This Podcast Transcript is from Ultimate Intimacy Podcast Episode 7: Interview with Aaron and Jocelyn Freeman from meet the Freemans, with hosts Nick and Amy McKinlay. You can listen to the episode on apple HERE or download the app HERE and listen in the resource section under podcasts.
Why did you name your book the Argument Hangover?
“Yes, great question. And when you read the first chapter, right, we talk about a food or alcohol hangover, which most people can relate to either one of those. So in short, there is some decision that you made that seem good in the moment and then later on you regretted it and you have low energy, you felt guilty, you felt ashamed clear in alcohol or food. When you think about a relationship, there are things around having a disagreement with your partner, you then, which we could go in to get triggered, which a hole is a hole of the chapter, but you then say and do things that seem good in the moment that caused you to have a hangover meaning.
There’s a period of time now after a conflict that you feel disconnected, you feel angry then you feel maybe embarrassed, you wish you did not say some of the things that you did and ultimately this does more damage to the relationship for the things that you said and the things that you did. So that’s the argument hang over that period of time. And so we’re really out to not have couples shoot for avoiding conflicts because those are going to come up. That’s not a great first intention to not have conflicts. But you could set out to shorten your argument hangover, shorten that time period that you are disconnected, Reconnect faster, and do not have them escalate to the point of doing more damage than the initial cost. And that is the premise of the argument hangover.” – Aaron Freeman
“So, what we found in our years of coaching couples is, you know, they did either fear or resist conflict. There’s this kind of connotation in society of keep it hush hush if you’re having arguments and so everyone thinks something’s wrong, they’re having arguments. Part of this was also to demystify, if you can learn to have a healthy conflict, it can actually bring you closer. It can actually have you be more bonded if you’re fighting smarter as we like to call it. And the reason that we wrote it about the argument hangover is because…
the longer that you let the argument hangover last, it deteriorates trust. It deteriorates connection because it almost feels like, well, are you going to repair this with me or are you just going to wait a couple days then say I’m sorry and then think that that’s enough to move on. We can talk a lot about how I’m sorry isn’t enough as well in the repair process.” – Jocelyn Freeman
Well, I think too the damage that gets caused, the longer you go without repairing it, I know I can speak for me personally, you know, when I’m going days and days, I almost get more resentment and you know, things start getting a little bit uglier. I loved how you talked in the book as well about really trying to repair things or have that connection again as quickly as possible after after having that conflict or that argument.
So let’s start from the beginning, just as the basis, like we go into those beliefs, like you talk about that are outdated, that conflict can be bad. How can conflict and arguing be a positive thing in our relationships?
“This is such a great question. And it really takes switching the mentality around this because nick you’re even saying before we get on here, you can watch a movie, maybe your own parents, maybe you’ve seen parents of friends, you were growing up and they get in a conflict. So then there’s that heated emotion that in itself seems like that’s a bad thing…
But here is the line of delineation, if you can get yourself in a place where you don’t go against each other, but you stay on the same side, looking at the challenge that that’s the hue of it right? That that’s really the first thing to get, there’s a difference of opinion. But if you now take actions to where now it’s like a boxing match, you’re faced off against each other, You’re in unhealthy conflict. But the same challenge can come up. And if you are on the same side, looking at the challenge, looking at the challenge of whatever it is, how do we get more on the same page with parenting? Maybe how do we increase the amount of money we have the freedom? How do we get more connected? Now? You’re looking at a question, how do we get more connected? And you’re looking at that challenge together? Now you’re in healthy conflict. Are you on the same side or you the opposite side of each other?– Aaron Freeman
And I love what you said, like a boxing match in a boxing match, there’s gonna be a winner and a loser, right? Exactly. And what you’re saying is in this, in resolving conflict, there doesn’t need you both need to be a winner, and so figuring out how to do that together, you’re on the same team, so to speak, you’re not competing against each other, you’re on the same team. And how do you how do you work together to resolve that?
I’ve kind of always looked at it, if people are having arguments that that means maybe their marriage isn’t as good, but I love what you’re saying, which is completely true, is it is very healthy to have arguments to understand why you’re disagreeing on certain things and then say, okay, why are we disagree on certain things and how do we move forward in the right direction? And I think you you think you guys are spot on with that. We’ve tried to start implementing that a lot more in our relationship saying, okay, here’s the problem. Instead of, you know, dividing that in between us, here’s the problem. How do you and I work together to resolve that problem or that conflict?
“And I think maybe you also speak to if you were to go about life and everything was going fine and it was easy. Would you really grow well? I mean in business they talk so much about, it’s outside of your comfort zone where the real growth is. Well if I’m only sharing with Jocelyn the things that are positive then similar to let’s say, being on a sports team when you’re on a team and you face a challenge and you get through it, you feel more connected. It’s the same in the military. People that go into the military together. They go through challenges. But when they can see that they can rely and trust in another person, they work on their communication and now they build this bond that lasts forever.
It really should be the same in the relationship. You miss out on a total deepening of the level of your connection if you avoid challenges altogether. So you have to, you want to get in there because that’s what deepens your connection. You’re talking about Ultimate intimacy.. now there is some ultimate intimacy there. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough with your partner, wow, that creates some real intimacy.”– Aaron Freeman
I like this quote that you shared a book that states “we cannot solve our problems at the same level of thinking that we created created them in It is conflict that brings about opportunity to change and upgrade your level of thinking.” – The Argument Hangover
“What I really discovered really taught me this and he really wrote this section is we can focus as a couple on seeing the conflict as bad. Here’s what I don’t like. Here’s what the conflict is, showing us what we don’t want. But to your point with that quote, it’s about thinking what is this conflict showing us that we do want? Like even think about that if you’re disagreeing about intimacy because you’re not getting enough quality time, you can either focus on we’re not getting enough quality time or you can focus on, wow This argument shows us we want more quality time. So it’s raising you’re thinking to what you do want.” – Jocelyn Freeman
Lets talk about triggers. I just have never really thought about triggers and how that makes such an impact in your arguing.
“Well, everyone listening, have you ever been triggered before? Has your partner ever every folks hope this sensitive spot, you don’t quite know. Where that came out of nowhere? So we like to call an emotional trigger, like, your partner is poking a sensitive spot in you and triggers can either come from something getting formed in your current relationship may be a pain or something that didn’t get resolved or something in your past, your upbringing within your formative years, I had triggers around my first few relationships and different things that happened in those relationships, created these sensitive spots in me. And so in a marriage, especially if you’ve had past relationships, you can trigger each other sometimes, and that isn’t necessarily the bad thing that you have triggers. It’s how you act when you’re triggered, right?
That’s the most damage that gets causes when you aren’t aware that it’s a trigger. But then you start to yell or name call or storm out of the room or slam doors or bring up the past. You know, if everyone has their own flavor as we like to call it, for how you act when you’re triggered. And so in the book, we go into the three parts of a trigger. There is the triggering event, there’s the triggered emotions. So what is that illicit in you? And then there’s your triggered behavior and…
you will have so much more power to not have arguments get so escalated if you’re aware of what triggers you and your default patterns when you get triggered and we each have worked through several of our own triggers.”
I love what you said there too and I think that kind of sets the base for what you also talk about, which is setting the groundwork for fighting fairly. When we read that part, we said, you know that that makes total sense. How are we going to argue or how are we going to have this conflict? And whether it’s you know, letting your spouse talk and not saying anything and just being in a listening mode because I think one of the things is so easy to do is once one person starts talking to defend ourselves or to shift blame or you know, this is why I did this or what have you, but really just sitting back and listening. But again, just kind of setting the groundwork on how to fight fairly. You guys want to share your thoughts on that?
“When we start with the premise of okay, you’re not here to avoid conflicts and it’s also that you aren’t trying to just get rid of all your triggers because that’s just it’s just like too hard of a goal.. So if then the goal is to shorten the argument hangover period and keep things from escalating, then it’s typically when you have a disagreement, it’s something right in that moment that gets triggered and those triggers to the behaviors that do the damage, right? So when we thought that’s really a key part to keep things from escalating. You listening, if you have a what we call “a before conflict strategy” of coming together and making agreements, it is a powerful way for you to keep things from escalating in those moments. Now, how we get to that and how you can best utilize that is look for yourself, what do I usually get triggered by and sometimes it might be your partner.
So I might say to Jocelyn and we are agreements are like no swearing, no raising your voice and no leaving the room, no turning your back and just leaving. So I’m not blaming Jocelyn. But I’m saying, hey, I realized that let’s say, when you swear, when you were angry that triggers me, no, I’m not, no, you need to stop doing that. I’m saying, hey, I noticed that that’s a trigger for me. So with the intent of having our conflicts be more collaborative, I like to make the agreement that we don’t swear when conflicts come up. So you’re creating these agreements now. Key thing here. I could try to do the same thing when the conflict happens and say to Jocelyn, hey, we’re not gonna swear. But how is that going to feel to her?
Don’t control me right now.
Don’t tell me what to do… But when, before this happens, you can create an agreement and you know, the purpose of it is to keep you on the same page. Now I can remind her and say, hey, you know, our agreement is no swearing now. She knows we both gave permission for that and it doesn’t then trigger in the moment. Oh yeah, that’s right. Thanks for the reminder. And then that’s how you kind of keep it from escalating.” – Aaron
There’s probably so many different things that you can do to come to agreement on to really make your make your disagreements or your arguments so much better. You know, like you were saying and not not hitting those triggers or or causing things to really escalate because how many problems, you know, start out as something pretty ridiculous and then just blow up into, you know, something to where afterwards you’re like, man, what did I do or why? Why in the world did we spend a lot of energy and time and hard feelings over something so stupid, you know?
“And how many of us at some point have thought to ourselves, what are we even arguing about? So he did. I literally don’t even know what started this.” – Aaron
You talk about setting ground rules um when you get married for arguing because you talked about like we said all these goals and stuff when we get married, like what are you gonna do here in the situation, what you can do in this issue? What are you gonna do when you argue? Like that’s definitely a question that most people don’t think about until they get in to the first few arguments. We never I never thought about setting ground rules during argument. Like we’re never going to argue when we’re dating, you’re like, oh we’re never going to argue!
And then you do. But I like how you talked about like body language, emotions, taking a time out if you need it. And just like you talked a lot about just how to listen to each other better. Do you want to expand on any of that?
“We recommend couples start with four because you can’t agree to like 10 different things and really keep to it. People don’t usually tend to remember that. So we would start with creating the four agreements: four times of conflict of the things that are like a no go. You know, neither of you are willing to do those things.
You don’t want the yelling, the name calling, bringing up the past, leaving the room. I do want to distinguish the difference between a time out and walking out. So some people go, well, if I need to take a break, can I just be like, I’m I gotta go, I gotta leave the room. The thing is walking out feels like abandonment to the other person and it feels as though you’re escaping or avoiding the situation. And oftentimes there isn’t, you know, a designated time when you’ll come back. And so that walk out can turn into two days of silent treatment. The difference is instead a time out is when you intentionally say, hey, I’m starting to feel like I’m not being constructive here. I want to calm down so I can be level headed and have this conversation go, well, I want to go take a 10 minute break. I’m going to go for a quick walk, I’ll be back and then we can talk again. So a time out you have the intention of coming back to the conversation. You aren’t avoiding, you aren’t escaping and you are also aren’t leaving the person wondering when you’ll be back. So I really think it’s important that people understand. Yes, it’s okay to take a time out, but make sure it’s a designated intentional time out. Not walking out on your partner.” – Jocelyn
Love is listening? Love is actually HEARING.
You stated in the book that Love is listening. And I really loved that. Because I feel I got the lucky end of the deal because when we argue, I can tell he’s really listening to me and is really trying to understand what I’m saying. So, and I do I feel that that love when we’re arguing that you actually like, care that I’m trying to, you know, talk about whatever the situation is.
I think when it’s you know, again, not getting defensive and trying to win a conversation or prove a point or anything, but just listening, you know, that’s how things get resolved.
“And most people when they think of listening, they are really thinking of hearing. So that was one thing that we made a distinction of in the book to there’s there’s not listening at all, right. And that’s where you’re totally distracted. You’re on your phone, your partner trying to say something to you. And you’re like, yeah. Yeah. And if someone actually asked you, like, hey, what did your partner just say? You have no idea. So there’s there’s just not listening, not even hearing. But then there is hearing. And that’s when, you know, especially when your partner has emotion or it sounds like there may be playing the finger or you had some action that impacted them. Then you might be hearing. Being like an auditory absorption of the inner ear.
But you’re really listening to your own thoughts in your own head about what am I going to say? What evidence do I have and this isn’t true. What justification is there? How do I deflect this? Right? There’s really, you’re really listening to a whole bunch of stories in your own head. We’re listening now is where you’re actually not only hearing what they’re saying, but you’re feeling with them what they’re feeling and you can actually articulate, hey, what I’m hearing you say is you really feel they didn’t respect you. So listening makes it much more about the other partner and then feeling understood that their emotion is empathized with.” -Aaron
That’s the key word. The difference between hearing and listening is when you’re truly listening, you can empathize with your partner.” – Jocelyn
“So one of the things that interest me too is getting back to this, you know, the old saying, Happy wife, happy life, why, you know, in your book, you talk about why these things are not necessarily true and honestly, like, you know, I’ve always kind of joked around and have that, you know, saying as well as like, oh, as long as she’s happy, I’m happy, but why after after reading, uh, you know why that is not always the case or why that’s not true. I mean, I thought it was incredible as to, you know, your reasoning behind that, can you share a little bit more about, you know, why maybe some of these things that we’ve grown up always hearing or understanding to be why maybe that’s, you know, different than what it should be?
“You know, there’s a lot of things that came from quite a few years ago to be frank and marriage looked different then, right? It was society function differently. And today people in relationships want an expressive partnership, they want intimacy, They want vulnerability. They don’t want just a functional relationship where there’s really stuff happening beneath the surface that’s not being addressed. And so the whole happy wife, happy life belief only creates suppression. It only creates brushing things under the rug. And here’s the thing because this is often like, women just want to be told. Yeah, yeah, whatever you want. No, not really.
The majority of the clients that we’ve ever worked with, they want to hear their partner, they want to know. They don’t want just a Yes ma’am, whatever you want, they want to know. What do you feel? What do you think? Sure? On your birthday? Yeah, you wanted to go your way. But the majority of the time you want a partner, you don’t want a partner who is just trying to make you happy. But then silently resentful. Which is what can happen sometimes is that connotation of men just need to make her happy. Well then they start to silently feel their needs aren’t met and that’s when you get blindsided. Sometimes. You know, there are people that were suppressing for years that they didn’t feel happy because they weren’t hurt and met, their needs weren’t met. And so they blindside their partner going, I’m not happy in this relationship anymore.” – Jocelyn
“A profound experience of life, which is what we are all striving for, comes from involvement…. or you could say participation. Now this is really important. We don’t probably have enough time to go into the four communication personality types, but as a reserved partner, which which I fall into, it would be easy to fall into this happy wife, happy life, meaning yes, whatever you want. Now feel that energy if I kept on saying to Jocelyn, Yeah, like wherever you want to eat, whatever you want to do, wherever you want to move to. Am I actively participating in the relationship? No, it’s putting me in a passive like back seat experience where I’m not even fully engaged, so if that’s true, which I believe it is participation and involvement leads to profound experience. Then that whole mentality only puts you into disengaging, not participating in being passive, which is not what any partner wants from the other partner.” – Aaron
Exactly. I feel like your book is kind of almost a revolutionary way to look at things. It’s a lot different in some ways as to like you said, what’s out back in the past or what we’ve typically thought. But I mean, I the things in your book profoundly affected me or just my thoughts, probably more so than almost any other book I’ve read. And so just, you know, anyone out there, if you really want something that’s really gonna help your relationship and take it to the next level, I mean, this is a must read, this is a book you’ve got to have and it’s and it’s very simple and and the reasoning behind what they’re saying and why they’re saying it is so simple and to understand, I love that about your book as well too, is just everything is laid out there so simple rather than getting so deep, I’m trying to interpret, you know what in the world, this is supposed to mean that supposed to mean you just you present everything in such a way that is just so easy to understand
After 19 years and we’ve had our share of arguments or disagreements and stuff. Like after reading, that’s like, Oh, that’s why that went that way. That’s why we acted like that. That’s why I act like that when we argue about this and I just feel like we have done pretty well and I know I’ve already stated this in some other podcasts, like we’ve gotten better at fighting equally and more calmly and really talking things out and not having that hangover like, you know what I mean? It’s definitely a learned thing and we’ve gotten better. But even reading this, I think we’ll be on a whole higher level when it comes to communicating during disagreements.
Absolutely. I just want to take a few minutes and really talk about how to physically connect after your argument and why it is so important to connect physically.
The Repair Process
“So what you’re even speaking about is the five R’s to repair after a disagreement. And the whole reason that we provided the five R’s is because saying I’m sorry afterwards is usually not an uh once in a while for the small little thing, like all you say is okay, I’m sorry, I love you.
But if things got escalated, if emotional damage was done or a sensitive topic was brought up, I’m sorry, usually doesn’t cut it. It still leaves the partner wondering why do you say that? Or do you really mean? I’m sorry you said, I’m sorry. Last time is anything going to change, Is anything really going to change here?– Jocelyn
And so the five R’s, which would be a longer discussion. So I’ll hit on the third one that you’re talking about. So you want to reflect, take responsibility and we go into a ton of detail in the book. The third R is to reconnect physically and you don’t want to wait too long. You don’t want to wait days before you initiate, you know, at least touching their shoulder. Like, okay for me to be honest, I take a minute to process my emotions and thoughts and kind of opened my heart again. I can be kind of like a hard shell for a few minutes after an argument, kind of protecting myself. So I have to take a breath soften and I’ve really had to train myself to just go by him and just touch his back just to start the physical touch again.
I might not be full blown ready for a big hug yet or to be sexually intimate yet. But if I just start with a touch or one of us, you know, grabbed each other’s hand we’re starting to say like I want to connect with you, I love you, you’re showing that and physically your chemicals change as well. So there is even a chemical change that happens when you start to physically touch each other again. And so we recommend that everyone do something small, grab their hand for a second, walk by and rub their back. And that is after the first two R’s so you all are going to love reading the book and hearing all five hours because the repair process will help prevent it from continuing to come up and feel as though you’re kind of just holding this wound there like it’s just there beneath the surface waiting to come up another time.
“I guess even the last thing around that out, not to give everything away, the last are is reconciled and I think this is a great way just to close this out because someone is thinking well how..
how do I really turn a conflict, like we said into a benefit or an opportunity and the way that we phrase that was to reconcile right? And not just reconcile as in the reconnect, but reconcile is in like you reconcile accounts if you’re an accountant right?
So you’re actually reconciling at the end together of how this challenge was actually there to benefit to grow you or to connect you more.– Aaron
Why that’s also so important to what Jocelyn was saying, once something has already happened, this is this is much deeper as I have been in the book, but once something has happened, it’s in the past now. We keep bringing the past forward in how, how we remember it. That’s why people feel the same thing keeps on coming back up because you don’t reconcile it, meaning you don’t change the memory of it, you keep bringing it back. So that means if you can change your memory of a conflict, that’s how you can really keep recurring things from happening. So how do you do that when you can say, oh my gosh, I see how this conflict after working through the five R’s is a benefit for us. We connected more. We understood each other deeper. I know something more about you now, you’ve changed the memory and now that memory going into the back is a positive thing rather than when you recall it. Otherwise, it’s still a negative thing.
“Set your sights on progress, not perfection in your relationship. When you maintain an attitude of gratitude towards your spouse and give sufficient attention to your relationship, you can be a truly empowered couple that can handle any challenge that comes your way.” – The Freemans
You can find Aaron and Jocelyn Freeman on instagram @meet_thefreemans
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