Creating Partner Time Away from the Business
Most couples don’t experience being around one another all the time…day in and day out…nonstop…until they’re in retirement. But as entrepreneurs working from home, now with our partners at home more often than before, we’re feeling disconnected.

How is that possible? Being together 24/7 throws off our ADHD brains’ schedules and it spotlights what isn’t working in the relationship. Plus, many couples figure that we’re around one another all the time so there’s no reason to plan separate quality time.

This week’s podcast is a bit of a departure from our normal straight business talk, but it’s an important conversation. If we’re feeling stressed in our romantic relationships, it easily carries over to other parts of our lives.

I’m joined this week by Rebecca McDermott, fellow couples therapist, to talk about why so many of us are struggling with this right now as well as how to work around the feeling of disconnection with your partner.

Tune in because, friend, you’re not alone!

About Rebecca McDermott:

Rebecca McDermott, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Pennsylvania. Located right in the burbs of Philly, Rebecca takes a calm yet direct approach to soothe conflict between partners and increase connection. As a mom of three, she loves to support couples transitioning to parenthood together to sort through all the sh*t (literal) that entails.

Links and Resources:

Time Stamps:

[2:52] – Who is Rebecca McDermott
[5:15] – What brings us to the work we do
[6:43] – Healthy relationships lead to better health in life
[8:09] – The pandemic (and having kids) magnified the good (or not so good)
[10:42] – Our old ways of coping no longer fit
[14:01] – Awareness to partner has diminished
[19:04] – Schedules are important; now partners know one another’s schedules in a different way
[21:15] – If you’re struggling, it’s okay and you’re not alone
[22:10] – Carving out intentional time with partner when it’s still hard to do things socially
[26:01] – Relational stress gets a bad reputation
[27:22] – You have to acknowledge the problem if you’re going to come up with solutions
[28:59] – Experiencing grief when pandemic hit
[30:30] – How can you have fun with your partner when you’re fatigued
[34:08] – What can you let go of so you can take care of yourself
[36:29] – You need to be successful when implementing change; start small
[40:53] – Connection and conversations are stimulating for ADHDs
[41:40] – Little check-ins with respect go far into feeling more connected
[43:10] – Ask your partner for what you need
[44:41] – Conflict comes in when we’re not clear
[48:30] – Are you being intentional about connection with your partner

Amber Hawley 0:01
business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business and life despite their type aways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur and as dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional care plantation. This is the easily distracted entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelmed perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you. Hello, and Happy Wednesday. Welcome back to the podcast.

Amber Hawley 0:46
Right now. It is February 9. Well, actually, it’s not February 9, but you’re hearing this on February 9. And we’re about to roll into everybody’s favorite weekend, Valentine’s Day weekend. And as we know, you probably have some feelings about Valentine’s Day, whether you’re pro or anti Valentine’s Day. I think the one thing my takeaway is, February is a great month for us to consciously and intentionally think about love and think about our relationships. So with that in mind, I’m bringing on a very special guest, a friend and colleague who also specializes in couples counseling and couples therapy, to have a conversation about kind of what what couples are going through right now. And especially for those of us who are either neuro diverse in the struggles we have, and and and then you add in business ownership on top of that, so we’re gonna be talking about all the things couples today, in this very short 45 minutes session with the lovely Rebecca McDermott. Welcome, Rebecca,

Rebecca McDermott 2:04
thank you so much for having me. It’s so good to be here. Yeah, we’ll definitely get everything covered in 45. No doubt, no doubt about it.

Amber Hawley 2:13
We were talking about this right before we hit record. And the Yeah, I was, I was like, we could talk for ever about this stuff. Because I mean, one is just we love doing couples work. Both of us are, you know, couples, counselors, experts in that. It’s our specialty. And yeah, I’m pretty sure we cannot distill all of our knowledge down to 45 minutes, but we’re sure gonna try to give you some knowledge bombs and, and make you thinking about your relationship today. So Rebecca, why don’t you share just a little bit about you and the work you do with everyone?

Rebecca McDermott 2:51
Sure. So thank you, again, so much for having me here. I’m so excited to have this chat with you. Like Amber said, my name is Rebecca McDermott, I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I practice in Pennsylvania, located right outside of Philadelphia, but since COVID, virtually anywhere across Pennsylvania, which has actually been pretty cool, right? Like, people that live all the way on the other side of the state that I never would have seen, I’ve now had the opportunity to work with, I have been working with couples for the majority of my career as a counselor, it was really the thing that drew me in to therapy, I just kind of love relationships, the functioning of them, and they’re so dynamic. And I think they can be scary for a lot of therapists, but I really find that this is my like, flow zone where I just really enjoy the work. Because underneath it all I know that people you know, don’t want to be stuck in distress with one another. So I just I really love the work that I do. I particularly really love helping couples that are going through life transitions, most notably that transition to parenthood because we think that we’re going to be the best parents or we think we know how it’s going to go. And then that it actually happens and and that can be so overwhelming. So I really love to help couples that are that are going through that and build some healthier communication and strategies so that they can really enjoy that parenting part of their relationship. So I think, what are some other fun facts about me? I have three kids as well. I’m I own the practice and I’m working on some emerging ideas here. I also have a dog who provides me great comfort at the end of the day after sessions because she doesn’t want to talk to me she just wants to snuggle up and and be pet so

Amber Hawley 4:47
I love it. I love it. Yes. And I happen to know that we’re going to be seeing some new and amazing things from you down the road that will be more accessible to people outside of pens. Slovenia thinks, oh, there’s something we’re putting it out in the universe.

Amber Hawley 5:04
And we are we are I know, it’s coming. It’s coming. As I, as I always like to say, you know, next up world domination like, there we go to call it, you know, incidentally, I find it interesting, you know, as you describe describes, like what attracted you to working with couples, it is interesting to see, like, what draws us into our specialties? And what about it, and, like you said that it’s very dynamic, I loved the energy, you know, I too started in the very beginning, I didn’t know that I would enjoy working with couples, like when I was doing my training, and I was really into groups, because I love the energy and the flow and the learning that happens when you have a group of people sharing ideas. And I loved that. And once I started doing couples work, which was almost immediately I was very fortunate to have, you know, internships, that really, law allowed me to see a breadth of clients. And I absolutely fell in love. Because I think it’s that I’ve always said, like, I have a very feminine energy, and I have a very masculine energy. And I love working with both. And to me, that was like being able to have both of those pieces and have something where, yeah, it’s much more, there’s more directedness there’s more like energy in the session even. But also you can see the biggest transformations in people’s lives. Because I think there’s, you know, so few things impact, like the quality of your life, or just, you know, what you’re able to do with your life, then your significant other relationship.

Rebecca McDermott 6:41
Absolutely. I mean, that’s, I think that’s like one of the I don’t have the statistic off the top of my head, but that healthy relationships lead to better health overall in life. Right? Because yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Like your if you if you have a secure more secure relationship with your partner, you are, you’re in less stress, you also have someone who’s there, you know, to help remind you about like appointments and wellness, right? You have, you have reasons for for having having more health and improved health. So, yeah, we really need to put the focus on healthy relationships for overall health and wellness

Amber Hawley 7:19
100%. And, you know, even if you’re like somebody who’s an extreme introvert, you know, we all need our people, we are social beings. And like you said that I feel when we have, we have those relationships, when they’re healthy, they allow us to become the best version of ourselves, right. And I think some of it is like you’re saying this stress reduction, like, you feel supported, you have somebody who’s, you know, got your back and on your team, and you don’t have all of this drama going on. So you get to kind of reach your own potential within the relationship. And conversely, you can be amazing people. But if there’s a ton of conflict and struggle going on, it’s very hard to sustain that. And I don’t think we’ve ever seen that more evidence than in this last couple of years during the pandemic.

Amber Hawley 8:06
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, I’ve definitely said to people, like if there was anything there before, the pandemic magnified it, or it really made it unavoidable, maybe you had both gotten really good at this kind of dance where you could avoid this or, or leave your house and, you know, have that space away that that decrease the conflict. But because of this situation, you can’t avoid it. You can’t. Yeah, just brought it up to the surface.

Amber Hawley 8:33
Like you said, I think for many people who are maybe in that place where there’s things that yeah, like they’re avoiding to talk about, or there’s this middle zone of stuff, where they could just stay busy enough that they never had to spend that time, there was never enough downtime to really deal with it, or have it become a huge problem for them. But like you said, there’s a spotlight. And I say the same thing about having kids that it puts like, if there’s anything they’re having children, because it reduces your bandwidth puts a spotlight on, you know, the relationship and the things that are kind of problematic or that you’re struggling with. So then I think about all the people who had kids during the pandemic, and I’m like, Oh, my God, you’re all saints. Let’s just stay far.

Rebecca McDermott 9:21
I know, I know. They really are all saints. I’ve said that to so many clients who I’ve seen who became parents during the pandemic of just like, wow, like you really did something that is totally unique, and you’re really trailblazers.

Amber Hawley 9:36
And also because they sought out help to like that’s the other piece I think, statistically they say that, you know, on the average couples will wait six years until something’s a problem to address it. Now, we know that that’s again, an average right there are those people who really show up immediately those people come in even before they get married. And then we I’ve seen those people, Hey, we’ve hated each other for 25 years, right? We’re So, you know, that kind of thing. But yeah, showing up and asking for help is huge. Yeah. So what are what is the, I guess, you know, we’re talking about kind of that intersection of running a business. There are unique challenges to people who are running businesses and relationships. And then the neurodiversity part, right, like, you know, ADHD, or autism, or whatever the thing, even if it’s an unnamed thing, these other struggles. So there’s this intersection, are you seeing something in particular that is unique to those in the couples that are kind of are things people are talking about right now?

Rebecca McDermott 10:42
i Well, I think certainly right now, because of the pandemic situation, like, our normal strategies, or ways of coping just didn’t fit into this situation. Right. So everything looks so different. So if you were and I mean, I’ll share from personal experience, I’ve always kind of known that ADHD was part of who I was, but it wasn’t until the continued pandemic that I really was like, I can’t ignore this anymore. Like, my brain does not work in this neurotypical way. And I really need support here. And getting that feedback from medical professionals to validate of like, yeah, things probably worked, okay, before because of just the external structure and schedule that existed, right, getting my kids to school that, you know, 9am to 3pm, where I was fitting work in all those things. But when that all got blown up, it was it was too much to handle. So I think that’s definitely something for sure. That is different, those normal ways that we would cope with distress or with, with our neuro diversities. They didn’t exist.

Amber Hawley 11:52
100%. And, you know, I think about you, as the as people are reaching out to me to, you know, as business owners to kind of work on stuff. I think that’s been the theme of, like, I always suspected or there was always something. But now it’s to the point where it’s becoming more debilitating, like you said, because we lost so much of that structure. And even though we know, we even though we hate the idea of having structure, we actually thrive with structure, right. And so that’s the conundrum that I think we face.

Rebecca McDermott 12:26
Right, right. Or even as even that like resistance to structure, we naturally had it built in a little bit, right? And then it goes away. And you’re like, wait, oh, I was actually really relying on that. To help me so much. I didn’t even realize that.

Amber Hawley 12:41
Yeah, and I think a big piece of it is, it also took away any space we had for ourselves. And, you know, I’m not saying I’m not trying to build a fantasy of like, pre pandemic, that we all had copious amounts of space. But I think something in the structure of like, even leaving our house and going into a separate space, or like you said, the kids, you know, having that you could pretty well count on right, that they would have school because now it’s always a crapshoot, like, right. Are they all quarantining for a week or whatever? Right? You know, you had that, and then your partner whether or not they’re leaving the house, that kind of thing. And, you know, the fact is, people when you have somebody either one person who’s not a divergent you like ADHD, or both in the relationship, we see a lot of those people in couples counseling anyway, because there are inherently things it’s very hard to focus. So we drop balls, we forget about things, you know, we can be so consumed, and especially as business owners with the stuff that we have to do for our businesses, that we almost like forget to notice our partner what’s going on for them? Like there’s this expectation of like, they’ll just be there for us. Yeah, I think yeah, sorry. I think it just kind of got exacerbated and all of this.

Rebecca McDermott 14:01
Absolutely. And that yeah, it’s it just took away those natural reminders that were okay. They’re walking my partner’s walking in through the door. Let me say hello to them. If we’re just kind of circling around one another all the time, my awareness to you, like starts to diminish because you’re here all the time. Yes.

Amber Hawley 14:21
Oh, I love I yeah, I never thought of it that way. But that’s true that yeah, there are those old ways of those old like, things that kind of like, oh, yeah, they’re coming home, but they’re coming home from work or they’re coming in the door. And that’s the thing when we’re around something all the time we do start to become a little blind to it a little complacent. Right?

Rebecca McDermott 14:40
Well, you kind of have to because it especially if you’re working or you’re trying to help you know, your children’s virtual school or something like that, like you can’t stop and have these like long drawn out connected conversations in those moments. Like you need to stay focus and especially for us with ADHD, right like we really need extra help with remaining focused or or breaking that focus if we get lost in those hyperfocus moments? So it makes a lot of sense why we just start to that that awareness decreases. And it’s not as special or exciting because it’s just constant.

Amber Hawley 15:18
Constantly there. Yeah. And I think about, you know, prior, I think we had like a healthy compartmentalization. So go when you went somewhere, I know, there were plenty of people that I worked with, that always worked from home, but usually at least one person left, usually. But there’s that, that healthy compartmentalization of like, I’m in work mode, right? Right. And then it’s like, I’m in family mode, or I’m in partner mode, or, you know, it’s kind of shifting, but because we’ve lost all those external cues, it’s harder to just be in that space. And so then, you know, if we have conflict, or our kids are fighting, or we just had, like, not a great night with our partner, like, it’s harder to leave that behind. Whereas before, you know, especially for people who do not have a designated workspace that I I’ve worked with, I’m like, You need to find somewhere with walls, you have to get walls, you need that space. So yeah, I could see that without those external cues. And those ways of, like, again, I go back to this idea of space, I guess, this is what comes up, even for me, like I think about my husband is here all the time, because he’s retired. And at first, like I loved when I went to the office, because I could just do whatever I wanted. And I could, you know, go to lunch and work and do the things and I just did whatever. But now it’s like, I’m leaving the house. And he’s like, Oh, hey, where are you going? And he has no, he could care less, because we’re very independent people. But it’s almost like, I feel like oh, like, like, stop watching me. Like, I care less. But it’s like the idea of like, I have to I’m going out to get a coffee. It’s like, Okay, have fun, you know, but I’m like, I don’t want to have to answer to anybody.

Rebecca McDermott 16:58
Right? Right. I just want to be able to move from A to B. And I think what’s the what’s a good point there, too, it’s like so many couples really naturally didn’t want to experience that until we get to that retirement age. And we know that, you know, just from couples work, like, so many conflicts arise at these points of transition, because of that, that thing that you could go back to space, right? There’s not enough space or the need for more space, the need to open up a space in the relationship that didn’t exist before and figure out how we negotiate and navigate all these new things. Yeah, this kind of constant circulation, like that’s not something that people really experience in relationships until much later in life. And that that retirement phase,

Amber Hawley 17:46
right, in your right, because I do see a lot of couples that come in once like one partner retires, or maybe both, and then having to renegotiate, restructure the relationship and kind of renegotiate things. And yeah, we’re kind of in that weird zone in that respect of, of having that. And, and I also think, you know, like I said, my husband, I have been together for 24 years, we’re super independent. So even though those moments come up, where there’s this feeling of, oh, you know, I should respectfully I should let him know where I’m going, or this or that. There’s that part of me to have like, I’m an adult. I’m right. I’m in my work day right now. And I don’t want to be bothered, do my thing. Because he’s, you know, he’s not an entrepreneur, so he doesn’t understand. And I know, there are so many people that are getting pressure from their partners of like, Oh, I see, like, you’re just on your phone, or now you’re running out to meet so and so for lunch, or this or that, like, how many hours do you actually work? I think people because they can see it now. There’s also that pressure that is causing a lot of conflict.

Rebecca McDermott 19:00
Yeah, I will. That’s definitely a challenge that comes up, I think, you know, especially when you have a family and there’s so many moving parts, right? Schedules are so important. So how much that regular, like nine to five framework helped, or if you were working from home already, especially in this entrepreneurial role, there was nobody there needing to know what your schedule was. Right. So that’s certainly something you know, as I see clients, or I might have days where I’m working on, you know, creation for something, you know, my husband might be like, well, when are you home today? Or, or what hours are you working and like, just, you know, being in this entrepreneurial role, it’s such a different experience and trying to communicate that effectively. And then also work together to create a schedule that helps us meet all those needs that you know, all the moving parts of having a family with, you know, meeting rides everywhere.

Amber Hawley 19:56
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, do can and I guess that’s something I’ve heard a lot It’s like, oh, well, you’re home, you can do this, like, well, I’m at the home, and you might think I’m on my phone. But we all know we, I mean, you can be doing a lot on your phone now for business. Right? Right. But there’s also that idea of, I haven’t come up with a perfect term for it, I keep changing it up. And I feel like none of them, I call it kind of like mind wandering, where it’s like, when you’re in that space of just like thinking about things and mulling things over. You need that space to be creative, or kind of figure out your systems or like next moves, and to be uninterrupted in that. Whereas somebody could be like, Oh, you’re just sitting there? Or, you know, or whatever your process is they can they there can be judgments about it. Like, Why, oh, you’re just watching Real Housewives at, you know, 12 o’clock. And it’s like, Dude, it’s my lunch. You know, like, again, my husband could care less. But I know other people are hearing this stuff, because I’m hearing them talk to me about it and couples, right, like, and so it’s like, you know, if you were at work, and you were doing you would course take a break? Right? Right? Right?

Rebecca McDermott 21:03
Right, we’re right you, this wouldn’t even be part of what you were seeing, like, I wouldn’t be able to do this and function in this way. And you would be able to function in that way. And then we would naturally come home and have our rhythm while the rhythm got totally thrown off. So like we’ve really, not only have we been stressed to educate kids at home, change our complete, you know, our work structure, survive this whole thing, right? Now, we have to really like restructure our rhythm of interaction with one another to just again, like, create that space, or like meet the needs of everything, you know, the changes in that rhythm. And it’s tough. It’s really been tough. So to anyone who’s listening and feels like they have struggled in their relationship during this time, like, Please, no, you’re absolutely not alone. And it’s okay. If you have like, at least even admitting that there’s been a struggle is a great step, because then you can, that’s how we approach it and say, Okay, let’s, let’s see what’s going on here to create some change. For both of you for everyone involved.

Amber Hawley 22:07
Yes, yes. No, I think that’s a great point. And the other part because you were talking about that re navigating, like our flows and and our time together, and I think what really got lost that I’m seeing is, how do you intentionally carve out time with your partner, when, and I know, this varies based on where in the country you live, when you don’t feel like you can go out to a restaurant or because a lot of people don’t have childcare right now, because, you know, depending where you are on the spectrum, some people are back in a place that feels much more normal ish, I will say, I’m using air quotes for, you know, you podcast listeners. But I think, you know, like you, maybe you had before you were doing a regular date night, or you had the kids on other things, or they went to other people’s houses, or you had childcare or something that there were structures there that allowed you guys to intentionally connect with each other. Whereas now more and more, I think people are feeling like, we’re all together always in the same space. So then how do you make that space for each other? I don’t know. Is that something? That’s something I’m seeing a lot with people? Is that struggle of you? How do we carve that out intentionally? Is that something you’re seeing?

Rebecca McDermott 23:23
Well, I think so. And I think also to harken back to I’ve seen that pre COVID. And, you know, to talk a little bit about that transition to parenthood, and also children like, do we need that space like or the intentionality behind it? Like, I think we all kind of think it’s just going to naturally come or we’re both going to agree that we do need that space, and someone might have a hard time leaving the kids behind, or, you know, just those other concerns. So it doesn’t end up being just like, organically negotiated. And it’s one of those things that I think we as couples therapists really see couples lose their identity in this transition. And, you know, who are we still as a couple with this new thing in our life. So that’s super important, just being intentional about it. And I think beginning to have that conversation of, we need to put attention here. And then we can have a little bit of fun and create what that looks like. So I don’t think there’s any one perfect answer. But there’s some cool opportunity here to go, Hey, once we both agree that this is a place in our relationship where we need to put attention. Let’s have some fun creating what we could do.

Amber Hawley 24:39
Yes, yes. Yeah. I mean, you’re right. Absolutely. And especially once you have children, and you know that, like you said, there’s those competing priorities or, or different value systems that kind of pop up in a relationship that you realize, like, Oh, this is I don’t want to leave the kids or you know, all these different things that come up. I guess it’s more I’m even seeing with people who were pretty good about giving themselves that space as well. But you’re right, that stuff has always existed. And but going back to your point, I think it’s about having those conversations, right? Like, Oh, yeah. Hey, you know, I’m missing you, or I don’t feel like we’ve had enough time one on one. But what I’m also hearing too, is some people are like, I don’t feel comfortable having sex when the kids are in the house, like that kind of thing. I mean, and obviously, you know, usually they’re always there. Right? Right. At night anyway, or, but now it feels like they’re always there. Yeah. And I think, yeah, some of this stuff. It’s always existed. And like you said, it’s the spotlight that’s, like, exacerbating the problem, or it’s going out to people who maybe that wasn’t a struggle for them before. So I think that’s a great point.

Rebecca McDermott 25:54
Yeah, yeah. And there can be like, I think this is where couples therapy, or that are just like, relational distress gets a bad rap, right? Because it ends up being like, very problem focused. But I love when we identify the problem, because when we do that, and there’s some agreement there, then it’s like, okay, let’s, let’s create a solution together, let there’s opportunity, once we really start to identify the problem. And then each person can start to see what they’re doing to add, that’s adding to that problem that’s adding to that cycle that keeps the problem, a problem. And I think that’s always so helpful. Because then, okay, this is what I’m doing. Or maybe I’m fearful or nervous to have sex with the kids in the house. But when I talk about that, and I and I own that, right, my partner and I can start to have a conversation about how we negotiate that. There’s my discomfort around having sex, while the kids are home, is what I’m doing right now, because I’m so nervous is no physical contact at all. Well, maybe that’s an area that I need to change. And we can have some more non sexual intimacy or physical touch, just to kind of still make sure that we are paying attention to that part of our relationship, but it’s not. I know, I’m not trying to put my foot all the way down on the gas pedal with this thing I’m really uncomfortable with.

Amber Hawley 27:19
Yes. Well, if you make a good point of, it’s very, it’s almost impossible to come up with solutions for something where you feel stuck, if you don’t acknowledge the problem, and then talk about it. Because then there is no being creative. And, and I love the emphasis on making things more fun and light. Like we’re all fun deprived. Like I say, I always say as entrepreneurs, I think we’re fun deprived, as you know, women and mothers, but it as couples, you know, for sure, I think couples are seriously fund deprived right now. And that might be part of that other pieces. Yeah, not feeling like the things that we use to enjoy are fully available to us. Right. And, and just the the extra, you know, chronic burnout overwhelm that, that people are feeling because we’re, you know, almost two years into this. Remember that, remember when they said two weeks back?

Rebecca McDermott 28:17
Yeah, remember when we were watching? We were watching Tiger king like, wow, this is great. I have two weeks to watch this show. And then I can’t wait to get right back.

Amber Hawley 28:27
See, I I was in a different position where like, I was actually living my best life right before. And then once it happened, I felt like my world kind of blew up. And I was like, I was back to working like crazy. Of like, and I was so envious of people who were just like totally lounging and felt no pressure for that hot minute, right like that. Yeah, I’m so jealous of that.

Unknown Speaker 28:52
I don’t disagree with that at all. I definitely had a little roller coaster there. But there’s a big piece of grief there for me, certainly, because I remember going right before COVID. While my schedule is amazing. And I have set my schedule up so that I’m really boundaried with my time. And I’m leaving time open for these other things. Yeah. And it was like, it’s like The Matrix all started to fall into place. And then it blew up. And realistically, I probably watched Tiger King in three days and then

Amber Hawley 29:23
and then got really busy again. Yes, yeah. So there’s that on top of it all the grief. And, you know, I guess even relating this back to couples. What I’m seeing is I think we all were so scared. We had all those scary things or that initial grief and 2020. But I think it’s this fatigue of everything in 2021. And that’s where again, we’re seeing that, like you might have had fun at first and we’re like, oh, we’re gonna watch all the Marvel movies in order. I mean, that’s what we did. And you know, it was a lot we made fun things we we got through it, but we kept like holding out hope like, okay, but this is going to be different, this is going to be different. And then that’s where I’m seeing couples like, okay, now I could do it for a little bit, but now we’re on year two, and my patience is worn thin, right? I’m just, you know, wanting, you know, things to be addressed or things to change. And and yeah, we’re kind of fatigued with at all I think.

Rebecca McDermott 30:24
So I mean, it’s so hard I you know, if I was listening to this right now I would go, Okay, right. So if I’m so fatigued, how am I supposed to have fun here, but I don’t know if I have the energy or the bandwidth to do that. And that’s okay. Like, that’s totally valid to be to be feeling that even connecting with your partner on that piece of like, I’m really missing you, or I know that our connection has been so minimal. It’s been, I’m so tired, and I don’t know what to do. And waking up every day feels really hard. Like connecting there is also a place where we can be really intentional, right? We’re not just focused on the logistics, or, you know, the needs of keeping things moving. But kind of getting underneath those complaints that often come up. And like, what this is like to be going through this with, with you, maybe we can have an intentional conversation around that.

Amber Hawley 31:22
And like you said, even if nothing changes, that feeling of my partners in this with me, we’re on the same page, and they’re there for me, they, you know, often, we can’t change anything, like if our partner struggling with something, there are so many things that we can’t change for them. We can’t, we can’t fix it, you know, there’s some things that just are the way they are, but showing up for them and letting them know we care. And being just that person that they feel they can be comfortable with and get support from, I think is very transformative. It doesn’t change the situation. But it changes the perspective of I’m all alone in this.

Rebecca McDermott 32:01
Yeah, yeah, that’s huge. I think that is so huge. And what I see as the point in doing work with couples, when things start to change, when I no longer feel alone in this big scary thing I can turn to you, and you’re safely there next to me, and we’re in this place together. Like that’s where we get that strength from. Yeah, and, and that’s when and so problems can come at us. But as long as I can turn and I see you there next to me, and you’re in this with me, we can handle those problems together.

Amber Hawley 32:38
Definitely, definitely. And, you know, going back to that point of, we all our bandwidth is more limited. We’re all dealing with a lot, there’s still not a lot of this stability, right? Like the thing I keep hearing from people is, well, I should have figured it out by now or I should like it now. You know, we’ve we’ve made adjustments and I’m like, well, but nothing is still stable. Everything is ever changing. We know as humans, we hate that we don’t like we hate limbo. But how then do you find time to have fun with your partner or make that space with them? Intentionally given the constraints that I’m feeling kind of exhausted and all these other things, right? Yeah, I have some ideas about how like what I suggest to people, but I’m curious, like what your thoughts are, if they’re in that place, like there’s the first part, like you said, of being in it together being a support to one another, not feeling responsible to fix our partner’s problems, but just showing up for each other. I think he’s huge. So, so huge. That’s that emotional intimacy piece. But then there’s the other part of okay, and we can all live in a dumpster fire 24/7

Rebecca McDermott 33:55
Right, right. We can’t Oh, that’s such disappointing news.

Amber Hawley 34:02
I know. I was like, Well, okay, so one of my things that I say to people is like, what can you let go of? So that you have the space and energy to have to have that and I think being realistic? Like I’ve had couples were like, okay, then we’re gonna do this every single night or we’re gonna do this and this and this. And like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, you still need time for yourself. So like start small, like one day or you know, like one time a week or you know, can be a couple times a week you get to choose but but to remember like, don’t you can’t go all in on that and then neglect you know, everything else for yourself. Right? Yeah, but starting small so that you can kind of like rally, because I’m sure it’s those times like, Oh, I feel a little tired but okay, yeah, let’s go for that hike. Yeah, let’s go do that. Knowing that you’re gonna allow yourself that time for rest and taking care of yourself, so that you’re not exhausted the next day going into work or whatever it is, right. And that’s that balance of taking care, I think when we take care of our true self care taking care of ourselves, that’s when we actually can enjoy our partners for

Rebecca McDermott 35:15
absolutely right, because we’ve, we’ve done that work so that we have, we have the reserves available, which I think for ADHD are is is really tough, right? Because we do, we get so much energies and you know, those bursts of energy or in those moments of connection. And so like we might, it’s, it’s really easy for us to ignore our own needs, right, or we’ve been caught in this loop of, I should have had it all figured out by now. And like this loop of catch up for a lifetime already. So it’s so normalized to us. But really, what are those, those things that we can do to create that stability for ourselves so that we’re pouring in. And, you know, when others have demands, or when we want to make connection, we can do it and it’s sustainable. And it’s not going to drain us because we know that that connection drains us, right, and part of you know, maybe having to mask or maybe having to, you know, to be a little bit, you know, just off with, you know, how we might actually want to be like that’s so that’s so draining. So definitely putting that attention there. And I love what you said about starting small, like we have to be successful anytime we’re making change. So one of the images I’ve been using with clients is, you know, relating it physically, if I was your physical personal trainer, and you walked into the gym, and I loaded the rack with weights, and I said go ahead, lift this, this is how you’re going to get fit, you’d walk out because you’d feel like a failure. Right? So what I’m going to do is load the rack with what you can do right now. And maybe what strains you a little bit right, get you to that point of, okay, there’s some discomfort, but I can do it. And then we’re going to keep doing that until that is now your capacity. And then we put some more weight on.

Amber Hawley 37:07
Hmm, that is a great analogy. Because even the thought of it’s too heavy, you could do it once, but you’re not. But it won’t be sustainable. It’ll be that thing of, oh, when we talk about it, we start doing this and then we go back to our old habits.

Rebecca McDermott 37:22
Yeah, and that’s the thing, you won’t know how to recreate it either. It’ll be more of like, this kind of magical thing that happened rather than Oh, we actually did something to build the strength here. So start small with whatever you’re you’re planning on doing, where it whatever you want to do as far as connection or making it fun. Maybe it’s taking a pretty tedious task, like making dinner and deciding to deciding on a recipe together and standing in the kitchen and making it together.

Amber Hawley 37:51
Yeah. Or if you’re like me, and I’m like cooking. I’m like, I’m, I’m juggling all my pots. I don’t need you during this. But the person is like sitting nearby and they’re just keeping you company. Yeah.

Rebecca McDermott 38:04
Yeah, very early. Yeah. Just like bringing into that space. Like, hey, instead of me being in this vacuum making dinner, just come hang out with me. And let’s Converse while I’m making dinner. Right? And when we have those conversations, let’s move them a little bit deeper, then how was your day? How was this kid’s schedule? How was this thing? Let’s go into some of those like, Hey, do you have a funny story from childhood that you’ve never told me? Or, you know, what did you hey, we watched a movie the other week? What did you really think about this character? Like, let’s be a little bit more intentional with those conversations. So we remind like, we find interest in one another.

Amber Hawley 38:45
Yeah, exactly. And that’s the thing of only being can only connecting on logistics. And I think a lot of people fall into that in, especially just in modern day life. But especially modern day entrepreneurship often, you know, it’s not like, it’s not like we punch out the clock, and our brain just stops thinking about work, you know, and so these things can linger. And maybe we’re not fully present with our partner. And so we’re kind of off or distracted. Right? And, you know, especially and I’ve seen this with so many people where they’re holding on to that fantasy that, well, I’ll give time to my partner when I if I once I get caught up. And I’m like, well, that that’s a fantasy, you’re never going to be caught up, right? So it’s about figuring out how can you give enough to your business that makes you feel like you’re not super overwhelmed, stressful, but also having the boundaries so that you have that intentional time with each other. Right. So there’s that piece but I do love the idea of really making sure that you’re cultivating a little more depth in the conversations that you have. Yeah, I think that’s been one of the fun parts of I’m sure we did it before. I’m just not remembering because my honestly my memory can’t go back that far. But in the last couple of years, I think there are those times where my husband and I like we’re eating or something. And then we just start talking about something or listening to music. And we just talk and talk and talk in literally, like, we let the kid stay up later than normal. And we’re doing our own thing. But it’s been wonderful because we’ve connected on right? Like, a deeper level even, you could even be considered a friend level, like how you have those deep conversations with friends, when you meet up with them. You’re not just talking about logistics with your friend. Right? Right. Right. And so it’s, it’s even nurturing that part of the relationship and having fun with each other in that way. Like, that’s been a real, that’s been something that it just happens kind of organically, because we’re creating the space for it to happen. But we’re also like, knowing, you know, I have this boundary, I’m not going back to work tonight, like I have this boundary of, I am here, I’m present. And so then there’s this opportunity for us to really connect in a different way.

Rebecca McDermott 40:52
Yeah, absolutely. And think of that as an ADHD or to like, how much more stimulating that is, right? Whereas, like, work is often that really stimulating thing for us, or business and the creations there, or there are so many problems. So we want to solve all of them. Yeah. Right. So if the conversation with your partners starts to get to that deeper level, like we are stimulated by the richness there. And so I think it’s, it’s easier than to start to draw those boundaries and say, You know what, I can put that down for the day, I can get back to it tomorrow, I can really hold myself accountable to the the structure that I set, and I can be present. In this moment, I can be present in this moment with my partner. And I definitely think something to help partners also right now is really being assertive in Hey, do you have the bandwidth for this right now? Or if someone’s venting or sharing? Do you want me to listen? Or do you want some feedback? Or advice here? I think that’s another thing that’s really going to be helpful to just talk about, you know, to just put that little qualifier on there, like, do you have the time to go deeper with me? If you don’t? Can we agree to come back to this a different time?

Amber Hawley 42:07
Yes. And that’s, I’ve always said to clients, that’s the communication piece, that’s the part where we’re going to talk about, like, we’re being respectful, and we’re checking in, we’re being aware of our partner and kind of not just assuming, because I’m in the mood, or I’m in the space, that you’re in the mood and space. And we check in with each other that those little, those little check ins of respect, goes so far in feeling, again, connected to one another. And, and then instead of just, you know, not doing that and bulldozing, and then you know, maybe your partner short with you, or you can feel like they’re just like looking at their clock, or because we didn’t actually check in with them. And then we feel frustrated, we feel rejected and create, right, you know, conflict, and it’s those small ways and checking in with each other. Or even, like you said, just being really clear in what you’re needing, could go such a long way. You know, like, you know, I suggest this, I suggest this with clients all the time. And I’ll just continue to use examples because I just, I’m that person who loves examples, but I’ll say to my husband, like, oh, like I’m feeling lonely, it might just be in general, because I’m an extrovert, and I’m never, I’m never out with people is how I’m feeling the last two years. But I’m like, you know, I just I need some attention or something. I mean, I’ll probably say in a better way. But usually it’s like, yeah, I just want some attention. I was like, Do you want to go get coffee with me? Or, you know, and sometimes all I if I don’t say that, I’ll be like, Hey, do you want to go to the store with me? He’s like, No, I’m like, Cool. Like, he knows when I say, like, I’m bored or not, I’m not bored, I’m lonely, or I’m just needing some attention. When I say that, first, he knows that I’m asking from a place of like, I just need to hang with somebody in high. Like, I need some adult connection, or just, frankly, any connection at this moment. And so he’s, he can he hears that difference? And then he’ll like, kind of reassess. And it’s not always a yes. Right? Because that’s right. You know, that’s not realistic. But I will say, probably 90% of the time, it’s like, oh, yeah, sure. And I know, it’s not like his favorite thing. But it makes me happy. Because it’s those small moments of I just, because when we’re in the car together, we’re gonna talk about things or, you know, do that. So it’s, it’s both checking in with your partner, but then also giving your partner clear signals that you’re leading, you know, because if you just say, Oh, hey, want to do X, Y, or how are you feeling? And they’re like, Oh, I’m a little stressed. And you just assume and shut it down. Again, there’s all this opportunity for connection that’s gets married.

Rebecca McDermott 44:38
Right, right. Right. And that’s when we’re not clear. That’s where our conflict really comes in. And, and then if it wasn’t successful, we don’t want to go back and do it again. Right. So being clear with them, and if that’s like, I have an individual need, like, Hey, I actually really just need some time by myself. It’s not that I don’t want to, you know, be around you in the long term, but I do I just need some space for myself so that I can fill up that reserve tank. Like we’re getting uncomfortable to be more comfortable and in sharing those kinds of things with one another, so that it becomes a regular thing in the relationship. And we don’t have to spend so much time assuming or meaning making. I mean, we love as humans, like we love meaning making, we’re always going to do that. So

Amber Hawley 45:25
I also blame, I blame TV for that, like rom coms. And like any Lifetime movie network movie, where the woman is always trying to figure out what the person actually means. Or we’re sitting here like having these deep commerce instead of just asking the person the direct question, right? makes us feel like, No, we have to figure this all out on our own. And like you’re saying, it’s like, no, you, it’s your partner, ask them?

Rebecca McDermott 45:55
Absolutely. I made that decision for myself. You know, we talked about making decisions to make things easier. A couple years ago, I just said, You know what, I’m going to trust that the people in my life, if they have an issue with me, they will come tell me. Because I do that for them. Also, right? I have gotten pushed through that discomfort to say, hey, that thing that happened hurt me. So I’m going to lead with that intention. And unless they’re coming and telling me directly that I hurt them, or I did something, or they need to talk about me, I’m not going to read into it, I just can’t anymore.

Amber Hawley 46:28
Oh, that is one of my favorite things that I say to people, um, and I, because you know, I like to have a little sarcastic edge. I’m like, I’m going to trust this person to be an adult. And so I’m, if you’re upset, yeah, you have to come tell me. And if I see something, and I check in and you say, No, I’m going to trust that you’re telling me the truth, right? I’m not gonna sit and go down this like spiral? Because yeah, I don’t have the bandwidth to do that. And, and also, I know, it leads to, it leads to conflicts, when it’s like, well, I know you’re upset or something like that, you know, and there’s this big thing. And it’s like, I’m just going to trust you. Now there. We also see the other extremes of the people who never share when they’re actually upset, but they clearly are sharing non verbally. That’s some that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re different story. That’s a whole different story. We’re talking about this stuff, where, yeah, you’re, you know, where it’s like, Okay, I’m going to do what I need to take care of myself, and my partner can tell me if that was upsetting them or not. And when you do it in a respectful way, when you say like, Yeah, I’m feeling really tired. And I think the key is saying, maybe tomorrow, or let’s find a time this week. Yeah, you know, there are ways to take care of yourself that aren’t rejecting and for your partner so that they don’t have to leave with a sense of, oh, they’re not spending time with me, and they’re never going to make time for me, like that kind of feeling. I mean, there are definitely ways to communicate that right, by the way. Absolutely. Yeah. But at the same time, like it’s got to be okay to, it’s got to be okay to take care of ourselves so that when we do show up, we do it in, in a much better way with a much better attitude.

Rebecca McDermott 48:04
Absolutely. Yeah, we need we need that for ourselves. We owe that to ourselves, quite honestly, to focus on am I am I checking those boxes for myself, as well as we continue to go through this time?

Amber Hawley 48:19
Yes. You know, I love that. Well, I know this episode, there is no Well, there’s lots of I feel there are lots of important takeaways. And this is one of those things to kind of think about. Are you being intentional with your partner, intentional and making space and time for each other? Having, you know, more connection in depth than just the logistical or as I call it, the good roommate, like being more than just good roommates, right, like being in that space. So I don’t know if it’s very Valentine Z. But it feels like a very therapist at Valentine’s Day. There’s no, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine over here.

Rebecca McDermott 49:01
It’s our version of Valentine. Exactly.

Amber Hawley 49:04
It’s authentic. I mean, it’s really true. And and I guess what we’re talking about is a much deeper connection and healing and not just the quick fix, but looking at how we approach our relationship in in a way that is sustainable.

Rebecca McDermott 49:24
Really who? Yeah, yeah, that makes it possible.

Amber Hawley 49:27
Awesome. Awesome. Well, like we said, we’re, we’re about out of time, because I know we both have appointments after this. But hopefully we’ll have another conversation again, at some point because I think this is these are important things to be talking about. And of my podcast couples fix is actually we’ve had a lot of false starts on our rereleasing, but I have brought on a co host to be with me, because it because I just prefer talking to people it’s more fun Yeah, and talking about all kinds of things, relationships. So you could head on over to couples fix and catch some of those episodes if you’re wanting to look at your relationship more, but if people want to hear more from you or connect more with you, Rebecca, where should they go?

Rebecca McDermott 50:19
So you can go to my website, it’s connected counseling. I have an Instagram account. It’s at our McDermott. MFT I think I’ve kind of abandoned it during the pandemic. Sorry. That’s okay. It’s just one of those things I had to cut loose for right now. But yeah, any even just some follow up or feedback, I’d love to, you know, have people reach out. So you can definitely go to my website, send me an email.

Amber Hawley 50:49
Wonderful. And yeah, we’ll have all the links in the show notes. And what I heard in that is you’re practicing what you preach, like you’re taking things off your plate, so that you had space for the people in your life. Yeah, if there was ever a time to really do it and say, Okay, if you’re going to tell other people to do it, you’ve got to do it, too. It’s now I it’s necessary and, and I’m doing it so awesome. Wonderful. And yeah, head on over there. Because like we said, we know coming up in the, you know, the very soon to be future. There are some big awesome new things coming from Rebecca. So yeah, yeah. Thank you again for coming on and sharing your wisdom.

Rebecca McDermott 51:27
Thank you for having me. This was fun. I hope we can do it again.

Amber Hawley 51:31

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