How do you engage in meaningful conversations with your partner when the relationship is strained or facing conflicts?
What strategies can you implement to foster better communication and reconnect on a deeper level?
Navigating a strained relationship can often feel like a dilemma, especially when faced with challenges or conflicts. In these situations, finding ways to improve communication and connection becomes essential.
The key is to be genuinely interested, ask questions that foster curiosity, and actively listen to your partner’s perspective. By embracing a more exciting and empathetic approach, you can bridge the gap in communication and strengthen the bond with your loved one.
In this episode, you’ll learn valuable insights on re-engaging with your partner when they seem disinterested or after a significant argument.
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Doug Holt 00:40
Hey, guys. Welcome back to another episode of the Powerful Man Show. And if you are watching this on YouTube or Spotify or on the Internet, wherever you can find it, you will see our new set and you’ll also see somebody who looks familiar. So I’m greeted here today by my guest and brother, Brad Holt. So, Brad, thanks so much for being here, man.
Brad Holt 00:59
Glad to be here. Love the place, man. Looks incredible!
Doug Holt 01:03
Yeah, it’s absolutely fantastic. Well, I know you’ve got something on the table that you want to discuss. What do you got for us today?
Brad Holt 01:09
Well, this is a great question. A lot of time, the men always ask, like, hey, I want to reengage with my wife. But based on our circumstances, be it a fight, be it, they just have a long term relationship issue. They’ll work really hard to converse, but sometimes the wife is just unwilling and maybe justifiably so. So how do we reengage when the wife is not interested?
Doug Holt 01:31
Yeah, I think I love this question because it comes up a lot. And I think, like you said, there’s a couple different scenarios here that I experience least, when I’m talking to the guys, and I’ve been in these scenarios, too. Right? But one I think is really interesting is that kind of idea that we talked about off air is the stonewalling. And when guys have had this for years where they and their wife have been so disconnected that they’ll come home and their wife will just be doom scrolling on Instagram or just completely ignoring them when they walk through the door, I find that one to be the easiest one to get re engagement, though it takes a longer time than the fight. We’ll cover the fight later, maybe, and start with that one.
So the first piece of advice I’d give a guy, and I’ll toss it over to you, is do something different, right? Chris Rock’s got a great line, and I know you’re never supposed to try to repeat a comedian’s bit, and I won’t. But in one of his acts, in the skits, he talks about how relationships get boring over time. And the person says something along the lines of, like, do you remember that time? Like, yes, I remember that time. You tell me this about this time and time again, why don’t you go get your ass kidnapped and have something new to tell me?
But I think that actually happens in relationships because men in particular, but also women, become so predictable, right? You drive home the same way, you eat your same meals that you like, and so you start to make these assumptions that your partner is also the same as they were. And the truth is that they have changed as well.
So the first thing I would recommend guys do is create some mystery, right? Change things up. So if you normally come home, set your briefcase down like anybody has a briefcase these days, but set your laptop down or whatever else it is, and you go sit in your lounger and turn the TV on, do something totally different, come home and either go work out or turn some music on and start dancing or do something to spice it up. That’s going to get your wife to go, hmm, what the heck is he doing? And it’s going to make her a little bit more curious. And it’s kind of like that cat analogy I use. When a cat gets curious, it starts to approach whatever it’s curious about. But when something’s predictable or what have you, the cat runs away and hides.
Brad Holt 03:51
I love it, man. You nailed a couple of things that I talk about, but took it from a totally different angle. So one of the things, I guess I go back to some basics is so many of the guys are business leaders and they’re just so used to making decisions, and we say it all the time, but you just got to decompress before you come home. You got to take off your hat of, I’m a decision maker. I’m a leader, and you got to take that hat off and go, I’m just a husband and a dad. I don’t care how many tactics we can teach a guy, if they don’t decompress, they’re going to come into a situation and perform really inefficiently.
And so that means just sitting in your car for five minutes before you walk in the house to just walking up to your house and putting your hand on it and just asking for. Just to put the worries aside. If you’re not decompressed and don’t take that hut off, gosh, you’re set up for failure.
Doug Holt 04:41
It’s true. And we teach the guys in The Activation Method, which is our flagship eight week program, a thing called the Alpha decompression. And it’s actually a system that’s designed to get guys in these states so they can become the CFO, the Chief Fund Officer. And what you say is a really good point, because as business leaders, they get decision fatigue. It’s studied. And so when they get home, they do one of two things. One is they completely tuck their tails, so to speak, and hide out because they don’t want to make decisions, don’t want to upset the wife. And now she has to be the alpha in the relationship, which she resents him for. Or they treat everything like a board meeting. Right?
And they have the spreadsheets out and they’re going to talk about, we need to talk about finances and our budget, and it’s just boring and something that’s fun, or. I remember this conversation, actually, for myself. I was actually had this with Tim Matthews, and I remember where I was about seven years ago. He and I were talking, and I go, you know what, man? I’ve created these businesses.
At the time, I had three or four businesses, I can’t recall, but I had taken myself out of the companies. I did all the things you’re supposed to do, right? Still had revenue coming in, all the things that all business owners want. I’m like, I don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know what to do with my time. I don’t know what to do for fun anymore because it used to be sports, and now you can’t get a group of guys to get together in a league. And I was getting older. And what so many guys forget, because they’ve spent so much time building businesses, they forget how to have fun. And that also creates that disconnect.
Brad Holt 06:14
Hey, man, I hear that all the time. Oh, my, like, yeah. So if they can do that decompression and they walk in the home, they want to ask questions. They think that, I’ve never done this before, so I’ll ask questions. They’re so excited. But in communication, there’s two people.
Doug Holt 06:27
Brad Holt 06:28
Our spouse, our loved ones. They’ve been doing things in the home for a long time, and all of a sudden for us to barge in and like, hey, I’m here. They’re going to push back like, wait a minute. Well, who is this guy? And is this just some temporary change? And I love your thing about curiosity. You just got to come in. You can’t just say, hey, how was your day? Or how are you doing? You’re not going to get really good responses. You got to really be creative and think of new things.
So what we’ve done is one of two is one, reminisce. Remember when we went to the Bahamas two years ago? Wasn’t that a great time? And see what they say. Because they love to reminisce, especially if you can bring the kids in and that’ll get them talking. If you get them talking, the walls start to break down. But also, guys, quit being lazy.
Be curious. Don’t make assumptions that you know what’s going on in their life. Like, we are in business. If your spouse is a working spouse or a stay at home spouse, we don’t know what happened in their life. So be curious. Just like you met a new friend and ask a lot of questions.
Doug Holt 07:34
No, those are really good points. And one kind of quote pro tip I would give is ask a open loop question, right? Instead of a yes no question. Because if you’ve been in this situation where it’s been stagnant for so long and you say, do you remember the Bahamas? Wasn’t that fun? You’re going to get, yeah. And then she’s going to fold the laundry or walk away or back to Instagram versus asking, hey, do you remember we went to the Bahamas? What was your favorite part of that? And then open that question up.
One of the things that I tell the guys to do when they’re about this is do something that gets opinions. And so an easy one, guys, is use this, right? Use this episode that Brad and I are talking about right now and use that and know, hey, babe, I was listening to this podcast and these guys were talking about stagnation in relationships and they were saying that sometimes guys just lose the fun. Did you find that to be true in our relationship?
Again, that’s a yes no question. But you get the idea and it gives the guys an easy leeway to have something to talk about to get an opinion. And you’re talking about relationships. Most women like that subject. You’re also hinting to her that you’re trying to better yourself in relationships and you’re getting your opinion all in the same time. And they can blame it on us for being the crazy guys.
Brad Holt 08:54
Yeah. Open ended questions. So in essence, guys, I think we have to prepare.
Doug Holt 08:58
Brad Holt 08:59
You got, like, take this like a meeting. Like, I’m coming home. And how would I ask this question? So it’s not a closed ended question, where it’s a yes no, making sure it’s open ended, because if you don’t, you ask a closed ended question, you’re kind of yes. And if anyone has a teenager, you notice, like, hey, how was your day? Good. They go, okay, that didn’t work out too well.
Doug Holt 09:19
Yeah, well, to your point, curiosity, right? So, same thing with the teenager. How was your day? Is a very different question than I have younger kids, obviously. So I still get the yes no, how was your day? I don’t know, but I’ll ask them. Person, who is the friend that you played with, know, what colors did you choose to use, things like that that are more specific to them and what they’re doing in their world.
Because oftentimes, I think what happens, Brad, or I hear this all the time, is, say, guy gets married at 34, right? And now he’s 46, which is my age. What often happens is he assumes his wife is still the same woman at 34, 35, whatever that she was then, that she is today. And they forget the fact that they’re developing, they’re changing all the time.
And so the question I ask guys, and guys, I’m going to ask you this question is, are you the same man that you were at 21? Would you let the 21 year old version of yourself run your finances, run your business, raise your kids? The answer is always, no friggin way. Well, then why do you expect your wife to be the same? You know, what books is she reading? What interest does she have? Who’s her best friend? Who’s she following on social media? What’s the interest, the books? What podcast is she listening to? Because I’m a guy, Brad, I take it a step further because I forget I have it. In our project management software we use at TPM, I have a private project, and every month it sends me a thing and says, check to see what books Erin, my wife, is reading. Right? And read the same books.
And then I’ll just get summaries of those books, and I’ll talk to her about them, like things that interest her. And what I found along the time, because I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, is, like me, her interests change. It could be a fiction. Then it could be for several months. It’s nonfiction, about a specific subject that she’s really passionate about, and then I’ll see her switch. But it’s also we have conversation topics, and she doesn’t need to know that I do this. So if she’s listening to this, she’ll figure it out. But I can base those conversation topics off her interests as well and combine them with mine, and it becomes a natural flow in the conversation.
Brad Holt 11:36
I love that because it’s intentional. And we teach guys, the key is be intentional with your life and your wife is really important. So instead of just trying to wing it, is plan it.
Doug Holt 11:49
Brad Holt 11:50
Now, let’s say that maybe the relationship strained and we could have good general questions, open ended questions, but the wife still isn’t responding. That’s a question I get all the time with the guys because the guys enjoying The Activation Method, they’re excited. They want to fix everything. And lead balloon.
Doug Holt 12:10
Sure. So there’s two things here. The number one, the best way to do it is be more exciting yourself. Right? Be interesting. If your lifestyle becomes interesting, people become interested. Right? I’ll use myself as an example, but not to pump, blow my own horn. But when people find out what we do, like, we just got back from Cuba with over 40 men, business leaders around the world, we took them to Cuba. People are interested in that story. Right? It’s different than, hey, I just went to my work party for the accounting firm.
Not as exciting, but you got to find things that are interesting. And if the things you’re doing aren’t interesting, well, maybe change those up, switch it up and do dramatic changes. That’s one. Two, in marketing, which is my background, is if I want to get someone’s attention, I will deliberately post something that’s controversial, like on social media, just to get their attention, just to get a little bit of a rise out of them.
So then I can start the conversation. Because once you get the rise and do something, then you can actually get into the conversation. So if my wife — so two things. One is I become more interesting, so she get curious about me. Two is if she still wasn’t there. And I’m going to use this as an example, and I’m going to offend a lot of people. And that’s. But because it’s not really the way I feel, but it’s an example.
Let’s just say my wife was a staunch Democrat, right? Huge Biden supporter here in the States, our current president. And then I might come in and start talking about Donald Trump, which would maybe potentially set her, but not nothing that would get her mad at me, but something that could initiate a conversation. And I would find a way to pull that back in and at least get it started, because that’s the hardest thing for a lot of people, is getting that conversation, any conversation, just absolutely started.
Brad Holt 14:01
Oh, I love that. That’s a great example. And I would probably say, guys, just research what’s going on in the world today. Come home and say, hey, did you see how the US Women’s cup team did? Oh, did you hear the controversy there, or did you? Wow, isn’t it terrible what happened in Maui? The fires. Just do a little bit of research. Don’t get lazy, guys. And that’s going to get them to start communicating. It’s not going to mean an automatic connection, but at least they’re communicating and the guard is going down.
Doug Holt 14:31
I love that. And what you’re saying, the subtext there that guys don’t get is the delivery is everything, right? I mean, there’s so many guys that come in there and literally, guys I coach, one on one, will write some of the things I say down on flashcards. And I’m like, dude, you can’t just repeat my words. You got to make them your words.
And I was just talking to a guy yesterday, amazing guy. He’s been doing one on one coaching with us. And I asked him, this guy’s a man of means. I said, if I’m coming to New York to visit you, what steakhouse? If I tell you to take me to Steakhouse, where are you taking me? He’s like, well, I’m taking you to this one or this one. Best steak you’ll ever have. I go, is that kind of, kind of place that you go into? And the waiter comes over and puts the napkin in your lap and they have the charger there and they put the steak comes out perfectly cooked, the chef, perfection. The butter and the thyme and sizzling. I’ll go, yeah, they’ll put it down. They’ll offer you all these things, offer you great wine. I go, amazing. I go, imagine that exact same steak.
Now let’s take it to a diner somewhere where you have Flo, the waitress, who’s pissed off and not happy, and she just comes over, same steak, drops it down on your table, walks away, the steak slides off. Maybe she picks it up with her hands and puts it there. Same steak, completely different experience, because the delivery of the steak is different. And I think guys get to really consider that is how do you deliver the message and deliver the questions? Because if you go home, you go, oh, have you seen about the fires in Maui? Nobody. It’s not interesting.
But what about, whoa, you see what’s going on in Maui. That’s crazy. And then another thing I would think about doing, Brad, is add something exciting relating to that future cast. Ohh, think of what’s going on in Maui, you know, I’m thinking about actually booking a trip there because I really want to support the people there and it’s still explore the beauty. And then you can bring her into your vision and bring her into the news.
Brad Holt 16:29
And it goes back to your childlike curiosity.
Doug Holt 16:31
Brad Holt 16:32
And I always say this because I come from a communications background, is break up to the three V’s, one verbal. So sometimes we get so caught up. What’s the right question? Okay? That verbal only represents 7% of the impact in the communication. The delivery you just talked about, that represents the other 93%. That tone of voice, like a child, really. Oh, my gosh. Or as you said, you go monotone. Doug, you’re my favorite brother.
Doug Holt 17:01
Well, we all know that. True. Let’s just send that to our other brother.
Brad Holt 17:05
It is so important. So we get so caught up and so tight. We might say the perfect words, but the delivery is just terrible. The tone of voice, our body language. Are you smiling? Are your eyes on fire?
Doug Holt 17:17
I love that. It goes back to the boardroom idea, right? So many guys are used to being in business and have become, due to what they believe they’re supposed to look like, act like this boardroom mentality of being stoic. Right? Everything is stoic. This is the way I am. I compartmentalize my life. If I hear another guy tell me he can compartmentalize his life, I’m going to friggin shoot somebody. Because you can’t. You can’t. You are one human being. Right?
And so that’s what gets a lot of guys in trouble. So that gives them some ideas. I know we’re talking a lot about this because Colton, who’s the videographer, gave us coffee before this. So it’s his fault, guys. But now let’s talk about how do you engage if that’s not the situation? So you and your wife have regular dialogues, but something happens in a big argument and you go to try, I assume, clean it up in your example. How do you start that conversation if she’s not willing to engage and join?
Brad Holt 18:15
Well, I always try to come in with a smiling face, and I’m also thinking long term, guys, it’s not a fix. You can’t fix it. You’re doing a process. Because if we have a bad relationship, our spouse has decided I’m this way and he’s that way. There’s going to be some cognitive dissidents. So they’re going to be kind of curious. Like if you come totally different, they’re going to what’s going on and there’s going to be a little bit of a trust issue. And so how do we break that down is just by being genuine and really trying, as you said earlier, by asking questions. And if you don’t have a good relationship, pick topics that are non-controversial, that have nothing to do with the two of you, just to get the conversation going.
Doug Holt 19:00
Yeah. You know, what happens, I love what you said is because I think guys are scared. They’re scared shitless to have conversation because they’re scared what’s going to happen? Is she going to reject me? All these things. And what I tell you guys is this, you’re not having a conversation anyway. So you’re not risking anything by throwing it out there.
And I say this on the show all the time, Brad. But courage, which we celebrate with firefighters, people that go to war to fight for our freedoms. Courage is not being scared. Courage is being scared and doing it anyway. And you got to rip the Band aid off and actually have that conversation or whatever it is. And I like what you say about coming in there with a smile and a playful, joyful attitude. Along with that comes validation. Right?
So it’s that whole thing. We’ve all heard this before. You got two ears, one mouth. So you should listen more. And you first want to seek to understand, then be understood. And all too often when arguments happen between couples, when I’m watching them or seeing them interact, it’s somebody is trying to get their point across and make sure that people understand that they are right and that the other person’s wrong and they should know why they’re wrong versus going, okay, that’s an interesting point of view. Let me, again, curiosity to your point earlier. Let me explore that further and really get to understand where they’re coming from.
Brad Holt 20:24
I love it. I’m a guy. One of my core values is justice, which makes communication hard because when someone says something’s incorrect, I went like, that’s not technically right. But if you’re in a relationship and we’ll go back to your political one, Trump and Biden, if I really care for my wife or a friend even, I may totally disagree with everything they’re saying. But what I do is don’t worry about the actual comment. I’m just going to say, wow, I can see that it really upsets you. I don’t have to agree or disagree with their thoughts are. I can just validate their emotions and it just will go a ton away. They’ll say something, but you think is incorrect from your perception, but don’t try to correct it, guys. Don’t fix it unless they ask you.
Doug Holt 21:07
Yeah, and so I love that. The way to do that is approaching it like an investigative reporter, not a prosecutor. Right? A prosecutor is going to grill somebody. And no offense to you prosecutors out there, we got several in the movement, but nobody wants to be prosecuted. But if an investigative reporter comes in and asks you questions, their job is not to get triggered or upset when they’re talking to somebody controversial, but it’s to get inquisitive and ask.
And so I’ll use the political one again. So it’s Trump, Biden, whatever side you’re on doesn’t matter to me. But you could say, wow, it’s interesting. What makes you think that? Get curious about what their thought process is and really try to understand them. And so when you do this in your marriage and your relationship, the other person’s like, wow, they’re really trying to get to know me. They really care about know the book, obviously, Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends And Influence People. I’ll shortcut it for those that haven’t read it. It’s basically become more interested in other people and they’ll find you interesting.
Brad Holt 22:11
Or as that quote goes, I forget who said this, but no one cares what you think until they think that you care about them. Then that’s how they let their guard down. So all that’s great stuff. Being curious is the key. That’s the exciting part. That’s what we should do with our friends, too, not try to solve their problems. But that goes back to the very beginning. If we don’t decompress, we’ll be worried going into, oh, my relationship’s not good, and we’ve already creating this whole problem, which we call the stick man in TPM. And then we come into it with that mentality and we’re going to fail.
But if we can really get grounded and relaxed and come in, we have a chance to have a really good conversation, and then conflict can be a great thing where, like you said, we can build. If I’m really listening to you as a Republican and I’m a Democrat, I’m going to get some good ideas where instead of two people who are in conflict, where it’s a battle, we can get to a new place that’s better than either one of us could have got. And that works in relationships, especially marriages. That are struggling that maybe instead of fixing our relationship, let’s just level up and make it a much better relationship than it ever could have been.
Doug Holt 23:18
That’s a great paradigm shift. I like that a lot. I’ll add one more thing before we wrap up here is the decompression, in my opinion, starts in the morning. It starts with your Alpha Rise & Shine. So that way you’re not reacting to the day all the time and by the end of the day, you’re able to more fully decompress. It all goes in together.
So the things that we teach in the methodology, we call The Activation Method because it’s a methodology that comes through. It’s step by step. It’s like baking a cake. You got to follow the recipe to get the best RESULTS. And it starts with the morning. Not everybody gets it all the time, guys, I don’t get my Alpha Rise & Shine in every morning. I do pretty consistently or a version thereof. But you do that, that sets you up for the rest of the day. Then you get to the decompression to your part, to your point, and you’re able to go into that house much more grounded, relaxed, and you can be the lighthouse. So when the storm comes, you can weather that storm or with bright, shiny skies, you can still shine your light brightly to guide everybody else into safe passage.
Brad Holt 24:20
I love that.
Doug Holt 24:21
So Brad, as we wrap up here, let’s both go with give me one tip the guys can do today. In the moment of insight, they got an insight today. What’s one thing they can do?
Brad Holt 24:34
Well. Keep research questions before you come home and have a list of them that you can just rattle off to keep the conversation going. So if you get rejected, you don’t just give up, you stay in there and you’re focused and listen and validate.
Doug Holt 24:46
I love that. And for the guys watching this or listening to this, depending. And if you’re listening to this, go onto YouTube so you can see it as well, guys. And we’d love it if you subscribe. But we also have a man’s guide to planning the ultimate date night. And in there we have 20 ice breaking questions.
So 20 questions, men. You can just get that. It’s free. Just go to thepowerfulman.com. In fact, you’ll email. That’s what you do VIP. So very important person VIP@thepowerfulman.com. And ask for that date night cheat sheet and somebody will send that out to you. That’s free. So you got your 20 questions to Brad’s point right there. And what I’ll throw in there, guys, is, man, there’s so many things I want to tell you guys, but to make it easy, just figure out what your wife’s interested in today. Just figure out what she’s interested in.
And that’s usually pretty easy because you can find the book she’s reading. If it’s social media, that might be a little bit more challenging because it’s on her phone or something. But if you’re observant, it’s kind of like when you walk into someone’s house, a lot of people go straight to the bookshelf or they’ll look around and see what pictures are there because they’re curious. Become curious about your wife, and I think you’re going to find her opening up a lot more.
Brad Holt 25:59
I love it.
Doug Holt 26:00
All right, guys, that’s a wrap for this episode. But as I always say in the moment of insight, take massive action. We’ll see you next time on the Powerful Man Show.
All right, guys, that’s a wrap for this episode. But as I always say in the moment of insight, take massive action. You see, there are two types of men that listen to a podcast like this, those that go on from one podcast or show to another just hoping things are going to change and realizing that they’re going to be in the same place month after month, year after year.
You see, I was this guy so I completely get it. You may just not be ready. But there’s also a second man, a second man that listens to a show just like this. And this is a guy who takes massive action so they can shorten the learning curve, compress time, and get RESULTS to be the WOLF. See, WOLF is an acronym for Wise, Open, Loving, and Fierce.
Now ask yourself, which one am I? And just be honest with yourself there. And there’s no judgment on my end. But if you’re ready to move from deactivated DEER mode, which is Defend, Excuse, Explain, and React to activated WOLF, Wise, Open, Loving and Fierce, then go over to thepowerfulman.com/grow. And go there now. In fact, I’ll make it super easy for you. I will even put the link right in the description here so you can just click it and go over there now to learn more. Guys, in the moment of insight, take massive action. Go from deactivated to activated, because like I said, life is too short for average and I’ll see you on the next episode!