Show cover of LoveWork: Skills for a Relational Life

LoveWork: Skills for a Relational Life

Join therapists Jerry Sander & Kristy Gaisford as we look at both the hard truths, and joys, that accompany intimate relationships. Our perspective is personal, practical and based on experience: we've both been married, divorced, and married again after finding great partners for our second marriages. (Both of us had four children apiece in our first marriages; Kristy has four step-children in her second one). Both of us maintain relationally-focused private therapy practices, focusing on couples and individuals. ) We are both certified in Terry Real's Relational Life Therapy and are regular, authorized presenters of the weekend Relationship Boot Camp. We also offer a weekend workshop for those who are starting their lives again after the life-altering relational reset of divorce. 


Jerry & Kristy take an extended look at the process of repair. Frequently misunderstood as a "moment" it is actually  a relational project that requires vulnerability, bravery and follow-through. Specific applications of the process of repair to four different fight-scenarios are illustrated. 
69:44 6/9/24
Couples usually stumble over this ever-present elephant-in-the-room; what if you have different backgrounds, expectations and habits when it comes to personal finances? What are the implications for the two of you as a couple? How do you even begin to talk about it? Jerry and Kristy ponder this out loud, with numerous common examples of disconnect. Hopeful strategies are identified. 
43:55 5/22/24
Patriarchy In Our Relationships
Jerry and Kristy consider the thorny impact of worldwide patriarchy on the way we function in our relationships. Alternative models are considered, as well as an understanding of how the status-quo we were born into results in a bad deal for both men and women. 
42:01 4/27/24
Everything Breaks; Most Gets Fixed
You know the feeling when you just want to throw things away? When one too many things have occurred and you would just love to get rid of things (or your partner?) instead of working to fix them? Jerry ponders the convergence of a number of mechanical breakdowns that came his way as Kristy puts it in context of the ever-present challenge of relational repair. 
32:52 4/2/24
What role does our ego play in helping, or hindering, connection with our partner? Kristy & Jerry unpack some of this together. Jerry reports some about his travel to Southern India and how long it took him to finally unpack after returning. 
46:53 3/14/24
What If Your Partner Doesn't Want To Do "The Work"?
It's more rare than we would like that both partners in a couple approach "the work" of behavioral change with the same intensity, at the same rate, and in the same way.  What happens if one person is much more enthusiastic about "doing the work" than the other partner? Kristy and Jerry consider this in today's episode.
37:31 2/23/24
I Am DONE!!!
Memorable, highly-charged words and phrases are frequently heard in couples' therapists' offices. What they mean -- how they are understood between people who claim to love each other -- is often highly debatable and unclear. Jerry and Kristy try to translate some meanings in today's episode. 
36:40 2/2/24
The Selfishness of Addiction
An addict's path to recovery necessarily involves making amends and becoming more relational to the people around you whom you've wounded. But often people get caught at the "dry-drunk" phase, don't do the relational work (despite 12-step groups' encouragement to do so) and the very process of recovery can attain a familiarly selfish flavor. Jerry and Kristy explore the relational damage addiction (and sometimes even recovery) can bring.
39:46 1/23/24
The Challenge of Blended Families
It's not always The Brady Bunch. In fact, it almost never is. Kristy and Jerry explore some of the dynamics at work for members of blended families and try to "right-size" expectations to maximize opportunities for natural connections. 
37:44 1/9/24
The Holidays
Ahhhh...The Holidays. They are already here, and we are already scrambling to try to extract the maximum amount of family happiness and connection from situations that can also offer confusion, old, unresolved situations, things-out-of-left-field, financial stress, arguments and large amounts of stress or depression. Still, it is possible to put together a tool kit for yourself and to find joy in moments of connection large and small. 
43:14 12/3/23
Jerry and Kristy express their gratitude for the people, places and things in their lives, with a particular focus on their respective relationships. Being able to extract, and express, gratitude for that hard things that are learned as part of the growth-edge that relationships bring is the Advanced Class. Our best efforts are required, and are rewarded. 
46:01 11/18/23
Trauma & Your Relationship
Whether it is childhood trauma(s), the effects of societal prejudices, discrimination and stigmatizing or more recent adult losses of a traumatic nature, the ripple effects of trauma is shared with our partner in relationships.  Kristy and Jerry ponder the wide-ranging effects of this in presenting challenges to intimacy in relationships. And we end with a whopper of a role-played good fight, demonstrating, once again, the wrong way and the right way to have disagreements with a spouse. (Spoiler alert: we are married to other people who have to actually deal with the Actual Arguments and challenges that arise.)
50:02 11/7/23
Am I Crazy?
Do you ever feel strongly at emotional odds with most things around you? And then whether or not you are off-your-rocker and possibly The Problem because of being crazy? Just....different from others, in a major way? You aren't alone at all. Being overwhelmed by feelings -- and not feeling like they are seen and valued by those closest to you -- is common. Jerry and Kristy break it down and consider the way forward, wherein you can remain connected to a partner despite the depth and intensity of your own feelings. 
49:44 10/21/23
Religious Upbringings
Our religious upbringings -- or non-religious upbringings -- can have implications and repercussions for our later intimate relationships, the likes of which we likely hadn't considered. Jerry & Kristy discuss. 
48:44 9/29/23
Rewriting (Relationship) History
Kristy & Jerry consider what happens when we, for one reason or another, remember only certain aspects of our most important relationships. We deny, or ignore, important things at a cost; recovery of all the layers of a relationship may be painful, but worth it. 
42:13 9/16/23
Birthdays & Anniversaries
What's it like for you to be in a couple and to celebrate these special occasions? Or...not? What happens, for the couple, when these days roll around and either are celebrated, ignored or recognized in a less-than-satisfying way? Jerry and Kristy contemplate these things and more. 
38:51 9/6/23
The Fine Line Between Letting Things Go & Enabling
Kristy and Jerry untangle the thorny areas in which personal boundaries seem to be challenged by our partner's desire to control us, when -- in fact -- it is often about emotional needs we can all relate to it. The seed for solutions lay in a relational approach,  neither in confrontation nor denial.
52:32 8/7/23
Having a Baby
Adding an additional person to your household offers unique challenges and rewards for a couple, but undeniably is one of the most profound relationship shifts you'll undergo in your lives together. Kristy and Jerry ponder some of these effects and speak out loud about things that too often not spoken about because....well, because it's not so easy.
49:06 7/25/23
Just How Much Intimacy Do I Really Want?
Jerry and Kristy wrestle with the reality that every couple has different levels of desire when it comes to ongoing closeness and intimacy. Like so many other markers of social and emotional health, intimacy might be best viewed on a continuum.
45:51 7/9/23
Blinded By My Hurt
We all know THOSE kind of arguments; when one of us just will not give in, because giving in means giving up and conceding defeat in what feels like a life-and-death battle. But when we consider it at a safe distance, well...what is really going on? And how could these things be handled better? Jerry and Kristy consider this, give some advice, and show what it looks like/sounds like in a real-time argument (done poorly then more compassionately). 
44:07 6/26/23
Being Happy When Your Partner Isn't
Kristy and Jerry consider the awkward dynamics that can ensue when partners aren't aligned in their levels of happiness or sadness on any given day, week or month. What, exactly, is your level of "responsibility" and what isn't? How can this be approached with kindness and sensitivity?
42:58 6/11/23
Getting Your Self-Esteem From Social Media
Jerry & Kristy consider what happens when the primary source of our self-esteem comes from our social media applications. What are the implications for our relationships?
43:53 5/29/23
Cancelling Toxic Relationships (And Aren't We All A Little Toxic?)
Kristy and Jerry consider the phenomena of "cancellation" as a reactive move; when is it exactly the right thing, and when is it exactly the wrong thing? How does fast-easy cancellation, "ghosting," etc. work against our developing abilities to be relational?
44:32 5/16/23
All (S)He Wants Is Sex
A frequently heard complaint in couples' sessions is deconstructed and discussed. Are there any bad people here, or are two people seeking to be seen and valued in different ways when there is an obvious disconnect re: sexual needs? What are the ways to meet in a mutually appreciated way, where boundaries are respected AND needs are acknowledged? And -- dare we ask -- what about pleasure?
46:21 5/1/23
Does Your Attachment Style Sabotage You?
Kristy and Jerry discuss lasting styles of attachment and the difficulties these can pose for our partners. (And ourselves!) somehow all makes sense. Can this be worked on with health in a relationship and result in improvements? Absolutely, yes. Can you change your partner's fundamental attachment style??? Well, now....time for some humility.
38:33 4/17/23
Home Is Where We Fall Apart
The intimate connections offered by our home life can go either way: towards snippy, isolated/isolating, defensive interactions or towards ever-greater connectedness and satisfactions. Jerry and Kristy consider this, in action, and conclude with a fight (done both from a less-mature point of view AND a wise-adult stance). 
36:06 4/1/23
Do Words Even Matter?
Jerry & Kristy consider the dual nature of words, as they are used in relationships. On the one hand they matter very much -- as they can be source of great pain or comfort. On the other hand some of the most profound moments of your relationship have very little with words. As with most tools humans use to connect or disconnect with each other, it is worth consideration. We culminate in a fight, showing both the damaging nature of words and their potential to initiate repair. 
47:37 3/19/23
The fine (self-defeating) art of making small disappointments, disagreements and conflicts into major demonstrations of disastrous proportions is discussed by Kristy and Jerry. Alternatives are considered. We also -- finally -- resume our end-of-podcast fights, illustrating better ways of handling disappointments than couples often reach for.This marks our first VIDEO-also podcast; we're setting up our You Tube channel as we speak, so you'll soon be able to see this one, and future ones, in all the video glory. Faces to match the voices. Who would've thought such a thing would be possible?
44:09 3/6/23
Body Image & Your Relationship
Jerry and Kristy explore the shaping of our self-esteem -- and the impact on later relationships -- that occurs related to our own body image issues. The impact of early family influences, societal messaging, the internet and advertising on internalized shame and doubt is profound, and shapes what we bring into our relationship with a similarly insecure human being. 
38:38 2/19/23
Relationship Reckoning
How can you go about figuring if a relationship is really over? Whether you'd be happier without it? Kristy and Jerry discuss the intricacies of deciding when separating and ending a relationship is the right thing to do. Alternately: how can you come to peace with things that annoy you in your partner that just never seem to change?
48:10 2/6/23