Having a Resilient Relationship Using Mindfulness

//Having a Resilient Relationship Using Mindfulness

Stuart: Hi there, and welcome to The Couples Expert Podcast. This is Stuart Fensterheim, The Couples Expert. Today is February the 23rd, and it is 75° here in Scottsdale, Arizona. And guess what? I looked it up, and on the East Coast, it is 33°.

I really like living here in Scottsdale, and practicing and helping all the couples develop that close, connected relationship that all of us really desire. And today, I’m going to be doing something special. I have with me, a good friend of mine, Ariel Schulz Bradley, who is someone that I have known, (and I can’t even say it as I think about it), ten years. We have known each other about ten years, and we actually practiced together in Mesa, Arizona, and had a practice when I was doing, basically, working for some insurance panels, and really doing the kind of work that really drained me, until I really found Emotionally Focused Therapy. Now that I’ve really found my niche and found my passion, I feel more alive, more young, and being that I turned 60 this year, it really is nice to be able to say, “I am doing what I love with the people that I love.”

Ariel has graciously agreed to come on the podcast, and just so all of you know, she is also someone who, through the course of life and events, has decided to also work at The Couples Expert. So, not only do I get to spend the time with my friend, but I get to work and do the things that I love with the people that, really, I’m close to. And how can I even… I don’t know what to even say about that. But, I thought I’d bring Ariel on because I wanted to introduce her to my community.

So, Ariel, I want to talk a little bit about you. You are married, actually newly married, and she practices with mindfulness. And mindfulness is a topic that I’ve heard a lot about, but I don’t know too much about. So, I’ve really brought her on for two reasons. Once, because it should be fun. And two, because I want to have her talk a little bit about her passion, which is helping couples with mindfulness.

So, Ariel, I really want to welcome you here to The Couples Expert and thank you for joining me today.

Ariel: Thanks, Stuart, it’s good to be here. Thanks for having me here.

Stuart: You know, one of the things I like to ask couples or people that come on my show, and I want to make it the same with you, is talk a little bit about what made you decide to go into this crazy field of couples and counseling, and a little bit about your path as a counselor.

Born To Be a Therapist

Ariel: Well, ever since I was really young, I enjoyed the process of kind of watching relationships and seeing how they develop, and seeing how the mind works and how people relate to each other, and I think, the insight. I’m very insightful, and I enjoyed learning about psychology in high school, and I always wanted to help people. I always wanted to help people get along better. I grew up in kind of a tumultuous family where there was a lot of arguing, conflict, especially between my parents, and so I decided that I wanted to help people. I was a mediator of sorts, and enjoyed the process of helping people learn to understand each other so they could get along better and have more loving, close relationships.

Stuart: So you’re saying that as a kid, even, you were a mediator, or helping your parents sort of get together and not fight so much?

Ariel: Sometimes, I was a bit of that peacemaker in my family, yes. I played that role. Since we all do play different roles, that tended to be mine.

Stuart: You know, my daughter was something that I… my wife and I used to call her a reporter because she was one of these kids that would actually, after things would happen in the house, she would go around the neighborhood telling everybody about it because she wanted to report to every single person she knew because she knew better than anybody what was going on. And that’s not always so much fun.

Ariel: No, it’s not. I don’t think I was quite that boisterous or open to everybody, but I did enjoy talking to people and getting to know what they were feeling, what they were thinking, and how I could help them to have more insight into their own life so that they could approve how they felt about their relationships in themselves.

Stuart: And through the course of your sort of growing up, and also as an adult now, what are some of the things that you feel like you’ve learned about relationships and the importance of being in a connected relationship, and how it sort of helps an individual?

Learning the Hard Way

Ariel: Well, I recognized that through my own kind of personality, which I think that, you know, we each can kind of look at ourselves and say, “You know, I like to feel really close to somebody,” or, “I’m a connected person,” and I think, overall, that’s pretty much all of us. And we might have different levels of comfort with different levels of intimacy, but ultimately, I was somebody that enjoyed being able to share in every aspect and feel close to somebody.

And so, unfortunately, I had to learn through my own personal life that I chose partners that tended to not share in the desire to be as close, maybe only because they, themselves, may have been anxious or fearful, which is often a lot of the characteristics of the people that I work with. They’re fearful to show who they really are. And so, I learned over time that even through my understanding of what makes a healthy relationship, and what I wanted to do to improve my own relationship, that because I didn’t have a partner who was willing to go down that path with me, I had to kind of let go of that relationship.

And sometimes, if I would have known or my partner would have, at that time when I was married to the father of my children, if we could have figured out, I think, how to have a more close, connected, safe, secure relationship, then… You know, what I want to teach my clients are those things, my couples that I work with, because it’s a painful process to go through, to have to say, “I cannot make this relationship work on my own.”

Take it from One Who’s Been There

Stuart: And I think one of the things that we learn with Emotionally Focused Therapy is that no relationship has a challenge that can’t be overcome when two people are working together. And I hear you talking about your past relationships, and I wonder a little bit about what that says. I think sometimes people who hear marriage counselors, especially, who are not in a marriage, or ended up divorced at one point in their life, they say, “Why should I go see that person? They’ve divorced! How can they help me?” How would you respond to something like that?

Ariel: Well, it’s almost like saying, “I can’t go see an addiction counselor because you’ve never been an addict.” And some of it to me is the opposite, which is because I’ve been through knowing what it’s like to feel very alone in a relationship. I’m going through the process of needing to let that relationship go, but then finding myself, following my divorce, and learning, “What do I really want? What does create the ingredients for me to feel happy, secure, safe, bonded with somebody?” So, I know the difference, I have the contrast, so I can know. I can sit with my couples and I can tell when they are feeling safe and close, and when they’re not, because I’ve been on both sides of that.

Stuart: And I think what I say to a lot of my clients is that the loneliness of being alone is nothing compared to the loneliness of being in a relationship feeling alone.

Ariel: Absolutely. I’ve said that same thing, as well.

Letting Go Doesn’t Mean You’ve Failed

Stuart: And I think one of the things with Emotionally Focused Therapy, and in the couples work that we do here at The Couples Expert, is really identifying the attachment needs that you have, and that all of us have different things that bring us to the table, our life experiences, and to be able to sit down with your partner and to talk about, what are your needs – Is it a need to feel secure? Is it a need to feel important? You know, what we say quite a bit is, “Can I count on you, and if I call, will you be there?”

And I think, sometimes, sitting down with a partner that you’re married to, and trying to sort of pull that apart and figuring out, what do each of you need to feel loved, and if the needs are too different, if you’re not going to be able to meet each other at a primal place, not a secondary emotion but a primary emotion, and if your partner wants one thing and you want another, going your separate ways doesn’t mean you failed. And I think that’s the key. It’s finding someone who has similar attachment needs, isn’t it?

Ariel: Absolutely. I completely agree. And, you know, when you’re younger and you don’t always know who you are or what you want, you don’t always have a good understanding of what, even, love is, especially if you do come from a family where love was not such a healthy experience as far as how your parents might have shown love for each other. So, for me, that’s absolutely true.

It was a very painful decision to let go of that marriage and to move on, but I did it after many years of soul searching and making sure that it wasn’t anything that I needed to change about me. And I did a lot of work to make sure, with the tools that I learned as a therapist, and personally doing inventory. And, you know, nobody wants to get divorced. Nobody gets married with Plan B in mind, that they’re going to get divorced. So, when that happened about five years ago, it was a good decision for me. It was a difficult decision, of course, it’s always very traumatic for everybody involved, especially your children because they don’t have that choice.

So, the rebuilding process is really the key, and as I rebuilt and learned, again, like I said earlier, about who I was and what was it that I needed in a relationship, I figured out that my needs were to feel important. My needs were to feel like a priority, to feel like I was being attended to, and vice versa, that I would do the same for the other. I was very good at giving, and I also needed to learn to receive and find somebody that also was good at giving to me.

Stuart: You know, one of the things that we were sort of talking about before we started recording was how long you and I have known each other, and it’s been, basically, about 10 years.

Ariel: Yes.

Stuart: And one of the things that I remember when we were going through this, and this is sort of an offshoot of the discussion we’re having, which is, that I had known you for a number of years and one of the things that I always remarked, to myself at least, about was sort of the heaviness that I saw in you as you were going through this process. And even, I think more importantly, the time before the decision was made, and that, you know, the life sort of being sucked out of you, almost.

Ariel: Yes.

Physician, Heal Thyself?

Stuart: And I wonder if you want to talk a little bit about that and how that sort of played itself out, as a therapist especially, you know, being a therapist and trying to uplift your clients, and people come to you with all sorts of issues, and you’re the one, that they’re sort of saying, “Tell me how to be happy.”

Ariel: Right. Well, one of the main things that I would say about what I pride myself on is being honest, being authentic, as
a therapist, as a person. So, it was a very heavy time for me to be in a position where I was teaching, guiding, giving advice to couples about how to be closer, about how to love each other and learn to connect more, and I was not figuring that out for myself at home. So, it was hard to see the incongruence in my life and that definitely, what you saw, was I was wearing that heaviness as a result.

And, you know, I don’t know that it necessarily affected, in a negative way, my work with couples. In fact, it probably made me more inspired to help people connect because I had some say in that when I was sitting there with them.

Stuart: You could control that.

Ariel: I could pretty much almost control that as much as you can control people. I could control my influence over that situation, being more of an objective person. But, going home every day after seeing couples make progress and then me, myself, not being able to feel or see that same progress in my own marriage, it was a very heavy time, yes.

Stuart: A debilitating experience, isn’t it?

Ariel: Absolutely, yes.

Stuart: You know, I remark sometimes about when I’ve had relationships that haven’t worked, and the feeling of hypocrisy that would come up for me was more about, “Here I am as a therapist, helping couples be able to have a…” This is prior to EFT because I think things have changed for me since then, but to be able to sort of teach couples how to have healthy relationships and be able to see that progress that you’re talking about, and then get home and try to have the person that matters the most to me do the same, and they’re not cooperating.

Ariel: Right.

Stuart: And the hypocrisy of, “How am I going to go into work and tell people, ‘This is how you change a relationship,’ when I can’t do it, even at home.”

Ariel: Exactly, exactly. And so, yeah, it does come to a point where you… I think we’re harder on ourselves, too, as therapists, that we think we should know it all, we should be able to fix it all, we shouldn’t have the same kinds of problems that other people do. If our children are acting out, it’s more embarrassing. So, certainly, when you go through a divorce, that’s a magnifying kind of feeling, that you have to…

And that’s part of the mindfulness work that I’ve done. Mindfulness, to me, is a very important process of being merciful and compassionate with yourself and starting there. When you’ve gone through things that you are feeling, like you said, very hypocritical about or ashamed of at some level because you shouldn’t get a divorce when you’re a therapist.

Stuart: Yeah, you’re supposed to be perfect, right?

Ariel: Right, exactly. You’re supposed to have it all together. And then, you know, and that’s the thing. I think I can appear that way, and I think a lot of therapists can, and that’s what you’re supposed to do at some level, is keep that at home. But again, it’s so much better to be able to be congruent and now be in the space that I’m in, doing the work that I’ve done and finding a partner that does fit, matches my level of intimacy and need for them.

Stuart: So, what you’re really talking about, and I think this is something that we talk a lot about here on The Couples Expert Podcast, is having an authentic, genuine relationship, having a relationship with a partner that sees all of you – the good, the bad, the ugly – even the things that you don’t like about yourself, and they’re able to sort of see through that and go, “You know what? This is part of who you are. I love all of you, not just parts of you.”

Ariel: Yeah.

Stuart: The other thing I wanted to remind everyone is that our weekend, Two Days; Seven Conversations, is almost sold out. We have five couples, we have room for three more, so if you’re interested, go to the website, www.thecouplesexpertscottsdale.com, and go to the Services menu and go down to the Couples Relationship Weekend, where you can get more information on the weekend, as well as register.

And one of the things I want to go to now because you brought up mindfulness, and I think it’s a very interesting topic, could you give me a definition of what that really means?

What Is “Mindfulness”

Ariel: Well, essentially, it means looking at something with intention and with purpose in the present moment. And, it’s learning to, basically, be intentional with how you focus on something, and you are mindful of what it is that you’re trying to consciously do.

Okay, so that’s sort of a broad definition, but if we’re going to bring it into the context of couples, there’s a lot of that EFT information that talks about being attuned, being attentive to your partner, that’s the same kind of thing that mindfulness is. It’s not allowing distractions, (your phone, the media, the social media that’s all around us), to deter us or to distract us from the connecting with our partner.

And so, that’s pretty much it. It’s just being purposeful with that, being conscious and aware, because many of us can just sort of go through our daily life and be unconscious and not, you know, not really be aware.

Stuart: Yeah, I go through my day sometimes being unconscious.

Ariel: I know, for sure. Life can get very busy and crazy.

Stuart: So, it’s really taking the craziness of life and really thinning it down to a point where you say, “I’m going to zoom in.” So, it’s really a hyper-focus, isn’t it?

Ariel: Yeah, it is. It can be. One of the things that I like about mindfulness is that I’ve always been a multi-tasker, I’ve always been somebody who looked to the future, to kind of look forward rather than being in the present, and I know I missed out on a lot of things. And I think one of the things I’m recognizing, and I learned about mindfulness before, (that was probably part of the evolution for me when my marriage split), was I wanted to learn, “How can I center myself and stay in the now and enjoy the journey, rather than looking for the destination?”

And that’s really what relationships are. It is about the being with somebody, it’s not always about the constantly doing. And not that, you know, doing things together is absolutely important too, but it is really just being there for somebody, feeling like you’re there for them.

Stuart: You know, when we talk about quality time or we talk about rituals in a marriage, what we’re really talking about isn’t just doing the thing that you like doing together over and over again, it’s making it… And I write about this a lot – a ritual in a relationship is about both people knowing the reason you’re doing it. The reason you’re focusing and you’re having a date night, or the reason that you’re going to the movies and out to dinner isn’t because you like movies and dinner, although you might, it’s because you want to do this to improve the connection between the two of you.

So, the focus is on the connection and not what you do, which is why I get frustrated sometimes with couples that argue about, what are they going to do, “I don’t like doing that, I don’t like doing that,” and that craziness that people do, when it’s about being present with your partner or being mindful with your partner.

It Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

Ariel: I think that you’re right. I think that it’s simplifying things. We make things so complex, and in our Western culture, that’s part of the problem, is that we’re taught to constantly be doing things for our sense of purpose. And, you know, the purpose, like you just said, is pretty simple, it’s really just about being together. It can be just a walk in the park, and it’s about observing things and talking, and connecting and sharing, and responding through either just showing eye connection or eye contact, you know, that kind of thing. So, it really isn’t as complicated as we like to make it.

Stuart: You know, one of the best reading material that I’ve done on this, myself, is a gentleman who is a Buddhist monk, who I love, love, love, love, and I use him all the time in my Couples Weekend retreats. And if people want to check him out, you can go to YouTube, and I may mispronounce his name and I apologize to him right now if I do, but it’s Thích Nhât Hanh.

Thích Nhât Hanh has a book on walking meditation and I read that, and I did it for a while, (I actually have given up a little bit on it), and the whole purpose of what he talked about is, you’re walking, but you’re not just walking to go somewhere, you’re walking to feel the step, to feel every pressure, every pebble, every moment, so you’re totally focused on, what is the sensations. And, if you think about that in terms of a relationship, in how the experience is for you, being with someone who you sense cares about you, if you really sat down and began to talk about this, and what the experience is like to have someone like that in your life, what an amazing intimate moment that would be, for couples to do that.

Ariel: Absolutely, yeah.

It Really Is the Small Things that Count

Stuart: You know, I reflect on, because, similar to Ariel, and I’ve shared this before, that I’ve also been divorced. At 60 years old, I guess I can admit that, and one of the things that I talk a lot about is the experience of my wife now, who is a very different type of person than the wife that I was married to previously.

And my wife does some very regular, normal things, like she cooks, she washes clothes, does laundry, cleans the house, and every time she does those things, I fall back in love with her. And when I turn to her and I say, “Well, I appreciate this,” she looks at me like I’m crazy and says, “Yeah, of course I do this, this is normal. What are you talking about?” But, it shows me how much she loves me that she wants to do for me, and that’s a new experience for me.

Ariel: Right.

Stuart: And I think that’s one of the things, I think, you and I bring to the practice a bit, is the awareness that the small things is what matters.

Ariel: Absolutely.

Stuart: It’s not the big, ‘take you out on a trip to Europe’. That would be fun, but it’s not going to make a difference in how I feel about her and how she feels about me. It’s when she leaves me a Tic Tac thing in the car and she doesn’t tell me about it. She just went shopping, and I go to work and I find it there, the only thing I can do is smile ear to ear because I know that’s what love is.

Ariel: Right, it’s knowing that the person’s thinking about you even if you’re not there.

Stuart: Right, which is why she gets mad around Christmas time when I go on Amazon. She says, “Can you go to the store and get me something?”

Ariel: That’s right.

Stuart: “That’s too easy!”

Ariel: That’s right, that’s right.

Stuart: But it’s knowing those things, and that’s really the dialogue that couples need to have, that most couples don’t have until it’s way too late, is sharing with one another, what does it take for you to feel loved.

Ariel: Right.

Stuart: And yes, it could be, you know, “The Five Love Languages”, but for most people, those are nice and those help, but not as important as having a relationship where you feel like you matter.

Ariel: Yeah, yeah, “The Five Love Languages” is definitely a good foundation for understanding kind of where the emphasis might need to be for that particular person to feel loved, and I do refer to that one a lot, but one of the other mindfulness kind of terms and words that really emphasizes – “acceptance”.

And acceptance, I think, is such an amazingly important part of not only acceptance of yourself, but of course, when you’re in a relationship. It’s forgiveness and it’s acceptance, and those are mercifulness, compassion. Those are all the things that we have to have because if you start getting into expecting or needing your partner to be something that they’re not, instead of loving them for who they really are and what they do bring to the table… It’s all on emphasis, right? It’s what you emphasize and what you focus on.

And so, we can all pick apart our partner if we sat long enough to because we’re all human and we’re all flawed, but it’s really teaching couples to appreciate what it is that they see in the partner, who they really are, and what the partner is really doing that they do love about them. Because in the beginning of a relationship, it’s so easy, right? We like the partner. We like them, and “like”, you fall into that so easily, and then you love the person. So, to me, it isn’t the “love” that goes away when people are disconnected, it’s the “like”, and that’s what I emphasize when I’m working with couples, is, “Reconnect with what you like about each other.”

Stuart: And that it doesn’t just disappear.

Ariel: Right. No, it’s there, yeah.

Stuart: And, it’s not a light switch, where, you know, one day I’m in love with someone and one day…

Ariel: Yeah, it’s the dimmer.

Stuart: It’s the small things, it’s the chipping away that really become the issue, and how do we get back in touch with that, and get in touch with the likeability when we have so many negative perceptions that build up over time. And I think what the problem tends to be, more than anything, is a lack of healing and repair, not that you argue.

Mindfulness and EFT Overlap

Ariel: Right, right. It’s how do you settle that conflict and come up with a difference in how you might react or connect or deal with each other in the future on that particular topic, because it is, usually, the same topic that comes up, or the same way that people are fighting. It’s a pattern of fighting.

But, like you said, with EFT, it’s an amazing kind of therapy because of the empirical evidence that it really is, it’s about just that person feeling abandoned, ultimately. It’s that feeling that, “You’re not there for me.” And it really comes down to that, ultimately.

Stuart: And experiencing your partner is truly there.

Ariel: Yes. Or not there, and that if they’re not there, or you’re experiencing them not being there, then that’s where I think a lot of the arguing and the fear and the disconnect…

Stuart: Those are really the triggers.

Ariel: Absolutely.

Stuart: And that if you can talk about the triggers, and if you can get vulnerable, then sharing those and then understanding that most of those things are really a panic about not feeling close.

Ariel: Right, right.

Stuart: And then if you can come up and work together at creating that, that’s pretty darn good.

And it Can Be as Small as Just Holding Hands

Ariel: Well, one of the neat things, as I was reading more about EFT was how it corresponds with mindfulness, is that in some of the research it says that even holding hands can calm our neurons in our brain, and it buffers us from the shock and stress and pain that we can have in the world. So, mindfulness is really about calming our nervous system down, that survival monkey brain is what I call it, the fight-flight-or-freeze lizard brain part. And so, you know, we…

Stuart: It just don’t look like a lizard

Ariel: No, it doesn’t, but it’s that caveman part of our brain that we didn’t have before we evolved and have the higher mind now, but a lot of us, when we’re triggered, we go into that survival mode.

And I was just talking to a client today about how she was feeling that and it really wasn’t about her husband, but she needed him to hold her and instead of him holding her, he got triggered and thought it was him, and so he flew, he had a flight reaction. So, it caused this whole chain reaction that if, in the very beginning, she could have maybe verbalized, “Hey, it’s not about you, I just need to be held,” or he could give her the benefit of the doubt and just hold her and say, “I’m here for you,” that would have soothed the situation and I think they would have moved on a lot quicker from that.

And that’s the kind of thing that I think is really what I have gained from being in the relationship that I’m in now, is those are all the things that I kind of knew, but I wasn’t able to put that into practice until I found the right partner to be able to do that with.

Stuart: Or, maybe another way of saying that is, you couldn’t experience it with your other partner because the two of you weren’t there.

Ariel: Yes.

Stuart: You know, you bring up the important thing of the studies, and I want to just, for those of my listeners who are interested in really understanding what Ariel was just talking about, about holding hands, there’s an incredible MRI study that was done out of is EFT, which is the international organization that certifies emotionally focused therapists. And Susan Johnson, who was on the show a couple weeks ago, shared some of it here as well, and what she was talking about is the MRI studies and if you go to YouTube, you can watch it. It’s an amazing study, and it’s called “Soothing the Threatened Brain”.

And if you watch that, you’ll really see the power of what Ariel was talking about, which is, that if you hold someone’s hand that you’re close and connected to, everything is different. Your brain chemistry even changes. And it’s research-oriented, it’s not pie-in-the-sky, and I just want to encourage all of you to go to YouTube and watch that video.

Now, we’re close to running out of time, Ariel, and one of the things you brought up a moment ago, which had to do with the mindfulness and couples, and I wonder how you would approach this, having to do with mindfulness, because one of the things that comes up all the time for me is when I’m sitting with a couple and they’re triggered in my office, and they’re yelling or they’re really upset, and how to get them to calm down. And I wonder if mindfulness has a place there.

Ariel: Well, I certainly think so because, you know, when it comes down to it, we each have our own individual responsibility to learn how to kind of know what our triggers are and learn ways to manage our triggers. And the most healing of it all is to get our partner to be understanding and there for us when we are being triggered. But realistically, especially when couples have gone down the road of having conflict and then a lot of projecting, and all the stuff that we see, often, when people walk through our doors, mindfulness is the individual part that we each can have of just breathing, breathing, stopping, taking a moment to center ourselves and use, even, cognitive thinking, thoughts, mantras, things that can help us to say, “Okay, they’re on my side. Why am I seeing him like the enemy?”

And so, that’s our job, right, is when we’re seeing the craziness, is to interrupt that process and to help each person to settle down and use whatever mechanism we can teach them to breathe through it, to calm down, to start to own their part in how they are perceiving, potentially, and also how they’re reacting and causing it to be more charged rather than the other direction, which is to feel closer. So, you know, it’s getting them to see that. “Is this interaction going to bring you closer? If that’s your goal, if you want to be closer,” which 99.9% of the people walking through our doors want that, then that’s the mindfulness piece of it, is helping them be more intentional about, “Is this behavior going to bring you closer or is it going to make you feel further apart?”

Stuart: And having a commitment to making sure that you don’t do anything that goes against that principle and that goal that you have.

Ariel: Right, right.

Stuart: I want to thank you very much, Ariel, for coming on, and you’re so genuine and gracious and giving, and I can say that without it being tongue-in-cheek because I’ve known you for 10 years.

Ariel: Well, thank you, Stuart.

Stuart: And one of the things that’s exciting for me is to have you working here alongside myself, helping the couples of the world really make a difference in their life. And I wanted to let everyone know that Ariel is also part of the practice that does the 30-minute free consultations, and all you do is go to our website, which is www.thecouplesexperts.com, and you can sign up for a free 30-minute consult there.

The other thing is, when I hear you talking, and how realistic you are and how genuine you are, I wanted to sort of close with a more personal kind of question, and that was that you talked earlier about being merciful and compassionate, and I wonder if you’re willing to share a little bit about how those two things, those principles, have impacted you both personally and professionally, and what have you learned about yourself in trying to be more merciful and compassionate.

Lessons Learned

Ariel: Well, one of the things I think is true in the 20-some years that I’ve been doing counseling is that we are all very hard on ourselves, probably harder on ourselves than we are on anybody else. And so, when we don’t have that awareness that we can be unforgiving with ourselves and conditional with ourselves, then unfortunately, it can trickle into our relationships with others.

And so, my journey has been to, because I am very, very hard on myself and I’m a perfectionist, as we spoke about earlier, with being a therapist you hold yourself to a certain standard, and I’ve always been that, I’ve learned that I have to just be more forgiving and unconditional with myself, and recognize that the journey of learning and having experiences is what we’re really here for, as far as, you cannot learn until you have the contrast of what you don’t want. And sometimes, gathering means you end up sifting through a lot of things that you don’t want and doing a lot of things you don’t want, and then learning what you really do want.

And so, that is a really important part of the counseling with couples that I’ve done because I’ve lived it, and that is, you need to learn to be unconditional with yourself before you can be with your partner or anybody else.

Stuart: Unconditionally love yourself.

Ariel: Unconditionally love yourself, yes, yes.

Stuart: That’s cool.

Ariel: Yeah, and that I think is one of the hardest things to do because we, as humans, are not very good at being unconditional. So, that’s been my process and it’s about acceptance, like I said earlier. That’s a big piece of it. And about forgiving and loving, regardless of what happens.

Stuart: So, thank you, Ariel, for coming on The Couples Expert Podcast.

I wanted to remind everyone that the Two Days; Seven Conversations weekend is about sold out, and if you’re interested in being part of that, which will be March 5 and 6, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, there’s still time to sign up for that.

And Ariel, I guess I don’t have to say goodbye because we work together, but thank you again for giving of yourself, your time, and being with us and sharing with our audience. Bye-bye.

Ariel: Thanks, Stuart.


“Having a Resilient Relationship Using Mindfulness”

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About the Author:

Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships. As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart's Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. His office practice serves the greater Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.

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