You're listening to Voices of Your Village, and today I get to hang out with Dr. Tracy Dalgleish. She and I got to dive into how to address relationship challenges. Y 'all, I don't know about you, but for me, and for us, entering into parenthood especially was this real shift in our relationship. What did it mean to prioritize us or even ourselves individually when we're trying to keep a tiny human alive, when there's someone else who always needs you, and all the things that come along with that that triggers all of it, you know? Dr. Tracy wrote the book. I Didn't Sign Up for This, and I'm obsessed with it. I think it's so good, and I'm so excited to be able to chat about it here in this episode. Y 'all, without further ado, let's dive in.
Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and co-creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together.
Hello everyone. And welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today, I get to hang out with Dr. Tracy Dalgleish. She's a clinical psychologist and relationship expert who is on a mission to help couples break old relationship cycles and find joy in their relationships. Again, she's the owner of Integrated Wellness, a mental health practice in Ottawa, Ontario. I almost said Ottawa, Canada, which like also fits right. And has been working with individuals and couples for 17 years. Dr. Tracy has extensive training in emotionally focused therapy and has been published in books, journals, and online media. Her debut book, I didn't sign up for this, A Couple's Therapist, shares real life stories of breaking patterns and finding joy in relationships, including her own, is out now for you to snag. It features case studies from her practice and her own relationship. This book helps readers learn how to get unstuck in their relationships. I am super jazzed to get to dive into this with you. I think it's a topic that so many of us need to be diving into. And also, I think especially those of us who are parents, where it's so easy to be like, wait, where did we go?
00:04:14 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah. Where did I go? And then of course, when we lose I, we also so much more struggle with we.
Exactly. Exactly. I dig the title. I didn't sign up for this. Yeah. Will you share the significance of that title?
00:04:28 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah, absolutely. And let me just pause Alyssa to say thank you for inviting me into your community here, it as a fellow podcaster and creator and doing the things in our field. I always have this great sense of gratitude to connect with the other person on the other side. Um, I actually was listening to one of your older episodes. So then thinking of you and how much you've grown, it's just so cool to see what women and mothers are doing. So...
00:04:56 Dr. Dalgleish
Thank you. Which episode were you diving into? This was your end of 2018 episode.
Oh, wow. Throwback.
00:05:04 Dr. Dalgleish
I did a throwback. Yes. Yes. I love it. So it's amazing. So the title I found myself sitting in front of. Couples repeatedly and not just couples, but the women in my office as well. I, most women are showing up into my office. I do see men, um, but mostly women that are showing up and they all started to say the same thing that over time their relationship had changed and this might be due to how they're blending their family to the mental load, to issues with in -laws, um, or to boundary struggles to the kids parenting. And they were all saying the very same thing, which was, I didn't sign up for this. And every time it would show up in front of me, I thought, okay, I'm seeing this theme here. And of course we know, right. The early stages of a relationship are easy. We flow. We often, often they're easy, not always, but we flow through them. And then we decide to make a commitment and then things start to change. And that's usually where I come in. Sometimes not right away. I wish it was earlier, but then several years later. And what I have found is that we, we try to argue about who's doing the dishes or we try to dig deeper into, you know, what's your love language. What's mine. Um, you know, I, I can't rave enough about Eve Rotsky's fair play deck of cards and her book. They are fantastic. And all of these pieces, while they're important, what I was finding is that we were also missing another piece. And that is that building of interdependence. And what that is, is it is ultimately how difficult it is to create these two parts in our relationship that we need. And interdependence is made up of autonomy. That's one part. The autonomy is the independence and it's the self. It's the part of me that says, I, Tracy can see, I am a separate person from Melissa and that you are going to have different feelings and reactions to an experience that we are both having and that my feelings are okay, even though they might be different from yours. That's that differentiation that we really need in our relationships. And, and then the other piece is we need that intimacy and connection, which is the, how do we come together? How's the we for us? What does that look like? And what we then do is we start, there's this tension between trying to find how we balance that. So then we're either all in independence and it's the I, it's only I. And that sounds, you know, the common thing I've heard from people in the past years, I'd say. And I think partly because of the uptake of social media and more therapists and more psychology type terms being shared online, that people will then say things like, those are your feelings. I'm not responsible for your feelings. You're having them, that's your stuff to go work on. Sure. And while that's partly true in a relationship, the other piece then is how do we then look at that, the we part, but so then we either swing from this hyper independence or then we're in codependence and being fused with our partner, which is the, my partner gets home, they're in a bad mood and it must all be about me. And so now I'm in a bad mood and I've lost that sense of differentiation.
Sure. Yeah. Okay. Oh my gosh, this is so good. Okay. So I think both in partnership and then in parenthood, I feel like there's a lot of overlap here.
00:08:39 Dr. Dalgleish
Always. We're talking about attachment bonds, right?
00:08:43 Dr. Dalgleish
Relationships. And that the healthy dependency that we need from cradle to grave.
Yeah. And I think, you know, for myself as a parent, Zach and I were together for, I don't know, eight years or something like that before we had kids. And it, there's obviously a lot of like growing and whatever that happens there, but there was also a lot of like routine that happens there. Right. And then all of a sudden the kids come into the mix and the routine shifts and shifts and shifts and shifts shifts, because especially in those early years, like it is constantly evolving and, um, it's so physical at first and then moving out of as much, not as physical, but still relying on you. Right. Like there's just so much shift. And I, I can see the, like, oh, I didn't sign up for this in that of like, oh my gosh, I'm so like, I can't think about you partner and focus on you because I'm pulled in 7 million other directions and you're just not at the top of the list right now. Like this human needs me to stay alive. Right. And then I need to also stay alive. Um, and you know, maybe work to put food on the table, whatever it is. And that it becomes almost this like hierarchy of needs. Does that make sense? Oh, a hundred percent. And I can see just, it just makes sense to me how easy it is to be like, what we like, what is we right now?
00:10:26 Dr. Dalgleish
What's we well, of course. And what you even said there is that before kids, you had a routine. And so we know that, and I think this is really important. And so I'll share this research number 67 % of couples experience significant declines in how they're doing in their relationship after having a baby. And for the first year and for many, for the first three years.
Yeah. It checks out.
00:10:51 Dr. Dalgleish
Right? Many, many resolve on their own and many, much of that distress for some continues on, and I can't remember where I had read this from, but someone had said it's the first seven, it's the seven years of your child's life until things can start to feel more like you and you and your relationship and finding the I and the we. But before you had kids, you likely had these cycles that showed up, these ways of communicating that were probably maybe not the best way to work through things. And also let's normalize just how hard communication is. We don't, I mean, we're doing this work now of parenting with our children and reparenting ourselves. I know you have a course on that. But it's really hard when we show up in our romantic relationship without any of this training, without these skills for ourselves. And so before kids, you had space and time and availability, both physically, mentally, emotionally to work through these challenges. Maybe they were swept in the rug. Maybe you let them go. Maybe there were moments of more intimacy in a different way that kind of like, we're good, right? We can move forward. And then you have a child and you are sleep deprived. You no longer have space and time you are dependent on by something else. And then on top of it, which many more people are talking about is the experience of being overwhelmed and overstimulated of, from all of the things, the mental load of navigating life. Yeah. So then, then we come to this moment of, yeah, I didn't sign up for this because it's like, how do we manage all of this? And I like to normalize for couples too, that if you're finding yourself in this position also to, to recognize our relationships are supposed to go through seasons and they're not supposed to always be the same.
I love that. I love that. My husband said at one point I was like snippy and that's, that's like my go to I'll get like sarcastic and snippy and short, um, and something came up. And it was like, I was like four months postpartum or whatever. And later it was like, I'm sorry. Like, I know that that was rude. And to be honest, like, I can't guarantee that's going to go down differently next time right now, like in this season. And he was like, oh yeah, totally. I just figured for the first like six months to a year, there's going to be a lot of stuff that isn't typical for you that we're just going to brush right by. Like, that's just not going to be something that I would be like, what? Like, we're going to, we're going to have to bring this back up and have a conversation. He's like, I get it. Nobody's sleeping right now. Like, yeah. And I was like, oh, I needed that. Right. Like he was giving me so much grace, so much more grace than I was even giving myself, but it was just so kind to like, yeah, we're not going to be. And I think when I look back at the like conflict pre -kids versus now, that's one of the biggest shifts is like pre -kids. I had more abandonment. I had more patience. I had more mental energy to be kinder more frequently and like really show up with intention more frequently. And now there's a shift there where it's like, yes, you're not always going to get that from me in a way that you did before. And I'm going to do my best to give it to you. And it's probably not going to be at the same quantity or ratio that it was before.
00:14:23 Dr. Dalgleish
Yes, no, of course. Right. You're, you're bringing this kind of reflective process out that you were able to come back to that moment and say, I recognize that wasn't my best self. And sometimes just that, that ability to say that to our partners gives them the, the reassurance of like, okay, so this first, this isn't about me.
00:14:45 Dr. Dalgleish
And also we can find a way to move through this. And, and then the other piece that you brought in there was one of, I talk about four C's at the end of the book. And that one C is you said kind, the C is compassion. Compassion, not just for our partners and what their experiences, but also for ourselves and the struggle that we're having, especially in parenthood, this is hard work.
Totally. And you chat in the book about like couples arguments and how so often we're not arguing about what we're really arguing about. Right? That like what we're arguing about isn't really it. And I want to chat about that because I think that it's really, really huge.
00:15:29 Dr. Dalgleish
I'll share a story of what happened. One, one of the many stories that I share about my own relationship and it's about soap in, in the shower and my husband, and you know, it's not about the soap.
A hundred percent. You're like, it's not about the soap. Right when you say it's about the soap, it's like, no, it isn't.
00:15:49 Dr. Dalgleish
My husband would leave my soap bottle open and the result would be, so he would use my soap and the result would be A: I'm left with no soap. And when it comes from my time to have a shower or B: the soap is all crusty. And so I went through this whole rigmarole of, Hey, love, please. Can you just close the shower cap? And then every time I'd go into the bathroom, the shower cap is open. I'm like with this internal sense of anger surging through my body. And it's like, why can't you just close the gap? And Alyssa, you know, the thing that I show up about with in my community and also in the book is I know the skills and tools. I, I am the objective outsider. When I'm working with my couples, I have seen some amazing shifts in the people that I've worked with across my career. And yet there are these moments where I am just so human. Yeah. And just Tracy. I'm just Tracy and I have all, and you can connect to that being in the parenting space, you know, I am having a hard time in this moment. And so I say the thing of like, why can't you ever, you never close the soap. And he's like, dude, you know, love, this is just soap. I did all the things. So it took me a while to really kind of go inside and say like, you know, this, this is a trigger. This is an external indicator to me that something is happening inside of me. What is this about? And when I was able to hang out in that space and then go to him, he understood it wasn't about the soap, but that every time he left the lid open, I was reminded of my own space, not being respected as a younger sister growing up.
00:17:37 Dr. Dalgleish
And I needed my own space and my own items to be truly mine. And so that small little moment of a flip of the cap, which is no big deal to him, was that message to me that I'm not respected. And so there's that kind of both/and in there where it's like, I have to do my work and say, my husband is not trying to disrespect me or to make me feel not seen and small, that's not what he's doing. And that was my experience as a child. And that was mine. And you know, everybody did their best growing up and that's hard. And then how do I then first soothe my own needs? And then also, how do we then decide what we're going to do with the soap?
Then what happens with the soap?
00:18:22 Dr. Dalgleish
I learned to let it go.
It's huge though. Right? Like I, one of mine, I have four brothers. I'm the only girl with four brothers.
00:18:33 Dr. Dalgleish
Where are you in the...
Yeah, number four of five. So I have three older, one younger. And I heard and experienced a lot of like gender specific things. Like the boys were allowed to do this. Why can't I? And I would just be told like, yeah, it's not fair. Like it was safe for the boys to do that. It's not safe for you as a girl. And like, that sucks. And that's reality. And like, wouldn't say there was a lot of space for emotions around it. But that was like very much the message was that like the boys got to do things that I couldn't. And so that for me, like live so deep inside, right. That like, no, I am going to have access to where I'm not going to just do this thing because I'm female. And so now, you know, in a hetero marriage, anytime things are falling on me, mental load wise, et cetera. That'll come up. Right. And so we were getting ready for a trip this summer and this may be Monday. We were leaving on Friday and I asked my husband, I was like, what's your plan for the week? And I didn't even notice it at this point that really what my question was, my question was actually about like, what are you planning to pack? What are you planning to do? Who's accounting for our child? Um, which I didn't even notice in the moment. Right. I'm just like, what is your plan for the week? And he was like, oh, and he like lays out his work schedule and things that were coming up. And immediately I was like, oh, so you weren't planning to do anything in terms of getting our kid ready for the trip or getting anyone other than yourself ready for the trip. And he then was there and he was like, is this a trap? And I was like, it does feel like it right now in this moment. It wasn't my intention, but like, yes, it does feel like it.
00:20:18 Dr. Dalgleish
Unconsciously it's like the, I don't want this to be unfair, right? Like it's, it comes from this, it like internalized. I like to talk about how we develop these pathways in our brains from early on experiences. And then in this moment, you don't realize you're walking down that path and actually that path leads to that dysregulation and the bigger emotions.
And I was like, maybe he's going to say, oh yeah, I was planning to do X, Y, and Z and get Sage's clothes ready. Or like I was going to run to the grocery store. Like, I think there was a part of me that was hoping that was in his week plan, right? Like the plan for the week. And then when that wasn't true, I was like, oh, cool. So again, like, because I'm mom, you're going to take care of you and I'm going to do everything else unless I ask you to do it, which still counts as that's me and my household. And he was like, okay. Okay. And then he asked, he was like, well, what would be helpful? And I was like, for you to just for a minute, pause and think I have a kid and we're going to go on a trip. And what is he going to need on that trip. What might he need before we get on that trip? What might need to happen at the house beforehand? That's what would be most helpful, to be honest. And he was like, okay, okay. And then I, we like paused and he was like, can we chat about this tomorrow? And I was like, totally. So then we came back together and like had then a more productive conversation when he was like, okay, here's the thing. But I had just like fallen into this so many times where I'm like, no, I don't want to tell you what's most helpful. That still for me feels unfair.
00:24:28 Dr. Dalgleish
You're looking for the fair team member who doesn't come to you and says, and this is the common dynamic in relationships and heterosexual relationships, especially is the, the mail comes to you and says, husband, dad comes to you and says, yeah, I see you're overwhelmed. You do so much. I see that you do so much. So just tell me how to help.
And then my blood boils.
00:24:53 Dr. Dalgleish
And so does mine. And it's the, whoa. And it's funny because even in these moments, so what we do in our relationship is my husband, Greg will come to me and, and then now I'm at the point where I just kind of raised my eyebrows and he's like, oh, I see it. Right. So when I come to you and say, what do you want to do for date night? I'm putting it all back on you rather than me coming to the table with ideas and then how we can negotiate that. And it's like, yes, you've got it. So this is, you're talking a little bit about some of those unspoken expectations in there, which really trip us up in our relationship. And it's not that our partners don't want to meet you there and to understand what those expectations are and to do it with you. It's more that we hold a lot of things inside of us just in terms of a general management of our family. And then we layer on, you know, societal expectations, gender roles, all the messaging that we have, be the good wife, be the good mom, do all the things and never sit down kind of mentality. And this is what I what I love about how Eve Rotsky has presented to us that we have so needed for so long, which is her system around conceptualization, planning and execution. And she calls it that her CPE. And Zach was coming to you with the execution piece. Tell me, like, I'll help you. What do you need me to do? And when we don't offload the conceptualization, the planning to a task, then we are still at risk of developing resentment. And I know for some people. And here's the thing about systems. Sometimes systems work for some people, and other times it doesn't work for others. But it's important to recognize that you see. So so what I would want the listener to do is ask yourself, does it work for me when my partner comes and says, tell me what you need help with. And if it doesn't work and it feels like it's more stressful for you, then that's a good opportunity to sit down and say, look at all of these tasks that exist in our week to week and then even vacation specific tasks. What would you like to do? Here's what I need to offload. What are what are my strengths? Here's what I want to do. And then also, what are we saying? Let's just toss out right now. Maybe we don't want to do all of these things.
Totally. Yeah. Yeah. That reminds me of KC Davis's work with How to Keep House While Drowning, who was on the podcast recently. And it's so helpful to think about, like, also, what doesn't need to happen.
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00:27:25 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah. And that's for me where, like, control can come in. Right. We're like, all right. There's a part of me that really does want to hand off more. And then there's a part of me that's like, I want to hand it off. But I also want him to do it this way. Excuse me. And I'm like, I want to hand it off. And I want it to be executed the same way that I would execute it. That's bonkers. Right. And then in the moments where it's so human, it's so human. But I'm a fellow control appreciator with you. And when then then when, like, you know, we go on the thing and there wasn't a rain jacket packed and I was like, yeah, we feel into the forecast, it's going to be raining. Then that comes up for me where it's like, yeah, also, this is part of organizing. This is looking at the forecast. But if I would have shown up and I didn't bring a rain jacket, I would have been like, oh, yeah, I forgot the rain jacket. Like, boom, done. Fine. Move on. But when he does it, I'm like, right, because I'm the one who keeps all the tasks in my head. Right. Like that also just really feels unfair to him when I like sit back and look at it.
00:28:29 Dr. Dalgleish
We tend to be. What do we do? We we attribute mistakes. I think this is the fundamental attribution error is that when someone else outside of us makes a mistake, we attribute it to a character. So when we make a mistake, we're like, well, we're allowed to make mistakes.
Totally, everybody does.
00:28:45 Dr. Dalgleish
So it's an error that our brain likes to make. It's a really solid defense mechanism. Alyssa, I'm thinking of how I've passed off packing for those road trips and vacations and times away. And there have been many times where there aren't pajama shirts and there aren't the extra pairs of whatever it is that we need. And I think as a fellow control appreciator, sometimes I've had like it's it really is that I need to sit back and it's the. I think you'll appreciate this in the work that you do. They experience the consequence of that.
Right. I just don't want to experience the consequence.
00:29:26 Dr. Dalgleish
Totally. It's uncomfortable. We don't like comfort. I can totally appreciate that. I don't like it. And then also, too, when I step back a little bit and then my daughter goes, Daddy, how could you? How could you forget my pajamas? And then I can see it in his face. And I'm like, yep, yeah, he will not forget the pajamas.
That won't happen again.
00:29:47 Dr. Dalgleish
And I think then like when we think about the parent child relationship and even our our intimate relationship with each other as parents, those consequences are learning moments for us. It is that relational piece
00:30:00 Dr. Dalgleish
back and forth of my daughter saying to him, Daddy, you missed it and it hurts me when you forget that. And he has to say, yeah, gosh, I see that. I could see that you're really upset. And that's something that I you know, how can we plan for next time? Which is the same thing that we need to do as adults in our relationship.
A hundred percent. You had touched on something earlier that I think is really poignant, though, like independence versus codependence. And that I think especially as a lot of these terms, you're right, are like surfacing more and people are exposed to them more in like Instagram therapy world. I which is good. I think there's so much great stuff that's coming from it. And I do think that there is, especially when you're like towards the beginning of like a healing journey, there's a pendulum swing that often happens right where it's like I have felt responsible for people's feelings for so long. And now, like I'm not responsible for anyone but myself and that swing. And a lot of folks, I think, find themselves in those spaces, whether it's in that independent space of like, I'm not taking this on as my own or that codependent space of I don't want to ruffle feathers. So I won't say anything or do anything. Or when they're having a hard time, I'm swept into it. And I need them to get calm for me to get calm. Right. That they need to bring the calm. What does it look like to move to interdependence?
00:31:49 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah, that's such a good question.
Also, thanks for writing a book on how to.
00:31:53 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah. And it's easy when we hear it on podcasts. But in those moments, I think we also need to recognize there is a lot of work that goes into it at the end of each chapter. I give specific exercises that you can do. So you're reading through the journey of these couples in my office. You're reading through my own story in the book as well. And then at the end of each chapter, I take the main kind of teaching point of that story and give you an exercise to break it down. Because what we need to do is we need to slow down and understand where do I go to in this space, what's happening inside of me? So one part is understanding the self, which is here are my feelings and needs. And I get to be separate from you. And my feelings and needs are not wrong. They're not bad. It is the I piece. And then the you piece is what's your experience? So so you have your own experience and your own thoughts and feelings. And then our job then is how we communicate those back and forth, how we build understanding for the other person, and then also how we then move forward into that co -creation of our world. It's not you. It's not always you. It's not always me. It's then let's move together, which can, you know, I think of some of the the couples who end up in these big disagreements. And when we break things down in the therapy room, the common goal is there. They want to be connected. They they want to meet these core longings and needs in their relationship, which is to know that I matter to you, to know that I'm important, to know that you love me, that I'm enough for you, that I'm adequate. And yet we come at it in all of these different ways. So when we spend more time trying to understand yourself and then what the other person is experiencing, then you might be able to find the solution together. So, for example, you know, let's try to give a recent example. But it's like, OK, I am having this experience where you have slammed the cupboards and I can notice my experience. And if I'm going to get fused into that, I'm going to say, like, well, why are you mad at me? Why are you doing that to me? And then what did I write? So then I can say, hmm, notice, I actually feel like really jumpy as they're slamming the cupboards. And if I depersonalize this and kind of do a self other, I haven't done anything wrong. I can trust my internal experience. I can notice that it's uncomfortable when they're slamming cupboards. And that's probably something I need to communicate to them. And then I'm going to ask them, so what's going on for you? Or I can even do some of my own perspective taking and say, oh, right. He didn't get enough sleep last night. The kids woke him up three times and then he just got this super stressful email and just, you know, life is coming out at him. So that's his experience. Then what's important, though, is for me to be able to say to him, hey, love, you know, slamming the cupboards feels really hard. And I see that you're angry. Do you want to talk about it? Can we maybe find a different way to deal with that? And I actually need us moving forward to not slam cupboards because it feels better for all of us in the house.
Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And what happens when then he's like flies off the handle or reacts like in that you just gave me feedback and I'm not in the space for feedback sort of thing, you know?
00:35:17 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah. Feedback is really hard for partners.
It's hard for all of us.
00:35:20 Dr. Dalgleish
And again, I think that's important for us to remember. Yeah. It's like, yeah. Oh, my goodness. Of course. So then being able to say, OK, so you didn't do anything wrong. So this is the internal voice, right? I didn't do anything wrong. I'm allowed to share what feels good for me and what doesn't. And I can see my partner's having a hard time and I can hold my boundary. And then maybe this is a time where I'm not going to go further into it. And we could maybe do some self -regulation or co -regulation, depending on what that looks like for our relationship. So it's going to sound like, OK, I can't let you speak to me this way. Like, I'm going to go take a break. This doesn't feel good for me. I want us to resolve this because I can see you're upset, right? Like we're we're not saying to the person, oh, there you go again. You're always doing this. Yeah, well, like that's just our upping the ante and going back and forth. There will be no resolve there. You'll just spin away into your cycle. But if you can press pause on that cycle, take take time away from it because you're both dysregulated, right? If your partner's coming at you saying, how dare you? Who do you think you are? That tells me they can't hear you at that point and then come back to it at a different time. And that's important to go back to it. Some of these things may and also to remembering that in a relationship we keep going forward, not everything needs to be resolved, but there are going to be bigger pieces that need to be worked through.
Yeah. Yeah, I love that. And I think for me in the moment, something that I often I'm the human who like wants to talk about everything right away, talking through things is how I get like I'm an auditory processor. And my husband needs time and space. Right. And like very much internal. And then we'll come back to a conversation. And like when he asked, like, can we talk about this tomorrow for the packing trip? And like, he'll take that time and space and it's productive for him. He'll usually at this point, like come back to the table and it's more productive. And I need the like, we're going to come back to this, right? Like there's a part of me that's like, what if we never come back to this? What if they just avoid the conflict? What if then I can't bring this up? And so often in the moment, I will say like, hey, I want to talk about what just happened. And now doesn't have to be the time, but I want to come back to this. And like he now knows, like, OK, cool. She's really just going to leave me alone. Yeah, it was not always the case. She's going to leave me alone for a little bit. And there is an expectation that we're going to come back to this. But there's a part of me that needs that in the moment, that reassurance.
00:38:01 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah, we all need that. Right. And there is typically one partner that wants to do it now. And the other one's like, I need more space. And we all have different nervous systems. And there isn't a right or wrong. But I think the piece here and sometimes I hear this kind of rejection of this idea is like, well, why do I have to put this on the table? Why do I have to part my need? I need us to resolve this. And yes, I totally understand that.
00:38:26 Dr. Dalgleish
I know this is going to evolve and it feels so urging and pressing in that moment for you. And we need to look, though, that when we keep pressing and pressing, we're not actually going it's working against us because our partner can't do it for us. Right. And I love what you've added in there, which is that give the reassurance that we're coming back to it. And I also recommend if you're the partner that has asked for that time and space, make sure you come back to it. Because it doesn't just disappear.
Yeah. Well, and then I can't trust that we will come back to it. Right. Like at this point, I can trust like, OK, we're going to come back to it because we've been down this path enough times where if I do give him time and space, we will come back to it. We have come back to it. But if he wasn't coming back to it, then that would mean nothing to me. Right.
00:39:19 Dr. Dalgleish
Yes. Yes, it is. Those are these micro moments of trust in our relationship that we're building. Yeah. Constantly building them. And rarely do we ever say it. We we know the moment. I think everybody listening can recall a moment when they first decided they loved their partner and then the first time they said it to each other. But did you ever say to your partner, I trust you now? Trust is not talked about in that way. But yet all of these micro moments build up the sense of trust between you two.
Totally. Yeah. And in relationship in general, trust. You're right. It's not something we talk about. And it's so huge.
00:39:55 Dr. Dalgleish
I think of my kids, actually.
Yeah, me too. I was thinking about mine.
00:39:58 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah. Yeah. One of mine is a highly sensitive child. And really needing that sense of control is important and knowing what's going to happen. And they don't like surprises. And one of the things that I have said, so they'll sometimes come back to me and say, are you going to do this? Will you do this? And one of the things I'm working on is, do you remember that time before when you told me that was really important? What did I do then? You did it. I'm like, yeah, I I hear your needs. I know they're important. And I want I'd like I want you over time to feel like you can trust me. And this is what I'm doing. I hear you. I see what those needs are. Right. And that is building that sense of trust for for our kids so they can go on into relationships and feel that sense. Yeah, I love it. And those words are so powerful.
Even Sage the other day was like walking with a pair of scissors. And he I like caught his eye. We just like locked eyes. And he said, I'm being careful, mama. And I said, oh, I trust you, buddy. I know you know how to walk with scissors. And just like popping that in there, though, like the I trust you.
00:40:58 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah. That I feel like it comes easier to me with kids than it does in adult relationships. I hadn't thought about that.
00:41:05 Dr. Dalgleish
Doesn't most of that, though, like totally compassion, understanding, permission, the trusting. It's so much easier to our children.
It is. And I think it's where bias comes in. Right. Like I was just doing a workshop two days ago for a K -12 kindergarten through 12th grade. And so we had teachers kind of spanning the gamut, different ages. And our like group of high school teachers were talking about bias. And one of their biases throughout the entire all of them shared was this age bias of like, you should know better. You're old enough to know better.
00:41:43 Dr. Dalgleish
And I was like, that resonates so much of me. And I think comes up for me in partnership where it's like, I don't think my two year old should know better with these things. But then there's a part of me that's like, yeah, you're 30 something years old, like you should know better. And obviously not a conscious, explicit bias, but implicit. Is this like, yeah, you're an adult. You should know how to do X, Y and Z or you should have it all together. Sort of thing. And so I think that can come up for me in the in a number of things where I have compassion for kids that I don't have for my partner. One thing Zach will often ask is like, is this thing about me? Like when I'm like in a hard space or I'm like snippy or I'm snappy or whatever, which for me is like an awareness component. He'll like bring awareness for me that like you're doing this again. This is going up. And I then have the chance to be like, is it about him? And for him, when I'm just like, no, it's not. And I'm sorry, like I still have this work meeting on my mind or I didn't get everything done at work. This is a big one for me that I don't hit my to do list. And then I'm going to do child care pickup. And I feel like I've jumped from one thing to the next. And in my head, I'm still like, OK, now after Sage goes down, I have to wrap up these work things that I'm not present and I'm being pulled in these directions and I can get snappy and sarcastic and snippy. And when I can reflect on that, though, which he helps me do so well with that, like, is this about me? And I'm like, no, it's not. I didn't finish my to do list at work. I'm sorry. I'm going to try and be present here. And then for him, he's just like, OK. And then for him, it's easier to take. Like, it's not about me. Yes. Then I can roll with this.
00:43:26 Dr. Dalgleish
And he's doing that self other piece, right? He's noticing that he's like, oh, is this about me? And so maybe I should just check in with Alyssa and see where she's at. OK, she's confirmed it's not about me. And I can practice that that separation piece, right? This is the like, this is you. You're having a hard time. You're you're allowed to feel overstimulated and you didn't have the transitional times and your buckets are overflowing. That's your experience. And I think then what gets us in trouble or wrapped up in our cycles rather is when we do the personalization and we make it about ourselves. And that's the same thing with our kids, right? I mean, when the kid when one of my kids runs down the hallway saying, I hate you and it can just sometimes go deeply inside of me. And it's not about me in that moment. I know that. But gosh, it's so hard to like really hold up that like filter of like, OK, you know, my partner, my kids, people I love, they're allowed to have their own experiences and it's not necessarily about me.
Yeah, it's so hard like that, that interdependence again there. That's it's so challenging because it requires a level of self -awareness and self -regulation in the moment in order to separate in order to see them as someone outside of you. And I think so many of us are just like tired and like overwhelmed and overstimulated and just like doing so much that to to pause, to have that self -awareness is hard.
00:45:02 Dr. Dalgleish
And then so Greg and I have really tapped into this conversation about our kids and about this time for us, of how we're doing a lot of this reparenting for ourselves and just how much information we have taken in and our brains can't keep up with with all of it. And so we are coming from for many of us. We grew up in shame based parenting. And so that was a sense of fusion and codependency and really in familial relationships that have been this intergenerational passing down of you make me mad. See, when you don't share, kids don't like you. Or I told you not to touch the hot stove and you did. And that's your fault. Right.
Now you got burned.
00:45:43 Dr. Dalgleish
Yeah, I got burned. Right. So this was the parenting of the time. And so then here we are, having had those experiences with our first significant others. So we have to then unravel all of that showing up with our partners today. And that's a lot of work for us. I think that's why, you know, we were seeing this change and how we're parenting with our children. And I think then the relational pieces still kind of coming on board. We're ready to do with our kids. It feels easier. We've already talked about that, right? It's easier to have the empathy and to kind of explore those boundaries and all of those pieces there. But then when we look at our partner, it's still a lot of unfolding of our own significant bonding events with our parents and caregivers.
Totally. And one thing we hear a lot of in our village is like, OK, well, I'm doing this work, but they're not there yet. Right. And I know with kids, it just involves us for the most part, right? Like they don't have to undo these habits and patterns necessarily. Like we are the ones that are doing a lot of the work to then parent differently. And when we're looking at adult relationships, it is this like, will they ever come on board with this? Is this always going to be their pattern? And I shared about this in tiny human speak emotions, too. But like I started doing a lot of my own personal work and reparenting before Zach did and how hard it was to be in that space where I was doing it and he wasn't yet. And to just trust there's that trust again that this that it will shift, that he will enter into this work in his own way. But I'm I would say one of the least patient humans to walk the planet and not like if I'm relying on patients for someone, we're all for something. We're all screwed. And so for me, I needed to have like markers, which were like boundaries of, OK, if he doesn't ever change these patterns or these habits, what are my boundaries around them? What does that mean for me? Because it's really hard to be in that space where you're diving into the work and maybe they're not there yet.
00:48:03 Dr. Dalgleish
This is such a big conversation that I'm having frequently. But it is what I see most often. And again, thinking of the bias of my community and my sample that I'm from. But it is the women who are doing this work. And it is that when I put my hands together, one person is ahead. And that choice is, can I accept the discomfort between you being where you are and me being where I am? Can I also do this grief work here where I chose you because I thought you would be the one to validate me, that you would be the one to fill up my bucket? And that's what I really needed because I didn't get that as a little kid. And now I have to grieve that because you're not that person. And if you're not that person and you're not there with me yet doing this work, what is it that I have to do with myself? How do I give myself that validation and the filling of my bucket? How do I patch up the hole in my bucket? And like you said, Alyssa, that trust piece is so important that when and this is again, is that dynamic piece in cycles. We are all in cycles in relationships with our kids, with our parents, with our partner. And this is the piece where when you start to change. So instead of going to your partner and saying, why do you always ask me for the list? Why can't you just da da da da? Right. That can spiral into the cycle. They're like, oh, I'm just trying to help you always. But when they come to you saying, you know, just tell me what you need and you change your response to I totally get where you're coming from with this question. And I think something that would be more helpful for me is if you write, you're changing how you're responding to them, which then gives them an opportunity to say, oh, hey, she's not coming at me so critical. Surely we could do this differently. Maybe I don't know.
So hard in the moment.
00:49:53 Dr. Dalgleish
Oh, it's so hard in the moment.
So hard. It's like sarcastic, Alyssa, right? Like my response is like, yeah, wake up and remember you have a kid. Think about the fact that you're going to be on vacation or on a trip and your kid is going to be there, right? Like that, like sarcastic part. Immediately surfaces. And to be able to, like, find the pause and say maybe those same things, but without the sarcasm of like, yeah, you know, it would actually be more helpful, whatever, in a kinder tone, whatever is so hard to access in the moment. So hard, Tracy, can I just like, can you be on speed dial?
00:50:31 Dr. Dalgleish
I'm working on an earbud system or it's the text in the moment where you're like, hang on, Zach, and you go into the closet and you text me.
And I like put in what I want to say. And you just translate it to what would be a kinder version of what I want to say.
00:50:48 Dr. Dalgleish
I have been on the other end of many texts in moments when in -laws are visiting or when there's hard moments. And I'm like, yes, great. Here's how you say it. OK, great. That's awesome. Yeah. Done and done. Thanks. Yeah, it is. These moments are just so hard. And and sometimes, too, humor can be helpful. So I had said earlier, I raise my eyebrows, I crack and we can laugh about it. But because what we both have done in those moments is it's not about our core or our wording. Right. And because we feel secure and connected in where we are today, which requires us to put time together, to touch base about things, to air out hard things. But because we feel secure, we can then do more of that laughter piece. We can be like, really? Is that really the question you want to ask me? And then we laugh and then we kind of plan and move forward. But when you are struggling, when you're sleep deprived, when you haven't had that time to connect, those moments become really big.
Yeah. Yeah. Thank goodness you wrote a book on this.
00:51:55 Dr. Dalgleish
Have you seen the cover?
Yeah, it's so good. Obsessed. I Didn't Sign Up For This. I am super glad for folks to have the opportunity to get their hands on it. I love that there are exercises throughout. So it's not just like read this and good luck, but like read this. And here's a way here are ways to apply it. Where can folks find you learn more about your work? Find the book, all that jazz. And if you can repeat the title, please.
00:52:23 Dr. Dalgleish
Yes. One of my favorite things for us is if there's something that stood out for you today, please come and say hello to me on Instagram. That's my main hangout space. I'm in my DMs and those DMs are always the most meaningful to me because they remind me of our community and our connection and just how valuable that is. And it's truly why I do this work is just to be able to reach more people outside of my office. So that's Dr. Tracy D on all social handles. You can also go to my website. I have a really great free resource right now. It's the 100 questions to deepen your connection. You can take it on your date night. It is not questions about the kids. They are fun questions. Greg and I did it on one of our date nights. We didn't get through all at 100. We got through three. But it's a really great resource there. So my website is www.drtracyd.com. And then my book is "I Didn't Sign Up For This: A Couple's Therapist Shares Real Life Stories of Breaking Patterns and Finding Joy in Relationships, Including Her Own". And you can grab that wherever you get books. And I would be so grateful for you to grab it and read it and come on this journey with me.
Love it. Thank you so much for hanging out with us.
00:53:30 Dr. Dalgleish
Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at voicesofyourvillage.com. Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at seed.and.sew. Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag seed.and.sew to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.