Welcome to the Hey Mami podcast!
Our guest today is Matt Morgan, one of the leading coaching experts in the country.
From dating to engaged to married couples, Matt has helped thousands of couples bulletproof their relationships. His expertise and advice extends to every area of life – friendship, dating, sex, marriage, parenting, and business. Matt’s coaching clients love his funny (and relatable) stories, sticky phrases and practical tips.
He’s been seen on stage with world thought leaders such as Tony Robbins and is highly-rated by couples across America as both Wedding Wire’s and The Knot’s best marriage coach.
In today’s episode we are talking about how to rekindle your relationship with your partner or spouse after kids are in the picture.
- Practical ways to rekindle a marriage or partnership – a few tips
- Different ways people view intimacy
- Why is it important to prioritize date nights?
- What are Love Languages?
- What is the Enneagram test?
Follow Matt on Instagram
028: Relationships After Kids w/ Matt Morgan TRANSCRIPT
Dr. Maren: Welcome back to the Hey Mami podcast. In today’s episode, we’re talking about relationships after kids and rekindling a marriage or partnership. It is so easy to get caught up in working, putting food on the table and caring for your kids. It feels like all of our energy goes toward them and paying the bills that there’s nothing left to give to your partner.
Dr. Maren: For many of us, we believe that we are being good parents by putting our kids first. While this does have some elements of truth, research largely shows that when parents make relationships the priority, it creates even more stability for our children. Parents listening, one of the best ways to serve your kids is by investing back into your relationship with your partner or spouse.
Dr. Maren: This episode is all about how to rekindle your relationship with your partner or spouse after kids are in the picture. This episode’s going to be very beneficial for those of you who feel like, “Hey, you know what? I love my partner. I’m committed to my spouse, but passion and romance seems to have left the building. Now, we feel like we’re just co-managers of a household.” I think we can all relate if we’ve had kids and gone through the grind.
Dr. Maren: Our guest today is Matt Morgan. He is a great friend and also really personally played a huge role in my life and the health of my relationship with my husband. One of the slogans that Matt says is healthy relationships make life rich. Matt helps people build relational wealth. I love that he does that and I am so happy to have him here. I’ll do a quick intro and then bring him on.
Dr. Maren: Matt is one of the leading coaching experts in the country from dating, to engaged, to married couples. Matt has helped thousands of couples bulletproof their relationships. His expertise and advice extends to every area of life from friendship, dating, sex, marriage parenting, and business. His coaching clients love his funny and very relatable stories, sticky phrases and practical tips.
Dr. Maren: He’s been seen on stage with world thought leaders such as Tony Robbins and is highly rated by couples across America, by both Wedding Wire’s and The Knot’s best marriage coach. Thank you, Matt, for being here.
Matt: Honored to be here with you. This is going to be fun.
Dr. Maren: It really is. I know you’re just going to impart a lot of wisdom in this 30 to 45-minute talk. Those of you listening, soak it up. Tell us first. We’d just like to start off by just tell us why you do what you do. How’d you get into this?
Matt: Yeah. That’s a great question. I remember before I got into this full time, I was a pastor. I remember being married for two years to Sarah, my wife today of the last 16 years, and so two years in a marriage. I remember being in Madison, Wisconsin, and I’m officiating a wedding. While we’re at that, before we get to the wedding, we’re at the rehearsal and after the rehearsal, Sarah and I, we go out to dinner and I just snapped at her.
Matt: I mean, it was just vicious. We had been on this crazy cycle for probably about four months. We got this opportunity four months ago to get an all-expense paid for vacation on a cruise. Sounds great, right? It was the trip from hell. We were at each other’s throats. I was a total jerk. She was a really good follower. At the end of the seven-day cruise, I remember saying, “I’m sorry.” She said, “I forgive you.” But it was all lip service.
Matt: We were just nitpicky at each other and we didn’t even have kids yet. Here I am officiating a wedding as a pastor and I am in some of the biggest arguments with my wife. I remember going to bed that night in Madison and putting my head on the pillow. Sarah said, “Well, I guess what they say is right. The honeymoon phase is over.” I said, “Yep, I guess you’re right.” I shut the light off.
Matt: We went to bed and it was the first time in our marriage, or even in our relationship we’ve ever been just at a fork in the road. When you are at a fork in the road, it is exhausting. I mean, as you say, Christine, I mean, energy is depleted. We didn’t even have kids yet at the time and our energy was depleted. I mean, food doesn’t taste as good. The light isn’t as great, job, career, who cares?
Matt: I’m a hypocrite. Here I am officiating a wedding talking about love and connection while just being absolutely at odds with my own bride. Then that was a huge moment for me to really think about what really matters in life. More than anything, I mean, it’s relationships. That’s not just based on research. That’s my own experience. That healthy relationships are what make life rich.
Matt: Then we started having kids and it’s like, “Oh my gosh, it’s even more exhausting.” You can just become co-managers of a household at best. That’s you doing well. We have a loss of energy and that loss of energy is like, man, even when we talk about rekindling a relationship with your partner, it sounds good, but for a lot of us listening, it could feel like just one more thing on your checklist that you’re not doing.
Matt: It can even feel like it sucks the energy from you. That’s not what we’re going to do here today at all. Hopefully give you some very practical tips, but that’s really the big why toward that, because when people are doing well, oh my gosh, food tastes better, life is more enjoyable.
Dr. Maren: Yeah.
Matt: You have far more energy in every area of your life.
Dr. Maren: Yeah. Totally. I would say, I mean, I don’t know how many times I’ve said thank you, but thank you, because we just had a rough year. I mean, I think everybody with COVID it’s been a rough couple years in our world, right? As you know, I had water damage in my house, I live in an apartment. All this stuff has happened, but we have weathered that storm and all the while I’ve just said, “Well, the important stuff is intact.
Dr. Maren: My marriage is good and I can get through all this other crap because I have a partner in it.” I mean, I probably would’ve broke if I didn’t have a partner.
Matt: Gosh, well said.
Dr. Maren: Yeah. I mean, we all know what it’s like to have kids. It’s not easy. Marriage isn’t easy to begin with. You layer kids onto it and it gets really hard. Let’s walk through just practical ways that we can rekindle our marriage or partnership. What does that look like?
Matt: Yeah. Those-
Dr. Carrasco: I think also with the caveat that a lot of our patients after they have a kid and they’re up at night nursing, a lot of my patients are like, “I don’t even want anyone to touch me.”
Dr. Maren: Yeah. Totally.
Dr. Carrasco: Yeah. Including how can you ease your way back into even wanting physical touch? Because some people just don’t when they’re exhausted.
Dr. Maren: Sex and intimacy is sometimes on the back burner and that’s okay. Especially when you’re nursing a baby, that’s a pretty normal feeling.
Matt: It really is. Yeah. Absolutely. It’s well said. Actually, because of our day and age with COVID over the last couple of years touch, as you said, Alex, is something that we’re not even used to that much, right? We’ve been told to stand six feet apart to keep everybody safe and so to touch and to come back is a new thing. If you’re a young mom and you have been being touched all the time, you’re right. You don’t necessarily always want to be touched. You want space.
Matt: That is totally normal, but when it comes to your partner, you may not be touching at all. You may be still keeping your distance. Research does show that actually physical touch, and for some people, that’s a bigger love language than others, but actually the act of hugging is incredible. It is such a simple thing to be able to do and to rekindle relationships. You’re not just co-managers of a household. You’re lovers, you’re partners, you’re teammates.
Matt: Hugging has actually been shown to be one of these things where the act of touching sends this information through your spinal cord, through your brain and you’re recognizing that the hormone, oxytocin, is released and actually slows down your heart rate. It reduces stress. It increases your ability to sleep. Moms you know when you’re rubbing your baby’s back, why? Because it helps them sleep. It actually is shown to lower anxiety.
Matt: On top of that, I mean, the release of endorphins in the brain’s reward pathways, it actually supports the immediate feeling of pleasure and emotional wellbeing. I mean, all of this from a hug. When I say a hug, I don’t mean like a pat on the back. I actually mean like an embrace. Now, researchers say about 20 seconds and so my wife and I, sometimes we joke and we laugh. We like count, “18, 19, 20.”
Matt: But genuinely a time to be able to hug is one of these very practical, simple ways to be able to rekindle a relationship after kids and it actually models to your kids. When your kids see you hugging together, it actually brings security in them, which is pretty cool. That’s one very simple way. Another one, a second way that I think is so simple and you might already be doing this, but you’re like, “Oh, this is why we’re doing well?” Is a simple greeting your partner when they walk through the door.
Matt: I mean, research shows that when people say hello, it’s so easy to your partner walks through the door, half of us are at home working, the other half are in the job force working outside of the home. Some of us are doing a hybrid these days, but the ability to just say hello. Maybe you’re on a work call, but when you get out of your work call, you get out of your office, whether it be a home office or you come home to actually say, “Hey, you’re home.”
Matt: Greet them, it actually increases energy. It makes you have a lift in your spirit. Again, even if it’s a hard day. Even if your pipes burst and you have stuff going on, it’s like welcoming people and saying hello is huge. Then consequently on the backside, when you leave, saying I love you when you leave. This is a little bit morbid, but we actually don’t know when our time is on up. You could go get hit by Mack truck when you leave that door.
Matt: I mean, across the board, I see clients who are like, “I wish I would’ve said I love you.” Those simple things of being able to do that, it really reinforces partnership. It reinforces the value that I have my partner with me and I am going out my day knowing that I’m fully loved, which actually again, gives you more energy. These are things that are so simple, hugging, greeting your partner and saying I love you when you leave.
Dr. Maren: Right. It’s easy, but it’s like that acknowledgement when your partner comes home or … I mean, I make it really … I don’t know. It’s always been something that’s important to me. When I come home I want to be acknowledged, right?
Dr. Maren: One of our friends who’s been married for like 75 years kind of friend, older friend. He told Dan, “Always greet your wife first. Go give Christine a hug and then you can take your kids next. But greet your wife first.” I don’t know whether that’s the right thing or not. I think as you said, it does create a sense of security in kids who see that their parents love each other.
Matt: Yeah. We all love it. That’s why we love dogs so much, so many us, right?
Dr. Maren: Right. Yeah.
Matt: It’s like because our dogs are so excited to see us. It’s the same thing. If our partner got excited to see us, these are small things that we can do to really rekindle that and to build security into your kids.
Dr. Carrasco: I heard someone say once there’s nothing quite as like moving and magical as a toddler when the parent comes home. Because they’re just so excited to see you and greet you and run to you and say hi. Yeah. I guess we would do well to have that kind of enthusiasm for our spouses or partners or our family members.
Matt: Yeah. These are things that I think deep within us we know, but we just maybe have lost sight because we’ve been so busy or so tired. These are simple things to bring back into the forward part of our consciousness to be like, “Oh, I can do that.” It makes a world of difference.
Dr. Maren: Yeah. Dan’s going to get a very enthusiastic welcome home tonight.
Matt: That’s great. Yeah. That’s the second thing. Greeting and saying I love you. A third thing that I would say you could easily do is don’t ever stop dating your spouse. I mean, mentally and practically. The mindset that I have her, I have him, but no, I still want to pursue them. There are things that we can do on a daily basis, a weekly basis, a monthly basis and a yearly basis to be able to date. Okay?
Matt: These don’t have to be big things. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this, but a reminder to be able to do this is so powerful. Now, when I talk about daily things, this could be having coffee in the morning, if you’re a coffee drinker, or if you are a wine drinker, obviously if you’re nursing maybe you’re having to do a pump and dump that night. I don’t know.
Matt: You’re able to be able to just have a connection when the kids go to bed and be able to have a little bit of time to connect. In fact, one of the things that Sarah and I do, we actually incorporate this with our daughter, Madison, is we do highlight/lowlight, every single meal. We have about probably five meals a week that we share together. We talk about how the meal is less about the food and more about the connection.
Matt: So many times you come together, “How was your day?” “Fine, how was your day?” “Good.” It’s the same old, same old. You wouldn’t know. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s just dead at that moment. Highlight/lowlight, it’s an open-ended question. You don’t have to be creative with it. It’s the same question every night, but it can offshoot into so many different areas of good conversation. I love it.
Matt: Lowlight, let’s be authentic. Let’s talk about the stuff that was hard. How I approach this, how I handle this, my emotions in the process, this helps your partner empathize with you, which rekindles a relationship. Then on the flip side, highlight, even the worst situations, there’s always something to be grateful for.
Matt: When you live out of gratitude, it actually elevates and increases energy, which is the thing again, that we’re fighting against on a regular or basis and so there’s always something to show gratitude and gratitude is one of the keys to happiness. It’s so neat to be able to do that simple exercise. I mean, everybody’s got to eat, right? It’s an easy time to be able to do that when you can see each other. That’s a daily rhythm. Those are some examples.
Matt: Then there’s weekly or biweekly things. That’s an actual date night. That’s right. You’re hiring a babysitter, getting your mom, your dad, someone to recruit to be able to come watch your kids. Yes, I know it can be expensive to have a babysitter, but it is an investment. Think about it like that, not an expense, an investment into your relationship.
Matt: I don’t know about you guys listening, but when I started doing this with Sarah and we got, “Oh my gosh, we got a babysitter.” That’s not always easy to find, is a babysitter, right? We would get there. You know what we do the whole time? We’re talking about our daughter.
Dr. Carrasco: Talking about the kids.
Matt: We’re talking about the kids. We’re trying to get away from the kids only to then talk about the kids. There’s nothing wrong talking about the kids, but there are some good stuff to have some boundaries around date night. Date night is for the purpose of having fun and having intimacy. That’s the point.
Matt: I know if you’re a young mom, it’s even hard to be fully present because you’re thinking like, okay, while I’m at this date, I’m thinking, “Is my kid okay? Does the bottle this way? Or is there anything happening?” There can be anxiety. I get that, but really trying to have an intentional time of fun and intimacy. We’re going to try to minimize kid talk. We’re going to try to minimize shop talk.
Matt: When I mean shop talk, I mean, some of us are entrepreneurs or you love your work and you’re passionate, nothing wrong with talking about that, but limiting it to really connecting to about each other, not just your work and those are some things on a weekly or biweekly basis that you can do. Then monthly, or quarterly going on a mini trip.
Matt: We live in the mountains here in Colorado, wherever you’re at, heading up to a trip or just a couple of hours away or going somewhere. Then yearly could be an anniversary trip taking time to go and do something big together. Think about that for yourself. What are some daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms that I would get excited about and bring energy toward as a way to date my partner?
Dr. Maren: Yeah. I love that. I think it’s super important and it is hard, but I think it’s an important priority to make because as you said, it’s definitely an investment.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. That’s a third simple way to be able to do. A fourth one. Now I’m going to say this and even as I say it, I remember the very first time that I even asked this question, I went to a sexologist and I was like, “Hey, my wife and I, we got kids we’re tired all the time. We want to be together, but I’m starting to count on two hands how many times in a year we’re starting to have sex and that’s getting problematic for me.”
Matt: It’s like, “I’d like to have more frequency than that.” You know what she said? She said, “Well, why don’t you schedule it?” When she said that I about threw up in my mouth. I was like, “Ugh, no.” I was like, “I don’t want to schedule sex. That robs you a passion and joy and excitement.” She was like, “Well, how’s the alternative going, Matt?” Touché. I was like, “It’s not. It’s not happening.”
Matt: She’s like, “When I say schedule, I don’t mean having to be like, ‘At seven o’clock you got to have sex on this day.'” Rather it’s like, “Hey, it’s your date night.” Our date night’s Tuesday night. Tuesday night, I’m not working. We’re putting our phones away. We have boundaries around that. That’s an opportunity for us to not just have sex, but more than sex is intimacy and time full of flirting, a time for connection.
Matt: Whether that leads to intercourse or not that’s up to you guys. When I put less pressure on the actual intercourse and more on the intimacy, it actually gets more fun and there’s less pressure. That’s a big thing that we were struggling with. We’re like, “We’re scheduling, now I feel like it’s one more thing I’m pressured into.” A lot of women … Nobody wants to feel that way. A man doesn’t want to feel that way either.
Matt: You can be intentional and organic. We have Tuesday date nights. That’s just our time to be more mindful of flirting with each other, enjoying each other. Again, that doesn’t have to be just on the date. It could be throughout the day as I start the day. That is a big piece of being able to have some thoughts around that.
Matt: I’m curious for you, when you hear about that, Christine and Alex, I mean, how does that land on you personally? What are some things that you notice even around intimacy to rekindle relationships?
Dr. Maren: I mean, I don’t know where I read this, but I think that men start to feel intimate after they have sex. Whereas women need to feel intimate before they have sex. There’s this cyclical thing, but I don’t know. I’m okay with date night and scheduled sex. I’m not opposed to that. I think there’s definitely a time in my life, like postpartum where I was like, “Oh, hell no.” You know?
Dr. Maren: But that’s fine. I mean, I think every … Well, I don’t know, my husband totally respected that, but I don’t know. It doesn’t land in a bad place for me.
Dr. Carrasco: No. I think it’s pretty efficient. Works smarter. Not harder.
Dr. Maren: Yeah.
Dr. Carrasco: Yeah. Like you know? You know what to expect.
Dr. Maren: I mean, it needs to be prioritized just like everything else. You know?
Dr. Carrasco: Yeah.
Matt: It really does. Sometimes when postpartum women are like, “Don’t touch me. I don’t want to be around that.” It’s like, it can get hard too for men who are like, “I feel like I’m being rejected on a regular basis.” Scheduling that it actually helps minimize the feeling of rejection. It actually creates more of that mutual pursuit. Again, just for Sarah and I, we’ve taken away the word sex or intercourse and put in the word intimacy.
Dr. Maren: Intimacy.
Matt: Yeah. There’s just freedom because whether or not we’re actually having intercourse or not, that’s less of the issue and more about, are we connecting? Are we lovers? You can have romance and not have sex, but you can have romance and lead to sex. There’s a fluidity that really doesn’t stifle rigidity and that has helped Sarah a ton personally I know. Yeah. Great thing to be able to incorporate and rekindle the romance for sure. That’s the fourth thing.
Dr. Maren: I want to know your take on when we talk about intimacy and women and men and how do women and men tend to view that differently? I mean, obviously not everybody is the same but there’s tendencies. What does that look like?
Matt: Yeah. There’s different … You even talked about women need to find intimacy in order to have sex and men need to have sex in order to find intimacy. There’s different blueprints or wirings that people have. There’s the sexual wiring, which is your classic slot A goes into slot B. So many people think the purpose of sex is to have an orgasm. That is both on men and women. It’s quintessentially a man thing, but a lot of women, about 30% of women say, “No, I’m asexual.”
Matt: Then there’s asensual and that’s what you’re talking about, Christine, with that whole perspective of I need to relax in order to have sex versus I need to have sex in order to relax. That’s a really interesting thing for us to be thinking about if you are asensual, what are some of the ways that you can relax in order to get into that space? Right?
Matt: If you’ve got a million things going on in your head, it’s hard to get out of your head because when you’re in your head, you’re dead. Sarah, I was like, “Hey, she’s asensual, so what are some of the things that you can do to relax?” She was like, “Well, Matt, number one, sex starts in the kitchen.” “What? What does that mean?” She’s like, “A clean kitchen, if nothing else, helps me get out of my head and it helps me relax.”
Matt: She goes, “A glass of wine doesn’t hurt.” She goes, “Massage, that’s a big thing.” She goes, “Massage, it gets me out of my head and into my body.” I was like, “Oh, interesting.” Those are some very specific ways that are essential. For you, it might be some music. It might be some candles. It might be drawing a bath. It might be dancing. It might be having some romance, if that’s you, think about what helps you relax.
Dr. Maren: Yeah. I think the message is really figure out what you need so that you can tell your partner what you need, you know?
Matt: There it is.
Dr. Maren: Sometimes I think people don’t even know what they need.
Matt: Yes. You get to be a student of yourself and so you get to ask that question, “what do I need? What does make me come alive?” Those are some examples of that. Yeah.
Dr. Carrasco: I like the concept of dating your spouse because I think when you’re falling in love when you’re dating someone, it’s like you’re more thoughtful. It’s just like everything is, I don’t know, like you said earlier, brighter and more joyful. Then you’re always thinking about, “Well, what can I do to pursue them and how can they pursue me?” I mean, I feel like that really does add benefit to a marriage.
Matt: Oh, yeah. A hundred percent. It’s so easy to think, “Well, I have my partner so I’m good.” So I no longer pursue. When we think about when we dated, the pursuit was about tension. Pay attention to the tension. There was this moment of like, “I don’t know. Is he going to pursue me? Am I going to come back?” There’s this unknown. The pursuit is beautiful. Intention is good.
Matt: If you’re in a situation, even within intimacy or sex that you’re like, “You know what? We have a loss of tension and we haven’t touched each other in months. In fact, I don’t even know that I want to be touched. I don’t even know if I want to have intercourse.” That’s okay. I do a four-day exercise or a four-night exercise experience where day one, you’re giving each other a massage and there’s a relaxation and a connection.
Matt: It’s 15 minutes long. You do that with clothes on. All right? That’s it. That’s all you can do, 15 minutes. Day two. Now you’re doing massage to each other, but clothes off, but that’s it. Now there’s tension building and connection. This is good. Day three, you’re doing massage, clothes off. Then you’re actually touching genitals and that kind of stuff. You’re having some foreplay, but that’s it.
Matt: You want to talk about tension now after day three, it doesn’t have to be three sequential days. It could be three days over the next few weeks. When you do that, there’s still, no, we’re not going to do that. When somebody tells you no, what do you want to do? Yes. Right?
Dr. Carrasco: Right.
Matt: That rekindles that passion and then night four is massage clothes off, touching each other and then actually entering the last evening with intercourse. That is a beautiful four-day reset for some couples who have gotten off kilter there. Yeah. Pay attention to the tension.
Dr. Carrasco: I know that I’ve heard of some … I don’t know if it’s approaches, but I think that there’s actually an intimacy approach that basically just says no orgasms at all just so that people can reconnect physically without the goal of orgasm. I’ve had some patients that have used those approaches and have reestablished intimacy in their relationships.
Matt: Well, it’s so good. It’s such a great word too, because yes, when orgasms are the point, it can really throw you off. Think about the meaning and purpose of sex. It’s much bigger than that. It’s like you’re getting to share an experience that my guess is for most of us listening, it’s an experience you share only with your partner. Yeah. An orgasm is a natural overflow of wonderful intimacy, not the point. Some people can have an orgasm, but still not have intimacy.
Dr. Carrasco: Right.
Dr. Maren: Yeah. Totally.
Matt: Then you can feel used.
Dr. Maren: Yeah.
Matt: Yeah. Some really good things here to rekindle. That’s the fourth. Then the fifth actually goes in line with, Christine, what you were talking about when it comes to, I don’t even know myself, what am I? There’s an old book by Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages. Many of you have heard about it, which is why I bring it up, but there’s the five love languages.
Matt: Physical touch is one, acts of service is two, quality time is three, gifts are four, and words of affirmation are number five. It’s been said that a lot of us typically show love the way we like to receive it. That’s not true of everybody, but it is true a lot of us. Sometimes it’s like, “Oh, my goodness. You know what? I’m doing all these things and he or she is not responding, why?”
Matt: You can start listing all the things that you do to show love. That’s great. Your partner appreciates that, but they don’t feel loved by it. That’s a great question. What’s the difference between appreciation and love for you? What’s the thing that’s a 10 out of 10, like you freaking love me, don’t you? Versus a thing where it’s like, “It’s nice and I am glad you did it, but that’s in the appreciation category, not the love category.”
Matt: Figure that out and you’re going to start seeing a rekindling go so fast and furious it’ll make your head spin in a good way.
Dr. Maren: Yeah. I think that’s a really great point. One of the exercises Dan and I did with you that still sticks with us is just really understanding the other person’s drive and motivation for things.
Dr. Maren: The Enneagram was a really cool tool and now I understand Dan so much better after like 15 years of knowing him. Okay, he’s an eight. Now I understand what motivates him and how it’s different than what motivates me. That’s the same thing with him. He can understand like, no, the words of affirmation are really meaningful to me. I need that, but he doesn’t need it.
Dr. Maren: He doesn’t really … For him, it’s like, “Okay. That’s fine. [inaudible 00:28:44].” But that doesn’t really make the difference for him, and I think just understanding that we have different needs and back to the whole piece where understand what your needs are so that you can communicate them with your partner is really, really important.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. If you’re listening and you’re like, “The Ennea what? What did she just say?” The Enneagram, it’s a personality assessment. Ennea stands for the Greek work for the number nine, gram is a figure. It gives you a number between one and nine. It’s super simple. The reason why it’s so powerful is what Christine just said, is because you really focus on core motivation.
Matt: Why you do what you do is way more intriguing than what you do, and knowing why you do or knowing why this is a big love language for you, that matters for being able to trade places with your partner, not become your partner, but to be able to get into your partner’s world and step into their shoes.
Dr. Carrasco: I think the other test that’s pretty useful for that is the StrengthsFinder as well.
Matt: Yeah. StrengthsFinder is great. That’s awesome.
Dr. Carrasco: This one you can understand their blind spots, your blind spots and their motivations as well.
Matt: Totally. Yeah. Let’s recap so far. Number one, we’ve got hugging. Number two, we’ve got greet your partner when they come through the door, saying I love you. Number three, we’ve got dating your partner. Number four, we’ve got scheduling intimacy with one another. Number five, we got learning your love languages for one another. Those are all great.
Matt: We have strengths and connections and they bring energy, but a lot of us listening are like, “Yeah, but what if I’m still in a fight with my partner?” It kind of derail you, right? What if we’re not seeing eye to eye? What if things aren’t still lovey-dovey? I don’t even want to hug my partner, right? We still got stuff to figure out. Well, one of the things that I highly recommend, and this may take some extra coaching to be able to do this, is to have a weekly trash night.
Matt: Trash night is an opportunity for you to both to be mentally and emotionally prepared to share a withhold. You ever try to bring up something with your partner and you’re like, “Okay. Finally, I’m ready to tell him or her, but they’re not ready.” It’s like they’re playing a video game or doing something with the kids or checked out. It’s like, “Whoa, where is this coming from?”
Matt: Now all of a sudden that can create an argument. Now you’re fighting over something of how you approached your partner, not even the real issue you. Trash night is an opportunity for both people to be able to have the mindset that, you know what? We’re on the same team. Together, we’re going to try to kick this problem’s butt, not each other’s, right? Some of us, we try to make molehills out of mountains. Others of us try to make mountains out of molehills.
Matt: Depending on our personality wiring, either way it’s an opportunity, not for us to shut down, not for us to be passive aggressive, not for us to blow up at our partner, but to be able to say, “Hey, this is an issue.” The way I like to do it, I call it the grace truth sandwich. Okay. Grace is your bread. Truth is your meat, grace on top. When you’re first starting this, you’re going to talk about the graces.
Matt: What’s something that you’re grateful for that maybe you haven’t told your partner in the last 48 hours? Okay? Share that with them. Genuine gratitude. Again, one of the keys to happiness and brings energy. Number two, this is the meat, the withhold, this thing has bothered me. You can say, “I don’t know if that was your intent, but this is what was the issue.”
Matt: Now, when you first start this, especially if you’re a blow up person like me, do you ever feel attacked? It’s so easy to fight back and be like, “No, you’re not saying it right. You’re wrong. Your emotions are not based on logic.” That can derail. For the first 30 minutes all you say is thank you. Thanks for telling me. It allows you the opportunity to diffuse. Listen, conflict is actually an opportunity for unity. It’s not scary. It doesn’t have to be a drawn-out fight.
Matt: This is one tool to help you do that. Start with gratitude, share the withhold. You just tell your partner, “Thanks for telling me.” After 30 minutes you can say, “Hey, can you tell me more about that?” Be a student, not a teacher. When you operate into a conversation as a student, guess what? Everybody hears. Research shows that when two people try to be heard, no one hears, right?
Matt: After you’ve shared your withhold, if there’s any other gratitude, share that. That’s your grace, right? Share that thing that you’re also grateful for. When you realize that you can get through a conflict together and it doesn’t have to be a fight and together you’re trying to kick the problem’s butt, not each other’s, that builds more energy, more partnership and actually the rekindling, because now you’re not just shoving things under the rug and pretending like everything’s fine.
Matt: This is a huge boost of momentum because it builds safety. It builds vulnerability and it builds trust. Safety is the foundation by which your love bicycle rides, vulnerability and trust are your two pedals that your love bicycle rides on. Right? If you’re not safe to talk about hard stuff, to be vulnerable, your bike falls over.
Matt: When you’re vulnerable and you can show up with your whole heart, it builds trust and trust is the currency of relationship. Trash night, we do it every Wednesday night after dinner. It’s a good one.
Dr. Maren: I was just saying Tuesday and Wednesday, those are your nights, you know?
Dr. Maren: Now I know what Sarah and Matt are doing on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it’s a good sequence because Wednesday should not come before Tuesday. I don’t think trash night should be scheduled right before intimacy night.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. No. You know what’s funny?
Dr. Maren: Give us a week.
Matt: Before we even had this in place, I started bringing trash night stuff into date night. For some reason, Sarah stopped wanting to go on a date with me. I don’t know why. She was like, “Wait, are we paying money to argue right now? What’s happening?” Yeah. Exactly. When you have these boundaries and these opportunities to share it goes a long way. That’s number six, is that trash night. Number seven goes into that.
Matt: Some of us we might need some professional coaching or counseling in some areas where you might feel stuck. Because hey Matt, trash night, we might have years of baggage that we haven’t undone. It keeps leaking out in multiple different ways. That happens to all of us. Some of us, it might be seeing a sexologist. It might be seeing a counselor or a coach to be able to help get you unstuck in those spaces.
Matt: Yeah. Those are the seven things that I would say you can easily begin to practice. That’s all this is. It’s a practice. Hugging, number one. Greeting your partner when you walk through the door, saying I love you when you leave, number two. Dating your spouse daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Number four, scheduling intimacy. Learning to lean into your love languages for one another, number five.
Matt: Trash night, number six, and to maybe receive some professional coaching in other areas where you feel stuck are seven specific ways that I would say can help really do a great job rekindling your connection with your partner after kids.
Dr. Maren: Yeah. I think that’s awesome. Cool. Well, I know you have a really good resource for patients who are online and thinking about next steps before they get married. Tell patients, or tell people who are listening about that and then where people can find you and get in touch with your work.
Matt: Yeah. Absolutely. Whether you’re dating, whether you’re engaged, whether you’re married, whether you’re like, “Hey, I want to figure stuff out.” As so many married people problems or relationship problems are actually just single people problems that we drag from our past into our present and that affects our future. That’s what I love helping people do.
Matt: Yeah. My website is just mattmorgan.com. You can click on the tab called work with Matt and figure out the tab that works best for you. You can schedule a call there. I’m happy to chat more with your specific situation and would love to come alongside you.
Dr. Maren: That’s awesome. I just want to shout out an endorsement for your online course, because I think it’s really good. I’ve done most of it myself with my partner and I thought it was awesome. Super helpful and insightful.
Matt: Yeah. For those who are like, “Hey, I don’t necessarily want to talk to somebody or I want to be able to just have some online resources.” Yeah. There’s a ton of great resources on the online stuff. That’s all on the same site, this mattmorgan.com.
Dr. Maren: Awesome.
Dr. Carrasco: That’s wonderful.
Dr. Maren: Well, thank you so much for being here. It’s fun to talk to you as always. I always learn something. Hopefully we will be able to see you and Sarah soon and have a date night on Tuesdays apparently.
Matt: Yeah. That sounds good. On Tuesdays, Tuesday nights. That’s right. Good stuff. It was great being with you both.
Dr. Carrasco: Thank you so much.