Support Systems and Relationships: The Importance of Building and Maintaining Connections
Join us for an insightful discussion with licensed social worker David Koppisch as we explore the topic of anxious attachment in men. Anxious attachment can manifest as a deep-seated fear of rejection and abandonment, leading to negative thought patterns and unhealthy behaviors in romantic relationships. We’ll delve into how attachment styles differ based on gender and provide practical tips for working on an anxious attachment style. We’ll also explore how our cultural and societal expectations of masculinity can impact attachment styles in men.
Having a support system is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships, and we’ll discuss the importance of building and maintaining connections with friends, family, and romantic partners. We’ll offer insights into how to redirect your energy towards building healthier relationships and creating space for a different kind of connection. Additionally, we’ll touch on the difference between grieving and resisting change and offer strategies for letting go of unresolvable differences.
Tune in for a valuable and thought-provoking discussion on improving your mental health and relationships, as we provide practical strategies and mental health perspectives on navigating the complexities of anxious attachment, support systems, relationship dynamics, grieving and resisting change, and financial issues in relationships.
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Getting back to where we were.
David Koppisch 0:00
We just want to get back or I just want to get back to where we were. I just want to get back to where we were. And I remember saying this, and I wasn’t sure how this was going to land to one of the couples I said, or I said, Well, maybe we should think not about getting back to where you were, that may not be possible, right? You are different people your years of experiences under the bridge, you’re in a different place, you could get to it a different place, maybe a better place, a new place, but it’s not going to be what it was when you were dating or that first year of marriage for example.
Kira Yakubov 0:50
Hi, I’m Kira Yakubov, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Founder of Heal Your Roots Wellness practice. Every episode, we talk with a professional from the mental health field to learn more about their approaches and specialties, and also their journey of becoming a therapist. In this podcast, we’ll uncover a deeper look at the world of therapy from new perspectives. You’ll meet the therapist of Heal Your Roots Wellness practice, and trusted colleagues from the community tackling mental well being or your go to Network for practical and professional insight in mental health. Subscribe for new episode releases every other Wednesday.
Thank you so much David Koppisch for being back on. I know we had you in our last season. And I’m really excited to have this new episode with you today. So thanks for taking the time to be with
David Koppisch 1:41
Absolutely. It’s great to be here.
Kira Yakubov 1:43
Awesome. So I know when we were kind of discussing different topics and ideas to talk about today. I know you mentioned kind of there’s been a trend that you’ve been seeing with your clientele, specifically with men and kind of relationships. Can you share a little bit more about what that’s been like for you or kind of the trend that you’ve been running into recently?
David Koppisch 2:02
Sure. So first of all, thanks again for having me. This is a pleasure. And it’s always great to talk. So I really appreciate being here.
Kira Yakubov 2:11
Men struggling with anxious attachment styles
David Koppisch 2:12
Well, I think that what I’ve been seeing lately is we’ll see you know how much of a trend it is. But what I have been seeing in several clients lately, particularly men who are in relationships, whether they’re in marriages, or whether in long term, living together partnerships, domestic partnerships, long term relationships. Several men coming with some challenges around a couple of different categories. One is, and I’d like to get into this a little bit more. One is what I would call struggles with anxious attachment essentially. So I know attachment theory is widely talked about these days, which is great. It does seem helpful to help some clients sort of explain what it is that they’re going through, and what it is that they’re feeling. And so what I see in some clients, this sort of tendency to be so preoccupied with the relationship, and so anxious around what the status of the relationship is, and a compulsion that they don’t want to have a lot of these men they don’t, this is not voluntary, but there’s a sort of a compulsion around. And it’s, I’m speaking particularly right now of heterosexual relationships. So what is what is she feeling? Why hasn’t she called back? For example? Why hasn’t she responded to my texts? Why do I feel like I’m always initiating and moving towards and I don’t feel that there’s a lot of initiation coming back to me. And so it’s sort of an obsession and a preoccupation with the level of closeness the feelings of closeness to feelings of connection and often never feeling totally satisfied with reaching a level of connection that feels, you know, feel secure, essentially, maybe for short periods of time. And, you know, what, I’ve been trying to, you know, have conversations with these clients about a couple things. One is just sort of going back, you know, going back to, again, what was it like, in your household growing up? What did you see between your own parents if you live with both parents? What was your relationship with them in terms of your own attachment to them your own sense of security in terms of knowing or not that they were there for you that even if you were separated, you were safe, they are still going to be there for you when you came back, that kind of thing. And a lot of you know, a lot of men, people haven’t really thought about that too much like what happened when I was 5 6 7 8 9 10, in terms of how I felt about and how I felt I was parented how that connects to me now that I’m 30 40 50 60, in terms of my relationships, and most of us haven’t thought about that. We’ve been fortunate enough, you know, to sort of be trained in a lot of that. And so now we think about that, but most folks don’t go around thinking about that too much. And so it’s helping, helping folks. Okay, let’s go back to how the way you relate where that came from, you know, sort of going back to that. And I think, you know, a lot of these men, and again, to talking in this case about about men, primarily, I think there’s, there’s suffering, you know, I think on the surface, and they are often and it’s understandable, they’re being told by their partners, or their spouses that this is sort of controlling behavior, because I’m sure it feels like controlling when you’re getting what feels like, an unnecessary amount of text messages, you know, how are you? Where are you doing where have you been, I thought you’d be home by now, you know? You said we were going to spend some time together tonight at 10. Well, it’s now 10:02. And, you know, like, where are you? Why are you still busy downstairs, while I’m waiting for you in the bedroom kind of thing, you know, that I’m sure is experiences as controlling, right. And so. But what I see in most of these partners is that they’re suffering, they don’t want to be this way. Like they don’t like being, you know, sort of essentially insecure and always feeling like they have to grasp and reach out and be reassured and that kind of thing. So I can get into more specifics. But that’s I am seeing some of that and, and trying to, you know, work with with clients to try to figure that out where it comes from. And I have clients who have said, you know, in which is great self awareness right off the bat, it’s important to know where this comes from, not just how can I stop. So
Kira Yakubov 7:37
The way society in our culture shapes the way in heterosexual relationships, how men and women are supposed to act during dating, or even in long term relationships. Like that the man is supposed to be the one that initiates and puts in more effort and like in the beginning, and that if the woman does that it’s seen as clingy, right, like these different words and adjectives get placed on different people based on their gender. But it’s interesting, because that anxious attachment style or that need to know like, can you please reassure me that you’re still here, or that you still care about me? Right? It’s more about the narrative. It’s like, if I don’t hear from you, or if these particular reassuring behaviors aren’t present. And if it’s a long period of time, then I’m going to start creating a narrative around, well, they may not care about me, what does this mean? Of course, they don’t, this always happens to me, maybe I’m being too clingy, I need to figure out what’s going on, I’m gonna reach out, right, like, how can I sue this anxiety immediately in this moment? Through the other person? Yeah. And not necessarily through self soothing?
David Koppisch 8:46
Yeah. And I think some of that reaching out for reassurance for some, if it’s done in a certain kind of way, unfortunately, makes things worse, right? If the if it comes across as again, why haven’t you called, I thought you were going to be back, et cetera, et cetera. And that could, you know, trigger something from their partner in something like, you know, why don’t you trust me, I told you what I was doing, I don’t have to give you a minute by minute update. Or I just I, you know, the mood I was in earlier today, I’m in a different mood now. Like, I don’t have to explain, I shouldn’t have to explain that, you know, and that can, you know, again, those are very understandable kinds of responses, but that can sort of trigger a, you know, a cycle of some ineffective communication because that that can make the the anxious. Other partner, an anxious partner more anxious or more, you know, feeling more more insecure. I think with you know, so one thing that’s been that I’ve been trying to do with some of these clients is to two things. One is sort of Emotionally Focused, and one is a little bit more cognitively focused. So one is, as you just mentioned, sort of okay, what, when you get this thought of, you know, where are they? Or why didn’t they want to do something with me tonight? Or why were they not interested in being intimate tonight? Or whatever the thought is, that triggers some anxiety, helping them think about or helping them identify, Okay, what’s, what is the feeling underneath that, and as you just mentioned, you know, for many and makes sense, I think that for a lot of them, it’s, it’s either it’s either, it’s loneliness, it’s feeling like, they’re not close, feeling a little isolated, a little abandon. And sort of understanding that first, and then helping them understand or practice a little bit how to convey that in a way to that’s not going to, you know, again, come across as either too needy or too clingy. But coming across, as, you know, this, this is what I’m feeling, as opposed to, why are you doing or not doing that thing that I want you to do?
Kira Yakubov 11:26
David Koppisch 11:27
That can help, you know, that can help. I think for some men, it’s sort of helping them understand a little bit more deeply about what what is going on inside of them. That in of itself, even if they don’t always convey that is it can be helpful. I think on the cognitive side, it’s sort of like, helping them understand, okay, what is your pattern? Does your pattern seem to be a thought that goes to the worst case scenario right away? Right. So you know, if I came home, and my wife, partner, girlfriend, was not as a effusive or excited or affectionate that I was hoping they would be when I got home. If the thought is, oh, they must be mad at me. Right? Or I must have done something wrong. Or, you know, they’re losing interest in me, you know, going going to the worst possible scenario and thinking, okay, what are some alternatives there? What are some other alternative interpretations? Right? Could it be that they just, you know, got a text from work that made them upset, and that’s where their mind is, and has nothing to do with you, for example, whatever, kind of other alternative, and there are probably millions of alternatives in between, you know, where they’re at, that it’s nothing to the worst possible scenario, you know, and helping some with some of those cognitive reframings can can be helpful.
Kira Yakubov 13:17
And I think it’s, I’m glad you say that, that it goes to kind of the worst case scenario. And the worst case scenario involves them, right. Like it’s in reference to themselves. It’s something is happening that I’m interpreting as not positive, it’s could be negative, how is this relating to me?
David Koppisch 13:35
Kira Yakubov 13:35
Versus this person just is existing doing their thing. They have their own emotions, feelings, right? Like other things happening in their life. And I’m witnessing it and I can check in to see what’s going on for them versus how is this going to impact me directly? Right away.
David Koppisch 13:51
That’s a really good point. Right.
Kira Yakubov 13:53
And it’s almost like, and it’s like we, I mean, I have a very, I had a very anxious attachment style, especially for romantic. Until, you know, I worked through that with my husband, he has a lot more of a secure one, but it would be I’m experiencing anxiety. And so in order to control that anxiety, I want you to do something different so that I stopped feeling this way. But that gives away our control and power right instead, and then we get angry with them why they keep doing this thing versus like, okay, like, I need to figure out why I’m getting so triggered by this behavior. Why am I making it about me? How else can I self soothe myself and then express? Hey, you know, like, when this happens, I feel disconnected from you. And I need more reassurance during moments like that, if you can provide it.
David Koppisch 14:44
Kira Yakubov 14:45
and that takes a long, it takes a lot of practice to go through.
David Koppisch 14:48
Yeah, it does. And I think it does take both. It does take both partners to kind of work on that together. You know, I think one one thing I have seen with some clients who I’m just seeing them and not the them as a couple, but just the one partner that you know, they can certainly do a lot on their own, but there’s only so much they can do. You know, and so there is it sounds like with your personal experience, you know, you you were, you had a partner who you could work with and understood that and helped to make some of those adjustments. I think without that, it can be difficult. And when there are partners who are not in the couples, you know, therapy, if they’re not in couples therapy, who are understandably frustrated with their partner’s behavior, but just sort of waiting for them to change and sort of like, get back to me when you’ve changed kind of thinking, you know, and again, I get it. And I think that’s, that’s, that’s difficult. I think some of these clients are running into feeling like, well, I feel like I am trying to work on this. And I feel like I am trying to put some tools into place where I’m, you know, it’s simple, as, you know, doing some breathing exercises, before I reach out in an anxious way before it before I go to the worst possible conclusion or, you know, not asking lots of what’s wrong questions, you seem upset questions, when you realize that that triggers, you know, kind of defensive responses, holding back on those things. But feeling like their partner isn’t recognizing that they are doing some work and making some small changes. And that frustrates them. And so they kind of pull back a little bit, you know, so it is challenging, I think, if the other sort of offended partner and again, understandably so. But if they’re not kind of on board with, Okay, how are we going to help this person, my partner, my husband, my spouse, to change this, other than just do it on your own and get back to me when you’re all fixed kind of thing? Which I don’t want to see that, which I’m sure we’ve all done, at some point to some level, right. So
How to work on an anxious attachment style?
Kira Yakubov 17:28
and, you know, it’s, it’s very important that you say that, right, because we can do individual work. And we can do so much on our own to work on those behaviors. And a relationship is circular, right? Like it is maintained, the dynamic is maintained by both peoples. So a lot of the time, if someone has an anxious attachment style, they may attract or get into a dynamic with someone who has very much an avoidant attachment.
David Koppisch 17:56
Kira Yakubov 17:56
which is going to trigger and keep them in this cycle, which I think at this point, a lot of people have heard that right, like anxious and avoidant, or the pursuer and the distancer, and so they’re both insecure attachment styles, right? Like, the best scenario is if you have one of those and meet someone who has a secure attachment, right, so that they can help you heal that. But we it’s not like everyone’s walking around with the sign on their head that says, that kind of attachment style they have.
David Koppisch 18:23
Kira Yakubov 18:23
so it’s important to recognize that, like, when we’re feeling anxious, we’re so in our body and like, everything feels so uncomfortable that we just want it to stop. And we don’t think about how this is impacting our partner, and how that’s making them feel, right. So if someone has an avoidant attachment style, someone coming towards you and wanting more and more reassurance is horrifying. It’s like, well, I don’t know how much I can give you. This is more than I even thought I could provide, like, I need to step back, which like, Oh, crap, now they’re like, Oh, don’t leave. And even more.
David Koppisch 18:58
Yeah, yeah. It’s wouldn’t it be nice if we all knew our own and each other’s attached style? I think the good news is I think and I think some research bears this out that you know, that people can, you know, people can change, they can certainly learn absolutely skills and ways of being especially if they’re working in conjunction with their partner to, you know, to do that, and for their partner to see that this is not a character flaw or an intentional that it’s not intentional, right, that they are just being, you know, a nudge on person on purpose kind of thing, learned behavior that comes from somewhere and that probably was, is served a purpose, you know, a survival purpose in some level, right. And It’s not meant to be damaging to the relationship, it just is something that does not work anymore, you know, and needs to be adjusted.
Kira Yakubov 20:12
So I think it is important to recognize where it comes from. And I love that you say that it’s a learned behavior that we develop to survive, right. So a lot of times the environment we have growing up was we pick up those signs. So if we live in a household or an environment where one or both parents or someone in the home is easily triggered, they might go off, they might have a temper, or they’re very emotional. Or if you do something that they deem unacceptable, and they immediately kind of withhold their affection in love, you start to pick up on other people’s behaviors, nonverbal language, nonverbal body, like cues, right? Like, Oh, mom seems a little off today, I better like stay away, right? Like, we started to learn all these different patterns. And it’s the patterns that we look at. And if something is different from the usual pattern, it must be something. So I need to go investigate and figure out what it is and repair it and fix it before it gets worse.
David Koppisch 21:14
Kira Yakubov 21:15
Right. Like, that’s our little kid version trying to like, hold the glue together. So things don’t fall apart around us.
David Koppisch 21:21
Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting that you mentioned that I am working with a client who they were the person that had to hold it together. They were the sibling who didn’t have as many quote unquote, problems as the other siblings. So they were relied upon maybe not explicitly, but by the parents to be the one to not have any problems, because they’re dealing with the other siblings problems. So if you can be, you know, quiet and good and perfect, and don’t give us any trouble, that’s really going to help the family system here, because we have these other troubles on this on this side. And, and now they are realizing that a lot of things were kept inside because of that, right, a lot of things that they were suffering from and couldn’t get out and couldn’t express, and couldn’t share, because they were not, you know, they were told, essentially, their role was to be the one to hold it all together, and the one to, you know, have have their act together, quote, unquote. And so now they are in adult relationships, where they may have entered into those relationships still in that role, you know, and in some ways, that’s the sort of almost caretaking. Right, because they don’t have the problems, they take care of others who do have the problems kind of kind of roll. But 5 6 7 8 years down the road that realizing I have needs too, and I really want my partner to meet those needs. And I don’t want to be the person who I might have been when we met where I didn’t have a lot of needs, because that’s how I grew up, you know what I mean? So admitting that I’m learning that and being able to talk about that with their partner to say, Look, I am now realizing that I do need some things where I may have appeared to you when we first got together that I didn’t have needs, quote, unquote. And that requires an adjustment. Yeah.
How to deal with the need for help
Kira Yakubov 23:38
Which is wild to think about, right that even from a young age, we learn that like, I may actually have them, right, everyone has those needs, but I can’t get them met because of what else is happening at home. So for the greater good, I need to figure out how to deal with it on my own. And they do and so in a lot of ways that can benefit them, right. I mean, a lot of independent people and that are very successful, like they’ve had to do a lot of this stuff on their own, you know, carry that burden. And so on one hand like, they’re very resilient human beings. And on the other hand, they’re really suffering alone, and wanting that help, but kind of feeling scared. And I imagine and correct me if I’m wrong, but like, especially for heterosexual relationships, if the man has been in that position, where I’m strong, resilient want, I can take anything, take care of everybody else. And then five years down the line, that relationship is like, hey, I want to soften up I need help.
David Koppisch 24:35
Kira Yakubov 24:35
and the partners saw them in this way. It’s like, oh, things are a little shaky right now. Like I thought you were the one together for us now. I gotta take the
David Koppisch 24:44
Kira Yakubov 24:45
pass the baton to me.
David Koppisch 24:47
Yeah, that’s, that’s I’m glad you brought that up. That’s I have seen that a little bit in terms of couples where that had been the pattern right in their relationship were one and sometimes often it is the male, who has been the sort of, quote person who had it all together. And then all of a sudden, they begin to realize, you know, I don’t have it all together, and I have been pretending I’ve had it all together. And now I, I’m, you know, that you’re right, it can, it can be a little shocking to the system, if they were in a, you know, a pattern of being in certain roles. And then sometimes what could happen is, sort of, well, wait a minute, I does this mean, that my needs, if you now are going to be expressing needs, does that mean, my needs are going to be now in the backburner or something you know, and it becomes a little bit of a, like a zero sum game, sometimes with couples, it’s like, if one has a need than the other one can’t have a need, or that it’s on, it has to be put to the side for a while that they both can’t, they don’t feel sometimes that they have the capacity to both Express and have and deal with needs, it’s sort of like, oh, boy, if I now if you’re requiring me to sort of attend to you emotionally, I feel like I’m might lose, I might lose something, you know, I might lose what I have been getting from you. So I think it’s how it’s helping couples think about it’s not, it’s not either, or, it’s not sort of like a scale, that if you put a little bit of weight on one side, and the other side goes, goes, you know, goes up. And I think that’s a protective thing, you know, because I think we’re all that many of us have a sort of scarcity, like an emotional scarcity mentality, like there isn’t enough in the in the relationship for everyone to kind of get their needs met, kind of thing. So I’m
Kira Yakubov 27:02
Do men need social support?
David Koppisch 27:02
I remember what else I was going to touch on earlier, which was, um, I think this came up in our last conversation around seeing a little bit of a thread a theme in some of the clients I’m I am seeing who are who are males who are in these long term relationships, where this anxious attachment kind of experience is causing some tensions. There’s a real lack among some of them in terms of anything meaningful, outside of their relationship with their partner. And it sounds so simple, like, you know, hobbies or, or the relationships or, you know, but it’s, it’s so it’s so it’s so clear, with some of them that, not that, you know, getting a hobby, or going out with a friend every other week is going to magically reduce your anxious attachment. But there really is something to that. I’m seeing with some men who when I do ask, so at nights, on the weekends, when you are feeling like you’re not getting the kind of response or attention or closeness or interaction or engagement from your partner, and you’re feeling anxious and disconnected, and but they seem fine and doing what they do. You know, what do you do? And often the answer is, I don’t, I don’t know. Like, I don’t, I don’t know, I sort of, I’m nervous, and I am sort of waiting around for them to kind of turn to me, physically and emotionally. And, okay, you know, what else can you do when you sense when you come home at night? They’re not in a place to like, give you lots of attention. What else can you do to occupy yourself, you know, and just sort of working like on some very basic things like how do you spend your time outside of this relationship? So simple, but so important, you know, and I think it’s become popular now. It’s a very funny Saturday Night Live skit about the man Park Do you notice and so, the man is home all day, and his female partner comes home from work and he has interacted with nobody throughout the day and has been home all alone and so he acts towards her like a puppy would win the puppy spent all day alone. And the spouse the partner, the girlfriend is pretty frustrated with this that she has to be his all. So she takes him to the man park where he can interact with men and socialize And it’s pretty funny. But I think it does hit on something that in our culture we do see is, you know, a bit of a of a thing that’s happening, you know. So it’s a humorous way to kind of talk about it with some, some clients actually. So
Kira Yakubov 30:21
and you know, that’s true. And I know we’re talking about it specifically for men, but I mean, obviously, that can happen in any relationship, like, whichever person is, you know, needing more of that or doesn’t have as many outside supports, right? Like, I know, for female relationships, a lot of times we, you know, we talk to our girlfriends, like, Oh, my God, this is happening, what should I do? And they talk you off the ledge, they’re like, alright, chill, you’re being little too much text me if you start to feel anxious, right? Like, I’ve had clients where it’s like, what can I do, instead of hyper focusing on wanting to reach out to my partner, this new person I’m dating, okay, is redirect your energy, and have someone that you can be vulnerable and that you feel safe with to say, like, I’m feeling triggered, I want to express it over here. Even journaling.
David Koppisch 31:08
Kira Yakubov 31:09
Right. But I’m curious, especially for some of your male clients, that are still learning to develop those hobbies or other relationships, like do they have someone to turn to? Right to either occupy themselves or to get advice? Or just to like, help them like vent and process and like, cool down?
David Koppisch 31:25
Yeah. Some do. You know, and some need some help thinking about what that would look like. Yeah, so it’s, it is it is a mix. I think it’s also for some maybe, feeling like they don’t deserve to have that time, like, separate, I think there’s a sort of a mix of like, I don’t feel like I have another outlet. But I also feel maybe guilty if I do. Use an outlet that’s outside of this relationship, because maybe I’m not sure if that’s allowed, or if that’s what they want me to do, kind of thing. And usually it is usually it is that, that spouses and partners are happy if they’re, if their partner, you know, has some
Kira Yakubov 32:25
go talk to someone
David Koppisch 32:25
social energy directed somewhere else. And, you know, and then bringing in children, so I am working with some couples with little children, right, and it’s just so hard. And if there’s no family support, or other kinds of social supports, these families are these couples are so isolated, and under so much pressure, right, they have a one year old, they have a two year old and there’s no family around to help relieve any of the pressure. And so you know, they work, and then they come home, and they take care of their toddler, and then they go to bed, and then they get work and then go home and take care of their toddler and then they go to bed. And this, and this one couple, I’ve been encouraging them, particularly the male in this couple, because the woman does seem to have a little bit more impetus to to engage socially outside of the of the relationship, but encouraging him to do so. And I just remember this one session where he came in and he said, You know, I’ve got some exciting news, you know, I I think it was like I met, I met another dad, you know, in the, in the park in the playground when I had my kid. And we actually made a date to meet for coffee. And, and he said it was great, you know, and he was so excited. And it was just it like it’s lifted his spirit and it sort of opened up like oh, yeah, like, there is other world and we didn’t, you know, being out for 90 minutes while I had coffee with a friend. I think I think his spouse, his partner, watch the baby while he was like it didn’t. It didn’t destroy them, you know, which they thought it might because they were so again, because they don’t have supports. It’s like, well, if one person’s out of the house, that means the other is watching the child. And after a week of you know, 40 50 hours of work and you know, 20 25 hours of childcare and then on the weekend you’re gonna be alone watching your child when your partner’s out having coffee, you know, that can that feels like it can cause some tension but, but she was also so excited that he had done that and she was like, This is great. He came back he was in such a good mood and it just sort of changed the course of their weekend, you know for that very little but really critical social outlet that he was able to make happen, you know, so
Kira Yakubov 32:25
that’s really sweet
David Koppisch 32:27
Kira Yakubov 32:30
And you know, what’s interesting to think about, especially when for couples therapy, when couples come in it’s, especially if they’re stuck in conflict, or in this way is that they’re looking only from their own perspective and what they need will be good for them, and what their other partner can do differently to make that happen, versus what would benefit the relationship.
David Koppisch 35:21
Kira Yakubov 35:22
And sometimes that does mean what is going to be better for one individual so that the relationship and the connection can be healthy and continue growing. And, you know, that means creating space for a different kind of relationship.
David Koppisch 35:38
Kira Yakubov 35:38
I know, when we were talking about different things to discuss, but that as we grow, we change as individuals, which means that if we want to continue being in this partnership, our relationship has to grow and shift and change and like morph into something new and different. And if one person or both people aren’t on board for that new change, it’s going to be really, really tough to to accept this new version of their relationship.
Mourning what the relationship used the be versus where it can go
David Koppisch 36:08
things like, we just want to get back, or I just want to get back to where we were, I just want to get back to where we were. And I remember saying this, and I wasn’t sure how this was going to land to one of the couples, I said, Yeah, I said, Well, you know, maybe we should think not about getting back to where you were, that may not be possible, right? You are different people your years of, of experiences under the bridge, you’re in a different place. You could get to a different place, maybe a better place, a new place. But it’s not going to be what it was when you were dating, or that first year of marriage for example. And so to your point of sort of, like growing and changing, and we’re different people, as we grow, we should be growing, we should be changing, can we do that together? Can we get to a new place, you know, the relationship. So this sense of like, I just want to go back, I just want to feel that being in love like we did five years ago. I think there’s a little bit of maybe like, and that’s totally natural, right. But it’s maybe a little bit of like mourning that if it’s not there now, but saying, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to a new place that may be better than you thought you could ever be, you know, thinking about going backwards? I just I just feel like it’s not a it just doesn’t feel productive. You know?
Kira Yakubov 37:49
David Koppisch 37:50
But to acknowledge that that could that could be set. Yeah,
Kira Yakubov 37:52
absolutely. And I love that you said mourning, because I hear that a lot from couples
David Koppisch 37:57
Kira Yakubov 37:58
Like, I wish we can just go back to the beginning. Why can’t it just be like how it was? And when I hear that it’s like, oh, they’re more like they’re grieving. They’re grieving that, that version of their relationship, that version of their partner that version of themselves. And, you know, it’s like reminiscing wanting to go back to the good old days. But when we’re there, we don’t recognize it. Right.
David Koppisch 38:21
Like, or we think it’ll last forever. And this is standard or something Yeah, yeah.
Kira Yakubov 38:26
Yeah, so I think grieving that is, is huge. Now, I think that’s talked about a lot. I think we see grieving as, you know, like big losses, like losses up like a death a job, like moving somewhere, like very tangible things, versus grieving like a version of ourselves or our relationship. And knowing like, it’s okay to miss that. And it’s okay to cherish those memories and that connection, and making sure we create enough space for this new version of ourselves and our partner so we can continue growing.
David Koppisch 39:00
Kira Yakubov 39:01
Because if we stay stuck in wanting to go back, then it’s just resisting change. Right? And we know that anytime we resist change, it’s, it’s futile, because it’s gonna keep going around us. We’re just going to have to catch up to it.
David Koppisch 39:14
Right. Yeah. And then exploring Well, what is that about? Right? What is making us want to preserve a state of being that might be four or five, 6 10 20 years old? What is that about? You know, what, what are we fearing? I know we’re coming up against some time, but I just wanted to mention you had asked about so what are some tools? What are some ways that couples can sort of grapple with these kinds of things? One thing that I’ve been using a lot lately, which seems to be pretty helpful, I know it’s a pretty popular book. It’s the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, which is from the Gottman research on couples and there are some exercises in that book that I do assign to some couples that are some of them are fun. And so that in and of itself kind of helps if there’s tension to sort of gives them something fun to do there are these love map exercises where they sort of quiz each other on how well they actually do know each other, you know? And I think, not that. And there’s, there’s a lot of exercises in there. And some some are, you know, deeper and more more, a little bit require a little bit more vulnerability than sort of like how well do you know your partner, but they can be really helpful with I’ve seen with some couples in a sort of reconnecting, right? Oh, yeah, we do actually have a lot in common kind of thing. Oh, yeah, we do really have a story of our relationship that’s exciting and fun, and is meaningful to me like that we have forgotten because we’ve been in tension. And it can, you know, and it can help them off sort of figure out okay, can we do we want to move forward kind of thing? Are some of the things we’re identifying in some of these exercises, maybe things that we can’t resolve? You know, so I do recommend that, that book and those exercises.
Letting go of conflict
Kira Yakubov 41:23
So, yeah, I love that. And I was, I was brushing up on on that book, and like the Gottman research, and for the listeners, we’ve talked about Gottman before, but that him and his wife have done a lot of research with 1000s and 1000s of couples, taping them have conflict and being able to use that data and see, you know, within the first five minutes, they can predict if this couple is going to make it or not, which is wild to think about
David Koppisch 41:52
it’s a little scary.
Kira Yakubov 41:55
I know. But what was really interesting is remembering back is that they wrote 69% of conflict is perpetual and not resolvable. And that that is totally normal. And okay. And that it’s not necessarily that happy couples don’t fight, or they don’t have these perpetual problems, it’s rather, a they have a lot more positive interactions and perspective of their relationship, but also that they’ve found a way to accept that this is going to be a part of my life, right? It said, like, can you accept these differences? Or these flaws in your partner forever? Right? Because some of this stuff is like it, you know, we can modify how we interact with each other, we can do this, this and that. But like, at the end of the day, like, can I deal with my partner having this? Is this the deal breaker? And if it’s no, then it’s okay. Like, I gotta choose my battles, got to figure out how to, you know, come down from arguments, but that a lot of this is going to be unresolved, unfortunately.
David Koppisch 43:02
Yeah, no, that is, that’s a pretty amazing statistic. And it’s, it’s, um, I think it is helpful for for some couples, a lot of couples for them to realize that and it’s that maybe it takes some pressure off, that we have to fix all these these things like no, you don’t, you don’t have to, it’s, it’s, it’s okay, like, you will let you’re two different people, you will need to live with some differences, you know, accepting them and not worrying about, oh, we must fix these otherwise, maybe we’re not meant to be together. Which is not, you know, which is not realistic. It just reminds me of the, you know, the phrase of you could either be married or you could be right. And which oversimplifies things but there’s a lot to be said about that, you know, in terms of letting go of stuff strike some of that sort of keeping score, and some of that fixating on, on some differences that really are not that consequential if you look at the bigger picture. So helping helping clients see that. So
Kira Yakubov 44:18
yeah, and sometimes the best thing we can do is agree to disagree. Right? Like, I know, it’s easier said than done, but no matter I mean, there will be situations, right where if you can verbalize in an effective way and your partner’s in the space to hear it and receive it, they can validate that and they can understand it and then there’s other times where no matter how much each of you share it, you’re just not gonna get it. And that’s okay. And it’s just like, okay, like, we’re just going to respect this difference. And just let it be there. Like we don’t have to keep digging at it. Unless it’s like, you know, a big decision we have to make like it’s imminent happening right now versus like an ideology or an experience.
David Koppisch 44:59
Kira Yakubov 45:00
We’re just gonna have to let it lie there for some time.
David Koppisch 45:02
Yeah, there’s something else in that book that’s really strikes me, which is it’s about these unresolvable differences, which is, in their research and their experience, the Gottman’s, that partners don’t generally change or respond to the thing that their, their partner is asking them to change, or just or, you know, be different on, if they don’t feel understood. So sometimes requests are made, you know, about change your behavior, whether it’s something as small, as you know, emptying the dishwasher a certain way, or something bigger about relating to, you know, and parenting styles or something like that, that if the partner who’s being asked to change or stop a behavior or change, you know, a trait or something, if they don’t feel understood in terms of why they do act that way. They are not going to change, like they’re not, they’re not interested, they’re maybe not able to change. And so first, is understanding the partner, before any bid to ask them to adjust themselves can happen effectively. I think that’s really interesting. And I see truth in that. So
Kira Yakubov 46:21
Absolutely. And I saw that it was, I mean, some of these like numbers and statistics are nuts, but it was, if you feel like you cannot influence your partner,
David Koppisch 46:32
Kira Yakubov 46:33
then what is like 81% of the time the relationship is doomed, if it like is persists, right? And it’s kind of like, what you’re saying is if you if what I’m sharing doesn’t make a difference, or doesn’t impact your behavior, you don’t take it into consideration. This is where it becomes you versus me. And less of like, okay, obviously, I don’t want you to feel that way. And this is what’s been going on. So let’s negotiate and you do it more in good faith, right? Like, when you’re in good standing with somebody, it’s easier to compromise and negotiate versus, well, you don’t understand me, you don’t care to understand me. So why would I reach out with the same consideration to you, and it might not be conscious, but, you know, internally, we have that stubborn protective side to ourselves like, well, if you’re not going to go half the mile, I’m not going to go half the mile.
David Koppisch 47:23
a lot of protection, a lot of self protection, a lot of Yeah, if I make a step towards you, does that mean I’m losing in some way kind of thing, you know, so I want you to take the first step towards me, kind of dynamic. So
Kira Yakubov 47:44
Impact of layoffs and terminations on men’s emotional health
David Koppisch 47:44
The other thing I just wanted to mention was something I’m seeing with some a lot of a lot of clients and getting males mostly middle aged and younger, you know, young adult, is this. There’s a real urgent a sense of urgency around their role as provider. And, you know, traditionally that is, that’s obviously been, you know, a role and identity of a lot of a lot of men and marriages and relationships being sort of the financial provider, that kind of thing. Um, it’s, it’s still, it’s still a pretty strong, you know, thread and theme I’m seeing with a lot of men and their anxiety around. You know, if I don’t do my job perfectly, I might lose my job, kind of thing. And when asked about like, Well, is there something actually happening at your job? Is there? Did you get, you know, bad review? Are there layoffs, things like that, and often there isn’t. But there is this anxiety around that. And I’m curious, I’m not really sure what that’s about, I don’t know, if it’s sort of something related to the pandemic, something related to fears now in the air of, you know, are we moving towards a recession or, you know, that sort of, there’s something happening with a lot of men who are seem to be experiencing this sort of anxiety. And I think that also might relate to I don’t know what else I have, if that’s what I am in this relationship. If something happens with my job, what does that mean for me? I had one client talk about if he loses his he did there was something about layoffs in his company or something like that. And he said, how embarrassing that would be for me, how embarrassing that would be and I just tried to validate that but also say, Well, look, you know, you just opened the headlines and I think I saw the other day something like it was Microsoft or something announces 12,000 layoffs, you know, around the world. It’s sort of like, yeah, that’s nothing to be embarrassed about like this is beyond your control. It sounds like in this particular incident, but it was really sort of like, I don’t know how I could bear that. I don’t know how I could talk about that if this happens to me, and it is sort of helping them understand, like, this happens, it happens to people all the time. You know, I was laid off last year. And yeah, it was a shocker. But it was also like, I didn’t do any thing wrong in this situation like, this was beyond me. And it was hard at first. It was humbling. And then it was like, oh, maybe this is an opportunity for something new. And so I think there’s a lot of, you know, for many folks of all kinds, but to start, I do see this in some men who are in, you know, either marriages or long term partnerships, where there’s some anxiety around this provider role and fearing, if that gets, if that’s shaky. What does that mean for me?
Kira Yakubov 51:01
Sure. I mean, it touches on so many parts of our life and aspects, right, like, not just internally of like the identity or this particular role that this person has taken on, like what they provide in the relationship, but like, what are the consequences now, financially and relationally? Like, is my I mean, I’ve heard clients say, this is my partner still gonna find me attractive, like, I don’t feel like a man I won’t be able to perform in bed, like a lot of this has come up is that it’s so much in intertwined with their manhood. And their female partners are like, I still love you. I care about you. I don’t see you in any different way. I mean, sure, we have to figure out different financial source, but we’re a team to do that. This isn’t like your whole being.
David Koppisch 51:45
Kira Yakubov 51:45
And I think it’s tough to separate those, right? Because first, it’s the shock. And then, you know, try, it’s the Stages of Grief within that. But also, once we get through that, as, like you’re saying is that it really does open our opportunities to so many things that we would not have ever imagined because the circumstances were never like that before.
David Koppisch 52:05
Yeah. Yeah. And it is scary. I mean, I don’t want to minimize that. But I do feel like some clients are carrying a burden in that, that maybe they don’t have to, or that they don’t have to alone for sure. For sure. But and to have the conversation that you just said about, you know, if you are in a good relationship that can be should be a source of getting through this in a way that’s not going to sort of threaten your identity existentially and kind of kind of thing. But in terms of the attraction, you know, I, I was working with a client who did go through a period of unemployment and medical issues, and was really just a couple of really bad years where they’re incapacitated in terms of not being able to work and provide and even just be physically able to do things in the house because of a health issue. And feeling like I am no longer attract, like you said, I’m no longer attractive, because now I’m an I’m a needy, I’m dependent kind of thing. And, and really, and taking a long time to work, work through that and work out of that. To again, accept like, these were things beyond my control. Your partner is there for you. This is not you know, you are not flawed as a human being because these things happen, you know, but there’s yeah, there’s a lot of shame, I guess, in terms of feeling dependent for a lot of us for of course, yeah.
Kira Yakubov 52:06
Yeah. I feel like we could keep talking for hours. I know that. We’re covered a lot of good stuff.
David Koppisch 53:58
We’ll do it again
Kira Yakubov 54:08
Absolutely. So David, any any final notes or thoughts you want to share before we kind of close out this episode?
David Koppisch 54:18
Just thank you appreciate this conversation. I learn from these conversations. I appreciate it. And I hope folks who are listening find these helpful and hope folks will reach out if they you know do want to learn more and are seeking some help. we invite you to reach out.
Kira Yakubov 54:39
Awesome, thank you so much for being on David. And if anyone is interested with working with David whether it’s an individual or a couple you can head over to our website at healyourrootswellness.com schedule a free consultation and we’ll see if it’s a good fit.