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Straight Talk Recovery – Episode 3: Relationships


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Transcription of Episode 3: Relationships

Adam Kostiw: Welcome back to Episode three of Straight Talk Recovery with Raymond Moore and Adam Kostiw. I’m Adam and my partner here is Ray. And today is following up on our last session. We kind of segued into relationships. So today that’s where we’re going to start off. And so we have a relationship ourselves, me and Ray, and that’s how this podcast all got started. So that’s our Segue, Ray. Take it from there.

Raymond Moore: Yeah. Talk about another hot topic. I have a feeling already that, this is definitely going to be probably and I think I’m being a little bit of an optimist here, but one of the most listened to sessions that we do have, because, you know, any time I give the population of people I work with an opportunity to dive into an open topic, it’s always about relationships. It always falls back to relationships. And when we say relationships, we mean all types of relationships, not just intimate ones, say, with a significant other, but with our kids, how we actually get along in relationships and difficulties or challenges we may have within those relationships. So I think this one will definitely be a good one and probably eye-opening for a lot of people.

Adam Kostiw: Right. Because, again, like Ray was saying, is we are involved every single day in a multitude of relationships, whether we recognize it or not. And that’s the important part for so many of us and the people we work with. They take a look at relationships only as the intimate relationships, the ones they have with a spouse or a family member. Yet the relationships we have with co-workers, with friends, with people, acquaintances, clubs, groups we belong to, those are all different types of relationships. And how we perceive those relationships really has a huge part in how we react to other people, and it affects us in other relationships as well. So in our last podcast, we talked about how we may have had a bad day and then it affects our relationship at home. Well, how we interact with someone, say, at work and the relationship we have there can then in turn affect the relationships we have elsewhere.

Raymond Moore: Yeah. The key points I want to look at right off the bat is understanding what a relationship actually is. So I know a lot of times relationships are one of those things that we’re just kind of inherently supposed to know about that, you know, we just kind of go through life and, we don’t really learn it. We do obviously learn it, but we learn it more so from modelling and what we see around us. We don’t necessarily and I always say this to my groups is that, you know, how many of you remember learning about relationships in school, that particular course where they taught you how to actually be in a relationship, how to engage with people? It really doesn’t happen. It’s something that happens through the process of play and through development. But it’s never actually taught, the important things about a relationship. So when I ask people what a relationship is, they always say the same thing. Well, you know, it’s being with somebody you can trust. And they start to name off the qualities of a healthy relationship, not really what a relationship is. So a relationship is a connection between one or more people. So there are other definitions, too. There’s a scientific kind of definition for it as well. But nevertheless, the one we work with is basically one keyword that holds everything together. And it’s connection. Right.

So although you may be in a relationship and know what a relationship is, it’s important to really define what it actually means. And thank you, Adam, I’m definitely one that’s very myopic with when I’m talking about, relationships, always about significant others and directly correlated to kids and, you know, leave out those relationships that you have with others around. I mean, you’re a dear friend to me. And, you know, I’m definitely in a relationship with you. I have that connection with you. But when I talk about relationships, I’m typically talking about more intimate relationships, say, with kids or a significant other. But it’s important to understand the overall meaning of what a relationship is, because it’s just important to know that and many people don’t know that. And it’s OK not to know that. I think that’s a big thing, too, because a lot of people feel silly when I’m asking people in their 40s or 50s or even older, you guys actually know what a relationship is? They all seem confused. Kind of like, well, yeah, I’ve been in many of them, but not actually understand what it means to be in a relationship and that these wonderful qualities that come in a relationship are not automatic. Right.

Adam Kostiw: Right, exactly. And you’re being on there with qualities. Right. Because it’s amazing how many times I’ve worked with a person and I’ve asked them, OK, so what’s your relationship like? Then they describe this and that, like you said, different qualities, I ask, well, what’s a good relationship look like and how often do they get stumped and they sit there. Well, I don’t know? Well, if you don’t know what a good relationship looks like, how do you know what kind of relationship you have? Right. And so is your relationship good in your eyes? And a lot of times, it’s amazing, what I hear all the time is, you know, oh, the relationship started off so good, so well. Sorry, is what I should have said. And that is what they’re measuring it for. So they’re looking at that first, you know, say dating. That’s a famous one. Couples are dating. They just first start dating. Well, guess what? You’re putting on a persona for the person that’s not necessarily the real you. And all of a sudden as they get to know the real you. Well, the relationship was so great in the beginning and it changed. How did it change? you know, did you become authentic? And then all of a sudden you realize, oh, wait a second, that’s not what I was not showing the real me or they weren’t showing the real me.

Raymond Moore: Can I challenge that for a second?

Adam Kostiw: Sure.

Raymond Moore: This is awesome. I don’t think we’ve done this yet. That is most often what I hear in my groups. And that’s what a lot of people say, is that typically when we get into those type of relationships, we’re not coming with the real us. And I don’t always believe that. I believe a lot of times and I believe it to be true in many cases, I do believe that people purposely kind of try to project this image of somebody else and it’s not really them. But I also believe that a lot of times when we first meet people and we connect and we make these relationships with people, we are the best versions of ourselves. And I’ll explain kind of what that means when we go on. So, I think just to be able to articulate this for the listeners more clearly is that I’ll make this personal. So when I look when I first got with my wife, I did a lot of things different than say what I would do now, number one, being and those that know me know I go on about this all the time is listen. So when I first met her and she was talking, I had this remarkable ability to listen, to fully understand who this person was that was sitting in front of me without judgment, without resentment, without any of those things that kind of come along later.

Right. And I feel what happens is, it’s very reciprocated. A lot of times at the beginning of the relationship, there’s this genuine desire to express and be vulnerable and to open up and so on and so on. And I think at some point we lose that. Right. And a lot of these relationships, I feel like that at some point we may stop listening to each other. We start doing things like fortunetelling, start doing things like, well, I know you, or even think ahead of time I know what you’re thinking or I know what you’re feeling. And in many cases, I know you better than you know yourself. And so many people actually use those words, which is unbelievable. The most guilty ones are the ones that have been married for some time that really believe that because time has been on their side that therefore they know the other person when in reality we’re changing daily every single day. To some extent we’re changing, although especially during Covid, it may feel like Groundhog Day every day. Every day that we wake up or a different version of ourselves.

Adam Kostiw: Exactly.

Raymond Moore: Right. So I think for a lot of people early on is we lose the very beautiful and pure part about being in a relationship with somebody when we’re not interfering with that relationship with past resentments, frustration, preconceived notions, fortunetelling, all of that stuff. We’re going in very, I don’t know how to describe it, just very clean at the beginning. So I think a lot of times and this is why I tell people a lot of times to go back to the beginning, you know, back to the beginning where, you know, when I first went out with my wife, like, I splashed on some cologne, took care of my hair, wore my best outfit. Right. And then a year later, I’m wearing my lucky track pants that have a hole, in the back, and I’m splashing some Aqua Velva on myself. Right. So like the effort or the desire and I know a lot of people refer to it as the honeymoon stage. And I think really that’s just a copout. I think that’s really just, you know, this invisible reason to stop actually trying. But I think for a lot of people, they lose track of what makes the relationship beautiful. And that’s everything that kind of happened at the beginning.

Adam Kostiw: It’s also amazing when I speak to a couple about, you know, what attracted them to each other, what were the qualities they liked in the beginning. And it’s amazing how those same qualities are things that the person did back then was attractive. Yet now all of a sudden, it’s the bane of their existence. Right. So the person, you know, I will talk about myself, is I’m a very spontaneous person. Right. And that was really, really great. But, you know, over the years, at times, you know, it’s like, OK, hold on, we need to plan a little bit more. And for that, it’s like there’s a place for spontaneity. But then there’s, you know, you can take it too far. And so what happens is, is the same things that we fell in love with what I hear all the time with that person. You know, these are the qualities I love. Well, these are also now the ones that are annoying me. It’s like, OK, well, why? What’s changed? Did the other person change or did you change your expectations? Did you change saying, oh, this is great in the moment, but this is what I want the person to become like? Are we trying to change someone?

Right. And, you know, it’s we can’t make another person change is what we try to tell. The other person has to be the one. If they’re going to change that has to be an actual effort on their part. Us spending time on the other person is a waste of effort. If we want to focus on something, we focus on the changes we want to make with ourselves in the relationship. But at the same time, we need to keep in mind that we are in a relationship and that as a relationship. OK, so if I want to change, how is that going to affect the relationship? You know, so all of a sudden it is like, you know what, I want to be doing this more often or whatever, but I don’t take into account, you know, the person I’m with at the time or my spouse, my wife, my husband, whatever the case may be, how it’s going to affect them and just do it. Well, obviously, it’s going to have a detriment to the relationship.

Raymond Moore: I agree. And I think it’s kind of cool the dynamic of this and you being in a relationship. And we’re seeing this in different ways. But ultimately, it boils down to the same thing is that as the days go on, we grow. I’m talking about kind of going more back to the basic fundamentals of the group. But you’re talking about the evolution of the relationship and the fact that every day we’re going to change and as the years go on, we are going to change. And I think for a successful relationship to work, it’s being in tune with that. It’s being OK with the fact that, you know what? Maybe it’s not what it’s going to be like before, but maybe it could be something similar now. Like I mean, maybe those days of, you know, doing things a certain way then are gone. And that’s perfectly okay. I think the whole idea is to be in tune with each other. Right. And not to I think I really beat this to death because I’m really, really bad at this personally. But I do the whole, almost like I know the situation ahead of time and feel that because I know my partner so well that.

Yeah, I love your reaction. It’s kind of like, oh, you silly, silly man. Right. And that’s the case. And I know personally, for me, one thing I really, really been looking at for the last while is exactly that is kind of really understanding where the other person is at. So it is important to do that work and really look at your side of things. But it’s also important to have that conversation and that dialogue of, you know, what is important. You know, I used to be spontaneous then. And in my situation, it’s the opposite. My wife is the most spontaneous human being I ever met. And me, I need seven days notice for everything that I do. So we’ve kind of learned to find this beautiful balance in between where we both kind of appreciate that about each other. And I know it used to drive me nuts kind of at the beginning, but it’s definitely something we appreciate that much more about each other now. So I think you bring up an excellent point that kind of allow yourself to evolve within the relationship.

Adam Kostiw: Right. While you were speaking there, something came to my mind is going back to even our last segment. We were talking about anger, emotions. And I think that’s a big part of a relationship which is the emotions. And what I have seen with so many couples that I worked with when I’ve been doing family therapy/ couples counselling is one of the things that keeps coming up over and over again. Is he or she used to tell me everything. I used to know what they were feeling or whatever. Now there’s, you know, is that, like you said, the assumption that you know the person enough, that you know what they’re feeling in that moment, that may not be the case. But the question is, do they know what you’re feeling? So you’re making assumptions that they know that you know what they are feeling, but have you told them what you’re feeling? And so we talk about leading by example. This is a big part of it, is that if you expect your partner to open up to you, well, you need to be able to open up to them as well. And talking about your emotions, understanding what you’re feeling and sharing that is so important. I know in my personal life, every time that I go away from that is always the most difficult time in my relationship. As soon as I start opening up to my wife about what I’m feeling, whether I’m anxious, whether whatever is going on, that’s when we feel the closest. That’s when we feel that our relationship is growing in a good way.

Raymond Moore: Yeah, and, you know, I’m surprised we’re about 16 minutes into the podcast around there, we haven’t mentioned the word communication and I know the vast majority of time when I’m talking to people, they always said the same thing. The problem with my relationship, it’s communication. What they mean by that is that when I talk, nobody listens. That’s kind of what they feel like. It’s like if only my partner would just understand me, therefore everything would be better. And that’s when we really start getting into the are you really listening to what your partner has to say? And are you just like you said, are you being assertive with what it is that’s happening for you? And very rarely does that happen that you’re actually having that sit down with the person in front of you and clearly and calmly speaking about what’s actually bothering you about the relationship or to actually have those real, authentic, intimate conversations that actually lead to change.

Adam Kostiw: Yes.

Raymond Moore: Instead, we sit there angry, frustrated, resentful, and say, you know, the person doesn’t listen or if only they were this way, things would be better. And both parties sit with that perspective. And if both parties are sitting with that perspective, things are clearly not going to get better. So how to change that is exactly that talk about what’s happening. And in treatment, we beat this to death. We use the I statements. It is don’t say you used to look at me in a different way, say in that moment, you know, I feel undesired. Right. And your response from the other person will definitely be a much more gentler response than saying, well, you don’t make me feel sexy anymore, then it kind of becomes an attack. And there’s this automatic response that we have in our brains to defend. Well, what do you mean, me? Well, you’re the one that’s eating a triple cheese pizza, not taking care of yourself, blah, blah, blah. And then you end up fighting forever.

Adam Kostiw: Right.

Raymond Moore: Rather than simply just opening up and actually talking about what’s actually going on for you.

Adam Kostiw: Right. And that goes perfectly with reflective listening as well, is there’s the expectation just because you say something, you know, it is helpful for the other person to turn around and reflect it back to you. So you understand that they do get what you’re saying, because so often I’ll be talking with someone and they say they never listen to me or I keep telling them what I’m feeling, but they don’t get it. And I said, oh, well, how are you telling them? I said, well, I say it over and over and over again. And, you know, and that’s where I know. I tell them it’s the first time they hear you, the second time they may hear you by the third time they’re not listening anymore because they just feel like it’s just a repetitive nature. That’s why with couples with any type of relationship, there’s give and take on both sides. Both people have to work on a relationship. It can’t be one-sided. So if one person is using I statements, the other one, you know, once they hear with the person say they can use reflective listening, which is, oh, I hear you say this, you know, and then the other person knows, hey, I’ve been heard. They know what it is. And if the person says, I don’t really get what you’re saying, well, now it’s on to you to try to explain it again, but not using the exact same words, trying to come from a different angle, trying to use a different perspective.

Raymond Moore: Yeah. And it’s important. And I mean, I think we go back to last session to when we talked about kind of the idea of checking in with yourself. Make sure in the moment and I know for a lot of people, they get really sidetracked with listening because typically an emotion or a feeling that often comes with certain topics that many people like to call triggers that at times prevent people from doing that. I mean, I know what we’re talking about is very easy and, you know, easier said than done. The listeners are probably going, oh wow, what? You don’t think I’ve tried that before? But the reality is, the reason why it’s so tough. It’s because you’re likely walking into it with an emotion. Right? So if you’re walking into a situation and you already are experiencing an emotion or having a feeling that you’re not going to be heard or you’re resentful or whatever it may be, you’re not going to receive the message. And I think that’s where people get very, very confused is that you know, there really is a difference between hearing somebody and listening to somebody. And the difference is, is that when you listen to somebody, you get a message. And a lot of times that message doesn’t come through the other person’s ability to articulate words or how they put a sentence together. At times you may see a message that goes beyond the words, and a lot of times you may see the emotion that’s actually happening. For the other person.

Nagging is a great example. And I love how you said, well, I just keep saying it over and over and over again. And I know a lot of people say, well, you know, my significant other all they do is nag, nag, nag, and they say the same things over and over again. Children as well. They just repeat the same things over and over again, a lot of times it’s because there’s actually something happening behind the nagging. It’s not that the person nagging thinks that you are having a hard time understanding or you’re not bright enough to get the message. They’re saying the same thing over and over again, but the message is not getting through. And a lot of times it’s not on the person that’s nagging to fully understand. It’s the person on the opposite side to really understand. Well, wait a minute. You keep saying the same things over and over again. What else could be happening here? And I think when you’re actually able to do that and as tough as this may sound, detach yourself from emotion, detach yourself from the fact that you just see it as being nagging and actually ask yourself what actually is happening here, like emotionally, what’s going on behind all of this. And I think a lot of times you will find a message that you never anticipated actually finding when you stop and listen.

I do want to focus in on the kids because they’re the worst. Right, as a lot of times they will say the same thing over and over again or pound their fists over and over again. And if you’re only looking at the action of the fist-pounding or the shouting or whatever, you’re not going to get to the true nature of what’s actually happening. So if you look beyond that and you look at the child, I mean, a great example. I opened up our last anger management session by talking about online schooling. Right. And I know I got very frustrated. One kid was gluing their arm. The other kid was falling asleep. The other kid was playing with the dog. And I got I got frustrated, got upset. School is important and you should take it seriously, but didn’t really stop to really look at it. Okay, well, what’s happening behind this, right? I mean, they’re not around their friends. I mean, online schooling, at least in my opinion, has been not the most successful way of teaching kids. But, you know, there’s other things happening behind what they’re saying and what it is they’re doing. And if you want a good relationship, you have to learn the skill and the skill of actually looking beyond what is being said. Right.

Adam Kostiw: Right. So what you said there. Yeah, that’s bang it’s the skills. I’m going to bring it back up to a more adult relationship, but it works for children as well, is how often. You know, so Ray you yourself, how often do you ask your partner, what do you need from me right in this moment. Right. You know.

Raymond Moore: Guilty.

Adam Kostiw: We all and we all are. I am absolutely. You know, I’ll hear my wife talking to me and it’ll be like okay, you know what? I’m just going to listen. Then you get the. Well, are you really paying attention? Well, okay no, I’m trying to be attentive and realize I got to make sure there’s some feedback there. So she understands that I get it, right. So, you know, asking that what the person needs and there’s a difference between needs and wants. That’s a whole other topic that we can definitely get into. But asking, what do you need from me right this moment? What can I do for you? Right, this moment that goes a long way in a relationship. Right. Because it shows that not only are you listening and, you know, you may not even understand what they want right. In that moment or need from you, but you’re asking them because it gives them the idea that they know that you care, that you know that you’re invested, because really when you’re invested. Right. You want to be there for that person.

Raymond Moore: Yeah. And I think you’ll magically see the nagging disappear if you try that. Right. If you really go after that need and be there, I think you’ll see that nagging that drives you crazy so much will tend to disappear, because, the message has been received and the need to repetitively say the same thing over and over again is gone.

Adam Kostiw: Right, exactly. So we’ve been talking for a while here, so we’re coming near the end here. And so I just want to give the audience an idea of what may be coming from us. So this has opened up so many topics of possibility for us. And I think we’ll continue on the larger aspect of relationships going forward and maybe talk more about what it looks like when it falls apart, the fair fighting rules and things along those lines of skills that they can learn. So we’re going to continue talking in that direction next time in our session.

Raymond Moore: And codependency as well, for sure.

Adam Kostiw: Exactly. So those are upcoming topics that you’re going to hear in our next few podcasts. So again, this is Adam Kostiw and Raymond Moore with Straight Talk Recovery reminding you. Keep talking. Thanks.

Raymond Moore: Bye, everybody.

Adam Kostiw: Bye.


Other Episodes

Episode 1: Introduction

Episode 2: Anger

Episode 4: Co-dependency

Episode 5: Self-Compassion

Episode 6: Virtual Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

Episode 7: Mindfulness

Episode 8: Grief

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