Forty Years of Couples Therapy Experience
Listen in on Episode 8 featuring Jean Meston, 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 – Getting to know therapist, Jean Meston, LMFT, therapy professional for 40 years, speaking on her counseling journey, the impact of physiology, enjoyment in couples work, and her approach looking at what they create together through systems.
PART 2 – A perspective into the Physiology that underlies the behavior, tools to use during criticisms, the Gottman Method, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Overview, and Developing the “Wise Mind.”
PART 3 – Pursuance vs Withdrawal in Conflict and The Power of Mindful Meditation Content Considerations: Mentions of Mental Illness.
Some episode highlights include…
What led Jean to become a therapist
Reflecting deeper on relationship behaviors
Working through insecurities, stress responses, and beliefs
Tips on Forgiveness and Rebuilding Trust
More About Jean…
“My counseling career began 42 years ago, but all of my life experiences have contributed to the woman I have become as well as the counselor. I have participated in an undergraduate exchange program with traditionally Black colleges. I was a high school history teacher in a white working class community. I became a residence hall counselor at a large urban university, and became counseling psychologist at a small liberal arts college. To quote Bob Dylan, he or she who is not busy growing is dying.
I am committed to exposing myself to new approaches to doing therapy and in some cases I choose more than mere exposure. Examples of those include Emotionally Focused Therapy, the Gottman Method, Mindfulness Meditation, Internal Family Systems, and applications of neuroscience to counseling outcomes.”
Expand for Podcast Transcript
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 0:05
there’s a price to be paid when you don’t pay attention to emotions.
Daniela Galdi 0:16
welcome back to another episode of heal your roots podcast. I am your co host, Daniela Galdi. I’m so thrilled to be here today to talk with Kira and Jean, who you’ll meet in just a second, because they are phenomenal therapists who have been supporting each other throughout their work. Oh, hi, everybody.
Kira Yakubov 0:36
This is Kira Yakubov founder and the therapist at Heal Your Roots Wellness. Every episode, we have a new therapist and practitioner in the mental health field. So we can get to know them more as a person outside of the therapy field, but also what they love to do inside of the field. So today, I’m super excited to have Jean Thayer Meston, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with us with over 40 years of phenomenal experience. Thank you so much for being on today, Jean.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 1:05
It’s great to be here.
Daniela Galdi 1:07
Okay, so you mentioned you are 40 years in the business. And I know Jean, because Kira has said amazing things about you and gone to you for different types of mentorship. So I would love to hear a little bit more about your background, as well as for the listeners to know you know, what it is that you focus on in your work.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 1:27
I’m going to bring me back if I go too far afield, but I’m thinking about when I was a high school teacher, and I taught American history in a public high school. And then slowly students would start to find me after school or when I was in study hall and they would you know, say can I miss nothing? Can I talk to you about something and then they would tell me the secrets and what was going on in their families and what was going on in their lives. And I realized that I was more excited about helping them and I was about teaching streak. So at the end of my first year of teaching, I applied to graduate school at Rutgers University, since I lived in New Jersey in Counseling Psychology thinking that I would be a high school guidance counselor or counselor counselor. And so I did a master’s at Rutgers, then I got my first professional job, which was to being in a counseling center at Gettysburg College. And that was where I realized that if I met with the students individually, I would not have as much impact as I would if I could see them with a parent or a sibling or a partner. And so made me pay attention to marriage and family therapy. And somewhere when I had also when I was at Rutgers, is when I got exposed to working in human sexuality. So the place to train in the United States in 1976 was marriage Council of Philadelphia, which was associated with the University of Pennsylvania medical school. And I got to train there. So it was a one year intensive training in therapy with couples, we would go over to Child Guidance clinic and learn about family therapy. And we were trained in sex education and sex therapy. Whew. So
Daniela Galdi 3:32
you have had a lot of accomplishments. Yeah, that is amazing. I know that I want to know more about the human sexuality part. But Kira, doyou have any questions? Since I know you and Jean have such a close relationship?What is it that you love about the work that she does?
Kira Yakubov 3:47
Yeah, absolutely. So I know, I originally when I started talking to Jean, we were discussing couples work. And my first question usually is for people who aren’t guests to come on the show is how did you get into the therapy field and you kind of just really laid it out for us. So I appreciate that. What do you enjoy about couples work? Because I know that you do see a lot of couples and people in marriages. Is there some part or aspects of couples work that you enjoy the most?
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 4:18
Well, of course, I love when they start having a mirror held up. They get better. And I think the other thought is it’s the gift of thinking systemically so that when I look at a couple I’m not thinking two individuals, I’m thinking about the third part, which is what they create together. So there’s the marriage and then there’s each of them and to help them think about system the system they’re caught in sometimes means that they feel less guilty and are more open and more comfortable. so that they know that I’m not thinking that they’re a bad person, I’m saying, actually, when you do this behavior, your wife then reacts to what you did, and said, and then you react to her reaction. And that’s what keeps getting over and over again, repeated and repeated. So it’s not that you’re a bad person, it’s that where you came from and where you were raised, you learn certain ways to keep from getting hurt. And unfortunately, our way of not getting hurt hurts our partner, and vice versa. But to think about it, as it’s always, I guess, I’m adding a fourth entity to the three, which is this repeating negative cycle that you’ve been stuck in and not realizing it. And the most common pattern is for one person to be a critical person what we have been Emotionally Focused couples therapy call a critical pursuer, I am a recovering pursuer. Oh my god, I just, it’s horrible to think about some of the things I did because I was insecure, and that poor boyfriend’s getting all of my my okay. And if you don’t talk to me more and express more emotions, I’m going to think you don’t like me. And then I’m going to be mean to you, or the most important thing is that someone’s going to withdraw. So if I’m pursuing and saying, please pay attention to me, please pay attention to me, it’s more likely that he’s gonna be Oh, my God, oh, my God, I don’t know what she wants. For me. I think I better not say anything, so that I don’t do the wrong thing. And there, there’s the pattern. So that’s the repeating cycle over and over again. So moving ahead, first, we have to help the couple see that this thing is outside of them. Also, they’ll begin to figure out from the families they grew up in sort of where it came from. And then beginning to reflect back the deeper emotions. And when the partner hears deeper emotions, they don’t do their usual of either shutting down or attacking. And then they start to get better and better. So it’s really wonderful when people get better.
Daniela Galdi 7:23
So what you’re saying here is that therapy is necessary. And I believe that I think it was heal your roots, your social Heal Your Roots Wellness, social media that you just posted, possibly about. You don’t have to wait for something to be wrong to have therapy, or you don’t have to wait till it’s almost time for a divorce.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 7:42
The sooner people come in, then the better we have better chance we therapists have of making a difference. For sure. It’s it’s tough. There’s something else there’s a marriage and marriage therapist, he and his wife, John Gottman, and I can’t remember her name right now. But the two of them is Julie. That’s right, this Yep. So we’ve got this negative cycle that keeps repeating over which the couple, they didn’t realize they were doing it, they didn’t realize they were they knew that they were repeating in the sense that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
But one of the things that that Gottman pulled out of all of the hundreds and hundreds of studies about the effectiveness or not effectiveness of couples work was the only one that he said, had to do with gender. And that is that in marriages or relationships where a woman feels that she can influence and a heterosexual couple influence her husband, that that reduces the probability of divorce significantly. So if if she feels that if she talks to him from the heart, about how she sees it with the kids, or her job, or his relationship or whatever with his family, and he hears her and can actually be affected by it, that that really helps the relationship. And I’m imagining that in same sex relationships, that we have something going on, I think probably that is not gender related. I think we all want to feel like we can make a difference and that somebody thinks our opinion is to be valued.
What is a conflict cycle in relationships?
Kira Yakubov 9:40
So I know that when we so just for the listeners, Jean is like my mentor, I come to her for mentorship. And so we’ve discussed many of my clients and couples. And something that I really loved when we talked is when you outline this infinity, right? So if the listeners can imagine an infinity sign that When couples are arguing on top of the infinity sign right is their adult version. This is also how we react. And then when we do something that can trigger or elicit a response from our younger selves and how we might respond. And so if you can explain, because you’ve explained it so beautifully, that it stuck with me that I told my husband about it, he loved it, the way that you explained it to kind of the listeners of like, what that looks like, when we are in arguments, and there’s different parts of us coming through.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 10:33
So listeners, if you in a course, both Kira and I just we’re going to use our hands, but think of putting an eight on its side, and then draw a vertical line is that vertical now horizontal line, draw a horizontal line through the eight on its side. And above the line is our conscious adult self. And below the line is often our unconscious child’s self. Now, if we put our hand up in to the left, and to that partner, and they say something to their partner on the right, it’s good at and the partner responds negatively what the person doesn’t see on the right, is how her message goes underneath, and impacts the partner who’s heard her speak, or him speak and bad way. And then his adult response and reaction to the child message of a child feelings that came up is to withdraw or pursue with her in a way that she gets hit. So they line up side that goes underneath each of them is where the the message from the adult goes to the kid. And that’s part of why we get stuck.
Kira Yakubov 11:52
And a lot of that when you’re sharing is from our families, right? Like how we learned or a lot of the triggers or the messages we received early on, right? So I grew up in an immigrant family very conservative, it was very stereotypical gender roles. So I was allowed around a lot of very loud men. And so I didn’t have the opportunity to argue back, I would just shut down and like, Okay, I’m just going to be silent here, and then do what I have to do behind the scenes. And so that has carried with me unconsciously, as an adult, when I feel like someone is coming to me or arguing too aggressively, I just shut down. And I kind of go back into that childlike version of myself. And I can see how much that can impact my partner or other relationships. And so I mean, it’s really powerful insight to know, this younger version of us that’s used to behaving a certain way to protect ourselves.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 12:49
Yep, that is so important. And then our poor partner. And if we pick that up, they don’t understand why we just shut down. So they’re thinking, Oh, my God, what did I say? What’s, you know? Is she mad at me? And of course, we’ve gone back into that place where the only answer is to be quiet. Yeah. But they think it’s their fault. And it’s not, it’s just they accidentally hit that spot.
Daniela Galdi 13:22
So to let me clarify for you both in terms of reacting, is it? Do you think it’s from the behavior of, let’s say, the loudness or the tone? Or do is it a play on both the subconscious? What’s happened to the child? And then the behavior as well? We’re kind of be a combination of both. Is it a combination?
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 13:47
I think it is. And I think a really cool thing that’s happened. I don’t know, the last seven years, let’s say is that since the ability to talk with people and scan their brains and have us watch their brains when they speak, we know where in the brain what emotion is coming from where. And it’s pretty amazing that that what our brain does, and, and when. So let’s say if I get angry because my boyfriend is scared of me and he’s shut down. And then I lose control of my bad emotion because my amygdala, that part in the brain that is to save our lives. It’s what tells us that we’re in danger and we better run or freeze, fight or fight. There we go. So when that flashes, I can’t take in anything the boyfriend tells me because he’s afraid of my activation and my anger and he’s trying to protect himself by freezing. because that’s how he survived in his loud, obnoxious family. And here I am, unbeknownst to me duplicating the loud, obnoxious family. So I feel like he’s making me into a monster like, I’m this bad person. So I get mad or when he withdraws, which validates, for him, it’s a good idea to withdraw his child stone could move, she is dangerous. And it would never occur to him that what’s going on inside me as maybe I’m not lovable. My being loud and expressing myself so directly and hotly and sometimes self righteously is scaring him away. Maybe that means that I’m unlovable. And, and he’s thinking, Well, I’m not having she’s not leaving the room, she’s still sort of trying to connect to me. So maybe that means I, it’s okay, that I shut down. So this is you can see how we get stuck. We keep doing the same thing over and over.
Kira Yakubov 16:13
And it’s these beliefs, right, that we may not even recognize or they’re not, they’re not like saying it in our head, right. It’s not like the voice that is saying this.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 16:23
Well done. I think it’s that those old lessons in our family of origin – stimulate the physiology that underlies the behavior, the two behaviors, and there are people it’s rare, sometimes people come in, and that’s their withdrawal withdrawal couple, they’ve both sort of given up or they’ve both kind of taken, let’s not talk because them talking could lead to fightin. And so they’re very separate. And sometimes, of course, it escalates. And we’ve got people who do not know how to speak to each other without it’s been highly elevated. The new phrase is an effect dysregulation, and we see it in children who are quote, acting out in elementary school, where the that part of the brain that’s supposed to save us from death, and bad stuff, flashes, and then I can’t hear what anybody says to me. Or I might panic, my heart rate goes up, my breathing goes up.
Daniela Galdi 17:32
That’s a great explanation. And I wish that everyone could see me mimicking my inaudible like a lightbulb moment, from everything you’re saying. And speaking of the amygdala, I keep giggling to myself, because I’m like, oh, that baby is flashing.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 17:53
Isn’t that great? And I had one client one time I love this. And she came in and she said, Well,I had an amygdala hijack.
Isn’t that great? It’s like it made me do it. Yeah. It’s not the devil. It’s my amygdala.
What is stonewalling?
Kira Yakubov 18:13
And so I know that when you’re expressing it’s physiologically something happening. It’s, for me, at least for listeners who if you’ve heard of stonewalling or shutting down, right, the intention is important behind the stonewalling I think, for couples to understand or anybody really who’s in discussion with somebody else in like a heated situation is that it could be that our body, like you’re saying, totally takes over, and I no longer feel safe, I don’t feel safe, I feel powerless. The best way that my body knows how to get through this moment, is to be silent, and wait for it to be over. So it’s more of a protective mechanism. Versus we have some times when it can be manipulative, is I’m going to actively ignore you and not speak to you. And both of those can be very hurtful for the other partner on the other end. They may not know the intention right away, but it’s painfully and deeply hurtful, because if you think about when you’re a child, your parent just shutting down and ignoring you altogether. It’s I mean, it’s hurtful. And so I think having a partner know the intention behind what’s happening is important. And so, Jean, do you have any tips for people who do shut down or they Stonewall to move through those moments?
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 19:33
Well, I’m gonna maybe add an element. So the you’re alluding beautifully and explaining beautifully Garmins Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which is criticisms I think that pursuer peace. You know, criticism. The other person, if they feel criticized is going to be defensive. And they’re either going to shut down down or they’re gonna react verbally back and not you’ll have a fight. But let’s hypothesize that in cases where you don’t go back and have a fight, you’re describing your own, you’ve learned. If I could just be invisible, it’ll go better for me. And then that makes the criticize or increase their criticism and distress. In order to get through this, what becomes the Stonewall and the stonewalling. So it’s criticism makes offensiveness if the person keeps criticizing, then we’re going to build a wall. And then what Gottman suggests is that if that keeps going, that eventually one of them is going to have contempt for the other. And that’s the worst if people come in, and every time their partner speaks for other partners rolling their eyes, that usually means they’re contemptuous of the partner. And that usually means they’re not going to make repair.
Kira Yakubov 21:03
Even going back to like the stonewalling or shutting down is the mindfulness piece in the awareness. Right. So it took me a while to recognize that when I shut down, that is a huge trigger for my partner, right? Like it makes it worse, it doesn’t make it better. It makes maybe your experience less uncomfortable, because you’re going into your shell and like forgetting about what anyone else is going through in that moment. But it’s having like that wise mind that awareness like okay, I’m recognizing I’m shutting down, I’m pushing my partner out. In the long term, this is going to be much worse. So how can I stay in the room? And how can I express like, listen, like, I’m too overwhelmed and too overstimulated to have this conversation. I need a moment, or like asking for that break, or just expressing what you’re experiencing, and not getting back into the content of the argument to slow things down. And so have you seen that in person with couples when that you see that moment where maybe one partner recognizes how they’re behaving or how they’re being defensive and slowing down to stop a cycle.
Developing a rational mind vs. emotional mind
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 22:12
I remember when I was trying to learn not to be defensive if somebody criticized me, which is enormously hard. And I, and this boyfriend at the time was telling me how much his mother hated me and why. Oh, please, oh, that competition? So and I was sitting in denial, I said, Oh, no, no, it’s fine. I know. She hates me, I took you away. Right. But after we hung up, and I said, Oh, no, doesn’t bother me. The things that you told me that your mother said about me. Like deny, deny, deny. And then when we hang hung up, I had the moment the phone was put down. I had a splitting headache. Splitting headache, deny, deny, deny, but bodies don’t let us deny. It was amazing. So I have to say, the denial didn’t work. Right. Shutdown isn’t working. I let his telling me that. Information hurt me. I you know, she thinks I’m a terrible person. But going back to trying if it’s the other way. Yeah, of how to one way with friends. Anyhow, if I get defensive and this was pretty my first step and not being defensive was to say aloud. Oh, that was really defensive, wasn’t it? And they go, yeah. All right. So it’s like, I have this little wiser version of myself that’s outside of me saying, Whoa, that was pretty defensive. And so it’s about trying to develop it. There’s a approach in therapy, a group approach called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. And they talk about having a rational mind, which makes sense, you know, the ones based on facts and not emotions, the emotional mind, which is you know, all emotion. And then they talk about developing our wise mind. And wise mind is the combination of both the we don’t want to be so rational that we’re an automaton and a robot. And emotion is good, it’s honest, and it it’s important to be expressed and to learn how to express in a way that we don’t really hurt other people. We don’t want to repress it and suppress it or you’ll get a headache like I just described, or irritable bowel syndrome or addiction. There’s a price to be paid when you don’t pay attention to emotion. So I love this idea about putting them together into one his mind. And that’s that’s a Marsha Linehan gift from DBT when she created it, and the more we, there’s Oh, and another piece about the physiology piece is that studies are showing us that if we could learn to meditate, doesn’t mean you go home and brush your legs. When you’re having a conversation with your partner. It means once a day or twice a day that you stop, tune into yourself quietly, breathe, and slowly through practicing what’s called mindful meditation. You can actually calm your amygdala down. It’s wild. You we can actually make a difference. Being a little ADHD loved one I minimize a little. Oh, Jim, is funny and I tell people I flunked my first two attempts at classes in mindfulness meditation, I took three classes, and then I’d make up an excuse and run away. I did two and then three. And then when finally I cried, this is persistence helps. So then I had an opportunity. A person at Penn, Dr. Baime, Michael Baime created a course specifically for psychotherapist and mindfully he taught the foundation course of mindfulness to therapists, it was psychiatrists, marriage and family psychologist. And I got through the whole thing, and I did the homework and, and it really was amazing. So this new knowledge about how our brains work, and also that has helped us begin to understand trauma. And why there’s a huge baton, my God having COVID I’ll tell you where my brain just went, you describe beautifully. That was beautiful, were self awareness. And then also this piece about a recognizing I can impact the partner. And I don’t want to hurt that person. My goal is not to hurt them, but it’s unintentional. So you actually start not wanting to do it anymore. Because your partner isn’t the person who’s hurt you and sent you there, but also that you see his distress. Then when we’re activated, when that amygdala has flashed, I don’t see anybody’s distress. All I’m into is my own distress. And then the piece about heart rate it, it was Gottman, who that is couples were heart rate monitors when he sees them. When their heart rate monitor when their heart hurts for over 110. They’re just sitting on the couch, talking about their relationship with Dr. Gottman. They couldn’t take in anything that Dr. Gottman said or anything that their partner said. It was like they were unreachable. And so it wasn’t even a stone wall. It’s just they were so aroused and upset and distressed. That they couldn’t do it. So whether we’re the pursuer who needs to bring down, bring down that stuff so that I can be there with my partner, or the withdraw or who has to come up. Come up from the safe place. Wait a minute, I have to come out of my room.
We need to become self aware of our bulldozers
Here. Yeah. Isn’t that cool? Yeah. So the self awareness helps a lot. And then our think our compassion muscles starts to get stronger. I you know, like I would say to people, I couldn’t see the distress on my boyfriend’s face. He was terrified when I’d be you know, putting them down or getting louder or crying hysterically. I hate to use that word, hysterically, usually would be yet and of course I’d be scared to if I were on the other side of me when I was in that place. Yeah, so if we’re if we become the bulldozers, we need to become aware of it and reduce our get our bulldozers smaller and smaller. Right and if we run away and go to our safe room, we gotta kind of like how about we have it three steps away instead of 20? Well, I think one of the ways that us humans try not feel bad is to blame other people for are feeling bad. And I used to make a joke to some of my couples like You do know why we get married? And they say no, why do we get married? And I said, total have someone to blame? When I was single, I just had it all together, right? Because these things don’t come up when we’re on our own. Or we don’t do this to our girlfriends, right? Or yeah, we just don’t. So one of the things, so I guess one piece is beginning to use our feelings to go backwards and ask ourselves, what what what is it that I’m trying to put on someone else? And what’s going on with me? Not they did this to me, or you made me feel this way. Because usually it’s not them. It’s something going on with us now. In the meantime, blaming other people can be hurtful to them. It’s hurtful to us, because then we won’t grow and learn and be better human beings. But it’s also hurtful to the people we blame, because we use it the blame as an excuse for not communicating or for being cold, or all the different ways that will show our feelings. So let’s say and I’m trying to pick up here with Danielle alluded to, we’re going to hurt each other. I mean, we know this from growing up in our families, not that it’s but the big, important thing is, is it on purpose. Often we’re going to make mistakes, say the wrong thing misunderstand. But we can reflect and go back to the person and say later, oh, you know what, I think I cut you off. I don’t think I was paying attention. I’m so sorry. Would you tell me again, what you said on Saturday. So this, we’re moving closer to self, this hooking up self responsibility, and the forgiveness piece in order to move forward. It’s so important that we learn how to do honest apologies. And now that I think about it last night, I watched an episode of I haven’t ever, ever, if any of you watch it, it is about an eastern Indian girl who was growing up in California and she’s in high school. It’s hilarious. And it’s written by Mindy King is that her name?
Kira Yakubov 32:22
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 32:22
Oh, guys, you will you will love it. My listeners, if you haven’t watched it, it’s pretty wonderful. And she has done a girlfriend dirty. This is high school politics when he really was jealous of this. It’s the only other Indian girl suddenly comes from a different school system. And of course, that puts Debbie off. So she does all these bad things and is very, very hurtful to the new girl who she buddied up with. And then you watch her go for her attempts at apology. She realizes that she was way out of line and very hurtful. And she tries to make excuses and we watch her go through it. And she goes to her therapist, by the way, who’s this classic, funny black woman who calls it like it is? And she sort of scolds Debbie and says no, those aren’t apologies what you’ve just done. So you have to say about what it is that you did, and take full responsibility for it. And you have to say aloud, I see that I hurt you. And I was wrong, who that’s a really good one. So that’s a healthy forgiveness. Now, when we were talking earlier, I said a nicer way to think of it on the spectrum or continuum of apology slash forgiveness is on one end, it’s extreme is I will never ever forgive you. You’ve hurt me to the core. And I’m just not ever going to forget or forgive. Then we’ve got over on the other side, and I think I used to do this non assertiveness, Oh, it’s okay. It wasn’t that bad. Oh, you’re forgiven. I would I would soon dismiss somebody trying to think about it. So okay. It’s really it wasn’t, you know, so neither of those are going to lead to spiritual or emotional growth. So it’s that one that Debbie finally got the pattern in the middle, it’s wise mind. And recently, I had this, I guess, was the sort of my older my younger brother. So anyhow, if I hurt my brother, he would just ghost me.
And I would know that something wrong, not because he told me but because suddenly he’s not speaking to me not calling me out in my wife. And I would talk to my two sisters and say, Oh, Larry’s ghosted me again, like I’m a victim. This is actually pretty funny now, but I think about it and slowly, I realized, you know what? I’m doing something that hurts him I need. And I did I call them. And I said, Larry, I just want to talk for a moment. And you don’t have to answer this right now. But I think that there are things that I do just being me that run over top of you, interrupt you feel condescending, I put my finger on it. And I would love your help, because I hate that I’m doing this. And I’m so sorry that it took this long for me to like, instead of making fun of approach me. Right, right. So it was the best. And he didn’t have to wait. And he told me the things that really sort of would make him feel bad. And I said, Thank you so much. It’s been great.
Daniela Galdi 35:57
I think that’s amazing. And I really commend you gene on doing that. This is something that I talk about a lot when I speak on any type of health situation or wellness issues going on, but practicing vocalizing and that’s what I’m hearing from you is the acknowledgement, but the vocal acknowledgement of addressing a situation is what will lead to change.
Loneliness is the equivalent of 15 cigarettes a day
Kira Yakubov 36:27
Yeah, and I think just coming from a very vulnerable place, it’s the vulnerability, right? It’s the vulnerability with the apology, and the forgiveness is huge, because, and even with the vulnerability, you have to feel safe enough to share that vulnerability. It’s like so many contingencies to get to the meat and potatoes of it. But if you I think if you value that relationship, and you value that connection, you’re willing to make yourself feel uncomfortable with the vulnerability to reach that other person to hear what they have to say and what they’ve been going through.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 37:00
Yeah, it really opens the door to healing and that peace of retiring blame. What’s going on? If I’m blaming the other person for my being uncomfortable? Yeah. And if we allow ourselves to think, oh, it’s because they’re this, then I’m we’re never gonna get it. We’re not gonna grow. Yeah, and we can do healing and relationships we can overcome. And I think what’s hard, we don’t see it modeled very well, very often or every any, it’s think it’s hard to see. Unusual, saying I was wrong is like, huge. It goes against our, I don’t know, rugged individualism.
Kira Yakubov 37:49
But even just from I mean, I don’t know about other cultures, but especially growing up like an Eastern European culture, like, my parents never apologized. And we never apologize to each other. It was you could you would tell if someone was upset, or if they did something wrong by the behavior, right? Like the, the nonverbal language that was happening. But there was no apology, it was just kind of swept under the rug, or once they fell over it, the behavior change. Oh, and they’re coming closer to me now. So I guess I don’t want to mess that up. So I’m just going to pretend like it didn’t happen either. And I remember when I was older, going through grad school, like learning about all this stuff, I did something that hurt my mom. And I said, I’m sorry. And she’s like, you don’t need to say sorry, to me, you’re my daughter. We don’t we don’t need to apologize. Like it’s fine. It’s like No, Mom, we do like, I messed up, you feel bad. I’m sorry. And she was just so uncomfortable with that. So I think even receiving apologies for some people might just feel so off, because we never received it. So we don’t know. It’s like you don’t know where to put your hands in the photo? Like, I don’t know what to do with my emotions right now. Because it’s awkward.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 39:00
Yes, that’s the word somebody could be attempting an authentic apology. And we blow it off, which is no, no, no, they need to have it recognized. And then. So I’ve learned to say thank you. And it just thank you so much.
Daniela Galdi 39:20
I’ve been practicing that too – the Thank You piece of it. And it reminds me of something that you both spoke about earlier about when you look at a couple not to look at them as two individuals but them together.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 39:36
This idea about how our culture the first world culture and American culture in particular, perhaps with you know, with 1000s and 1000s of years of understanding that the only way we’re going to survive is if we collaborate in a four part of community that we are wired Not to be alone. Hence, this American thing about being the rugged individual rugged individuals are only in smoke cigarettes. Somewhere I have it on my refrigerator that loneliness is the equivalent of 15 cigarettes a day. Is doesn’t that? Isn’t that beautiful? I mean, there it is.
The different types of trust in relationships
Kira Yakubov 40:28
And I think a lot of loneliness. So there’s different, you know, circumstances and nuances. But I think that when we choose to be alone, there’s this history of being hurt, of being abandoned in some way. And there’s this level of trust that we have to allow to happen to allow other people back into our heart and life. Right. And I think when I think about trust, especially with couples, we think trust has like this one blanket statement, like I trust you, or I don’t trust you. And I think there’s like different nuances to it, right? Like, there’s, I trust that your intentions are never going to be bad, you might make mistakes and hurt me, but I trust that you will not do something malice. And then there’s the kind of trust where I can trust that you’re going to have my back, like you’re going to show up, when I need you, you’re reliable, you’re going to be there. And then there’s the kind of trust like, I don’t want to say adequacy or like, competency, like, I trust that your intentions are good, I trust that you’re going to show up, but I don’t trust you’re going to be able to do it, right. Like even let’s, for example, like if I had a flat tire, I can call one of my girlfriends who’s never changed his hire, I know that she’s going to come, I know that she’s going to be there and help me. But she may not know how I don’t trust that she’ll know how to change the tire. Right? But I trust these other pieces in the relationship. So I think it’s interesting to think about, like trust in these different lights and nuances with relationships, and not have it be kind of like a blanket statement. Like, if you broke my trust in one way, it generalizes everything in the relationship. If that make sense?
Daniela Galdi 42:07
It does. And that was a great visual as well. And it makes me think because I know I can I acknowledged and it took me years to acknowledge that I think I only related trust to like not cheating on me in a relationship. And then I really sat with it like wait a second. So I love that you’re explaining that about the nuances.
Kira Yakubov 42:29
So is there any tips you have for couples who are rebuilding trust, because trust is it is really tough to rebuild and repair from.
The Importance of Love Languages in Relationships
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 42:39
I’m thinking of a couple that I saw last year. And he he had an affair. Well, sort of a brief affair, I guess, and how devastating it was to the partner. And yet she was she was amazing. I have to say she really got through it. She really wanted to know what was going on in their marriage that this would happen. And she was able to see her part in it, you know that she had been so involved. They have an autistic child. She in that changed her life. They both worked. But his work was something that couldn’t change. And that meant she was doing all of the doctor’s appointments, all of the educational things, everything and he was really, she wasn’t paying attention to him. And they were able to get to that and she was able to take her part and he was able to see then it was easier for me to stay at work longer. And so they and now they are just I mean that and learning about the cycle and he’s withdrawals and all the good things that they came for, but they they did a marvelous job.
And what was also kind of cool was in the meantime, that autistic child is now doing really, really well and they’ve gotten help she needs and she’s doing DBT and she’s just blossoming. So all everybody. Yeah, I was doing very well for rebuilding trust, because that was big for her then how do I know how I mean? How would I know? And he got you know, he would text if he’s going to be late. He would say no to certain things. You know, I gotta be home. You know, it’s so he showed that he was trustworthy in small ways, right? Yes. That’s right. That’s right. And I will say one of the things that’s interesting there’s a book called The Five Love Languages. So snotty about it. Yeah, like, Oh, what’s this pastor and that’s probably and it is kinda corny, except it’s all based on real research. Like a read on There’s no. And I found that I also Yeah, so the five love languages it’s there’s a reason why it’s been on the bestseller list for so long, I should have given it to each of my grandchildren who have gotten married this year. But let them know that I don’t want them to have to think about when it gets bad. It was a revelation to one of my clients. He said, Oh my goodness I’ve been doing to my wife what I wanted her to do for me. Because he was just using his love language like this is what I need. And that wasn’t what she needed at all. She needed. quality time together, she needed. Yeah, she wasn’t interested in gifts. He would give great gifts, but they were lost on her she because she wasn’t getting what she really needed or wanted. Or we got her lovely. So that’s a sweet book that I think can be pretty well revelatory.
What are the five types of apology language?
Kira Yakubov 45:58
So there’s a website, you can take a quiz for your love language on there as well. They added in an apology language. This is I think this is almost as important. It as I’ll say as important or more important than the love language. But as important. The five types of apologies. The first one is expressing regret, which that one’s important for me. accepting responsibility is the next one. Then making restitution, which like making it right, somehow, genuinely repenting. And requesting forgiveness. That’s my least favorite.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 46:33
I would put something in what’s number one.
Kira Yakubov 46:36
Number one was expressing regret
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 46:39
to say specifically, this is what I did. This is Yeah, so express regret. But for what you have to say aloud, I was selfish. I did this till I could show off or I said this bigger, then yeah, then then take responsibility. But But what is you can’t just say a blanket.
Kira Yakubov 47:03
Yea, for what? Be specific.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 47:08
So when we when somebody wants to get off the just the I’m sorry
Kira Yakubov 47:11
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 47:11
we’re gonna take them through the five. Yeah. I’m going to look it up. That’s awesome.
Daniela Galdi 47:19
Well, this has just been phenomenal with all of the Insight team that you have shared with us. So now we want to ask you the question that we ask everybody who visits with us? What is something you can share with the listeners that your clients might not know about you?
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 47:37
Some people are very surprised to learn that I taught American history in public high school, that my minor was African American history that I was very influenced by the Civil Rights Movement, feminism, gay pride. All of those good things. Yeah. So I think that’s because I’m not supposed to have that in the therapy room. So sometimes, if I’ve seen somebody for a long time, towards the end, I might share some of that, but you let your rebel side know my back. And actually with the two of you I when we were talking earlier, and I actually said aloud, oh Janis Joplin was my alter ego. I remember one time saying that, to me that was on a board for work with gay, lesbian and queer folks. And one of the other persons on the board board, we will walk in and I said something about being a hippie and he was like, what? You were a hippie? And I was like, You didn’t know that. I wish I had pictures. I wish I had some of the clothes. Oh, baby. Yeah, it isit is.
Kira Yakubov 48:53
I think that’s why we get along. So well. I love speaking to you. But from the beginning is like, I think on my hippie at heart and like, maybe in a past life. And so I love that. Yeah.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 49:04
Isn’t that Yeah, we really got that, and I so admired you do we have a similar curiosity about Ha, what’s driving this and then translated into something that clients can become mindful of. And again, I want to thank you, all of you, The techs, the two of you, ladies come in with up with the questions and getting the best out of me. I hope. So this has been a delight. Thank you very much.
Kira Yakubov 49:38
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 49:39
Thank you for having me as a guest. Absolutely.
Kira Yakubov 49:40
Thank you for coming here and being with us. I I love talking to I could talk to you for hours. But I really appreciate you being here. And I think that this is going to be one of the best episodes and I hope all the listeners get to hear all your amazing and knowledgeable insights. So thank you so much.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 49:56
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Daniela Galdi 49:58
Before we go, you could just share how we can contact you and your listener.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 50:01
Ah, thank you. Um, I am mostly doing, but what do you say is telehealth virtual telehealth these days and I don’t know if I will be coming back into center city. I hope so because I love being in the city two days a week or three days a week or whatever it was. But you can find me on gene meston.com. That’s my website. And I think the URL Yeah, and then Psychology Today has a find a therapist, I’m on there. And I’m now practicing from my home office, which is in Bryn Mawr, PA. So if you put in Bryn Mawr, PA, I’ll probably pop up.
Kira Yakubov 50:44
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 50:44
Yeah, pretty good.
Kira Yakubov 50:47
Well, thank you so much, Jean.
Jean Thayer Meston, LMFT 50:48
Thank you and thank you for that.