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Episode 22: Seeing a Couple’s Therapist With Kate Engler

Updated: 4 days ago

Therapist with Three Points Relationships
Kate Engler

Welcome to the Wellness in Every Season podcast where we embark on a transformative journey towards achieving total wellness even in the midst of overwhelming moments. I am your host Autumn Carter and I am thrilled to have you here. This podcast is a sanctuary for all mothers out there and we extend a warm invitation to anyone seeking guidance and inspiration. We believe in fostering an inclusive community where we learn and grow together supporting each other during life's challenging transitions.

Join us as we step out of survival mode and discover the path to thriving, embracing wellness in every season of motherhood. From sleepless nights to new beginnings, we'll explore practical strategies, share heartfelt stories and uncover the transformative power of self-care and self-love. Together we'll unlock the wisdom, strength and resilience within ourselves, reminding one another that we're never alone on this beautiful yet demanding journey. It's time to prioritize your well-being and reclaim your joy, one season at a time.

Hello, this is episode 22; When and Why to See a Couple’s Therapist With Kate Engler. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Kate Engler, a highly experienced licensed couples therapist with 3 points relationships. She is also a certified sex therapist and fair play method facilitator. We will be discussing her journey to becoming a therapist, her new book, ways to strengthen your relationship with your significant other, and more. So without further ado, let's get started.

Hello Kate, thank you for being on with us.

Hi there. Thanks for having me I'm happy to be here.

Could you please share a little bit about yourself and what led you to become a couples therapist?

Absolutely. This is actually my third career, believe it or not. I was a high school social studies teacher, and then I moved to a different state, and my certification wasn't viable there. So I moved into doing some grant writing and fundraising and did that for a long time. Then got into my 30s and decided the job I was in was soul sucking, and I knew it was going to get worse as I continued, and figured I should go back and do what I always really wanted to do, which was to be a therapist.

I could see 40 down the road and thought, if I can make a career change, maybe now is the time to do it. When I went back, my intention was actually to work in mental health in the holistic health world. I've imagined I would be in some medical practice, working with people dealing with mental health around other kinds of medical issues. But when I got into my program, we were required to take a couple family systems classes and couples therapy classes and I just totally fell in love with it.

Honestly, I think a lot of it was that it helped me understand myself and my own relationship. My husband and I have been together for a million years. We met in college, we'd already been married for quite a while, and there were these things that we kept running up against that I just assumed were problems with me or with him or with us. Then in these classes, I realized that, wait, this is really normal stuff and this is what long-term relationships do. Then I felt like I just wanted to share that with everybody. I was surprised that no one else I knew was getting this information, and then I had to go to grad school, and then I was just caught because I went from there.

How much schooling did you end up getting through all of this?

Yeah.,I have a master's in education, which I did before, which was actually very helpful in therapy because I learned a lot about human development. And then I did a master's program in systems therapy, family counseling. So I think that ended up to be about a four-year program. I had planned to go under my PhD, but I had two very tiny children at home, and I got burned out by the end of my program. So I stopped there for now.

So how have these experiences shaped you as a mother and spouse and influenced your perspectives? There's a lot there.

Yes, but it's so profound for me. I think, like I said, I did get a lot of human development training in education, but that's a very specific realm, working with kids and I taught high school. I think it was so useful as a young mom with very young kids. It completely changed the way I parented and I think laid a really nice foundation for me. I think when you have a sense of how humans develop, it can depersonalize a lot of behavior that kids have. It's not at you, it's just about who they are and where they are in their developmental timeline, or really learning that a lot of acting out is just 'cause something else is going on,

which as a parent I found so helpful.

I also think probably the biggest impact on both my parenting and my relationship was really understanding the power of deep empathy and listening,

and not at a surface level, but really being able to sit with someone and hear what was going on with them, and just reflect back what you're hearing. I remember having an experience with my son, I think he was maybe two and a half, and he was having some sort of fit. I remember learning my program to just really literally say back what you were hearing, and I think I said, "It sounds like you are so mad." He just looked at me and the whole thing quieted down.

I realized adults like that too. So I think I became much more empathetic with my partner, which is always helpful. In general, then, a better listener I like to believe with people around me and realize how powerful that was just being with people in their experience and not having to interject my own all the time. I think that just changed my perspective overall about humans, that even when it appears to be really terrible behavior or bad things, almost always has a reason and almost always comes from fear or hurt.

I think that's just been helpful in me having a more compassionate stance for people, including my husband, most of the time, unless we're in one of those modes.

I like that.

Most of the time, we're going to be real here.


I've had a couple of clients say, "I bet you guys never fight." I'm like, "No, that's not how it goes. It's definitely not. We're still humans."

It's about fighting fair, right?

Yes, exactly. If nothing else, being able to repair well. I would say I do have some tips and tricks that I've learned along the way, which is really helpful through my training that I just would not have had unless I sought it out specifically and I don't know that I even would have known where to look had I not had the training.

I love that so many couple therapists, they offer online free tips and tricks, and that's why you follow people like this. Learn more.


Are there any particular areas of interest or specialization within therapy that you focus on?

Yeah, I really have made my work very couple-centric. This is my little bit of plug, I would say, for if you do go to work with a couple's therapist, find someone that has training specifically in that type of work. It is not the same as doing individual therapy. There's a lot of different elements that go into it. Because I got so hooked, that's really been the focus of my work. So my practice that I own is all relationship focused. I do see people individually, but we tend to be working on relationship issues. Sometimes people have a partner that doesn't want to come in, sometimes it's other relationships. So I work with people in family relationships too, siblings, parents, kids. I don't really see kids anymore. Once I had my own kids, I stopped seeing kids in my practice, it was too much. But primarily it's romantic relationships,

so working on those.

Then a couple of years ago, I went and got my certification in sex therapy too, which I think just added to the work with romantic relationships because it's something that we don't talk a lot about in our culture. It's very tricky to talk about and can be very sensitive. So learning how to balance that too has really been big.

Then for me, the fair play method is about balancing domestic division of labor, and that's a big area of focus for me too.

We are going to have Fair play be it's own stand alone episode in October with Kate, I'm so excited about it.

Yeah, it's a good one.

Why is your business called Three Points Relationships?

I hired someone a couple of years ago and realized I had been Kate Engler Relationships and thought, "This doesn't really work if I'm going to have people working for me." And as I was exploring names and symbolism, I really kept coming back to the notion of the triangle. I feel like it fits so many different things. It's mental, physical, emotional selves. If anyone's out there familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs as a triangle, it's about balancing multiple perspectives, which for me, I think is at the heart of the couple's work that I do and the relationship work is holding multiple perspectives and being able to hold different parts of ourselves. And so I started with the logo first and then the name came after.

I love that. And I actually have an episode, I will link it in the show notes and in the description for this, all about Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Oh, nice.

And I struggle every time to say those two words together. Okay, so here is the big question that a lot of people ask and I've asked, When should you see a couple's therapist?

It's such a good question and I think it's really tricky. And what we know is that most people actually wait a really long time. The research says people usually wait six to seven years before they see a couple's therapist, which is a really long time to be struggling in your relationship and feeling like you can't solve things.

So I would say there's a few different things. The most standard, I think, and probably most intuitive is If you are finding that you and your significant other are coming up against the same thing over and over again, you have this argument you cannot get through, and it ends, but you don't really find any resolution.

Sometimes we need to just move past something and let it go. There's not going to be a resolution. I used to have this mentor who would joke like she and her husband, their ongoing argument was do dirty dishes belong next to the sink or in the sink? They weren't going to solve that. They probably didn't need therapy for that. But if you're finding really touchy issues showing up over and over again, it is a great time to seek out support. Everybody has these moments and you don't need to wait six to seven years. So that's a big one.

If you're in a period of transition, I would say this is probably the biggest thing that sends people to my office. So this could be moving in together, getting married, having a baby, buying a house, changing any of these things tend to stir up a lot of underlying issues. And so I would even recommend to people if this is coming down the pike, set up some sessions with a therapist. Ideally, if you have one you already have a relationship with, that's easiest. But there's no harm in just having a third party to help you talk through that stuff.

One I think that surprises people is when things actually mostly feel okay. But you just notice there's a couple little trigger points. points, it is much easier to sort through things when you aren't already at each other's throats. So if you just notice, like, this is a sticking point for us regularly, but things mostly feel okay.

Go see somebody. They can help you develop some new strategies. I always say a full toolkit is best if you only have one or two things in your toolkit. If those things don't work, you're a little out of luck. When things are feeling okay, like, just go get a few more, add them in there That way, if life changes, you have them.

And then obviously there's crises. If things are happening, if there might be infidelity, if there is some other big relationship crisis related to, I don't know, addiction, things like that's a trickier issue because there can be some issues with couples therapy if the person is not also getting help for those things. But if you're in the midst of a crisis, certainly getting help is important.

And then a big one too, I think is when you want to peacefully end a relationship, couples therapists are actually really good for that. They can help you talk through it. I actually work with a lot of people on doing a process I call intentional separation, which is taking a break very peacefully and intentionally in your relationship or when people decide they're ultimately going to divorce. We all hear horror stories, but it doesn't have to be that way. And you can really do it peacefully and especially if there's children in the mix. Working with a therapist, I think is really helpful in being thoughtful and intentional and careful in the way that you end a relationship.

Okay, so a few things. They belong in the dishwasher. That's probably really the best way.


It's so much easier. You don't have to handle it more than once.

So yes, absolutely.

All my kids, not the two-year-old. The other kids help the two-year-old or

my husband and I do, but yeah, they put it in the dishwasher.


Because then when you need to drain pasta or if you need the sink, it's there.

Anyway, that's my thing. Why do people go about seven years? Why is that?

That's such a good question. The sense is that there's a few things. I think the biggest thing is the stigma of couples therapy. We see a lot of bad representation in the movies and TV of what it is, and people think it's the first step towards divorce. I remember so vividly having this conversation with a high school friend. I think I was back visiting my parents and we went out for a beer or something, a bunch of us. He was talking about another friend of ours that was dating someone or maybe they're newly married, and they were going to go to couples therapy. He made some comment like, "If you're a couples therapy, you shouldn't be together." I thought, "Oh God," because I think my husband and I

just started couples therapy. This was even before I became a therapist. There is that idea that if you need help, something's wrong with you, you're not a good fit, you're on the verge of divorce. I also think people worry they're going to be

judge or it's also weird to go sit with someone you don't know and talk about most intimate details of your relationship. So I think all those things come together, and I would also say this, and this is one of my soapbox things.

There is still this thing about talking about challenges and relationships.

Even some of the most thoughtful, therapized people I know would never reveal in any way that they were struggling with their partner. I think we have some really old-school ideas about what that looks like versus everybody struggles.

How can you be married to somebody for 10, 15, 20, 30 years and never have conflict and never wanna be on their neck from time to time? And could we be more honest about that? So all those things converging,

I think it just makes people hesitant and they don't tend to come until they're

at their utter wits end, which is unfortunate. We can, that doesn't mean we can't figure it out. The deeper the hole, the longer it takes to come out of it. So if you come when there's troubles for six to nine months to a year versus seven years,

it's just a lot smaller of a hole to dig out of.

Okay, let's use my applied health degree here for a second. So this is you're not seeing the doctor until you've already had a stroke. Yes, instead of going for your physical and finding out you're on the verge of high blood pressure.


Let's change your diet. Let's get you on medications.


Yeah, that's a perfect. And actually, you just touched on something critical too that I missed, which is fear, right? Like people don't want to go to the doctor because they don't want to know sometimes. That feels too scary to know I might have high blood pressure. And so I think there is something about that too in terms of if we go, someone might shine the light on some issues with me, with you, with us, and maybe I don't want to know, maybe I'd just rather keep my head in the sand and keep plugging away. And then suddenly it comes out when there's a big issue. It could be being a fear, like we could go that direction or because that's like every woman's fear. Or it could be we had a baby and all of a sudden because we're not sleeping, we can't talk.

My husband and I think it's so funny when people have a baby to make things work because we're like our relationship was working great and we added a baby and then it became awkward. Like why do you do it the other way?

You are so dead on. I think that babies are wonderful. They're beautiful, great things to have and also the disruption in relationships is significant. The research pretty specifically shows that relationship satisfaction takes a pretty deep dive when the new phase is being a parent.

Your own mental health does.

Oh, God, yes.

Let's talk about you as an individual.

Absolutely. If you're not feeling great on your own, it's really hard to be great with somebody else or be patient, any of those things.

So say you're already divorced. Do you have people who have been divorced for a while and then go to couples therapy? Do you have any recommendations for that to help?

You mean the two partners to come in and work first?

Yes, actually that's a great question. I love, I think that's beautiful when people do that. And there's not a lot of people, maybe it's not known, but I have definitely worked with people. Some were couples I worked with prior and they had ended up ending their relationship and then they've come back if, I don't know, parenting issue comes up or there's something that they find they're stuck in. And I've had a few people, I wish there were more people that would do that.

A lot of people go to mediation, but sometimes I think if you just came to someone like me or someone with my training, you could probably save yourselves a lot of time and money by working with a therapist versus having to go back to court.

Just made me think about my childhood side, bringing that up.

Yeah, yes.

What preventative work can I do in my relationship with my significant other starting today?

Yes, this is so important. And this to me comes back to this thing about like people waiting. So I would say be thinking from the beginning of your relationship, even that's a great time.

I know some, I think in the Catholic church, you do pre-Cana and there's some other things that are religiously based before people get married, but that has its own thing and it's not for everybody. But the notion of that is great. So if you're early in your relationship, chatting with somebody that can help you lay down some foundational things.

But just a day-to-day basis, I think we underestimate the small things. I don't know if you're familiar with the Gottmans, they're a couple, they're like the world's known couples, therapy researchers, and their big thing is small things often. I will say two things to people that are really low hanging fruit, because I also recognize, and my other soapbox thing that I didn't get too much,

I'll talk about is what we're working up against in our culture in terms of time,

for relationships. But if you're busy, you have a full life, you have children, you may both be working outside of the home, you don't have good childcare. I'm not going to ask you to spend another eight hours during the week on your relationship. But if you can find 10, 15, 20 minutes a day to have a conversation with each other, where each of you gets to do a bit of a brain dump, and the other one, your only job, and this is where it gets dicey because we don't do this well, is to listen. If they ask you for feedback, that's fine, but it's mostly listening, being supportive, and being curious.

I'll say to couples a lot that I'm working with is, "So let's say your partner comes home and they're talking about terrible their bosses and they did this thing and that thing and this thing and that thing." When you're listening and you're thinking, "But I know how you are, I'm guessing you probably did this thing that made them angry." That's not your moment to say that. You don't have to say that in that moment.You can just be supportive.

That's where the reflection and empathy come in. "Oh my gosh, that sounds terrible." "Oh, that's rough.""That meeting sounds brutal.""Oh, and you were upset about this last week too." That doesn't mean you agree with everything that they're saying. You're condoning anything. You're just listening and demonstrating empathy. You can be curious and ask questions. "Were you upset for the rest of the day?""What did you do next?" "How did you feel when you left?" "Did you talk to that person that sits next to you that you always are able to chat through things with?" And then if they ask you directly, "Do you think I did something? Is there something I could find?"

That's your moment, but you don't need to do it then. This is purely brain dump, listening, empathy, maybe some curiosity, and your goal is support. And I think that is a tricky thing because people will say to me often, "I'm not being

honest."But I would disagree with that because this does not mean you're agreeing wholeheartedly with everything you're saying, you're just using that conversation for a different purpose. That for me was one that I definitely did

not learn until grad school. I was like, "But I thought I needed to plead my case and present my argument and that doesn't really work in relationships. It might work in the negotiating room but not with your partner." Another small and simple but easily underestimated is we know that it takes 20 seconds minimum for oxytocin, which is the cuddle hormone. It's why they put the babies on you when they're born. We know it with kids, right? It's why we make physical contact with them so easily. And it can be really hard to do with our partners, especially when you're busy.

I'm consistently surprised by couples who don't even say hello and goodbye to each other when they come and go from the house. Like people head off to work or they leave and they don't speak to each other. And I would say like, when you come home, walk in the room, say hello, maybe a smooch, maybe a hug, but some sort of contact. And then when you can, those 20 second hugs go a long way.

And I'll be honest, sometimes when I'm really frustrated with my husband, the last thing I wanna do is hug him. But I've found, I literally have to lift my own arms up sometimes to get him around him because I'm so frustrated. But it is amazing how powerful that oxytocin is. And once it's going, it really helps. So those are little things that you can do every day and truly don't take more than 20 seconds to 10, 15 minutes and we'll go a long way in your relationship.

I love that. I took a lot of marriage and family classes just because I wanted to, because I could in my degree. And it was my time, right? I learned the importance of face-to-face when having those conversations and that gives them, even talking about children here, that when we are being empathetic and reflecting back and really listening, that they will start opening up and telling us the big things. And if we are, "I know how you are, so of course that meeting didn't go well", and I bet if you said a comment like this, they're closing off, they're not gonna tell you the things that actually matter to them because you are showing that the small things don't matter. So I really like how you touched on that.

Absolutely. I will add one thing too about that. If you have a partner who struggles is a little bit avoidant, like emotion or conversation is not there for. Take them to a place where they're comfortable. That's the one place where I would say not face-to-face can be better. Taking a walk side to side, but you say you're close together, but you're not exactly like those people do better and if you're moving your body, you process emotion much more easily. So if you know you have a partner who seems to shut down, when you do face-to-face with them, take a walk, drive in the car, and then if you have teenagers, they do better in the car when you're side-by-side.

When you're driving or they're driving?

I don't know, mine I just think of driving and I don't think I can have a real conversation because I'm gripping the bar. But mostly if you're driving and they are next to you, it tends to kids are so attuned to what's happening for us. So even if we think we're playing it really cool, non-reactive, they're picking up on that. So those are good places for, again, teenagers and partners who just struggle a little bit with any kind of emotion because it feels too intense for them. But otherwise, face-to-face.

There are certain topics that are too intense where we need to go for a walk, or we do it on the drive and have a movie playing in the van.


The kids are watching a movie while we can talk.


Sometimes we go for a drive just because that's when we actually can talk and they're not so needy.


Here's some food, here's a movie, goodbye.


Yes. Okay. This one I'm really excited for too. What milestones are most important to be aware of in my relationship and what should I do about them?

Yes. I love this question. I can tell you get development just by the fact that you ask the question. There's a woman named Ellyn Bader and she runs the couples therapy Institute in California. She and her partner developed what they call the developmental phases of a relationship. So the way we think about child development, the different milestones that they have. So I tend to use theirs.

They break it into four different things. The first is they call it bonding, which is that really schmoopy part of the relationship when like everything you just have stars in your eyes and everything your partner says and does, even the way they chew gum is like magical, and you just can't believe how connected you are. And this is often when people are just having sex all the time and they're cuddled. And like even sometimes other relationships can fall off. These are the times your friends are like, "Where have you been? I haven't seen you in three months. You're just always with you or whoever." So it's that part. And you're really not aware of differences at that point.

We actually know there's some parts of the brain that turn off during that time, like judgment, decision making. Some of those things get a little, If you look at the brain scan of someone in this phase of a relationship and the brain scan of someone on cocaine, they look very similar because it just lights up certain parts of our brain, which I always find funny.

And then you move into--

But what about a teenager? 'Cause I feel like some of that, I expected you to go a teenager, not coke.

It's similar, because it's like those risk reward centers, the decision-making parts of your brain, the ability to recognize consequences, some of that. And there's reasons for that, there's some evolutionary reasons like by logical reasons that those things get turned down so that we can meet people and bond with them. Otherwise, we would never connect deeply enough. So this is what gets us going there. And then you and all of these phases can there's not a specific amount of time, they think bonding, they say last anywhere from six months to two years at the very long range of things. I think it's probably more like six months to a year for most people.

And then you move into differentiation. And that is the period of time where you start to actually recognize, "Oh, we are not the same people. Oh, the way you chew gum actually isn't beautiful and wonderful. And maybe there's some things I don't love about what you do." And this can be really disorienting for people, especially when they've been in that starry-eyed phase and everything seemed wonderful. But it's also important to recognize, "Oh, you're a whole person. I'm a whole person. We're different."

The main task of this phase is to figure out how to do conflict well. So when one partner reaches this phase before the other one, if they happen at the same time, that's magical, it's easier, that is so often not the case. But essentially, what you want to do is be able to get through conflict and realize, "Oh, we get closer when we talk through hard things." If we can find our way through this, we actually bond more deeply because vulnerability is where real deep connection happens. And so sometimes you have these hard frank discussions and you actually feel better at the end.

A lot of people really struggle with this phase and they move through it, but they don't actually know how to resolve conflict in a way that's productive and that can be tricky down the road. So then you move into this phase called practicing. And this is when you actually go back to seeing yourself as an individual. You're finding your own friends, maybe you're you're building your career, maybe you're building up your own self-esteem and competence from things that make you a whole person. And usually it's like a pretty self-focused moment, not in a bad way.

The thing is just people coming back to themselves. I see this a lot with people as their kids are getting a little bit older, they suddenly are like, "Oh wait, I don't need the hands-on care partner as much. I'm gonna do my thing, you do your thing." This can get dicey and cause conflict. If people don't have strong connections underlying it, they don't have good structures in their relationship set up for this, and one person feels like they're not able to do what the other one is, but the task of this is essentially figuring out yourself and getting those needs filled and how you do that outside of the relationship so that you can come back to it as a whole person. And that's a pretty long phase usually.

I think that, 'cause it kind of dips in and out of differentiation and practicing, This isn't linear necessarily, you go in and out. And then reproachment, that's where you come back to each other. It's not the like, okay brain beginning bonding phase, but you come back to each other. "oh, I really like you actually." "You're who I wanna hang out with."

Again, I think we typically think of people reaching this phase, maybe when kids leave the home or they're coming back to that kids are old enough to have more time together. I have two teenagers now and I'm noticing, I think my husband and I are suddenly like, "Oh, wait, do you want to go? I'd actually rather go for a walk with you. Let's go grab a glass of wine." It feels not the intensity of the beginning, but its own lovely reconnecting with the depth of the history of the relationship. This sense of tenderness, people find they're coming back together. Sometimes people's sex lives revive during this phase. I think there's also less caretaking. I am a firm believer that the hands-on caretaking of others and this phase are linked in that as you lessen your hands-on caretaking with your kids, you have more space for this kind of thing. I don't know what the research says specifically, but that's my belief from my clinical work.

And then finally, we get to synergy, which is that place of it's just a really deeply bonded connection where you fully recognize that we are better together than we are apart, but it's not enmeshed where you aren't your own whole people, but you just really appreciate the connection that you have and you move forward. I think when we see those little old couples that seem so sweet. That's not always the case underneath, but that's the picture that we have, I think, that comes with this phase.

Some of them, maybe they just got married.

Yes, exactly. They may be coexisting and they really don't like children, but just stay. It's the image,

I think, that is pretty out there in our world. For sure.


Okay. What unique insights or expertise can you provide in these areas?

Yeah. I would say, and I think I touched a little bit, but let me go a little deeper. When I see the most difficulty in relationships is during the differentiation and the practicing phases. Differentiation can be a great time to come in a couple of therapy because you are starting to realize how you don't line up and where that may cause conflict. I would say setting some good structures and strategies into place for fighting fair early on, really is a good foundation. If you can, when you start to notice this, come in. I think about some of the couples I've worked with,

I think the earlier phase, often has some people move in together. You'll start to see some of this stuff back to the dishes in the sink, or does the toilet roll, paper roll under or over stuff? Who puts the stuff away? Who walks the dog? Those types of things. It can be really useful because undoing practices that aren't so great related to differentiation gets harder the longer they are in practice because they just get more embedded.

And then in the practicing phase, I would say, I see a lot of people that come into my office and it's an FU version of the practicing phase where it's, "I'm going to do what I want. I don't care what you say." And I get it where people get to that. And sometimes it may feel warranted, but over a long time that could be corrosive. So if you are struggling with that, I sometimes talk about the tally sheet that some couples will keep. You were out with your boys for two and a half hours on Friday, so I'm going out with my girls for 2.75 hours on that doesn't serve anybody.

I think it can be helpful to get some support on that is, how can you do that in a way where everybody is supporting each other? No one really has enough time to get what they need. Nobody really has enough time to have all the things that fulfill you as a person, but how can I best support you? Like my husband knows that for me, going and walking with my friends is one of the best things I could possibly do. It makes me feel good, I move my body, I talk about all the things. So even if we're busy and he's not around, he will work to set it up that I can do that. "What can we do about this?" "How can we get the dog taken care of?" "Maybe the neighbor can take him out." And vice versa with him, he's a big cyclist. He likes to go on these long rides. Even if I have a conflict, can I also then work to support him getting what he needs to happen? And sometimes he just needs help with that.

So I'd say those are probably the two biggest developmental things to be paying attention to in your own relationship. One, if you find yourself having conflict or getting in that tally sheet thing, hopefully this will normalize it for you to say, oh, I think we're just in this phase of our relationship. It's not 'cause you're a jerk or I'm a jerk. That will be a beginning. And then, okay, we've tried to make our way through this, but we're not able to do it, let's get some help. Or, oh, you know what? I know that in this differentiation phase, our main goal is to do conflict well, so let's buy this book, let's talk through this differently, let's go see a therapist, because I think that will help us in the long run.

I love that. My husband and I call it tit for tat. We know a few people who are like that in their marriage, and we don't like being around them as a couple because it rubs both of us the wrong way. We very much like to help the other person and support them like you were saying. Our marriage feels better. Because he's doing something nice for me, I wanna do something nice for him, but it's not keeping score at all.

And it's very much the notion that it's never, we're both giving 100%. It's always ebbing and flowing. 'Cause one day I can't because I'm not feeling well or the kids just tapped me out, or he had a hard day at work, or just we're never giving 100%. We should never expect that of the other person or expect that of ourselves. We're setting ourselves up for failure if we do that. So I really like this whole thinking of we are different, but how do we work together? How do we make this work and look at things as this is the problem, not you are the problem or I am the problem. So I really like what you're saying.

Okay. We are getting short on time. So tell me about your book and what you have going on.

Yeah. So I'm working on a book right now. It's about Gen X relationships specifically. People always look at me like, "What are you talking about when I say that?" But what I've learned, I am a member of Gen X and overtime, just through my clinical work, through my own experiences, and then it gives people in my life that are also grew up in the same world, started to realize there were these very similar relationship issues that were coming up.

And because my favorite thing to do is research, because I'm a big dork and that's what I love, I started doing a ton of research because I could not understand why this was happening. And the answers I was getting were like, "I don't know. I don't think it's just that women are having a midlife crisis." And what I came to realize was there was so much happening in the the world that we grew up in, significant changes in gender dynamics, laws change, things like Title IX. There was huge upheaval in the economics, divorce rates spiked, women went back to work in numbers, never before seen, as everybody knows, we were the latchkey kid generation. So all those things have now played out into the way that people are doing their relationships. So the book really takes a lot of that stuff and explores through Klein anecdotes, all of which of course has changed to make it totally private.

Nobody knows who the people are, my experiences, and then a bunch of history and sociological research to explain why the relationships need a different kind of support, and why the issues are different, and then how things can move forward. That's too, I meant to say this earlier, this comes back to a big piece of my work, and this is like the social studies teacher in me, is to also say you are not alone in your issues, and it's not just you that are creating them.

We live in a world that makes it hard to be in relationships. We don't have great childcare options. We don't have maternity and paternity leave options. All these things actually play out in your relationship. This is my way of demonstrating all of that in this book.

You have a title yet and a date yet?

I do not have a date. The working title right now is Gen XO. It's in the process of being shopped around, so I will definitely keep you posted. I'm hoping that it gets handled soon. It's been a long process for me.

I should say I also hope this will be helpful to the generations that come behind Gen X because I think they are doing better in the way they're handling things, but also have experienced some of the same things that we have because things change so dramatically. So to be determined when it will be coming out and hopefully the name will stay.

How do we follow you to know all the details?

You can come, you can find me on Facebook and on Instagram, just three points relationships for both of those. My website is When you go to the website, you can also sign up for my newsletter, which I send quarterly and just covers, I usually pick one theme per newsletter. I'll talk about some current research. I usually give some tips and tricks and then share things like what I'm reading, what I'm listening to, interesting things to see.

Perfect. I will make sure to link all of it in the show notes. So come back to my website to check it out and follow us both on social because we will be tagging each other. Thank you so much for your time spent preparing this and for meeting with me beforehand and for this time together. I learned a lot and I am very excited to do another episode with you about Fair Play.

Thank you. I'm so happy to be here. I really appreciate it.

Thank you for joining us on this week's refreshing wellness discussion. I am Autumn Carter, your guide through the seasons of motherhood, and I hope you found inspiration and valuable insights during our time together. If you resonated with the topics we explore today and want to continue your wellness journey, I invite you to follow me on Instagram at momswellnessineveryseason. There you'll discover a wealth of ongoing wellness tips specifically curated for moms like you.

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