Communication and Connection...
Listen in on Episode 9 featuring Joslyn Justi, LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), and co-hosts Kira Yakubov, LMFT (Founder and Lead Therapist), and Daniela Galdi (Health & Wellness Professional and HYR Podcast Producer).
PART 1 – Building Mindfulness on Nonverbal Cues when Communicating in Relationships
PART 2 – Examples of How to Feel Connected to Your Partner
PART 3 – Positive and Negative Reinforcement in Relationships
Content Considerations: Mentions of Mental Illness.
Some episode highlights include…
Tools to Navigate Conflict Resolution and Differing Opinions from a Therapist’s Point of View
Work through Discomfort when Sharing Feelings
Building Deeper, Realistic, and Consistent Connection with your Partner
Gottman Bids for Affection
Suggestions for Quality Time Growth
More About Joslyn…
“I began an interest in psychology when I was about 16 and watched a documentary about the girl genie who could not learn proper language due to abuse and surpassing the critical point of language learning. Earned my BA in psychology from penn state Behrend and earned my masters in clinical and counseling psychology at chestnut hill college. I’ve worked in a variety of environments and have treated multiple age groups and populations.”
Expand for Podcast Transcript
Joslyn Justi 0:01
What’s getting brought up for you that is motivating your unhelpful response to this behavior? Because then you really get some more underlying issues that are these maladaptive ways of communicating when we are expressing, you know, tears or yelling or you know, again, other physical responses.
Daniela Galdi 0:22
Welcome back to heal your roots podcast. I’m your co host, Daniela Galdi, health and wellness professional here in Philadelphia. And we have got a nice conversation coming up with our other co host and guest on connections and communications and ways to approach conversations to get deeper into your knowledge of relationships, and the impacts that are connections things like quality time, and assertive communication, and what that all has to do for you with any relationship in your life. So with me is co host and founder of Heal Your Roots Wellness, Kira
Kira Yakubov 1:08
Hi everybody Kira Yakubov here founder at Heal Your Roots Wellness. On our podcast, every episode, we have a therapist in the mental health field and industry that we like to get to know as a person outside the field and their specialties and knowledge within the field. I’m super excited to have Jocelyn juste licensed marriage and family therapist and a therapist that heal your roots wellness. And so this is going to be a really good juicy one. All the good stuff housing that was shared with communication and connection, different ways to effectively work through relationships. So Joslyn, thank you again.
The importance of non-verbal communication and body language.
Joslyn Justi 1:44
Yes, thank you, Kira, so much for having me. I’m excited to be here again. And I’m excited to get into some more detail about that connection that Daniela was speaking of, and excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Kira Yakubov 1:58
So I wanted to start with communication, right. And different ways that even though we might be communicating the words that we’re trying to get across that nonverbal body language is super, super important and imperative to think about and be mindful of when we are trying to communicate with whether it’s a partner, friend, family member, really anybody that you value, and you want them to hear what you’re saying. So Jonathan, do you have any thoughts or anything that comes up at the top of your head about nonverbal communication and things like that?
Joslyn Justi 2:32
Absolutely. I had recently, I had several couples who one partner would come to me and say, they’re not getting what my vibe that I’m putting off that I might need help, or that I’m suffering right now. And I asked, I was like, oh, did you articulate that? You know, did you share that with them? Well, no, I did it. But I want them to tell from like my body language, like my face looks kind of sad. My might, my shoulders might be a little more tense, you know, I’m a little more withdrawn. So I think my partner really should be recognizing that. So I was like, Okay, let’s take a step back and look at this for a second. One, yes, we cannot read minds at the end of the day, that’s where that assertive communication is very important. But then to, it’s very important to bring in a mindfulness and self awareness piece as to when these nonverbal cues are getting put off, because maybe some people aren’t comfortable, saying, Hey, I’m in a really bad place. I need some support right now. But I’m showing you through my body language. So that’s something that I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been trying to teach is that mindfulness of like, what to look for. So for example, again, are they looking down at the ground? Are they not making eye contact? Do they appear more withdrawn? Does their is their personality different in any way? Are they throwing off a fatigue vibe? Or? Again, is there any behavior changes, you can see from a nonverbal perspective that I like to point out,
Daniela Galdi 3:54
I was going to ask you if like an eye contact thing is very key to that, because I can imagine and I put myself in that experience, where I have not, I’m very big on looking people in the eye, but then those times where I won’t turn my head, right, or I won’t absorb what’s happening. What What am I actually like, in that sense? What kind of nonverbal cue would that be? To others not to say do that, right? But just to kind of be aware, if they’re doing it themselves,
Joslyn Justi 4:26
I would say if it’s different than your quote, unquote, normal behavior, normal interaction, so if you like to make eye contact with people a lot, and then one day, let’s say you’re feeling down and you’re just not looking anybody in the eye whatsoever, that’s a significant behavioral change, right? It’s a different effect. It’s a different you’re not looking at anybody. So therefore, something might be wrong. You might be stressed. Maybe you’re not yourself that day, because again, even the slight little behavioral changes or body language can indicate something’s going on. That’s different for us.
Communication is a two-way street. Both people are responsible for making sure that communication gets across.
Kira Yakubov 5:00
So I, I love that you brought that up even just wanting someone to read our mind or expecting them to. And it’s like this is where relationships get a little fuzzy around responsibility or accountability, right is that every conversation and relationship it’s a two way street. Right? So there’s a little bit that each person needs to do or can do to get a message across. Right? So in relationships, we want to attune to our partner, basically, how you’re sharing Josten, like, we want to be able to, like, know them well enough that we can read, the behavior is off or different, and be able to check in with our partner. And it’s also the other person’s responsibility to express like, hey, there’s something coming up for me, or I’m upset, or I’m angry with you and not just expect our partner to guess or poke or prod. Right? So both people are kind of responsible for making sure that communication gets across to each other.
Daniela Galdi 5:57
So just how you said that here, is there a way for our listeners that you were, Jocelyn would suggest saying that? And I will preface it with saying with saying like, is it healthy to say? And I’m rolling my eyes? Because probably not. But I can’t read your mind, which I’ve said before, what’s the best way to then like a prompt almost in a sense to start that sentence off to express yourself?
Joslyn Justi 6:24
I use I statements, I always go back to our statements, you know, either it’s, I want to know what’s going on with you, I’m noticing something different for you. You know, or you can say something like, I’m here if you need support right now. So like the responsibility part that Carol was talking about, you put that responsibility in their hands. And it’s their responsibility to express if they if something is the matter, because nonverbal cues can can be helpful, right. But we have to be able to articulate or verbally express what’s happening in those moments. So I statements, and refraining from blaming language, when you’re asking those questions, I think lowers our defenses and can create a more safe space for us to be open with our partners.
Kira Yakubov 7:10
Absolutely. Right. And I think that if we think we get caught up, which is normal, we’re human, right, we get caught up in our own experience, and our own feelings of what’s going on. And from our perspective of how we feel. So if we see our partner being cold moving away from us, we obviously notice something is off. But if we’re like, why are you being cold? Right? Like how do you think your partner is going to respond to that, even if they are being cold and expecting you to mind read? Right, it’s still our responsibility to kind of like, gently approached them, like, you know, I’m starting to feel like we’re not really talking today, I’m getting a feeling that maybe you’re pulling away and like getting that right, or something else going on. Right? We want to leave like an open ended question for them to have an opportunity to share how they’re feeling. And not only sure how they’re feeling, but like, feel safe to share how they’re feeling. Because if we’re coming out and like, why are you being so cold and distant from me today? They’re gonna be like, oh, probably, because that’s how you talk to me. Right? Like, it’s a little aggressive or a little hostile. So it’s also kind of considering your partner and leaving an open ended question for them to respond to that they feel welcoming to, like, talk back and give a an explanation of what’s going on for them internally. How does this show up for you when you have a couple who has very different communication styles? Or they might have the same one, which I feel like sometimes Mike, what has even more?
The three C’s for better communication: Be clear, be concise, be considerate.
Joslyn Justi 8:38
Yeah, really depends. So if I have two people who, let’s say, are more passive, right, so maybe they’re a little bit more indecisive. They they don’t like conflict. So they’re the avoiders. They won’t talk about something, they’ll just kind of continue to go about their day. I like to gently challenge that and bring up hey, we need to talk about this. And I like to use the three C’s. Even if people are uncomfortable talking about this, as be clear, be concise, be considerate. And it goes a long way, knowing those three C’s. So when you have to avoid and people who again, like we said aren’t going to bring up conflict, I will sit them down and ask them to hey, let’s make some eye contact. I want you to take each other’s hands, look at each other in the eye. And I want you to gently express what’s going on and what you’re upset about. And we’re not gonna respond right away, but we’re gonna give someone the space to process it so that way, it’s reinforced to the speaker that hey, even though I’m very uncomfortable sharing this right now, my partner’s giving me good feedback in a safe space, like you were talking about earlier here. So that’s where I try to like normalize it and get people to work through the uncomfortable.
Kira Yakubov 9:55
I think it’s underestimated how tough it can be for people to share how they feel All, because of wanting to avoid conflict or wanting like perceiving that sharing a feeling that might be, like different than their partner’s opinion or how they usually talk, or even just like their usual interaction, sometimes change or anything different, that’s not a positive interaction can feel so uncomfortable. And I also think I love that you say like to normalize it. Because anytime we’re in a relationship, we’re going to have different opinions, we’re going to have a different experience. And if we can’t express that, then we’re not being authentic. And we’re probably going to end up pretending and people pleasing a lot. Right, which is his own home, we can go into that topic and like that episode for days and days, and I personally have like, really, really worked on overcoming people pleasing habits and like tendencies and wanting to avoid conflict, because it just feels more comfortable to not do the thing. But like you’re saying, it’s so important and imperative in any relationship to be able to discuss that. And being able to push ourselves and have like, grow tolerance for discomfort,
Daniela Galdi 11:11
it’s definitely a practiced way to communicate is what it sounds like. And also what I heard earlier, and we were talking about the nonverbal situations, you mentioned, Jocelyn about, you know, hold each other’s hands. And I wanted you to explain that I caught that. And I thought, oh, that, Oh, that was something in there, that was a little bit more body language. So explain that reasoning.
Joslyn Justi 11:39
The thing about it, right, when when we’re holding each other’s hands, right, this physical touch, the brain is making these connections. And, you know, typically, whenever we have physical touch paired with verbal communication, and it’s a positive place, we’re just reinforcing these connections in our brain, that it’s a good space, that, hey, I have a safe feeling with my partner, we’re holding each other’s hands, we’re making that connection with each other, while expressing our concerns. So it like counterbalances this discomfort, and then this need to express yourself. So again, therefore, we’re more connected and the brain why I just want to continuously, positively reinforce and make new positive connections in the brain, especially when it comes to conflict with couples, that it’s okay to do this. And you just feel closer to your partner with that physical touch. So that’s where I was kind of going with that.
The bids for a connection and bids for affection
Kira Yakubov 12:34
I mean, you know what that makes me think of. So for Gottman, the bids for a connection and bids for affection. And so dominant is a researcher, like a couples researcher. And he has a lot of studies and experiments with couples when they’re arguing. And he has done so many that he is able to tell within I think it’s the first two to three minutes of an argument if it’s gonna go well or not. And he can predict if they’re going to stay together or get divorced. It’s really wild. And so he’s able to see this because within the first few minutes of bringing up like a heavy topic or a conflict is how are you approaching each other because the onset is so important. And Josten that you’re saying is like having that body language that’s showing affection, it just reduces our defensiveness. And it reduces our feelings of being attacked, or feeling shameful or feeling like we want to, like crawl inside ourselves and avoid it or start arguing, right? I think it kind of takes away those fight flight or freeze kind of attributes within our nervous system. Right? Because if we feel like we’re being attacked, if we feel embarrassed, if we feel shameful, immediately, all those defenses go up. And we’re not actually hearing anything that our partners saying, and having that physical touch to be like, You know what, like, I know, this is a tough conversation. I don’t want to do this either. But we should. But I still love you. And I’m still here. And we’re going to be able to work through this. It’s like, Thank you, okay, like, yeah, this does suck, but we can get through this because we’re figuring out together and not against each other.
Joslyn Justi 14:15
I think too, it’s you want to genuinely work on that relationship, right? You have this willingness to change and you can take accountability. And those are the things that I think are so helpful in couples therapy, especially because if you don’t check those boxes, sometimes, you know couples therapy might not even be appropriate in that time. Because like Kira said, right? You have to make that safe space for your partner and be comfortable doing that work, essentially.
Daniela Galdi 14:43
So hey, there’s gonna be a little bit in left field. But when it comes to what you’re both talking about, what happens when like emotions come into play. For example, I am a crier, so I can try I, I try to get out, you know, express myself communicate and in the way that you’re both saying as as healthy, that I know as healthfully as possible that I know, but I cry. And so what happens when that type of situation happens? I felt in the past that can throw people off. But really, it’s just like I released very easily through my tear ducts. And so what how does that come into play when like, an emotion like that, or a physical emotion comes out in that sense, that’s almost, I feel automatic for me.
Joslyn Justi 15:41
I don’t think that is necessarily a you thing. If I was in a session, and someone started, started tearing up and started crying, and their partner got something activated in them, they got uncomfortable with it, and you were no longer able to communicate about what you were communicating, I would ask that partner like, what is it about this response? What’s getting brought up for you, that is motivating your unhelpful response to this behavior? Because then you really get some more underlying issues, these maladaptive ways of communicating when we are expressing, you know, tears or yelling, or you know, again, other physical responses.
Kira Yakubov 16:20
Joslyn, I love how you always take the kind of like, the behavioral approach and like the brain underneath in the moment, I think that totally agree with that being able to kind of check in with the partners see, like, what about these tears are this physical expression of the emotion is uncomfortable, but also want to normalize that, like, it’s okay to cry, and it is a natural release of what your emotions are. And I think sometimes tears can It depends how we view or use something, right? Like if it’s a natural response, and our partner just kind of like stops and doesn’t know what to do with that. And if we start to learn over time, hey, if I cry, I can get this conversation to stop. That is that can be manipulative, right. That’s why intention is always so important around behaviors. Because we’re kind of using that as a weapon against them. But I cry very easily to right, like my partner knows that and we work through, we don’t have to necessarily, like stop the entire conversation and be done. Because they shared something that might have been hurtful for me or might have been hard for me to like swallow hearing, we just need to pause, like take a pause, for a moment, self soothe, and then be able to express what just came up for you to your partner, and still have the space to hear what they brought up. Right? Because sometimes it’s tough, because then the focus turns to the person crying, what they’re experiencing, being compassionate, right is important to slow down. But it’s really important to return back to the initial conversation that we had, so that the other person feels like it’s safe to share whatever it is that they need to talk about. Because that could start to make them feel like why can’t share tough things because a my partner starts to cry, which is okay, but then I feel bad and making them feel bad. And the conversation doesn’t end up going anywhere. Right? So it’s kind of making sure you there’s space for both people’s feelings and emotions. And it’s tough in couples therapy, right? Because we have to slow down. And we have to go back and forth. It’s a little bit of like this ping pong, of making sure that each person feels heard and like validated in those feelings. So I don’t know if that answered your question. I was very wordy response.
Daniela Galdi 18:36
It absolutely did. And I want to recap because you both have so many great points just in these last few minutes just about being intentional, practicing, taking the pause. I love Joslyn earlier earlier you said your three C’s. Be clear, be concise, be considerate, and just paying attention to how body language and nonverbal situations are happening and also how you know something like touch can be really effective.
How do you know when you’re feeling connected to your partner?
Joslyn Justi 19:07
I just wanted to add in on like go what you said really quick, a good helpful tip is having like a five minute check in. So if you do notice something with the nonverbal or notice something off, have you and your partner just do this five, five to 10 minute check in nothing too elaborate, but it just gives you a nice space to just check in, Hey, are you cool, like what’s going on? And if so let’s address it real quick and then kind of move on our days that can be super helpful for couples, especially in relationships,
Kira Yakubov 19:40
you know, especially for couples therapy, there’s a lot of stigma is that there’s something like something has to be wrong. We have to be like in a bad cycle that all we’re going to talk about in therapy is the conflict. You know, obviously that is part of it. But I think the other huge part is the goal that sometimes people miss is that this is also that you feel more connected and safe and present with your partner. So it’s not always focusing on the conflict resolution, which is important. But it’s also focusing on like, how do I feel more closer to my partner? How do I recognize when I am feeling connected? How do I recognize when my partner feels connected? How does that feel? How does that impact my mental health my day to day? So I would love to dive into feeling more connected and being able to kind of differentiate all those different parts together. How do you feel Joslyn? Are you ready for that?
Joslyn Justi 20:32
Oh, yeah, I think there’s a lot of I mean, shoot connection means 50 million things in my mind, right. And I think it can mean so many different things to each individual. That’s part of that couple systems. So yeah, I’m ready to get into it.
Kira Yakubov 20:52
So how would you how would you define connection? I know there just have a 15 million different ways to like, what would be a couple different things that kind of come up for you thinking about feeling connected?
Joslyn Justi 21:03
Yeah, you know what, I really gave this some thought, because I really I don’t, I didn’t really think about what connection actually meant to me, right? I’m so used to working with people and doing that, and not really kind of taking a step back to think about it for myself. So what I came up with was, okay, how do I feel connected to my partner? Connection to me is being on a similar page and having this mutual respect and caring for each other’s mental and physical and emotional well being. Again, being on a similar page, you want to be on the same page to be connected, but for me, it’s being on a similar page. And it’s almost this non verbal feeling, you get that, hey, I enjoy your company, I enjoy just sitting here with you. We don’t even have to talk. I’m connected to you through that way. And just having a mutual positive feeling towards that person. I think that’s where I kind of came up with that connection feeling for me.
Kira Yakubov 22:04
So I actually love that I thought about connection too. Because when I ask couples this, okay, well, how do you know when you’re feeling connected to your partner, right? Everyone has a different answer. And so so that way we can give examples to our listeners. For myself, when I feel connected to my partner, it’s when we’re being silly, right? Like when there’s like this positive light, kind of energy in the room between us. And we’re on the same page. And we’re like, kind of flirty, right? But there’s also this like, lack of tension, like an absence of something unresolved, right? Because even if he might be in a good mood, if there’s something that either of us might be harboring or holding on to, or that we haven’t fully discussed, it kind of feels like there’s a block, right? So even though I’m trying to feel connected, I kind of feel disconnected from him. So when we’re able to kind of resolve something and then get on the other side, that feeling, sometimes it’s hard to put into words, but it’s like you said, we’re on a similar page. And we’re doing things as a team, right? So also having like routines and rituals, I love love having a ritual. So I know that sometimes we think that routines mean, like we’re stuck, we’re in a rut, it’s the same crap over and over again, right. And like, sometimes that can happen. But that’s what I like to call them a ritual. So it’s like, every day, I know and can rely on the fact that we’re going to wake up in the morning, we’re going to make coffee, or we’re going to take our dog for a walk. And we’re going to talk about everything, whether that’s life, what we have going on that day, looking forward to future plans, talking about whatever stressful thing we just got over. Right. So it’s like having built in time that we’ve prioritized for each other makes me feel connected. And like I love having that ritual piece to it as well. And sometimes couples, they’ll have a consistent ritual. And if it’s not intentionally built in somehow into your schedule, then it’s so easy for it to just be missed. And there goes the connection walked out the door.
Daniela Galdi 24:07
That’s a great perspective. I really love that you added that in about ritual. Because I’m thinking, you know, maybe that’s why, like you mentioned your walk in the morning with the dog or a dinner time, right time together for dinner. And, or, you know, like pillow talk right? Adding in that value is such a great point. And I love that you brought up the ritual because as you were both talking, I was thinking and asking myself again, you know what is connection and it aligns really a lot with what you were both saying but finding that like place of peace with each other. And I feel like to piggyback off of what you said Kira when you have that ritual in place and you’re both in agreement with it and then on the same similar page of it right, Joslyn like you mentioned, that is where it can be a great spot to start from Finding those places of peace.
Joslyn Justi 25:02
Absolutely. And it feels so easy at that point. You know, it’s like Kira said, you can be just silly, you can let that guard down and being goofy and just like, actually like being best friends, basically, you know, we kind of forget that sometimes we add in that friendship component into the romantic one. And that goes such a long way. So I love that I love that connection piece, especially bring humor into your relationships, it can, it can go such a long way.
Kira Yakubov 25:29
Think about like when you’re friends with I mean, I know we’re all girls here. So like, your closest girlfriends, like there’s something about that relationship that is so hard to have matched. But I think underneath it is being super silly with one another, being vulnerable and feeling safe to be vulnerable, having each other’s back and knowing that like, regardless of what’s going on, this person has my best interest in mind. And feeling open to like feedback and telling each other stuff and whether it is like being able to call each other out on stuff, but you’re okay with it. Because you know, this person loves you. And it’s not because they want you to feel bad ever. It’s like alright, if they’re telling me this, then it means, you know, it probably means something serious, I should probably listen to it. Right, but having those similar interests and like being friends, just thinking of each other, right? Like, how do you make your partner feel special and cared for loved on a daily basis? Right? Like, are you thinking about how do I make them feel loved and special every day? And not every single day is going to work? Right? Because obviously we have our own individual things, our work, whether we have kids or their family members, but making sure that that’s a thought that goes through our head at least once each day regularly. What do you think Jocelyn has, like, come up for you, too?
Rituals can be practical and realistic for your situation.
Joslyn Justi 26:49
Oh, yeah, cuz I think that’s where rituals come into play. Like, for us, no matter what happens. I’m going I am going to get like a hug and a kiss goodbye, right? Like, Hey, have a good day, I love you. And it doesn’t matter if we have had the worst fight. It doesn’t matter if like, I’m pissed that he left all the lights on. Like, that is our go to like, and so if that were to get disrupted, then we would both be like, oh, man, something is really wrong. But again, I think it’s so it doesn’t matter what your ritual is, as long as you have something that you can pretty much put into practice that’s practical and realistic for your situation, right? I can’t emphasize enough what is realistic for your situation. It can create that connection, and it can make you feel loved. And it can make you feel that okay, hey, this person, they do love me, and I do love them. So let’s make this ritual consistent. That way we can continuously feel that connection, even when you have your off days, right? Like your said, we’re all human, we all have crappy days, that’s fine, right? That doesn’t matter. But it’s your partner that matters, right? You want to put that energy into them. So I think that’s where those rituals can just be extremely helpful.
Kira Yakubov 28:04
Awesome. I love that you mentioned having a be realistic, right? Because sometimes we can have very lofty goals for ourselves or relationship like even saying, because I know it’s like very common, like, have a date night, have a date night every week. And like, that is not always possible, especially if people have young kids or they’re working like our schedules are crazy. adulting is tough. Having a date night every week. While that is a wonderful goal to work towards, it’s probably not realistic, right? Like super small, that are everyday things that you can do like greeting and saying goodbye to your partner every day is huge, and physical touch, even if your love language is not physical touch. I do think it’s really important that at some point each day, you’re showing your partner some kind of physical affection. Because releasing that oxytocin and having Josas how you were saying earlier, like conditioning your brain to know that like, at the beginning of the day, at the end of the night, me and my partner touch, I feel this loving emotion. Even if we didn’t get to talk all day, even if we got into a fight. It’s like the overarching theme is that we’re a team and this is just one drop in the bucket have a bad day. And it doesn’t have to mean anything negative about the rest of the relationship. So I like to use this one example of an emotional piggy bank. So I don’t know if listeners have heard for emotional piggy bank. So it’s thinking about making deposits. Like if you go to the bank, you know, you get paid every week or every other week you make those deposits in and then let’s say you get hit with a fee. That feels like oh, it’s not great, right? Nobody wants to pay the fee, but because there is a lump sum of deposits in there. It doesn’t really take that big of a hit. The account can withstand this fee, kind of like in relationships right if you’re constantly depositing these small acts of affection and love over and over When you have a really big fight or when either of you hurt each other, it takes a hit. But the relationship can withstand it because there’s been more loving deposits than withdrawals in the relationship.
Daniela Galdi 30:12
That’s a great visual. I love that. That’s amazing.
Holding each other’s hands and eye contact.
Joslyn Justi 30:16
So I had this, I had a couple do this in a session where I was like, Okay, I would like you to sit across from each other, hold each other’s hands, and I want you to make eye contact, and I set the goal for five minutes, five minutes might not seem like a lot. However, when you are sitting there holding someone’s hand and staring them in the eye, it can seem like an eternity. However, if you can, depending on your threshold, or your tolerance for this, if you can get past that first minute, it was amazing what information came out for this couple, you could tell that they were so connected with each other, because their hands were initially a little tighter. But then I could see them loosening their grip. So to me that that made me think, okay, they’re getting more relaxed with each other. And when one partner was like, I don’t know what to say. And they tried to kind of pull me into it. They’re like, Well, what do you think about this? The other partner is like, No, hey, come back to me like this. We’re supposed to be here, right now. I didn’t say a word. And it was amazing. Because as soon as this person pulled their partner back in, the conversation was just so positive and helpful. And they were like, I haven’t felt this connected, or even looked into your eyes like this in years. And it was just so overwhelming and so powerful that I just can’t emphasize emphasize, taking five minutes and doing this maybe once a week, or just practicing to hold each other’s hands to look at each other in the eye, because it’s so intimate at the end of the day, right? We’re in close proximity we’re looking at, we’re peering into each other’s souls, essentially, you know, and again, it might feel a little uncomfortable, but I promise it’s not a bad uncomfortable, you can work through it, I’ve seen it work, get past the first 60 seconds, it’s usually pretty good. So that was something that I had find, I had found to be extremely profound. Sorry for Bing. But it was extremely profound. Right now from that story. That’s going to make everybody hold my hand now. It was incredible to watch it was and I, I told them, I was like, I appreciated them letting me be part of that moment, right. Like, it took a lot of guts and a lot of vulnerability for them to even do that exercise in front of me. And to me, I was like, You guys are comfortable with me, you’re letting me in. And that vulnerability piece is one of the biggest strengths in my opinion as a human being. Because it’s tough to get there, right, depending on our past, depending on, you know what vulnerability means to us. But once we get there, it’s I just, I don’t really have the words to describe how awesome it was to be part of something like that, you know, and I hope people can, you know, get comfortable with that and really practice it because it will help strengthen your intimacy, right, your ability to just share and be present with each other.
How do you tell the difference between feeling connected and disconnected?
Kira Yakubov 33:19
It’s that tolerance to be vulnerable, and sit through discomfort, right, like just doing that practice alone. And thinking about like just being in silence to how awkward people feel just sitting in silence with one another. And don’t they have to fill the space or there’s this expectation of them to say something or that sometimes I find that couples feel like, they always have to be having fun, or they always have to be connecting and doing something. And it’s normal and natural for the relationship. I don’t know, like when viewers see the video, but to go like this to be connected, and then disconnect and come back and write like when we come back into connect again, I think that those moments how you’re sharing are so significant and powerful for the relationship long term, to feel like we can withstand something like if we can sit in silence for five minutes and just stare into each other’s eyes and our souls and like, hold our hands and feel our heartbeat and our pulse through our hand. Like we can get through so much crap together. Right? Like I can literally turn and look to you and be like, okay, like you got me like I got this right like, and that’s where that nonverbal construct to come in is when we’re attuning to our partner and we’re both on the same page. So I love that you do that exercise. That’s
Daniela Galdi 34:35
phenomenal. It really is. It’s making me think to what you just mentioned about sitting with each other. Recently I walked in with my parents. I feel like that’s a start to like a bad story, but they were just sitting on the couch but recently, I walked in and married for several decades, and they were both just sitting in the living room with notes. TV, I think might have had their phones in their hands. But they were just sitting there. And immediately I said, Are you to win a fight? What’s wrong? Because they just didn’t have anything like stimulating happening around them. They were just sitting in the middle of the day together. And they both looked at me and laughed, like, why would why would you think we’re fighting? We’re just sitting together, right? And it was like, an amazing moments moment to witness. And that made me self reflect like, wait a second, why did I go there with that. But it brings me to the question for both of you of how to tell the difference between feeling connected and disconnected.
Joslyn Justi 35:38
I love that you brought that up, because I love that your parents can just chill there and not really have any external stimulation to be comfortable. So that’s something me and my partner do is so we can just, it’s awesome to just sit like, we don’t have to get into deep conversations. 24/7 a lot of I mean, he, he’s a more of the extrovert, and he’s more of an introvert. But I think it’s a huge strength for couples to be able to just sit with each other. For example, if you’re at the kitchen table, if you’re just having coffee, if you’re just sitting in the house, and you know, doing nothing, essentially, to me that screams, I’m totally comfortable with you, and you’re comfortable with me and we can just do our own thing, you know, and not have to be so stimulated. I think it’s a huge strength.
Kira Yakubov 36:26
I agree. And I think about when it’s almost like when we see I love to people watch, I don’t know about the two of you. But like if I’m out at a restaurant, right, and if I see a couple and they’re kind of just like just chillin, and they’re not really talking, I feel like the younger version of me would have felt like, they must like hate each other. Or like they’re in such a horrible relationship, I would never want that. But then like now, as I’m getting older, and I’ve been in this long term relationship, I can No, it means you’re giving each other a break. Like they’re allowed to just kind of chill with each other, and enjoy the company and not feel obligated or like forced to fill up the space. But I think it’s the intention, right? Like, if both people are comfortable with that, and they know, it’s like, we’re with each other all the time, or we’re just hanging out, I just like being with you. That’s great, right? And then there’s some times where it might be one person is just like disconnected, like they’re floating in a different place in their mind, and the other partner doesn’t want to be connected, and they don’t know how to reach them. So I think it’s really, it depends on the intention, and like how each of the partners within the relationship feel about that kind of time and space. And so I think that kind of reminds me of when you asked that question in your When do you feel connected versus disconnected? It’s kind of going back to the Gottman bids for affection. And so bids for affection is basically when you or your partner, right, we make this attempt to feel close to our partner. And that can walk in so many different ways that can be like, Hey, did you see the news today? Or did you hear whatever, right? We’re like, Hey, look at this funny meme on my phone. And it might seem super silly, but like that is a reach for you to be involved in this moment with me. And it could be super dumb or like insignificant, but it’s the fact that your partner is reaching out for you to connect. And so the way we respond to that is super important, right? So there’s turning towards turning away, and then just not even responding. So sometimes you might just not even respond. And that’s just like nothing like hey, did you see this? And there’s silence and you get nothing? Like, that’s really hurtful, right? Like that’s kind of like it can feel neglectful, right? And it can remind us maybe when we were younger, like, I couldn’t get attention from the people I cared about, you know, like, Screw this, I’m just gonna go do my own thing. What’s the point? And if we turn away from our partner, it’s like, I’m doing something. Can you see him doing the dishes? Like, why are you coming over here with that dumb stuff about some meme, right? Like that can feel really hurtful to and or feels disconnected like, alright, not gonna ask you or anything today. And then when we can turn towards them. Right? And that can look in two different ways. It can be like, Hey, babe, you know, I want to look at this funny thing. But can you hold on for a second? Because I’m in the middle of something like, okay, or it could be like, show me Let’s watch this. Like, let me get into this silly thing with you. Right? Not to like spiral on a tangent like me and my partner. were even going through like, a little bit of a tiff around this when he was trying to get my intention. And I was in the middle of doing something. And I have ADHD like very inattentive, and I’m like, oh, okay, okay. Okay. So I don’t forget what I’m doing right now. But that was totally dismissing him, and what he was trying to share. And so what I should have done was pause and say, Hey, hold on a second. Let me finish this thing. I’m done. I’m all yours. What did you want to tell me? So I think the way we react and respond to each other, we can either feel really disconnected, or we can feel super connected by just knowing that the response to each other is going to feel so different. So if that answered your question, I know what I went very wordy with that one.
What is an example of positive vs negative reinforcement?
Joslyn Justi 40:07
No, I like that, because going along with that is making sure that we don’t accidentally negatively reinforced anybody when they are making an attempt to come to us, right? Because if we do we put we can sometimes put people in what’s called a double bind, right? So essentially, for listeners, that’s damned if you do damned if you don’t. If I want physical touch, and you try to give me physical touch, but I push you away, like, well, like, here’s, why should I try to do this again. So I think that can be sometimes again, being mindful, being self aware can can help with that connection.
Daniela Galdi 40:41
What is an example of positive versus negative reinforcement? For anybody listening, I just want to make sure that it’s clear.
Joslyn Justi 40:48
I would say a positive reinforcement would be like here, I said, Hey, not right now, but maybe in five minutes, so that way, you’re not invalidating anyone, or having them feel dismissed or disregarded for for their need. Negative reinforcement could be like an example caregiver, I think is like, what do you want right now? I’m busy. Can’t you see I’m busy? Right? And it’s like, whoa, I’m just trying to share something with you, you know, like, why are you giving me this response. So I think anything that’s met with like, a tone, that’s feeling dismissive, or invalidating is the negative reinforcement part.
Kira Yakubov 41:25
Thinking about the positive and negative reinforcement, I’m thinking back to when we even learned about this in school, right. And a lot of this is like done every single day, or even with children, while we’re growing up is we do positive reinforcement with the intention of increasing a behavior to keep going. And we do negative reinforcement when we want to decrease a behavior from continuing, right. So if you want your partner to keep approaching you, and sharing things about their day, or sharing how they feel, you have to really be mindful of your response to them. So if you’re responding in a kind way, or an open way, or patient way, they’re gonna be like, Okay, this is safe, they want me to keep doing this, they’re gonna continue approaching you. If when they approach you, and you give a nasty remark, or you push them away, or you get annoyed or frustrated, every time, they’re going to learn, I shouldn’t continue doing this behavior. And we conditioned people in our life like that all the time, without even recognizing it a lot of the time. Because that sometimes it could be subconscious. But it’s really like your tone, your body language, your eye, like your eye contact. And the message you’re sending, like, is the message you’re sending, hey, keep coming and do this, or you’re annoying me. So if you if you make the other person feel like they’re annoying you, they’re more likely not going to keep approaching you. Because why would they? But if the way the message that gets across is this is I love when you come towards me even when I’m busy. And I’ll let you know I’m busy. But I like when you do this, they’re going to want to keep coming towards you. So I think having that intention, energy expressed between words is important. So that you recognize like, if your partner stopped, oh, we might get into another one of have sex or like if your partner has stopped initiating. And that was kind of what they used to always do. It’s maybe thinking about how am I responded to their initiation? If I shut it down every single time and the way I shut it down, makes them feel rejected? They’re gonna stop initiating. So I can’t necessarily be surprised when that happens. Right? Or if and this is obviously like, talking about sex is you’re not always going to want to and it’s obviously okay to say no, it has to be consensual, right? But it’s just the way that we respond is so important to how behaviors are going to continue or stop continuing.
The importance of creating a positive feedback loop in relationships
Joslyn Justi 43:50
You just want to create that positive feedback loop. Because a lot of times cut, that’s where couples get stuck is this negative feedback loop because they’re just feeding the negativity, or they’re feeding these unwanted or unhelpful behaviors, I think, especially during times of conflict or disagreements. So it’s like curious if you can build up this tolerance and work through that discomfort and create this new positive feedback loop. That’s ultimately the goal. Right? Again, it’s not going to be perfect all the time. But what I say is, you know, setbacks are normal, they’re going to happen, it’s just what you do with those setbacks in those moments, to kind of get back to the positive feedback loop.
Kira Yakubov 44:31
And so what would you say? So I know that we’re kind of going on positive and negative reinforcement. What would some quality time look like? Like, is there anything you’ve suggested for couples for quality time, let’s say when they are being intentional, when they do want to be realistic and say, this is the time we’re putting each day week month for a relationship.
Joslyn Justi 44:52
And I want just to define quality time, there’s uninterrupted quality time, and then there’s, you know, just Time spent doing everyday things in the house, right? Like, technically, you’re still together if you’re, if someone’s doing the dishes and somebody is, you know, running the vacuum or something in a different room, yes, you are together, and you might be chillin and watching TV later, yes, you’re together. But I’m talking about this uninterrupted quality time, where you are making that connection, and you are feeling connected with each other. So for example, the uninterrupted quality time to me is we’re going to sit down and we’re going to have a dinner, and we’re going to have some conversation around one to three things, you know, it’s just us we don’t have where the phones are put away. We’re not answering emails, there’s no external stimulation that could be distracting. It’s just me and my partner. So that’s, that’s very important, again, a big differentiation between just you know, your normal day to day stuff, and again, uninterrupted quality time, that builds connection between the two people.
Daniela Galdi 46:00
I have a question there. How might you respond if a an individual who is a part of a partnership isn’t receptive to that? Right, how how has that ever come into play? Where some one of the partners is trying? And then the other person, like, they don’t want to? Like, does that happen is that is they’re coming back from that?
Joslyn Justi 46:30
I think it depends, really, but I mean, if someone isn’t, they don’t want to spend quality time with you. I’m not sure how strong that relationship is, at the end of the day, you know, because you want to feel connected. And you might want to step outside, again, your comfort zone to have this uninterrupted quality time with each other. And if you don’t, I would just ask, okay, well, what does that say about the relationship? What what does that say about you? What does it say about them? That could be a good opportunity to dive a little deeper if this there’s something you know, really going on. But I would ask that person, you know, does this person deserve that they? are they behaving in a certain type of way? That is? Has this disconnect with the quality time? You don’t care? What are you? What do you think like?
Kira Yakubov 47:20
Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And I do see that come up in couples therapy, or just like, relationships around me, right, is that there’s this level of commitment, right? And commitment looks different in every relationship. And I think it’s really important in the beginning, when people are dating, is one being self aware about how much connection and quality time do I need in a relationship to feel loved? And how much does my partner need. And if that looks wildly different than in the long term, it may just not work out, it may just be a misalignment, right? Like if one partner is super independent, they love to travel all the time, they like to meet other people, they don’t like to be in one spot. They like to have time on their own, which is okay. And they meet somebody who wants to spend a lot of physical time together and quality time together. Over time, that’s going to be a conflict, right? If they can’t find a compromise in the middle of how they can respect each other’s autonomy, but also respected, prioritize the relationship. It’s not it may not work out. Right. And so this is a great question, because I’m even thinking about personally, right? Like, my partner has ADHD hyperactive, right. So he needs a lot of external stimulus to focus on one thing at a time, right. And I love to have a lot of attention, undivided attention on me within a relationship. And so when we first started dating, he would have the TV playing, he would have music playing, he would be looking at stuff on his phone, and I would be talking to him and we wouldn’t be making eye contact. And I would just feel like, Hello, are you here? He’s like, Yeah, I can hear you. I can multitask. And I can’t multitask. By hearing sound on the background. I’m like a squirrel, like what? And I lose my train of thought. It took us a while to talk through and like, work that out that it’s not because he’s not listening. It’s that he needs external stimulus to focus on something. And it makes an he understood that it makes me feel unheard if we don’t have eye contact, if we don’t have uninterrupted time together. And so we figured out a ritual, we’re gonna go on a walk every morning, where he is stimulated by walking, looking at the surroundings and we can still talk to each other and we can still meet that need for each of us. So it depends on the willingness to kind of work through that and navigate that versus this is just the misalignment in the relationship like we just need to vacillate different things.
Joslyn Justi 49:57
You also bring up a good point with compatibility. You’re right, some people just aren’t compatible at the end of the day, and that’s okay. But it’s it’s that self awareness piece. And like you said, like, even looking at the relationship from the very beginning, are, you know, expressing those needs expressing how you receive love, like figuring out like, okay, is this person? Are they going to be able to meet my needs? Are they going to be able? Or am I going to be able to compromise to with them at the end of the day? So again, that can build compatibility peace, can be extremely powerful might not give us the answer we necessarily want. But you have to look at to like, you know, what do i What’s my self worth? What do I deserve at the end of the day? So I think that could be a helpful just mindfulness piece right there, too.
Kira Yakubov 50:41
And it’s tough because it’s basically differentiating between, is this something that we can compromise and navigate through? Or are we asking too much of each other? That is not realistic? And it’s just going to cause more tension and conflict at the end of the day? And we can’t answer that for couples, only couples can decide that on their own and within the relationship with each other of their level of willingness. And what they’re capable of, I think that’s important, too, is like, is this partner capable to give me what I need realistically, even if they really want to, are they capable of it, and they may not be, and that it sucks, and it’s hurtful, but at the end of the day, I guess it’s better to know that ahead of time, and able to amicably step away, like this is a compatibility issue, and go their separate ways and find someone who is more compatible in that way.
Relationships deserve effort and work and it’s an important thing to hear
Daniela Galdi 51:33
These are really great points you’re, you’re both making and to sum it up, relationships deserve effort, and work. And it’s an important thing I want the listeners to hear. That’s where the third party, that’s where you all come in the therapists, and IT professionals there to help to work through it to everybody, you know, we’re working through it, and it helps to have that third party and, you know, it’s okay, I find myself talking with a lot of friends and my own experiences to where, you know, I’ll start to compare, and I’ll be like, Oh, just, it should be easy. It should be easy. But hearing everything we just spoke about. It can be, but there’s a lot of work that needs to go into it in order to find that piece. So I want listeners to hear that and think hopefully, you know, think about hope that that there is hope. But there’s also effort that ties in there. And it’s it’s a journey really is it’s it’s not a one and done, it’s going to continue so that you and your partners can continue to grow. And all the things that you mentioned, I just think are so helpful in in just scratching the surface of identifying that for people. So with that said, Is there anything else either of you want to touch on with connection before we sign off for today,
Joslyn Justi 52:55
you made that comment about it can be easy, but it does take effort. Because you I believe that 100% relationships are awesome, but they do take work at the end of the day. And I think we make a conscious choice to choose every single day, whether we’re putting an effort to our partners, whether we love our partners, I think it’s a day to day choice. And I think maybe reminding us of that can maybe ease some of the tension or stress that goes into those relationships. And hope I love that you said that like having hope at the end of the day. It’s It might sound a little cliche, but I feel like we forget that sometimes in our busy lives is being hopeful. And just the concept of hope, in general, I think can alleviate some tension and, you know, bring us some peace at the end of the day.
Kira Yakubov 53:44
So one thing that I want to add that I have kind of developed with couples, as I’ve been you know, as a therapist working with couples over the years is having a weekly or bi weekly check it. And so I was able to kind of think about like, what are the most important things that each couple should be discussing on a regular basis and have it become like that routine or ritual is setting aside time or like making that a priority? I think it’s when couples like oh, we don’t have any time like sure, like people are busy, right? I don’t want to invalidate that. And when I’ve worded like, well, so you haven’t prioritized your partnership, then they’re like, Ooh, I don’t like the way that sounds. Yeah. Because that’s what’s happening. You’re not prioritizing time with your partner. And so the relationship is going to take a hit. And so what I’ve liked to help couples do is after we kind of build those foundations of communication, it’s like Alright, go practice this. And so part of that check in is the first part of it is like, Okay, what’s all the good stuff that happened? Like, are we acknowledging and appreciating our partner like this week, I noticed that like you picked up extra chores around the house like that was super helpful, like thank you for thinking of me and making my life a little bit easier. Hear this week, right? Like, share with each other the good stuff that’s going on and appreciate one other and acknowledge it. And then the next piece kind of have that check in is like, Alright, is there anything lingering? Have we not discussed something? Have I been feeling a particular way that I haven’t had a chance to talk to you about? Or maybe we did. And we need to follow up on that conversation, right, and making sure that feedback is a done in an effective and respectful way. Because how we discuss what our partner to be able to hear what we’re saying, and being able to take that feedback and really sit with it for a moment and have a thoughtful response, and being able to come up with a plan together. And then the end of that check in was like, okay, like what’s coming up this week? Or next two weeks, right? Like, is there anything super stressful? Do you need extra time here? Do you need extra support? How can we be there for each other looking forward, and let’s make sure we schedule the next check in that’s on both our calendars to make sure it’s a priority. And I think that couples at first kind of like it took some time to like tweak and work this out to make sure it was a good flow. But then once they found a good flow with it, they’re like, we love to do this check in, because I wanted them afterwards to pair it with a fun activity. Right? So it’s like afterwards, we’re gonna go for a walk together, or we’re gonna go get brunch, or whatever it is, right? Like, we just prioritize the important stuff, our relationship, and now we’re gonna go hang out, like friends and like lovers and enjoy our time. Because I mean, kind of a lot of the point of relationship is like, quality time, and you’re spending this with a person, you’ve chosen to spend your time with somebody else. So it should be fun, right, like a portion of it should be fun and light hearted. So I think, I think for the listeners a huge part is yes, make time for serious conversations. But also, don’t forget that it should be fun and easy. The other part of it’s time to
Joslyn Justi 56:57
I love how you threw in that positive reinforcement paired up with a fun activity and the jacket. That’s that’s positive reinforcement in the best example I could I heard? Yeah, that’s what that’s what we’re talking about.
Kira Yakubov 57:11
Thanks, Joslyn. Yeah, it’s like so I remember, even after these bad conversa- , or no – I don’t want to say bad conversations, tough conversations sometimes
Joslyn Justi 57:18
Kira Yakubov 57:20
Yeah, like, not something that you love to do. But I know afterwards, like, Alright, once we’re done with it, then we can like, go get brunch, like we can go do something fun together. So it is paired, right, like paired with something good for the relationship. So I hope the listeners were able to get some good information and tips from this episode of communication, and connection versus connection. Joslyn , thank you so much for being on again. I feel like we could talk for hours and hours on so many things, millions and millions of things. So I really appreciate you being on today and giving us our time to talk about this.
Joslyn Justi 57:57
Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me back. I love having these conversations. And I love that we have the opportunity to dive a little deeper today and get into a little bit more detail. And I really do hope the listeners can can take some of this and apply it to their own relationships because to me, that’s where always the real work happens outside of sessions outside of these times in people’s day to day lives. So Kira, thank you so much again, and Daniela, thank you so much for your awesome questions. I love being here. And yeah, hopefully hopefully be back in the future and you know, get into it and talk a little more about those underlying issues. But thank you so much, appreciate it.
Kira Yakubov 58:35
And if anyone is interested in couples therapy and wants to work with Joslyn, head over to healyourrootswellness.com and schedule a call and we’d be we’d love to set you up this