that make you feel? It’s a method, so it has a structure. There’s a purpose behind every activity, every assessment, every technique that’s done, and it’s backed up with more than 40 years of research. So it’s not based on my own personal experience with relationships. It’s not based on just an idea that I had one day when I woke up, but it’s actually based on science over four decades of it. Okay. No, I love the gottman theory. Can you give us a brief description for those who don’t know the Gottman theory? What that entails or what is it really like, the core of it? Yes. So Gottman, like I said, 40 plus years of research on this and through a lot of different populations as well. And they were the first ones to think, well, what makes happy couples happy? All the other marital researchers previous to the Gottman’s focused on what made people unhappy, but many things can make people unhappy. What would make you unhappy maybe makes me happy, and what makes me unhappy maybe makes you happy. So you can come with a very long list, but it’s really not going to conclude in anything. So they said, you know what we should focus on? The couples are actually happy in their relationships, and we should see what are they doing, how do they behave, what is their dynamic like? And that’s basically what the research focused on. So I think one of the main tenants from their theory and as a result of their research is the Meredith Soundhouse. And basically it’s a house. So it’s like the diagram or the picture of a house and the walls, every level of the house, from the basement to the attic, it’s a part of a relationship. Right. So a part of the relationship is trust and commitment. A part of the relationship is also what they call rituals for connections. How do we stay connected? How do we make sure that in the crazy of everyday life, we still make a time to talk, to feel connected? There’s conflict resolution in every relationship. There’s going to be some degree of conflict. How do we go about resolving the conflict? There’s also like, being able to be each other’s cheerleaders. So if I have my personal goals and my partner has their personal goals, how am I trying to support them and how are they trying to support me? So it’s all basically the anatomy of a relationship. All relationships have the same anatomy. Kind of like most human beings, we have the same anatomical parts, but some parts work better than others, depending on the relationship and what our strengths and weaknesses are. Yeah. So every relationship is different. So they all have this house, and my third floor might be broken, but some other couple’s second floor might be broken. Exactly right. And then you would just focus on that house and reinforce the positive of all the other departments. Basically, when I meet with a couple, we do an assessment. Part of the assessment is online, so it’s actually fill in multiple choice. And then the other assessments mean meeting with them together and me meeting with them, with each of them. Individually. And so what I’m gathering there is really how are each level of the house, how are the walls, how is the basement, how is level three, all of the levels of the house? I’m trying to figure out which ones are strengths, which ones are weakness. And so in our sessions together, we’re going to focus on the weakness. We’re going to learn new techniques, new tools that are going to help strengthen those areas, and then we’re definitely going to encourage them to continue doing what they’re doing in the areas that are strong. Yeah, you don’t want to touch the ones that are not those are good. We can skip that part. Interesting. And I wanted to ask you, why do you think people take so long to actually seek therapy, or at least couples? I think there’s a lot of stigma. I mean, there’s a lot of stigma to mental health, but then I think there’s, like, subgroups that are even more stigmatized. And I think marriage therapy, relationship therapy is definitely very stigmatized. I think that people and this is something I hear from my clients a lot is that they always fear that if they sat across from a therapist together, the therapist would tell them that they should get a divorce or that they should split, and that definitely shouldn’t be happening. It’s not the therapist place to say that. You may realize that in the process of therapy, and that’s a little bit different, but it’s never the place of a therapist to suggest that. So that would be very unethical, and that’s definitely not the point of couples therapy. But I think that’s a huge fear that people have, and I think it’s also just not talked about, I think, on social media, or even when you meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a while, everyone talks about the good things. We went on vacation, and it was a super romantic getaway or all the positive things, but no one actually talks about the struggles. No one talks about the vulnerable conversations. No one talks about the hurdles that we have to get through in a long term relationship. That’s true. And at least in my experience, the people that end up going to couples therapy, it’s like the last resort as well. Do you see that a lot? I see that a lot. I wouldn’t say it’s 100%, but I definitely say that it happens more often than it should. And it’s really sad because I think sometimes it’s hard when there’s so many years of resentment harbored, and if maybe they would have come, like, five years earlier, it could have been a much different journey. Yeah. And I’m interested to know what are some of the main reasons why they end up in your therapy space? Like, why do they end up seeking couples therapy? So there’s a few I would say that there’s a lot. Where do I start? Well, the most common ones some of the most common would be parenting and just having maybe different perspectives on how to parent a child, what kind of boundaries to set, how involved maybe extended family should be in the parenting of a child. So that’s definitely a really big one. I would say finances is also really big. Usually you get people that give a different meaning to money, they fall in love and decide to get married. And so figuring out and respecting each other’s meaning for money can sometimes be a little bit difficult. I would say another one is just overall boundaries with extended family, whether there’s kids involved or not, can also be a touchy subject to be able to navigate it on their own. And I would say also well, two more. I would say sex and the division of household chores. There’s usually one that feels that’s doing more than the other and that can also create some resentments. Interesting. I noticed, and correct me if I’m wrong, you didn’t notice trustfulness or like cheating. Is that not as common as people portray it to be? I would say it’s not as common as people portray it to be for the couples that come to therapy. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen for the couples that are seeking help. It’s not super common. It does come up and it might be. I have trust issues just because I’ve experienced cheating in previous relationships, but it’s not necessarily a problem in this relationship other than that’s creating anxiety for me. But I would say that most of the couples that seek help, they don’t necessarily have a high incidence of infidelity. Which I think also that ties to why couples may not seek help. Because I think couples wait for the last minute or think something like a bomb has to happen in our marriage, kind of like cheating for us to seek help. Otherwise it’s not that big of a deal. We can continue to fight and scream at each other and it’s going to be fine. They normalize it, right at some point when they become to that toxic level, just the normal. Yeah. So you mentioned it could be trust, not just from being unfaithful, but maybe they were in unfaithful relationship before. Yes. One yes. What are some ways that that particular couple can maybe regain a little bit of the trust? Maybe some techniques or how do you help them with that issue? So I like the concept of the couple bubble. And the idea is that our relationship should be in a bubble and the bubble protects our relationship. We both design that bubble, so we decide what that bubble is made of. And we’re both also responsible for the maintenance of that bubble. If there’s not some form of maintenance, the bubble will eventually explode. So we need to make sure that we’re maintaining it. And so what that bubble means is boundaries that we’re going to set with ourselves even with our partners, but also with the external world. And so creating that couple bubble means having conversations of the things that we feel comfortable with, the things that make us uncomfortable, and what can we do to help our partners feel more comfortable in this relationship. Okay. And how many out of ten times does that work? Well, you see an improvement, I’m sure. I think it works ten out of ten when both partners are committed to maintaining that bubble. Yeah, that is key. And when it comes to trust, if they’re both putting input and they’re both participating in that bubble and I like the way you say it can be anything that they want. So everybody could have a different bubble. Absolutely. So I think that’s very important. Absolutely. What I might don’t want to use the word tolerate, but what I might like or not like from my partner might be different from my friends likes and not likes. So you definitely can’t compare. Shouldn’t compare. You should definitely not compare. Every relationship is different. And so I think that’s why it’s important that there’s multiple conversations about what do I need in this bubble? What do you need in this bubble? And how can we commit to following through with that? And I think it’s also important to think that maybe the bubble that worked for you when you were dating, the bubble that worked for you at the early stages of your relationship, might not work later on in a different season of your life. Yeah. And you treat millennials. Yes. So I’m sure the issues now are way bigger than back in the day. I don’t know if they’re way bigger, but I definitely think there’s some unique issues to being a millennial. Like, for example, now we have social media. Yes. That’s all I’m going to say. That is one of the ones. So I feel like that’s a big one. Everybody has different definitions of being unfaithful, right? Yes. And so I might think you giving a like, it’s disrespectful, and then another girl might say, no. Well, they’re not even talking. Talking would be cheating or talking. Exactly. So how do you deal with the present issues, like social media, when you see your couples? So I think the first thing is to help the couple understand, because often the person that’s losing the trust might feel like they’re being dramatic or might feel like they’re maybe blowing it out of proportion because it’s just social media. Like it’s just on Instagram, it’s just like a Facebook friend. And so they might think, know, I’m blowing this out of proportion. Maybe I shouldn’t have these intense feelings about this. So I think it’s helping the couple understand that social media is not like an alter universe. It’s all in one. And so if you wouldn’t do it in real life, if you wouldn’t say it in real life, if you wouldn’t behave that way in real life, like in face to face, then it shouldn’t be happening on social media either. And so if whatever your partner did on social media would have bothered you, if they did it face to face with a person, then you have a right to be bothered. Yeah. It’s so easy when you are able to hide behind your phone, right. And you put likes and comments and your DMs, but then in real life, you probably wouldn’t even say hi. Exactly. It’s kind of like liquor courage with social media. Courage. Yeah. Oh, my God. That’s hilarious. And so you deal with that issue. Now. What do you think? What’s your personal opinion or professional opinion on the couples that have social media together? Like, they share one account. How do you feel about that? I think it depends on the intention. So if my intention is to control my partner, if my intention is to be vigilant of every activity, like everything they do on their profile, who likes them, who follows them, what they’re seeing, their stories, if that’s what the intention behind it, then I would say that’s feeding into a toxic dynamic. Because I can’t really trust. If I don’t allow my partner the opportunity to show me that they are trustworthy, I have to test my partner. In a way, it kind of sounds bad when I say it that way, but I have to give them the opportunity to be in a situation where they need to choose what’s best for that couple bubble and kind of sit back and see what they do. Yeah, that makes completely sense. So if they’re in it just because they want to be in it together, less work, whatever it is that works for them. But it’s not in a way where I want to control you and I need to know everything or I want to accept the friends that you have there, then as long as it’s not toxic, then it’s fine. Then it’s fine. Probably they both feel comfortable with that. To each its own. It’s like the people that have their passwords, they share each other’s password, and then you have the people are like, oh my God, how did you give them the password? I mean, I have nothing to hide. It works for us. We’re not really like and then you have those other couples that they will never, ever share the password. So I think that’s the main thing. Like you said, if it works for you, it works for you. If you and your partner are happy sharing each other’s passwords or having a joint social media account, then that’s perfectly fine. But if one of you feels the anxiety, again, in my intent is I want to control you. So this is why I’m doing it. That’s where it becomes toxic. If the other person feels kind of like, wow, I can’t even have this to myself, then that’s where you would need to talk about it. But as long as you’re happy. You’re happy? Yeah. And how might someone address you mentioned you have the right to feel uncomfortable about a like or a DM or whatever. How would you recommend somebody to approach their other half about it when they’re thinking I’m overreacting or I shouldn’t feel like that. How could they go about it to communicate it to their partner? So I think the conversation, even before the conversation is had, we need to think about the meaning that we give social media. We give meaning to everything in life. We give meaning to money. We give meaning to being parents. We give meaning to certain things, certain dates. Everything in our life holds some form of meaning. So what is the meaning that we’re giving social media? What is the role that social media plays in our life? Maybe you just use your social media to stay in touch with family and you just post photos of your kids and your pets and it’s just for your family to know what’s going on in your life. Maybe your family lives far away. And that’s kind of the way of keeping connection. You don’t really care about making new friends. You don’t really care about getting likes. You don’t really care about that stuff. It’s just connection with family that’s like, me, oh my God, I don’t care about likes. So that’s the meaning for you. For other people, I think, especially this day and age, they may be using social media for work purposes, and so they have to have like a public account and they have to be posting and the algorithms because this might be the way that they get clients in the door. And so it translates to business success, money, et cetera. So I think understanding what the meaning that I give to social media is important. And then when I have that conversation with my partner, I would want to understand the meaning that they give social media. I don’t want to assume it. I want to understand. And I think if we talk about the meaning, then we might be able to better understand why they spend so much time on their phone or why they are so concerned about likes or why they post what they post. And we just are able to better understand how they use social media. And once we have that down packed, then is where we would talk about boundaries. Very important. Yes. Continue, please. And so boundaries may sound like, do we change our status on Facebook? Is that something that’s important to us? Maybe, maybe not. What do you want me to post you on social media? Is that something that’s going to help you feel more secure and build trust? Maybe that is very important to you. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you don’t want other people to know about your life and your relationship. So you would actually appreciate that your partner didn’t post anything about the relationship. How much time are we going to spend on social media when it’s like quality time? Right. So if we’re at home, if we’re on a date night, are we going to be checking our phone? Does that have to happen? How much time are we going to dedicate to that? Who are you following and who are you interacting with on social media? Do you follow your ex? Is that okay? Does that make us feel uncomfortable? Yeah. Does that make us feel uncomfortable? So those are the kind of questions that you want to be asking during that conversation. Yeah. And I feel like when and if you have that conversation, egos have to go down because all of those questions you just said, I feel like half of the population would just get defensive yes. And be like, what do you mean? Why? And so the big thing is we’re listening to understand again, we want to understand the meaning of social media for our partners and for ourselves if we haven’t really reflected on that personally. And then we want to talk about these boundaries with the goal of coming to some form of an agreement, something that feels comfortable for both of us. Again, I give the example of using social media for business because I think a lot of small businesses specifically really need social media to survive. And a lot of times that also means I share a little bit about my personal life to make myself more personable with my audience. Right. And so we really want to be mindful that the goal is to compromise where both of us walk away from this conversation feeling like we got something, but also feeling like we’re doing our piece to protect that bubble. Yeah. Back to the bubble. I love it. It’s all about the bubble, guys. Yes. Oh, my God. Social media is such a big thing that that’s why I wanted to talk about it and focus, because I see that a lot of relationships are affected by it. Absolutely. Another big thing that is brought by social media would be comparison absolutely correct. With someone I see somebody that looks nicer, hotter, has a perfect life, which is a lie, because you’re just looking at their instagram. Right. And you’re just always comparing and comparing, comparing. How does that take effect into any relationship? I would say that that’s probably the most detrimental. And I see that across the board, even with couples that are a little bit older than Millennials, I see that across the board because even with older couples, they might not be as active on social media as far as liking other people and things like that, but they’re still on social media, so they’re still seeing what other couples are doing. Right. And so there is this constant comparison, like, are we legit if we’ve never traveled together? Are we legit if we’ve been dating for five years and there’s still no ring? Are we supposed to be happy if we’re living in an apartment. And at this point we should be living in a house like all the other friends that close on their house this year. There’s a constant, constant comparison. And what I like to tell my couples is it’s very easy for you to feel defeated and feel disappointed in your relationship that’s imperfect, but works for you when you’re constantly seeing these instagrammable relationships that are just picture perfect. And people are constantly writing about how amazing their partner is and, like, these romantic getaways and five star dinner hotels and all these beautiful things. And then they’re fighting at home. Right. You’re not seeing that. You’re not seeing the fights. You’re not seeing the crying. You’re not seeing the vulnerable conversations. You’re not hearing those. You don’t know what challenges they’ve had to accomplish. And it’s not to say necessarily that people are faking it. Some of those people might be very much in love, but you’re not seeing the behind the scenes. Yeah. You’re not seeing the process of what it takes to get to that level. Absolutely. You just think it’s all butterflies and flowers. It’s just like magically. This wonderful relationship happened and they’ve been going to therapy for three years. Exactly. It works. They’re working at it, but they’re still putting work into it. It seems so easy. Exactly. So I think it’s really important that we don’t compare and this is a term that Gottman uses a good enough relationship that we don’t compare our good enough relationship to the instagrammable relationships we’re seeing. That makes sense for many reasons. What are some ways that couples or people in general can navigate social media in a positive way? So I would definitely say that there should be boundaries with time, especially when it comes to the time that we’re spending as a couple or spending as a family. I hate that when I was dating, I hated when the guy would just sit there and then be on the phone. I was like, hello? Why am I the phone? Yes. You want to text me next? Obviously that didn’t work out for obvious reasons, but it’s a thing. But it is a thing. Yeah. And I feel like maybe I’m old school. Right. And we had no social media growing up. Up to what? After high school. So I think I just told everybody my age. But that’s not the point. But yeah, I’m okay with just putting my phone away for a little bit, but then I have other times that I catch myself just doing and doing. And for some people, they’re just growing up with the social media. Well, yeah, they know how to stop, I think. Even when I think about the next generation Gen Z, they had drone Noah life without social media. Oh, that’s going to be worse. Yeah. That’s going to be like a whole other animal. I have a twelve year old and I already have to fight with him over the iPad and the cell phone. If you take it away, I believe, oh my God. You’re going to be fine. You’re going to survive. I need it for emergencies. What emergencies? You’re with me parents. You’re in school. School will call me. There’s an emergency. I am in your emergency contact. You will be fine. Like what? Oh my God. These kids nowadays. Yeah. Crazy. So I think it’s definitely going to be interesting when they are in their twenty s and kind of in this different phase of life, but definitely putting some boundaries with that quality time and always having this conversation of what we feel comfortable with and what we don’t. Because like I said at the beginning, that couple bubble may shift in different seasons of our relationship. So we don’t want to think that because we sat down one day and we had a conversation and we agreed on something, it’s going to be like that until death duel is apart. Yeah. And that’s very important because I don’t know about you, but people that last a long time in my experience are people that are able to communicate. Yes. Is that true? False. Communication is very important. Communication leads to connection and when there is a lack of communication we become strangers. That’s true. Yeah. I mean, what would you say? It’s the key of a long lasting relationships. Besides communication, is there anything else? I think it’s like a salad and so I think there’s many things. I would definitely say that communication is probably one of the most critical ones. Communication is just I think a lot of times when people think of communication they think of are they talking to me? Are they like expressing themselves? But it’s also listening, active listening. So the person can be talking and talking and talking, but if we’re not registering what they’re saying, we still have communication issues. And it’s also being able to say what we need to say in a way that the other person can hear it. Okay. Right. Choosing our words, choosing our tone, choosing the timing, even choosing the environment of when we’re having these conversations is really important. The tone is very important. Yes. Is that when you use I statements instead of you statements, that’s definitely where you would use I statements. Let’s talk a little bit about that. For those who don’t know, never point somebody or your partner and say you this, you that. Right. You’re supposed to say, I don’t feel comfortable doing this. You focus on your experience with the situation, not on your partner. Because anything that you say in regard to your partner is really making an assumption and I think it makes them defensive. Absolutely. Because it’s most likely nine out of ten times going to come off critical. So it’s an assumption. It’s critical. Their defenses are immediately going to go up. They’re going to feel like they’re being attacked and so they’re not going. To listen to you at that point, they’re just going to try to defend themselves. Nothing productive is going to come out of that. Once we already discuss positive ways we can do social media, and we also discuss negative things like comparison and the time and doing a joint account. It could be toxic. What are some ways for those couples that maybe were not able to do communication or social media and they’re not in a good path? What are some ways that they can regain that relationship, that trust? Are there any techniques, maybe quick techniques you can tell us that they can even practice at home where they don’t necessarily have to go to therapy? Like, where could they start to better their communication and just overall their relationship? So I think there’s really three phases to it. Phase one is really understanding where the betrayal was. And betrayal is not always cheating. Betrayal can be. I expected you to show up for me in a difficult situation, and you didn’t show up. Or you didn’t show up how I expected you to show up, whether that was intentional, whether that you just thought you were showing up, but you weren’t showing up the way I wanted to, whatever the case may be. So betrayal can be many things. It’s not just cheating. Of course it can also be cheating, but really understanding where the betrayal happened and really being able to disclose if I’m the person that feels betrayed, being able to disclose, like, what about that situation? Made me feel betrayed. What was my expectation that was not met? What were the feelings that came up for me? What are the feelings that I’m still trying to figure out? That’s really important then, for the person that betrayed, it’s really important for them to also be able to express their peace. Was this intentional? Was this unintentional? What was going on for me? How did I justify this in my head? How do I feel about it now? How do I feel about you in this relationship? So having that conversation, which is probably multiple conversations, but having that piece is really important before you can really move on to the next phase. And what I often see is that the betrayer often feels really guilty and feels a lot of remorse and feels very hurt for the hurt they caused their partner. So a lot of times they don’t want to sit with that. They just want to move on. Okay, well, let’s talk about what’s coming next in our relationship, right? Let’s start going on dates. Let’s start doing things. Let’s do the fun things. And they want to keep this in the past because of their guilt and because of their shame. But if we don’t talk about what happened, and I, as the betrayed partner, don’t fully understand that you understand the pain that you cost me, we’re never going to be able to move forward. Of course, once we’ve had all the betrayal stuff understood, then we move to phase two. And in phase two, I think it’s where both partners take accountability and it’s where they take inventory of their old relationship. So relationship before the betrayal, right. Okay. What maybe led to this betrayal? And again, betrayal is open ended. It can be anything. But what led to this betrayal? Maybe it was lack of communication. Maybe we weren’t spending enough time together. Maybe there were some hard conversations that we didn’t have at the beginning, so we didn’t really know each other’s expectations. Right? Yeah. We need to have those conversations, and we both need to take accountability of the role that we played in the situation, what we contributed to the situation. Sometimes we contribute 90%, sometimes we contribute 40%. But we have to take accountability of that piece. If we don’t take accountability of that piece, we’re just going to fall back into the same relationship patterns. And those are the same relationship patterns that landed us here. So we don’t want to go back in time. We don’t want to go back to the old relationship. We want to create a new relationship that’s like a 2.0. It’s an enhanced, updated version of us that’s very important. Yes. And so that’s phase two. And again, that’s probably not one conversation. That’s probably multiple conversations. Once we’ve hashed that piece out, the last phase is where the fun comes into play. And that is more of where we’re dating again, we’re doing fun things. Again, we’re thinking of us as a couple. We’re socializing more. We’re making long term plans that are exciting for us. And this is also where we want to focus on the romance and we want to focus on sex. And so a lot of times lots of sex. Yes, lots of sex. A lot of times when betrayal happens, whether it’s infidelity or not, because we’re so disconnected because of the betrayal, we don’t have fun together. We feel like our defenses are up every time that we’re close to the other person. We’re not at ease, we’re not able to relax. So we’re not having fun, we’re not being romantic with each other, and we’re probably not having sex or we’re not having great sex. Yes. It’s all compromised sex. Yes. And I assume that it’s important for those steps to happen in that order. Yes, correct. Yes. Because I know a lot of couples that after betrayal, they just want to go back to the dating. And it’s like, no, you have to process all the information, do the healing, understanding. And then if you both decide you still want to keep going and do all that inner work, then you can go back to the fun part. Absolutely. And again, I think a lot of times that is because there’s shame and guilt on the betrayer side. And so it’s hard for them to sit with the hurt and the pain they caused their partner. But it is essential. And that’s something that I try to emphasize. You have to go phase one, phase two, phase three. You can’t just jump to phase three because you’re not going to be able to be at ease. Yeah, I can see how that could work or not work if you don’t follow those steps. Besides trust and social media, you mentioned sex was another big one of why people come see you. Yes. Why is that? I think it’s because there’s also a lot of misconceptions around sex. And so I think a lot of times couples think and this might be part of what they see on social media. This might be part of just what our society as a whole like the narrative. If we’re in love, we should have chemistry, and our chemistry should be like super intense all the time. 100%? Yes. 100%. I should see you when I want to get naked right away, dressing you with my eyes. Yes. And although for a lot of couples, that’s true for the beginning of their relationship. When we’re talking about long term relationships, things change. And sometimes it might be conflict that we haven’t hashed out and there’s resentment. And if we’re able to communicate better and work through that resentment, that’s going to help our sex life. Sometimes it’s physical, sometimes it’s stress from just life in general feeling like we’re pulled in all sorts of direction. We’re not getting good sleep. We’re not taking care of ourselves. We probably don’t feel our best, and we don’t feel our sexiest. And sometimes it’s just physical. Our bodies change, whether it’s postpartum, it’s pre menopause, post menopause. Men go through hormonal changes too, although we don’t often talk about men and their hormonal changes, but they also they don’t get their period, so we don’t talk about them. It’s all about us. We complain once a month, but we like it. It’s a love hate relationship. It’s a love hate relationship. Okay, so there’s definitely different reasons why a couple might be struggling with their sex life. But I think one reason that’s always present is communication. Because even if they’re communicating well in other areas of their life, if they’re not talking about what’s going on in the bedroom, that’s only exacerbating the issue. Okay. If that makes sense. Yes. So they have to talk about it. Exactly. They have to make the uncomfortable or have the uncomfortable conversation about sex. Yes. Okay, and which ways can couples or what steps can couples take for them not to get to that point of their relationship? Or is it inevitable that at some point they can go through sex issues? I think it’s probably very common that most couples will go through some form of sex issues in their lifespan as a couple just because a lot of things can trigger those right. From our own trauma, our own struggles with anxiety or depression, medication. We may be taking hormonal issues so many different causes. So I think at one point or another, it can happen now. It doesn’t have to feel catastrophic if we are used to having conversations about sex, if we’re used to giving each other feedback, if we’re used to talking about what feels good, what doesn’t feel good, and if we understand the meaning I go back to meaning. If we understand the meaning that we give sex and the meaning that our partner gives sex, very important. I feel like some people don’t know their own meaning either, so that might just make it a little harder. So really sitting with that and reflecting on that, what does sex mean to me? Is it purely emotional? Is it a way of me getting approval? Is it a way of getting attention? What does sex mean to me? I think it’s important that we reflect on that and then try to have that conversation with our partner. Yeah, very important. I’m taking notes here. Oh, my God. It’s been a wonderful conversation. I wanted to ask you one last thing, though. What could be out of the gottman techniques? What could be an easy to go to techniques for all types of relationships to maybe better their communication as partners? So probably my favorite one to teach, and I think the one that my couples tend to love and tend to implement even when they stop seeing me, is a State of the Union conversation. And so, like the State of the Union, it’s basically focused on what’s going on in our relationship. And it’s a conversation that’s had once a week. I recommend that couples choose a day and a time that works best for them so that it’s just part of their routine. It’s not something they have to even think about. It can be like on a Sunday morning, having your coffee outside. It can be on your weekly date night. It can be whenever makes most sense for that couple, but I like for them to put it in their calendar and make it a thing. And so what’s happening in the State of the Union conversation is that we’re talking and giving each other feedback on the last week. Interesting. Yeah. So we’re going to start the conversation by sharing appreciation. And so I’m going to say five things that I appreciate from my partner that my partner did that week. And I’m not going to just say, oh, it was nice that you made me coffee in the morning, but I’m going to try to make it a little bit more profound and meaningful. So it might sound something like, it’s very thoughtful of you that you made me coffee Wednesday morning. You knew I had a really rough night, and it was going to be a rough morning, and you got up a little bit early and made me coffee. I see the difference. I’d probably be like, thanks for the coffee. I think it was Wednesday. Thanks. So putting more thought into that appreciation piece. It’s really important because it hits differently, and so the person hearing it feels more seen in the relationship. It also helps us because it takes us out of that tunnel vision. So a lot of times, if we had a bad week with our partner and we’re just feeling really annoyed by them that week, we have a tunnel vision where we’re just seeing everything that annoys us about them. This helps you get out of that tunnel vision and realize, as annoying as they were this week, they still did some pretty cool things for me. Guess he made me coffee. Whatever. Thanks. So each partner shares five. Then I like partners to reflect on what could have gone wrong that week that went well or went better. And so that could be situations in the past that have ended in an explosive argument and maybe have ended in the silent treatment. Things that would cause stress and maybe in the past haven’t been handled well, but it was handled well this week. Like, maybe we used to fight, he used to shut down, and now he doesn’t shut down. But he’s not the best in communicating. But he didn’t shut down. Exactly. So it doesn’t have to be perfection. Okay. And it doesn’t have to be that you completely averted the situation, but it can just be that you handled it in a better way than it was handled in the past. And it can be things like, we had a fight, you didn’t shut down, you didn’t communicate, but you didn’t walk away. Exactly. Maybe it could have been like, kids were sick, and maybe that’s really stressful because they’re waking us up in the middle of the night. And so usually when that happens, maybe one of us gets pissed at each other because we’re sleep deprived, but we were able to navigate that this time without getting into fights and being more of a team. Okay. So it can really be anything that happened within the last week. So you may have the same answer as your partner. You may both be on the same page, you may have different answers, which is totally fine, but I think reflecting on that is really important because it teaches you or it helps you see that what you are learning and putting into action is actually having the effect that you want it to have. Right. It’s like positive reinforcement every week. Yes. And recognizing the now not everything is positive and fun. Okay. The next part sorry, continue. The next part is where you would talk about either any pending issues that have not been resolved that came up within the last week or any big decisions that you need to be making. So it’s like sour patches. Yes. But you give the good stuff first, sweet stuff, and then you’re like, but yes. Okay. And again, the whole purpose is to come to a compromise. So we don’t want to get back into the fight. We just want to talk about it and better understand our different points of views, maybe what triggered you. What triggered me? And then what are we going to do about it? How are we going to handle this differently when it happens again? If we have to make some big decision together as a couple, then this would be the time to talk about pros and cons and how we feel about different alternatives. And then we would conclude with this question, which I really love and is, how can I make you feel more loved? So we’re asking each other that question, and we are committing to doing our best to show our partner love in the way that they’re asking us to within the next week. Okay. That’s amazing. And you recommend doing this every week? I do. Forever and ever? Forever and ever. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work, but you can make it fun. Yeah. I mean, I can see how rewarding it is, but I feel like some people might start doing it and then kind of lose it. But I feel like even if you do it once a month, it’s not ideal. But I love something is better than nothing. Exactly. It’s better than nothing. And eventually in the beginning, when you’re working things out, there’s going to be more issues to talk about. But maybe you get to that point. It’s like therapy. You might need it once a week and then you might just go once a month. Right. You can go back to once a week. So when I’m working with couples as needed? Yeah. When I’m working with my couples, I tell them to do it for an hour. Now, that’s usually because there’s a lot going on. When things begin to slow down, you might not need an hour. It might be like a 15 minutes check in and you’re just kind of going over the positive things and maybe there’s something, some decision you have to make. But because now you’re so much better at communicating, it doesn’t take you so long to figure it out. So again, I’m a firm believer that something is better than nothing. So if you’re having it once a month, that’s better than not having it at all. If you’re having it once a week but you’re maybe having 15 minutes check ins on most weeks because it’s not that eventful, then that’s also perfect. But I would always say to try to infuse it into your routine and make it fun, it doesn’t have to be like this very serious, very stuffy conversation down. Now to talk about our relationship. You can be walking the dog. You can be having a glass of wine. You can have your coffee in the morning. It doesn’t have to be that intense, but it’s just so that we check in and things don’t fester. I think that’s the biggest thing with doing it more often rather than less often, is that if something comes up, we don’t want it to fester. And just because I think this week was great, I don’t want to assume that it was great for my partner. Very Important. Don’t always just think about yourself. Yeah, I would have known. Wait, what do you mean? I thought it was all about me. All. Those are great advices. And I think you gave us a very great technique that anyone in any kind of relationship can use. So. I love that. It takes a lot for some couples to get to therapy, and we highly recommend you do it sooner than later. I feel like when your wife or your spouse tells you, let’s go to therapy, just listen to them. That’s when you should go. That’s when you should go. Even if you don’t agree, even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong, just go. Worst case scenario, you come out with communication tools, right? And the bubbles and all these great techniques. So it’s not going to hurt you. Please just listen to your spouse. And if you really want to work into the relationship, go see her. Well, I want to say thank you. Thank you for coming. I loved our conversation. Is there any last note you would like to tell our audience in regards to relationships or couples therapy or the Gottman theory? I think it’s important that we all just kind of think and reflect on how we’re presenting ourselves in our relationship and that we reflect back again on meaning, the meaning of different areas, different components of our relationship. And that when we talk about communication again, it’s not just about the other person moving their mouth and talking to us, but also about how well am I listening? And am I still listening? When what they’re saying, I don’t like? Right? Am I still open to sitting with that, hearing that out and trying to understand their perspective. I would say that’s really important. And kind of like you said, even if you don’t think that there’s anything wrong with your relationship, if your partner has concerns, guess what? You have relationship problems? It’s not a one way. Your spouse is mad. Guess what? You’re Mad. At least that’s how I work. If I’m not having a good day. You’re definitely not having a good day. No, I’m kidding. Toxic. Don’t listen to me. Listen to her. Oh, my God. Well, thank you so much. It was lovely to have you again. I loved our conversation. This is so much fun. It’s been so insightful and I hope our listeners have learned many different techniques that hopefully they can implement in their own relationship. Where can they find you? So I can be found on Instagram. My handle is at the Miami therapist. You can also check out my website healingconnections ##therapy com. Thank you guys for listening. And don’t forget to like and subscribe.