In this Episode
- [00:40]Stephan introduces Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman. They’re known as the “couple that coaches couples” and have worked with celebrities, public figures, and thousands of couples worldwide.
- [05:47]What’s the difference between couples counseling and couples coaching?
- [12:02]Aaron explains how couples need to have the willingness to recognize their situation when it comes to salvaging their relationship.
- [18:42]Jocelyn explains the saying, “you don’t have to end this relationship to end this relationship.”
- [23:28]Aaron tells the story of how Jocelyn changed his entire perception on self-development.
- [30:07]What are some questions to ask your partner to shorten the argument hangover?
- [36:35]Stephan shares a couple’s exercise he learned from Jaiya, the sexologist.
- [42:31]Aaron recommends an approach to handling a couple’s conflict where children are involved in making them take sides.
- [48:34]How to keep your wedding vows alive and stay aligned with your relationship agreements?
- [53:10]Visit Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman’s website at MeetTheFreemans.com to learn more about them, and check out TheArgumentHangover.com to pre-order the book, The Argument Hangover and claim bonuses.
Thank you for joining us, Jocelyn and Aaron.
JF: Thank you so much for having us. We’re excited to connect with your audience.
AF: Absolutely. Yes, let’s optimize some relationships.
All right, awesome. First of all, why is it called The Argument Hangover?
JF: Well, if I could jump in because I love this. The phrase came from after having hundreds of conversations with couples. We talk to couples about various challenges that are coming up in their relationship, but one of the most common things that would come up regardless of where they lived in the world or what their financial status was, we would find that couples would be describing this period after a disagreement, and they’d be talking about how they feel disconnected, they kind of want to be in separate rooms, they feel kind of guilty for how they acted. They’re upset with how their partner talked to them and what they said, and they just feel this disconnect. We kept hearing this theme over and over. We love words, and we said, “Well, let’s give people a phrase to describe that.” It came out organically when we were talking to a couple once when we said, “Oh, it sounds like an argument hangover.” They laughed, and they were like, “That’s the best term we’ve ever heard to describe how we feel.” It’s like a food or alcohol hangover, a period only this happens to be after an argument. So we came up with that phrase organically. And then the more and more we tell couples, they’re like, “That’s exactly how it feels.”
All right, and I presume there’s a cure, a hangover cure? And that’s in the book?
An argument can last for weeks, months, years and sometimes ruin a relationship to a certain extent.
AF: Yes, for sure. The book goes into not about avoiding conflicts. I think that’s something as far as optimizing your relationships, which really could be, well, it’s largely romantic. But when you think about any relationship in your life, it does get to a place where you get into a conflict, and for most people, whether it’s friends or bosses, even family, you just kind of remove yourself from it. Well, we got an argument, and that can last for some people, weeks, months, years, and sometimes that ruins a relationship to a certain extent. So it’s not really about avoiding conflict. It’s allowing the conflict to be there by having these steps that we go over in the book to resolve this conflict or to move from that conflict through the argument hangover. The goal is to not have the part of the argument or the hangover escalated to where you’re doing more damage to your partner or to this other person that you’re in a relationship with than the initial disagreement. And then it’s just a goal to shorten that period. Right? So maybe in the relationship that you’re thinking of your audience right now, how long do you stay disconnected? How long are you in that argument hangover period? Is it five hours? Well, if it is, let’s get it down to one hour, or maybe get down to 30 minutes or even down to one minute eventually.
JF: Some couples have hangovers for months, depending on where they’re at and their level of skills, but even missing out on hours or days of life is too much life lost to this disagreement.
And how long do your argument hangovers last?
JF: Great question. In the beginning, before really mastering the principles that we teach couples, even before our relationship, because we started on relationship work right away in our relationship–that’s a whole different story, but he tried to break up with me early on. That’s a different story if you wanted to come back to that. But I’d say now, just the work that we’ve done, and we don’t let it go more than a couple of hours. We interrupt it.
AF: I would typically think more like around 15 minutes.
JF: Yeah. As for us, it’d be abnormal if it was more than a couple of hours. But yes, we do the work to have it be just a few minutes.
Gotcha. All right. How long have you guys been doing couples counseling?
JF: So we do couples coaching because it’s important to distinguish.
Okay, let’s talk about the difference there.
JF: There is a difference between counseling and coaching. So we have been doing this full time for five years.
Okay, and what’s the difference between coaching and counseling?
Coaching focuses on the pain point and the skill that’s missing that you need to implement.
JF: Yeah, so we appreciate both. We aren’t anti-counseling by any means. But counseling tends to focus on, this is what a lot of couples tell us is their experience, because I think that’s what’s important is how do couples experience it. And what we hear from couples most often in how they feel it’s different. Counseling a lot of times focuses on the person listening. So the counselor is there to listen, be a sounding board, more so plays a relaxed listening role and a place to vent and talk about it. Oftentimes, it can be a great place for having that support. But what we’ve heard from a lot of couples is they’re often missing the take home. What am I going to do that’s different? That isn’t just because I now feel better after the session, but because I’ve embodied a new skill. That’s what coaching focuses on. Coaching focuses on, what is the pain point? What’s the skill that’s missing? Here’s a new skill that you need to implement and so that it’s replicable even after we have sessions. You aren’t reliant on needing to have the coach because you’ve learned the skill that you can now implement and focus on.
Gotcha. Okay. What would be an example of a great kind of turnaround or case study from a coaching client that you’ve worked with? Maybe it even seemed hopeless to them before they started working with you?
JF: Gosh, there’s so many.
AF: Well, it comes to a principle around emotional triggers. That’s one of the main chapters in the book. Most people have this sense that when they get into a disagreement with their partner, that it’s the other partner’s fault. That you’re going to point the finger, you said it this way, and often, it’s the tone of voice or the attitude. They feel that the conversation was brought up. A big switch is just to be able to have the awareness that I’m triggered, not that you did something to cause me to feel this way, which even from an individual perspective puts you more in a not quite a victim, but at the effect of something else. But when you can say, “Oh, this is an emotional trigger that I have within myself,” and a trigger being right, an event happens.Relationships are meant to be romantic, but sometimes conflict happens. What The Argument Hangover aims to resolve is couples removing themselves from the equation whenever a problem arises. Click To Tweet
When that event happens, our minds and thoughts give it a meaning. But we’re the ones giving it the meaning, right? Nothing inherently has any meaning until our minds give it that meaning, which could be based largely on the past or trying to predict some future. But when you can own that, “I’m triggered, and I’m creating this meaning all of a sudden,” you feel like you empower yourself, you take your power back. And then when you can say to your partner, “Hey, I’m feeling defensive because I’m triggered all of a sudden,” that can even have your partner lean into and be more supportive, right? Ask better questions. “Oh, what do you think triggered you?” or “What did you make that mean?” So that has been a huge shift for lots of couples to shorten the argument hangover is just to say, “Hey, I’m realizing that I’m triggered all of a sudden,” rather than push your partner away, in a sense, you can draw them in while empowering yourself in the process.
“We’re finally talking about the things that were easy to not talk about.”
JF: Even a couple that we talked to, we had a kind of circle back and had a follow-up call with them yesterday. I love things that are as recent as possible. They are a high-achieving, super successful couple in their careers and have a great family. But behind closed doors, in addition to the love they had for each other, they felt like roommates. Of course, they wouldn’t tell their friends that because when you talk differently, “Oh, how are you going?” “Oh, we’re good.” So behind closed doors, something was being felt. And so they felt roommate-like they felt disconnected. And so they had attended our couples workshop. Of course, we had to do it online this year. We used to do in-person events all the time. So they attended that, and then they also started one of our courses. And what they said yesterday was, “We’re finally talking about the things that were easy to not talk about.”
A lot of times, I think couples think that you pointed to this avoiding the topics that can create conflict is good for the relationship when it isn’t. So they started to finally talk about the things that aren’t, “Hey, how was your day?” “Yeah, it was good. How was that meeting?” “What do you want for dinner?” “What show do you want to watch?” And they started to dive into even some of the more uncomfortable conversations. There started to be more aliveness in their relationship. There was this new invigorated energy in there. Of course, they still have more work to do, and it’s about continuing that ongoing attention and intention to the relationship. But that was exciting for me to see. Like, there was more light and life in their faces with each other.
Gotcha. Okay, and have you had situations where it just wasn’t salvageable, a relationship broke down anyways?
JF: Yeah, one of the relationships that stands out was a celebrity couple. And I don’t say that to sound cool. But the reason why I say that is because some couples think that success outwardly will mean success at home. Here is this high-profile, very well-known around the world couple, and some things happened in their relationship. Of course, we always keep this private. They ended up choosing not to continue romantically. However, they had two beautiful children, and they chose to learn the skills so that they could be a good example of co-parenting and communicating in healthy ways. And to not have that dramatic like, “I can’t believe your dad did this,” or “I can’t believe your mom did this” and be talking about each other. And so they did choose not to continue romantically but continued to have a very constructive, loving, and kind co-parenting and friendship relationship.
AF: And we don’t come across too many couples that don’t have a salvageable relationship. But there is one main point that it comes down to because we have one other couple this past week, and it comes down to whether the level of commitment for both partners. It’s not circumstantial. It’s not about the challenge that you face, some might say, and you could talk to Esther Perel, that talks about this a lot and says, “Infidelity for some couples is that one thing they feel like they will never be able to come back from.” And she says in her books, probably Mating in Captivity. That’s disproportionate to all the other challenges you could face. That one is now put up here like, “Well, I can handle everything else, except for this.” And she says, “Why is that to be that way?” If we go back to what I said before, and it’s all the meaning that we give it, then just go based on that.
Some couples give larger meaning to different circumstances, or certainly, there’s an effect of having challenges over long periods of time, or having repressed things that you wanted to share, that’s going to lower what we call your love account–not coined by us, it might be “love tank” or “love account” has been sort of popularized out there. But with low love tanks or love accounts, you will feel that things are worse, in a sense, than they are, when couples could just do the actions to fill each other’s emotional bank account using a bunch of different terms for the same thing now. But you first need the commitment to say, “We’re willing to recognize where we are and go through this together to strengthen our relationship.” And there are times where we’ll get with couples, and one of them we can tell is there already out. Some couples are in a place where the emotion, the suppression, the meaning that they’ve given it, and how long that’s lasted for them feels like they just don’t want to do it anymore. And there’s just no skill getting around your level of commitment to the relationship.
Why would somebody who’s already out the door like that even go get couples coaching from you guys?
JF: Good question. A lot of times it’s at the powerful request of one partner. So really saying, “I want to take a stand for our relationship, will you at least attempt to get some outside support before we make that really big decision?” Especially if they’re married, there’s a lot that goes into completing your lives and creating that separation. And so, a lot of times it’s the powerful request of one partner.
Gotcha. And what happens if the relationship falls apart? Are you helping them to consciously decouple? Do you get involved with how things get allocated in terms of the time and the kids and all that sort of stuff? Like, what does that look like?
Complete a relationship by bringing healing to you both so that you won’t drag that hurt into the next relationship.
JF: I love that question because I desire for our society to emphasize that possibility more. Right now, there is just divorce, and it’s drama, and it’s hurting each other. I mean, that’s what drove me to get inspired by this work. Looking back on my lifetime, my parents went from being madly in love to the most intense divorce, cops called, divorce court, trying to make each other feel pain. And create, “This is mine, this is yours,” and just anger. And so that’s what our society focuses on. And also even connotations where it’s appropriate to just be like all these turns around your ex, and you hate your ex, and how do you just get away from them. And so I hope for more and more of our society, focusing on how you actually can complete a relationship.
You can learn ways to have completion by bringing healing to you both, by being loving and kind, so that you aren’t dragging that hurt into the next relationship. Because if you don’t complete it emotionally, and reconcile all the things in your mind about, “Why did this happen?” and “What was the breakdown?” and “What’s the impact on me and you?”, you will bring that energy into the next relationship. We have to complete it, or else again, it’ll just kind of show up and manifest in different ways. So to answer your question, we would love for more and more couples to know that’s possible. And when they are, I think at a place where they see they want to have healthy relationships in all areas of their life, they are willing to do that work.
Did your parents end up completing their relationship?
JF: Nope. I think that they both have done some work on it. And I think they didn’t have the mentorship for it. This was decades ago, and so there weren’t people to facilitate that. Right now, where I’m at, I think they aren’t as open to their child supporting that. I wish they were more open to that.
Yeah, what makes that expression that a prophet is not accepted in their own home town?
JF: Oh, maybe so. Yeah.
Yeah, that’s from the Bible.
AF: I thought you were thinking of the same phrase I was when Jocelyn was saying, “Hurt people hurt people.”
Right. Heard that one too.
AF: Well, I thought some of your listeners that are new to that phrase completion just want to give a little insight into what that kind of looks like. Well, you’d have to create a space for a conversation where you do two primary things; you’re able to share the places that you’re still harboring, either some resentment or you feel, I guess, in layman’s terms, something that you’ve been holding back, or you haven’t gotten to say everything that you feel you need to say, to maybe you could say feel emptied, feel complete, that you’ve said what needs to be said. Ideally, the other partner is going to listen in such a way that it’s received. You have to acknowledge blame or anything like that, but that you feel understood that your partner has gotten the impact of the years, or even just more recently, how this relationship has gone. From there, both being understood and acknowledging the impact, you’re able to get to the place where I think you recognize that your relationship was there to serve you for a season.
I think your dad shared this one with me, “Relationships are for what reasons, seasons,” and something else–that’s not one of my favorite or most quotable quotes. But in a sense, relationships are for learning. And like where Jocelyn and I entered into this relationship to say, “This is going to be a relationship that we’re going to learn with each other for the rest of our lives.” Some couples, even married couples who have been in a relationship, when they complete their relationship, will say, “Well, we have learned all that there is for us to learn. We’ve grown individually.” And in a sense, you want to appreciate that partner for the places that they provided those learning lessons for you. So you can complete the relationship and say, “Thank you for this time period,” and appreciate them for what was learned, and then be able to move on from there, rather than be incomplete which you harbor resentment and frustration. And what are gonna hold things in your heart and even in your body, right? I’m sure you’ve had lots of podcasts where that emotion that doesn’t get moved, that gets stored in your body as disease and will manifest itself as a disease. Lots of other impacts around, not having relationships be complete.
JF: I got fired up by something you said, and I have something that’ll be a mic drop for people. You don’t have to end this relationship to end this relationship. And here’s what I mean by that, you can choose to end this version of the relationship within the container of this relationship. We did this a few months ago, where we felt there were some things we wanted to leave in the past. Where most people think like, “Oh, the way to resolve this is to end this relationship completely and move to the next,” when you can choose to say, “This version is complete, we are now letting this version of the relationship die off, be complete.” And we’re going to create the next version within the same container of two people. And that’s one thing that we do work with couples on is actually like, let’s draw a line in the sand of this version of the relationship and completely recreate the next season.
Gotcha. Okay. And I want to go back to something that you said, Aaron, a few minutes ago, which was that people grew individually. And that led me to think about, well, what if they grew individually apart, but as a couple, they didn’t grow together. Like, for example, one of the partners, perhaps, goes to a Tony Robbins’ event, gets all fired up and all excited to improve themselves, grow, and evolve, and the other person just wants to binge on Netflix. And then the next event comes, and that person tries to drag their significant other, “Nope, gonna watch Netflix, have fun.” And then they just grow and grow, and the other person kind of stagnates and just is sitting on the couch. What do you say to somebody who has perhaps grown apart in that way, whether it’s the person who’s all elevated and excited and all that, or the person who feels like their partner is just part of a cult now, and I don’t even know who this person is, they’re just speaking all these Tony Robin-isms, or whatever? And I’m not saying that this is us. My wife and I met at a Tony Robbins’ event. And we’re very much aligned in the area of personal development and growing and evolving, and we go to a lot of events, a lot of masterminds together, and so forth. So I’m just saying, if that’s the case, I know people who have gotten divorced because one person wanted to grow and did, and the other person wanted just to stagnate.
Sometimes it’s your approach in how you have invited your partner into the work.
AF: It makes you think about two things. And maybe you want to talk about mirror neurons and like being that example. But it also makes me think of it because we were just creating another workshop around this. Sometimes it’s your approach in how you have invited your partner into the work. And, 1.) it could be too vague, 2.) it could be just passive, and then 3.) it would be that the way that you invited them to check out what you were looking into or go to a Tony Robbins event was around the context that something was wrong, or they needed to fix themselves.
JF: Like my podcast episode the other day, are you focusing on the problem or the possibility? That’s exactly what I talked about on the podcast the other day. Are you inviting them from, “This is something you need to work on, and here’s the problem,” or are you creating a vision or a possibility that inspires them?
AF: Another way would be that sometimes it’s just too vague, right? And I was reading this quote out when Jocelyn and I first got together, and she was doing personal development. I didn’t know what that meant. I had gone to school long enough, and I said, “I don’t need personal development. I’ve been in school long enough.” And so I think the very first time you invited me into, it sounded like this, “Hey, would you like to check out something I saw today?” or “Hey, would you like to check this thing out?” And that for her ended up being this flyer. I remember the flyer that she handed me. And I had like this Van Gogh painting that was in different contrasts and like in this square, and I was like, “No, I don’t know what it was. Thanks for sharing, but I don’t need to check it out.”A huge factor in maintaining a great relationship is having an awareness of each other's triggers. Click To Tweet
Then it was probably the next week that she positioned it differently and said, “Hey, personal development is important to me, and I would like this to be important to us.” So just notice how you bring it up because in Jocelyn’s mind, by saying “Hey, check this out,” that could be more direct than she invited me into a personal development or going to a Tony Robbins or being on some sort of online webinar when really, it’s not very direct to me. She’s not asking me anything. Do I want to check it out? No, I’m doing a bunch of other things. But if she says how it’s important to her, and more so how she could see that it would benefit us as a couple, that’s a way different, not only invitation, it’s more of a statement, rather than just sort of a passive, “Hey, you want to check this thing out?” And we do find that when we dive in with some couples that are facing a challenge like you’re saying, they have been way too vague about their invitation. And they’ve been way more passive like they thought they would have been more direct when they haven’t.
Have other people also impact your partner. It may not work if it’s always coming from you.
JF: There is this cultural belief that men don’t want to do the work. And that is some even in the relationship space like we’ve talked to marketers, and the marketers will even say things like, “Appeal to the women, market to the women, because they’re going to be the ones that decide this and pull their partner in.” And we decided early on in our business that we were not going to buy into that story. And so we, of all of the workshops that we’ve hosted, books, coaching, anything that we’ve offered, at least 50% of the purchases were from men, and a lot of times it’s been up to 70% men. And I think that’s because we do speak to the ways that men think and they feel within their relationship. And so I think sometimes women can try to appeal to him. We’re also speaking to couples that choose to be in same-sex relationships. So we aren’t trying to be like, this has to be a heterosexual couple.
So place yourself in whichever place you see yourself. But if you can learn to appeal to what your partner is needing, feeling, thinking, and what that could look like, I said this on our podcast episode is; have other people also impact your partner. So it may not work if it’s always coming from you. So could you have your partner be in a social event where other people are interested in self-development? If your partner is the male, and you think he’s resistant, and introduce him in a fun way to men who are doing the work. And so I think if they start to see the different ways that can look and sound, it’ll influence them differently.
Yeah. So again, it’s that quote, where the prophet is not accepted in his own village. So bring in other respected authority figures, or peers, or friends to introduce the concept. It took three different people recommending I go to Unleash the Power Within back in 2009. Where I thought, “Alright, I guess he’s a little more than an infomercial guy. I should give this a go since three independent people all tell me to go to this event.” And it was life-changing.
For couples that feel stagnant or mundane, look at places that you haven’t been progressing in the relationship.
AF: You could even say, I mean, from a psychology perspective, actually, social proof. That’s one of the strongest drivers and motivators for people. So I just kind of thought of this, if you do find it’s a struggle to get your partner on board, then you just need the social. They need social proof. So you might not be the one like you’re saying actually to get them started. But if you have friends that have done it, and it’s more just indirect conversation, where they’re sharing the benefits, and they’re sharing their excitement, often just the social proof aspect could be what gets the partner interested. I honestly feel because it was this way for me, once you get introduced to personal development, and you make it funny enough, personal for yourself, meaning you look as an individual at the areas that you do want to grow and you make it your own, rather than it being something that your partner wants you to do, or grow in the area that they want to. I mean, who doesn’t get motivated by growth? I think that’s the purpose of life, in a sense, is to progress and to evolve. And once you individually get into that state, I think you get into a feeling of not only progress but happiness, right? Since we’re talking about Tony Robbins, he often says progress equals happiness. And so, for couples that feel maybe stagnant or mundane, look at places that you haven’t been progressing.
Yeah, for sure. He also says that we’re meaning-makers, and that aligns very well with what you were saying earlier about, we create meanings. Something happens, maybe a spouse is late, and we make up some story about what that means about our self-worth and how they value or not value us, etc.
JF: I also want to give a shout out since you say that to I think the originator of that even before Tony Robbins was Werner Erhard from Aston, Landmark Worldwide. So I think I just want to give a shout out to, I think, “the OG” of that principle. Because I think it’s important to acknowledge the mentors to Tony Robbins.
JF: Because he gets all the credit when it’s like there were people before him, too.
Yeah. And he cites a lot of people’s work and doesn’t always mention the source, which can be not great. Anyway, so one thing that you guys mentioned earlier in the conversation was asking better questions. So I’d love to hear what are some of these better questions that you could ask that would help to de-escalate, would help to build bridges to connect in a non-judgmental sort of way with your partner.
When your partner sounds upset, instead of getting triggered, get curious and ask questions to prevent the argument hangover.
JF: Well, again, going back to the overall context of this that we started with, as shortening the argument hangover, is when your partner sounds upset, sounds mad at you, is acting out from their trigger, rather than you getting triggered back or reacting back at them, ask them something like, “Hey, is something coming up for you?” “Hey, what are you feeling right now?” So even just getting interested in their experience and holding space for them. So those are great questions. So that’s more like at the moment, when you can tell something’s there for them, get curious proactively even to prevent the argument hangover. Because we talk in the book about the three stages of conflict before, during, and after.
Before conflicts even happen, you can proactively ask each other things. Each week, go on a family walk, “Hey, have your needs been fulfilled?” “Hey, is there any place that I can support you better?” is there anything that you want to share with me that you haven’t had a chance to share? And so getting curious proactively, because a lot of us withhold things from fear, even to the people that we’ve created children with, share finances, with all these things, we can still withhold things. And even though they’re the cliche statements out there, like your partner can’t read your mind, so many people still operate that way. Like, “If they love me, they know I need this.” So I think proactively getting curious and asking those types of questions on walks is a great place to start.
You want to start your day out so that you’re not reactive to circumstances. Ask each other what your intentions are for the day.
AF: Well, yeah, it comes down to the principle of you want to start your day out so that you’re not reactive to circumstances. And so great questions. And I think how we started, in the beginning, was to ask each other what our intention was for the day. As in, “What would we like to experience today?” And even before we’re doing this full time, and one of us will go off in the morning, we would text each other. And so you just sit and reflect and say, “Well, yeah, what would I like to experience today?” Maybe joy, connection, and aliveness. So come up with three, and set that intention now, whatever is going to show up in your day, you are not at the effect of the circumstances because you already set up. “I’m going to experience connection, joy, and aliveness.” And now allow whatever is going to show up. But I’ve already set my mind, and I’ve sort of made a decision, which is a powerful thing actually to do, like make a decision. And then you can choose, “Well, how can I be connected?” “How can I be joyful?” Still, no matter what the circumstance, I think most people wake up when they hit the email within like six minutes. So you’re already programming your mind and your body to be reactive to the things that come at you. But you can take your power back by setting your intention. And so that’s a great question to ask each other. “What would you like to experience today?” or “What’s your intention?” Like, first thing in the morning over coffee before you put yourself into the outside world, whether it’s on a phone or conversations.To make anything better, you first need to commit to recognizing where you are and commit to go through this together to strengthen your relationship. Click To Tweet
Gotcha. And do you guys have a morning routine or ritual that you go through together?
JF: Yeah, and it has some fluidity to it depending on like, for example, we have family in town this week, right? But for the most part, we wake up, take our dog out for a couple of minutes. We got to take care of our baby dog. And then we always exercise in the morning and then we often have cacao. Have you ever had ceremonial cacao, like drinking chocolate?
Every morning, we drink cacao chocolate, and we meditate, write our intentions, pray, and do a spiritual study, and share it with each other.
JF: Okay, so a lot of people think of cacao as in, like, cocoa powder or something you put into a cake or you have hot chocolate. So the cacao plant, which is mostly from Guatemala and Peru, was a drink of choice for thousands of years, and it was even the drink of choice before coffee. So what it does is before you process it, before you add sugar, before you add all these things to make it what we think of desserts, the cacao plant itself, is what a lot of people believe, is a heart opener. And so we have that cacao drinking chocolate, and we meditate, we write our intentions, our version of prayer and spiritual study, sharing with each other. And that time together fills our cup as individuals, and then, of course, being able to connect on it in the morning. And we do that like we block our calendar, we don’t start sessions or anything until 11. We did this session with you, before normally. We would start so we have that time to fill us up before we start serving the world. And I think that’s something we encourage couples to do. Even if yes, you work full time and maybe your company starts you have to be on the clock at 9 AM, get up 30 minutes earlier. Prioritize time for yourself.
Are you guys meditating together? Like doing breathing exercises? What does that look like if you do?
AF: Yeah. Sometimes it’s together, but it’s at least in the same space, I have like one part of the living room, and she’ll be in another part of the living room. So it just depends on how we feel. There are some different breathing exercises. And with cacao, you do want to oxygenate your body, and just for some more well-known things like a Wim Hof type of breathing exercise that might be towards the end of your meditation, because that’s gonna get your body feeling the energy. So yeah, it’s a combination of I’ll be there with my eyes closed, and then her as well and open my eyes and say, let’s do a breathing exercise together. So really is a mix, but we’re always within a few feet of each other. So whether we’re doing it our practice, or then it ends up being combined, we’re always together.
Yeah, one exercise I learned from Jaiya, the sexologist. She was a guest. She was my very first guest on this podcast, episode number one. It was such an amazing episode. So there’s this exercise where you are sitting, looking at your partner, your legs are kind of interlocked. So you’re very, very close to each other. And while one is breathing in, you’re breathing out and vice versa. So you’re breathing in your partner’s breath, and then they’re breathing in your breath.
JF: Beautiful. We had her on our podcast, too. So we love her work.
Yeah. She’s amazing. So that was an incredible exercise.
AF: Well, it’s great. Some places, I think, call it the Cobra Breath. Because then if you think of the energy as moving up your spine, it is typically what’s represented in the medical industry of the two serpents, right? But when you get your breath, sort of opposite to each other like that, you can kind of combine ideas, you combine your Kundalini energy or this Cobra Breath. So yeah, I love doing that.
Cool. Do you guys practice Kundalini yoga or anything?
JF: Not always. If we go to a friend’s workshop and things like that, I think we have so many tools that we can fit in a day.
Okay, got it. Yeah, I just had Guru Singh on the podcast a few weeks ago, and he was amazing. And he’s a big proponent of Kundalini Yoga and a lifelong practitioner of it. He’s an amazing guy. So what are the steps for conflict resolution and eliminating or at least ameliorating that argument hangover?
JF: Oh, gosh. There’s so much we could say.
The five R’s to repair from a conflict: reflect, responsibility, reconnect, reconcile, and remake promises.
AF: Well, we could give the Five R’s, which is a chapter in our book, The Five R’s to Repair from a Conflict. And since you’re in Genius Network as well, it’s what we’re going to be doing on our 10-minute talk as well. So we’ll give you just the brief steps without going into the specifics, but essentially, the five R’s to repair. Step one would be to reflect, and often two partners are going to be trying to work it out at the moment, but it’s really powerful, especially if you’re new noticing that there’s a lot of energy there and you’re not making progress, and you’re pointing the finger, you want to request a pause and then reflect. And so, really, what are you reflecting on? What leads you to step two is responsibility. You’re reflecting on the place that you were responsible for this argument, or this conflict going the way it was going, escalating where it did, or maybe being prolonged as long as it has been. And that’s the best way to come back from an argument hangover. Because you want the other person to admit, right? If we’re all to be honest, when you come back together, it’s like you want your partner to admit how they cause you to feel this way. That’s how everyone goes into it. But if you start the conversation, then which leads to the third step of reconnect, and you share where your responsibility was in how this went, then that’s going to allow you to draw your partner, and often, then they will do the same and just really, like follow by example, they’ll share where their responsibility was. So after you reconnect, you can reconcile by being understood.
JF: Reconcile the agreements that were broken.
AF: Then you remind each other, and the last step of, this is another chapter of where promises or agreements were broken. And if you need to remake your promises or agreements, that’s the place then to do that after those other steps have happened.
Gotcha. Okay. Sounds like a great process. What about a process for reducing the escalation that often happens in an argument. So you know you’re getting triggered, and you’re kind of losing it, so to speak, what do you do to at least stop the escalation, if not de-escalate ideally?
By creating those agreements ahead of time, you now have something to be accountable for.
JF: Yeah, great question. And there are many things I could say, but one that stands out, and it’s something that 99.9% of couples have not ever thought of or created in their relationship. And that is having agreements for times of conflict. So if you think about it, when you sign on with an employer, you’re signing agreements, here’s what I know our culture is, here’s what I know is accepted of me, here’s what’s a no go. And you even learn that in the culture. And you would never go to a work meeting and start yelling at your co-workers. You just wouldn’t. That’s not acceptable. You know that there would be repercussions from that. But yet, somehow, we let ourselves act that way when it comes to our romantic partner. And so we teach couples to create agreements for times of conflict, what is not tolerated in our relationship, and it creates a place to have accountability yourself.
We’ve listed a bunch of different agreements that are possible in the book, but a couple that stands out are like no yelling; yelling does not help, you are not more hurt by raising your voice, and no name-calling, those are two of ten that we suggest. And so, by creating those agreements ahead of time, you now have something to be accountable to. And then you can remind each other in the time of conflict. So if one of you is getting triggered, the more calm person, and we do this with each other is saying, “Hey, we’re starting to get escalated, we need to remember our agreements here.” And then that keeps it from causing more damage. Like Aaron said earlier, the way couples fight often causes more damage than the original cause of the disagreement.Relationships are for learning. You are going to keep on learning about each other for the rest of your lives. Click To Tweet
Yeah, wise stuff. So what if the tendency of one or both of the people in the marriage or relationship is to use the children? To involve the child kind of as a weapon, and get them to side with one parent and go against the other. Like, what do you say to that?
Share the positive intent when having conversations around agreements, especially when deeply rooted in past emotions.
JF: I would create an agreement around that. And say, we have an agreement not to bring up the children in times of conflict. And then both of you have to stick to that. If you know consciously, that’s not healthy, that’s not constructive. That’s manipulation. And it’s destructive to your children and your partner, then you create an agreement around that.
AF: Yeah, I’ll give the audience here one way to have this conversation because it’s a great question you asked, and some people might have already tried to say, “Hey, that’s not fair, in a sense,” and the partner just maybe hasn’t agreed to it. Well, to have these types of conversations around agreements, especially when they’re deeply rooted in past emotion, would be to share what the positive intent is. So I would come to Jocelyn and say, “You know, my intent is that we have more balance and co-parenting and that we’re able to connect faster from disagreements.”
JF: Yeah, I love that intention.
AF: What partner is not gonna want to be a part of that, right? So you’re getting their commitment, you’re getting their buy-in. And then it’s like one way I see how we can maintain that is, when we get into a conflict, we don’t use the kids against each other. So by having that agreement being made and coming from a positive intent, then when you are reminded of the disagreement, there is something that happens in your psychology that you’ve committed to this. So there’s another psychology principle that you will seek to be consistent. There’s even a social paradigm out there that if we’re not seen as commitment, then we’re seen as a kind of flaky. And like, no one wants to be seen that way. So our minds create consistency once we’ve committed to something. So when you’ve done that with your partner in a state of connection, then when you’re reminded, it’s easier to say yes. Now, why do I say all that? Because you try to bring that up, in the moment, without it being in agreement, then what happens?
JF: It’s not gonna go well.
You may have fears from your past either from what happened to your parents’ marriage or in your previous relationships.
AF: “Don’t control me, Don’t tell me what to do.” Immediately, it’s gonna be a way that you think your partner’s trying to control you. So when you try to do it in the moment, it’s not going to work. But the steps of sharing your positive intent and then creating agreements that you both agree to ahead of time will allow you in the moment to keep things from escalating.
Gotcha. All right. And earlier in our conversation, Jocelyn, you said that Aaron tried to break up with you. I want to circle back to that and hear what happened and what you guys learned from that. So either you’re winning, or you’re learning, we’re never losing. So what was the learning lesson from that?
JF: Yes, so a few months into the relationship, he did try to break up with me, and what it ended up being, long story short, we talked about it a lot on our podcasts and things like that. So what happened was his fear came up, his fear around love commitment being hurt in the past, and I chose to take a stand for us because I knew it wasn’t that he didn’t feel aligned. It was fear. And so I said, “Hey, that doesn’t work for me, because I knew that he deep down wanted companionship and love and that he enjoyed our relationship.” So the learning lesson that we take into our work with couples is that you likely will, or one of you will have fears from your past, from either what happened to your parents’ marriage, or what happened in your formative romantic relationships or things you even see in society. Think about how relationships and marriage are portrayed in movies; the ball and chain. You have to check in with the wife, like all of those stories that exist. And so what we talked to couples about is how are your fears manifesting in the relationship?
Gotcha. So I’m curious when you do these couples workshops, what sort of exercises do you get the attendees to do? Like what are one or two of these exercises that you find to be very impactful for them?
JF: Well, that’s secret information. No, just kidding. We have to surprise them.
Expectations only lead to disappointments. So we take people through an exercise to be able to express expectations.
AF: My favorite one is this process, and again, going back to I think, why men resonate with the work that we do is because it’s based on skills, based on process, it brings some logic to an emotional world, but it also gives skills for men to tap into their emotions and be able to share them. So I think that’s such a great balance. So a process that we came up with is around expectations. And I don’t have the time to go all the way into it, but essentially, expectations only lead to disappointments. So when you have disappointments in your relationship, it’s often led by an expectation you had. Now, going a level deeper, most people don’t express them. So they just live like this idea and then become a projection they become a belief they become just the way that you see your partner. So we take people through an exercise to be able to express expectations, but then as well acknowledge the emotion that’s there. So in a sense, going back to the completion conversation, you can get these unexpressed, sometimes unaware expectations that you have sort of completed in their relationship, and it’s empowering, and it leaves couples feeling understood because then, in this case, couple meaning brings it together with that listening exercise so that you can feel understood. And that’s probably the biggest benefit for a couple as they say, “Well, I felt more understood from this five and a half hour workshop than I have in years.”
Yeah. Wow. Okay. Do you have any kind of exercise or process for your clients to renew their vows?
JF: Yeah, in our private work, that would be something that if that’s what is needed, we would take them through. It isn’t something we do like in the workshop, specifically, but more in private coaching.
Right. And is that something that often happens, or it’s kind of unusual?
JF: I think that it would be towards the end of coaching for most couples because there are usually things first to work through. So it’s like, okay, let’s complete these things. Let’s get better at communicating. Let’s resolve conflicts better. Let’s understand each other’s needs more. And then let’s now create new vows. But it’s even more so, like the vows are often forgotten. So how can we get even more practical with these “vows?” And so we have different processes that we would take them through so that they can keep it top of mind into life.No yelling. Yelling does not help. You are not more hurt or correct by raising your voice. Click To Tweet
Oh, wow, that’s a really important point. So vows get forgotten. Like, I don’t remember what our wedding vows were on either side. So what do you recommend there? Printing it out and putting it on your refrigerator, or what?
AF: When you think of vows, what’s impactful is the day today. So in a sense, the agreements become your day to day sort of ways to fulfill your vows. Because your vows are going to be typically more long term, be more aligned with the vision and how you want to experience life together. So today, it is the agreements that you’ve come up with that I think at least keep the vows potential alive, even if you forget what the specific words are.
And you mentioned the word “vision,” which reminded me of the concept of a relationship vision. So do you have a relationship vision for your marriage, and do you have a process that you put your clients through to develop their relationship vision?
You have to have a vision as a couple of what you want to create. Now is the time of year to do that.The Freemans
JF: Funny enough, that was one of the first things that we had copywritten. So we have a five-step process for couples to create their couples vision statement. So that’s work that we have them do both in our workshop, as well as our self-paced courses. You have to have a vision as a couple of what you want to create. Now is the time of year to do that. It would take a little bit too much time to explain every step right here on the podcast.
So could you tell me how long is your relationship vision for the two of you? Is it like a paragraph? Is it a page? Is it a sentence?
JF: Yeah, it’s like an extended sentence. So we can even share what ours is. So our vision as a couple is to feel joy, financial freedom, and massive contribution through coaching, collaborations, and teaching couples the relationship skills to be connected in any season of life.
I like that. And how long did it take for you guys to develop that together?
JF: Early on, we created that. And that’s when we realized all couples need a vision. So it happened within our first year. But we take couples through it so they can create one in an hour.
Gotcha. All right. So what would be a pearl of wisdom that we want to leave our listeners with so that he or she can elevate their relationship–they probably have gotten so many pearls of wisdom already that they’ve taken notes, they’ve filled several pages, but something that you want to convey to our listener that we haven’t already spoken about?
AF: Primarily, just keep it simple is to seek to understand before being understood.
Okay. So I’ve heard that before. That’s a great bumper sticker. But what, practically, does that mean in terms of, like, their day today? What should they do in their daily routines that will have that manifest for them?
Seek to understand before being understood.
JF: I think it’s more so of you have to be connected to yourself to be connected to your partner. And a lot of people don’t take enough time in the morning to ask themselves,” How am I? What’s there for me? Are there some emotions I need to process? Is this something I should share with my partner I should reflect on first?” So I would say it’s really like focus on having a great relationship with yourself so that you can have a great relationship with your partner and then to focus on specifically what we’re inviting couples to focus on right now is to learn the techniques to shorten the argument hangover. Like, learn ways not to have your conflicts create a disconnection between you two.
Yeah, great stuff. All right. So if our listeners wanted to work with you guys on a coaching basis, or take some of your courses, or take some of your workshops, or read your book, where should they go?
JF: The first invitation is, we would encourage everyone to preorder the book The Argument Hangover because here’s why you don’t want to wait, we’re giving $200 of preorder bonuses, including a free conflict resolution course that we could charge $200 for, that’s free, a workbook is free. And so we would encourage people to go and preorder that and get access to those bonuses right away at TheArgumentHangover.com, pretty easy to remember. And then beyond the book, if it’s one on one support or two on two support is something that would make a difference for you, you can go to our website and sign up for your first session at a discounted price. And so that’s MeetTheFreemans.com. And we would love to do a session, whether it’s one on one or two on two. So it’s called a Relationship Breakthrough Session. And that’s again, MeetTheFreemans.com.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Jocelyn and Aaron. This was inspiring and practical and very helpful, I’m sure, for our listeners. So thank you so much.
JF: Thanks for the great questions and for having us on the podcast.
Yeah, awesome. All right. So listeners, please take some positive action, even if you’re not in a relationship, help somebody who is in a relationship pass on some of this knowledge that you’ve gained in this episode.
Checklist of Actionable Takeaways
Don’t avoid conflict and communication no matter what. Arguments are typical in a relationship. However, argue only with the intention to resolve the problem and not escalate the issue.
Discern each other’s emotional triggers and work around them together. Knowing what makes my partner uncomfortable will give me a better idea of how to treat them better.
Be careful with my voice’s tone—the words I choose and how I say them can affect the outcome of our conversations.
Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability in front of my partner. On the other hand, let them feel comfortable being vulnerable with me.
Focus on the possibility, not the problem. Whenever in an argument, remind ourselves that conflict is normal in relationships. What’s important is both my partner and I seek to resolve our issues together.
Evolve as a couple. Change is inevitable, but whatever happens, aim to always grow together and have each other’s best interest in mind.
Ask questions to de-escalate situations and build bridges. Never expect my partner to be a mind reader. If there is something I want to say, it’s best to be more open and direct with them.
Take note of Jocelyn and Aaron’s Five R’s to Repair from a Conflict: Reflect, Responsibility, Reconnect, Reconcile, and Remake your promises.
Create agreements for times of conflict. List what is not tolerated in our relationship. Let it serve as a reminder of our standards and values for ourselves and each other.
Pre-order Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman’s book, The Argument Hangover: Empowering Couples to Fight Smarter and Overcome Communication Pitfalls, to claim special gifts.
About Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman
The Freemans are known as the “couple that coaches couples,” and have worked with celebrities, public figures, and thousands of couples around the world. They are founders of Empowered Couples University and authors of The Argument Hangover (which hits shelves Feb 2021).
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