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Kickass Couples Podcast

Building a Strong Relationship: Tips for Overcoming Relationship Challenges – Javier & Shannan Labrador- Ep.91 RECAP

By February 22, 2023No Comments



javier, marriage, spouse, servant leadership, learn, committed, couples, relationship, kim, communicate, intimacy, shared, love, talk, approached, conflict, communication, fiery, workshop, kickass


Kimberly Hoffman, Matthew Hoffman


Matthew Hoffman  00:11

Welcome back to the Kickass Couples Podcast. We are excited to be back with you today, doing a recap episode with Shannan and Javier Labrador. First of all, we love these people not because they were just kick ass, and indeed they were. But they have an RV,  “The Love Lab” and they tour the US helping couples counseling, doing workshops, and doing all the same kind of stuff that we just love to do.


Kimberly Hoffman  03:14

Yes, we have a lot in common with them. And that was really fun to be able to host them on the podcast and hear more about what they’re doing. They’re in the same business trying to help couples with their marriages and coaching. And it was just it was a great all round episode. So I’m excited to recap it today.


Matthew Hoffman  03:33

Me too, me too Kim, what was one of the first big takeaways are something that you felt you came away from talking to these two wonderful people. 


Kimberly Hoffman  03:41

Well, I think they really came out of the gate identifying themselves well by telling us how they each sort of had had a workshop where they learned what element they were and right. You know, early in the workshop they learned one was fire and one was Earth and


Matthew Hoffman  04:01

Shannan was fiery. I think she still is a little fiery too.


Kimberly Hoffman  04:04

 Shannan yes was the fiery one. And so really seeing how that has actually played into their marriage over the course of the interview with them was very interesting because I think it was awesome information that they learned. But it was also crucial to them, being able to work together and figure out how they can really make  their marriage be smooth and calm and peaceful. When there’s fire and Earth involved.


Matthew Hoffman  04:38

Yeah, knowing the elements and where they come from and how to approach each other was huge. And I think one of the things that Javier said about being kick ass is that he said we have the right mindset about marriage meaning they know how to approach it. And he said we know what we’re committed to and that we’re in covenant with one another and I just I love that idea. that he shared about that and kind of also talked about, he said, You know, we’ve decided that the first thing for us is we each make God a priority. He goes, and then I make Shannan, my next priority and everything else flows from there, because if it’s in proper order, it’s going to flow, and it will be strong and good.


Kimberly Hoffman  04:38

 Yeah. Well, when we get into a little bit of their history, we really learned that that fire did play a big role in their marriage, and that the first five years were rocky, and they were rough. They had mentors, they had coaches, they had people in their lives to help them through that rough time. And she said that, you know, once, I believe she was able to have a mind shift, once she was able to really process that he was for her, not against her, that he loved her that he was on the same team that she was on, then she really started to shift her thought. And that was very helpful, and how she approached conflict and how she approached communication later on in the marriage. And they


Matthew Hoffman  06:13

learned, they said, those first five years were firing and challenging. And it kind of took them a while to get into that rhythm. And I think that one of the things that they both had wonderful commitment model to them. So they each had a big pool to draw from of experience. And that’s important, a lot of our lot of you out there, you may not have looked towards your parents or grandparents, whoever it was that raised you and said, gosh, don’t want to do a lot of things they did or there’s more negative than positive. And some people say, Oh, my gosh, they modeled it for me so beautifully. And I think both Javier and Shannan said, they drew from what they saw, not just in their parents, but grandparents, and just the generations that were together. And the concept that Javier shared Kim, it was one of my big takeaways. He said, you’re always going to have to give, and he said, it’s not just about giving little things and giving, that’s easy. He said, You have to give sacrificially for your spouse. And that doesn’t mean that like every time you give, you’re giving everything and leaving nothing on the table for yourself. But he said that you have to learn to give sacrificially. And that means taking self out of your first response. And giving because it’s what they need in the moment.


Kimberly Hoffman  07:20

Yeah. And Shannan said, something that really hit me was that he is mine, to protect, not destroy. And I think so often, we get in the rut of criticizing and when something doesn’t go right or our way, really laying into our spouse or complaining and, you know, we forget that wait, are we protecting our spouse? Are we on the same team as our spouse?  Or are we destroying them in this moment? Are we tearing them down and making them feel less than they are?


Matthew Hoffman  07:54

Yeah, I love that. And kind of corresponding that Javier said, you know, I’m called to love her. And I’m no, I’m going to do that really, really well. I’m gonna do that, regardless of how I feel my emotion in the moment, because he saw that modeled and he saw how it worked. And he’s adopting that and making sure that he is delivering for her what she needs, he’s going to emulate that and keep on doing that. I thought that was beautiful, bringing from the past into the relationship that they develop together.


Kimberly Hoffman  08:25

Yeah, they’re committed, there are no backdoors. You know, they’re always looking to learn from their relationship, to deepen their relationship, and their intimacy with each other. And so, you know, it’s funny, because when they when they work with couples, and couples will ask them, you know, what’s the hardest year of the marriage? Javier said, Well, the one you’re in obviously.


Matthew Hoffman  08:54

it’s never cruise control.


Kimberly Hoffman  08:56

No. So we’re always working, and we’re always striving to learn and to grow and to make it better.


Matthew Hoffman  09:02

Yeah, yeah, there’s no mountain top. It’s not like you reach a place in your marriage where you don’t have to work anymore or you don’t have to give any more or, and you know, you it’s, it’s constant. And that’s the beauty about it, too. Because there’s evenflow. It’s never the same, right? It’s not and if it is the same, if you’re hitting the same issues day in and day out, that’s the red flag that says All right, we’ve got to do some triage. We got to do something and make a difference.


Kimberly Hoffman  09:26

Let’s dig deeper. Let’s really learn what the root of all this is.


Matthew Hoffman  09:29

And commitment. Kim, I think Javier talked a little bit about he said, following up a little bit more on the idea of the covenant that I mentioned earlier, he said we are mutually submitted to one another. First to God and then to each other. He goes this is not a contractual relationship. I have to she has to or if we don’t feel the other one is delivering and performing. It gives us an out to hit eject and go do something else. He goes and he said you know we get to do this. So for for him commitment stands up knowing Yeah, he’s committed to God, committed to her. And that’s all there is. 


Kimberly Hoffman  10:04

Yeah. And I think he made a good point and saying also that he’s not just committed, he is committed to her. And that’s first and foremost, as well as being committed spiritually, emotionally, physically, he’s all in. But he’s also committed to growth in his life as a person. And I think that that’s a really important thing to note as well. If we’re not growing ourselves, and we’re not feeding ourselves. And if our cup isn’t full, then it’s really hard to give to others. 


Matthew Hoffman  10:36

Yeah, I mean, he shared, he said, and if you think about commitment to your partner, to your spouse, it’s in every single way. And to follow up Kim on what you said, with Javier he said, I’m committed spiritually, emotionally, physically, sexually, financially. I mean, he like kitchen synced it, he said, every area of my life in our life,  I am committed. And I think that Shannan responded beautifully. She said, You know what, it’s not whether you’re happy or not, or content or not, she said, You know, there’s no options to get out, there’s no back door, she goes, I’m sticking in it, I’m gonna fight for it, I’m gonna fight for you. I’m gonna fight for me, I’m gonna fight for us. And I just, I love that they are so strongly in it. And they each here’s the critical thing. They each know how strongly they’re both committed. And because they have that safety and that security with each other, it gives them freedom to go forward in every other area of their lives together.


Kimberly Hoffman  11:32

 Sure. Let’s talk a little bit about communication. I love what they said about workshops that they give, and how they really like to teach couples, and they do this themselves to learn their communication style. So my communication style might be completely opposite from yours. I know that I get revved up late at night, and I’m ready to, you know, 10 o’clock at night, have a conversation, I don’t know what happens, I just kind of kick into gear. And I’ve learned that that is not a time that I can communicate with you at all. And so I really think figuring out how you communicate when you communicate, is really an important factor in a relationship. 


Matthew Hoffman  12:42

I know there’s so many there’s audible, there’s visual, there’s experiential, there’s demonstration, there’s just


Kimberly Hoffman  13:13

Even just, you know, you love this.


Matthew Hoffman  13:15

Yeah. I do love that touch. You can never give me, that’s one of my big love languages. And it was interesting, you know, have your talked about the kind of quoted Stephen Covey a little bit, he said, You know, I need to actually not just hear what is being said relative communication, but listen to what’s behind it. And often, I think that we look at the surface things that maybe what they said or what they did, and we think they’re communicating just on the words, but really, there’s emotion. And there are things behind those things. And, you know, in other words, it’s not about the toilet seat, right? Is the toilet seat up or down. But it’s kind of like, well, you know, you’re not communicating that you’re not listening to me. You’re not validating me or you’re not hearing me, I’m sharing with you what’s important to me. And that’s the same thing too, about communicating your needs to your spouse, how important it is to have the person not guessing. Is this what you meant? Is this what you want, but really making sure that we’re clear in our communication, and understanding what’s behind the communication, so that we’re acting on the facts and not just the surface.


Kimberly Hoffman  14:20

Yeah, she did. She did. I think, Kim, she said, she had to shift a lot within herself and learn that he is not her enemy, that he is for me. He loves me. He’s for our marriage. So she said, I had to keep that cognitively, in the front of my mind when something would dust up. He’s not doing this to me. He’s not out to get me. 


Kimberly Hoffman  14:20

If you’re not clear, ask, right? I mean, make sure you’re saying I don’t understand what you just said to me. Did you mean this? Or did you mean that and so I think really having a clear picture of what the other one is trying to tell us is important as well. And I guess that leads right into conflict, right? We go from communicating into conflict and having good good communication so we can resolve those conflicts. And you know, it’s no secret that she said, My method of communicating was to be just a start a wild fire and, you know, you can kind of see that visual she came in full on and would be heated and mad and fiery when say Don’t talk to me, I’m the Chief. I’m the queen. You know, nothing you can do or say is going to change the way that I feel. And I think that she had a lot of work to do to be able to figure out how to resolve conflict in a healthy way.


Kimberly Hoffman  15:46



Matthew Hoffman  15:47

He’s for me. And if I’m for him, how can I respond out of love? Instead of I’m gonna get him first. 


Kimberly Hoffman  15:55



Matthew Hoffman  15:55

 And that was a big shift for her in their relationship.


Kimberly Hoffman  15:58

And he’s such a he’s like you, Matthew, he just has this even keel, you can tell. He just has this calm sense. And this great peaceful presence. So I think he was able to consistently show her that no matter how she was acting, or reacting, he was staying calm and consistent. And, you know, that I think was really reassuring to her. And that’s how she knew he’s not going anywhere


Matthew Hoffman  16:31



Kimberly Hoffman  16:32

In this relationship.


Kimberly Hoffman  16:33

Yeah, he said, a really sweet thing. And that was that when he’s being hardest on his self, and when he’s struggling, and he is having challenges, Shannan breathes life into him, and really helps him through those moments. So I loved hearing that.


Matthew Hoffman  16:33

 And I think they gave us two different examples of conflicts, things that occurred and but Shannan talked about one time Javier was backing up the rig. And he ran the back of the trailer into a tree and busted like a $600 window in the RV, and she knew he was going to be so hard on himself already. And so when something happens when a dustup occurs in your relationship, you know, it doesn’t, you know, a glass gets broken, an accident, you know, they’re not things that we want to happen, or even if you warn them or told them and something happened, your response is not to be against them, but to be for them. And they modeled that beautifully. When this happened. She said, What do you need from me right now? He said, he was. So he goes, I need to go take a walk. And so I can swear and say all the words I want to say, and get it off my chest so I can come back. She said, was I upset? Yes. But did I need to attack him in the moment? No, I didn’t. So I needed to give him what he needed. Know that he was already hard on himself, not reinforce it, and make him feel worse about it. But work through it and talk through it in a loving and respectful way. And if you go back and listen, this whole episode, two great examples of how to handle conflict and how they each responded to the other, to get through it and communicate what they needed to communicate. And I thought that was beautiful. They created an environment that the other one needed, and a lot of respect, which is what I think is most effective. 


Matthew Hoffman  18:25

Yeah it was a great example.


Kimberly Hoffman  18:28

When we talked about other pillars, something that really stood out to me in our conversation with them was what they had to say on servant leadership. And they do a workshop called the “Minimalist Marriage.” And in their curriculum, they talk about serving being key; that its core, its foundational to everyone’s marriage. And it really does. If you can learn to serve each other well. It will change the trajectory of your marriage, and can be an incredible outcome when you’re both serving each other and serving each other well.


Matthew Hoffman  19:14

No doubt, no doubt, I agree. And I liked what they had to say there about that, and the quote that she shared. And, you know, we’ve talked about this before Kim, but servant leadership is not about giving everything and keeping nothing back for yourself. It’s not about being a doormat and being abused. It’s about kind of, you know, I love if you think about servant leadership, if you were to always ask this question with your spouse, what more can I do? What more can I do to make their day easier? What more can I do to make them feel supported, seen known, loved, appreciated, served, cared for, right? If you just keep asking that question, and make sure you’re sprinkling those responses in throughout your day. It might be taking you a chore or a task on Kim hates to unload the dishwasher. And she made a comment just the other day, I’m leaving the house, she goes, Oh, I’ve got to come back and I’ll unload the dishwasher, then I’ll do it later. So I was cleaning up after my lunch, I said, You know what, I’m gonna do this, because A, I know she hates it and I wanted her to come back to a clean kitchen and not have to deal with it. It was just a little thing, but when we sprinkle those in throughout the day, we’re always saying, what more can I do? We’re constantly lightening our load for our spouse. And man, I get it back in spades. And so that’s a great example of servant leadership. And I think they approached it and handled that really well. I think that Javier, Kim,  looked next at Unity and appreciation and security. He said, You know, when you take those three things, and you bundle them together, I think they feed right into intimacy. And he, as a guy that gets it, I think I get it relative to intimacy too. Intimacy in all of its forms are super important to me. And I’ve learned that when you’re focusing on the intellectual, the emotional, the spiritual, the physical, not including sex, all those things, and he talks about unity, security appreciation that is going to make when you get to the sexual part of your intimacy, it makes it so much more rich and because you’re connected.


Kimberly Hoffman  21:21

 It’s an investment. Like a bank account. 


Matthew Hoffman  21:21

Yeah, you’re connecting. And when you invest guys in connecting with your spouse, and all these different ways, the result is going to be just fantastic. And that’s foundational. And he said, for them, that intimacy is foundational in their marriage. And when they first got married, they said intimacy, oh, automatically thought about sex. They didn’t realize early on that there was so much more to that, that they’ve matured and grown into it. And I love what he said, he said, We’ve invested above the sheets first, so that we get the return beneath the sheets later. And that’s how they built their intimacy together.


Kimberly Hoffman  21:59

I love this couple. I love what they’re doing out there to help the marriage community. And I think this interview is right up there with some of my favorites. So I hope you’ll go listen to it in its entirety. It’s fantastic. There’s a lot of great pearls in it. And if you have a fiery side to you, and you want to learn how to sort of get out of that habit. This is a good one to teach you.


Matthew Hoffman  22:26

Yeah. I mean, you want to learn how to keep pursuing your spouse, they talk about that. So many great things upbeat, dynamic, they own their own junk, and they have so much to share. And if you’re in a relationship right now and you wish it could be better if it’s not honeymoon hot, or it doesn’t sound like what Javier and Shannan have or maybe what Kim and I have worked so hard to have. We would love to help you please go visit Check out Kickass Couples Nation. We are excited about our new Kickass Couples Coaching Program that we have launched this year in 2023. I would love to talk to you about what I can do to help you get to that relationship Nirvana in your own relationship. 


Kimberly Hoffman  23:04

We have coaches, we have therapists, we have webinars, there’s so much great stuff, awesome content.


Matthew Hoffman  23:12

So come check it out. And remember that happily ever after does not just happen. It is certainly on purpose.