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The problem with no fly zones is that they hold us back from that deeper level of commitment that so many of us want to experience but often are afraid of. So many people tell me, gee, I want to have the kind of relationship where I know the other person has my back or I feel understood or I feel like we can talk about anything, but then we create and live with these no fly zones.
Hey, everyone, welcome back to On Purpose. I am so happy that you're listening today. I'm sitting here recording this from my studio at home. And whether you're cooking, whether you're cleaning, whether you're jogging, whether you're running, whether you're at the gym, whether you're at your laptop, whether you're editing, whatever you're up to. I am so glad that you decided to lend me your ears for this time. I feel so grateful to have such an incredible community that we have right here.
And it's amazing because we've got over thirteen thousand five star reviews. And if you haven't left a review, please, please, please go and do it. It makes a huge difference to the show. And so if you can go and leave a review of your favorite episode and I'm going to read a couple out because I think it's a beautiful thing that I get to do here. So let's have a look. So this one says, Gratitude from Sin Patiala.
I listen to Jazz podcast on my way to work in the van pool as I sit in the back when I'm meditating to help me really listen without letting my mind wander. I hear so many profound aha moments when I hear him and all the amazing guest speakers, such impactful words that I will add it to my notes in my phone. The message goes on to say, I preordered the book and I'm so excited to get it. Thank you for being huge and following your heart purpose with no fear.
That means the most to me. Thank you so much. OK, and this other one is from Swiss Cheese. Immediately I was impressed. It doesn't take long to understand that Jay is very experienced within his field and that's why I went ahead and preordered his new book. This is exactly the Enlightenment I've been seeking to help guide me towards being a better person, a better father and a better companion. Jay's teachings are so relevant to anyone and everyone.
There's something for everyone to gain. I look forward to the journey ahead. Well, thank you to all of you who left you so far. Thank you. To those who preorder the book, I can't believe we literally less than two weeks away maybe. Yeah. Just over a week away from the book being out. I really hope you're going to go and grab a copy. And today's theme is all about how no fly zones are hurting your relationship.
And six steps to cleaning the air. Now, just about every relationship has them there.
Those topics or those people we just can't talk about with our partner or spouse or our boyfriend or girlfriend, because every time these topics come up, it turns into a fight. You already know which ones they are for you. According to marriage and family therapist Dr. John Gottman. Sixty nine percent of marriage conflicts are about ongoing problems and never get resolved. Think about that. Sixty nine percent of the issues we fight about are never resolved. They just keep coming up over and over and over again.
And I bet a lot of you who are married or in long term relationships or who are thinking back to past relationships are like Jay. I definitely believe that. So what do we do about all these unresolved problems? Unfortunately, much of the time we just give up. We simply stop talking about them. We avoid them hoping that they're never going to come up again until that awkward family dinner where someone brings that name up or someone brings that topic up.
John Gottman called these issues gridlocked perpetual problems.
I call them no fly zones. Maybe you have one or more no fly zones in your relationships and you think it's fine. As long as we stay away from these topics or we don't talk about these people, we're OK. Maybe we think it's even healthy. Having no fly zones is keeping us from fighting. And that's good. Right? But the problem with no fly zones is that they hold us back from that deeper level of commitment that so many of us want to experience but often are afraid of.
So many people tell me, Jay, I want to have that kind of relationship where I know the other person has my back, where I feel understood, where I feel like we can talk about anything. How many of you are one of those people? But then we create and live with these no fly zones and those two things. Wanting that deep, honest, committed relationship and having no fly zones are mutually exclusive. They do not work together because this is what happens, though.
We think these things are fine because we we're not fighting about them. Things are not fine. If you ever watch the show, Friends, there was an episode where Monica, who's sort of the obsessively clean and tidy person, where her friends find out that she's got this locked closet, that she won't let anyone into. Her friends, of course, spend the whole time trying to find out what's in the closet and even to break in. And when the closet is finally opened, all of this junk comes spilling out.
Monica tried to create this illusion of perfection, but all along she was hiding this dark secret. And in the show it was funny. But so many of us do that in real life. And if you've ever done that. If you've tried to keep something hidden, if there was something you just wouldn't talk about, whether about yourself or in your relationship, it doesn't really stay hidden, right?
Maybe no one physically sees it, but it can become a source of emotional stress and shame. Most of us have known that couple where everything seemed great and then all of a sudden they announce they're splitting up. Maybe that's been you. I know I've been in that situation in the past. We can get really good at hiding, embarrassing what's going wrong. And one way we do this is through these no fly zones. Now, not everything a couple of decades will argue about is a no fly zone.
Right. I mentioned before that one of the things that I do that Bugs Rathi is that sometimes when I'm deeply interested in a topic and I'm studying and reading about it, I'll have all of these books and articles out. And instead of putting them away, I'll forget and leave them out. And I try to remember to clean them up. But sometimes I'm in a rush or I know I'm going to come back to them and we'll have a little argument about it.
But that's not a no fly zone.
That's just a recurring challenge or issue, which I really need to sort out. Every couple has those, and it's just a function of being two people who had different spending a lot of time together coming from different backgrounds and different walks of life with different expectations. Now, if you have siblings, I'm sure you had some of those with your siblings growing up to a no fly zone is when something is so upsetting or polarizing or causes such friction between you that you purposefully avoided.
Now, some no fly zones can get downright ridiculous. My friend's parents actually got into a fight over get this, this is a true story over the apocalypse. A few years ago, her family was sitting around and someone asked the question if there was a nuclear attack or some kind of horrible plague and you had the choice of living through it, but living with a deformity or several deformities or of being killed immediately, which would you choose? My friend's father chose one way.
He'd said he'd stick around and deal with the deformities, and the mother said she'd rather die right away. And they were each really upset about how the other answered and they fought about it for hours. I'm totally serious. It got so bad. It became this thing they can't talk about. Like my friend said, she can't bring it up or they'll fight about it again. OK, that's a pretty ridiculous example. But for that couple, there's something at the core of the argument that gets to something about their relationship.
It's not about the apocalypse, but about some belief they each have. And that's why it's so polarizing. Maybe it's the fact that they chose different situations in challenging circumstances, but more common no fly zones are things like every time the topic of your partner's or your spouse mother comes up, you shut down or they shut down or you get angry or here's another big one, money. If every time the topic of money or finances come up, you fight.
And so you avoid the topic altogether. And again, I know some of you out there are nodding going, yeah, I get that. That's my situation.
So why do we do this? Why can't we just resolve these issues and get on with it? Well, according to psychologist Leon Zeltzer writing in Psychology Today, there are three primary reasons couples have recurring fights. The first is that we learned it from our parents growing up. Most of us saw our parents fight. Maybe it was rare or maybe it happened a lot. But if when our parents fought, if instead of working through the issues, they would dig in their heels and things would go unresolved, we may have internalized the idea that there are just some issues that can't be fixed.
We also might have gotten the idea that's just what couples do. And again, I know some of you are nodding. I know for me it was the opposite. Seeing my parents argue, showed me the type of argument that I didn't want to have with my wife. And I would consistently say to Roddy that I don't want to be in that situation. I don't want us to have that kind of relationship and we can find a way out. And that's what we've always prioritized and tried to make work for us.
And we're a work in progress, too.
If growing up, our parents didn't model for us how to resolve conflicts effectively, where would we have learned to do that if we didn't pick it up or educate ourselves or learn about it in another relationship? How would we know how to resolve long standing or repeat conflicts? So the solution for that is to first notice the pattern. Think back to how your parents fought and whether they effectively resolved conflict or whether they had no fly zones. And we'll get into how to get rid of no fly zones in a few minutes.
But just noticing the pattern can be really powerful and that awareness is important. And we'll come back to that in a minute. But first, according to Dr. Sauza, the second reason we have recurring fights is that we feel. Emotionally threatened. We get angry with our partner when our ego is under attack and anger and defensiveness are how we protect ourselves is a really common example. Exes, right?
How many people do you know who fight over exes? It's so common.
Some people can't even mention the name of an ex before their partner is up in arms with anger.
Maybe that's a no fly zone in your relationship barring any actual trespass, meaning assuming your partner didn't have any kind of infidelity with this person in the past or the ex isn't actively pursuing an inappropriate relationship with your partner. The reason we often get so upset about exes is our own jealousy and insecurity. It comes down to our ego. For some of us, it's painful to even acknowledge that our partner even had a romantic life before us. And so we protect ourselves from our own insecurity with anger.
We go on the attack as a writes, anger immunizes us from vulnerability.
And that's what we're really avoiding. Right? We don't want to hear the other person's name, the ex's name, because it makes us feel insecure and vulnerable and it makes us feel even more vulnerable to think about telling our partner how we truly feel. So we cover it with anger. And sometimes we also go on the attack. We might say something nasty or insulting about the ex like that. They were not attractive or not smart or accuse our partner or a spouse of not loving us.
It's not just about exes that we can get angry. There are loads of issues that can make us feel vulnerable. Maybe our spouse or partner questions how much money we make or spend. That's a huge one. Right. And we can hear that as criticism and get angry and defensive. Maybe their point or their question is valid or maybe they are really being hypocritical. Here are some interesting statistics about money in relationships from COMPAR camp couples who argue about finances at least once a week or 30 percent more likely to get divorced.
Additionally, in America, of those who have gotten a divorce within the last five years, fifty nine percent of them said finances played a role. Incidentally, the highest divorce rates internationally, regardless of reason, are in Russia. Of the top 10, the US comes in at number nine, followed by China. No European countries make the top 10, but Portugal has the highest divorce rate in Europe. But regardless of what we fight about, as Seltzer's says, when we're communicating from a space of anger, we're not listening.
So one of the ways to resolve that is to stay calm when we talk about hot button issues. Easier said than done, right? But we need to get grounded so that even if we disagree with what our partner is telling us, we can respond from that space of calm instead of defensiveness.
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One of my favorite ways I like to get grounded and that I advise others to do is to tune into your body. Feel your feet on the floor or the ground or feel yourself and your body resting into the chair or the sofa, take several rounds of deep breaths, breathing in to a count of four, holding for a count of four, then breathing out for a count of four. That helps to calm your nervous system so it's easier for your brain to engage in a rational conversation.
This is a habit you can build when you're not fighting and you'll remember when you are fighting. One of my friends says that when her partner comes to her with something that's difficult for her to hear, she puts a hand on her heart as she listens and imagines breathing into and out of her heart, as she says. That also helps her to remember, to listen and to respond from a heart. And I love that so many of us are responding from our head, our ego, our mind.
But when we come down into our hearts, we can really be our true selves.
And the third reason Dr. Sauza says couples have recurring fights is because some of us have such core ideological differences that they truly are not resolvable. Two of the big ones, and you may have even already thought of them, are politics and religion. Still, these don't have to be deal breakers for our relationships.
If we said some healthy boundaries, it's hard to think of a couple that would be more ill-suited politically than the James Carville and Mary Matalin. Carville is a Democrat who was the campaign manager for former US President Bill Clinton, and Matalin is a former Republican turned libertarian who is the deputy campaign manager for Clinton's presidential opponent, George H.W. Bush. Yet in spite of their vast political differences, the couple has been married for over twenty five years. How do they do it in a joint talk?
The couple did. At a Louisiana school, Matalin told students that people have to learn to prioritize what's important to them in the relationship and put healthy boundaries around hot button issues. Kargbo told the students that it's a good thing to spend time with people they disagree with, ideally, who are also smarter than they are. Madeleine agreed, describing her husband as a genius, which shows one thing the couple prioritize about politics, their attraction to and respect for one another's intellect.
Madeleine then tacked on. He's frequently wrong, but that doesn't make him not a genius. And that kind of banter is actually a great illustration of one of the keys to keep the air between you and your partner clear when it comes to challenging topics when possible. His humor. But don't hide behind it. It's got to be good natured humor, not passive aggressive jabs. Though Carville and Matalin trade barbs about politics when it comes down to it. They keep a boundary.
They don't try to change one another. And that actually gets to Dr. Saltz as advice for what to do when you have ideological issues that aren't going to be resolved. Agree to disagree. If it's something that's not going to negatively affect your relationship, that might be totally fine. Instead of it being a no fly zone, it can simply be a neutral zone, a space where you can agree to respect the other's opinions and not try to change them.
That's a lot different from just being angry and not talking about them.
According to John Gottman, the marriage and family therapist I mentioned earlier, when we have what he calls a gridlock perpetual problem, there are always underlying beliefs and agendas. We just touched on some of them. Right. Maybe we're trying to protect our egos. We're afraid to be vulnerable and to change.
Or maybe we just never learned how to resolve issues.
And that's what you need to get to the bottom of to clear the air of no fly zones and create the closeness and honesty between you and your partner. You've got to figure out what the deep underlying issues are and focus on those rather than the surface problem. Because the no fly zone issues often like icebergs. You see this issue that's visible above the waterline, maybe just about his ex-wife or maybe something about your money. But the real issue, what's truly driving it is hidden.
So let's get down to how to clear the air of these no fly zones. Here are six steps to getting rid of the no fly zones in your relationship. First, find out if your partner, your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend is willing to talk about the issue. Do they agree it's a no fly zone and are they willing to discuss it? They might not think it's a problem or just not be willing to talk about it. Try to bring up the topic at a time when you're both calm, by the way, not while the kids are running around trashing the house or while your partner is trying to respond to a work email and again, try and bring it up from a space of centredness and come your partner might get defensive.
They might deny there's an issue. And if they do, maybe they need some time to think about it. They might come back when they're ready and be willing to talk about it. But you can't clear a no fly zone by yourself. You both have to be on board. And if your partner refuses to talk about the issue or acknowledge there's a problem, you need to decide if you can live with that. But I'll tell you this, whatever you do, don't create a no fly zone with yourself.
Don't downplay something that's actually important to you because you're afraid you lose the relationship if it's important in. Important, and if your partner is not willing to engage about it, that really might mean it's time to rethink the relationship. But if they do agree and hopefully they do and are willing to talk about the issue, that's great.
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See plan for details. Step to create a safe space for communication. We use that expression, let's get it all out on the table. Imagine people just dumping things out onto a dinner table, right? All of that baggage, how low does that go?
When we're in the heat of an argument and we let something out, we say in a way we don't mean it. Like it sounds angry or as an accusation now that you've agreed to address the issue instead of just dumping it all out on the table, take the time to set the table, find a quiet space and time where you can talk. Maybe on a weekend when work pressure is less, maybe after the kids are in bed, maybe even set the table literally with a nice breakfast or dinner.
That step to set the table for a conversation. Sometimes a good conversation also occurs on a walk. When you're walking in the same direction, walking towards something together, it feels like you're moving together rather than sitting across the table from each other. Think about that. Step three is to frame the issue in a positive way. Instead of looking at it like you're taking sides against one another, frame the conversation as if it's you two together, right?
You're a team. You might have heard me saying something like this before, right? If we come to the table as adversaries, we increase the likelihood that we'll fight so instead come to the table as a team that's taking on the problem together. If you see it as a win lose situation, it means if you win, they lose. And if they win, you lose. But actually in relationship, you either choose to win together or you choose to lose together.
There is no win lose because actually if the other person loses, you feel like you both have lost. And if you feel like you've won, should both be winning and related approaches to pretend that the two of you are offering counseling to another couple with the same problem, what would you advise them? Step forward is to remember what's important and you can even start the conversation this way or take a time out if things get heated. But remember what's most important in your relationship.
Remember why you're together, maybe even stop and list out three things you love about each other before you stop that can help diffuse the tension and again, remind each other that you're a team, that you're together for a reason, and that talking through tough issues is worth it. Step five is the lesson. One of the co-founders of Harvard University's Program on negotiation says the most successful negotiators listen far more than they talk. He also calls listening the golden key that opens the door to human relationships.
Forget about trying to prove your point instead. Listen first, then go from there. When you listen, your partner is more likely to feel safe, to be vulnerable with you. And together you can get down to those deep ideas and beliefs that are underneath the surface. Yet some of these topics can especially be complex or challenging if you have trouble reaching resolution on your own. Step six is to enlist the help of an objective third party to support you in working through the issue with your partner.
Sometimes we wait too long for this step and I would welcome it sooner if you need it. Ideally, it's not a friend or family member you want. Someone is truly objective and qualified, such as a therapist or a counsellor or a mediator or even a trusted spiritual or religious counselor or advisor. It's healthy to get help and again, it's worth it. So those are the six steps to resolve the no fly zones in your relationships. Remember, the more you're willing to listen to your partner and to be honest and vulnerable with them, the more you increase the chances for long term success and happiness in your relationship.
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And I'm so, so grateful that you're with me on this journey soon.