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Kickass Couples Podcast

Happily Ever After: Strategies For a Conflict-Free Relationship – Ep. 120 SPECIAL RECAP

By September 13, 2023No Comments



relationship, conflict, struggles, communication, issues, partner, talk, kim, couples, natalie, understand, listening, respond, understanding, episode, takeaway, loved, estrella, men, question


Kimberly Hoffman, Matthew Hoffman


Kimberly Hoffman  00:00

Hello, everyone. And welcome back to the Kickass Couples Podcast. Today we are providing you a recap episode of our podcast on reducing and eliminating conflict with Natalie Southward and Estrella Rogers.


Matthew Hoffman  03:02

Two rock stars, therapists who are both alumni on the Kickass Couples Podcast. 


Kimberly Hoffman  03:08

They are.


Matthew Hoffman  03:09

And it was a pleasure to have him back and they dropped so much gold.


Kimberly Hoffman  03:14

Definitely rock stars. I loved talking to them. And I believe that this is one of the best episodes for couples to listen to on reducing conflict. Both of them had lots of good pearls to share with us. So we’re going to give you a quick recap of the highlights and the things that we really took away from this episode.


Matthew Hoffman  03:39

Yeah, and the first one Kim, I think is, you know, if you ask the question, is it possible to eliminate or reduce conflict in a relationship and I asked him out of the out of the out of the gate there. And I think that Natalie’s response was perfect, because she said you know what, you’re never going to eliminate all of it. It’s not possible to wipe it out of the relationship. And you wouldn’t want to and we’ll get to that in a minute. But she talked about reducing it and you can do it. And she said, you know, they go through conflict her and E, her and Eric go through it. But she’s learned to look at it and make sure that they are addressing it in the right light so that they’re growing and nurturing the connection and coming more together. And they’ve kind of even established rules like if they’re going to fight, they’re going to have conflict, they’ve agreed on the way they’re going to do it. So it keeps them respectful and healthy and in tune with each other.


Kimberly Hoffman  04:34

Yeah. Which I think is great. Because listen, we’re all human, we’re going to have conflict no matter what, right? But it’s how we handle the conflict. That’s key and keeping us a really connected couple and not letting it really drive a wedge in between us.


Matthew Hoffman  04:51

 Right. Right.


Kimberly Hoffman  04:52

 And I loved Estrella’s perspective and that was really looking at each other and in and really trying to figure out where they’re coming from? What’s the underlying issue? What’s triggering them? What is their perspective and trying to get a better understanding of where they’re coming from rather than argue?


Matthew Hoffman  05:12

Yeah, you got to have empathy. If you can’t understand your partner’s position and put yourself in their shoes, you’re never going to legitimize or think what they’re feeling is real, or bearing discussion in the relationship is almost invalidating. You can’t put yourself in that position. Yeah, that’s huge. And you know, stepping back a sec to what Natalie said, she said, You got to fight fair candle. So I want to kind of asked you as what did you take away is, what does fighting there look like, for me? 


Kimberly Hoffman  05:42

Well, I think she pointed out first off, you need to really look at yourself first and say, Why am I upset? What may be bothering me in this moment? And what’s triggering me? So really asking yourself the question of what’s going on with me, rather than putting it on to your partner. So that was her first comment. And then she she said also what’s going on, you know, people actually will go into a different kind of a mode, once they are getting into a fight, right, the blood pressure rises, your alarms, your inner kind of alarm system sort of goes off. And so the person’s immediate response is going to be to be on the defensive, right? And so I really think that making sure that we use a calm voice, that we don’t put that person on alarm, and not come out of the gate, just saying you, you and using, we always talk about using the right words too, right? I feel I you know, this is what is happening with me right now in this moment. So putting it back on us, ourselves, rather than coming out and being accusatory and attacking.


Matthew Hoffman  07:53

Yeah, you got to really come one issue at a time. One of the things you know you want to do when you get in a fight is you want to shovel all the crap on your partner, you want to cover them up with all the things you can think that are wrong, right? You bring in all the whole laundry list out, well, you didn’t do this. And you said that, and you meant this. And pretty soon, you just covered them in so much crap, that you know, of course, they’re going to respond and come back in kind. But like you said, taking one issue at a time, and getting it out there in a calm and reasonable way. It means they’re not being sprayed with fire, and they can respond to that one item. And I think Estrella gave us a great tool as well, which was one of my takeaways, she said, when your partner is talking, instead of listening to respond, and like, Hey, I gotta get my jabs in. She said, if you are writing down, when your partner is responding, then you are intentionally taking notes and committing to hear what they’re having to say, instead of setting yourself up to respond. Because in a fight, right, you’re thinking about what you’re wrong. And I want to say this,


Kimberly Hoffman  08:57

Right Right Right.


Matthew Hoffman  08:58

 but when you write it down, 


Kimberly Hoffman  08:59

it just slows everything down. And you are able to really process I think, and understand what the other person is actually saying it’s sort of a form of active listening, but


Matthew Hoffman  09:09

 it is 


Kimberly Hoffman  09:09

a little bit of a different way.


Matthew Hoffman  09:10

Well, and if you write it down to you can read back what you thought You thought you heard your partner’s saying and determine they can go Yeah, you got it, or that’s not what I was saying at all. So it means you’re going to get understanding before you move on to the next stage. 


Kimberly Hoffman  09:23

Right. And I had another takeaway, when we asked the question, you know, what have you seen as a top reasons for conflicts in couples? And her immediate response was it always comes back to communication, and that’s our second pillar. And we believe I think of all the pillars we talked about this all the time, especially the first three being important, but communication, I think, is one of the biggest ones of all, most important to understand to be able to master and so it really boils down to conflict being a lack of good communication.


Matthew Hoffman  10:00

It is. Communications kind of the glue, we have 14 pillars in our platform. And they’re all about qualities, Kim that we think are critical that have to be there in every relationship. But if the communication isn’t happening, if it’s not effective if people are standing, it’s the glue that really holds the relationship together, you have lousy communication, doesn’t matter what you think or what you want, you’re never going to carve it out in demonstration,


Kimberly Hoffman  10:23



Matthew Hoffman  10:24

 Because you’re not getting understanding.


Kimberly Hoffman  10:25

 Yeah, you need to understand communication styles, you need to be able to communicate, and I said this earlier, calm, loving way with your partner. And so I agree that that was a great takeaway on communication.


Matthew Hoffman  10:42

Another thing Natalie said, kind of along the rules and lines of communication, Kim is she said, couples come into her office and they go, this is the issue. And it’s about finances. It’s about intimacy. It’s about control. It’s about spending, right? And you have all they throw all this stuff against the wall, which they think or say is the issue. But she said, It’s not the root, it’s just what’s on the surface. The root is they’re not communicating about those financial issues. They’re not communicating about the desires and needs of intimacy. They’re not communicating about whatever the issue is. So their partner understands. So she said, people come in and say the darnest things and point the fingers and go crazy. She goes by like to bring it back to the root, instead of the surface and say, This is a communication issue, how can we correct or have the quality communication, so that we’re sharing our fears, our hopes, our desires, our problems, our concerns, on all those other issues that might be surfacing.


Kimberly Hoffman  11:43

 Sure. We asked them both about friction points. And if there was a big difference between men and women, on friction points. And, you know, she said, there is a common theme and that men feel like they’re not respected. And women feel like they are not loved or cared about. And so, you know, we talk about that in some of our podcasts and with couples, and we do get that response often. And so, you know, there is a common theme there between men and women.


Matthew Hoffman  12:17

Yeah, another takeaway I got from what Estrella had to share as well, if you said, you know, culturally, men are told, you shouldn’t feel you shouldn’t express emotion that a real man, right, is not going to cry is not gonna say, This is what’s bothering me, I’m struggling with this. So I think that men, you know, we have an opportunity, and I’ve had to learn how to do this in our relationship is to step outside of the societal or the cultural expectation. And man, I cry all the time, or I’ll say I am struggling with, I need your help with that. I’ve let go of those, that those false clothing that I’ve got to wear, and I’ve got to be perfect, and I got to be strong, and I can’t be vulnerable. And it is let you in and allowed you to be more responsive and supportive of me?


Kimberly Hoffman  13:04

Well, and I think that’s twofolded. It allows me to be responsive, supportive, it allows me to understand, but it also creates a connection between the two of us of intimacy. That’s very special. 


Matthew Hoffman  13:17



Kimberly Hoffman  13:18

 And so by each person stripping themselves of all of those things, it really does get us right down to being open and really vulnerable with each other, which automatically draws us together.


Matthew Hoffman  13:33

It does. I mean, so the communication about conflict, understanding what’s bothering somebody, but also that’s why, you know, we come back to that question, Kim and communication all the time. Do you know I was talking to to a woman about this today. And we were talking about relationships and some of the struggles she was having? And I said, the first question I asked every single couple is, do you know your partner’s number one need in the moment? Do I know yours? And do you know mine? You and I had a conversation about this recently about understanding that and then once you know it, what steps are you taking to support them? In that number one need? You want to talk about reducing conflict?


Kimberly Hoffman  14:14



Matthew Hoffman  14:14

and getting rid of friction, Yeah and having a really deeper understanding of what’s going on with that person.  Yeah.


Kimberly Hoffman  15:04

Why they may be feeling or acting the way they’re feeling? 


Matthew Hoffman  15:21



Kimberly Hoffman  15:21

So, yeah I agree.


Matthew Hoffman  15:23

So, kind of another question that we ask them, Kim. And that a good takeaway for me is, if in a situation there, there’s usually someone who’s a dispenser and someone who’s a pursuer, right, one of them is going to say, hey, I want to talk about this now and I want an answer from you. And the other one might be like, I’m not ready to do that, or I don’t want to do it right now. Just because that situation occurs and a couple you and I do this our dance together, I want to talk about something, and I want to get resolution and you’re like, hey, you know what, I need some time. Let me marinate. So what do we do when we run into conflict about someone who wants to solve it now? And somebody wants to handle it later? So that we honor both people in that?


Kimberly Hoffman  16:14

Yeah, that’s a great question. Because I feel like the person that’s pursuing has great fear, right? And the person who says I just need some time, I’ve got to think that’s the person that just needs a little time away, to have some cool down, right? And so I feel like those we have to in those moments, say, Okay, I respect the fact that you want to settle this now. But I need some time away. So when can we pick a time that we can re address this, so one’s not running away. And the other one knows that we’re going to come back to this, and maybe it’s 15 minutes, maybe it’s all we’ll come back to it later this evening. I don’t know. But there’s a definitive time. 


Matthew Hoffman  16:57

And it could even be the next day. And I think I loved when Natalie said, I interject a shift. She said she when she’s working with clients, and they’re at that breakpoint, she goes, Listen, I’m not here to cover me up. And I want the two of you to talk to each other talk to each other about your needs, and what you’d like to see happen and what’s gonna go on. It’s not about justifying a position and why you have to have something. But it’s about finding that win win, which in your case is you’re just saying in that example is taking some time, we’ll talk about it but needs to be later. So it doesn’t mean that we’re not handling it, we’re just going to handle it in a way that is good for you. And


Kimberly Hoffman  17:36



Matthew Hoffman  17:36

 is good for me.


Kimberly Hoffman  17:37

And I also think that that cooldown period gives you a good perspective, right? So you can come back and be able to handle that conflict, probably in a calmer, more thoughtful way.


Matthew Hoffman  17:46

Right. Right. And I think Kim, you know, one of the things I kind of want to end on, I mean, we’re, we are just scratching the surface so much this episode with him was under an hour freezing, but there was so much good meat in there. If you haven’t listened to the whole episode, you should check it out. Because it is like a playbook of what you can do as a couple and go figure out how do we minimize conflict and have more harmony in our relationship. But I want to discuss a concept with you and kind of leave this as a parting thought for everybody that’s listening today. Let’s talk about the concept of in every relationship, everybody brings a set of problems, I got a set of problems in history, you got a set that you brought, and it’s learning the success of our relationship in minimizing conflict is how do we learn to deal with those issues together, understand them and deal with them. 


Kimberly Hoffman  18:41



Matthew Hoffman  18:41

Because I think a lot of people in relationships, they go, Oh my gosh,


Kimberly Hoffman  18:44



Matthew Hoffman  18:45

 my partner, my wife, my husband has so many issues. I’m not gonna deal with all this crap, I’m gonna hit eject, because I’m looking at something greener and better over there. So what do you think?


Kimberly Hoffman  18:56

 First of all, I would say that you have to know what you’re getting into. Right? It’s important to have all those discussions


Matthew Hoffman  19:01



Kimberly Hoffman  19:01

way up front. But let’s say that we didn’t, and here we are, and we’re kind of stuck. But I think it’s really important to know, and understand and own each other’s challenges, so that we can better support and know what triggers them. I really think that we have to own those. But you know, there are a lot of times when that doesn’t happen in a relationship, and we want and we say Oh, I’m gonna get out because the grass is greener on the other side. Right? 


Matthew Hoffman  19:36



Kimberly Hoffman  19:36

What do you think of that concept?


Matthew Hoffman  19:38

Well, here’s the reality, guys. If you think another relationship is going to be better, that other relationship with another person, they’ve got their own problems and issues. So it’s kind of like, do I want to tend to my own garden, my own field, I want to make it nice and make it the place I want to inhibit. Because you’re going to have to do that in every single relationship.


Kimberly Hoffman  19:57

You’re just moving your set of problems and taking on someone else’s Exactly. That’s just life. That’s just what we are as humans, we have struggles.


Matthew Hoffman  20:04

 Yeah. Until you learn. And you know, one of the questions we ask when interviewing couples, Kim is we say grandpa’s in your bones. And let’s go back to go forward. If you’ve not had the con conversation with your partner, help me understand your childhood helped me understand the previous relationship


Kimberly Hoffman  20:20



Matthew Hoffman  20:20

 that you had, where it didn’t go well? Or what fears are you bringing to this relationship, that we’ve got to understand, I know what some of your fears are about relationships about us, about me about you about something else. And it doesn’t mean it’s controlling the relationship, but it means I understand it. It gives me that context and an understanding, so I can respond to you in the best way. But if I don’t know that history,


Kimberly Hoffman  20:48



Matthew Hoffman  20:48

 if you haven’t share that information, I’m not going to have the context. And it works the same for you, about me, you know, what my struggles are from my childhood, or from my parental relationships or my previous relationships, you know, what those issues are, and we’ve talked about them so that they’re not cropping up and manifesting in this relationship


Kimberly Hoffman  21:10



Matthew Hoffman  21:10

 right now.


Kimberly Hoffman  21:11

 Or when they do I understand where they’re coming from and what they are, and how to better help you work through them. 


Matthew Hoffman  21:19



Kimberly Hoffman  21:19

 So we we both take ownership of whatever the struggles may be.


Matthew Hoffman  21:23

 Right. Right. And it’s about and I want to clarify one final thing in this discussion, and we can send you guys back to this whole episode. If you haven’t heard it yet, is you’re not taking on your partner’s issues. It doesn’t it’s not about me taking on Kim’s struggles


Kimberly Hoffman  21:41

Right Right Right Right Right


Matthew Hoffman  21:41

and oh, they’re on my back.


Kimberly Hoffman  21:42

 Yeah, no, I didn’t I didn’t mean it that way. 


Matthew Hoffman  21:44

No, no, no, it’s about understanding,


Kimberly Hoffman  21:46



Matthew Hoffman  21:46

If I understand where you’re coming from, if


Kimberly Hoffman  21:49



Matthew Hoffman  21:49

 you understand where your partner struggles are, 


Kimberly Hoffman  21:51



Matthew Hoffman  21:51

you can support them, but it doesn’t mean you’re putting them on as weight on your own back. 


Kimberly Hoffman  21:56



Matthew Hoffman  21:56

You’re just understanding so you can respond in a way that honors them where they are. That’s it. 


Kimberly Hoffman  22:04

Great clarification. 


Matthew Hoffman  22:05

Hey, you know, it’s all about clarity in our communication, as we’ve discussed here today. So if you haven’t heard this whole episode, man, they are so good. And they walk it through in plain English, so you can understand, go back and check it out. And if you’re struggling in your own relationship, and you’re like, man, no matter what I do, I’m just not getting to the bottom of it. I’d love to talk to you. Give me a call. Go to the website, Schedule a meeting and I will talk to you about what we can do together to get you to where you want to be.


Kimberly Hoffman  22:37

Yeah, we want everybody to have a really joyous, fulfilling marriage.


Matthew Hoffman  22:43

Yeah, that’s what it’s about. We’re about to celebrate 29 And a few months, guys, and we’re, it’s not always easy, but it is worth it.


Kimberly Hoffman  22:52

Thanks for listening everyone and remember, happily ever after doesn’t just happen. It’s on purpose. 


Matthew Hoffman  22:58