Three Things That Don't Work Well In Long-Term Relationships

May 07, 2024

In this episode of the Advanced Relationship Podcast, Bryce Bauer and Jenny Morrow talk about 3 Things That Don't Work Well in Long-Term Relationships! 

You can watch this episode via video on YouTube here: CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO PODCAST ON YOUTUBE EPISODE 102 (Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode). 

You can also listen on any of the major podcast players (search "Advanced Relationship Podcast Jenny Morrow").

If you prefer reading, you can read the transcript here: 

Okay, welcome back to the Advanced Relationship Podcast with Bryce and Jenny, here today in the house, but different rooms.

Hi, everyone, yeah. Still recovering from a little bit of a flu, so I may be clearing my throat, muting my button a little bit.

Yeah, plus it is a little bit easier to sit in our respective offices and face each other, for me, but we can also do it together in the future. We'll see how it goes. Okay, so do you have some announcements, Jen?

Yes, the newsletter.

If you're listening to this podcast, we are also recording the podcast via video. So if you want to get access to those videos, then sign up for the newsletter.

And every time we put out a podcast, I send out a link with the video access as well. So that's also in the show notes. You can just click on that.

There's a link to sign up for the newsletter. And that's a great way to get access to these videos, video podcasts.

And everything that we got going on, we're probably gonna do some live events in the future and any deals that we have going on. And just, and also just great content. And we put a lot of effort into our newsletter.

Yeah. We love our newsletter.

Yeah. Okay. Should we jump into it now?

Yeah, let's jump in.

Let's get into the meat of this. Three common misconceptions that people have in relationships, specifically around repairing conflict, okay?

Conflict is a natural and inevitable part of being in relationship.

And there's some things that people just flat out get wrong in my experience with working with couples. And so I'm gonna lay them out for you.

The first one is the fix-then-feel fallacy.

Like if we fix this, then we will feel this way, that fallacy. The second one is that time will fix things. And the third is that, is quantity over quality.

Like if we talk about this enough, it should be done with, right? We already talked about this, should be done. Okay, so just wanna touch on the first one, and you can pop in, Jen, with any comments you have.

So this is similar to the, I've heard this fallacy also brought up in the area of general happiness, right? Like if I'm able to accomplish this, then I will feel happy, okay? And as we know, often, once we reach our goal or this thing that we want, we might feel brief feelings of happiness, but then it often quickly goes away because our mind goes right back to work trying to find the next problem to solve, the next goal, and we can get caught in this loop of actually not really enjoying what we're doing for most of the time, and then just having brief moments of success or happiness, but really struggling through along the journey and whatever failures come up.

And so this works the same way in relationship. When there's a conflict, let's say we have a decision that we wanna make, and both people in the relationship believe that once we get to a solution, then we will feel good. And so we both go right into fixing, and let's talk about logistics, let's talk about the details, and maybe there's some needs being brought in, and I'm like, well, I can't get what I want, and you're like, well, I need this to happen.

And so we get into a pattern of struggle. And the idea is that, yeah, we're gonna struggle through this and it's gonna suck. And the only way to fix it is if we come up with a solution, and then it will feel good.

But we're not really feeling connected in the process. So what Jenny and I have found is that it actually works in the opposite way. So when we come up to a struggle, a decision needs to be made, or we're trying to work something out, there were feelings.

The first thing we have to do is to work on feeling connected, to have that felt sense of, you're on my team, I'm on your team, we got this, I'm here to listen to you. I'm not going anywhere. And from that place, we can do creative problem solving, and it goes much better.

Because when we're connected, we're feeling good, we're able to feel good about the process. Does that make sense?

Yeah, and I think of the fix and feel as kind of like the feeling is the receptive experience. Like you just, you take things in through your senses and you have a feeling about what's happening. And the fixing is the energy out.

It's like the, here's what we're gonna do about it. It's like the logical process. And I think the problem is that sometimes you're trying to do the fixing before you're really letting yourself presence and notice the feeling and the experience of what's coming in, the information that's coming in.

So I think the reason, like if we're to look at this kind of like on a call it scientific level, like I think the reason why fixing then feeling can be the problem is because it's not, you might be fixing something, but you're not fixing the actual issue. Because the only way to figure out what the actual issue is, is to actually do the feeling part first. So if you can really feel and presence that and go through some kind of relationship development process that helps you better understand what's actually happening, what are the actual desires and the actual needs, then when you go into fix, then you're attending to the things that actually need to be attended to.

So I like what you're saying, Bryce, because that connection, it's like we can do this with ourself or we can do it in relationship with another, that if you get information and immediately like, I don't want to feel this, so I'm going to fix to avoid the feeling, then you're going to miss the whole opportunity to understand what the feeling is even about and then create a solution that actually works.

Yeah, yeah, it's a good point, and it's, there is this difference between doing and being, and you can't fix emotional issues with intellectual problem-solving. I mean, sometimes it can provide some temporary relief, but I see couples get stuck here a lot where it's like, we're actually not feeling that secure with each other, and then we're trying to decide what to do for vacation or with extended family or with money or with parenting. And so sometimes you might even come to a solution, but you still don't feel good.

It's like, okay, they gave a little, I gave a little, and we have a solution, but I still don't feel connected. So what we do a lot of times in sessions is we help couples feel connected first because that's what's most important.

And from that space, often natural and intuitive solutions seem to manifest, right? Like once I can really feel that you're on my team, that you're supporting me, that you care about my needs, it seems like in my experience with Jen and working with couples, that naturally we kind of relax some, and it's easier to do that dance of finding a solution.

And this is only, like, I would say, this is most important to focus on when you get to level three and higher. So in regards to the relationship to higher archived needs, which I go over all five levels in the Mastering Boundaries book that I put out, you can get it on Amazon. So if you want to know those five levels, this really is more oriented toward level three and above.

Levels one and two, where you're working on more safety issues, especially physical safety, it might be that... Well, and even still, it's the same thing, right? Like, I'm feeling the pain of being harmed by someone.

And so... But it does take that actually being able to feel it in order to then say, okay, I have to make a change here. I have to protect myself.

So I'm thinking about abuse situations. But it gets a little bit different there. It's not really different, but you might need more support there.

To have someone encourage you to say, hey, here's what I'm seeing, here's what's happening. It's important to get out of that or get the safety you need. But what Bryce is really talking about is how do you work on this in more nuanced layers when you get up into the higher levels of relationship needs?

Right, yeah, every situation is different. So I'm not talking about people that are experiencing abuse. I'm talking about more normal, everyday conflicts with couples that have, let's say, pretty good relationship.

And you're getting stuck in this space where we're not really feeling connected and we're trying to fix in order to hopefully feel good about what's happening.


All I'm saying is this is often flip-flopped. Go to connection first.


So if you find yourself, you have that wish of energy come up, you're feeling triggered, you don't feel like they're getting it. Both people need to know how to and understand how to slow down and be like, let's just be here with each other and connect and feel into whatever's here. And once we can make more space for that, build our capacity to be with these intense feelings and see each other, hear each other, and then we'll get to the problem.

Works way better. Yeah. Anything else on that, Jen?

No, that feels good.

The second one, time will fix. Time will fix things. That would be great if that were true, but it is not.

And I know from working with couples that it does not matter how much time has passed. Like in the emotional body, it does not matter. It doesn't matter if something happened the first day that we met or in the first year of our relationship and we've been married for 25 years, that stays with us.

And if it's not dealt with, it does not fix itself on its own. Obviously, there's layers of memory that build up over time, and you can compartmentalize some of that and deal with it that way. But if it's not dealt with head on and really resolved and really understood within the partnership, it doesn't go away.

And that's why people end up with huge piles of stuff that they bring in to couples therapy sometimes. And it's like we actually do have to go through all of these events and deal with them and find some understanding. And you need to feel like your partner really gets why that was hard for you and vice versa in order to resolve it.

There's no shortcut here. Sometimes people get upset that they're like, well, I don't get why we need to talk about this again. And it's because if it doesn't feel good enough for both people, that means it hasn't been dealt with.

And not yet. Yeah.

And if you're on the video here, I'm going to show a little something. The way I sometimes think of this is you have like your intimacy capacity. It's how much energy you can receive and hold and give.

And certain things in our life happen within our intimacy capacity. And when they are within our intimacy capacity, we often feel like we have personal power and empowerment around those things. If something happens that's outside of our intimacy capacity, then we don't have a way to process it and integrate it, unless our capacity grows to then include what happened.

So time, I like what you're saying, Bryce, because time won't fix this. What time can do sometimes is it can allow us the space we need to, through our growth process, to integrate awarenesses and growth experience that allows us to increase our capacity so that at some point, we can see this for what it really was, and it can be included in our intimacy capacity. For us, when we're working with couples, a lot of times, like you're saying, Bryce, something could have happened 20 years, and it's still sitting outside of the intimacy capacity, and it's not until people come in and actually do the work that they then increase their capacity to see it for what it really was and actually experience it as something that actually has helped empower them, empower their relationships, something they can use as material to create more and more of what they want.

So time can help with it in that way, but it also cannot help with it at all if there's been no growth work happening to do the work, to increase your intimacy capacity, to then include what's happened in what you can actually receive and hold and give.

Yeah, that's a good point, Jen, that time can create a frame of reference when you're working with a longer continuum where you can look back on things and your perspective might naturally change, right? Like, what was upsetting as a child, you can look at that as an adult and see things more clearly. So there is definitely an element where time can help.

And people naturally grow and develop, and I think as we get older, we naturally become more wise and understand things. So I think there's a lot of truth in that. And when we're talking about big events that have happened in our relationship, big ruptures, those really need to be talked about until they feel good enough.

And it's not linear. I realize that there might be things. I know John Gottman's research suggests that 69% of all conflicts are unsolvable.

And I'm assuming he's talking about, you might never feel okay that your partner said this or did this, but you might find a way to be able to work with it. And that's what we really help couples do, is learn how to talk about difficult things that have happened in the relationship so that it feels good enough to where we're not blown out. Or there's topics that we just can't even go there at all, because that could feel suffocating, and you can start to feel really alone and disconnected.

I think there was something else I was gonna say on that, but I'm spacing on it. Yeah, oh yeah, I remember what it was. So I think about, again, bringing in the layers here that we talk about in the hierarchy of relationship needs.

And at the friendship level, I think you can, it's easier to ignore maybe some of these smaller ruptures and just move on. And guys, I think especially in male friendships, are really good at this. I'm not saying it's good to be good at this, but they are.

Where it's like, we have a disagreement, and we just let the past be the past, and we don't talk about it. I think there's a way, if you're just staying in the friendship realm, and the focus is just like, let's just like each other, let's feel safe enough with each other, and we have an unspoken agreement that we're really not gonna talk about past things, because we're just gonna focus on the future. It's about having fun.

I think that you can be okay living in that space with, let's say, a close friend or an acquaintance, or even a family member, but when you're living with someone 24-7, I think that's much harder to do. I think it wears on our psyche when we have these unresolved ruptures that haven't been dealt with or talked about well, at least. So I'm planning that flag, too, that it's totally okay.

I mean, it's okay whatever you do, but if you're finding yourself thinking of comparing your friendships to your intimate partnerships, it could be a false comparison, because, yeah, you don't have to resolve all the things that happen with your friends. Some stuff's small, and you really do, you can practice kind of letting it go. We just don't have the time and space to work through all of this with everybody all the time, or family members that maybe aren't really willing to show up or you don't have enough time with them.

But an intimate partnership, it's so important if you want to have a secure relationship to go back into your history and practice talking about some of these difficult situations. That's what I was gonna say. Anything else to add, Jen?

Well, when you were saying that, yeah, just how important it can be to get mentorship and support there. So going back and talking, if it feels like, geez, when we go back and talk about these things, it just brings up conflict, and then we feel crappy for a while until we can put it back away again, then that's a good indicator that you're trying to do something on your own that you don't have the skill level for yet. And yeah, again, time might be part of what increases your capacity to see certain things so that when you get mentorship or support, you can actually absorb that support, and you can actually absorb these new growth mindsets, these new ways of thinking about things.

But either way, there are times where, if it feels like, jeez, we just keep bumping up, and it's just like not time, it might be something, you know, there have been times where, in our relationship, we'll bump up against things, and I'm like, I think we need to give this one some time, not because it's going to resolve itself automatically through time, but because we both need to grow so that then we can revisit this from a new, from a new, more grown, more mature space. But again, getting coaching and mentorship can help to speed that process up. And definitely help.

Yeah, anyways, I just, I look at our relationship, my relationship with myself and my relationship with Bryce, and there's just no way I could be here at this point without having gotten the mentorship to kind of speed that up.


Yeah, a lot of people will spend their whole lives and stuck in some of these, not ever really being able to go back and revisit it effectively because they aren't gaining the new skills or the new mindsets that they would need to do that. Right.

Yeah, and we're big supporters of getting individual support and couple support, got lots of support over the years. I think that's what helps us be better coaches actually is we spent a lot of time in the client seat. And I think that we always will on some level because being able to bring in extra resources into the relationship feels really good now.

Like it doesn't feel scary. It's like, okay, I'm honored, I'm grateful that we have people in our life that can come in and show us things or show me things that maybe I can't see on my own or that I'm not able to see given what Jenny's trying to tell me. So, each supporter of getting extra support.

And I think it's a really good segue into number three. So, one was the fix-then-feel fallacy, number two is time will fix things, and number three is quantity over quality. I think that's what you were touching on, Jen, is that if we're continually talking about things and they're not feeling better, it probably means we need more quality in the way that we're having this conversation.

It's possible to spend hundreds of hours talking about one thing or staying in one pattern and make no progress. It's really possible. And often when people come in, each couple has their own kind of dance and pattern that they do.

And it's very possible to run this back day in and day out or week after week and not really feel any better. So, quality is what matters. And I think that's what we're here to help people do, is teach people how to have quality conversations, that move the needle at least a little bit.

And so, over time, things do feel better.

I love that, Bryce. That's so true. I don't really even have anything to add there.

Well, then I'll just keep talking.

Jenny is usually more of the talker, so I'm surprised I'm maybe doing more of the talking here, but I feel really pumped up, excited about some of this stuff.

I love hearing you talk about it.

Okay, good. You know, I'm thinking about, this comes from personal and professional experience, the difference between, you know, talking about things and really being in the experience of talking about it. So I'm thinking about, you know, maybe some of our differences around how we clean things or how we spend money or how we think about our goals in life.

And it's possible, I'm thinking about some of the patterns we've had, where we've gone kind of around in circles, at least for a little bit. And then when I'm able to slow down and look inward, and usually we're doing this on the couch or something, and I'm looking at you, Jen, and we're making eye contact, and all of a sudden I'll notice something like, oh my God, there's actually a lot of fear here. And I'll share that, and I'll watch you light up.

It's like you're seeing a part of me that wasn't visible at the time, and I'm feeling a part of me that wasn't visible at the time. And then it's like, oh, this makes sense. I'm trying to work with this intense fear or desperation that's in me.

And even though it can feel intense, it's like everything looks brighter, it feels clear, and I'm feeling connected to you. And it's like, that's the thing that needed to happen for me to really come into more acceptance of, yeah, whatever I'm experiencing in my life. And then you can be there to support me better because now you understand that there's an intense fear here, and it can feel really vulnerable.

But that's the type of quality that I've experienced in relationship with you, is like, I can go into these really deep parts of me and see something that really I was totally unaware of. And then I can work with that fear instead of seeing it as like this frustration that like I just need things to be fixed. I just, things would just change in this, and I relax control and let myself feel the fear.

And it feels really good. Feeling through that feels really, really good. I love that.

Yeah, sometimes it just dissolves. It's like, at that point, I'm like, you know what? I think I just need to really grow my capacity to be with this fear and like love myself and be kind to myself and be kind to you.

And it changes the lens with which I'm viewing the world. And then I'm like, oh, and then I have compassion for other people that feel fear, other people that have been in similar situations and just feel so much better. But that's what quality conversation feels and looks like for me.

And I love that either saying it because I'm seeing it loop back around and I'm seeing how these three are really how these three work together, Bryce. The fix them feel, time will fix it, and the quantity over quality. Because I'm imagining as you're talking about all three of these, then loops it back around, right?

Which is that how important it was to feel it and how you'd been trying to control or fix to avoid the feeling. But what really helped you was when you were finally able to work through all those other pieces, feel it, then it dissolves, then you can take more inspired action that's more aligned.

Totally, yeah. Yeah, because Jenny and I are not sitting here talking on the couch and just feeling into our feelings and then not making life decisions. Like we make a lot of decisions every day, small and big.

And I'm just thinking about the pathway to get there when I'm feeling frustrated or stuck and the energy is feeling bleh or flat. The way to do that for me has been quality connection with myself and with you. Yeah, and skillful conversation that can get me to this place where I can see the truth more clearly about my internal experience.

That's what really helps me feel alive and make aligned decisions.

It's awesome.

Thanks. Thanks, Jen. Thanks for...

Sure, I felt like you were kind of just holding that with me as I was talking, and I was looking to you for reassurance that what I was saying was making sense.

It was making so much sense. In fact, as we talked about it, it felt like the content was starting to make more and more sense to me as we were moving through it.


Thanks everyone for being here with us.

Yeah, this is a great conversation with you, Jenny. I hope everyone got a lot out of it, who's listening or watching.

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