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155 – Growing Pains in Redefining Relationship Roles

Wandering Aimfully Through Our Podcast: What is it all for?

155 – Growing Pains in Redefining Relationship Roles

In this episode, we share the “problem” we’ve run into in our relationship and the five solutions we’re using to work through it.
Jason ZookJason Zook Jason ZookJason Zook

Written by

Jason Zook

Listen to our full episode on Growing Pains in Redefining Relationship Roles below (with full transcript) or find our podcast by searching What is it all for? in your favorite podcast player.

Five Key Takeaways for Growing Pains in Redefining Relationship Roles

To set the scene, there were two problems we were faced with recently: the “seeds of resentment” about the balance of responsibilities, both in life and work (and recalibrating our balance) and our shifting individual identities. In this episode, we shared how Caroline wanted this year to be about feeling capable now that we’re stationary, but old stories and perceptions about her capacity crept in. She felt unseen for the effort she was putting forth, while Jason was feeling unseen for the effort he’d also put forth all year (in 2022) and really the last few years in our relationship.

The solutions we’ve come up with are:

1. Rewriting old stories

We talked about how our old stories are very individualistic and we’ve been viewing the stories of our lives through individual lenses. Caroline’s individual story is that the last few years were massively hard for her as she was rebuilding her mental health. Jason’s individual story is that the last few years were also massively hard trying to keep our lives and businesses together while not being able to help Caroline. Staying in these individual perspectives will breed resentment.

Instead, we are working on rewriting the story of the past few years in our minds to “We are a TEAM and we BOTH had to play on hard mode the past few years, but look at the fact that we moved through it and still were able to make beautiful memories together.” Caroline was able to claw her way back to being more capable and Jason was able to move the ball forward and pick up the slack when she couldn’t.

Guiding questions:

2. Having compassion for the other person’s particularities

We are very different people who operate in different emotional and organizational spectrums, specifically in the way we do things, which can cause issues. We talked about redefining Jason’s organizational needs as what they are: a need, and Caroline seeing that as an act of love. On the other hand, also redefining Caroline’s organizational needs as connected to her emotional needs, and working on that is an act of love.

Guiding question:

3. NOT letting frustration about individual tasks turn into resentment

Shifting from not only balancing life duties but also work duties, we mentioned a book by Eve Rodsky called, Fair Play. In doing so, we listed out all our tasks and then divvied them between each other in a way that each of us felt balanced and equal. We come back to this often where the other person doesn’t understand the unique frustrations of the work each of us does and that frustration gets directed at the other person because they don’t feel seen.

Instead, we’re going to try something where we share those frustrations in a neutral, allotted space we affectionately call, Vent-y Latte, so we can loop the other person in and not resent them.

4. Being more intentional about communicating shifting perceptions with your partner

Caroline is feeling so much more confident and capable and putting a lot of mental effort towards things she wasn’t able to do before. But unless Jason KNOWS that inner journey, he can’t support it. Knowing that Caroline is working on seeing herself as more capable helps him clue into things better and see her differently as she starts to see herself differently.

5. Growing pains don’t need to be a bigger story about the health of your relationship

Above all, GROWING PAINS IN TRANSITIONS ARE NORMAL. Spending 95% of your time with another person for over 10 years means you’re both going to go through changes. It’s important to not view your relationship overall as “bad” when you’re just working through new challenges. Just like when you encounter pain or uncertainty or anxiety as an individual, you don’t need to make a bigger judgment about who you are as a person.

Bonus: We mentioned the Stutz documentary by Jonah Hill (linked below). It’s about the 3 aspects of reality: pain, uncertainty, and constant work.

Show Notes for Episode 155: Growing Pains in Redefining Relationship Roles

We know relationships can often be positioned as “perfect” on social media, but we all know that’s not the truth. In fact, constantly seeing a “perfect” relationship can be harmful in that it doesn’t normalize the reality that we all often are experiencing. Relationships are wonderful, but they can also be difficult as we’re two humans trying to operate in the world with unique brains and (potentially) opposite ways of thinking/feeling minute to minute.

In this episode, we share the “problem” we’ve run into and the five solutions we’re using to work through it. We are NOT relationship therapists, or coaches, we’re just two normal people who think relationships should be shared more authentically more often!

Links mentioned:

“Fair Play” Book/ Game –

Stutz Netflix Documentary –

Full Transcript of Episode 155: Growing Pains in Redefining Relationship Roles

⬇️ You can also download the .TXT file of the transcript

Caroline: Welcome to What Is It All For? A podcast designed to help you grow your online business and pursue a spacious, satisfying life at the same time. We are your hosts, Jason and Caroline Zook, and we run Wandering Aimfully, an unboring business coaching program. Every week, we bring you advice and conversations to return you to your most intentional self and to help you examine every aspect of your life and business by asking, what is it all for? Thanks for listening. And now let’s get into the show.

Jason: And I’m here, too.

Yeah. Take that sip of water right as we start recording. That’s the best time to do that. Yes. There you go.

Caroline: The next best time would have been right before.

Jason: That would have been great. Yeah.

Caroline: But that would have been the best time.

Jason: Or, like, a minute into it, you know.

Caroline: Well, you know what my phlegm situation is.

Jason: What your liquid needs are?

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: What a great way to start an episode about our relationship and how we work through things other than fighting about when you take a drink of water. That’s your water vessel working out, by the way?

Caroline: I love it.

Jason: Okay, good. Yeah.

Caroline: It’s a little crooked right now.

Jason: Yeah. You’re a water vessel kind of gal. I’m like whatever cups available, put water in and I’ll drink it.

Caroline: No, I’m very particular about my vessels.

Jason: Which is interesting, because this episode, we’re going to discover how I’m more particular, as most people probably know if you listen to this podcast.

Caroline: Everyone’s particular, but you’re going to really find out how we’re particular in this episode.

Jason: Before we do that, though, let’s get into the pramble.

Caroline: Okay.

Jason: The preamble. Chat about a few Portugal things, a few other things important to me that’s not on this list. I’m sorry. I wanted to mention this, but I’m just saying it everywhere that we talk about things. I’ve restarted Breath of The Wild.

Caroline: We know.

Jason: I know you don’t care, and I know you’re over it.

Caroline: No, I’m not over it.

Jason: But I want everyone else to know because they may be like me, where, like, when it came out three years ago or four years ago now, you played it. You played it all the way through, or you played it, like, so many hours, you just got done with it. But it’s been years since you’ve played it, and maybe you’ve forgotten just the magic of that game, how unbelievably creative and wonderful it is. And I’m so excited for Breath of The Wild 2 to come out right around my birthday. Thank you, Nintendo. It’s such a great birthday present for me. But I just want to let everyone know who’s listening this who may not have played for the past, like, three or four years. Pick it back up, play leisurely, start a new game, start from the beginning, have fun, and find some glitches on YouTube that people have found. Like, I’ve just had fun. Like, duplicating.

Caroline: You’ve been glitching out.

Jason: Dragons horns just for no reason, just because it’s, like, a silly, dumb thing you can do. So I just wanted to share that’s one of the things that’s like been bringing me joy here.

Caroline: Definitely. And I want you to know that it brings me immense joy to see you engaging in something that brings you immense joy. And I was really thinking about this and I think most people who have listened to the podcast for a while will know you’re not someone who I mean, besides cinnamon rolls, I can’t think of like too many things you get excited about.

Jason: Coffee. Coffee and cinnamon rolls.

Caroline: And coffee, yeah. You’re just not a person who’s easily excited. And this is great because my emotions are all over the map and yours are very…

Jason: Very level.

Caroline: Very low center of gravity.

Jason: I’m the dead sound in a movie. The beep. That’s my emotional level at all times.

Caroline: Yup.

Jason: The cinnamon rolls, boop. Coffee, boop. Breath of The Wild, boooop.

Caroline: But when you have something that you really love, it lights my heart up with happiness.

Jason: Yeah. And I mean, I also understand like this has been because we’re going to talk about relation to this whole episode. So we’ll just kind of like plop right in this real quick.

Caroline: Oh, plop right in.

Jason: It’s got to be a little bit difficult to be with someone when like you don’t know when I’m excited about something because I don’t have a level of excitement that you can really see.

Caroline: It’s why I always ask you.

Jason: Very rare when I’m visibly excited. And it’s because on the inside I don’t feel like visibly excited. This is probably a childhood coping mechanism dealing with things for sure. And I just like wall that off so I don’t show too much emotion. But also I do get excited about things. But I genuinely… it’s those three things. It’s like cinnamon rolls, coffee. But no, I think us going to like new restaurants and things and exploring Portugal and doing that.

Caroline: Yeah, I’ve gotten better at deducing when you’re engaged in an activity that you actually enjoy, but it takes some years to figure it out.

Jason: And I think it truthfully just is far and few between for me to get excited.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: Like, I like doing things. I’m not a grumpy person. It’s just more like, yeah, that was fine.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: Whatever. Anyway, was my little aside to our pramble, but our actual pramble today as of recording this, we have our very first…?

Caroline: Portuguese lesson.

Jason: We’re going to talk to a person.

Caroline: Portuguese language lesson.

Jason: Yeah, we’re going to talk to a person and we’re going to see how they help us learn Portuguese.

Caroline: We don’t know how it’s going to go. I’ve never done besides in school. I took Italian. I mean, I took Latin in high school. I took Italian in college. But those are the only two language learning environments I’ve ever been. I’ve never done like one on one. So I’m really excited. I’m mainly excited to learn pronunciation and ask questions. And I just think it will help me learn faster. And I think it will help me. I do think a little bit of that accountability of a school like environment will help me. I think it will be…

Jason: It’s going to be interesting for us because we’re doing it together to start and we’ll see how that goes. We learn very differently and also we study very differently, wherein you love to study and I hate it.

Caroline: I know.

Jason: I just don’t have any interest whatsoever, so I don’t want to do homework. I’m not putting this out into the world because I want it to happen. I could foresee me dropping off of the tutor and you keeping up with it. And then I just kind of go on my own path because it’ll just be too much friction between us of, like, you’re trying to get to a level and achieve and do things. And that’s kind of how you exist, which makes you feel good. That doesn’t make me feel good. It makes me feel like I’m being forced to do something I don’t want to do.

Caroline: Unless in Zelda, then you want to achieve.

Jason: If I could learn Portuguese by playing Breath of The Wild, I know I can change the language to it. Maybe I should do that because I know… I should do that.

Caroline: That’s a good idea.

Jason: But I think I have to change the entire language of the whole system. So then if I have to get into some menus, I’m going to have to do a lot of translating. I should do that.

Caroline: Yeah, that’s what I do now. When I do online shopping, I use the I don’t translate the page, which helps. Comprar. Buy.

Jason: Buy. Yeah. So, yeah. Portuguese Lessons. We’ll, next episode, let you know how…

Caroline: We’ll give you the update on that.

Jason: The first couple will be fine because we’ll both kind of be on the same playing field. Like, you know more words than…

Caroline: You think then I’ll pull away?

Jason: You know more words than I do. But you’re going to very quickly, I think, do homework and do things, and I’m going to be playing Breath of The Wild in Portuguese.

Caroline: Well, keep up, bruh.

Jason: I’ll be able to tell them what Mighty Porgy is, which is the fish in the game. You have on here fitness. What did you want to talk about with fitness?

Caroline: Oh, I just wanted to mention that we are getting back into our little fitness routine here, which feels really good. We’ve kind of settled into a routine. I don’t think I’ve said this, but in 2021, I set a goal of not hitting exercise, which meant exercising for ten minutes a day, and I’m trying to do that again in 2023. And so I have a little cycle studio downstairs. We have like a bonus room in the first floor, which is like…

Jason: Yeah, it feels like the basement, but it’s the first floor.

Caroline: It’s going to be like a combination art studio slash fart studio slash…

Jason: Flab.

Caroline: Flab. Not calling it the flab.

Jason: Just because it’s a funny way to say it.

Caroline: Which is the fart studio combined with the lab, which is what we call the gym. Anyway, you know we like to make up words.

Jason: Just silly words.

Caroline: So I’ve been doing that and then, like, once or twice a week, I go with you to the gym, like our neighborhood gym.

Jason: Yeah, and just to paint the picture for everybody, you have a stationary bike that’s like… it’s not a…

Caroline: Oh, no, it’s like a faux Peloton.

Jason: Yeah, it’s like faux. A Feloton.

Caroline: A Feloton.

Jason: You have some little workout floor pieces that we put together.

Caroline: And some free weights.

Jason: And like three different weights of free weights, right? So that’s it. That’s all that’s in…

Caroline: Yeah, so my studio, I’ll do usually either a cycle or I’ll do…

Jason: Through the Peloton app.

Caroline: Yes, I will use the Peloton app, which I love, and then if I don’t want to do that, then I’ll do a YouTube workout because we do have a TV down there. And I really like Sydney, formerly Cummings, now…? I love her workouts because they’re, like, tend to be full body strength workouts with some combination of HIIT and stuff. Anyway, this is getting so into the weeds. The point I wanted to make was, like, it feels really good and now getting back into a walking routine in the afternoon as well. It feels so good to rebuild this part of my daily routine that was really, really near impossible to keep consistent while we were traveling.

Jason: It was impossible. Yeah, it’s not near. It was.

Caroline: It’s such a reminder that moving my body and having some type of physical exercise every day is so crucial to my mental health. And I can feel the benefits already. So that’s very exciting. We also went to the store because after, like, 30 days of my all year challenge, I like to have little milestones and rewards. And so I rewarded myself with a couple of new workout outfits.

Jason: But they’re based on continuing the habit.

Caroline: Exactly. So this is like a tip that I learned is a great way to reward yourself when you’re starting a new habit, is to make sure that the reward actually reinforces the habit because that means you’re not just doing it to get the final thing, but you’re doing it to actually kind of, like level up within the habit itself. So, yeah, I got some new workout outfits and feels great.

Jason: Went to the Portuguese sporting goods store, Decathlon, which is not just in Portugal, it’s in a bunch of countries in Europe.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: Yeah. I think for fitness for me, too, it’s just been really helpful to have the gym that we can walk to that’s exactly seven minutes away unless I meet our…

Caroline: Fernandez and Nicki.

Jason: Fernandez and Nicki, our very, very… Think of the old man in Up. That is this man. But he speaks Portuguese. He is just wonderful and friendly and took me by surprise.

Caroline: He tends to his, like, crops in his little…

Jason: His little garden.

Caroline: His garden. Yeah.

Jason: But yeah, it was. He was so nice and so friendly. But yeah, I like doing that because it’s very grounding. It’s very centering. It’s very, like, helpful. I also. It’s so funny because my well worn brain of fitness and working out was like I remember going to the gym, like, every single day and working out for, like, an hour working out really hard and pushing myself. And still to this day that was, like, 20 years ago. Still to this day, I’ll be in the gym, and I’m like, I don’t need to work out that hard. I’m by myself. Like, what is going on? And I’ll get to, like, 25 minutes, and I’m tired, and I’ve done a bunch of stuff. I’ve barely taken any breaks. I’m like, I can leave. Like, I don’t have to stay here for 40 minutes.

Caroline: What a revelation.

Jason: But it’s just a funny thing that sticks in my brain. Yeah. So that’s the fitness update. And it’s just been nice to to get into a good routine.

Caroline: The weather’s been getting better here.

Jason: We’ve had a string of sunny days, a little chilly.

Caroline: Straight sunny days.

Jason: For those of you who are interested, knowing that we lived in Southern California before, if you knew that, then you knew that, and if you didn’t, now you know that. But the weather where we used to live, very, very comfortable. I’m talking about we are, like, five degrees Fahrenheit in difference between the days.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: So it gets a you know, it’s like, low 50s, mid 50s, high 50s throughout the quote unquote winter, and then overnight, it definitely gets colder. And then we’ve had a couple that have dropped down to, like, the 40s but that was the same in San Diego. So it’s extremely comparable. Last on our list in the preamble here. Finding some footing with the restaurants, shops, where we need things. Just kind of, like, grounding ourselves into our lives here by knowing, oh, let’s go grab a meal. And it’s just really easy because we can go to these five spots that are right around us.

Caroline: Yeah, we’re building our little go to restaurant list, which feels really good. We did have a snafu with an online because there’s, like, a couple of since our rental place is furnished, there’s a couple of pieces of furniture that would improve our lives, namely some stuff for my art studio downstairs because I don’t have a dedicated place to do art. And that’s the thing that brings me a lot of value and joy. And also a mirror. I really wanted a full length mirror for my little Flab. And we found this very cool, kind of, like, Scandinavian inspired online furniture store. Come to find out it’s actually in Spain, is where they’re based, but they do ship to Portugal. And we had seen a lot of mixed reviews online of people being like, I never got my stuff. And people being like, it came exactly as I thought. And we were just like, okay, maybe we’ll risk it.

Jason: Order one thing and risk it.

Caroline: We ordered a mirror, a full length mirror. And yeah, it was a fail. I was tracking the order every day, but the tracking updates were in Portuguese and so I wasn’t translating every single one of them. And I saw something that looked like phone number and I was like, oh, well, I didn’t get a phone call.

Jason: You added your phone number when you were checking out.

Caroline: And I can see on the tracking thing, it says my phone number. And so I’m like, well, they have the right phone number. They would have called me if there was a problem. Then finally I get an update in the thing. By the way, I’ve had no correspondence. No one has sent me. Like, I can’t get in touch with you. They have my email. It’s not like we couldn’t get to you or whatever. It’s me doing the diligence of checking the order updates. And finally it says, like, return to sender. I’m like, great. So come to find out, I think they formatted it wrong because I used my US number and I think they just tried to call, but it didn’t go through.

Jason: Should’ve used our burner.

Caroline: Should’ve used our burner number.

Jason: Should’ve used our Portuguese burner number that we got.

Caroline: So that was a fail. And I just think it’s probably not going to be worth it going forward to try to use that retailer. But these are kind of the things you have to figure out.

Jason: And it’s just like being for us, specifically back in the US, there are online retailers that we would have tried and like, you have a bad experience and you’re like, oh, I’m not going to use that again. It’s not limited to being in Portugal or in Europe or anywhere else. It’s just you find a place, and I think we’ve all been there, where you’re like, oh, this place has great prices. It’s got great selection. Like, things look good and you try and order it and it just doesn’t work out. You’re like, all right, well, I got to give up and find a place. The good news is there are plenty of other places we can try.

Caroline: Absolutely.

Jason: And there actually are a couple of local places that we can go to, but this one was just like the perfect vibe. Whereas, like, going to a local place, you don’t know exactly what’s going to be there.

Caroline: To my knowledge, so far, second hand furniture or thrift shops or things like that aren’t as prevalent as they are in the United States. I really wish there was, like a second hand furniture store where I could go look for just a desk or something.

Jason: It’s very interesting. We don’t seem to find any places to donate clothing or anything like that.

Caroline: Maybe I need to ask. Maybe I’ll ask. We have… with a Portuguese friend next week, so I’m going to ask.

Jason: Yeah, see if we can find out.

Caroline: What the deal is. And also, I do want to go to the flea market on saturday.

Jason: I know you do. Well, it’s been kind of rainy, but now that it’s been sunny for a good streak, we can make that happen.

Caroline: We can try to do that. Okay.

Jason: Yeah. All right, let’s get into the episode here. We are going to talk about our relationship. For those of you who maybe listen to our last episode about our relationship, I believe it was like, how do we fight? And we talked about the 4000 fights that we’ve had in that time, and our math was a little bit off on that because that would have been, I think, almost more days than we’ve been together. But we do have arguments. We do have tiffs. We do get into some things. And I think recently we’ve been noticing there’s been a little bit more tension. And so we’ve worked through some of it. We’re still working through it. But to bring you along on the journey to share.

Caroline: Exactly. And we really want the podcast episodes this year to kind of be taking you along for the ride of what are we working on each week, what’s the dominant kind of theme that emerges? And for us, last week, to be perfectly honest, it was a lot of relationship conversations. It was a lot of digging into what we feel, this tension in the air. We feel a weird energy and what’s going on, and this is what we do in our relationship. And so we wanted to bring that to the podcast very cautiously because it is fresh. But I think I feel confident enough in some of the solutions that we’ve come up with that we’ve worked through. And I don’t know about you, but I definitely can feel a change in energy this week.

Jason: I mean, I think as long as all of us who are on the podcast, I’m speaking to everybody who’s here on the podcast, is going to stick to the bullet points that were written, and everybody doesn’t stray from those. I think it’ll be helpful.

Caroline: It’ll be helpful.

Jason: Yeah. Also, if you’ll notice throughout this that I deflect with humor or I throw in jokes, this is just a way for me, especially in our relationship to arguments and tension, and things are going to come up. But it’s how I feel. Like, oh, it doesn’t have to be so rigid in these conversations. We can make it humorous and then we can also still work through it. Like, I’m not just deflecting with humor to not talk about it.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: I’m more trying to bring the temperature down, if you will.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: My humor is like an ice cube, and I’m just dropping an ice cube in the boiling water and, like, it’s not doing a lot, but it makes me feel better that I did something.

Caroline: Yeah. And I think that because our relationship was built on a basis of humor first and foremost from the very beginning.

Jason: Because we met at that improv group?

Caroline: Because I’m so good at improv?

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: I think that helps, because when you do that, I speak the language of humor as well. And so I like that because it does help us dig deeper. If we can kind of like cut the tension or cut the difficult emotions along the way, it allows us to stay in it longer and get to the bottom of things.

Jason: Hopefully this episode, especially if you have a spouse, have a partner, and you go through some tough times, like, maybe this will be something that might be helpful just in some of the points that we’ve identified that are helping us get through this.

Caroline: I also just think people don’t share their relationship challenges online a lot of times because it’s such a vulnerable thing, because you want to appear as this, like, united front. But what happens is then online and in social media or in podcast or whatever, you get this notion that everybody else’s relationship is perfect and yours is the only one that has challenges.

Jason: Definitely on Instagram and TikTok, I think they all are.

Caroline: I know.

Jason: That’s like the thing.

Caroline: And I just think that it’s a missed opportunity because, as we’ll discuss in this episode, there’s nothing wrong with going through growing pains or going through seasons of your relationship where you have in fact, I think you have to dig in because as a person, you’re changing. And so if you don’t dig in and go, oh, this thing is no longer feeling really good in this way, let’s explore why so that we can grow together instead of apart. If you’re never digging into those things, I think that is a recipe for growing apart really quickly. So I just want to normalize that with this conversation and share some practical ways that I know are going to be hyper specific to our situation and who we are as two people. But my hope is that if you’re listening to this, you can run it through the filter of your own relationship and maybe find some things that are helpful.

Jason: I mean, I think the fact that we have a podcast and we’re talking about it means we’re experts. I think that’s how it works, actually.

Caroline: Absolutely. Relationship experts. So where did this all start? So I just want to set the scene a little bit. So, as you know, if you listen to our Goals episode, we have a lot of things that we want to accomplish this year for Wandering Aimfully and we’re working more in the first two weeks of the year than I personally am working more in the first two weeks of the year than I was able to work all of last year while we were traveling.

Jason: I think in the first month of 2023, you will have worked more hours than you did all of 2022.

Caroline: That might be.

Jason: Not including coaching sessions.

Caroline: Not including coaching sessions.

Jason: So if you just remove our monthly coaching session, like one month, you’re able to do more than you were last year. And that’s not a criticism.

Caroline: No. That’s a reality.

Jason: A reality of bandwidth and time and mental…

Caroline: Yeah, and so what was happening was we were collaborating more than ever and sliding back into this new phase of our life, living here in Portugal, and how are we working and these new goals. And we just felt this tension emerge quite a bit on some innocuous conversation kind of turns into, oh, well, you this. And by the way, if you listen to our episode about how we fight, we don’t raise our voices, we don’t have knock down, drag out fights. That’s not our thing. But our thing is we can find ourselves in situations where one person is being short with the other person, or one person is bringing in maybe…

Jason: Something completely unrelated.

Caroline: Remnants of other conversations. And it can get to… I think the dominant feeling would be frustration. We get frustrated with each other. And so we were realizing that and so we were just like, okay, where is this coming from? That’s always our go to. Once we have one to two to three of those little moments where it’s just we’re frustrated with each other, it’s kind of like we both look at each other like, oh shit, we have to talk about this, don’t we? Like, this is coming from somewhere else. And so what we realized is that a lot of things have shifted since we stopped traveling. And we can’t just operate with the mentality that we’ve been working. Just like there was a transition period when we started traveling. If you remember, like in Ireland, we had a lot of these hard conversations because the same thing was happening, like we were going through a different season and so we needed to change the way that we related to each other. So we kind of just realized, like, oh, we haven’t had any of those big conversations. So we did. And if I had to summarize, kind of like, what the problem… the root cause of this frustration and tension was, I think it comes down to two things we kind of determined. So the first one would be we’re emerging from a very kind of tumultuous few years in the story of our relationship being 2019 is when I have my terrible anxiety issues. I can’t work for six months. Jason carries the team. 2020 hits. We lose Plax. The pandemic hits.

Jason: Plax is our dog, by the way.

Caroline: We lose Plax at the beginning of 2020. The pandemic hits. Then I’m still trying to rebuild my mental health, but then I’m easing back into work. Then we’re working, but there’s all the stresses of the pandemic as everyone navigated that in their own ways. Then we decided we wanted to do this adventure, travel, which is so exciting, but also really hard for a number of reasons. And so it’s a lot of change and it’s a lot of challenges. And so now we’re feeling settled again, but we haven’t sort of like, unpacked all of the baggage that we picked up along the way of the past few years. And so we can both feel this seeds of resentment being planted which we’ll get into of what those resentments are. And I think that one of the most toxic things for our relationship is resentment. And so we just need to nip that in the bud. So that’s one is this seeds of resentment about the balance of responsibilities in our life and work and recalibrating that. And then the second kind of root cause I think is this big internal shift that I’m personally having in my life because I feel more capable than I have in the past five years. My anxiety levels are much lower. I feel much more myself. I feel able to do more things. And so I’m trying to rewrite the story of the past five years for myself about my capability and my capacity and give more to our relationship. But that internal identity shift is not always yet being reflected in our relationship. As much as I would like it to be like an overnight shift, it’s not going to be which we’ll talk about. And so I’m feeling like that’s an insecurity point. Jason will say something that’s completely innocuous, but my brain interprets it as oh, he’s perceiving me as that old version of myself who does not have as much of a capability, who does not have as much capacity. And that makes me feel hurt because I want to step into this new version of myself. And so those are kind of the two core problems that we keep running up against. And now I want to get into the solutions because as we talk through the solutions, I think you’ll be able to better understand those problems.

Jason: Yeah, I’m ready, let’s keep going. Okay, I’m sticking to the bullets, so I’ll throw in jokes where I can, but…

Caroline: You’re doing a great job.

Jason: And I’m not doing that because I don’t want to expand on what you’re saying. I’m doing it because I think we want this episode to be more helpful. And actually this is again something that we’re currently working through. So I don’t want to just be a silly idiot through the whole thing, I’ll just be a silly through parts of it.

Caroline: Okay, great. So let’s talk solutions to those two kind of main sticking points. The first one, that was a huge AHA moment for me. I don’t know about you, but I remember it was the conversation we had right here.

Jason: Yeah, you’re pointing on our couch.

Caroline: Our couch late at night. And it’s when I realized that we have both been viewing the story of the past four years through our own individual lenses. And each of those individual lenses and stories can lead to resentment. And it made me realize that we need to change the story that we’re both writing in our minds about what the four, past four or five years have meant. And so what I mean by that is I’ve been telling myself this individual story about which you know is true, because both of our stories are true, but not always helpful. So my individual story was about how hard the past four years have been for me personally in my battle with mental health and anxiety. And when I tell you that 2019 was the scariest, darkest thing I’ve ever experienced as an adult, it was so hard. And so I have had to claw my way back to being a quote unquote normal person, but like, a version of myself that felt normal, who was not consumed by the physical sensations of anxiety and some other health challenges that came along with that. And I’ve had to claw myself back to what is now a capable person. And that has been incredibly difficult and has taken incredible amounts of focus and energy and work and inner work and therapy and all these things, right? And so I feel so proud of myself for that journey that I’ve been on. And there are so many positives I can see, and I feel like I’m now at a place where I can contribute to us, but that’s been an inside thing. And so Jace can’t… all he can see is like, yeah, I have my wife back. Cool. Amazing. But he doesn’t see all of that story, right? And so sometimes my story can become resentment because it goes, oh, you don’t know how hard I’ve had to work. You don’t see all the effort. You just look probably from the outside and say, like, oh, she wasn’t able to really contribute to…

Jason: Yeah, had a good day today. Had a bad day today. I was able to do some stuff today. Wasn’t able to do anything today. That’s how I see it.

Caroline: Exactly. So that’s my individual story and then your individual story, which I don’t want to say that for you.

Jason: Well, yeah, and also, like, jeez, give me some time on the mic is the last few years for me while you were in that journey. And this is again, we’re just sharing the thoughts and the things that we feel. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right way to feel or not, but it’s how we felt. It’s like it’s impossible for the other person who’s struggling to know how hard it is for the person who’s not struggling to feel completely out of control and helpless as well. And again, it’s not a comparison. It’s just it’s very difficult on a day when you can’t get out of bed and you just feel like darkness is surrounding you in some way. And I’m like, I don’t know how to help. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. I can only clean so many things in our house to assert control over things. And so that’s what I’ve been doing. And so, for the past couple of years, the burden that I felt like I was carrying was keeping our lives going, keeping our businesses afloat, doing all the daily tasks that it takes that, in a relationship, it’s nice to have those tasks divvied up between two people. And then what happens is that as I became the person who took those things on because someone had to, it just became all of my responsibility. And so it’s like, you don’t know all the things that I’m doing on a day to day basis just in, like, communicating with people, taking care of customers, taking care of these bills, all this different stuff.

Caroline: And that ticker that runs in your mind, 25/7, right?

Jason: Yeah, for sure, because it’s just like, you’re always thinking of, oh, we ran out of rent aid. I got to go to the grocery store. I got to get that. Oh, does Carol need anything from the grocery store? Oh, while I’m out, I should go get this done. Blah, blah, blah. I think that for us, what we realized was, like, even though we’ve had discussions about this, I think 2022 and traveling for the full year was almost like we jumped to a different side quest, to bring Zelda into this, and we weren’t focusing on the main quest of our relationship.

Caroline: Yeah. We didn’t have to confront some of these things.

Jason: No, we just teleported to literally and physically teleported to a different place, surrounded ourselves with a bunch of different distractions.

Caroline: And all of these, like, distracting challenges, because traveling was challenging in itself, but it was totally different set of challenges that we could just ignore the other ones. And so what I realized in that this conversation, because this comes up so often, is going back to this idea of seeds of resentment. Inevitably our conversation will somehow land on, like, you don’t know how hard the hard battles that I’ve been fighting for my mental health. And it’s sort of like, you don’t from your perspective, you don’t know how hard it is to keep the the wheels on the wagon.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: And, like, literally, if I could tell you 95% of our frustrations and arguments come back to those two things.

Jason: What do you think the other 5% is?

Caroline: Differences in snack request.

Jason: I think it’s in the equal amount of snacks. Like, if I go in the kitchen to snack, you could have just eaten a meal.

Caroline: Doesn’t matter.

Jason: But you’re like, Are you getting a snack for everybody?

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: I’m like, you just ate. You don’t need a snack. And you’re like, but you’re snacking. I’m like, yeah, but there’s only one serving left of this chip or whatever, and you’re like, It doesn’t matter. I need a snack as well.

Caroline: I think that this is a very clever tactic of you to say that I’m maybe the the real snack fairness person.

Jason: That’s what I’ve heard.

Caroline: Out of the two of us, who do you think is more snack driven?

Jason: That’s what I’ve heard.

Caroline: Yeah, exactly.

Jason: I’ve heard rumors.

Caroline: Mr. Cinnamon roll.

Jason: That people call you Snack Queen around here.

Caroline: I am the Snack Queen, and I wear that title proudly.

Jason: I eat so much more food. It’s not even close.

Caroline: I know you do. I know. But that’s okay. No, exactly. And so that’s 95% of our fights come down to that. And so what I realized was, like, this is not getting us anywhere. This is not getting us anywhere because the truth of the matter is you will never know the battles that I fought, and I will never know how hard it was for you to keep the wheels on the wagon. And so every moment that we spend not accepting that fact is like, it’s a resentment that’s only going to grow and that can never be solved. And so we both go, okay, how can we change this? What can we do? And I think what I realized is we need to change the way that we view the last four years and try to think of it less from an individual lens and more from a team lens, because I do believe that at our core, we are a team. And this is one of the benefits of working together and living together and doing all these things together is, like, you have a lot of evidence to show that you are a team. And so I kind of said, okay, well, what if we both work to, in our minds, rewrite the story of the past few years to be more of, like, as a team, we had to fight some really hard battles, and we were both playing on hard mode, both of us, in different individual ways. And it’s not worth comparing or saying one over the other or, you don’t know this, and I was fighting harder. It’s not about that. It’s about viewing, again, the last few years through the lens of a team and saying, man, that was really tough. But we got through it, and we were, as a team, able to get back to a place where we feel capable as a team, get back to a place where we can now balance the roles and responsibilities better as a team. We made some incredible memories throughout that. We grew our business throughout that and like, wow, what an incredible team we are. And so I think every time in the future, I notice myself drifting towards that resentment of, like, wow, he doesn’t know how hard I tried. I’m just going to remind myself it’s not about that because he was fighting a hard battle, too, and I’m just going to try to bring my thoughts back to that team mentality.

Jason: Yeah. So that’s number one on how we’re working through this, which is rewriting old stories. Number two is…

Caroline: Wait, can I just have, like, a guiding question?

Jason: Oh, sure.

Caroline: For that person.

Jason: Just so you’re aware.

Caroline: That’s not on the list.

Jason: There’s no guiding question to wrap up this section.

Caroline: I know. I’m aware.

Jason: So I want you to know that I was actually correct in transitioning to the second topic.

Caroline: You absolutely were.

Jason: To keep this moving forward.

Caroline: You’ve done a great job.

Jason: As I’ve done for all of our relationship. I’m just kidding. See? There we go. Go ahead.

Caroline: I wish you could see the look on my face from, like, Jason, we just tried to tell everyone that we’re working on this.

Jason: But I have to joke about it.

Caroline: I understand.

Jason: Okay, great. Do you need a snack?

Caroline: The guiding question that I would like just to help people apply this to their own circumstances is what is maybe some story that you have written about the past few years in your relationship, in your partnership, or even if you just want to apply this to yourself, that you feel like is actually keeping you stuck and is maybe planting seeds of resentment with yourself or with your partner? And what is a way that you can transform that thought in a way that feels not so…?

Jason: Yeah, and I think the guiding phrase, I think it’s Brene Brown. “The story that I’m telling myself is…” That phrase for me is actually really helpful because it lessens the blow of when Caroline brings something to me that might feel like a criticism of me, but it’s actually not a criticism of me. It’s she’s feeling this way inside, and then I get to respond to how she’s feeling inside, not as a jab at something that I might be doing. And so I think just if you’re in a partnership or…

Caroline: Meaning, when I come to you and I say, okay, the story that I’m telling myself about…

Jason: The situation is…

Caroline: The situation is, right.

Jason: It’s just very helpful, at least for my brain to not feel criticized and immediately into defensive mode.

Caroline: Right. Because also, I think what you’re doing when you say those words is you’re communicating to the other person that you’re aware that you’re not bringing to them what is, quote unquote, objective reality. What you’re bringing to them is your perception, and you’re open to that being shifted. And I think that helps the other person not be so defensive.

Jason: That would be your subjective reality.

Caroline: Great.

Jason: Point number two, having compassion for the reasons behind the other person’s particularities. So we, as many of you may know, you’ve listened to this podcast for a while. We’re very different people. We operate on two very different emotional spectrums. We operate on two very different, I think, organizational spectrums. And so one of the things for me that I have realized, especially now, as we’ve moved into a new home. We’re starting to have things again. They’re completely new things. They’re completely new ways of doing things. They’re new places of doing things. It’s a mental need to organize things in a certain way so that it makes my brain feel good.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: And I’ve tried to explain this now that I’m starting to notice it more and pay attention to more because I think in our previous homes, what we did is we moved from Florida to California in 2015. We started over with stuff, but we had another couple that we lived with, so I didn’t really have these many particularities because there were too many people to be particular with. So I couldn’t have too many of them, if that makes sense. I still had some.

Caroline: I think maybe that, babe, but I…

Jason: No, I was just saying… just let me finish.

Caroline: Oh, sure.

Jason: Like you would agree that when we moved to California, so then we moved into our own place and then we started to accrue some of our own stuff. But then we moved from that place to another place, then we moved to another place. And I still had particularities, but I don’t think it was as much because I just feel like I didn’t have a clean slate to start with. It was like I was always kind of carrying things forward. Whereas when we started here, it was like a clean slate. And I didn’t want to mess it up because I think where my brain was. And so as we would start to do things and put things places, my brain would have this, like, buzzing if things weren’t in those places, because I’m like, don’t mess this place up. Like this is our first new place in a while that I actually feel like we’re like starting fresh with.

Caroline: Yeah, I think a couple of things there. Just to further define because people are like what do you mean particularities? When we use that umbrella phrase, we’re just referring to like this goes here. I’ve organized our utensil drawer in this way and I feel really good when this is in this particular spot and there’s like a million things like that. There’s a right way to take out the trash, there’s a right way to organize your closet. And so I think and sorry, going back to what I was saying about the thing of I truly believe digging into this, that there is some I think this is a coping mechanism, we’ve talked about this, that your brain is doing to compensate for some lack of control or something like that. Not to overly diagnose, but I just think what I know about psychology is like that is probably what’s happening, right? Is that your brain is feeling a sense of chaos or a lack of control and it’s trying to assert that control. And so for a long, and what I’m saying is I think that because of what we’ve been through the past few years, I think there is part of it is like renting a new house, but just comparing it to how the lack of particularities that you had when we lived in the first house in California is very interesting to me. That’s all. Because more has happened to feel out of control in the past few years, do you know what I mean?

Jason: Oh, for sure, yeah. I think that was part of what I was saying too was like I’m more particular now than I was then. That was, like, my whole point.

Caroline: Totally. But the way in which you were sharing that, which I think there’s so much truth to that, is about the environment itself. And the point that I’m trying to make is that it could also just totally be emotional needs underneath, which brings me to “yes and.”

Jason: Is what we say at improv, as you know.

Caroline: Because we met in the improv group.

Jason: Yes.

Caroline: Which was called…?

Jason: Wagon wheels because I was keeping the wheels on the wagon.

Caroline: That’s right. That’s right.

Jason: That’s…

Caroline: No, thank you. Thank you so much. I have thoughts. So what I realized and this was, like, a really important thing for me, because oftentimes what can happen is, like, Jason has a way that he wants to, like, organize this or organize that or do this.

Jason: Sorry. As we’ve talked about, I typically, in the especially the past four years, have taken on the majority of the domestic roles, and I think actually just like, in our entire relationship. And that’s not actually because it’s ever been an agreement. It’s just because I naturally gravitate towards doing them, and I don’t mind doing them.

Caroline: Yeah. I think it’s a couple of things. I think it’s when I moved in with you, it was your house.

Jason: Right.

Caroline: I was 21. You were 26 or 27.

Jason: Sure.

Caroline: And so you had already established this adult life, and so I was kind of deferring to the household that you had set up.

Jason: To the adult.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: Which sounds weird, but that’s fine.

Caroline: I think it was 22 when we moved in, actually, so 22. 27.

Jason: Sure.

Caroline: And so I’m adapting to your adult life that you’ve set up. And so then I just sort of deferred to you with everything, and then things happen, and shit hits the fan and whatever. But this is what can happen, is you fade into these roles without ever questioning, is that the way that you want it to be in your relationship?

Jason: Right.

Caroline: But as far as your particularities, what’s hard for me is that especially now in this transition, where I’m trying to shift into, I now have more capacity. I can take on more of the roles. I want to shift the balance. What can happen is, in trying to take things off of your plate and put them onto mine, I suddenly find out that there’s a right way and there’s a wrong way, according to your brain. And so I can very quickly feel like, oh, I’m not doing this in the right way, or I’m not enough. It can very quickly get to that story of, like, I am not enough because I don’t do this right, or I don’t do that right. And so that’s my insecurity that comes to the table. And it’s a frustration that sometimes can feel like Jason has this particularity for no reason. It feels arbitrary, but in sitting down with you, what I’ve come to understand is that I haven’t been giving enough weight to the fact that it is actually, I think, an emotional we’ve been calling it as an organization. It’s an environmental need that you have. And when you view it through that lens, when you explain to me the way that it makes your brain buzz when something is not in place, I go, well, that’s a shitty way to feel like, that’s like me and my anxiety, right? And so I start to understand that if it is a coping mechanism that your brain has chosen in order to make you feel like you have made sense of the world and to make you feel like you can move about your day in a much more peaceful way, well, then it becomes an act of love for me to try to understand that and dig deeper into understanding. Why is it, then, when I’m unloading the dishwasher and I’m putting the wooden spoon in the place that I know you love the wooden spoon to be, to me, that’s an act of love. That’s me saying, I want your life to be easier. I want your brain to feel better. And framing it in that way, for me, has taken the story around it away from I’m not enough, I’m not doing this right to I’m showing up for my partner in a way that is putting his needs in my mind and just trying that little extra bit harder.

Jason: Yeah. Which is the same way like when you were going through your anxiety journey in 2019 and even the years after. I just had to learn how to respond to certain things in a better way to support you in those moments.

Caroline: Right.

Jason: I can be my normal, goofy self 90% of the time, but if you’re having a tough anxiety go, I have to be a different version of myself to make you feel better. And I’m doing it because I love you and I care about you. Not because I feel like I have to change who I am, but because I know in doing that, it’ll make you feel better.

Caroline: Exactly. And so I do think that especially I think there’s also this other complicated bit of it, which there was this part of me that was really railing against some of these particularities.

Jason: Putting the wooden spoon in the right spot?

Caroline: Yeah, because also, I don’t know, there is this narrative of you making rules for our household, and there’s this story in my head about this patriarchal way of like, oh, it’s just like your rules and I have to live by them or whatever. But when I bring all of that baggage to it, it kind of obscures what’s really happening, which is just that you have actually an emotional need, and I want to serve that need. And so it’s not about arbitrary rules and trying to live in a house by your rules.

Jason: Yeah. And also, I think what’s interesting in this is I hope it’s clear that I’ve never given you a set of rules or a way to do things.

Caroline: Totally. It’s never… You’ve been like, hey.

Jason: Yeah, when you do the dishes, you needed it like… never in our lives, ever. It’s just that I would go and move things around, you know what I mean? And it’s not like I wouldn’t do it in front of you to make you feel bad. It’s just like the next morning, I would just move the knives to the different spot, or I’d move the wooden spoon to the different spot, and there comes, I think, in enough time, where that then does become a resentment because it’s like, why can’t you just do it in a way that makes my brain happy? Not in a way that you have to do it. It’s just, again, it’s like the particularity of the organizational and environmental needs that make me feel in control and good is all we’re trying to help out with in this moment.

Caroline: Yeah. And it’s all like a compromise too, right? It is some version of it’s not me just always deferring and going, well, then I’m going to do everything the way that your brain wants to do it, but it’s about loving you enough to go, I want to try. And then it’s also about you loving me enough to go, and I’m going to try to loosen some of those reigns.

Jason: Totally. And I think that, like, that’s a big part of this year for me and what I’m working on is you’re trying to be and you are being more capable. And so I have to be okay with the fact that you trying and doing something is like anything else in life. You’re never going to do it the way that maybe I would do it right out of the gate. It’s like you have to train your own neural pathways to be like, okay, this goes here, and why does this go here? It’s not just because I want to make Jason feel, but it’s like, oh, it actually makes sense because this is a lesser used utensil and it takes up space in the main utensil drawer where, like, the functional things that we should use every day.

Caroline: And for you, it’s like, do I want to share this burden with someone? Or do I want everything to be done perfectly because I can’t have it both ways?

Jason: Yeah, exactly.

Caroline: You can’t be like, oh, I wish that the roles and responsibilities were more balanced, and then also go, yeah, but it has to all be done the way that I would do it to a tee, because that’s not the way that it’s going to work. I’m never going to be able to do it the way you want to do it.

Jason: I want an organized, neat and tidy home and life, but I also don’t want to be obsessive about it. I think that’s the thing that I’m all trying to realize, like, oh, I get to a place where I go and I check something more than I need to and I’m like, I don’t need to check that. It’s fine if the wooden spoon is not in the drawer. It’s fine. It’s going to be okay. Anyway, let’s move forward because I just want to make a note for us as we’re recording this. Like we’re trying to be done in a certain amount of time and we need to pick up the pace a little bit. But hopefully you’re enjoying this, listening to this.

Caroline: Therapy session, group therapy session. Okay. So that’s one thing. It’s just kind of reframing the other person’s particularities and understanding the deeper need behind it. So I guess the guiding question for you would be: if there are some of these little, like we call them roommate problems of living with another person, can you dig deeper and understand why maybe that person has a specific way that they want to do something?

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: And then have a conversation about it. So, number three, I think the thing that is going to help us is also not letting our frustration about our individual tasks turn into resentment. And so this is shifting from not just balancing life duties, but this is more about balancing work duties. So I don’t know if you have heard of this, you listening have heard of this book called Fair Play by Eve Rodsky. But I came across it, I think like a year ago or so, maybe six months ago, and it’s all about this card game where you take all of the kind of domestic chores that it takes to run a household and you divvy them out to each partner. Not an equal number of cards, but in a way that feels fair.

Jason: Yeah. In a way that you both agree is equal.

Caroline: Is equal. Yeah.

Jason: So it’s like one person could have 25 cards and one person could have ten cards, but as long as you both agree, like, this is fine.

Caroline: This feels fair.

Jason: This feels fair.

Caroline: Yeah. And so we did that, but actually it was much easier to do it for our life.

Jason: Yeah. What’s interesting about the domestic side of our life is like, it really doesn’t affect me that I do more of the domestic things. If anything, it was just you wanted to take on more of those things to show that you were capable. And that was a way in our relationship because I already believe that we’re equal in work and I don’t see any discrepancies there, but we’ll get into more of that. But in life stuff, it’s just a truth in our lives. The domestic stuff, I take on more. And so I think in doing this fair play, I don’t know what the number was that we ended up like, I still have more tasks, but it was actually uncomfortable for me to give up some of the tasks.

Caroline: Which is interesting.

Jason: Yeah, for sure, because I’m like, I really like the trash being taken out a certain way, which sounds so stupid and I know for many of you listen to this, you’re like, what a dumb thing to obsess about. But I do think that there are going to be a good portion of you who are in relationships where one person is way more particular. And so I think this has been really helpful, helpful for us, just in the short term, and I’m very curious to see how it goes in the long term if it does help my brain release some of those things that I’m trying to control because taking out the trash a certain way really means nothing. It’s stupid. And like, my brain made up a way that it’s supposed to do it and that doesn’t have to be done that way.

Caroline: But what it represents is control.

Jason: Yeah, for sure. And I do think that just to give myself one small iota of credit, is that because my brain is so efficiently wired, I think I do figure out ways to do things efficiently.

Caroline: You would think that, wouldn’t you?

Jason: Now, granted, I don’t know what that means in the grand scheme of life. What am I saving? Five minutes a month?

Caroline: I’m just kidding. No, that is what actually makes it ten times harder is that your ideas for all of these things are very good ideas. You know what I mean? So that’s what actually makes it hard because you’re so good at it that it’s easier to defer to you.

Jason: Right, but I’m even saying for myself, but to what end? What am I really saving?

Caroline: Exactly.

Jason: In the grand scheme of life, like, if I counted this up, like twelve minutes a month?

Caroline: Right.

Jason: I guess I wouldn’t mind having twelve extra minutes a month. But does that really matter?

Caroline: Well, yeah, that’s a good thing that we always circle back on with your efficiency brain. It’s like the time that we about grabbing the mail on the way in and you were like so…

Jason: Yeah, it frustrated me because…

Caroline: It threw you off.

Jason: Because it’s not my route.

Caroline: It’s not your route. It literally was like a game character who had to go off their route and it really fried your brain. And again, that’s where I go, oh, I know why that was frustrating to him. And it’s because this is how his brain works. It is soothed by a very efficient route.

Jason: It was one minute of extra walking to get the key to go to the thing. And it literally froze my brain. It was like, no, this is not the plan. The plan was we go through the other door, we do the thing, we take our shoes off, we get the thing, we get in the shower like, no, I’m not going to get the… refuse to get it. Anyway.

Caroline: So moving on to fair play. We had the bright idea to do this for work as well and to kind of write down all of the tasks for work. And so I think what we realized in doing that, that was actually a really good exercise because it showed me a couple of things about our work lives that I didn’t necessarily know before, which were that Jason does a lot more things. And it’s because the things that he does are extremely operational. And so he’s always multitasking like a million very important…

Jason: Small things.

Caroline: But small things.

Jason: That don’t take much work. They take, like, seven minutes of work here, ten minutes of work here, 30 minutes of work there.

Caroline: Right. And then my plate is much more full of things that are the deep creative work, the design projects, the writing projects, the coaching projects. Right. And so it looks like I’m doing less because the amount of things I’m doing is less, but the depth of those things is greater. And then he’s like, yeah, but I don’t even clue you in on 85% of these things that I’m doing any given day.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: And what so that was the first realization to go, oh, I see. And this is also why it’s more frustrating to me when things get off track, because it’s a lot harder to move like a big boulder of a project task than it is to shift around twelve different smaller tasks throughout the day. And so Jason can be more efficient with his time because he has more blocks to rearrange. I have these big blocks that are it’s much harder to get in and out of, right? So that’s the first thing. The second thing is realizing that we do this thing where, because we operate in these, like, silos, we, like, have a very divide and conquer type of approach which allows us to get so much done, which is great. But Jason will have all of this battle that he’s fought with all of these very annoying tasks and he’ll be frustrated because a lot of the things that he has to do are frustrating. And then I think because it goes back to the resentment thing, where you feel like the other person doesn’t see or acknowledge how much work or battle that you’ve fought, I feel like your frustration with the tasks then gets funneled towards me because I don’t have to do that, right?

Jason: Right.

Caroline: And same with me. I get frustrated because I’ve done this big task that just seems like design the new dashboard. It’s like, I have to do the design research, I have to learn this new thing in Figma, I have to do this, I have to redesign this. And it’s like, I fought this entire battle and made all these decisions, and then I get frustrated, and I funnel that towards you because you didn’t have to fight those battles. And so, again, it’s the toxic resentment, and it’s only because the other person isn’t aware of and can’t possibly acknowledge the hardship that you’ve had to endure with your silo because they don’t know.

Jason: Yeah, exactly.

Caroline: So we’re trying a new thing with that. What are we trying, Jason?

Jason: We’re trying what’s called venti latte. And there’s not a Starbucks near us. So this is our own venti latte that we’ll be making. And what we’re going to do is, I think on Fridays when we do our weekly meeting for Teachery is kind of right after that because honestly, a lot of the frustrations for me end up being from Teachery-related things. And that’s not because I don’t like Teachery. It’s because it’s so much harder to work on and you have so many more things to frustrate you because you can’t do everything you want. And so when you’re designing a website, you can do whatever you want. Especially nowadays, it’s very easy to accomplish your exact goals. When you’re building a software product and you’re dealing with customers, things go wrong, you can’t control them, and it’s just as frustrating. So, yeah, every week, I think we’re going to do like a 30 minutes. And it’s not for the other person to accept that frustration in any way. It’s just to be there, to be like, yeah, that sucks. So for me, as an example, today, I had to manually fix 18 customer payments through our WordPress plugin, then through Stripe, then through resending the webhook.

Caroline: So frustrating.

Jason: Then through updating the Notion database, and then double checking it in our payment log.

Caroline: It’s tedious, right? And you’re like…

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: And it’s totally a derailment of what you thought you were going to be doing today.

Jason: And it’s out of my it’s out of my control. I didn’t do anything wrong. The plugin did something wrong and they didn’t take ownership of it. So that’s frustrating too. So it’s just like all those different pieces.

Caroline: Yeah. And those are things that I would never know, right? And so the whole idea of venti latte is like just vent a lot, but it’s defining this almost like invisible circle outside of both of us where we can dump those things so that they don’t get dumped onto the other person. They don’t get funneled towards the other person. It’s like, let’s expel this energy outside of ourselves, but not at the other person. Let’s both agree that it all belongs in this other little toxic waste dump.

Jason: Exactly. In the venti latte.

Caroline: So that’s what we’re going to try. And we think that might help with just feeling like overall our roles and responsibilities are fair because part of what feels unfair is when your invisible work is not being acknowledged and seen. And so when you feel like the things that you’re doing are seen, it’s a lot easier to feel like, happy with…

Jason: The other parameter for venti latte, in case you’re going to try this, I don’t know if you have a guiding question for them for this one, because it’s not a bullet point is if you’re going to try this, the parameter that I also wanted to set up was it’s not on the other person to criticize the person bringing it up of like, well, why did you do it that way? That’s what I don’t want. And that’s why I don’t actually share a lot of these little things because…

Caroline: Or even come with solutions.

Jason: Yeah. I don’t want you to be like, well, why don’t we look for another membership plugin? And I’m like, because I don’t want to think about moving 1017 customers over.

Caroline: The important part of that space is defining, like it’s a time for this and a time not for this.

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: So that’s actually not a brainstorm space. It’s not a fix this space. It’s like a listen space.

Jason: Yeah, just let’s sip our venti lattes.

Caroline: Let’s sip our venti lattes and just chat. Okay, moving on. We have two more. So can you tell we just love when talking about our feelings? But honestly, this is the work of…

Jason: Yeah, I think it’s helpful even for someone like me who doesn’t like talking about feelings. You get in and you do this and it does feel better and it does remove some of the tension in the air. It helps to cut through and give some guiding ways to work through that and then the next time it happens.

Caroline: And I feel like all these things end up feeling like you’re taking one step backward to take twelve steps forward.

Jason: Also, did you mention the Fair Play book and the author’s name?

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: Just want to make sure. Eve Radsky, Fair Play, if you want to look it up.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: Just want to remind.

Caroline: Okay, so number four kind of solution that we’re going to try is just going back to what I said before. It’s about being more intentional about communicating any types of shifts in your own individual perception you’re trying to make so that the other person is aware of that. So if you have this fresh new thing for 2023 that you really want to change about yourself, that you want to work on, that you want to evolve, clue your partner in on that because if you don’t, you’re going to be operating from this new space and your partner is inevitably going to say something that triggers an insecurity or a past version of yourself or something that you’re trying to move away from and that’s going to cause conflict.

Jason: Yeah. And you’re thinking about that shift as the person who’s shifting, every minute, every hour, every day.

Caroline: Right.

Jason: Whereas the other person is like, oh yeah, I thought I heard you say you’re doing this. And you’re like, what do you mean? I do this every single day.

Caroline: So this was a big thing that we had to come to because if you go back to our 2023 Goals episode, I talked about how I really wanted to prioritize our relationship for this year, which I think is why some of these conversations are coming out, because it’s just so top of mind for me is like, I want to get all of this stuff ironed out so we can be good.

Jason: Stop stealing the snacks then. We’ll be good if you stop stealing snacks.

Caroline: But one of those things is, like, I was really, especially for the first two weeks of the year, being extremely intentional every day about just like that was any extra effort or capacity that I had beyond my own things that I’m working on was trying to go towards, again, this shift that I’m trying to make where I’m relieving Jason of all of these things that he’s had to do the past couple of years to take some of that off his plate, to share that burden more fairly. And and in doing so, building my own confidence in the process because I also don’t want to live my life as a 34 year old adult who feels like I can’t run a household too.

Jason: Not that you can’t.

Caroline: Not that I can’t, but it’s just about taking ownership of things and feeling that builds confidence. And so I literally was just like putting so much mental effort towards, like, okay, some of those things that don’t come to me naturally, right? Like, oh, all these little running tickers that Jason has in his head all the time about like, before I leave the sink, like cleaning out the sink so that it doesn’t have goop in it. It’s like silly stuff like that. But it’s a million of those little things that I was trying to be top of mind. So that to really kind of shift that perception of, okay, I’m someone who thinks about Jason and thinks about the other person and what would make his brain feel good. But the problem is that in not really communicating that effectively to Jason that that was my intention, it’s like unintentionally, I was setting you up for this test that you were only going to fail.

Jason: Always, for relationships.

Caroline: The tests are never and again, this was unconsciously, but it’s like I wanted him to notice. You know what I mean? And in doing that, are you really doing it for yourself? Or are you then doing it because you want to be acknowledged? And I don’t know, there’s a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B because anybody who’s putting effort towards a relationship wants to have that scene, right? But after these two weeks, we were having these conversations and I just was like it was becoming very clear to me that the presence of all of these extra things that I was doing, because those were things Jason was already normally doing, it didn’t really register to him that those things were being done by me.

Jason: Yeah. And it’s also for me, it was like a time thing. I was like, well, I think I just need more time of you doing these things for me to realize that I’m not doing them, if that makes sense. It’s weird. It’s just like because I’ve done them for longer and again, not trying to compare time, but just trying to explain how time feels to me in that.

Caroline: Right. It’s like, for me, I’m like, oh, I took out the trash twice, and that hasn’t been me. It’s that in a long line of like, okay, it’s taking out the trash. It’s cleaning up after myself. It’s like vacuuming the hair from the floor. It’s like doing all of these little things around the house where I’m like, oh, he’s going to feel so good that, wow, this is our new reality where he doesn’t have to do all these things himself. We’re sharing the burden. And to him, it’s like, I took out the trash twice.

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: And that’s not a huge relief off his shoulders.

Jason: No. And so, yeah.

Caroline: Because he’s been taking out the trash for the entirety of our relationship.

Jason: It’s trying to explain how you’re feeling about you are doing it 100 times more than you’ve done it in how long?

Caroline: Right. I had a 200% rate.

Jason: Exactly. Yeah. And so for you, that feels huge. For me, it’s like a 0.2 decrease, and so it doesn’t feel different. And so that’s what we kind of came to this when we were working through it. From my side, it’s like, okay, well, now I know how much effort you’re having to put into this. I’m going to try and pay more attention to it and give you the affirmation because that’s what will keep you going in sticking to trying to do this. Because if I don’t affirm you in your efforts, why are you going to do it? You’re like, well, you’re just going to do it anyway, so I’m just going to stop doing it.

Caroline: Right. And then it’s on me, too, to clue you in. Sometimes on our walks is a really good place where we kind of talk about life stuff of just being like, hey, I’m still really giving it my all and I’m enjoying the way that it feels about my own self esteem to show up in these ways in our relationship that perhaps I didn’t put any intentional effort towards like I just planned. It is a very small thing. But last Saturday, I picked out a restaurant, a new restaurant for us to try. I made the reservation.

Jason: Without talking to me.

Caroline: Without talking to Jason, without being asked. And I know that that means a lot to him because he’s always the one who has to think ahead and sort of make the plans, right?

Jason: And also getting back to the excitement thing for me is, I get excited about a new restaurant. And so it’s like a good thing in our relationship where I’m like, oh, I don’t even care if the food is good. I just didn’t have to think through this.

Caroline: Yeah, and I got to surprise you. But then it’s on me to be like, I just share the process of that with you, to be like, I really enjoyed that, and I want to do more stuff like that. So that you can then also go, oh, she’s still really this is something she’s really working on, and I want to acknowledge that, and I want to support her in that.

Jason: All right, guiding question or moving on to number five?

Caroline: Just moving straight on to number five.

Jason: So we just had a couple of guiding questions that we’re on. We’ll work on the consistency of the podcast next year, moving forward.

Caroline: But this is, I think, just an overarching thing to not go, oh, we’re in a rough patch right now. Things are on shaky ground, and it’s like no, it’s like normalize being in a relationship where you go through phases and you have to work a little bit harder on.

Jason: But it does feel that way. Like, that’s the problem as a human being, it feels like. And I think part of the reason why it feels that way is because the majority of the time, you’re not having these types of conversations. So you’re like, what’s going on? It’s like, everything’s fine.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: Yeah. And I think one of the things that we are also just continuing to notice the length of time that we have been together, which will be 13 years this year, is that we spend so much time together and that we are going to change as people. And so we have these well worn grooves of who the other person is and how they operate in our relationship and how they show up. For me, it’s a big change of for a couple of years, you were struggling with anxiety, but now you’re not. And so I have to rewire that thing of like, oh, Caroline is not a person who struggles with anxiety. You still have things that pop up, but it’s like, I don’t have to think of you as that way anymore because it’s not something that you deal with on a day to day basis that I have to be in protective mode of.

Caroline: Yeah. And that’s not to say that I won’t in the future, right? And I think that’s also hard being… with rewriting this new story for myself, too, is leaving it flexible enough to know that if I do get into a place where that is a challenge for me again in a real day to day way, that doesn’t make me weak. That doesn’t mean I’m the old version of myself. It just means that this is something that I’m going to learn to deal with in that phase of our lives, and we’re going to then have to reconfigure our relationship again. And that’s the whole point of this. Like, last one is just remembering that it’s totally normal to constantly be recalibrating your relationship through the transitions of your life.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: That’s normal.

Jason: For sure.

Caroline: Let’s just all agree that you’re not doing it wrong if that’s what you have to do because this is just a part of being human.

Jason: But you are doing it wrong if you’re throwing dishes across the kitchen.

Caroline: Maybe don’t throw dishes across.

Jason: Just don’t throw dishes because you bought those dishes from, like, a local ceramic shop like we did, and someone made those by hand. You didn’t get them from Ikea. They’re nice. Do you want to finish off with a little movie recommendation that we just watched last night that kind of felt very apropos?

Caroline: They did feel very apropos. This was on my list for a while, but it’s the documentary by Jonah Hill. It’s on Netflix right now called Stutz.

Jason: Stutz.

Caroline: And oh my gosh, just hit me right in the feels. It’s basically a documentary about his therapist. I’m not really sure about the ethical implications of that but I will tell you that it was very heartwarming, very interesting, very life affirming. And I think it is a beautiful intention to try to bring some therapy tools to people who won’t have access to it.

Jason: Absolutely. The therapist, Phil Stutz is his name, his way of thinking in metaphors, I think, is really powerful. And also bringing the medical, mental health part of that into those tools. And you can really see the effect that it’s had on someone like Jonah Hill. And if you don’t know Jonah Hill’s story, he goes over it pretty well in the documentary. But I also just love in watching it from a piece of content perspective, you actually see the real pain that Jonah is going through making this documentary where there’s this moment where there’s like a reveal and you’re like, oh, wow, I thought this was just a simple thing.

Caroline: And then it gets deeper. And then it’s a deeper thing. Yeah. And it’s unexpected. Anyway, we found it really beautiful. And I think we prioritize these discussions, these deeper mental health discussions or relational health discussions. Full disclosure. Like, we have never been to couples therapy, but sometimes our conversations feel like couples therapy. And we would never take that off the table like I think we’ve talked about. We would definitely be open to doing that in the future if that’s something that we think that was helpful.

Jason: Do you think our Portuguese teacher will be that? I think so.

Caroline: I think we’ll need it after that.

Jason: Yeah. Also, just wanted to let you know we are the perfect couple on Instagram. So even though we don’t use Instagram, you should know that if you go back and look at it.

Caroline: We never fight.

Jason: Everything’s perfect.

Caroline: Everything’s perfect.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: Thank you for listening to this. Please be kind in anything that you might say or judge about us because we just ultimately… we have feelings, too. And it’s a very vulnerable thing, I think, to open up your relationship, to let people in and to potentially criticize. But I think it’s really important because, like I said, I think the more that we normalize these things for each other, the more we can prevent ourselves from comparison and thinking that there’s something wrong with us if our relationship isn’t as glossy as they all look on Instagram.

Jason: I know what I’m doing for the rest of the day. Coffee, cinnamon rolls.

Caroline: Zelda?

Jason: Breath of The Wild. All right, everybody.

Caroline: It’s just a trifecta.

Jason: That’s it.

Caroline: Thanks for listening.

Jason: Bye.

155 – Growing Pains in Redefining Relationship Roles

(Big Fat Takeaway)

It's totally normal to constantly be recalibrating your relationship roles through the transitions (i.e. growing pains) of your life.


This article written by

Jason Zook

I'm all about that Cinnamon Roll life (that just seemed like a "cool" way to say I love baking and eating cinnamon rolls). Also, I co-run this WAIM thing as well as Teachery. Currently, 75ish% completion of Tears of the Kingdom 🧝‍♀️⚔️.

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