Episode 230 | December 15, 2020

Healthy Arguments for a Stronger Marriage with Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman

A Personal Note From Orion

It’s not easy being a couple during hard times. Things have been very different over the last several months because of the pandemic. When changes like these occur, it’s challenging to deal with your own emotions. It’s even more difficult when you’re dealing with massive shifts as a couple. 

That’s why in this episode, I invited the Freemans! Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman are relationship coaches who aim to empower millions of couples with the relationship skills needed to be connected in any season of life. 

In their interview, we discuss how to become a stronger team amid hurdles and challenges. Those problems either make or break you. It’s up to you which path you choose. Are you willing to learn and come out stronger? If yes, this fantastic Stellar Life Podcast episode is for you. Join the Freemans and me for an hour filled with relationship advice that will help you improve your communication and strengthen your bond with your significant other. Tune in!


In this Episode

  • [01:03] – Orion introduces Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman, known as the “couple that coaches couples.” They are founders of Empowered Couples University, and authors of The Argument Hangover (which launches Feb 2021).
  • [05:42] – Aaron shares his background story before he became a relationship expert.
  • [12:37] – Jocelyn talks about the number one relationship assessment in the world that provides an objective result in all areas of a relationship.
  • [17:26] – Aaron discusses the differences between a male and a female’s way of expressing emotions.
  • [23:50] – Aaron elaborates on the impact of sharing expectations with your partner to give him or her an opportunity to understand you better.
  • [28:55] – Jocelyn and Aaron share some of the transformations of the couples they worked with who are resolving their expectations in the relationship.
  • [35:59] – Orion describes the procedure and benefits of the Imago Dialogue.
  • [42:01] – Jocelyn explains how ending the relationship is never the answer unless conscious, intentional work is done to fix it.
  • [48:50] – What are some of the new ways to find romance during this time of the pandemic?
  • [51:24] – Follow Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman on their social media accounts, visit their website meetthefreemans.com, and check out their book, The Argument Hangover at theargumenthangover.com, to learn from the relationship experts to communicate better with your partner.

Jump to Links and Resources

About Today’s Show

Hello, Jocelyn and Aaron, and welcome to the Stellar Life Podcast. Thank you so much for being here. 

J: Thank you for having us.

A: Thank you for having us.

So you’re a couple that teaches other couples how to be better. 

J: Yeah, we do. We communicate better, fight smarter, and handle any challenge as a team.

Wow. What’s your story? How did you become a team? And how did you guys start coaching?

J: Well, going back even a little bit into our upbringings, we had completely different upbringings and experiences with relationships. Long story short, my parents went from being madly in love and best friends to divorce, court, lawyers, police calls. It was very shocking as a child to wonder how can two people who love each other so much, end up getting to that place. That planted a seed in my mind and my soul to uncover, why is it that relationships can go that way? And then Aaron had a completely different upbringing.

The Disney-movie version of being in love is so far from reality. Real love takes hard work day in and day out. That's what makes it worthwhile. Click To Tweet

A: Yeah. For me, I grew up in a Christian household, parents were loving, had a brother, they were always around. We even went to a Christian high school from K through 12. Along the way, I built up some shame and some fear around intimacy, specifically sex. What I was learning was sex was bad. Sex was very bad before you got married. How relationships went for me was, I mean, I was broken up with, cheated on a few times, and only had a few relationships. That embarrassment just kind of kept on growing as well as I went through high school and college. And so even then, fast-forwarding, Jocelyn and I got together, I’m standing there thinking, “I’m not  prepared.” Yeah, we went to prepare for marriage but I realized I’m not prepared for communicating when emotion is high. I don’t even really know what to do about my embarrassment. I hadn’t had sex for 30 years. 


A: Because we said, “I do,” what? That night everything changes? And I’m not going to have embarrassment, I’m not going to have fear around sex? So we realized the necessity, not only from our past, our upbringing, but where we are wanting to go. What we didn’t know is that we needed to pursue relationship skills together. So that took us on a journey ourselves, and then just realizing from other people coming to us saying, “What is this that you’re learning? How is it that you’re communicating such in that way? And you handle conflicts great.” So we started teaching what we knew, and largely, our podcasts and everything comes out of, we have the skills, but we practice it in our own lives and that’s really where we share from.

Jocelyn, what was your dating life like before you met Aaron?

J: Great question. Well, before I started to do “the work and self-development” and before meeting Aaron, I was repeating a lot of the patterns that I witnessed my parents do. Definitely not healthy conflict. Definitely not communicating my needs in a constructive way. Definitely a lot of unhealthy beliefs about love and relationships. Just this romanticized Disney movie version of being loved, and what I was thinking a partner should be like. It wasn’t realistic nor was it healthy. Unfortunately, a lot of couples still believe those stories, those fairy tales. I was repeating a lot of those patterns. And I attracted a lot of the same experiences over and over again because life tends to show you the same experience over and over again, I believe until you get the lesson. So it took me a good amount of time and a good amount of relationships until I was introduced to self-development. And then I went, “Oh, I’m attracting a lot of these same experiences, and here’s the lesson.” I worked through a lot of that before I met Aaron. And then we continued that work into our relationship and still do.

Nice. Who were your mentors? 

J: Well, we always had mentors. I mean, the first place it started was, we did the Landmark Forum. That was our first introduction to self-development. I guess that was kind of a seminar. But then we ended up doing a lot of their ongoing leadership programs, therefore, we received coaches through those programs. Ever since then, we’ve always had some kind of a coach or mentor in different capacities. We had spiritual mentors. We had business mentors. We have always had people around us, whether we were paying them or more of an informal relationship of supporting us holistically our whole life. We’re always doing something to grow ourselves and our relationship.

It seems very difficult to work together as a team and have a business together. What’s your secret? 

J: First, I want to address that belief that it’s difficult because I don’t think we have that story. I don’t think we have that perception. I think that what we see it as is we see it adds layers of complexity and different dynamics. But we believe in the power of what we say about things. So when people say, “Marriage is hard.” Well, that’s a story. Language creates things. So I would say, “Marriage provides lessons, marriage presents different challenges, but hard is an experience that’s chosen.” Going back to your question about being in business together, how would you answer, Aaron, about what the experience like.

A: Who knows what the experience is like. But I also do acknowledge that it is very difficult for couples primarily because, one, there’s the vision that you have for the relationship. That’s really what we want every couple to come and create is a vision that represents what their relationship is here for, and the experience that they desire to have together throughout this life. Now, that’s one thing. And then it is another thing to have that vision be a match that you can then also have it be a business. So either way, you know, like any business, a CEO or its executive group is going to create a vision statement, because then all the people that are a part of that organization know their role. And they also know the actions that they can take to fulfill that vision. So they’re also inspired by it when they see their role, and they’ve bought into the fulfillment of it. 

Communicating helps in meeting each other’s needs, and improves your connection with your partner.

That’s what we think all relationships should have. But yet, is that going to get expressed into the world as a business as well? So that’s just a place I think a couple could check out. Because then, of course, your skillset and your personalities need to match, in a sense, to build a business. Since we met, both you and your partner in the Genius Network, you might have to have a big question about “who not how,” right? You’re gonna have to ask yourself, “Well, here are our personality. Here are our gifts. But do we need to get some other people involved? Are we not the people to take the action as into the house? Do we need some more whos to help us build this business?”

I like what you said about a vision for the relationship because people have gone learn about how to take care of their health and how to take care of their business. Because those things are not intuitive. There are the things that we know, we know. The things that we know, we don’t know. And the things that we don’t know, we don’t know. And we need help with that. And relationship is one of those. So it’s super important to get a mentor, to get somebody to guide you.

J: Absolutely, I love it. Especially, I love that piece of we don’t know what we don’t know. And I love the emphasis on the vision. It makes me think of actually this. We take couples through depending on what program they do with us, a relationship assessment. It’s the number one relationship assessment in the world. It’s existed for 40 years, it’s research-based, 4 million couples have taken it. The assessment shows people an objective result, not your interpretation of whether you think you’re a great relationship. “No, I’m a great listener. No, I’m a good communicator.” It provides an objective result in all areas of relationship and it made me think of how you said what you don’t know that you don’t know. And that’s what the assessment provides. So you’re so right, like people can make a lot of assumptions about their relationship and their partner. And I think it’s important to really look under the hood and really go into like, what do I think is true, but maybe isn’t. 

A: Smart.

What changed in your relationship from the beginning till now? How long have you been in a relationship? How long have you been married?

J: So we have been married for five years. We’ve been together for seven years together. 

Nice. Similar to my husband and I. We’re almost eight years. So what changed from the beginning till now? What did you have to go through to grow?

J: Many things. I think a lot of what changed was our story about relationships. What I mean by that is, I think a lot of couples see challenges as things that shouldn’t be happening. We shouldn’t have conflict, we shouldn’t have misunderstandings, we shouldn’t have conflicting needs. Challenges are bad, that means something’s wrong with us. And so then people avoid them and even end the relationship when they feel they’ve reached some threshold. So what changed for us was this belief that relationships are for learning. Challenges are something that’s presented inside of the relationship to learn both spiritually, emotionally, mentally. Now we embrace all things as some kind of a gift, some kind of a lesson.

A: That’s really why this book came about, why we birthed it. The argument hangover, because the first two chapters dive into, how do you see conflict differently? And what’s the real advantage of conflict? Because when you understand that, then you wouldn’t avoid it. So I think that to your point, we learned to lean into the challenges and even more so, not just say, “Oh, shoot, we have another challenge we have to go through.” But it’s more so like, semi look forward to it. I mean, you don’t look forward to the emotion of feeling hurt or defensive at times, but more so, a lot faster, we come back together and say, “Okay, how do we use this challenge now to benefit our relationship, our individual growth, as well as the vision that we’re creating.” That’s probably just been one of the major things and it’s just more top of mind. And it’s just become more of our belief and experience with our relationship over our time together.

Challenges are a part of the journey. Relationships are for learning and growing together with your significant other. Click To Tweet

J: One more thing that came to mind is we’ve also done a lot of work around emotional intelligence and getting more in touch with our emotions. Not only on our thinking but what we’re feeling in our body. I know Aaron has done a ton of incredible work, and he talks to men a lot about really identifying and processing emotions as a male. In society, you’re taught to be the man. So we both have done a lot of that work, we’ve transformed a lot of our triggers, our emotional triggers, and our responses to those. That’s what we cover a lot in the book, as well. I mean, there’s so much we’ve changed. 

A: I think from a male perspective, just getting some additional language around what you’re feeling. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges for men in the beginning. Or both. You have some feeling but if you’re not used to expressing it, you’re like, “I just don’t know, I’m just feeling this thing.” When you think about it, it’s kind of like a kid, when a kid doesn’t have an in-depth vocabulary, then it’s harder for them to express what they’re wanting to feel. That’s why parents can get intuitive that they know certain cries. But now we’re adults, I guess we can’t just cry and make noise anymore. So I do think it’s empowering and impactful to start to get a vocabulary so that you can express your emotions. The bottom line is you want to feel understood. So if you want someone else to understand you, you have to be able to articulate what that is, before that can happen.

Can you give me some examples on how to articulate emotions, like ways that you didn’t know in the past as a male? Or is it a big difference between a male and a female when it comes to expressing emotions?

A: Well, I can share from the male perspective. Maybe you can share, from your perspective. 

J: Sure.

A: I know at the beginning that I defaulted to just not saying anything. So when emotion would be high, and it was sort of a pattern just like my dad, which I actually thought was a good thing. When my parents would get into a conflict, which was rare. My dad wouldn’t say anything, he would just turn around and leave. I even remember him telling me over the years that he would always leave. That was a benefit, so he could get his thoughts together and not say something he would regret. So I modeled that. It wasn’t conscious but that’s what I did in our relationship. So I can imagine myself different times being in our vehicle, coming back from the gym in the morning, emotion will come up and then I would just look out the window. Or we get home and I don’t speak, I don’t say anything. 

So to your point, I needed to start at least saying to Jocelyn, “I’m feeling something. Can I have a few minutes to process it to get my words around it?” So that at least engages her rather than the opposite way. Which I pushed you away? Which again, I’m thinking it was a benefit, but had you feel isolated and shut out? At least getting the conversation going up, ” Hey, I’m starting to feel something. Can I have a few minutes to process it?” And then, you know, in my reflection, I would kind of look at my body like, Alright, where am I feeling? How am I feeling this in my heart? In my chest? Am I feeling this in my neck? Okay, the neck is kind of like more like anger or tension. Do I feel sad? Do I feel disappointed? Do I feel defensive, frustrated, resentful? You just start to play with some of the words, and when you locate them in your body-stomach, chest, neck, even could be in your root. I think that gives you some places to start exploring what those feelings are.

That’s so powerful. It’s a great practice to acknowledge your feeling, what you feel in the moment, because if you don’t acknowledge what you feel in the moment, then something is just gonna keep bottling it inside. Maybe a day or two or even a week or a month later, all of a sudden, you’ll be all crazy and yelling and being mad at your partner, because you never communicated that feeling back then and you never felt acknowledged. Now you go on in your head, you have all those stories about what’s going on in a relationship, and what he thinks about me. If you touch somebody’s skin a little bit, it won’t hurt. But if you touch an open wound, and then just give it like the tiniest touch, it’s going to be super painful. If you let this wound stay open, and infected with negative thoughts, then it’s gonna damage the communication, it’s gonna damage the relationship. So I thought it was really powerful, what he said about taking that moment to acknowledge, where it is in my body? What is the metaphor that I have in my mind for that place in my body? And what words can I put into that? I thought it was really beautiful.

Marriage counseling is a great way to improve your relationship with your partner.

J: And to your question going back, what are the differences between men and women. We don’t love gender stereotypes or norms. However, our society did bring us up inside of certain contexts and frameworks. Men should be strong. Women should be this and that. There’s still so much of us working through that. I think women are often stereotyped as being hysterical, and overly emotional. In a way, kind of given an excuse for that, like, “I’m a woman, I feel so much.” What I’ve processed through is that regardless of male or female, there is a healthy way to identify what we’re feeling, and a healthy way to communicate it. And so what I used to do was project all of my emotion at my partner, “I am feeling anger. Rawr.” “I am feeling sadness. Huhuhu.” You need to feel and get the brunt of what I am feeling right now.

So you used to emote your emotions?

J: Yeah, exactly. I project them onto my partner and make sure my partner was impacted by them as well. I have worked through like, and we talk to your partner about this, of being able to have time with ourselves independently as individuals to ask ourselves, “How am I feeling? Is there anything there for me is? Is there any emotion that I need to process to then be able to communicate?” So identifying our feelings, not just trying to get to our to-do list, which is what so many people do and step over their feelings, and then it comes out to their partner another time, and to then communicate it in a healthy way.

I love what you said about the story of the relationship. Tony Robbins says, “Change your expectations for appreciation.” Most of the time, we have more expectations than appreciation, because this is the way it is. Our brains are still ancient. We’re still running from the imaginary saber-toothed tiger. We are still looking for what’s not working, for the glass half empty. So it takes discipline to train ourselves to change our expectations for appreciation and remember why we are with this person. Why we are with this person? and how much we love them? Because when we are in appreciation, we’re not in fear, and we’re not in pain. Because those are the places that create a terrible story about the relationship. He is like this, and he is going to think about me this way. He’s doing it because he wants to hurt me, he or she. When you work with couples, what stories do you see? What do people have that needs to be told differently?

J: I love that you bring up expectations because it’s such a huge place of possible disappointment and frustration for couples. We have been to a Tony Robbins and we heard that. The idea is excellent. What I found in practice is this, when a couple, which first of all I had to do for myself, when I own what my expectations are, and I own them as mine as my creation. Then I asked myself another question, “Have I expressed this?” Because all too often we build up these expectations as these ideas in our mind. But yet, how often are we even sharing with our partner? What is it we’re expecting? Jocelyn said earlier, we have this idea that, “Oh, if my partner loves me, they’ll just know I shouldn’t have to tell them.” Well, that doesn’t set you or your partner up for success that only builds up this sort of impossibility of expectation they can never meet because you’ve never even told them. 

A: So I have found when I have started to share my expectation with Jocelyn, and have said, “Hey, I realized I have this expectation.” And that just creates this dialogue. It gives Jocelyn an opportunity to hear me out. So I’m not throwing the expectation out saying, “This is what I need you to do.” Or more, “So I’m telling you, this is my expedition that you have to meet.” No, I’m actually in a conversation, saying, “I see I have this expectation, how she now listens to me, such that I feel understood and my expectation,” I immediately have an appreciation for how she listened to me, her attention, maybe her compassion. And that’s where I saw the correlation, like the appreciation was a natural birth of my sharing, but how she listened because I think all partners just want to feel understood. I think appreciation lives in that world of your partner understanding you. 

I also like to think that you said if I expressed this expectation, and I think another question can be, is this my expectation? Is this something I learned from my parents? Is it something I learned from my culture or my surrounding? Like, who decides that? And what do I want to decide for my relationship?

J: Oh, that’s great. 

A: That’s a shoot.

Mic drop.

Behind every challenge in a relationship is a missing skill that can be learned. Click To Tweet

A: And that will be a great place to share from. “Hey, I realized that I had this expectation but it doesn’t even seem like mine.” Here’s a great example, actually is a perfect example. Some would have in their mind that they want their partner to play a very traditional role as in, like roles and responsibilities. And sometimes it’s seen as like feminine plays these roles. It might be around kids, it might be around maintaining a house or cleaning, or some version of that. And to bring that expectation forward and say, “You know what, I had this expectation of you having dinner ready,” for instance, but then they pause and say, “I don’t even care about that. I think that was just how I grew up. And I saw my mom do that. But I don’t want to carry that one forward into our relationship.”

And what if your partner says, “But this is important to me.” Or you say, “That was my expectations and it still is. I learned it from my father, and I still want to do that.”

J: Well, it’s important that expectations don’t become demands. An expectation should not limit or mean sacrifice for the other person, right? I think we also have to check ourselves and make sure that our expectation does not mean we’re trying to make our partner someone that they aren’t. In a way, maybe it’s looking, okay, if this is an expectation, that is not a win-win, because we do believe that expectations can become a win-win for both people. But if it’s not, like let’s say the person the partner goes, “Well, that’s gonna make me be or do something that isn’t me.” Then maybe it’s looking at, “Okay, is there someone else that could be?” 

Not in a romantic sense. We’re not saying like, bring someone else into your romantic container. But is it an expectation that is more for a friend or more for a housecleaner? I think some people still have an old-fashioned expectation about the house being clean and dinner being prepared. Thank goodness Aaron does not expect that of me because I don’t enjoy cooking. “Okay, maybe if that is going to make my partner have to now sacrifice some part of their business passion because I’m expecting them to clean and that’s not what they care about. We’d hire a cleaner.” Of course, it depends on whether it’s a logistical kind of expectation or an emotional expectation. But I think exploring, is this a win-win expectation? If it’s not, is there a way we can get creative and somehow outsource it or shift it or adjust it?

Can you guys share with me a case study of a couple of you worked with? And how did they resolve their expectation? How did you guide them? 

J: Gosh, so many. I think that without giving away too many details of a specific couple because we do value privacy. I’d say one of the common things, that’s coming up in 2020, just with everything that’s been going on, and has added a couple of layers of complexity for couples is different emotional expectations. Every person is handling stress and uncertainty in different ways. What we’re finding is that many people are having unspoken and even sometimes unrealized emotional expectations of their partner about how they’re going to support them, about how their partner is going to check in on them all the time, about how their partner is going to know that they had a tough day, and that they need certain things in the evening, whether it’s around emotional, or physical intimacy, or needing quality time. We’re finding that because of the amount of stress and uncertainty right now, people are feeling more, and having some emotional needs, and it may be different than their partner. So one partner may be doing fine, kind of like, “Hey, I’m just focused on my goals, I’m doing what I want,” and they don’t have as much of an emotional need. And so they can almost feel like they’re conflicting needs with each other. One person needs more quality time and the other person doesn’t necessarily. Does anything come to mind for you?

A: Oh, yeah, expectations can also change. And you never get to a place where you’ve expressed all of your expectations, I think I realized that and something I want to share with the audience here too. New expectations will arise based on circumstances. Jocelyn gave a great example here, this quarantine season came up, and that sort of birth new expectations. A great example being, one couple that had different jobs and went off to jobs, or one stays home, maybe works a business while the other one goes off to a job. What happens this year, they were both at home. So a new expectation came up that, “Oh, I need a certain level of separateness.” Or you’re right there in the room, or we work at the same table now. And it’s like, “I need my time to be on calls,” or “I just need time for myself,” right? That was a new expectation that was now realized by a lot of couples. And so maybe one of you works at a cafe, maybe you need to get like a coworking type of space, or something like that. 

Instead of breaking up the moment things get hard, let your struggles be opportunities to make your relationship stronger.

And another one is around phone time, right? That’s a huge one, social media. So even with all the time couples are together, what is then missing is the real quality and intimate time. What they’ve now come to is, one has the computer in the bed with them at night, or they’re still on their phone, or they have a TV in the room and they just watch movies. Well, a new expectation, that arises for couples is they want the bedroom to be a sacred space. So they have come to agreements where no phones in the room, turn phones off, let’s say at 8 pm, the computers don’t come into the room. We haven’t had a TV in our room for a long time. But expectations are going to arise based on conditions, you just have to be continuing to express them and then come to new agreements that allow it to be, as Jocelyn said, a win-win situation for both of you.

Can you take me through some steps on how to dissolve conflict? 

J: How to dissolve it? So in the moment of conflict or afterward?


The Argument Hangover by Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman

J: Okay, cause we break down in the book, The Argument Hangover, the three stages of conflict. Because a lot of couples just think about conflict in general. And when it’s too vague, you can’t access any change. So there’s before conflict, during conflict, and post-conflict. We have several techniques for all three stages written out in our book. To pick from one of them is always the tough part because they’re all like, it’s like you don’t want to pick one of your favorite children, right? You love all the principles the same.

During conflict, we show the three types of listening. There are two types of listening that don’t have your partner understood and one type of listening that does have your partner feel understood. And most people have conflicts last longer, because of several reasons, but one of the main reasons is that they are not listening in a way that their partner feels understood. They’re now reacting constantly. “Well, that’s not true. That is not what I said. That’s not what I meant.” Now, they’re invalidating each other’s reality. And the thing is, your partner’s reality is real for them. So why waste your time invalidating their reality? So we give them the three types of listening. And that’s what you want to focus on during conflict. Of course, with our other principles about how to stay in your body, how to stay conscious of what you’re saying, and how you’re acting. But then also is the way you’re listening to your partner that can prevent it from becoming longer and longer because you’re just keeping your partner from feeling understood. And then do you want to talk about a post-conflict tool? 

Before we go deeper, can you tell me what are the type of listening? How do we become a better listener? 

J: Yes. There’s not listening at all is what we call it. So imagine three columns. So the left column says, not listening at all. The middle column says hearing, and then the right column says truly listening. So under the not listening at all, for example, let’s say Aaron said, “You know, I just felt like what you said was rude.” Not listening at all, my version of response to him would be like, “Oh, really? Well, yours was rude too.” So I didn’t listen at all. I just reacted and got defensive. The middle one would be hearing and that would be you know, he’d say the same thing. “I feel like what you said was rude and it hurt me.” Hearing would be like, “Okay, fine. I won’t say it next time.” So I heard you got it, whatever. I’m gonna move on to chopping the vegetables now. Truly listening would be, “Hey, I hear you like what I said didn’t feel nice to you, and it hurt you. So tell me more about that.” And so I’m listening to the experience. Can you hear the difference in those? 

Yes. It reminds me a little bit of the Imago Dialogue.

J: We haven’t studied that work.

Yeah. It’s like, I heard it, I hear you, and then you empathize. And you repeat. And you say it makes sense. And the whole point of the dialogue is not to tell your partner, “I agree with you,” or “Yeah, let’s do it your way.” But just have your partner feel listened to, and empathize. And by you taking the time to repeat what they say. And empathize and say, “Yes, it makes sense to me that you feel this way.” Your partner feels heard. And sometimes it takes all the craziness out of the argument because we just want to be listened to, sometimes we have this little four-year-old that runs us. And this little four-year-old just wants to be listened to like, “Mommy, Daddy, please hear me. Hear me.” And we play it out in our relationships. We just want to be heard, we just want to feel like the other person is getting us. If he said, “Hey, I got you. I got what you’re saying.” And he doesn’t have to agree or not agree. But just he heard me, she heard me. This is already something that can resolve the conflict completely because it takes away the charge.

It's so important to identify your feelings and figure out where they stem from. Don't treat them like a simple to-do list that you can just tick off then on with the day. Click To Tweet

A: I think it can be really helpful. Use this at your discretion. But when your partner is upset and emotional, and maybe projecting that emotion on to you, again, this comes from our own experiences as well. We don’t share anything that’s not from our own experience. But if you can just imagine that who’s talking is not this adult, 20, 30, 40, 50-year-old that’s talking to you. It’s a 4, 6, 7-year-old, then all of a sudden, it’s like, you wouldn’t yell at a child. You wouldn’t invalidate a child, you wouldn’t yell back at a child. When you can see that, well, who’s talking to me is the innocence or the child within my partner and they’re hurt. I think that can just change your immediate compassion that’s there for your partner. Again, just kind of a mindset shift, just to kind of see your partner as a child. That’s for asking for support. And I think you already said that end of the day, they’re asking for love.

Again, it goes back to expectations because if you expect your partner to be your rock, and then somebody who’s got it all figured it out. He’s supposed to act this way, then you can’t see beyond because you already categorized them, you put them in the box, you cannot see beyond. But if you look at your partner in infinite possibilities. And your partner can be super strong. He can be a small child. He can be super sexy. He can be super boring. This is him, he’s like everything. He’s infinite. He or she has infinite possibilities. And you keep your mind open, then you won’t have all this judgment and you’ll be able to listen better and react better.

A: I love that.

J: That’s beautiful.

COVID-19 affected our relationship. I think it affected everyone’s relationship to a point. Just not being able to go out to the movie theater. God, we missed that. 

J: We love movies.

A: That’s a big thing for us too.

J: That’s funny. One of our favorite things to do is go to the movies. And yes, we do sneak in healthy snacks, I’m sorry to say.

Yeah, not being able to go to the movies. Like going to the supermarket, we used to go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods together. We freakin love that. We love going to the supermarket together, and now you go and everybody’s wearing masks and are afraid of each other. And it’s so weird. All of the things that are outside of our home are being taken away. All of a sudden, there are lockdowns. Now we also have a sweet baby. And that’s different too because there is a third little person with your humongous personality in the house. Everything is shifting for us, this year there are so many adjustments that we need to do to ignite the fire and keep it together. Plus the stress of the uncertainty of what’s going on. There is so much. If you look globally, a lot of people are suffering, whether or not they’re in a relationship. For the people who are, because we’re talking relationship right now, what do you do to keep the balance to take your relationship to the next level while you’re in lockdown? To ignite the fire and be romantic while you’re in quarantine. And while the baby is screaming? Right?

J: It’s great you say this because, at the beginning of quarantine, we were right away paying attention to what’s happening in our couples community and what’s coming up for couples around the world. What we would say to couples is that this time, which is still not even really over right at the time we’re recording is the end of 2020, we’ll either strengthen you or strain you. It’s all coming from the decisions that you’re making. And what’s interesting as well about the time we’re recording this is that this winter timeframe, November, December, January, is the biggest time of the year that couples are reflecting on their relationship and their life. And either choosing to end their relationship-not put in the work, or to put in the work and put in effort and intentionality into the relationship and kind of reclaim and recreate the relationship. It couldn’t be more important for couples to be listening to this episode. Because we encourage you not to choose the ending the relationship path unless you have done at least a year of conscious intentional work on the relationship. Because you will just bring it into the next one. You just will if you didn’t get the lessons available to you in this relationship, you will take it into the next one. 

Changing the partner is not a solution. I think it’s an important disclaimer unless something abusive is happening. I think that goes without saying we’re not saying tolerate any kind of physical or emotional abuse. Okay, so that’s important to say. But besides that, anything else that is within the boundaries of things that can be worked on consciously. We say now is the time to double down on learning what we call relationship skills. And that’s why we were talking to your partner in life about how men resonate with our content because we are skill-based. Now is the time to focus on learning those skills. Behind any relationship challenge is a missing relationship skill that can be learned.

So you learn the skills. And I think part of learning the skills of relationship, as you said before, is working on yourself. So many times we are stressed, we are not handling ourselves, we are not in balance, we are not in a place of-maybe we’re in a depressed place or place of unhappiness. So we just take it out on our partner, it’s easy to point a finger. And sometimes it’s better to take that finger that you’re pointing and pointed back to yourself and see, “How can I make myself happier? How can I take care of my emotional world? How can I take care of myself? How can I be more joyful?” Because when you’re feeling more joyful, more in balance-in your body-maybe you need to go for a walk, take a stretch, breathe, do something to take care of yourself, and change your physiology and focus. And then you go back to your partner, and you are better. You smile, you have the capacity to listen. Because when you’re only in your head, you can’t listen or do any of those techniques that are amazing that you’re teaching in your book. Because you’re too much in your head. Right?

Expectations shouldn't mean limit or sacrifice. It shouldn't be a demand. Click To Tweet

A: Yeah. And I think as one of the things you’re speaking to, now, we’ve been talking about expectations, you can’t expect that your partner is in charge of your emotional state. That’s just an unfair expectation that they are the ones-their actions, their behaviors-are what is going to be required for you to feel happy, to feel loved, to feel supported, to feel fun, free, express joy. That’s an impossible expectation for your partner. To your point, why you seek these things out to make yourself happy or find out what is going to have you feel alive and connected today. And then you’re the one that’s bringing the decision and the choice and the power back of your experience of life to within yourself and not putting it outside yourself anywhere, even to your partner.

I think another thing is to give what you want to receive. If you want more love, then give more love. Whatever you want from your partner, if you give it back to them times 10, then it’s going to elevate the relationship no matter what. If you want more romance, then create more romance. Blog it on your calendar or find a way to be resourceful. What are some new ways that you find more romance during these times?

A: Jocelyn was like, “Oh, let me answer this.” But before I forgot, I wanted to add this before you kind of switch topics for the audience. A quick mindset shift, I think around this quarantine. How do you come back to love? How do you keep things fresh? And Jocelyn invited us into this idea. Think of yourself as the 50-year-old version of yourself, or for those that are maybe already 50, think of yourself as the 70- or 80-year-old version of yourself. Just think about the future version and allow that future version to give you your decisions and your actions now. 

So I’ll give you an example. Most people would say this would be a horrible time to make this decision but Jocelyn and I have played around with moving. We’ve lived in Arizona our whole relationship and marriage. Jocelyn grew up there. We have a great network there. Everything is going great. And we had this feeling of wanting to move and this had come up throughout the years. But it became strong just in the last couple of months. And there are lots of reasons to stay, probably almost fewer reasons logically to move. But when Jocelyn said, “Would we be proud that we stayed in Arizona where it was more comfortable for us, or when we are 50 will we be proud to look back and say, ‘We went for an adventure. We tried something new. We pushed ourselves.'” 

When you expand the timeframe that your mind is focused on. I think that gives you a lot more freedom. It gives you a lot more ideas that are usually more creative as you think about the future version of yourself and acting from that, rather than just this present moment. Because in this present moment, most of us have been very limited and locked down. Lots of people in the major cities, you can’t go anywhere. If you travel, you can’t even go out. So like our brother- and sister-in-law are from Boston visiting us in Charlotte now. And they’re going to go back and they can’t go to the grocery store. Right? So that seems limiting. So expand. Expand the timeframe that you see yourself. And that’s what allowed us to say, “You know what, let’s go for it,” and we just moved to Charlotte this past month.

Wow, congratulations. So how is it there?

J: Beautiful. I love that we’re in an area that we can walk everywhere. So we can walk to anything that we would need. And I love that. So we’re enjoying the new energy, and it’s getting us excited.

I want to go back to your question here before we wrap up, because I know we’re getting to the hour here. But I think it’s a great question what you asked about romance because here’s something I’m passionate about. I think that we learn through again, movies, media, is that romance is about the superficial things. The roses, the date nights, the gifts, the lingerie, the surprising each other, and don’t get me wrong, those are the sprinkles on top, right? Those are fun, still do all that fun stuff. But what we believe and what will we go through couples to discover is that true romance, which is, I think a depth of connection that is undeniable comes from the deeper things, not the superficial things. It comes from having hard conversations. It comes from resolving resentments before they build up to something. It comes from being curious about each other’s emotions and needs and what you’re discovering. And it comes from learning new things together. We love learning new things. Yeah, we love learning new spiritual things together. We love learning new life philosophies and principles. And so I encourage couples to go deeper and into what they think romance is coming from.

That’s powerful. Thank you. Oh, I wish I could speak with you guys for longer. But we are limited for now. Before we say goodbye, what are your three top tips to live in a stellar life? And where can people find you? 

J: Oh, gosh, my top three tips will be relistened to this episode three times.


J: I think it comes from what our tagline is, which is to learn to communicate better, fight smarter, and handle any challenge as a team. Like those would be the three tips. Focus on those three areas because those impact every area of your relationship-being able to communicate and resolve conflicts differently. And so that’s what I would say to couples to focus on this time of year in the relationship. And what I encourage everyone to do is to go preorder The Argument Hangover, and not just for our sake, because we want you to read our book. We are giving $200 of free bonuses for pre-ordering it one including a course, a conflict resolution course that I turned to Aaron after we recorded it and put it up for one of the bonus gifts. And I said, “Why did we do this for free, we should have charged for this because it’s so good.” It is not only beautifully filmed, but also the principles in it are a game-changer. 

So go to theargumenthangover.com. And on that page, you’ll see the different retailers select to order it and then a place where you enter your receipt number to get those bonuses right away. And then that’s the first place to start. And then of course reach out to us on Instagram. You know, that’s where a lot of couples will message us about setting up private sessions or learning more about some of our other self-paced programs and things like that. So that’s @meet_thefreemans is our Instagram account.

Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thank you for this beautiful conversation and all the knowledge. Thank you so much, Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman. I appreciate you.

J: Well, beautiful questions. They were very meaningful. Thank you.

A: Thank you for giving us the space to create this together.

Thank you. And thank you so much, my sweet listeners. I hope your relationship is going better because you’ve listened to this episode that you took all the beautiful lessons and techniques that were shared here. And that you go get this amazing book and fantastic bonus because it can change your life. This is Orion until next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓} Communicate with your partner. Communicating can help in meeting each other’s needs, and improve your connection with your partner.
{✓} Handle conflicts directly. Don’t deflect or sweep them under the rug until they get too much to handle. Discuss with an open mind and the goal of reaching a compromise. 
{✓} Be aware of unhealthy patterns. Whenever you notice specific triggers that lead to a toxic exchange, know that situations like this can be fixed and rewired so you can avoid it from happening again.
{✓} Be willing to get mentored. Marriage counseling is a great way to improve your relationship with your partner. Getting help doesn’t always have to mean there’s something wrong. Sometimes it’s to make your bond stronger.
{✓} Work as a team. When challenges and misunderstandings arise, not dealing with them together will make it difficult for you and your partner to move forward and reach an agreement.
{✓} Embrace challenges. They are part of relationships. Instead of breaking up the moment things get hard, let your struggles be opportunities to make your relationship stronger.
{✓} Develop emotional intelligence. Navigate through your emotions seamlessly by understanding that your partner can’t feel happy and lively 100% of the time, and that is okay. And during days they’re sad or frustrated, let them know that it’s alright to express those emotions.
{✓} Find your love language. Discovering how you and your partner want to be loved can help make you understand how to approach them in the best way.
{✓} Listen. According to Jocelyn and Aaron, there are three types of listening: not listening at all, hearing, and genuinely listening. For a stronger bond, we must truly listen to what our partners are saying or showing us.
{✓} Check out Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman’s website to learn more about ways to communicate better and argue smarter with your significant other.

Links and Resources

About Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman

The Freemans are known as the “couple that coaches couples.” They are founders of Empowered Couples University, and authors of The Argument Hangover (which launches Feb 2021).



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