There is a learning curve to making marriage work after quitting drinking.

Most marriages have some common patterns and habits that can make or break the relationship.

And when you stop drinking new ways of communicating and interacting with your partner can strengthen your relationship as it is adjusting to the new normal.

Because we use alcohol as a coping mechanism, a way to suppress negative emotions, and a tool to connect with the people around us, there is a learning curve to making marriage work after quitting drinking.

Even if you have a strong and happy relationship it’s common to feel defensive, resentful, misunderstood, unappreciated, isolated, secretive or lonely when you’re struggling to moderate your drinking.  

While you’re likely feeling much better physically, emotionally and mentally without alcohol, it’s also normal to go through a phase where you wonder if you and your spouse know how to communicate or have anything in common. 

  • Your partner might be your drinking buddy so you need to learn new ways to connect without alcohol. 
  • Or you might have drifted apart while you’ve been drinking so you need to reignite your relationship. 
  • You might have been drinking to avoid or tolerate things in your marriage that you’re not happy with, and now they’re front and center without a buffer. 

  • Or it’s possible you have let irritations, resentments and frustrations grow over the years without resolution. 
  • Your partner might not understand why you are taking a break from alcohol or how to support you. 
  • And they likely don’t realize you need to reduce overwhelm and have them take on more of the household chores and parenting responsibilities while you’re in early sobriety.
  • Your partner might worry that you’ll outgrow them or like them less if you stop drinking, or feel insecure or jealous of the connections you’re making on this alcohol-free path. 

So, today we’re talking about how to make marriage work after you stop drinking.

My guest today is Dr. Robert Navarra. Dr. Navarra is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Gottman Therapist and Master Trainer, and holds National Certification as a Master Addiction Counselor. 

The Gottman Method is an approach to couples therapy that is based on the Sound Relationship House Theory.

The Gottman Method aims to improve verbal communication, increase intimacy, increase respect, increase affection, remove barriers to conflict resolution and create more empathy and compassion within relationships.

Dr. Navarra works with couples in recovery and he provides resources and support for couples who have been impacted by addiction and are now in recovery. 

Tune in to hear Casey and Dr. Navarra discuss:

  • Habits that can make or break a marriage
  • 7 Research-Based Principles for Making Marriage Work
  • How to increase intimacy, respect and affection within your relationship
  • Why good marriages don’t necessarily have less conflicts than bad ones
  • How to revive a relationship that has fallen into negative patterns 
  • Why criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling can be lethal to your relationship
  • How to turn towards your partner rather than against or away from them
  • The five-step model for resolving conflict in a healthy way
  • The Gottman Method approach to couples therapy
  • Why creating shared meaning in a relationship is key for sustaining you partnership

Ready to drink less + live more?

Join The Sobriety Starter Kit. It’s the private, on-demand sober coaching course you need to break out of the drinking cycle – without white-knuckling it or hating the process.

Grab the  Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking, 30 Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free

More About Dr. Robert Navarra

Dr. Robert Navarra has co-authored several book chapters with Doctors John and Julie Gottman and co-authored articles on Gottman Therapy for the Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy with Dr. John Gottman. 

Additionally, Dr. Navarra contributed an article on couple recovery from addiction for the Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy.

To learn more about Dr. Navarra, head over to 

Looking for resources to help you navigate recovery together, check out

Learn more about The Gottman Institute, head over to

Connect with Casey

Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!

Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.


The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.

In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more. 

Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life. 

Be sure to grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.

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Making Marriage Work After Quitting Drinking with Dr. Robert Navarra


drinking, partner, couples, relationship, defensiveness, alcohol, Gottman, people, feel, contempt, repair, stonewalling, criticism, impacted, happen, alcohol use disorder, conflict, interactions, escalate, addiction

SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Dr. Robert Navarra


Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.

In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.

Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.

Hi there. Welcome back to the podcast. Today we’re talking about how to make marriage work after you stopped drinking. And I’m incredibly excited about my guest, Dr. Rob Navarra. He is from the Gottman Institute, who I’ve been following for about 20 years actually 20 years ago before I got married to my husband and I have read, embarrassingly, almost zero marriage or therapy books in the last 20 years. But we bought and read John Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work before we got married. And it actually really resonated with us after four moves. And all those years, it’s still in my office, the pages are yellow, and we still make jokes and what you’ll hear about which are repair attempts, referencing stuff from the Gottman book. And it’s really sort of impacted how I relate to him and what I think about.

So, I know a lot of the women I work with, and I’ve heard from are in long term partnerships. And their partner might be their drinking buddy, or your partner might really want you to stop drinking or your partner may not understand why this is actually hard for you and why you can’t moderate. And there are some common patterns and problems and breakdowns in relationships that happen either when you’re in the drinking cycle and trying and failing to moderate or after you stopped drinking and go through that period of relationship adjustment.

So, I invited Dr. Navarra on the podcast. He’s a licensed marriage and family therapist, a certified Gottman therapist, and master trainer and holds national certifications as a master addiction counselor. He works with couples in recovery. He provides resources and support for couples who have been impacted by addiction and are now in recovery. So, I think his expertise is just incredible for the conversation we’re going to do today and probably for you if you’re listening to this podcast. So, Bob, welcome on the podcast.


Well, thank you, Casey, it’s a joy to be here. I really appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with you.

Casey McGuire Davidson  03:41

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s so needed, because this is something that comes up with almost all the women I work with or hear from if they’re in a long term partnership, because there are all these set patterns that have been built up over seven or 10 or 20 years. And there’s all this fear and period of adjustment and sort of miss understanding when someone changes.


Yeah, but underscores some of that a lot of times is stigma of what it means what alcohol means what other substances mean. And why do people use and why do they have struggles sometimes some people struggle stopping. So, there’s a lot of a lot of information, we now have to help explain why there are struggles and options that people might want to consider if they’re considering making changes in their drinking or substance use behavior.

Yeah, a lot of lot of things I’ve noticed over the last I’ve been working in addictions, my goodness since 1987.

Wow. That’s been a while.

Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of changes needed changes. So, there’s, it’s an exciting time actually to work in the field around this issue with people to provide these resources.

Casey McGuire Davidson  04:52

And I do feel like a lot of the stigma is still there, but it’s definitely changing. People are becoming more Open about stopping drinking and thinking of it more as a health choice. And less of you know, you’re being labeled, but everyone is completely different. And it it’s a very touchy topic in society as a whole.


You know, it is. And part of it is how we sort of the terms we use to describe problematic behaviors. So sometimes like, originally started working in the field in addiction, specifically, I’ve been I worked in actually worked in the field since, like 1980, prior to the addiction specialty, and the terms that people use now are different than the terms that were used back then, in the professional community to describe problematic drinking, which has category. So how we define terms really makes a difference.

Yeah, versus a non-problematic drinking, because not all drinking is the same. And the consequences that follow those various styles need to be understood and talked about.

Casey McGuire Davidson  06:00

Yeah, that’s really interesting. So now, how do you talk about it and define it, kind of think about all substance use? So, we’re talking about alcohol now? Yeah. But we’re also talking about any substance use. And also, there’s behaviors that are associated with compulsive like addictive like behaviors. So, all of that kind of factors into the mix. But we’ll focus on alcohol in this case, right? So, it looks this way, when you look on a continuum to say, well, what are the patterns of use from sort of irregular drinking, so maybe episodic, every once a while to more than that, to consistent drinking, to what would be considered moderate drinking, heavy drinking, would start to move into this category of problematic drinking because of health issues associated with that level of drinking. Then there’s a whole nother category of alcohol use disorder, which is actually a diagnosable thing based on symptoms. And then within that, there’s mild, moderate, severe. And when we get to the severe end of an alcohol use disorder, what we’re really mostly talking about typically is addiction. Yeah, it isn’t necessarily addiction, necessarily at the mild or moderate level, even though the term the diagnosis, alcohol use disorder could be applied. So, one of the things I learned, for example, is that people diagnosed with alcohol use disorder now to meet the symptoms, at least two of the 11 symptoms will not meet that criteria in four years. Oh, that’s interesting. So, it’s maybe more situational than it actually is an addiction.

Yeah. So, there’s a lot of things to consider in terms of developing a relationship with alcohol that you’re comfortable with.

Casey McGuire Davidson  07:41

Yeah. And one of the things I love I mean, I’ve been a big fan, as I said, if sort of the Gottman Institute’s approach to marriage, and to also thinking about, you know, one of the most interesting things about the Gottman Institute, I think, is the premise that I heard first is that, you know, they can watch or you can watch or, you know, a couple interact for a couple hours and predict with like, 94 or 91% accuracy, if six years from now, they’re going to be together or not. Is that right?


That’s correct. You don’t even need that amount of time. Really? Yeah, there’s things to look for that are pretty clear indications of a relationship and distress, which can be predictive, if left untouched. So, what’s really important to know is that the research that says okay, we can predict with a fair amount of certainty 1% of the time, which couples are either going to be in great distress or not together in three or four years, if left undone, so those are research couples, the couples that get into therapy or have some strategies or a blueprint, like you are identified, saying, Oh, here’s some things that we’ve learned from the research that we can adapt to. Yeah. And that changes the trajectory. So, there’s nothing indelible about that. That’s the part that’s so cool about the Gottman research. Yeah, there’s divorce prediction. And then there’s divorce prevention, your if it’s not divorce, but relationship commitment stuff. So that’s the exciting part of the research. Yeah,

Casey McGuire Davidson  09:12

I love that. I think it’s really, really interesting. And when I read it, it makes a ton of sense. So, I want to kind of go into that. And what I love about the intersection with addiction or abuse or drinking or trying to stop drinking is, I recognize that a lot of the behaviors that are described in relationship distress and even in my own relationships are exacerbated and aggravated by drinking like your defensiveness or feeling resentful, feeling misunderstood, feeling judged. criticized, and the other way too, because you’re trying to act like nothing’s wrong until you throw the criticism back on. others. So, I mean, the behavior even in my own marriage definitely saw a lot of that sort of relationship in distress behavior that would, that would lead to longer term problems building up as my drinking was building up. And then once I stopped drinking, and sort of changed my interactions, it really dissipated.


See, you’re hitting insight that maybe most people here, this might sound obvious, but it’s not always obvious to the people in the middle of it. I’ve worked with couples over the years where they’re connecting increased conflict with alcohol after I say, Well, was there any alcohol involved in this? And how often is that seem to happen? They go? Oh, yeah. Now that you mentioned it, that seems to be a factor. And one of the myths and that I think is really important to dispel is this idea that people say things that they really mean, when they’re under the influence, you know, interesting. That is a total myth. Okay. Tell me about that. What that means. Is that alcohol? Is it a disinhibitory? Right?

So, people say things that they enter under the influence, so their frontal lobes are not working the show in the moment, right, so that what’s happening in the brain is disinhibition. Yeah, but also judgment. And do I really feel this? I’ve spoken to so many people who, after drinking episode will come back and say, Oh, I can’t believe I said those things. And feeling horrible about it. Not because they’re true. They felt bad about saying it, because it wasn’t true. Yeah, it was just an escalation in anger, that momentum, you don’t need a call for that those things can escalate anyway. But alcohol tends to escalate these things, if there’s a lot of distress to begin with.

Casey McGuire Davidson  11:45

Yeah, absolutely. And I know that a lot of the women I start to work with, some of them, want to stop drinking to figure out whether their relationship is really bad, or if it’s the alcohol, and I felt that way, too. And not only that, I was kind of, obviously, depending on how much I drank sort of a blackout gray out drinker. So, my husband and I really do not fight like I don’t love conflict. So, we escalate much before typically, but when I was drinking, I would get really upset and fight and cry. And I couldn’t remember what the argument was about in the morning. I mean, I remember him walking in and be like, what’s happening? Like, I told you, I wouldn’t do whatever you were upset about anymore. What’s going on? And I literally couldn’t remember. And so I was, oh, this is terrible.


Yeah, scary stuff, huh?

Casey McGuire Davidson  12:42



Do you think wow, so? So, we know if this sort of qualifies as a blackout, which means there’s periods of time when I’m not remembering something related to alcohol use, then we know that that part of the brain that’s been impacted that she takes a fair amount of alcohol to kind of get to that point. Yeah, it’s one area. Yeah, yeah. There you go. So, it’s one thing that pass up from drinking, it’s another to have a blackout, which is a different dynamic. And so that short term memory or beyond goes, yeah. And you know, one of the things I really emphasize with couples is that, well, let’s look at the impact of whatever it is that creating some distress in your relationship. In this case, we’re talking about alcohol, if there’s sort of a sort of the stuck place with it, then what I’d like to do is emphasize it as something that is external to the relationship, but that it’s invading the relationship. So, it’s not about fault finding with the person who’s a bit dysregulated. around drinking, it’s like, oh, there’s this external factor that’s impacting both of you. So, let’s explore what that is. And where this falls on that continuum. It removes the blame, ideally, I mean, we all need to take responsibility for our behavior. So, there’s that Yeah. Yeah. But it’s not to find blame. It’s just to say, here’s something that we’re kind of both swept up in. And can we just talk about and kind of get a handle on what this is and what choices we might want to make individually and as a couple, to hopefully have a better solution than what we’ve been trying that hasn’t been working?

Casey McGuire Davidson  14:11

Yeah, I think that’s so interesting, because the way you phrase it really removes a lot of the judgment against the individual who is drinking or if they’re both drinking, because it’s, it’s really true. I mean, it sort of hijacks your brain, it’s addictive, it’s socially acceptable, it’s everywhere. So, it is hard to break away from it. And it does impact all aspects of your life.


Absolutely, that pervasive part. And what creates this sort of this vicious cycle is that there’s distress there’s stress, then the brain associates typically alcohol with reducing the level of stress to numb me from the pain I’m aware of that I just caused, or that I’m experiencing in this relationship with right closer, my partner did it. So comes the numbing agent to not feel the thing that is so awful to feel, which then contributes to additional interactions that don’t go well. So, the solution to the problem is actually the problem with the problem.

Casey McGuire Davidson  15:12

Yeah. When is that chicken in the egg completely, or the catch? 22? Like, that’s right. A lot of people are frustrated with their marriage or angry, so they drink kind of at someone, or they just, maybe they get really irritated by their partner, they’re legitimately hurt. And so, they drink to numb out and they’re afraid, like I’ve had women say, like, the only way I tolerate my husband is by checking out and drinking what’s going to, you know, I mean, it’s, it’s so complex and muddied, like, I don’t want to stop drinking, because what then if I can’t stand him, and therefore I’ll have to get divorced? And what about the kids and the finances? Like, that’s how deep ryos?


Well, that falls into this category of catastrophic thinking. And yeah, maybe there’s some truth to that for some partners. The thing is, what alcohol does is just puts a big pause on managing the solution or managing the problem, as you say. So, what’s also interesting is that the research indicates that if both partners are drinking at levels, maybe similar levels, then even if it’s beyond a healthy level, it’s not really reported as a relationship issue, because both people drink, yeah. Where it becomes problematic is when one person drinking more than the other and the partner is going, um, I’m not really comfortable with this, or whatever way they might express that. That’s what it shows up on the radar as a relationship issue.

Casey McGuire Davidson  16:38

Yeah. Well, and it’s problematic in both relationships, right? Oh, absolutely.


Yeah. But and that’s why saying earlier is I worked with couples where there’s drinking that is clearly impacting the relationship, and they’re both drinking high levels, which are problematic levels. Yeah. Other way to put it, but they’re not reporting. Alcohol is a problem. Yes. And so, when we step back and go, Well, it may be contributing. Here’s the things to look forward to knowing about it. They go, Oh, okay. Yeah. And now we’re getting into a decision tree is like, Well, what happens if we’re don’t drink? What will how will that change our relationship? And there’s a lot of fear about, will I be bored with you? Will you be bored with me? How does this change since we have rituals built around drinking now why?

Casey McGuire Davidson  17:27

If you’re listening to this episode and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit. The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study, sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step-by-step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one-on-one coaching. And The Sobriety Starter Kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it, when it fits into your schedule.  You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time. This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step-by-step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life. You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better, you’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course.

Oh my gosh, everything you’re saying completely and totally resonates. And what I found is a lot of those fears about what would happen to my marriage, if I stopped drinking are somewhat unfounded. Like yes, for some people, they stopped drinking and their partner doesn’t want to change at all or there’s increased conflict, but they have more confidence and self-esteem and clarity and power. For a lot of people. They removed the alcohol, there’s an adjustment period but the marriage and their relationship is much better.


That’s right. That It’s like developing, in some cases, and depending on various degrees of this, I suppose, like really develop a new relationship. Yeah. And here’s the here’s sort of the promise that can be offered to some couples that are thinking about, well, will this make things better or worse in our relationship? And the answer could be well, both could be either or both. But I’m thinking about one research couple, where they both identified as having drunk too much, right. And so, this couple I was my research. So, involve these conversations they’re having with each other. And they said, Well, we used to have this happy hour where you’d sit and drink together for two hours. And it sounded to me like it actually worked for them, it didn’t really escalate, like it often does for partners, you know, and they enjoy the time together. They kind of checked out on their kids. So that was good. But they said, Well, maybe we could have a nonalcoholic happy hour. So, they tried to develop a new ritual. And they said, it just didn’t work. So, they sat with nonalcoholic drinks and stared at each other more detail. Guy, maybe we can come up with something different and develop new ways of connecting. Yeah, that’s what you have to consider in a couple relationships. What are the things that are not working? What are the things that beauty want to create that can fill that need for connection? Yeah, rituals of connection is a huge part of the Gottman research that says, it’s really important for couples to figure out something that’s meaningful, that builds their relationship and is positive.


Casey McGuire Davidson  21:27

Now, I love those rituals of connection. And, you know, I have to say that when I stopped drinking, I’d been married 14 years, my husband and I met when we were like 22 first job out of college. And so, you know, I drank throughout our whole relationship. And he did too. It wasn’t till I stopped drinking, that I realized that a lot of his drinking was sort of keeping up with I was driving a good bit of it. But I, you know, for the first month or so we didn’t go out, you know, we just didn’t go out to dinner, we didn’t have a date, super easy, because we had very young kids. But the first time we were going to go on a date night, once I had stopped drinking, I was terrified. I was like, What are we going to talk about, which is crazy, or like what are we can do like we used to go on a lot of like pub crawls where we have absent drinks at like four different places. And what’s interesting is we you know, I had to think a lot about it. But then we started like going back to what we did when we were 25 like bringing a picnic blanket and books to the waterfront and like reading and listening to music, which was so interesting. And it was when I didn’t drink a ton. You know, it obviously escalated over the years.


Well, that’s such a, I think a keen awareness, you’re talking about Casey, it’s like, alright, so if we established ways of connecting with each other that worked for us, at least, to some degree, and it’s no longer working for us, then what are we going to do to replace that? So, it just makes a lot of sense to say if we’re not going to do this, then let’s replace it with something that will be healthier for our relationship and trust that we have enough interest and love for one another to move forward. If that’s you know, what you feel sort of underneath the motivation to begin with?


Casey McGuire Davidson  23:16

And do you find that in the Gottman work in the Gottman book, you know, one of the things that definitely came through with those happy marriages are based on a deep friendship and mutual respect and enjoyment of each other’s company. And keeping that alive and sort of remembering that in the monotony of everyday life and working kids is a challenge for any marriage. But do you find that when drinking is involved for a while and is a struggle, that some of that mutual respect and enjoyment and deep friendship needs to be repaired more than others sometimes?



Wow, that’s another good insight. Yeah. So, when there’s damage to a relationship from alcohol, and or other things, there needs to be a way to manage that and have a conversation about those hurts so that healing. So, here’s what Gottman describes John Gottman describes as the lifeboat for relationships, repair. We all make mistakes in relationships, right? And so, is there a system of repair that this partnership can sort of fall back on to and within that, here’s what I found that the couples who’ve struggled in that transition from active addiction or active problematic use will say, to active recovery or active abstinence? Yeah, that’s how you define these things, is to say it’s a transition and we’re building new sort of a new way to relate to one another. So, the healing comes in, in our ability to manage emotions.


Hmm. I love that.


That’s what I’ve discovered. That’s the number one thing I had a client many years ago say he was talking his drinking, or trying to anyway, that was his intention. And I said, Well, let’s talk about how you’re going to manage emotion. of excitement of fear of anticipation. Your team won your team loss. Yes. Oh, so you’re kind of like a feelings doctor. Yeah, actually, that’s probably not a bad phrase to use. So, people who’ve been impacted by alcohol need, really to look at what am I feeling? What am I needing, and start working on strategies to be able to express that with their partner? Yeah, that’s the cardinal thing. I asked John one time, don’t tongue out when he said, So how do you find interdependency? And he said, I define it as, basically an agreement within the relationship for partners to express to each other what they think, what they feel, and what they need.


Casey McGuire Davidson  25:44

Yeah. Hmm. What they think, what they feel and what they need. Yeah. And some people are really bad at asking for what they need, or they feel like, they’re not going to get it because they’ve tried before. And they just stop asking.



There’s that. And then if there’s been problematic alcohol use and guilt associated with that, for the person who’s drinking problematically, a lot of times there’s a feeling of I don’t deserve to ask for what I now yeah. And so, the boundaries are not so good for person who’s carried guilt, necessarily, it’s like, okay, so it’s really healthy relationships need to be characterized by your willingness and enough trust in the relationship to say, you know, I really need to have a sit and talk with each other, more than was happening now, rather than, so here’s we’re getting into predictors of bad relationship outcomes. So, criticism is one of the four horsemen. I know you know what I’m talking about, Casey, because you’ve been with the Gottman stuff for a while. Yeah. So, four. Four horsemen are basically negative interactions that characterize the couple’s relationship that are highly predictive of divorce.


Criticism sort of, is the gatekeeper for the rest. Here’s what’s wrong with you. You never you always you should get this.


Casey McGuire Davidson  27:02

Yeah, right about the difference between a complaint and a criticism and that a complaint is, you know, saying that there’s a problem with a situation and a criticism is like saying there’s a problem with you. Is that right?



That’s really good. Yeah. So, this would be a classic criticism, you’d ever want to talk with me? So, I’m blaming you, it’s your fault. And you versus the antidote for criticism. So, here’s some skills that are useful. You described your partner what’s happening from your perspective, you describe your feelings, and you describe what you need. So, there we have our interdependency model.


So, interdependencies, good co-dependency, that’s just the opposite. It feels to me. Like we’re not spending much time talking to each other with each other. I miss you. It’s, I feel lonely. It’s important to me that we figure out how to increase the amount of time we spend together just talking about what’s going on.


Yeah, there’s not one ounce of criticism in that, here’s what I see. But I feel and what I need. Mm hmm.


Casey McGuire Davidson  28:09

Yeah, that’s really good. And it sort of eliminates the defensiveness. I mean, your partner might get defensive anyway. Cuz, you know, you’re transitioning a relationship, but you’re really getting specific about what you need.



Yeah. And you know, I think sometimes you can do what’s called a pre emptive repair. I’m not saying this to criticize you, I just want to spend more time with you and see if we can figure out a way for that to happen. I like it, I still get defensive because nothing is guaranteed. But they’re much less likely to get defensive with that approach.


Casey McGuire Davidson  28:45

And can you define a repair or repair attempt for P? Sure.



So, if something doesn’t work for somebody, there’s an attempt to connect, not responded to favorably, or there’s a conflict, that may be an argument or just may be a disconnect. Not so much a verbal argument. So then there that lifejacket for relationships and repair is an ability to talk about it. And to say, when I heard you say that you didn’t have time to talk with me, I felt hurt. And I just wanted to let you know that I really needed to have time with you. And hopefully the partner can say oh, sorry. You know, I will acknowledge that which leads us to the second horseman defensiveness is the inability to do that. Yeah. Right. So defensive is the antidote to defensiveness is to take some responsibility and basically just listen to your partner’s thoughts and feelings and needs with an openness. Mm hmm. Say, oh, sorry. I didn’t realize that that was going on for you. Yeah, I’m glad you told me.


Casey McGuire Davidson  29:51

I know. And I know that when I was drinking, you know, I mentioned that sometimes I didn’t remember stuff. And my husband would say to me often, we talked about this. And I would be incredibly defensive about that. I would be like, God, I work so hard, and I do so much. And I do XYZ. And of course, you know, or I would pretend that I remembered, which I totally did, and be like, oh, yeah, of course. Sorry. And either way, the part of me was like, I don’t remember this at all. So, was he messing with me is he like, blaming me to get himself out of it? I mean, it was so complicated. And the funny thing is now, you know, I stopped drinking six years ago, occasionally, he still does say that like, and more than occasionally, like, you know, busy life’s different schedules, like, yeah, it’s a basketball game, and he needs to go to practice. And he’s like, we talked about this. And I’m like, did we totally don’t remember, but I react with that with no defensiveness or shame or inner turmoil. It’s more just like, shrug. Which is lovely, because I’m not mad at myself.



Yeah, this is really cool. It turns out in the research couples that sort of have this more on the stable kind of relationship you’re describing now, there’s not necessarily a lot of ups and a lot of downs. It’s kind of more neutral, and non-reactive, just the way you’re describing it. Now, the thing that impacts the ability to do that also, sometimes is kind of looking at our own family history. So, if you grew up in a family where there’s a lot of blame and accusation, then you may have learned, you know what, I’d rather be the hammer than the nail. So, I’m going to come back with a counterattack, defensive reaction, because that’s what I learned. And I’m protecting myself. So that’s kind of another thing to think about, like family of origin stuff and how he learned interactional patterns were things I covered in the workshop, I don’t think every couples is to say, let’s take a look at what you learned in your family about managing emotions, expressing thoughts expressing feelings. Yeah. So on.


Casey McGuire Davidson  32:00

That’s incredibly interesting. Well, so the first horseman is criticism that the second is defensiveness. And remind us of what the antidote is for defensiveness to take some responsibility, which a partner is talking about?


Yeah, if nothing else, you don’t have to agree with what your partner is saying. But to acknowledge your partner’s perspective to say, Well, ideally, the gold standard if you can authentically do this, which is always possible to say, well, I could see why you might feel that way. And just step into I’m sorry, that that was harmful, or you felt hurt by that. Versus I would just imagine that trajectory of a conversation where person says, you know, you didn’t really spend, he didn’t listen to what I said. So, there’s an attack.


Yeah. Versus. Yes, I did. And that they, where’s that gonna go? That’s gonna spin.


Right. So, we started with a criticism, criticism and navigability leads to defensiveness. Versus when I shared with you last night, some of my concerns, and you didn’t respond to me, I felt hurt. I really needed to have you respond. Yeah. And then the partner could step out of defensiveness, who’s listening to this and say, Oh, I didn’t realize that. I’m sorry. Tell me. What happened? I guess I was locked in my own world. Oh, yeah. So, what’s the trajectory of these two different relationships scenarios? Where are they going to end up? There’s enough of that criticism, defensiveness interactions, that’s what they get locked into, versus the attempt to understand your partner’s perspective just opens up a whole nother possibility for the relationship.


Casey McGuire Davidson  33:37

Yeah. And sometimes people have gotten in such negative patterns, it is hard to change that. Or possibly one person is just not interested in changing that. They’re sort of like checked out or so hurt that they’ve shut down. What about the other like, I know, there’s contempt and there’s right stonewalling, which are a lot more embedded or hurtful or, you know, tell us about those.



Okay, so the Four Horsemen are criticism, defensiveness, and then contempt is considered the biggest predictor of the Four Horsemen of divorce. Contempt is coming from a place of superiority as though you know more than your partner that can come across lately as you don’t know what you’re talking about. To sarcasm like, Oh, you have it so rough people that finish a damn calling. So that I mean, that’s these are things that are incredibly harmful to the relationship, or anything that sort of gaslighting to be a version of this. That never happened. I never said that. That’s actually contempt. Now, you may have a different recollection. So, the response could be I don’t recall saying that. Yeah. But if your partner thinks you did, or was reading between the lines, that’s their reality. Mm hmm. You know, sometimes couples will say things like Well, I wish we had a videotape of this interaction, you know, then you can see what you said. And the thing that’s interesting about the Gottman research is that they actually did that they filmed their interactions, and they still see different things. See, look what you did right there. I didn’t do that. Yes, liquid. You know, you’re arguing over the same video that you’re just looking at the same time.


Yeah. All about perception.


Casey McGuire Davidson  35:19

Yeah. And I can imagine that contempt or feeling superior or condescending? Or like, for example, if you’re like, Yes, I did say that, because you can’t remember anything or. Yeah, I mean, that could be a pattern that someone falls into. So, you said that contempt and I think it’s really interesting that you mentioned it could be sarcasm, which is pretty common. gaslighting, condescending to someone, you know, contradicting what they think is true, is the biggest predictor of a relationship breakdown over time. If you see that contempt displayed, is there an antidote for contempt to repair that?



Yeah, the antidote really is expressing your thoughts, your feelings and your needs, it gets right back to it. That concept of interdependency. The original antidote was described as creating a culture of appreciation. So, what you’re trying to do is build a degree of positivity which sort of insulates against those thoughts or feelings, even a person makes a mistake. But really what we’re talking about underneath Edie, contemptuous remark, I default to this idea that well, it isn’t because the person is a bad person, let’s not default to that. Let’s think about why that person might be contemptuous and so often, not always, but so often it relates to their own background, and the thing they’re accusing their partner of is the very thing they’ve been accused of, in their own family. In so the contempt is an internalized message that could be then thrown at the partner in a defensive kind of response. Yeah, protect their own sense of who they are.


Casey McGuire Davidson  37:07

You know, I often when someone really, I learned this somewhere, I don’t remember where but when someone really irritates me, or turns me off for I just am like, God, I don’t like them. Someone told me like, they are reflecting something in yourself that you don’t like. So, what is it about this person that’s triggering this negative response? And why is it you know that way? And it’s sort of like going deeper than just like, Oh, my God, she’s the worst, you know? Yeah.



Right. And this, this is what makes it another great insight, Casey, because one of the things I discovered is a lot of times partners would be angry when they’re, when their partner says something, I even if they do a non-horseman thing, like, I really felt hurt when then the partner who responds with contempt or this extreme defensiveness, sometimes what’s motivating, that is guilt. And they’re dissociating their guilt by being by with anger, basically. Yeah. And so sometimes that’s, that’s part of the motivator.


Casey McGuire Davidson  38:11

Yeah. And I know, you said that sort of positive interactions, or positive feelings are sort of the antidote to that. And I also read that it, you know, you almost need five positive interactions to outweigh every negative one. Is that right?



Yeah. What are the sort of the formulas that came out of the research is that especially well, specifically, it during conflict, the couples that have a stable relationship damage their conflict interactions with a five to one ratio of positive to negative? For some, I heard that number when I didn’t quite understand it. So, when I first got my Gottman training going, and really what it means is that a positive interaction would be things like this, huh? Please, you’re not? Or okay, you have a point there. Or I hear what you’re saying, I see it differently. Versus you’re wrong. Oh, my God, really? And you know, it gets worse from there to the language I don’t need to go to.


Yeah. So, anything that pushes back at the partner doesn’t accept what the partner saying is going to fall in that negative category. And the thing that’s missing that for these couples, is they’re missing intimacy. Because out of an ability to manage conflict comes the ability to increase trust, and to put the relationship in a direction that works better for both partners. win lose. That’s a zero sum game. It’s about what can we do to make our relationship work for the both of us without defensiveness without criticism without stonewalling and contempt?


Casey McGuire Davidson  39:43

That’s really interesting. So, I actually I’m glad you explained that because I thought it was something different. I thought it was the idea of if you walk by your partner and say I love you or give him a kiss or say I appreciate that you did that. They, it’s sort of five of those two, oh my God, You’re annoying me, you know, like, but you’re saying within the particular interaction itself.



Within that when you’re like that it’s kind of been generalized, like all interactions. But the original research I read was that during non-conflict interactions, we’re looking at a 20 to one ratio of positive to negative Oh, really 20 to one it exactly the way you just said. So, these are little building moments of positivity, the sort of the small units of intimacy come in these. Oh, you look nice today. And yes, little sweet and dear, but you just kind of throw at your partner and go in the middle of conflict, if you can listen to what your partner is saying. And say, like, here’s how I see it. But I see I could see your point. What that means is it’s building trust, it’s getting right back to partners need to feel like they can express their thoughts, their feelings and their needs. Yeah. And this is how we develop intimacy by being able to trust it, that it’s okay, we’re not perfect. Yeah, well, maybe I am. But I have a lot of tolerance for you.


Casey McGuire Davidson  41:03

Yeah, that’s interesting. I mean, I’ve had some of the women I work with say that they feel much more known and understood by their partner now than they ever did before. And it’s because they’ve almost had to get more honest and vulnerable and share more, as they sort of navigated life without alcohol.



The fear is, I’m afraid you’re not gonna love me if you stopped drinking, if I stopped drinking, and that’s what holds the pause button on the relationship developing. You step back from that go? Well, let’s just see what we have. Right. And I’m going to share with you some of my thoughts and feelings, and I’m not going to criticize you, hopefully, but I’m gonna let you know what I really think. But I feel and what I really need. That is incredibly attractive, so many partners, that people Oh, really, you want to know that about me? Yes, I want to know who you are. And it feels like we have something real as opposed to this image of what you want me to think.


Casey McGuire Davidson  41:56

Yeah. Well, and that’s interesting, too. And one thing I always ask women to do if they’re able to like if their partner is, you know, if their relationship is in a place that they can do this is kind of tell them at the beginning, like whether or not they say I have a problem with alcohol or whatever, just say, Okay, I’m taking a break from alcohol. This is really hard for me. I’ve read or heard that I’m going to be really tired and sensitive and irritable and need more alone time in the first two weeks. Can you take care of the kids bedtime? Or can we just get takeout for dinner? Can I go for a walk instead of hanging out after dinner, which is when I would usually drink like just being really specific about how they’re gonna feel and what they need, as opposed to your partner having no idea and being like, what the hell you didn’t put him to bed three days in a row. And now



Yeah, again, oh my gosh, yeah. So, these, these are the things that can be avoided by doing that, but it takes some trust in some vulnerability to put your needs out, especially if you felt like they have been met. Yeah. And so sometimes that’s kind of another pre emptive repair, like, this is really important. And I really appreciate if you would support me, I think this will be good for us. So just let you know what’s going on, rather than you guessing or me not wanting to state what I need, because I’m afraid you’re gonna.


Casey McGuire Davidson  43:18

Yeah, asking for support. I mean, that’s another one that I always talk about, and women feel so much fear around is I suggest that they get rid of, in a perfect world, all the alcohol in their house for 30 days. In AA if that’s not possible, at least their beverage of choice. So, for me, I was red wine girl. And to this day, we don’t have any wine in the house red wine in between my husband drinks beer, and occasionally heard out called that was never as it didn’t call to me. And so, you know, some women are like, it’s my problem. I need to deal with this. I don’t want to impact anyone else. And I’m just like, well, when you’re trying to eat healthy, you serve your husband, asparagus and chicken and he just has to deal with it. You know, like, they support you in lots and lots of things if you ask for it. And if they don’t, that’s information and that’s on them, but at least you as opposed to them having no idea and opening the wine every night while you’re gritting your teeth and white knuckling it and angry and irritated and they had no idea.



Yeah, being explicit about what you did and why. And let’s just see how this goes. I’d really appreciate your support. Yeah. Yeah. Great idea.



One of the things that that cracks me up and that I actually I remember two things from gotten in before I was reading, rereading this book for the interview. And the one was repaired attempts as an attempt to de-escalate tension in the middle of arguments. And one thing that, you know, my husband and I, over the years have had lots of different sorts of subtle, small Ways that we sort of de-escalate conflict, but based on gardening, which is kind of funny with the four horsemen, we sometimes actually have for years like go, Hey, like in the middle of an argument when we think it’s a horseman, like, it’s just a joke. We’re just like, that’s a horseman. And then other stuff, like when he’s been, I feel like he’s been totally unreasonable. Like, his dad would be like, okay, pal. And so, I’d be like, alright, pal. Like, it works. It works to like, and trust me, he’s got a million of them for me and what I do, but you know, what about that? Because there are, you know, it’s, it’s hard when you try to de-escalate the tension, and the other person doesn’t take the rope.



Right? So, these are great examples. There’s actually a term for this called embedded codes. These are unique little saves, and jokes only between the partners, and everyone else would hear it though. Right? But it means it’s, it’s meaningful to you. And anything that de-escalates the conflict is a repair, just like you said. However, if it’s not working, if you use humor, your partner doesn’t laugh, that could reflect a number of things, it could reflect what’s called negative sentiment override, which means there’s so much negativity in our relationship right now. No matter what you say, no matter what you say, it’s not going to work, the repairs tend not to work. It’s just this pervasive belief that there’s something wrong with the partner the relationship versus partners at positive sentiment override, where they kind of have the benefit of the doubt. Like, okay, you’re grumpy mood today, I’d like it, but it’s not a definition of who you are, or the state of our relationship just means you’re having an off day. And I’ll, I’ll give you a little space. Yeah. So, the same behaviors and in negative and positive sentiment override have different meanings and values, the very same behaviors.


Yeah, right. So, these are the things that you’re talking about when you’re able to laugh with each other during these conflict moments that reflects positive sentiment overriding negativity, which is really cool. So, what happens when the negative sentiment overrides like you’re trying to do a repair attempt, and it’s just not happening? The person wants to fight the person is blaming and contemptuous? What do you do in that? Yeah.



So, if it’s reflecting this negative sentiment, sentiment override position, you know, here’s what we learned from the research, there are no less attempts in a distressed marriage for repair than there are in an under stress that relationship that’s not in distress, just say minor repair attempts, they just don’t work with negative sentiment override, or they’re the same repair attempts on both sides. There. The vini. Both partners are attempting to repair in distress marriages and in no stress, right, we just say if there’s a…


Yeah, if there’s a researcher looking at the number of repair attempts, what they’ve concluded is there’s no less number of them. Okay, in couples of distress, they just don’t work. Right.


Yeah. So, you actually had the solution this earlier, in our conversation, the way to make it move from negative to positive is to work on the friendship part of your relationship. That means let’s talk to each other about what’s going on in our world. keep each other up to date. Let’s really focus on what’s working and focus on that. And let’s make efforts to connect with one another and respond to those efforts in a way that make us feel good. Those are the three without getting a lot of detail. Those are the three lower levels of the friendship system love maps, here’s what’s going on for me what’s going on with you. Focusing on positivity, that fondness and admiration, and then making bids to connect and having a response that feels good. Is it’s a turning towards those are the three levels that need to be intact for relationships to be on a stable friendship pattern?


Casey McGuire Davidson  49:02

Yeah. And I remember that from some of the books like they actually have exercises of like, how to go through your love map. I think that was it and like asking questions.



Exactly. Yeah. So, love maps is one of the exercises that couples are encouraged to do. So, there’s a card there’s a card decks you like so what do you think your partner’s favorite tree is? Say? yes to the question. And I don’t know. And what could happen is like, why don’t have a favorite tree. So, it may not be a relevant question. Or, you know, a fig tree. What? Fig Tree? Yeah. When I was a little boy, and my parents would argue I’d climb in the fig tree is sort of my safety hat. Oh, I didn’t know that. Yeah. So anytime you learn something about your partner or you, you feel known that’s having good love maps.



Yeah, that’s really interesting too, because especially after you’ve been in a relationship for really long period of time you feel like you know everything about the other person and you make a lot of assumptions and you stop asking questions, you know, and I’ve occasionally like my husband and I’ve been together forever. And like I say something. And this is very occasionally he’s like, what? I didn’t know that. Like when it happened, I’m like, yeah, in this way for years.



Updating love maps, is that’s a crucial thing. And so, love maps of all those levels of the sound relationship house, these nine different levels that we discovered in the couples research. So, it provides this opportunity to be updated on what you know. But it also is the most variable because you may have other levels, what I’m trying to say, you may have a lot of knowledge about some aspects of your partner’s thoughts, feelings and world and other things not so much like, Well, how do you feel about? Like, what’s important to you? Do you have any dreams and goals and aspirations? I don’t know about you want to talk about it? Well, yeah, I’ve always wanted to really? Yeah.


Casey McGuire Davidson  51:01

You know. Yeah. I mean, and I think when you said updated love maps, that’s something that that is important, right? Because your dreams change, and your priorities change and your frustrations with your job or feeling trapped or feeling pressure change. Yeah, no, you know, it’s not the same as when you first met.



Right? And things should change. That’s what keeps relationships fresh and new. And yeah, updating each other with Well, now that I’m a little bit older, the kids a little bit older. These are the things that are coming up for me that I didn’t have time to deal with earlier in my life, but something I want to explore now.


Casey McGuire Davidson  51:40

Yeah, because, you know, I mean, I know that sometimes people feel like they’re changing the rules of what they signed up for what they agreed to, or who their partner married. Like, I know that, you know, we’ve been together forever. But when, you know, throughout a good part of our marriage, I was on the corporate track, and I was earning a good bit of money. And that was sort of the way we’d set up our relationships. So, when I was like, I want to quit my job and become a life coach. It was a significant renegotiation of sort of the deal that we had going.



Yeah, well, you know, there’s two in the sound relationship. So, we got the friendship system, which are those three levels, I talked about love maps, by the separation bids, and turning towards ways couples could act when there’s conflict, then there’s the upper two levels of this metaphor of the house, the upper two levels are meaning. So, creating life’s meaning has to do what’s important to me, like you just described for you. And then the upper level the houses, what’s important to us, what legacy do we want to create for our children? Or the things that we share that whether it’s spiritual or whatever, does matter? The thing that’s important to the both of us that hold us together? Yeah. So, to two different levels of meaning. And there could be overlap, they could be very separate.


Casey McGuire Davidson  52:54

Yeah. And you know, it’s interesting, I’ve found that some people are like, this relationship isn’t working for me, or I’m not getting what I need. And so, I’m like, Okay, well, what does a good relationship that would be satisfying to look like, and they’ve actually never defined that they actually don’t know. And so, their partner has no idea either.



Yeah. So is this something like an unfulfilled dream for me, you don’t you my partner do not have to have that same dream. So, there’s that. But what’s important to me? And what’s important to you that holds us together is a whole nother level of meaning that actually that’s an extension of love maps. What do I know about my partner’s innermost dreams, hopes and aspirations? What do I not know? Yeah. And that’s a much deeper level than I know what you did yesterday, because we’re sheltering together.


Casey McGuire Davidson  53:44

Yeah. When some of that is some of that, like love languages, which I know is not Gottman. But you know, Is it physical touch or acts of service? Or, you know, all those things I’ve heard about? Well, that is seems like a different thing that this is, as I’m understanding that. So, rituals of connection fall into this what gives us shared value and meaning and purpose. So how I express that is a sort of a love language moment, I suppose. And sometimes it relates if somebody’s making efforts to connect with their partner, but it’s not really working with a partner, then it’s a what would be called a failed bid. So, it is any attempt to connect with the partner, and sometimes they’re not seen as bids, they’re seen as irritations. So, I made this special dinner for you, because I know you love this. And you know, the person Kate, I’m thinking of a real story, keeping this Italian household where food was an expression of love. And her partner was not so interested in that one in other ways to feel loved and appreciated. Yeah. Because he had to kind of talk about well, what works for you what works for me and let’s be explicit.


Casey McGuire Davidson  54:52

Oh my gosh, I’m thinking of two example. So, a bid is, is it right where I’ve heard like you’re either turning towards your partner Turning away from them if they, if they try to do a bit per connection and you accept or don’t accept.



Yeah, so a bit is the effort to connect. And then the response is either turning away, which I’m ignoring it because I either don’t see it as a bit or somehow missed it. Or turning against where I have a negative response like, Well, what do you want now? Or turning towards like, what’s on your mind? And the effort to respond appropriately to the bed want to go for a walk? Come on, you know, I’m tired, we’d be turning against Yeah, go for a walk, not responding because you don’t feel like it. But you don’t say anything is turning away. Both of those take money out of the emotional bank account. Yeah. Versus attorney towards like, Oh, I’m kind of tired. Can we postpone this tomorrow? Or Sure, let’s go, that those would be turning towards behavior. Mm hmm.


Casey McGuire Davidson  55:49

That’s really interesting. And I’ve noticed that, you know, some of that is, you know, almost like asking further questions of your partner about something they’re interested in, even if you really don’t care, you know, like, just as like, alright, this is important to you. I’m gonna ask you three follow up questions, because it’s a bid.



That’s exactly right. And here’s the thing about this is that’s how you create positivity to relationship. It’s highly predictive. So, we talk about the four horsemen stonewalling, by the way is feeling so overwhelmed, you can’t respond.


Casey McGuire Davidson  56:20

Yeah, tell us dwelling first.



So, let’s just finish this. So, stonewalling in heterosexual marriages. 85% of the stone molars are men. So, the wife might be making a bet, or the female partner might be making a bid, and then it for something or maybe a criticism, and then the partner just shuts down. So stonewalling is feeling so overwhelmed, typically, the heart rate is over 100. And the parasympathetic nervous system is not activated, which is the calming part. But the stress system is activated. Can’t think can’t process shut down. So that is the worst time to have a conversation. And so, you get patterns where somebody is feeling overwhelmed, their partner tries to engage. They shut down even more than the partner gets even more angry. So, it’s pursuer distance or thing. Yeah. As opposed to my heart rates over 100. I can’t think I can’t process. Do some deep breathing, then reengage?


Casey McGuire Davidson  57:20

Yeah, so that’s totally stoic. The partner who is engaging probably doesn’t even realize that they’re in like emotional distress and are just like, you can’t even look at me what the hell?



That’s right. Yeah, I’m thinking about a couple of words a long time ago, where he made a bid in the session to go on a date with his wife, right? And she said, Oh, I already have a date with my girlfriend’s two students at mills that daytime stuff. So, he just looks away from her shuts down. And that she’s trying to talk to him. And he’s not responding. Classic stonewalling. And I said, Let’s get your heart rate said pulse oximeters in the office. And his heart rate was 140 something. And his verbal heart rate would have been 70. Something. Wow. And what happened is he was flooded because he perceived and experienced her response as turning away. Mm hmm. And she no idea she was just a Shinto idea as like, a bad thing. Yeah. He said, and then what came out? He goes, Well, you complain, you’ve complained that I don’t initiate things. So, I tried to initiate something. We started therapy, and then I get shot down. Yeah. Now, that was a strong reaction, because she didn’t really shoot him down. She just stated she had another engagement. Yeah, but now he got triggered because he also grew up in a very critical family where he couldn’t win. So, what we had here was a trigger to family of origin stuff that he was risking behavior, so to speak with his wife and his partner. And so, it wasn’t like she really did anything wrong, per se, but it was a trigger that had to be addressed. And once they understood that he got triggered and was it stonewalling, then the takeaway, the narrative is that you never want to talk to me. There you go again, you know, you don’t talk to me at home and we’re paying this guy. You’re still not talking to me. Yeah. That’s for that narrative to Oh, would you feel overwhelmed? You can’t take a process. Okay. Let’s deal with that. So that doesn’t happen.


Casey McGuire Davidson  59:17

Yeah, cuz I always picture stonewalling. Even the word is someone is taking a proactively aggressive stance by just shutting down like, I’m not even going to respond to you at all, where what you’re describing is, the person is in severe emotional distress.



Yes. And they can’t think and process it isn’t that I’m being passive aggressive. It’s like, I really can’t think I can’t process this stuff. So, I’m going to the plant shuts down. Yeah, I understand. That’s the dynamic that has a different narrative to explain what the problem is. Yeah. And that could be managed. That could be managed.



Yeah, but that’s got to be really hard in the moment To realize and process and understand, right because everybody’s in their own feelings and in their own heads and you know all the years of accumulated slights and hurts and everything.



Well, if both partners understand the concept to say, All right, this is from research, the single This is what actually came up that put on the map a half is, is it awareness of what partners are flooding during conflict? This is their initial newlywed research way back at the beginning of everything that became the predictor for couples that were unhappy or divorce because they had escalated conflict, they could withdraw from Oh, so flooding is associated with divorce. Yeah, and relationship dissatisfaction. So, so there’s nothing inherently given that anger creates these reactions is just that we don’t talk about you can’t process that has to be managed. So, you can talk about it.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:00:57

And process when it’s really interesting to think about the family of origin stuff and their sort of hurt or sensitivity or where they come from. Because, yeah, if your family of origin is very different than theirs, you might have no concept of that.



That’s right, which is why it’s so important for partners to discuss, well, how was anchor handled in your house? Today? No, or thinking No, but it’s a good conversation to start with? How about what did you learn about anger? What worked? What didn’t work? Who would? Who would get angry in your family? What was that like? And had that impact you? These are great questions for partners to express their thoughts and feelings about what they learned.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:01:37

And yeah, well, and in my family, like nobody ever got angry, like very waspy. We don’t talk about anything ever. And let’s brush it under the rug. So, I’m highly uncomfortable with conflict.



Yeah. There you go. Yeah, that would make sense.



Yeah, it’s, but it’s interesting, too, because, you know, my husband’s like, I can never get upset, like, you don’t like any negative emotions. And I’m like, Yeah, kind of.



Yeah, it’s but to know that about each other and say, well, let’s just do what we can with this particular issue right now. I’m comfortable. I think I’ve said enough. Can we add? It’s okay to say that?


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:02:14

Yeah. Well, in so communication is so hard. And you were talking about vid attempts. And that did resonate with me, like early in reading this work. That was the second thing the repair attempts, and then the bids of like, just picturing in every interaction, you’re either choosing to turn towards your partner or to turn away from them in some way. And I thought that that was really interesting. One thing that that was funny about, like, you think you’re being nice to someone is, you know, once I stopped drinking, I started going to bed really early, like just, you know, not staying up drinking on the couch. And my husband still stays up to this day and watches TV and stuff like that. And so, I think he was a little hurt that we don’t spend time together outside of kid’s life work, because I was just like, dude, I’m out.


I’m getting up at 5:00 am to work out. I’m tired. And I’m not, you know, staying up drinking, which is purely my energy and all that. But what’s interesting is, for a long time, like the thing that bothered me the most was every morning, his clothes would be like right by the bed. So, four days in a row there would be like these piles of clothes by the bed. And he knows this. So, if he listens, and there was a laundry hamper, like literally five feet away, and I was just like, what I mean, it really graded on my nerves. I was I was kind of angry about this. And like, how hard is it to XYZ. So finally, months later, I was like, Hey, babe, just wondering what the deal is here. And what he told me was that he came in and it was always completely dark and quiet. And so, he put the clothes by the bed so that he wouldn’t wake me up. So, in his mind, he was doing something kind for me. And in my mind, I was like, What is wrong with you? Kind of? Yes, yeah, yeah. But now like to this day is closer to PAL by the bed. But now I feel like it’s a dairy like, I’m like, Oh, yeah. Is that is that cool? Did you kind of sort that through? And you? And you would only know that if you did what you did? Yeah.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:04:28

Maybe I shouldn’t have waited a couple months of Gertie might like



probably could have saved yourself. Some aggravation was sooner than later, but you got to it. So that’s good.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:04:36

Yeah, but it’s just it’s so hard to even know what the other person is thinking or if they are acting hurt, maybe they’re lonely or whatever it is, like it’s really difficult.



This is where the check ins come in. You know, so I would often start therapy sessions with partners turning towards each other, and say, why don’t you check in with your partner on how you’re feeling? they’d separate from the relationships like a scale of one to 10. How are you feeling separate from the relationship? Then the partner could ask questions like, well, what places you there? What would increase that number? Assuming 10? It could feel better? What is that good, feel worse? There’s an individual check in, then I would have them check in as a couple, two, they would both be the speaker and listener on this. So, share with each other how you think you’re doing as a couple on a scale of one to 10? The listener would say what places to set that number? What do you think it would take to increase it or sustain it? So, you’re getting the stuff out there rather than having to go underground? Which is where it does the heart?


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:05:38

Actually, most people never do that. I mean, I know. We don’t on a regular basis, like, but my daughter in second grade, like every day, they go around, and they’re like they have different colors. Like are you red, orange, green, based on how they’re feeling? You know, are they that long? You know, like in class every morning?



Yeah. Well, you know, a great way to start a day with your partner, if your schedules allow for it to settle. So, what’s on your schedule today? And then at the end of the day, or would you reengage with when we say, Hey, how did that meeting go? We’ll set what happened during the phone calls you following up? Yeah, you’re kind of creating this ritual of connection that says, I’m thinking of you wondering how things went for you.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:06:20

Yeah. Or even taking a moment to like, greet your partner, when you come in before you jump on the phone or say hi to the kids or go there.



I’ve had put in when couples say I wish my partner greeted me like my partner greets the dog.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:06:35

Oh, my God. Right. Right. I like my dogs nicer to me. That could be the case. Yeah. Very cool. Well, so I know that people are gonna want I mean, honestly, I’m sitting here like, God, you know, I wish Mike and I would go to the Gottman, you know, weekend things or therapy, just because it would be super interesting to learn all this about each other. Not even because we’re struggling at this moment. But if someone’s listening to this and are like, Okay, this is something that would really help my relationship. How can they follow up and learn more about you and work with you?



Yeah, so I only do workshops. So, I’ve officially closed my private practice after 40 years. Can you do private practice? Yes. So, there’s that. So, if you’re interested in some additional support is sort of the generic perspective, you can certainly go on And find a therapist through or Endor. There’s a lot of resources for couples in terms of the art sites of love workshop, for instance, on that you can download on demand, that kind of thing. So, there’s, there’s resources there. There’s the Gottman blog, there’s the there’s a lot of things you can check out there. My specialty is working with couples impacted by addiction, who are now in recovery. So, I offer a workshop, this is this research based thing to say the transition from active addiction to active recovery is really traumatic for couples that these couples are underserved. And the divorce rate is really high. Because people are not getting help sooner than later, even after getting into recovery. So, roadmap for the journey is my workshop. And I’ve got three of them scheduled for this year 2022.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:08:30

Are they virtual? Are they in person in a certain location?



There, it’s accommodation. So, there’s what you register, and then there is there about two hours of on demand videos that I have partners see before the workshop, then the workshop itself is live virtually. So, it’s five hours on consecutive Saturdays in which we’re giving, I’m giving the research based communication tools, then video demonstrations of how to implement these tools, then couples breakout privately to their own breakout room, no other couples, they get stuck, then they can invite me just me. And then I help them get back on track or answer questions. And we cover how to manage conflict, how to develop a way to talk about trauma from the past in a way that allows you to heal and how to incorporate and support individual and relationship recovery into your everyday life. So, it’s 10 hours, five hours each consecutive Saturday, a couple of hours in the morning, there’s breaks and there’s an hour break between morning and afternoon sessions.


And it’s something I am really excited about this is yeah, I mean, it was wonderful and when you say couples in recovery, are both Partners in Recovery is one used to use the substance and now doesn’t and the other you know, just didn’t have that abuse dependence. issue, or, you know, do they need to be?


Can they be sort of earlier in the spectrum versus, you know, going to rehab or anything like that doesn’t require going to rehab or going to AA or Al Anon or anything, it just means somebody identified some addiction. So, it’s that and one or both partners may have that behavior, their background, and I screen couples, because they need to have so that the active the addiction is not active yet. They know if they’re still in that.


Yeah, but they’re in recovery. However, they define that.


That’s yeah, I don’t have a set definition. I just need to know that there’s no active addiction because it needs to be a safe environment for all the participants. Yes. It doesn’t mean your partner doesn’t drink. Yeah. So, if they’re not addicted partner might drink as long as it’s problematic. Drinking.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:10:54

Yeah, yeah. It’s really hard to make any progress if someone’s still in that cycle.



Yeah, right. Yeah, exactly. Well, so


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:11:02

how do people find your online workshops?



Probably the easiest way is to go to the website, which is Dr. No, period, Robert, Guevara, N, a, v, a, r, r They also have another website just for informational purposes. And that’s got a blog for couples addiction recovery, it’s couple


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:11:30

Very cool. And I will put all of those links in the show notes. So, anyone interested in this, they can just go to the website for this episode and find all that information. This has been incredibly interesting. I love your expertise at that, you know, intersection between the Gottman work the research based and the addiction recovery aspect of it. And couples like those four things to me are like, really incredible that so many people need help with?



Oh, yeah. And not to say this case is that couples are really underserved. People have to work hard to find me. Unfortunately, I gotta change that. Say we’ve been impacted by addiction and recovery. And there’s no services out there. Nobody keeps separating us. And I’m sort of on this mission to a couple of recovery V standards. So, I’ve done I brought this workshop to Betty Ford Hazleton, and I’m invited to do it in different treatment programs. And it’s so well received, but it’s really at the beginning phases of trying to change how we do recovery. Yeah, this Relational Approach. So that’s my mission.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:12:38

And so much of it is sort of either individual, like people are, are letting go of, in this case drinking, and they’re working on themselves, or they go to traditional marriage therapy or talk therapy or whatever it is. And the therapist isn’t well versed in sort of the unique aspect, right, this.



That’s right. That is a problem. That’s exactly right. Yeah. So, these couples are underserved, as well.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:13:06

Thank you so much for coming on. I think this has been super informative, and I learned a lot.



Well, I really appreciated our conversation too. And all the insights you’re sharing with your listeners, these are great insights.

So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more. 


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