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Kickass Couples Podcast

The Power of Vulnerability: How Emotional Communication Strengthens Relationships – Ep. 118 SPECIAL – Ft. Dr. Jeff Jennings & Dr. Kristie Overstreet

By August 30, 2023No Comments



vulnerability, vulnerable, kristie, relationship, partner, share, jeff, intimacy, great, communication, work, trust, person, risks, emotional, people, conversation, men, kim, matthew


Matthew Hoffman, Dr. Kristie Overstreet, Dr. Jeff Jennings, Kimberly Hoffman


Matthew Hoffman  00:03

Welcome back, everybody to the Kickass Couples Podcast. We are excited to be back with a special episode today on the power of vulnerability, how emotional communication can strengthen your relationship. And this is not just Kim and I hanging out in the Airstream. We have got two doctors in the house. And we’re going to introduce them in just a moment. But you know, I don’t know Kim, why do so many people get it wrong when it comes to communication? And you know, you could define effective communication is the process of exchanging ideas, thoughts, opinions, knowledge and data so that the message is received and understood with clarity and purpose. I think so many people look at communication as just the data part and they missed everything else that’s around them. 


Kimberly Hoffman  03:36

Yeah, there’s such an emotional component that goes along with communication. And I think that that’s where people get a little confused. It’s misunderstood. 


Matthew Hoffman  03:46

Well, we’re gonna get to the bottom of that today. And joining us today are Dr. Kristie Overstreet and Dr. Jeff Jennings, so we can tackle this issue and learn more about what we need to do to get it right. So welcome, good doctors.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  04:00

Thanks for having me.


Kimberly Hoffman  04:04

Welcome, both of you here. I want to open up with a with a quote from Tony Gaskins that Matthew found, which I really love, and it says communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it, it dies. And I feel like that’s so true. It’s such a great quote.


Matthew Hoffman  04:26

It is. So what what do you guys think? You know, Jeff, or Dr. Kristie, you can go but what is it with? Why do people get it wrong? Why is this such a troubling issue on being vulnerable in our communication, which is it seems as what we want, but what we want and what we do don’t always seem to line up.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  04:44

Well, the biggest thing that I say when it comes to vulnerability is there’s this immediate fear if I’m vulnerable, I’m probably going to get hurt. And so it’s really easy to keep our guard up. When it comes to relationships if we think about being vulnerable, just as our abuse ability to be ourselves to be our authentic selves without getting hurt and feeling safe in that process, we’re all trying to get that we’re all wanting that. And the more we can be vulnerable without getting hurt, it will automatically improve the trust in the process. So I think a lot of times we get it backwards, we get in our head when it comes to communication, and then we don’t get into our bodies, and we’re not intentional. And with vulnerability, it that will be the only way that we can really connect with our partners. And it doesn’t mean that we have to be vulnerable 100% of time with 100% of what we say. But if we can find bits of vulnerability in our day to day that trust will automatically follow.


Matthew Hoffman  05:42

That’s beautiful. What would you add to that? Jeff, what do you think that vulnerability is such an issue with people being able to do it effectively in their relationships?


Dr. Jeff Jennings  05:51

I think it has a lot to do with Dr. Kristie is talking about that that fear, you know, the fear factor, we all want to protect ourselves. And we all want to keep from being hurt, we want to figure out how can I get my needs met without being hurt in the process. And so we have to learn that the relationship is safe, we have to learn that we can trust our partners with the most vulnerable aspects of ourselves, I think we tend to want to hide vulnerable aspects of ourselves. And research has shown that we like it when we see other people being vulnerable. But we don’t like to be vulnerable on our own. So it’s a quality that we admire when other people are doing it. But it’s seen as a weakness when we ourselves are doing it. So it can be a real challenge to open ourselves up in that way.


Kimberly Hoffman  06:48

And who would you say struggles more? Is it men or women that struggle more with vulnerability? Or would you say it’s the same?


Dr. Jeff Jennings  06:58

I think it really depends on what you’re talking about. So I think men and women struggle. You know, I think that the the stereotype is that women are more vulnerable than men. And that might be true to a degree. And I’d love to hear Dr. Kristie’s thoughts on this. But I think it depends on the topic, right? I think there were some things that some topics that men are struggle with more to be vulnerable, particularly around emotions and things like that. But I also think there are topics and subjects that women struggle to be more vulnerable with.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  07:34

Yeah, I agree with that the situation, the topic of the vulnerability. And I think it also, as I’m sure all of y’all would agree that it’s an individual’s experience, how they grew up, how have their relationship experience beyond their current relationship, the last time they opened up, did they get hurt? Did they get ignored? Did they get dismissed? And those experiences become our own internal messages and teach us Hey, like you said, Dr. Jeff, when this topic comes up, do I sit back and silence? Or do I go put it all out there. So we have to take the individual the experience, and and what it has been like in that current relationship, which can feel overwhelming, because if we think Wait a minute, everything I’ve been through before, makes me who I am today, but it doesn’t define who I am today. And I think that’s what’s so, so important, whether it’s the man or the woman, or whoever’s in that relationship dynamic, that they’re bringing that baggage that background, their experiences with also saying, I’m taking a chance and a risk in this situation right now on this topic to put myself out there am I going to overcome that fear and just give it a try and see if this time is going to be different. And so almost feeling like falling off the side of a cliff sometimes, to just put yourself out there. And that’s really what the basis of vulnerability is, is overcoming that fear whether whichever person in relationship it is,


Kimberly Hoffman  08:56

Yeah, I feel like, you know, it’s that story, like you said, I appreciate that you said that story that we have in our head, about ourselves. And even sometimes I feel like there’s this little Minion sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ears. Really unkind things about myself. And so you’re just really repeating those to yourself over and over again and believing those and, and it is scary. It does feel like jumping off a cliff when you have to be vulnerable and open. There’s a lot of fear surrounding that, I believe.


Matthew Hoffman  09:30

I agree. So what do we do? Jeff, I’d like to hear from you. So digging deeper, a little bit on what Dr. Kristie said. So if we’re if our history is telling us, Hey, don’t do this, because it could be cataclysmic, right, you know, there’s risk. What can we do to allow us to be willing to take more of those steps and be vulnerable in our relationship? Nobody likes to get hurt, right? I mean, the human brain, the human mind experiences like protect, you know, nurture. Don’t do any thing that’s risky, you know, be safe, play it safe. And that that can that’s what vulnerability is right is not being safe. And when you get out there, so how do we take that story that we’ve been hearing that saying, Don’t do it? Don’t jump? Don’t put yourself out there, you know, what’s going to happen? How do we? What are the things that we can do? And then what are the things that we should ask our partner to do to allow that to be the norm as opposed to the exception?


Dr. Jeff Jennings  10:26

That’s a great, great question, I think we have to learn that trust, right? And to learn how to trust we have to take risks. And that can be taking small risks at first, you know, this is what we do in the beginning of the relationship, ideally, right beginning of a relationship, you’re taking small risks, you’re putting yourself out there little by little, to feel out whether or not this person is safe, you know, whether or not this person that I am dating or want to be with in my life is someone that is going to accept me that is going to validate what I’m feeling or be supportive, and, and be there for me ultimately, and accept who I am as a person, right? They can’t give us that, if we’re not willing to take those risks, you know, if a person continues to hide aspects of themselves, and not take those risks, and not put themselves out there and not be willing to be vulnerable, then they can’t possibly ever learned that that relationship is safe, and the person that they’re with is trustworthy. So we have to be willing to take those risks. And and if it needs to start in small ways, because a person has been deeply wounded in the past and vulnerability is very scary. That’s fine. But you have to you have to be willing to take those steps. And, you know, in terms of what the your partner can do, the other person can do is is this really being present? I think that’s one of the most important things. You know, Gottman talks about, you know, bids for connection. John Gottman talks about bids for connection. And when someone makes a bid for connection, their partner has the opportunity to accept or reject that bid. And it’s extremely important to recognize and be present when someone is being vulnerable with you, right? And you’re being attentive to that. And you’re listening. You’re handling that with care, and you’re not ignoring it checking your phone going about your business, you know, oh, that’s nice. And being dismissive. You know, you really need to pay attention to those moments, and someone is taking a risk with.


Matthew Hoffman  13:22



Kimberly Hoffman  13:23

Yeah, so it’s up to the partner to create that safe space to really be aware in that moment of vulnerability in order for the other person to begin to feel safe is what I hear you saying.


Dr. Jeff Jennings  14:01

Absolutely. Absolutely.


Matthew Hoffman  14:04

What would you add to that, Dr. Kristie?


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  14:08

Another thing, that’s great suggestions to add to what Dr. Jeff said, is to ask both people to redefine intimacy. And what I mean by that is, a lot of times we hear intimacy, we automatically think of sex or physical sex. But when we think about intimacy, it really just means connection. And if we’re going to connect with someone, we want to build vulnerability with somebody we want to build trust with them. If we say if intimacy means connection, and intimacy moves in tandem with trust, then we have the ability to improve trust while building intimacy and connection. So when you’re more connected, trust goes up in be more vulnerable. And if you feel less connected, trust goes down. And so if we can look at this from saying, Am I doing something Am I act in a certain way? Am I saying something a certain way? that’s decreasing trust right now, then I’m automatically going to get less connection, less intimacy, less vulnerability as redefining intimacy, because there’s actually 12 different types of intimacy and physical intimacy is only one of the 12. But with redefining intimacy, it also gives us the chance to say, intimacy and trust go up and down every single day. And we can’t have zero trust in a partner, and be with them at the same time. Because I think a lot of times in couples will say, why don’t trust him? And will automatically say, Well, you got to trust him, at least at a one at a 10. Because if you didn’t trust me, you won’t be in the first place. But are you doing something that is bringing the trust down? Are you building it back up. So if we can start scaling on a one to 10am I doing something that’s increasing trust, or decreasing Trust, the intimacy and connection aka the vulnerability that’s the foundation of that will travel with it. So just rethinking that concept of intimacy connection, and trust is a great place to start and extra points, if you can actually talk about it and have a have a conversation about that commitment, which I know is important with these pillars is that commitment to say, we’re going to redefine intimacy, we’re going to change how we’re viewing trust. And that will definitely improve vulnerability and intimacy.


Kimberly Hoffman  16:16

I want to dig a little deeper with that, what if I have knowingly or even unknowingly done something to make my partner be afraid to be vulnerable with me? What What can I do to repair that? What are some steps that I can take to maybe men that?


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  16:36

Well, if what comes to mind is if you’ve done something knowingly or unknowingly trust is absolutely got hit in some way, big or small. And I believe the only two things that you have to have to improve trust, which means give that chance to kind of get a do over is number one, time has to pass. While number two, you’re doing the next right thing. So let’s say you didn’t listen, or you didn’t show up how you wanted to or you’re late, you start changing that and start more times than not listening more times than not showing up on time and start building up this account or this pile of doing the next right thing. But that’s not enough. You have to have time past to show those actions, to build up that trust to say, hey, I can be different. I am being different. I’m showing different. Because if it’s intentional, or if you’re aware of it, just saying sorry. Hey, I’m sorry about that. That’s great. But it’s only one part of it. It’s showing the actions of doing the next right thing that really makes the biggest difference, which in return will absolutely build trust back.


Kimberly Hoffman  17:41

Dr. Jeff, would you have anything to tag on to those comments about repairing something that’s been broken?


Dr. Jeff Jennings  17:52

Yeah, I think those are those are great suggestions. Dr. Christie has and you know, I would add, you know, the only thing I would add to that is just really communicating your your care and reassurance, right? Yes, it’s got to be backed up, right with action, and time and consistency. But sometimes it’s also important to start with, Hey, you really do matter to me, I messed up, you know, and I am sorry for that. But I want you to know that your feelings matter. You know what you have to say matters. I want you to be open with me. I want to hear you. And I want to do a better job at that. You know, so I think sometimes we need that reassurance. Right, especially if we have felt hurt or trust has been broken. We can really communicate words of affirmation and reassurance, our partner to help repair that.


Kimberly Hoffman  18:46

Sure, and of apology as well, right. I’m sorry, I messed up.


Matthew Hoffman  18:51

Yeah. Not just the word that Kristie,  I love what you said Dr. Kristie.  iI’s not just the words. It’s like, you know, when when a kid competes in a competition, they go, here’s your medal, good job, you know, good job doesn’t mean or do anything, or, Hey, I’m sorry. And then it’s the next right action, which I loved. And it’s accountability. I think what I heard both of you saying and your responses is you got to be accountable and own your own stuff good or bad. And recognize it and then show not just say how you’re going to demonstrate and walk through it for your partner because if you want the trust high if you want the vulnerability high, they got to know that you’re committed and willing to do what it takes to make them feel safe. So that those risks can be taken and and I think that you guys each has some some great stuff. So I’m sitting here I want you guys to consider me this is a vulnerability for dummies. Okay. Third grade. I think that Kim and I are here in the third grade. If I want to be vulnerable with my wife, I love for you guys to each walk me through and Jeff maybe you can start what am I got it? What does it look like if I want I’m sitting here thinking man, you know, we’re Not that vulnerable, our communication is pretty surfacey and data driven, kind of in the definition I was talking about, what are some things that I can do give me the startups? What do I say? If I’m thinking holy cow for listeners like, Okay, I don’t have much vulnerability? What’s an easy place to start? Or what is what does it look like in conversation?


Dr. Jeff Jennings  20:21

I think of it in terms of levels of intimacy, and Dr. Christie shared, you know, there are actually many different types of intimacy. And I think there are different levels of intimacy when it comes to conversation. So it’s one thing to share, you know, your thoughts and opinions with someone that doesn’t require a lot of vulnerability, most of us are pretty good at sharing our thoughts and opinions even when they are unwanted. 


Dr. Jeff Jennings  20:45

It’s a different level of intimacy when you start sharing that requires more vulnerability. And not not just like, you know, I’m really upset about this thing that happened with me today, right? It’s, it’s really sharing this softer emotions, right, that’s another thing that’s easy to share when we’re angry or upset or frustrated, no, but when we can really start sharing this softer emotions, you know, I felt really hurt by this individual today, or I felt rejected, or, you know, I felt, you know, a sense of shame when this happened to me, or when I did this, you know, I felt afraid, you know, this, this scared me. That’s extending another level of trust, you know, when we can share that, that softer emotion, where we are more vulnerable, right? That makes us more vulnerable to share that. And those are the things that are often seen as weakness. So those are the things we don’t want to share. So one of the first things you can do, I think, is just start being really honest about your feelings. And sometimes that requires some emotional awareness, right, we need to tune in to our own in our life and what we’re feeling. And I work with a lot of men who, who struggle with it, who come to see me because they have a difficult time sharing their feelings with their wives and their wives who are very disconnected from them. And it impacts their children as well, you know, so they want to strengthen those relationships. And we start with simply, them starting to tune in to their own emotions, and grow in their own emotional awareness. And then being willing to share that with the people in their lives.


Matthew Hoffman  20:45

Yeah, I never do that, Jeff. I’m not guilty.


Matthew Hoffman  20:51

Love that. So as as I mean, as a man in this relationship, I hear sharing softer emotions, things which are make me a little bit vulnerable. How do I feel, you know, what, what are the situation look like? And then for my partner, for being encouraging, and accepting and non judgmental of that, because if I’m stepping out there, she’s making it safe. Acknowledging and, you know, I shared something with just give a personal example. Last night, I kind of did a mia culpa with Kim on a mistake. I had made the head financial repercussions to our family. Thank goodness, I caught it. But I did something and I took care of it and handled it and it went away. And I sat there yesterday afternoon thinking, okay, I can share this with her and really open myself up and say, I screwed up, but I also fixed it, or I can say nothing. And I chose to walk through the door and be vulnerable, and we’re making dinner last night and I said, Hey, I got a mia culpa. And her eyes got really big, like, oh, no, what’s coming down the pike, right? What did you do? But I shared it. And I explained it to her and she wasn’t judgmental. She heard me and she said, wow, you know, did that it added up, and we had a great conversation. But it was my choice to share something with her, that cast me in a negative light, and made me feel a certain way. So I shared my emotion, I shared what I did. And we had a connection opportunity. And I didn’t get hurt. Yes, it was not fun to say I made a mistake, and I screwed up. But I was willing to have the conversation, which brought us closer together. And I think that’s the those are the conversations that people can be having. What What would you add to that Kristie? If I’m if you know, it’s vulnerability for idiots, and we’re sitting here, and I want to be more vulnerable with my wife.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  24:31

Would y’all be open to doing this real time as the couple sitting there? 


Matthew Hoffman  24:35



Dr. Kristie Overstreet  24:37

Okay, so go ahead. So as you’re listening, what’s happening right now, as I’m asking Matthew and Kim to look at one another. I know it’s tough because I want you to have good audio to be able to talk but I want you to just look at each other as comfortable as you can. I want you to touch in some place where there’s hands, somehow touch in some way All right now look at one another. And what I would do for time purposes at Oh man, I would time you for about a minute and a half to just look into one of those other’s eyes. We’re not timing right now. We’ll do it quicker. So just look at one another. Take a couple of moments. And Matthew, I’ll while you’re looking at Kim, I want you to tell her, what led you to choose her? What led you to choose her out of all the other women in the world? Just tell her right now in the moment. First thing that comes to mind. 


Matthew Hoffman  25:26

She is one one of the most 


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  25:27

Tell her. I choose you.


Matthew Hoffman  25:28

Oh,  I choose you. Because you are one of the most spirit led, faithful, loving and genuine women I’ve ever met.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  25:41

Okay, Kim, what led you to choose him out of all the men in the world? Why Matthew?


Kimberly Hoffman  25:48

I choose you because you are the most incredible human I have ever met. You are deeply spiritual. You are you are considerate, and you are committed to our covenant of marriage.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  26:06

Okay, now Matthew, I are looking at camera, I want you to tell her what is the biggest thing within you and your relationship that you are continuing to work on and committing to her to work on just writing in the moment what comes up for you.


Matthew Hoffman  26:21

I am continuing to work on valuing your strengths, your unique approach and your dedication to our family so that I can better support you and your success.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  26:35

Okay, Kim, tell Matthew what you’re committed to work on the biggest thing that you want to work on right now. In within yourself and the relationship.


Kimberly Hoffman  26:46

I am committed to prioritizing you above all others, all human relationships, that is and making sure that you know and feel that you are number one in my life. And that I’m going to strive every day to make you. Okay,


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  27:09

Now, go ahead and you can break your eye contact as you talk about this right now. Matthew, what’s coming up for you right now as she was telling you those things about why you were important, why she chose you. And then hearing what she’s working out. Tell her what feelings coming up for you right now in the moment.


Matthew Hoffman  27:30

 It’s reaffirming, it’s confirming it because it it’s I don’t want to say it’s nothing new that I didn’t know. But it it focuses and puts me at ease to know what she’s doing for me, and why she chooses me. So I feel at ease, comfort, committed and supported. And I would say emboldened to go forward and what I need to do for me and for us in our relationship.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  27:58

Okay, Kim, how about for you when you were looking at him? And he was telling you, why you and then what he’s wanting to work on? What did it bring up for you?


Kimberly Hoffman  28:07

It made me feel valued, and made me feel appreciated and truly loved by Him. I think that, again was reaffirming, as you said about how he feels about me, and how important I am in his life.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  28:26

So both of y’all were very vulnerable with each other. But most definitely all of us listening right. And you both took away the affirmation, the RE commitment, the reaffirming saying hey, I’m on the right path of them my relationship. Whew, thank goodness, I’m on the right path they are to which shows Dr. Jeff, what you were saying earlier about that affirmation that reminding that support. And that can give so much trust, which absolutely encourages more and more vulnerability. So good job for both of y’all for opening up and letting us be vulnerable with y’all. But that simple. And I say sample meaning you both do great with taking directions and put yourself out there. But just taking the five minutes to remind one another of why they’re important. And then what your your accountability, personal responsibilities relationship, what you’re bringing to the table, that’s going to make you want to share and open up more and more gives more peace. So that is something everyone can do. If you have the space and the emotional place within your relationship to start building up more of that.


Matthew Hoffman  29:28



Kimberly Hoffman  29:30

I want to dive a little deeper with both of you into emotional communication because we’ve talked about communication and we know that that’s exchanging data. But But when we talk more about emotional communication, I think it goes a lot deeper than just being really honest about your feelings, right? It’s about putting your feelings out there. But also knowing what those underlying emotions and feelings are that are driving that. And so if we talk about emotional communication. What are some of the what does it look like? What are some? What What would you say emotional communication looks like between two people. And I would ask you, Dr. Jeff, if you don’t mind going first?


Dr. Jeff Jennings  30:18

Sure, I’ll jump in, you know, to me, yeah, it does go beyond just sharing, I feel a certain way to me that that real deep emotional communication really has to do with sharing your inner world. Right? Like, really what is your your struggles, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations? What’s happening for you right now in your life? You know, what are you struggling with right now, in your, in your inner life? What challenges are you having? What’s what’s on your mind? What’s on your heart, right? These are the types of things you know, that really require a high degree of vulnerability, because you’re really revealing yourself to another person, you’re really letting them in, right. And that’s not something we we do with everybody. So it does require a great degree of trust and safety, and needs to be handled with care. But that is where we can deepen our intimacy the most is by going to those places of vulnerability by just revealing our true selves, you know, in our inner world with our partner.


Kimberly Hoffman  31:36

Sure, and with some people, there can be past trauma, you know, in their history, some things that are really difficult to speak about. And so I appreciate that you that you said that. Would you add anything on to that? Dr. Kristie?


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  31:53

Yeah, I think to add on, I think some of that we don’t talk a lot about is having the space to be emotionally to have emotional communication, meaning, our share with what my partner and I do, and when I work with individuals and couples is first off just asking, Hey, do you have a couple of minutes? Or hey, do you have some time I need to talk about this or get this off my chest or run something past you real quick, or I want to talk with you about this? And waiting for your partner say, Yeah, I got a couple of minutes or actually not right now. I can’t I can’t even chat with you right now. Let’s do a little bit later. And if they do say, Yeah, I’ve got a couple of minutes and Okay, dumping out whatever’s going on sharing whatever you need. And your partner’s ability to call it holding space to be able to hold space just for you to talk, to share, to dump to vent to just put everything out there without them jumping in and trying to fix it. Because I’m sure it’s really easy right to jump in and try to start solving. But I know with my partner for his ability to say, okay, I can hold space for you. And you can dump it out. He’s not jumping in and erupt and he’ll wait to get done and say, did you want me to share my thoughts? And I may say, No, I’m good, or Yeah, what do you think, versus jumping in and cutting off the conversation? Because when we have the safety of being able to dump or share or talk with someone interrupting us, or jumping in with their agenda, we’re able to get deeper. And we’re also able to really work through whatever’s coming up for us at the moment. So with both partners just to be able to check in and say do you have a couple of minutes I need to talk and share? And then if the other partner says yes, for them not to jump in, is really important. So some of the emotional communication, we have to hold space for being able to allow the person to talk and share versus just really dominating the conversation.


Kimberly Hoffman  34:49

Right and I would agree with that if we don’t create the space or make sure the timing is right. Then we could really be putting ourselves in a challenging position because What if that person is tired? What if they’re hungry? What if they’re just not in a great mood? So making sure that that person is available and ready to have that conversation? I think is key.


Matthew Hoffman  35:12

It is. And I think another thing that we’ve talked about before that I want to bring up, I think it’s germane is when you’re talking to your partner, and they say, and Dr. Kristie, that request comes, hey, do you have a few minutes? Ask them what it is they’re looking for, say, Hey, are you tell me what you’re looking for right now? Is it a listening ear? Do you feel like just venting? Is there an issue? You know? In other words, how do you want me to best support you in this conversation instead of guessing, because maybe they are looking for a solution, like, I don’t know what to do. And I really need some feedback, or know what I just, I’m angry, and I just need to vent. So knowing how you need to listen and be there for them. It’s good to know, so that you’re not because more often than not, it’s not a solution. But sometimes I’m faced with this, and I just don’t know what to do. Or if you’re just being quiet. And they’re, they’re looking for that help, then and you’re not saying anything, it’s going to be frustration. So how can I show up best for you right now? Great question. I just need you to listen, I want to vent, I’m looking for help. I’m looking for feedback. Or I just, you know, I’m angry. And I just gotta get this out there. So I think there’s nothing wrong with asking your partner, how can I best respond? Just shut up. And listen, you got it. Here we go. I’ll shut up and listen, right? And for men, and I won’t say all men, but a lot of men typically want to get in repair, fix and move on. It’s like, what can I do quick to get out there, and I had to really learn in our relationship. It’s not about being expedient. It’s about being present. I think, Jeff, you said that earlier. And I think that’s important. And you know, that kind of leads into in our society, it seems, you know, our communities and society and social media, are they encouraging a greater expression of vulnerability? Or do you feel like they’re not? You know, why are when we when we think about society, or relationships and community or work? What do you think the trend is? And how can we best respond to those trends or pressures that are out there right now. And Dr. Kristie, I’d love to hear from you first on that.


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  37:19

Yeah, I think it is encouraging us to be more vulnerable, because we’re putting ourselves out there more than ever, especially with social media and being encouraged and affirm to suit we think, share our opinions put herself out there, where the problem comes in, if we find that we’re putting ourselves all the way out there for everybody else, but not within our relationship. And I think that’s one of the problems can be too if people are showing up in spaces, but not showing up for themselves first, because you got to take care yourself first to show up for your part of the relationship. And social media can be a real problem, as y’all all know, for a lot of relationships, and probably a lot of ways. And so I think if we just make that commitment that I’m going to show up, I’m going to be vulnerable, I owe this to myself, and I owe this relationship, I can’t get what I want unless I get what I want. It’s like this dance of giving and getting and keeping a lot of relationship equality. But yeah, I mean, again, I think a lot of people are quicker to put yourself out there on a Facebook status or share like an update Facebook versus having a conversation with their partner, because they don’t have to be super vulnerable as they would have to be deep down with their partner.


Matthew Hoffman  38:31

Right. What would you add to that, Jeff? Any more?


Dr. Jeff Jennings  38:37

I agree, I think I think with our current culture, and with social media, we’re certainly encouraged to share more information with one another. So we put a lot more information out there for lots of people to see. But it’s sort of like, you know, that that degree of anonymity, you know, even though people know who we are, it’s like, you know, it’s easy to share things when there’s sort of a there is a distance between us and those who are receiving it, right, there’s a little bit of distance there. It doesn’t feel quite, it doesn’t make us feel quite as vulnerable as some things can, depending on what we’re sharing. But it is very different than actually having a conversation face to face with someone I think it’s a very different thing. I think it’s it’s a harder thing more challenging to be truly vulnerable with someone face to face than it is to share very vulnerable things, you know, on Facebook or something like that. 


Matthew Hoffman  39:51



Kimberly Hoffman  39:52

Dr. Jeff, we’re talking about being vulnerable and using really emotional communication And what happens when we do that, in a relationship? When we show up that way in a relationship? What are some of the outcomes? I would love for our listeners to hear that?


Dr. Jeff Jennings  40:13

I think, you know, ideally, and I think it happens more often than not, is that it Bond’s us to the other people, it builds connection. Other people feel closer to us, they feel more connected to us. It encourages them to be more vulnerable, right? With us, so they might open up and share more when they know that we’re willing to be vulnerable. So it really starts to build a closer and more intimate bond that compete with a friend or romantic partner, or whatever, you know, but it’s going to build that relationship and make it stronger. And more often than not, you know, I’ve worked with college students for a number of years, at the University of Virginia, and, you know, being sharing a struggle or sharing what was really going on with them was like death, right? That was the worst thing they can imagine they would come into the Counseling Center, and I would sit with him and talk with them. And they would share these things with me that they’re struggling with. And I’d always ask, you know, who else have you talked to about this? And the answer almost always was no one. Right? You know, what about your friends? Do you have friends? Oh, yeah, I have friends. You know, in your do you talk to them about this sort of thing? Oh, no, we never talked about stuff like this, right. So what part of my work was oftentimes just to get them to share with another person, right, because I knew they needed that experience of being able to share a struggle with someone and not feel rejected, you know, it was a risk, right? But nine times out of 100. When they actually did it, they came back and reported that it was a very positive experience, that when they shared when they were more vulnerable and shared something with a friend of theirs, their friend was was supportive was encouraging, their friend may have shared something they were struggling with. So generally, when we are vulnerable, and we take that risk, it is going to be reciprocated in a positive manner, and then it’s going to have a positive impact on the relationship.


Kimberly Hoffman  42:29

Do you have anything to add on to that Dr. Kristie?


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  42:32

Well, the biggest thing with better communication is we feel more emotionally intimate within that relationship dynamics, and we feel more emotional, intimate, we’re going to have more physical intimacy. And when we have more physical intimacy, we’re going to feel closer, which is going to build up more that emotional intimacy. And I think one thing we may get wrong at times is we hear emotional intimacy, we think it’s all about having to share all the emotions all the time and say how we feel all the time. But being able to sit silent with someone and just be able to hold space without having to feel the time and just knowing that you’re there with them. That has a big impact on that relationship connection as a whole. But yeah, commercial communication. Intimacy absolutely results in emotional and physical intimacy.


Matthew Hoffman  43:17

So I’ve got a final question for you guys. You’ve been fantastic with your responses and man, so much good stuff for our listeners. But what do you say to the person who’s like, you know, what, I don’t feel we’ve got the emotional communication intimacy that we have, and I’m really down with this. I’m working on it. But you’ve got the partner who’s like, Are you kidding me, you know, either not willing doesn’t want to doesn’t know how to, or you’re getting the stiff arm from your partner who doesn’t want to go there? How does somebody approach a partner who either isn’t there or doesn’t want to go there? So you can have those discussions and hopefully, work on repairing and getting more strength there. And I’d love to hear from both the on that. So Dr. Kristie, how does somebody approach an unwilling partner in this in this area?


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  44:08

I’d start by saying, Hey, I see where you’re at, from what you’re doing or not doing, I need to tell you where I’m at. I can only work on me, I can’t fix or change you. So I’m going to keep growing and change. And I hope you decide to go along with this with me. And for the individual that is willing to do the work and wanting to do the work. What you’re doing is you’re checking boxes, you’re checking boxes that I’m doing all I can do. I’m doing all I have control over I’m saying what are my wants, needs and desires. And I hope they align with the relationship. And once you go through and check the boxes that you’ve done everything that you can and you go back to your partners, Hey, I’ve done all I can do you may have to make some really tough decisions about the relationship. And I think that’s where a lot of people get stuck. They’re at this crossroads, do I go do I stay? So what I would encourage them to do is say Have I done all that I can do within my power. And when you get to that point you got some difficult decisions to make But the hope is when you work, you change you do you and grow, everything around, you will change. It doesn’t mean that person will change, but it’s the best likelihood to see some type of change by modeling and being you to see where they’re at with their growth. Sure.


Matthew Hoffman  45:15

That’s great. What would you add to that Jeff to the person is like, amen, I see it, I value it. But man, I’m hitting brick walls when I approached my partner.


Dr. Jeff Jennings  45:26

Right, I think it’s really important to, to communicate the need, and to communicate why it’s important to you, you know, I this is I need more emotional, emotional intimacy in our relationship, I need you to be more vulnerable, vulnerable with me, and here’s why, why that’s important to a relationship, you know, into our relationship in particular. So being honest and genuine, you know about your needs, and why you need that and what it would mean to the relationship to have that reciprocated. And also what it’s going to mean for the relationship to not have that reciprocated. Because I think you can be honest, and say, you know, hey, what we’re doing now is no longer working. Right? This is just not working anymore. And I see lots of couples who have been married decades, right. And kids are now grown and have now left that house. And they find themselves very disconnected from one another. And they realize, we were able to kind of mask this for many, many years while we were raising kids. But we can’t, we can’t mask it any longer. And this is actually a problem. And it needs to be addressed. And so, you know, I think it’s one of the reasons why you see couples, you know, you do see divorce rates go up some after children leave the home, right? Because if they haven’t maintained a good emotional connection through those child rearing years, and then they’re not they’re unable or unwilling to, after the children leave the relationships, not going to be sustainable.


Matthew Hoffman  47:12

Love that. Thank you so much.


Kimberly Hoffman  47:14

Yeah, I think overall, we’ve learned today that our emotional communication really can build stronger bonds. It can increase our understanding of our partners in our world and their hopes and their dreams. You know, it can really help unify our relationship and really work within us when we’re pressured or have outside stressors. You know, it can definitely have an impact on those things as well. And I think it also gives us a better opportunity to communicate at work with our children, when we have learned how to emotionally be vulnerable with our partner. So thank you both so much. 


Matthew Hoffman  48:00

You guys have been great. So if if people want to learn more about you, Dr. Kristie, if they want to connect and get more of your goodness, where should they go?


Dr. Kristie Overstreet  48:10

They can either find me on Instagram @Dr.KristieOverstreet or on Facebook, same handle or on my website,, and sign up for my weekly fix email.


Matthew Hoffman  48:25

Weekly fix I think we could all use that.


Kimberly Hoffman  48:27



Matthew Hoffman  48:27

How about you Dr. Jeff, if people want to learn more about you or connect with you, where should they go?


Dr. Jeff Jennings  48:33

They can go to my website as well. It’s Dr.Jeff My wife and I also do marriage work together coaching together and that’s at So either one of those could be places they could find me.


Matthew Hoffman  48:54

Great. Well, this has been a fantastic discussion, lots of good stuff. And we hope our listeners have a better roadmap of how to navigate this. And we are so grateful for your input. And we always like to close by reminding you that


Kimberly Hoffman  49:09

Happily ever after doesn’t just happen. It’s on purpose.


Matthew Hoffman  49:12

Thanks for being with us today. We look forward to connecting soon guys.


Kimberly Hoffman  49:15

Take care.


Dr. Jeff Jennings  49:17

 Thank you for having us.