Today I interview Christie Sears Thompson, author of “The Partnerhood Workbook: Helping couples gain the resources and knowledge they need for a successful Partnerhood as they grow their families”
As not only a therapist but also a wife and mother, Christie has seen first-hand the importance of a strong family foundation. Her main goal in creating The Partnerhood is to help couples achieve genuine connection, communicate more effectively, and create the relationships they want to have so this foundation can carry them through the storms that life will inevitably throw at them.
But I asked him what I needed in that moment and things have been better. Like he, he noticed when we talked about like, he's had to pick up a lot of slack, it is overwhelming, there's a lot of stuff to do. And the bandwidth that each of us has, has been shortened because of my injury, and because of other crazy stuff going on this just. So it just makes it kind of challenging. But if you don't talk about this stuff, if you don't bring that up before it becomes this huge blowout fight, you're gonna have way less to repair after the fact.
Welcome to The Healthy Relationship secrets for parents podcast, saving your relationship from parents. So the question is, how can we be great parents and have an amazing relationship at the same time? That's the question, and this podcast will provide the answers.
Christy, I am so excited to have you on my podcast. And I was talking to you just just now about your book, The partner head, and I was reading it over this morning. Great book, great resource. But before we dive into that, can you tell us what do you do?
Professionally, I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, I am based out of Colorado. And so I have a private practice in a suburb of Denver called wheat ridge. It's called treatments, therapy and relationship coaching. I'm also a relationship coach, as with the relationship coaching part. And that side of my business is called the partner hood. And I created it out of this need that I saw for this gap of learning when people are going to have children and they require you a lot of times to go to these like hospital classes about bursting and newborn care and nursing and all those kinds of things. But they don't really recognize or even mention anything about relationship changes that happen when you become parents with your partner. And I was like II, this is a glaring red flag here that we really need to be educating parents to be about this huge transition that happens when you become a parent, like you add a human into your relationship, plank, it changes a lot of things. So basically, like that is why I created the partner hood. And what I focus on, I guess, in my niche of what I do for helping my clients, and then personally a little bit about me, I'm also a parent myself, I have two kids. One is almost three and one is eight. And dog. I have a husband, and we live a busy life.
And the you mentioned before this, do you have to go pick up a sick daughter from school after this?
I do? Yes. They called me and they said hey, she said 101 Fever. And I was like, great. I mean, I knew she had a cough. So I checked her temperature, but no tap this morning. But here we are, you know, you just you make plans for your day and then have to turn on a dime. I think when you become
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So basically your coaching program, your your book, and also would like to hear about your app we spoke about that before, was basically you finding your own way being I assume being a new parent and having a good relationship. Is that correct? Yeah.
I mean, having a good relationship with your partner with me and my partner knows, personally, is really important for me, I don't want to feel like I have to do this by myself and parenting. And I think that's a that's a complaint that I hear a lot in couples counseling for more of that reparative counseling than prepared of counseling. So when I do premarital counseling, I talk about these things all the time of like, you know, you're going to want to have this equal relationship for the most part most people do. And recognize where you have to give and take these things. Because if you're not preparing for this stuff ahead of time of, you know, what kind of responsibilities and roles are you going to expect when you have a child? Who's going to do what and are you flexible on those ideas? Talking about that stuff ahead of time and being prepared is can be really helpful for just getting the conversation going. And that really in itself creates relationship health when you can have those conversations ahead of time. If possible or early on in the relationship, especially if you're planning to have children, because, like I said, it just adds another person or two, or however many children you have into your relationship with your partner. And those dynamics shift and change, especially as the child gets older. So within that first year, when you have a newborn, you're not doing a lot of parenting, kind of settling into those roles and responsibilities of parenthood. And the way that you have your relationship with your partner shifts and changes within that as well. Because you are not really relating to them the same exact way you have different things that you have to put attention towards being one of those things. So, you know, there are definitely a lot of shifts. And changes can be really rough transitions for a lot of couples, if you don't talk about these things ahead of time.
Yeah, so the first step, you know, like, most everything, is to talk about it. You kind of say my expectations, rolls. Can you say more about that?
Yeah, well, I mean, that's why I put communication first, as that first section in the book, have an area of focus that really needs to be a strength area to work on. If you don't have a strong communication with you, and your partner is going to get really rough if you don't know how to talk about things with each other. Or if you don't talk about things at all, and just ignore them hope they go away, that's probably not going to happen either. So bringing up those concerns before they become complaints, and conflicts can be way better. And learning how to do that with respect for the other person. And with the intention of I just would like to get my needs met. I need you to hear me. I need you to understand where I'm coming from. Not necessarily to agree with me. But how can we work on the same? Like end goal together? Yeah, for sure.
What just curious, like examples of end goals? That would be let's have a strong relationship. I mean, I assume let's have a healthy family. I mean, I Yeah, it's kind of obvious now that I say that.
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think the bigger overarching goals are, we, we don't want to get divorced, right? Like we committed to this relationship. We got married, we love each other, we like each other. You know, we want to continue to keep this relationship healthy and strong. We don't want to push autopilot and just hope that it continues without crashing and burning, because eventually it will when you don't put in those nice things with each other. Yeah.
What would you say to the statement, because I sometimes hear this? Well, it should just come naturally, we shouldn't have to work at it.
Everybody works at it. So that's
a myth. Got it?
I would say a myth. Maybe it seems like other people don't work at it, and it might come easier to them. But there's layers to that understanding and that illusion, because maybe they had really good healthy relationships with their own families growing up. And they learned really well how to communicate and how to deal with conflict with each other. And they didn't have to play that out again, with their spouse or partner as they got married and older and went to their own families. So that could be an illusion that you don't know what the story is, in the background with a person that seems easy for No, another thing could be they've probably done a lot of their own work individually, either in therapy, their their own self into individualization in some ways. Because when we do our own work on our own blocks, and barriers are things that aren't really helpful for us and how we relate not only to ourselves, but other people, then it gives us room and opportunity for growth in other areas. So again, like you just don't you just don't know about other people. And the grass is always greener on the other side. For a lot of people, you know, and we envy things other people have, or we see the bright and shiny social media posts that are vacation stories. They have really happy, awesome marriage and look at these beautiful photos they have for the fall or all of those things are great, but it's just such a small little snippet that maybe you didn't see that they had a fight last night about who was going to empty the dishwasher, or why they never put their socks in the laundry and they just put it right next to the laundry basket. You know those things don't go in the open for most people to see ya
too. And I guess it'd be kind of rude if I would have posted on Instagram or something. Oh, hey, look, my wife is soaking the pots again, right?
Yeah. So unless you want to get into conflict and make that public knowledge.
Yeah, and talk about kind of passive aggressive, like not even mentioned, it is posted on social media. So, anyway, yeah, I mean, being a couples coach and therapist as well, I would advise against that. You know, for me, and maybe you can, you know, help a little bit on this, you know, I like what you were talking about with expectations, you know, get them out there explicit. And because I know, for me, when we had our kid, I was going on a lot of assumptions. You know, we, Jess and I, my wife, we were both going on a lot of assumptions. And you know what, you get tired. Babies don't sleep through the night. And I just noticed that is such a ripe ground for resentment. Yes, I assume couples come to you. And they may have a little bit of a resentment build up,
you know, the ones who have let it gone too far. Yeah, I would agree. Resentment gone unchecked, over time can build up into this just negative sentiment about your partner. And that can get really dangerous and really hard to come back from when you let resentment build without addressing it without giving it some space for working through those issues together. It can be really devastating to a relationship, it may actually end a relationship at some point.
So basically, to provide space to get those resentments out there. Right. I mean, ideally, process them in a healthy way.
Yeah. Or don't wait until they become resentment, because they probably started off as annoyances. No, when, so when you are noticing something, and it's just like rubbing you the wrong way. Or it's giving you the little prickly like defensive kind of vides talk about it, then, before it becomes I'm gonna let this build up. And I'm going to just put my head down power through and not say anything and let it fester. Like, that's what resentment is, is just not noticing and not checking this stuff early. And you're right about the expectations part of it, too. And expectations versus assumptions can be really dangerous for the health of a relationship as well. When you're coming into a new family, you're creating together with this one other person who has their own mind. They have their own thoughts and their own background and histories and how they were parented and what their ideas and ideals are when it comes to being a parent themselves. And that can clash with yours. But if you assume they're coming from that same perspective, you're probably going to be in a danger zone a lot of the time, because you might not be assuming correctly about
that. Yeah, no, I love it. And let me share something. And I might have shared this before on a previous episode, but when our first daughter was born, Josie, we were still navigating things, you know, the house was a mess, and I remember going to work, and I came back, you're going to cringe when I say this. And I tell clients not to say this. But I came back and I told Jess, I was like, this place is a mess. What have you been doing all day? Ya know, talk about Ouch. Yeah, thank you is just the idea of expectations. Assumptions. And then when I had our daughter, I was like, Oh, okay.
I mean, there is a little bit of doubt. But for sure, like, if you have one partner staying home and one partner working out of the home, it can be very different experiences of parenting and what expectations are for each of you. And what it might look like and what you imagined it might look like for the other person.
Yeah, and you know, I was assume she just got a nap when the baby naps, right? Yeah, but
for sure she's napping. I mean, basically, we're not machines. Yeah. And we're humans and no sleep. Being new parents. We have to give each other some grace.
Yeah. And realize you're in it together. And that you're operating separately in a tag team situation all the time, like, tag team works on a short term basis. But you have to realize you're on the same team. You have to come from us and a week perspective rather than a year. What Evers?
Do you think that? Is that something that going into an US perspective? Is that something that we learn? I mean, I assume family of origin ties into this. I know you're a therapist. But you know, for some of us, it's seems it doesn't come. So the right word, intuitive, naturally, maybe? No, yeah. Yeah,
you're probably right. I think if you came from a family that had divorced parents, or maybe if you were raised by grandparents kind of shuffled around. If you didn't have another one that necessarily see a stable home life, because single parents can certainly provide a stable home life or co parenting can be a stable home life. But you're also seeing that divide and conquer kind of mentality versus us together in this environment mentality. And I don't think it's impossible for children of divorce or shuffled kind of homes to have healthy relationships with their own partners as they grow up and create their own families. But the odds as statistics are more against him to do so healthfully helpful.
Yeah, for sure. Well, that's where we come in, you know, relationship, coaches, books, apps. Which leads me to the next thing I want to hear you talk about, Christie, if you know, mine, we spoke a little bit ago, about you have an app, you also have a book called The partner hood. And I was wondering if you could just speak a little bit about those. I knew it's a very, very broad question. Now, maybe that's on me a little bit.
I mean, I'm telling you, if you'd like, yeah. Keep it broad. Yeah, I, well, I have been doing this work just in person, you know, private therapy clients for a really long time, and kind of focused my specialty and working with this population anyway. And then I was like, How can I make this bigger? How can I make this more further reaching, because it needs to happen for more people than just the people that I can reach myself in my own office, like, this is such a valuable information for people to learn and process and be able to pass on even to their children. I mean, that's maybe even the more valuable part of it. It's not just you're doing it for yourself, you're doing this for your kids, too. And I wanted to be able to reach more people. So I was like, Well, why don't I make a program like so that it can be, I tried doing workshops, and it's like, you know, you can only get so many people, especially new parents who have really hectic schedules or are exhausted and don't have schedules that lineup because they aren't having to like tag team kind of things. There's also the timing of the workshop itself might be during that time, you know, so, like, well, how can I make this more accessible? How can I make it far reaching? How can I make it easier for people to get this information? So I hired a coach for myself of how do I create an online program to make this like, available at two o'clock in the morning? No, I'm not available at two o'clock in the morning at home unless my child wakes me up, but I want to make sure that this is available for anyone anywhere at any time because it's just so valuable for them to have it when they need it. So I actually created it first as an online course and then as I was creating the course I was like make this a workbook to like transcribe everything and put it into like a Word document. And I did a while this is while I was pregnant with my second child by the way Brizzy at all I have nothing no, I think I feel like I was just in like really creative mode during that time. So this was very closely pre pandemic in 2019 that I created all this stuff. So I did like the audio and all the videos and transcribed all the like content. I would stay up like think I was kind of crazy looking back on it but I couldn't sleep it well anyway, so I was very I'll stay up till three in the morning writing this because my mind will shut off and my body won't. So that was kind of like the creation process of making this course I want to make it available for people I'm going to make a workbook. So if they don't want to take the course, they can do more of like the self guided workbook, because the course included specific days to meet in like group sessions with other partner, hood members and students. And then I ended up pandemic, time thinking, all right, this program is great. But it is not fully accessible the way that I really want it to be. Because if someone is up in the middle of the night, they're not going to go without their laptop to go and like work at this course. That's not likely, but they will have their phone. So the natural progression in my brain was, then make an app, make this program into an app format. So that we are on our phones and with our phones, almost all the time, most people are pretty addicted to their phones, myself included. We have our favorite apps. And you know, when we can get to something simply quickly and easily, then we don't have to feel like there's barriers in the way for us to get the help that we really need. So that was like my main goal of the progression, I guess, of let's make this a book. Let's make this a program. Let's make this an app. I just want to get this information out there to whoever would like to have it. Yeah, that's great. And, you know,
I mentioned I was I was reading through your your book this morning. But I have a question. This is a side note. I'm a relationship counselor, Coach, I love reading books about that. I love going on workshops, retreats, you know, my wife, sometimes not so much. I mean, she's still down, right? But do you have advice for, you know, maybe you someone got your book, they're on the app, and their partner is kind of like so so into it.
So when one part of the system moves the system, I'll say that, yeah. So whether what direction it moves is unknown. But if you as more of the like, go getter, I'm gonna read this stuff, I want to do these workshops, I want to do all this information learning, it will rub off on the rest of the system in some way. So don't think it's like a total loss. Unless it is a situation of I'm doing all this work, my partner is doing the thing. And again, you're building resentment in the situation towards your partner, because you feel like they don't have as much of a buy in, or they don't want to do it as much as you do. Then again, we're kind of in that negative cycle with.
Yeah, that's great, though. No, I mean, I still like it. It's hopeful, right? You can still change up your stance, you're part of the dance. Yeah.
Over You, yeah, totally. You learn new things, you learn how to manage conflicts much better. And it will rub off on your partner too, even if they don't, like take away the same information or any information that you might have read that might be similar. They're just not into it. You take away something and you upset the system, and disrupt the patterns that have been created and create something new. And the rest of the system follows.
Then I like that. Now I want to talk about in your book. Yeah, I know this, you kind of got the framework from John Gottman, you mentioned, but the six magic hours, and I just want to throw it out there. I love that part of your book. Because it is a worksheet. And it is very detailed, specific. It breaks it down to six hours of different things that parents can do to maintain connection. Yeah, maintain harmony, whatever you want to talk about is, for me, it's so refreshing. Because this is my predicament I work with, you know, obviously a lot of parents, and it's like, Man, if I can give you some framework to push you to the Kinect, gently push. I just wanted to, if you can maybe like speak about that. Or like, you know, you and your, your your partner if you apply that. Yeah, I work with couples.
Yeah. So connection is that third part of my book that I think is so crucial to focus on for the health of your relationship if you have connection, and you have friendship and fun and playfulness. And it's not just transactional. And it's not just a roommate situation of you do this I'll do this duties and move forward and parallel friends. Its connection is interwoven with each other. And so having a good framework, which I wish I could claim it as my own, the goblins are like geniuses in these six magic hours as a good framework to build connection off of that can be very simple. And it's not hard stuff to connect over, there are little simple things that you can do daily. They include the partings and reunions are two of those things. And I'm not going to go over all the like measurements of time, but partings is, most people, most couples separate for the work day, go do their things with work if they're working outside of home, or even if your stay at home parents or whatever, like there's usually separation, and then there's cutting back together at the end of the day. So what do you do during those little ritual times of when you are leaving for the day, and when you come back to reunite? Like those are very crucial times of, hey, I love you, I'm thinking about you, I want to connect with you in this small, little moment. Another one is creating more time and intention for appreciation. That is a huge indicator of whether you're going to build resentment with your partner or not is how much appreciation really is in the relationship. And to combat resentment, you need to boost appreciation. So speaking, this is a Gary Chapman thing, but speaking love languages to each other in your partner's preferred language is going to be a really easy way to get that appreciation need met, we all need to feel appreciated, it's not a needy thing. It is a basic need. We need to feel love, appreciation and love are very, very closely tied. So if you don't feel appreciated, you probably don't feel very loved. And that's really, really icky to feel that way. And of course, then resentment will build on. So one of those, one of those six magic hours, but one of those components is appreciation for your partner, and that shared appreciation with each other. Another one is that affection. So just not necessarily sex. I mean it can be but it's only five minutes of time. You have more than minutes of affection.
Yeah, hopefully sex has lasted longer you put this in the book I read this morning. Hopefully sex lasts longer than five minutes.
For quickies, right. I mean, no need to do any world record affection. Any way that your partner is going to receive affection through physical touch of hand holding, kissing, hugging, cuddling on the couch, gentle touches. You know those kinds of things. Of course, sex and intimacy is included in that as well. But definitely, please give it more than five minutes for sex in particular. Another one would be the date time with each other. And as a new parent, you're not always going to be able to have a date night as why date time. So setting that intentional time aside for dates can be really tricky. The the Gottman school recommends two hours weekly, which I think can be a stretch for a lot of new parents especially so I'm like, you know, if you're not doing a date night, every week, it's okay, like you're not doomed to failure. What you need to do though, is make sure you have some child free time where it's just you and your partner. Not talking about kids, you're not talking about work, you're just engaging with each other to create friendship, and connection and fun. Like that's that really good connection time that you need. And if it's a date night where you're out of the house and you have a babysitter, like even better, but you can do this from home. And you can do it on a walk. You know, even if you have a baby in a stroller, that's okay. Like you might not be like really focused on them if you're just pushing the stroller but you're taking a walk with your partner. And you're talking about like, hey, what would you like to do this weekend? It would be really fun if we drove up to the mountains and had lunch or something like that. So those are those small little moments that can add up maybe So the two hours of date time, so you can sprinkle it in. And then the last one is the State of the Union meeting, in which they make it sound very official. But it's really just a set aside hour of the of the week. So you can talk about logistical things with your partner and touch base on, you know, hey, what are our plans for this week? Any appointments coming up? What about highs and lows of what you've experienced? Do you need support in this area? What have you found? Challenging? What have you been as felt supported that I've been able to do? Or what do you mean more of meal planning, grocery shopping? It can be all of those kinds of things during that meeting time.
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