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Kickass Couples Podcast

What Unconditional Love Looks Like In a Relationship – Ep. 73 Recap – Steph & Brandon Tuss

By October 19, 2022October 21st, 2022No Comments



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Kimberly Hoffman, Matthew Hoffman


Matthew Hoffman  00:02

Welcome to the Kickass Couples Podcast. This is the place where we help committed couples who wants to level up their marriage experience newfound clarity, hope and confidence. We’re Matthew and Kim, co-hosts and husband and wife in 26 years together, we’ve seen a lot and never thought it could be as good as it is right now. We’re here to help you successfully navigate the messy, dirty and wonderful world of marriage. We believe all couples deserve and are capable of experiencing an extraordinary and fulfilling marriage. And each week we’re bringing you life lessons from real life successful couples to help you grow and strengthen your relationship. We’ll get started right after this message. If you want to learn how to experience the best, most fulfilling year of your marriage, we invite you to order Matthew’s new book, Kickass Husband: “Winning at Like, Marriage and Sex,” you can get it at “” or visit Matthews website, “” Again, that’s “” or” And now back to the show.


Matthew Hoffman  01:18

Welcome back to the Kickass Couples Podcast. Today’s episode brings us the kick as husband and wife duo Steph and Brandon Tuss, who took their love of teaching and forged an unbreakable bond together as successful business partners and best friends for life. Steph Tuss is the CEO of multimillion dollar global consulting company life is now Inc. Steph discovered her love for teaching at a young age beginning her career as an educator. She has a master’s degree in holistic nutrition and has her own practice to help families. She hired David Nagle and his team at “Life is Now” as her Health Practices Business Coach. She sold her business at the age of 33. And joined “Life is Now” as the Director of Sales in 2009. Before taking the CEO role on in 2016. Brandon Tuss is the director of podcasting for “Life is Now” who show “The Successful Mind Podcast” helps people gain clarity around what it takes to adequately shape their minds and crush it in both life and business. Brandon started off with a successful career as an elementary school teacher, but was later led to find his true calling in the self improvement industry. Over the last decade, he has continued his mission to help others. They took their common love of teaching education and empowering others and have built a deep and abiding relationship that has made them better together forever. 


Matthew Hoffman  02:07

In today’s recap edition episode, Kim and I will share our key takeaways from our interview with this dynamic couple will break down concepts relationship qualities, and key pillar points that they’ve used to build their rock solid relationship that will stand the test of time.


Kimberly Hoffman  03:06

Welcome back to the Kickass Couples Podcast and this episode recap of Steph and Brandon Tuss. They were a great couple that we interviewed who’ve been together for over 20 years they met as school teachers, and they definitely have a kick ass relationship. We had a lot of fun interviewing them and our Airstream trailer. They are fellow air streamers as well. Whoo.


Matthew Hoffman  03:35

Yeah, baby.


Kimberly Hoffman  03:38

And Matthew, just let’s let’s get started right away with just getting into what were some really great highlights of this interview?


Matthew Hoffman  03:47

You know that this is one of those interviews when Kim and I were going over the recap and figuring out what we’re going to talk about in this episode. If we would have tried to go into this whole episode and recap it, we’d have you here for over an hour because there’s so much meat on the bone from both Brandon and Steph. Because of their backgrounds being teachers. They work for David Nagel in “Life is Now” and they’re a business and personal coaching enterprise. And Steph is the CEO of that company. And man, she’s a self help junkie, I think she said, which really makes her introspective and sensitive to walking the talk. And I love that about both of them. And they shared so many good things and kind of that my first point that I got out was when they were talking about their background and how what love looked like Kim when they were when they were coming up and they both had some experiences that made them probably look to more what they didn’t want based on their families of origin. They had some good and they were grateful for what they had Steph came out from a pretty her dad was an alcoholic until she was 16 and there’s a lot of dependencies around that and she She said her mom certainly expressed love, but it was conditional love. So something that’s a big buzzer and bellwether for me is the idea of conditional love or unconditional love. And in your number one romantic and human relationship, you’ve got to have unconditional love. Because if there are strings attached, then you never know where you stand, you’re always wondering what you have to do, or what your spouse has to do next to make you happy and fulfilled and content. And that is a horrible way to live a relationship. And so I think the challenge that the two of these had after they share their childhood experiences was they came together. And I said, How did you figure out how to take these two backgrounds and make them a winning thing together, and they did it beautifully. And I really liked what they had to had to say about melding it together and making sure that there weren’t strings attached and their own relationship, and then how they raised their daughters to make sure that they had that unconditional love. And there was no manipulation in that. Not only were Brandon and Steph free to express that love to each other, but they raised their children in that environment. And that’s I think that’s critical.


Kimberly Hoffman  06:11

Yeah. I think another thing that stood out to me too, relative to commitment was that they have an agreement based relationship. And that’s one of the first I think that we’ve heard this term. And they said, No, we say, how about we agree that if you say this to me, again, you could say it, you could approach me in this manner. How about we make an agreement that if this happens, we’re going to do this instead? You know, everything that they did, when they were working through something was an agreement base.


Matthew Hoffman  06:53

Right. Yeah. And I love that because, and it’s agreements that change based on circumstance and situation, right? And so it because you’re always going to be experiencing and coming across new things. And when things don’t go, Well, they say, Okay, well, Steph, would you know, Brandon’s intention is like, Let’s sweep it under the rug, you know, confrontation? She goes, Oh, no, no, no, no, we’re gonna talk about this and figure it out. How can we make this go better, next time? You got blindsided, I got blindsided or somebody’s opinions got hurt or crushed. Right? What can we learn from this? And how can we agree that we’re going to approach it differently? Right, you all have heard the definition of insanity, right? Doing the same thing again, and again and again, and expecting different results. I love the idea about their agreement based relationship, that they’re not trying to do the same thing again, expect different results, but change their behavior. And, you know, Steph had a great quote, I think she’s the one that said, either we are for each other, or we’re against each other. And there’s nothing in between, there’s going to be rough spots. But if you agree that you’re for each other, you’re not going to intentionally do things that are damaging and hurtful to your partner and your spouse. And if you do, you get to pull the reins and go, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute, let’s figure out what agreement we have to have to talk about. So we don’t do this again. And we can learn from those mistakes.


Kimberly Hoffman  08:15

Yeah, they approach everything as a team. They have shared values, and they really believe that they are coming at things together in with like mindedness. And I think that that’s another great thing to point out that they work together and everything that they do. And they’re always striving to really, you know, make that relationship bonded and trust and moving forward.


Matthew Hoffman  08:47

Yeah, I think, you know, I think I don’t know which one it was Steph or Brandon said this, but you got to focus on the positives and the solution, instead of all the things that could be wrong. So it’s kind of like, what’s your perspective? Are you looking for the wrong and you want to magnify that and say, well, he’s not doing this and she’s not doing that. And really, you know, there’s an old biblical life, you have a choice, right? You can. There’s a biblical expression that talks about I think it’s biblically based, talking about straining out gnats, and swallowing camels. So are you trying to find the nitpicky little teeny things and magnify those and make them a big deal, but you’re willing to let the big issues the elephants or the camels right go away? Or are you just looking for the good and trying to magnify that and make that the reality you have in your relationship?


Kimberly Hoffman  09:34

A great example, with a pair of socks, you walk through a room, you see a pair of socks sitting on the ground, you can make the choice to pick up the pair of socks and put them where they belong, or you can make the choice to say, Gosh, darn it, socks on the floor again, that jerk why, you know, Why does this always happen and just really focus on what an awful person he is because he left socks on the floor, so you have a personal choice that you make. And you also have a personal responsibility of how you choose to react.


Matthew Hoffman  10:10

No doubt. And I think that it’s what’s your focus? Right. And, you know, it’s there’s some there’s things that are perpetual, and there’s issues that you may not be able to solve. And you have to have a decision about what, what are you going to focus on? What are you gonna look at, and you’ve probably all if you’ve, if this is your first time listening to our podcast, you may not have heard it. But if you’ve listened to another episode, you got to look at your partner and their body of work, everything they’ve done, not one isolated incident and say, for the majority of the time is, I call it the 80/20 rule of 80% of the time they’re doing it right, then you really don’t have a cause to pick. If it’s more like 50/50 or 60/40, then maybe it’s time to have a conversation and let them know how you feel about that. But we want to focus on the good and make that our reality, instead of those small irritants that seem to really not be that relevant or important.


Kimberly Hoffman  11:01

And there, they’re committed to getting it right. That is one thing that they said during the interview is we are committed to getting it correct. And, you know, we are always bettering our best and I love that mantra that they their family monitor, yes, within their home. We’re always bettering our best. And I think that that’s a great that’s a great mantra to live by.


Matthew Hoffman  11:27

It is and, you know, if you’re if your mentality is how can we do it better and we’re talking degrees? You know, when, when someone like your coach in high school sports you go, I want you to give me 110%, right? You know, you can have if you do four or five things one or 2% better, it’s going to be A, realistic and B, have a significant impact, so they never rest on their laurels, whether it’s the relationship between the two of them, or having the example I think Steph talked about when one of their daughters would do something wrong and they go okay, here comes the talk. And Steph would say Alright, let’s get down in here. Now, what can we learn from this? What are we going to take away? And she said, all my girls are going to roll their eyes when they hear this episode, because she looks at every conflict or every challenge. It’s just an invitation, it’s an opportunity to make their their their better, best. 


Matthew Hoffman  12:20

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Kimberly Hoffman  13:10



Matthew Hoffman  13:11

I love that too. You know, one of the other things came that I really liked. I think Brandon talked about this, he said that they had done a workshop in their company together. And there was something they called the J curve. And if you think of a J, right, it’s got a curve on the bottom, then it goes Hi. He said, one of the things, you know, that he has had to struggle with in their relationship is getting caught in the J because if you’re a marble, and you’re rolling from one end of the J back to the other, you’re kind of going back and forth, but you’re not really making any significant progress he goes, you can get caught in small issues where you go back and forth and back and forth, where it really takes a lot of momentum to make it up that steep letter in the J and you just we keep repeating mistakes. He said, I found out that there was a point in our relationship between he and Steph, where I was becoming my father and doing the things that I didn’t want to happen. And I had to catch myself up short, and say what do I need to do to get the momentum to do the tough work to get out of this curve where I’m staying and sticking and doing the same things over and over and over again, and I think. 


Kimberly Hoffman  14:20

He stepped up, he owned his stuff. And


Matthew Hoffman  14:22

He did.


Kimberly Hoffman  14:23

 He, you know, started marching forward and, and really embracing the personal growth part.


Matthew Hoffman  14:31

That’s good. And I think you know, whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s difficult when you fall short, right? Or when you might be the one in the relationship that easily either isn’t working as hard or may not be as committed as much as much as the other and you got to be careful that you’re not letting resting because your spouse is willing to do the work and you’re hanging out and I think what I loved that Brandon shares he said wow, Steph was laughing me and she’s growing and doing and moving and shaking and he goes, I was cool to hang out and enjoy her success and not do much. And he said, That wasn’t fair to her. And he said, he would really examine what his role was and what her role was in the relationship. And that’s another question, can that kind of lead into communication? I think a little bit that I love that they shared with us, is because they work together in the same company. And technically Steph is the CEO. You know, they’d have to clarify their roles with each other when they’re talking and say, okay, is this a husband wife thing? Is this a friend thing? Is this a co-worker? Or is this a boss? You know, they had to clarify and make sure I


Kimberly Hoffman  15:40

 What roll him am I am I in  right now,? Am I the wife? Am I listening?  Am I actively listening? 


Kimberly Hoffman  15:44

Do I need to vent? 


Kimberly Hoffman  15:45

Do you need advice?


Matthew Hoffman  15:46

Right, Yeah.


Kimberly Hoffman  15:46

 I’m trying to fix this for you? 


Matthew Hoffman  15:48



Kimberly Hoffman  15:49

That’s legit. And there are a lot of people who work together, a lot of our listeners out there who worked together or may even you know, work in the same home, maybe not right on the same projects. But I think that that’s becoming more and more popular. And so really, being able to identify what that role is, and when that you know, who you are during at that very moment isn’t important.


Matthew Hoffman  16:14

And I think that Kim, you know, we in our own relationship, we have to clarify sometimes and look and say, Well, what, and I think it’s not sometimes as roles, but it’s also what does the person need? And clarifying. You need to know the roles to make sure that you each giving, but based on where you see yourself in the relationship at that time, but also, what do you need, because if you’re giving them what you think they need, and it’s not what they want, it’s just like, it’s not the right role. You’re not acting in the right way. And I think that you’ve got to be willing to ask that. And I think that you and I have found in our relationship, we do this podcast together. And we need to make sure that we’re operating in the right roles with each other to be good communicators and effective partners in the work that we do together. 


Kimberly Hoffman  17:00

Sure. It’s important. 


Matthew Hoffman  17:03

And another point that I loved another big takeaway for me, was the term radical candor, you remember I think was stuff that was talking about it in their communication and radical candor means you’re not pulling punches, and you’re not candy coating sugarcoating things that need to be heard. But you’re saying those things with love, and respect. And I think the key to being able to have radical candor with one another is your willingness to be committed, because if you are solid, that you and your spouse that Kim and I have a rock solid commitment, and I can be honest with her and tell her things that are bothering me, or maybe make sure she’s doesn’t have her blinders on. And she’s not seeing something in a certain situation that she I think maybe she needs to be aware of. And if you don’t have the commitment, and you have radical candor, it can be a nightmare and a train wreck. I think in the relationship.


Kimberly Hoffman  18:00

I think it’s about accepting influence as well, I think that Brandon was really open to accepting influence from stuff. And when radical candor comes in, you have to be willing to listen and to hear and to accept what the other person is, is trying to tell you out of, you know, love.


Matthew Hoffman  18:21

Yeah. And I think an easy way to do that. If you’re thinking well, how can I have that radical candor with my spouse, we’ve talked about this before the whole concept of a soft startup. And it’s kind of queering and seeing A, if it’s the right time to have the conversation. And if it’s not letting your partner know, when would be a good time for us to talk, we can approach something that I’ve been thinking about. And it’s instead of just coming in and catching them off guard, especially if you’re giving them feedback about themselves. And I think that when it’s done with love, the roles are clarified. And you make sure that you’re giving your spouse what they need at that time. Those conversations become easier. And it’s really a lot about practice, right and having the experience to do it.


Kimberly Hoffman  19:05

Absolutely. I thought it was an excellent interview. I hate to give too much more away because I really want our listeners to see the full episode in its entirety and enjoy all of this great information and pearls that Brandon and Steph had to share with them. 


Matthew Hoffman  19:23

No doubt a lot of meat on the bone. They were so much fun. And they’re at a stage in their life where they’re kind of empty nesters. The kids are out of the house, they a little bit older. I think they’re having fun. They’re having fun. They’re exploring in their Airstream and growing at work and just doing some fantastic things. So if you haven’t listened to the whole episode, we encourage you to go back and listen to Brandon and Steph Tuss. They’ve got a lot going on a great couple example of people that work together, effectively. They’re always looking for improvement and leveling up their game and if you would like to learn how to level up your game, please come visit us at “” And check out Kickass Couples Nation, we’ve got lots of behind the scenes footage from this podcast questions to couples like Brandon and Steph that you don’t get to see on the podcast. We’ve got monthly bi monthly webinars we do and we tackle our 14 pillars and work with people on how they can increase the commitment and the communication they have in their relationships. So check us out and go back and listen to the full episode of these guys. They are rockstars we loved having time with them. And we look forward to being with you on the next episode. Take care everybody remember happily ever after does not just happen. It is definitely on purpose. We’ll see you soon.


Kimberly Hoffman  20:44

That’s all we’ve got for this episode of the Kickass Couples Podcast. If you liked the content of the show, the love Matthews newly released book, Kickass Husband: “Winning at Life, Marriage and Sex” To receive a digital mini book of quotes and images from the book, all you have to do is rate the show and leave a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you tune in to. Then email us a screenshot of your review at “” And we’ll get it over to you right away. Until next time, remember happily ever after doesn’t just happen. It’s on purpose.