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Kickass Couples Podcast

The Power of Connection: Strengthening Your Relationship Through Love – Ep. 107 – Bret & Christine Eartheart

By June 14, 2023June 30th, 2023No Comments

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Matthew Hoffman, Christine Eartheart, Bret Eartheart, Kimberly Hoffman


Matthew Hoffman  00:00

Welcome back to the Kickass Couples Podcasts. We are excited to have a fantastic couple that is doing amazing work. We have Christine and Bret Eartheart with us today. Welcome to the Kickass Couples Podcast.


Bret Eartheart  00:13

Hey, thank you. Great to be here.


Christine Eartheart  00:15

Thank you so much for having us. And for all you do.


Matthew Hoffman  00:18

Oh, we appreciate it. We’re learning and we’re fellow workers in the vineyard. So we’re all we’re all out there telling and work. And it’s fun to hear. Somebody else is doing fantastic work like the two of you. And so Bret, I’m gonna start off by asking you the question, what do you think makes you and Christine a kick ass couple?


Bret Eartheart  00:38

I really think it’s because we do the work. You know, our story is, is a lot like everyone else’s in that, like, we first fell in love. And it was like blissful, and euphoric. And it was so easy. And like, there’s just like, nothing there. But ecstatic joy and great connection, and you know, and then a couple of years into our relationship, like, it started to get really hard. And we realized that we were no longer bringing out the best in each other. And, you know, we were so practice of doing our individual personal growth at that point that we realized that Oh, like, okay, there’s, in the, in the couple’s dynamic, right? There’s like a different skill set that we need to learn. And if we’re kind of willing to, like, get passionate about this, and, you know, really go all in and kind of do the work on ourselves on our relationship, like we did on ourselves, that then we could have an amazing relationship. And so that’s exactly what we did. And like we said, we realized, you know, it’s like, Oh, we got to do the work, right, to create a great relationship. And we maintain doing that work, right, like we do, the also the maintenance and the continued growth. So I would say that it’s what makes the difference.


Kimberly Hoffman  02:01

And it’s a realization that even though you’re doing the personal work, that we have to do the hard work together, though, the work that requires both of us to be full in.


Bret Eartheart  02:14

Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Thanks, Kimberly.


Matthew Hoffman  02:19

How about you, Christine, what do you think makes you and Bret a kick ass couple? What would you add to that?


Christine Eartheart  02:24

Well, it’s such a fun question. And you asked us the same, the same thought I had. And maybe I was even add to that is, you know, compatibility is one of those things. And as he will, he will meet, you know, Bret and I now and they’re like, oh, my gosh, it seems like we just It must be so easy, because we really are kind of harmonized. And it’s because we really actually are quite different. But we found a way to really harmonize our strings, and bring them together so that our differences, you know, initially is what attracted us to each other in a lot of ways. And then it also became the greatest source of conflict. Once, you know, we were a few years in. And so now, we’ve been so intentional about how to like take the unique gifts inside of each one of us, and bring them together in a way that just like, lifts both of us up and strengthens our relationship. And then I would say like using it to serve the world, that’s always, for me, just like the the the end goal of like any challenge I go through, it’s like I want to heal and grow and learn from it. And then I want to offer it, you know, of service to humanity. So we never anticipated that we’d actually be helping other couples. That was not what our plan was, if you asked us 20 years ago, and once we had our own transformation, it’s like, we can’t not share this with the world. Because so many people are suffering in the relationship. So it just feels like such an honor and such a joy to get to share it. And I’d say that is like that we get to use our love to hopefully spread and expand more love in the world for other couples.


Matthew Hoffman  03:57

That’s beautiful. And one reason I love it, I’m smiling big if you can see it year to year, and I think my wife is as well. We are doing the same thing. It’s our goal. And you know, if I had to say it a little bit differently as we did, and after 20 years of marriage, we were in a spot. We said, Gosh, you know, you know everything looks great, and it kind of feels okay from the outside. But man, we’re not happy. We’re not filling each other up. We weren’t doing the work on the relationship. We were focused pretty individually. And then wondering why the heck Isn’t this what we want need or expected. And so we had to do the hard work. And now we’re back in what I would call the rolling boil right of satisfaction and romance and joy, because we’re doing the work and it’s not easy, but it is so worth it. And what we’re doing now the purpose of this podcast is to promote our uniqueness in the service of others. And to bring people like you and Brett on that can talk about what works, what doesn’t and an effort to bring everybody up to the same level because we Both of us really believe that each individual has the capability and is deserving of a relationship. That’s incredible. 


Kimberly Hoffman  04:02



Matthew Hoffman  04:07

And we want to, you know, our goal is to help more people figure out what they have to do to get there.


Kimberly Hoffman  05:13

 Yes. And sharing your experience brings a lot of hope to others who are in, you know, very difficult or desperate situations. So, I want to take us back a little bit, I want to talk about your histories, because I believe that they really play into our relationships, they, you know, how love was modeled to you, both, when you were younger, really does show up, in your experience now. And so Bret, let’s start with you. What did love look like in your household when you were growing up when you were a child?


Bret Eartheart  05:51

Yeah, so in my family, it was like, really well intentioned people, you know, like, get like good people that really struggle, either. So I kind of I tend to refer to as, like, the typical dysfunctional family. And, you know, like, there was alcoholism, in my family, and with my father, and there’s, you know, some some very kind of inappropriate behaviors as far as, like, infidelity going on. And so, but, you know, at the same time, it’s like, they really loved each other, and, like, my parents, and were actually a good match, and in a lot of ways, just a lot of emotional immaturity and in addiction problems. So, you know, that, you know, definitely, you know, jaded me on marriage, like, I remember being a teenager and basically telling myself, I’m never getting married, right, like having those moments. And, yeah, which was part of my process. But yeah, and I know, that was like, you know, Christine, mentioned that, like, we’re different in many ways. And this is the one that was one of the ways that we’re very different.


Kimberly Hoffman  07:13

Sure. And did you talk about those things before? Or, you know, when you and Christine were dating, when you first came together? Did those issues come up? And did you work through those?


Bret Eartheart  07:23

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So, you know, I find that right, you know, based on the, the mistakes of our, of our parents or elders, you know, like, we can either kind of go the route of I follow in those footsteps, you know, or it’s like, I learned from those mistakes, and I almost like go in the opposite direction. And, and that’s really what I did. You know, it’s like I, right, I was able to, you know, like, learn those lessons. Like, I never want to be this way, you know, so. So, like, you know, most of those mistakes like I’ve never done in my life, and I never will. And you know, that. So this is like, one of the things that, uh, you know, turning, turning our pain into gold, right?


Kimberly Hoffman  08:14

Yeah. How about for you, Christine, how was love modeled in your household?



Well, I am definitely abundantly fortunate, my parents have been together for over 50 years, they’re high school sweethearts, and they’re just totally devoted to each other. I mean, they are each other’s best, best best friends. And, you know, they have their own journey. And they haven’t really shared you know much about their own challenges growing up, though, they always presented as like such a united front, like, they are best friends, they are each other’s just priority, and our family, which is really at the heart and center of our lives. And so I definitely got, you know, an extraordinary amount of secure attachment growing up and so much love. And I’m so incredibly grateful, you know, and there are just like, different things of imprints around love, you know, that I noticed that was part of our learning curve is, you know, just as for example, that I’m thinking of right now is my parents have a tendency to worry out of their deep love, you know, worry about us, like growing up. So say I would go you know, out with my friends, my mom would stay up on the couch and she would be worried, you know about me until I got home and still now we call them it’s not a usual time that like Is everything okay? And so that is like love meant that you worry if you love someone you like worry about them. And so I remember coming into relationship with Bret, and he like didn’t worry about me. And I remember like that was like a conscious thing that like maybe he doesn’t really love me. Like he doesn’t really care. He’s not really in it because I would you know if he was off on a road trip and he would get in I’d want him to like call and check in so it’s still my parents almost they had so many rituals and ways of checking in and expressing love that was still a process you know, even though I’m really really just grateful the depths of my being, for what was modeled for me, it still took like some cultural, like unhooking from like what love meant because and not misinterpreting and misunderstanding some of Brett’s actions thinking that it wasn’t love because it didn’t show up how my parents, you know, loved us.


Kimberly Hoffman  10:23

Yeah. And we’ll get into, we’ll sort of break that apart a little bit later, I think we’ll go into more depth with that. But what’s your next question?


Matthew Hoffman  10:32

So, yeah, we have a 14 pillars and of those 14, we have three that we call the three C’s. And we think those are really foundational, in any relationship. And those three C’s are commitment, communication and conflict resolution. And we both feel pretty strongly that commitment is kind of the cornerstone of any relationship, if you have commitment, you know, it’s the first thing that goes in place, you’re able to build whatever you want, that commitment is not clear or strong, or set in stone, so to speak, it really can show up in a lot of challenging ways later. So Christine, I’d love to know, what does commitment look like to you in your relationship with Bret?


 And the commitment wasn’t necessn that, rather than, you know, this moment of difficulty we were in or like, maybe this doesn’t reflect the totality of who we’re capable of being together. So it’s at least commit to going all in. And so that was a good turning point. And now, we just absolutely believe that thriving relationships really are like our own relationship is a matter of committing and recommitting and re committing over and over and over again. And so, you know, yeah, it’s been it’s been different things, you know, when we would, you know, Now, thankfully, we’ve just been practicing this so long that difficult moments are actually pretty few and far between which, you know, conflict is totally healthy and Okay, we just, things are pretty, pretty easy to build anymore. And so, yeah, there were so many moments, though, you know, in difficult moments, for sure is like, okay, we’d be in a difficult moment. And then it’s like, okay, I recommit with a commitment that we love as like I recommit to being you know, allies and teammates with you or just like recommitting to showing up in a way in whatever way the relationship needs for me. And so I think that’s it for me is like, our relationship requires continual nurturing. So we try to stay a bit proactive now. So I think that’s the commitment is like, I can catch even just like a little glimmer, if our relationship we’re not as connected as I know we’re capable of being it’s like, okay, I want to recommit to prioritizing the relationship like life is really busy. So now it’s like, a committing to making our relationship, something that we put in before everything else.


Matthew Hoffman  13:26

Sure. And is that is when you say that word re-commit, is that an internal dialogue? Or are you saying to Bret. Bret, I want to let you know, I’m recommitting or I recommit to and what kind of dialogue was that in your own mind? Or was that something words that you actually had with each other?


Christine Eartheart  13:42

Such a good question. So it’s been it’s been both we actually say it out loud quite a bit. Like, oh, let’s recommit to like making our relationship the most important thing or So internally internally, for sure. You know, my morning meditation kind of every morning is really about like, okay, recommitting to like what matters most to me and how I want to show up to Bret to just for life. And so that is a bit of like my morning practice is like that recommitting, which is that’s more of just an internal or like a spiritual practice of mine. And we certainly say it out loud, perhaps more than maybe it’s difficult is like okay, I recommit to like connection and love and joy. Like we’ll even be out on a walk and maybe we’ll start talking about work stuff. We love our work so much. And it’s like really important for us to unplug and just focus on other things and so big, okay, recommit, to like let’s talk about Yeah, tell me more about what you’re feeling about this other thing and so I would say a combination. And we definitely do use that statement out loud because we like you are just enthusiast for the power of committing.


Bret Eartheart  14:47

You know, we find that the power and speaking the affirmation out loud.


Kimberly Hoffman  14:51



Matthew Hoffman  14:51

Right. How about you, Bret? What does commitment look like to you and your relationship with Christine? How would you what would you add to that or share from your own perspective? 


Bret Eartheart  15:00

Yeah, I really like your three C’s, by the way. And so yeah, one of the things that we discovered, when we had like, our Crossroads moment, and we decided to, like, go all in on our relationship is we discover that there are like a predictable five stages of a relationship. And you know, that if we don’t understand that, like, we, we lack the ability to accurately assess like, what stage we are in the moment and what our goal was, and the steps to get there. And, and, you know, so like I mentioned, like, our, the first stage is romance, romance stage, or limerence, would be another word for it. And, and, you know, that’s where, like, the beginning of a relationship where it’s easy. And then the power struggle, you know, which is like, when our needs are coming into conflict with each other. And in, you know, and that’s where, like so many people, and that’s where we were, when we’re questioning, should we stay together? Right, we’re in the power struggle. And when we realize that, oh, like, all the good stuff is on the other side of that, right. And it all starts with commitment. You know, so that kind of third stage relates to is commitment, you know, where we really identify, like, what is this relationship need for me to thrive? And, and then the growth stage is kind of where, you know, we develop that in ourselves and in our dynamic together, and then driving is the the kind of the goal and the last stage. So but everything, pivots on commitment, right? It’s like, we need a commitment mindset, we need, you know, to be, you know, kind of committed to our relationship, often, like more important than that I’m committed to my individual needs. 


Kimberly Hoffman  16:51



Matthew Hoffman  16:52



Kimberly Hoffman  16:52

I love hearing all this because I feel like many a huge percentage of our listeners find themselves eventually, at a crossroad in their relationship. And if you can dive in and invest, and really be willing to work on it, and like you said, be proactive, don’t be reactive. You mean, you can just hit euphoria. It’s amazing what can happen in your relationship when you’re all in.


Matthew Hoffman  17:22

Yeah, I think it’s a great, it’s a great example of commitment from both of you. And I love Bret, when you talked about the personal accountability is that I’m accountable for what I’ve got to do for the relationship. You didn’t say what I’ve got to do for myself, or what I’m gonna get out of it. But you said the relationship and, you know, 


Kimberly Hoffman  17:39

It’s the WE.


Matthew Hoffman  17:39

It’s the WE, it’s the US. So there’s I IN YOU. But then once there’s marriage in that lifetime commitment, right, it’s US. And so you go, Well, is this the best decision for us? I may not like it, it may not be what I think I want the gosh, I can see it just really benefiting the relationship. So we’re going to do it. And I appreciate the distinction that you made in that. Thank you.


Kimberly Hoffman  18:00

Let’s talk a little bit about communication. Because communication is really sort of what drives a relationship, I think. And, you know, we all we can talk to each other. And that’s communication, but I’m talking about real communication, real connection with each other. Christine, what does communication or how does it show up in your relationship?


Christine Eartheart  18:23

Yes, so important, and it’s definitely been a skill, you know, to, to learn, and how to specifically communicate in those moments that are more emotionally charged, I think most of my life, like connecting with a friend or someone else, right, that kind of flows easily. And with Brett, you know, around those more emotionally charged conversations, what has been so meaningful for me as a term that kind of came came to us that we now kind of we first applied all these things, our own relationship that we know, you know, share with others is like Wonder and look under. And so I’m just so thankful that are like having more vulnerable conversations, and learning all the communication tools we have is like allowed me to understand, for me even like what’s going on underneath whatever my reaction might be, like, what are actually the deeper fears I have, they’re like, What are the deeper longings or the unlived dreams or whatever it might be so uncovering that for me and learning how to communicate, you know, that kind of curiosity is like okay, how do I communicate this in a way that allows Brett to hear me that’s been like my, my big thing if I ever feel like bread isn’t listening, it’s like, okay, how can I? How can I make this more digestible and not flood him or whatever it might be is learning how to communicate and then with Brett it’s like listening, so that I’m not listening with like my listening filters of how I’m right and he’s wrong or whatever it is. It’s like getting out of my head and dropping so passionately into his heart and wanting to understand and understand like, maybe I’m seeing this and I’m interpreting and lonely but underneath it, oh my gosh, there’s something so much more tender and so much more precious. And so it’s like, for me communication has been about developing X ray vision over you know, these 20 plus years. And so when I see, like, for example, you know, if Bret maybe what I would perceive was like checking out a little bit, and I would interpret that as well, he must not care, you know, and then I got to understand underneath it, you know, he felt unappreciated, you know, he felt like he couldn’t get it, he couldn’t get it, right. And so it’s like I, in having those conversations, and being able to communicate, then I can respond actually to like, the preciousness into the heart of what’s really there, rather than, you know, reacting to his own reactions of my reaction. So, communication has been so big in order, I think, to really meet each other’s deepest needs and feeling completely seen and understood. And I’m just so grateful, like, I felt feel exponentially more seen by Bret than, you know, anyone on this planet. And so we have lots of that’s kind of in navigating the more delicate things and then otherwise, where communication is just what keeps us connected emotionally, we have like, you know, different prompts, we use a one we just had a date night, Friday night, and one. This is not original to us that we learned years ago is using the acronym pies, which is how are you physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. So we like went out for dinner, and then we took a walk, which we love taking long walks all the time. And so like, Okay, let’s do a check in with PI. It’s like, I want to hear how you are even though we spend every day together. It’s amazing when we do those kind of more emotionally connecting conversations. So yeah, I mean, there’s so much I could say, but those are little snippets.


Kimberly Hoffman  21:46

That was great. How about do you have anything to add to that, Bret? 


Bret Eartheart  21:50

Well, you know, we’ve worked with countless clients over the years. And in, you know, for the last 12 years, pretty much solely couples, and the number one thing that people come in, and say that they need help with his communication. And, and, and I think, and then what we discover is actually, they’re, they’re really good at communicating, you know, they’re, they’re struggling with prioritizing each other’s needs in that communication, right, they’re struggling with having like, a positive aspect with each other. Right? They’re struggling with, you know, probably in the relationship first, you know, instead of like, their, their own ego, and in, you know, so you know, that the communication tools that, you know, kind of, really, I think helped me tremendously to be, you know, a much better person in this relationship was really about kind of being more present, and being a better listener, you know, and to really kind of take my opinions a lot less seriously.


Kimberly Hoffman  23:04

Yeah, that that is such a huge part of communicating is just listening, being not active listener, that really just closes their mouth, and just truly tries to listen to understand.


Matthew Hoffman  23:18

Yeah and have some empathy and put yourself in their shoes and at least understanding right, if you’re listening effectively, and really seeing where they’re coming from, then you understand them. And when you’ve achieved understanding, it’s not agreement necessarily, but understanding it brings you closer together, even if you’re not coming from the same viewpoint. I love you sharing that example. And so we talked a lot about commitment and communication, of course, they’re inexplicably intertwined. But you know, then there’s that conflict resolution that next C, and you know, I don’t care if anybody tells you in the relationship, they have had absolutely no conflict, I think then their nose might be growing just a little bit, because we have those unique perspectives. And sometimes it just doesn’t make sense or we don’t we don’t understand. Or it’s tough for us to accept something that someone else may actually think and feel or even assigned to us. So how do you guys when there is conflict, or disagreement? What do you do to navigate that? So it ends up not having a negative impact on the relationship? How do you guys navigate that successfully?


Bret Eartheart  24:27

 Yeah. Well, so for, for me, it was a really helpful thing to normalize conflict to make sure that I had the right expectation in my mindset of, you know, in our relationship, and realize that conflict is growth waiting to happen. And that, you know, hammering together two very different people in some ways very soon similar in some ways, very different. I mean, that’s just not going to always be like a super graceful, you know, path. And, and so to reference Gottman’s work. So, you know, and I found that to be really helpful, you know, to understand that John Gottman, you know, when I can have a great relationship research pioneers, you know, through the Love Lab, kind of research, determine that, you know, just kind of analyzing the data of how, you know, couples, you know, we’re interacting with each other, and, you know, over decades kind of following those couples and seeing like, well, you know, their how their interactions, right kind of created trajectories that either, you know, set them up for failure or success over decades, that, you know, the optimal amount of conflict, or kind of stressful conversations will say, was about a 20 to 1 ratio. So, if we’re about 5% of the time, kind of, like processing our relationship, and talking about difficult stuff, you know, this may be, you know, anywhere from a little stressful to maybe, like, even a bit heated, that that is actually a healthy amount. And, you know, of, of conflict, you know, and maybe, you know, maybe we can even reframe it as like, from conflict to just like a stressful, more stressful conversations. And, and so, it without that, actually Gottman’s research showed that with those couples you referenced, that like, never fight? Well, there are couples like that. And, and actually, they don’t do very well, long term. Right? Like, there’s there at some point, you know, it’s like, oh, you know, we got divorced, because, you know, it’s like, you know, we, we just weren’t, you know, we just grew apart or something. And what really happened was that things were working in the relationship that they didn’t give themselves permission to really confront and to address. And we do that at our peril.


Christine Eartheart  27:21

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So I would say I mean, there’s so many different things for us, I am so grateful for the acronym HALT, that’s definitely been, you know, a queue into halt is like not having conversations and you’re hungry, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. So now, even what we’ll do, if it’s like, late at night, and maybe I’m or Bret’s bringing up something from the day, and we’re like, Wait, this is a HALT moment. So now we like realize that and just even say like, this is a HALT moment, like, let’s talk about it tomorrow, we realize like, oh my gosh, it’s gonna look totally different tomorrow. So I think we like catch each other. You know, in the moments, I’d say HALT moments, or a moment that like, we definitely catch each other, catch ourselves and just name it for what it is. And I’d say, having those conversations, what’s been really important, it’s really kind of been at the forefront that I know, I try to hold an I so field and Bret as well is when we’re navigating conflict is that we maintain holding each other’s best intentions. So even if there’s like emotional charge, you know, leading with, I know, you were just trying to whatever it is. And so like, acknowledging that there was like goodness in there. And then also, what’s been so helpful is not just talking about what what didn’t work. It’s like, next time, I would just love it, if you would, whatever it is, like, allows us to feel any both of us like we can still succeed, rather than like going too much. And like, over well, this happened, no, this happened. It’s like, okay, I know, I know, you were just full blah, you know, and here’s what I’d really love next time. And then for me, too, I think what’s so helpful is, you know, the more vulnerable I can get, like, rather than blaming Bret or criticizing him, it’s like, okay, what what would they actually scared of this is something, you know, in the near in the early parts of our, of our kind of relationship transformation. You know, we learned this concept that like, when when there’s conflict, or when there’s, you know, we’re triggered, it’s like, we’re ultimately scared of something, and then realize, like, oh, my gosh, and so I would just start saying, I’m scared I’d rather than going into, you know, a story, I would just start revealing, you know, like, what I’m actually scared, like, something really important, you know, feels threatened and so that’s been helpful for me just uncovering like what’s actually underneath it doing like stepping back so that when I come to Bret with something, I have a lot more insight into what’s really present for me and then we definitely believe in just like radical responsibility of looking at, you know, how am I creating this so even we need to have the more difficult conversations. You know, it’s bringing some level of responsible and just like holding each other in highest regard, and trying to sprinkle in some appreciation as well.


Kimberly Hoffman  30:08

I love all of that. I especially like it when people do talk about the HALT acronym, because I think it rings so true that we should not have difficult conversations, if we’re any of those things. And you know, it just some, we’d go to bed at late at night. And you know, we’d be laying there and all of a sudden, I’d want to just have an intense conversation. And he wouldn’t, and you know, you’d had a long day, and I just took it. So personally, it was just I’d be really crushed by that. But it wasn’t until we could actually talk about, okay, there are times that we’re going to need to table things, and we’re each going to have to be okay with that. Because there are a lot of people who can’t table things. And so I think that that’s great for our listeners to hear that HALT is important. 


Matthew Hoffman  31:01

Yeah, timing is critical. 


Kimberly Hoffman  31:02

It is. 


Matthew Hoffman  31:03

it’s gotta be right for both of you. 


Kimberly Hoffman  31:05



Matthew Hoffman  31:06

 So timing, and, and no booby traps, it’s not like, hey, I need to talk to you about this thing is really charged right now. And catching, catching your partner off guard who I don’t want to talk about that issue right now. You know, we can talk about it. But let’s do it at another time when I’m a little more prepared to think and be present and focus on this. And that’s okay. It’s just another way of expressing needs. And I think that people have to learn it’s okay, even around charged issues, as we’ve been talking about, to make sure the timing and the setting is right. And everybody’s prepared to have that good discussion. So it can be fruitful, as opposed to feeling forced to respond in the moment. So,


Christine Eartheart  31:48

So true. I’ve learned that from from learning what doesn’t work, you know, being in the living laboratory to now realizing yes, no, so beautifully put.


Kimberly Hoffman  31:58

Yeah. Well, you know, after we’ve been married for a little while we’ve been together, sometimes the intimacy fades a little bit. And so that’s another area that we have to be cognizant of, and that we have to really put an effort in to. And so how do you all keep that the passion and the intimacy alive in your relationship? And Bret, I’m going to ask you to go first on that.


Bret Eartheart  32:25

Thank you. Yes. Yeah. This is one of my favorite subjects. And yeah, as part of a thriving marriage, I think, again, I think so much of the stuff, you know, like, starts with our mindset about it. And when we realize that, oh, like, sex and affection, right, is such an important part of a thriving long term relationship. You know, like the physiological component of of touch, you know, affectionate touch of sensual touch, sexual erotic touch. Right? You know, without that, right, it’s like, we’re missing part of the, the kind of biological component that keeps us connected and keeps us vibrant. And so just knowing that, right, having that intellectual intellectual knowing of that is like, oh, you know, it’s like, if it’s, you know, like, I mean, you know, you’re entrepreneurs, we are, and it’s easy, get busy, right. And, and, you know, we, you know, we love the dual control model of kind of sexual worth, you know, sexuality, or libido, or there’s, like breaks and accelerators, and we get really busy, right, that can really kind of put on the brakes and our libido. And so it’s like, yeah, when we go, you know, like a week without it, let’s say being sexual. It’s like, oh, like, our relation, our marriage needs a vitamin, you know, like, our marriage, like, really needs this, you know, that’s, like, you know, we think of like, you know, you know, touch and all forms is like, those kind of relationship vitamins that we, you know, we need to kind of stay, you know, really, really vibrant and healthy.


Kimberly Hoffman  34:12

Sure. Christine, do you have anything you’d like to, to add to the intimacy aspect of your relationship?


Christine Eartheart  34:23

Yeah, I’d say one of the things that’s been most helpful for me, like, you know, like, like Bret was saying, kind of mindset wise, just understanding it differently is the contrast between responsive desire and spontaneous desire. So just if anybody’s not familiar with that spontaneous desire might be like, when you first fall in love, there’s just this rush of like desire to be with your partner, whereas responsive desire might be like, Oh, once you are physically intimate or lovemaking, whatever experiencing physical affection, it’s like, oh, they’re now my body’s responding. This feels good. I want to continue and so for me, it’s just been so Important not to wait for moments when I feel this, these big fireworks are like this big rush of desire insatiable desire, it’s me knowing that this is so important. It’s totally like a vitamin is medicine, like, there is something for me actually having that intellectual understanding of the chemicals that are released and how binding it is. And it just feels like, oh my gosh, our Spark is bright, like, it’s something that is so important to both of us, because of like, there’s countless benefits, everything feels more ease, though. And of course, it’s so enjoyable. And it’s like me realizing like, okay, commit to this, knowing that, once we engage in that way, like, I’m actually going to feel desire, then and so just when I first learned this idea that you know, rather than thinking like, I feel desire, and then I feel aroused, like going in that order that it can be reversed, like, feel arousal, and then that leads to desire. And if I simply just wait to feel the desire, I might be waiting a whole lot longer. And so, so that’s been so helpful. It’s just like, oh, it’s kind of a non negotiable in some ways in our relationship, because of all the incredible benefits that come from it. And then we just keep getting curious, you know, like, how do we make this as pleasurable as possible for both of us. And I so appreciate just, you know, what we’ve learned about how like connection is the most important, rather than there being like pressure around it, it’s like, oh, we know, we’re going to feel so much more connected. And I’ve fallen so in love with how connected I feel, to Bret, like I know, viscerally The proof is undeniable. Like, everything is better, you know, when we’re attending to that part of our relationship? So I’d say it’s the commitment piece, like it is just such a commitment we both have.


Kimberly Hoffman  36:44

And are you able to verbalize those desires with each other? Because I think that’s where a lot of people fall short. They don’t talk about it. It’s like taboo. 


Bret Eartheart  36:53

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And this is where yeah, we would love to empower the world to, to, you know, have a sex positive perspective, right, where, where, you know, we get, we give ourselves permission to make requests around our sexual desires and needs. Yeah, so important.


Matthew Hoffman  37:15

Love that. All good stuff, you guys are given us some terrific relationship gold today. And it’s like, it’s like mining and finding all kinds of gemstones. I love it. So we do have 11 other pillars, we’ve talked about three. But I would like each of you to kind of take a look at that list. And look at those other 11. And Bret, I may ask you to start first. Which other one of those pillars jumps out to you? And is important to you? And why?


Bret Eartheart  37:46

Yeah. Well, I’m gonna go with trust and honesty. And, yeah, yeah. So so I’m gonna go with trust and honesty. And, you know, I think I reference my family of origin and some of the kind of the issues that I grew up with. And, you know, we’re trust and honesty, were not happening. And, you know, I saw, you know, well, I experienced the wreckage and the devastation, you know, that kind of came from that. And, you know, so I made like, a really, you know, big commitment, like, within myself of like, you know, I have to be totally honest, and have, like, the highest level of integrity in, you know, my romantic relationships. And, and that, you know, I would say, you know, when we, when we look at kind of like the trajectories of like, you know, what, what, you know, sends us off in certain directions. It’s like, that was critically important for me.


Matthew Hoffman  38:59

How about you, Christine, what other pillar jumps out, out at you? And would you say that you would focus on.


Christine Eartheart  39:07

Appreciation’s the one that jumped out to me, so that’s been one of the kind of cornerstones of our relationship. We have a ritual where we express appreciation to each other pretty much every single evening, and I am still to this day, like every day just in awe of how I would miss things if we didn’t have that practice. And it has been so paramount because in Bret expressing appreciation to me, it amazes me how there are so many things that I would have had no idea he appreciated, like I just didn’t even know it mattered. Like that meant something to you. Okay, well, I can keep doing that. And I think if I didn’t hear it, it would just be easy to let those things fall away. And so that’s been just so encouraging and motivating. And then when I express appreciation to Bret, I continually have the idea of like, I’m scanning the day for what there is depreciate even if it’s the same thing I’ve appreciated 500 times before, you know, it’s like, I like wake up in that moment. I’m like waking up to like the abundance of blessings that Brett brings to my life that in the fullness of life I just would otherwise miss. And so I am so grateful and expressing appreciation to Brett, my heart fills, I just like fall in love with him over and over and over again. And it’s just so humbling to recognize, like how many things I would miss in our everyday life that’s like, actually going well and like how are we showing up for us and, you know, during, especially, you know, working together, it’s so easy to go into like task mode. And, and so appreciation has just been the antidote to that for me and just not going into like what needs to be better or fixed or logistics. It’s like zooming out. And it just keeps me connected to the big picture and keeps us so connected. And we feel seen then for how we want to be seen how we want to show up. It’s like just so bonding, and we do it at night. And so it’s like, just the best feeling that in those like five minutes, we end the day feeling connected, it’s been one of the most important decisions we made is like having that ritual. So it’s yeah, it’s trained me to be on the lookout. I mean, certainly it has spilled over beyond that actual those moments.


Bret Eartheart  41:16

It’s such a simple, but powerful exercise because right it, it builds that muscle of looking for what each other does, right? Every day. 


Kimberly Hoffman  41:26



Matthew Hoffman  41:26

I love that. 


Kimberly Hoffman  41:27

We talk about showing up for each other. And so I really believe that there’s some self care that has to take care, you know, that that has to come into play, before we can show up for others. So Bret, do you have a non negotiable self care practice that you do so that you can show up and be your best for Christine?


Bret Eartheart  41:51

Yeah, thank you. I do I work out on a regular basis. And I just have to do that, like, you know, for my mental health more than anything, but also, you know, physical health. And, and so it’s like, I wake up early, earlier than Christine three days a week. And you know, it’s, which often kind of wakes her up before, she wouldn’t want one to wake up. And it’s, you know, and I, I’m usually like, super sensitive, right to those kinds of things where it’s like, I want to accommodate, you know, her greatest life. But on those kind of, you know, three mornings a week that I wake up, you know, too early to work out, it’s like, you know, I know, I have to do that. Right? Like, that’s like the, you know, the, you know, me kind of, you know, taking a check out of the love account, you know, so that I can put in more deposits. Since like.


Kimberly Hoffman  42:59

Christine, how about for you is our self care practice that you have that is non negotiable?


Christine Eartheart  43:05

Yeah, I’d say my morning practice, it is just so it doesn’t matter where we are traveling, or what’s going on. Having those moments of quiet just to connect and get centered and aligned and get filled up spiritually and kind of have nourishment that is that’s just in life kind of with all areas of life. That’s a bit of a non negotiable to me. And certainly, it spills over to the relationship and all areas.


Kimberly Hoffman  43:33

Of course.


Matthew Hoffman  43:34

Yeah, we have those as well. And I love to hear that you’re taking the time to make sure you’re at your best so you can show up for the one that matters most to you. And you guys have been terrific. You’ve been open and sharing and transparent, and giving us such great relationship feedback from your own real experience. So thank you. And if people want to learn more about the two of you and what you do, where should they go?


Christine Eartheart  44:02

Yeah, well, so we are we founded over a decade now the Center for Thriving Relationships. So if you search Center for Thriving Relationships, we would probably come up otherwise you can abbreviate it and go to ‘’ And you can learn more about our coaching and counseling and courses and we do a weekend retreat. And then we now train others to become relationship coaches, which is such an honor and on social media. We definitely hang out on Instagram quite a bit so you can find us there @Centerforthriving relationships, as well. Yeah, we’d love to stay connected in any way.


Bret Eartheart  44:40

Thank you for what you two do. Like I just really, really love your work. And I like that you do it from an Airstream I think and


Kimberly Hoffman  44:49



Matthew Hoffman  44:49

Yeah, we’re in Phoenix and this is her name. So our second trailer the first one we had burnt last summer to the ground. We go to Maine in the summer and we work from up there. So We’ll be leaving in a couple of weeks. And so this is the replacement since last summer and Phoenix. And we do all of our podcast interviews from here. And we travel.


Bret Eartheart  45:11

I love it. I love seeing the cars go by in the background and it’s wonderful.


Matthew Hoffman  45:19

Yeah, no backdrop.


Kimberly Hoffman  45:23

Just natural.


Matthew Hoffman  45:25

 Yeah. So thank you for being with us today. We look forward to sharing this. And I can’t wait to connect with you guys again soon.


Kimberly Hoffman  45:32

Yeah, thank you both. I’ve enjoyed speaking with you and appreciate your authenticity, and the work that you all are also doing to be in service to couples. So we share the same passion.


Christine Eartheart  45:46

It’s an honor. We so do. It is a special connection we share and so thank you both so much for who you are your relationship. It’s just so undeniable, the love and the intention that you’ve poured into it. And I think it’s just so inspiring and so contagious and wonderful to be around other couples who are committed to having these thriving conscious relationships.


Kimberly Hoffman  46:11



Matthew Hoffman  46:12

Thank you. 


Kimberly Hoffman  46:12

Take care. 


Matthew Hoffman  46:13

We’ll see you guys.


Christine Eartheart  46:15

You too. Thank you both so much.