Would you love to have more fulfilling, juicy, deeply satisfying personal relationships?
Who wouldn’t right?
In this episode, my guest, Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, shares three steps to creating exciting and healthy relationships. Alexandra is a physician-turned-relationship expert, who draws from her experience as a medical doctor, Emotional Intimacy Coach, and her marriage of 23 years, to help couples discover how to create the connection they crave.
From household routine to bedroom bliss, you deserve to experience true happiness in all your relationships. Get ready for this empowering and eye-opening chitchat with Alexandra!
Listen to the podcast here:
Conscious Partnership: Three Steps to Create Juicy, Nourishing, Deeply Satisfying Relationships with Alexandra Stockwell [Podcast 238]
What if I told you that all of that starts at home? Would you believe me? If your home life is a wreck, eventually your business life will catch up. It’s not the other way around. You don’t go fix your business and your home life gets fixed. We’ve got an exciting expert. She is a physician turned relationship expert. We’re going to talk about pleasure and purpose at home, in business and the bedroom. How to create juicy, nourishing, deeply satisfying connections and relationships with your spouse, your partner, your family, your kids and ultimately transcend that into business and have an impact. Her name is Alexandra Stockwell, MD. She’s a relationship expert working with emotional intimacy and sensual passion. She’s been married for many years, so she walks her talk. She has four amazing kids.
As a physician and coach, she’s been guiding men and women, maybe like you and maybe like me for many years to help bring pleasure and purpose in all areas of their life. From things like the daily grind in the home, the daily stuff to being able to have ecstasy in the bedroom. Is that what you want? If that’s not what you want, tune out. There might be better things to be able to do. You can go watch a show like Unpack It or something like that. We’re going to unpack this. Alexandra, welcome to the show. How are you?
I’m great. I’m glad to be here. I’m excited to speak with you and your audience because you care about these things like I do.
At the end of the day, it’s about connection. Part of this is because of some of my mistakes. As an entrepreneur, the truth is, to be vulnerable here, I haven’t always done it right. I’ve made a boatload of mistakes, especially as it relates to relationship. I’ve been through a divorce. I realize now that a big part of that was on me because I was dysfunctional. I’m far more aware and have better boundaries now, but I was your classic entrepreneur that’s Type A and workaholic. I consciously have to work to treat relationships as important or as more important than my business. I thought I was the only one. I thought I was weird and I felt like a miserable failure when I went through this divorce. It impacted me in many ways. What I found, is that there’s a lot of people suffering from the heart and mind of trying to navigate this and do it right. You have a family and still, you’ll serve their business and so on. I am so excited to talk with you about pleasure and purpose at home, in business and in the bedroom. This is going to be fun. Why don’t we start with why are you on this journey? Why are you doing what you’re doing now to help serve others this way?
I have two reasons. I was practicing Medicine. I was in Medicine for twelve years, having worked hard to get to that point. I had my own practice. I was married. At the time, I had three of my four children. When my husband and I met, we were working 60, 70, 80, 90 and sometimes 100 hours a week. We built this collaborative marriage. We co-parented. We didn’t fight about financial decisions but we never had the time to develop a passionate relationship. When people are talking about going back to how it was when you first fell in love, I do not ever want to go back to that. Those are not my favorite memories.Pleasure and purpose is all about mindset, tools, techniques, and giving yourself permission to bring all of who you are. - Alexandra Stockwell Click To Tweet
I had arrived. I had everything that I had been working towards and it was a little bit hollow for me. I knew that if I continued in the same way for another 30 to 40 years in my career, I would steadily be depleted because I was giving to other people without truly being nourished myself. An important moment in this was with my eldest, who is a girl turned nine. She’s this radiant, joyful, loving, expressive and fantastic feminine creature. On the inside, on her ninth birthday, when I witnessed that, I had this invisible freak out because I was not that way when I was nine. My parents were divorced. My step-parents were divorced. I lived with a lot of experiences that she doesn’t know and I was clear. She was nine, she left home when she was eighteen, there were another nine years. There’s no way that she could maintain all of that radiance and vibrancy unless I tapped into my own radiance, vibrancy and pleasure in being a woman rather than just a mother and a successful physician. These things propelled me to start my own path and figure this out.
It makes me think of multiple things that you’re sharing. Tony Robbins talks about the three S’s. It’s the story you have around it and what’s the strategy? It’s either to make it stick or to make it better. At the end of the day, do you feel deeply connected in your relationships at home, in business, in the bedroom or is something missing? Do you feel depleted or do you feel hollow in some way? What if we can help unlock, break apart some old limiting beliefs around this to help transform the quality of your relationship? What would that be worth to you? That’s a big part of what we’re going to explore. Someone who wants pleasure in purpose, in the bedroom at home and in business, what do you see are some of the common misunderstandings, myths, problems and challenges that you see repeating over and over again?
I want to start by setting the context for relationships in general because the vast majority of couples are in one of three kinds of relationships, none of which lead towards pleasure or purpose. One is toxic where there are fear and anger. Another is termination where one or both people have given up on the relationship whether or not they filed for divorce. There’s this amazing statistic, 25% of couples with children fully intend to split when the youngest is out of the house, whether that’s in a few months or fifteen years, but they’re basically living together in what I call a termination relationship, roommate status.
The most common is the toleration relationship, which is characterized by monotony and rottenness at its worst and what’s probably more common I describe as the relationship which is conflict-free and passion-free. The majority of couples are not having dramatic arguments but they’re not having emotional intimacy. They are not having passion and deep nourishing connection which has them feel full and abundant with creativity and joy so that they can take that into the rest of their life. The toleration relationship is where, at the end of the day, after dinner, cleaning up in the kitchen and the kids are in bed, you both start watching either the same or different shows instead of talking with one another. Taking the opportunity to connect emotionally or physically.
It’s where you don’t say what’s most important because you’re not sure if your partner even wants to hear it. You’re in the habit of withholding either small preferences like which restaurant you want to go to or you don’t say that you’d rather go to a different movie. Also on a much bigger scale, you’re not sharing the things that are most significant to you. The real problem in these toleration relationships and I was in one, is withholding the fullness of who you are. When I’m talking about developing pleasure and purpose, it’s the mindset, tools, techniques and giving yourself permission.
You take leadership at home. You might be saying to yourself, “Dan, how does this apply to business?” Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you haven’t spoken up before because you felt like, “It’s not going to matter. They’re not paying attention to me. They’re not listening to my ideas.” What would happen for you if you came from this position of strength instead of withholding you led by what you did and what you said? How would that impact you? How would it impact you by not withholding with your partner in a relationship that maybe it has hope right now? Maybe it’s still got the ability to house some flare. Do you want to wait? Do you want to wait until basically your wife is starting to plan for months and months to leave you if you’re a guy or you’re wondering if your partner is in extracurricular activities?
What would it be worth to bring that connection together to get true intimacy, pleasure and purpose at home, in business and in the bedroom? Alexandra, I can’t help but think, let’s speak to the elephant in the room. It’s this idea of intimacy. It’s not something that guys historically spend a lot of time with their other guy friends, “I’m not feeling intimacy in my relationship.” Let’s face it, what guys think of intimacy is probably sex at the end of the day. That to them is intimacy. What do you find is the biggest problem around this? Even the topic of emotional intimacy. Let’s speak to men because as a man, I’m biased to this topic myself.
I love speaking to men about this because in our culture and in most conversations, the reality of men’s experience is not acknowledged sometimes by the men themselves. I have had many women approach me wanting to work on their relationship and say, “My husband isn’t interested. He’s closed off. He doesn’t want to work on it. He’s not interested in intimacy. He’s happy to have sex, but no intimacy.” I say, “Ask him if he’s open to having a conversation with me?” I get on the phone with him and I find these men that I speak with, yearning for more connection but not the way that the controlling women are offering it.
I don’t mean to be dismissive or judgmental in saying controlling women. I think a lot of women have no idea in their pursuit of taking care of everyone and doing things in a way that’s going to work, how it often is a form of being controlling. One of the most important things that I teach women is to ask questions, cultivate curiosity and be wide open for whatever the response is. As women, we’re used to asking questions, but we are particular about what the answers are. That does not create a positive feedback loop for a man to open into more emotional intimacy and without being rewarded for intimacy in our culture.
I have a seven-year-old and I’m sitting at Little League practice. I’m astounded day-after-day on how the men talk with the boys and teach them to ignore what their feelings are and their experience and focus on the goal. I’m all for meeting goals but not at the expense of disconnecting from feelings. For men, when you find the courage to open up to a more intimate connection, it is more gratifying than you can imagine. It takes a great deal of safety for a man to be willing to do that because it’s been trained out of him at a young age.Women are used to asking questions, but we are very particular about what the answers are. -Alexandra Stockwell Click To Tweet
I’ll speak on being vulnerable. I remember going through an exercise with one of my coaches, Dr. Cristy Lopez. She had me sit down and be like, “What are the top feelings that you feel regularly?” The first time I did this exercise, I’ve listed three or four. She expanded on the exercise, “Name some of the other feelings that you feel. What are all the feelings?” and it was maybe one or two more. I couldn’t even use the words to express my feelings. What I discovered and what we discovered going through that journey was, for me anyway and maybe this speaks to what you said, a lot of times men have a tendency to suppress the feelings. If we can’t use the language, we can’t easily talk about it.
At the end of the day, male or female, what would it be worth to truly get in touch with your feelings and to truly connect the dots of what you are feeling? What are you feeling in this moment? Are you feeling inspired? Are you feeling uncertainty? Are you feeling significant? Are you feeling confident? Are you sad? Are you happy? It’s amazing that if you’ll even do a ten-second test, “What am I feeling right now?” If you can’t truly connect the dots and think of what that feeling is, you might have a disconnection problem to your feelings. What it would be worth to get the ultimate clarity around that to empower you to be a better leader and to be able to have pleasure and purpose in all areas of your life? Another common term that pops up in relationships as of late tying into the idea of controlling women that you brought up is this idea of demasculating men. Where does this tie in? Guys that may want to be open to the idea of opening up themselves with intimacy. This idea of demasculating men in many ways and how it creates this conflict. Speak to that.
The key to a great, passionate, long-term relationship is being authentic and being true to yourself. That is for all human beings going to include some emotional intelligence, which includes awareness of your feelings. It’s important for men to spend time with other men who are opening up and not learn to express feelings in the way that women do. There’s a way in which that also puts women in the position of a mother where we’re showing our boys how to be and that isn’t authentic for a man. It’s important that men learn how to be expressive with men. Rather than going deeper on this demasculinizing, I’d love to give a tool that creates an authentic connection for men and men, men and women, women and women. I teach it to couples, but it applies more widely. It’s a way out of the bind when you’re withholding because you feel like you can’t express something or if you do, it’s going to create a mess.
As you’re reading it, you wouldn’t want that tool, would you?
I’ll teach you the tool and I’ll tell you some amazing results people have from using it. I’m going to teach it in terms of how you would speak with your beloved then I’ll add in how it applies in a work context as well. The first thing is to say, “I have something vulnerable to share with you. Are you available to hear it?” If you create this as a practice or a routine with your spouse, you also can say, “What’s your bandwidth?” The answer might be, “I’m eight out of ten, go ahead,” or it could be, “I had a long day. I’m at a three. Let me get something to eat, take a shower, and I’ll be available.” When you ask, “Are you available?” you need to accept yes or the no or the not yet.
Once both people are yes, if I’m making the communication to you as a roleplay, Dan, I’m going to say, “This is why I’m telling you this and this is my desired outcome.” In saying that, it means that I’ve needed to get clear on what I want to communicate. I’m not just dumping, blaming and randomly shooting. I’m clear on why I want to communicate it. When I tell you that, it allows you to orient to what’s meaningful here. It’s important to also say, “This is my desired outcome.” My husband, for example, used to feel attacked and blamed. He disconnects and withdraws, but I say what my desired outcome is. He can line up with me and collaborate to achieve that goal together.
If we’re using this technique in a work context, maybe instead of saying, “I have something vulnerable to say to you,” it might be “I have something important. Do you have time to hear it? Are you available to hear it?” You can proceed with the same thing. This is why I’m telling you and this is my desired outcome. An example is I might say to my husband, “Are you available?” Yes, he’s available. “I want to tell you something because it’s been on my mind. When I’m not busy with something else, I can’t stop thinking about it. It makes me not want to be close with you right now. My desired outcome is that as a result of saying this, we can connect and have a lovely time together in bed this evening.”
What I’ll go on to say is, “When you have a snack at night, you leave the dishes in the sink. I wake up in the morning and the dirty dishes are there, I feel taken for granted. I feel unseen. I feel like you don’t understand how my morning works and I feel resentful. It’s hard to open up and feel turned on with you because I feel like you leaving those dirty dishes is a way of not valuing me. My desired outcome is that you understand the impact and we can talk about it.” It is amazing how often the desired outcome occurs when things are set up that way.
Tell a story about some people who put this in place and what it’s meant for their relationships.
I was coaching a couple. They’ve been married for nineteen years and this stuck out for me because when I met them, the woman said, “We’ve been married for nineteen years. You’d think we would’ve figured out marriage.” She didn’t feel like they had. The reason that they were coming to me was they had resentment on both sides. They loved one another. They’re committed. They had children. There was no question of splitting up. They hadn’t had sex in eight months. That’s what brought them to be interacting with me. I did a few different exercises and tools with them, including this one. After about three or four sessions, I wanted to come back to the question of lovemaking and sex. This was early on in my learning about these things.If you're a loud person who takes up all the space in the room, play with being a little softer and receptive. – Alexandra Stockwell Click To Tweet
I thought, “Now we’re going to turn to the juicy confronting stuff because we have these things in place.” She smiled and he smiled and they’re like, “We’re all good with that.” Because all that had been necessary was to move through the individual resentment and share what had been withheld, which in a way it was emotionally taking their clothes off with one another, which made it very easy to do so literally. I find about 80% of the time when there is infrequent or unsatisfying sex, working on communication, authentically sharing what’s true, all of that works itself out. Another 20% we do get into the particulars. Both men and women feel seen appreciated and that they can truly be who they are in the relationship while all the good stuff naturally happens.
You describe it as juicy, nourishing and deeply satisfying.
That’s exactly how it is.
If you could lift the potential blocks, the potential resentment, the things that are being withheld, what would that be worth to create that connection, to create that bond to go deeper in your relationship at home, in business or in the bedroom. What would that be worth? Think about it. It may sound simple, but is it? If it were so simple, why is it close to 60% of people end up in divorce? I want to challenge you. If people want to go deeper, this is one of literally dozens and dozens of power strategies you’ve got available. Where can people go to learn more about you, your resources, get connected to what you’re up to?
The first stop is AlexandraStockwell.com. I have lots of free resources with various tools. People can listen to interviews with me, read articles, and my focus is very on actionable things because relationships can seem big and unwieldy and you get trapped in a dynamic. In fact, there are so many beautiful actionable tools which you can implement and readily transform your relationship.
If you’re looking to transform your relationship, go to Alexandra’s website. She’s got a wealth of resources at her site. She’s got The Six Qualities of Conscious Partnership that you should check into. Speaking of a conscious partner, you use this term, I’ve heard you use it in other interviews, what is a conscious partner?
I define a conscious partnership as one where both people treat the relationship as a vehicle for personal transformation. That means anything that arises, instead of blaming your partner thinking you need a different partner or they need to change that, you look at what’s arising and how it’s pointing to what your next transformation is.
What is your next transformation? What if what Alexandra shared with you, this one little building block, what if that one strategy could help get you on the journey to greater transformation? Would you be willing to try it? Would you take me on it? Why not give it a try? If you try this process and it doesn’t work for you, you can always get a full refund. We didn’t charge you anything for it. It’s completely risk-free. The only risk is that you’ll devalue it and you won’t put it into action because you go, “I heard it on this podcast.” I want you to do something different. Take action with it. I want you to put it in play.
I know I’m going to practice this even deeper. I loved what you shared about the idea of, “Are you available?” That little thing, are you available to hear it? If you think about any question you might get into a conversation, are you available to hear it? What’s your bandwidth? Think of how simple that is, but how it can create the bond. This is why I’m letting you know this and this is my desired outcome. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? You might want to get an index card and write those questions down and get it ingrained for the next couple of weeks and make it a habit.
Successful people have habits that unsuccessful people don’t have. Do you want to end up on the 60% that’s failed, divorced, a broken marriage and another probably 20% that are in relationships as a roommate? Do you want that juicy, deep, satisfying, nourishing relationship at home, in business and the bedroom? Play with what Alexandra is sharing with you and go deeper with what she’s got available at AlexandraStockwell.com. Alexandra, what is something I should have asked you that I didn’t get a chance to ask you?The real problem in a toleration relationship is withholding the fullness of who you are. – Alexandra Stockwell Click To Tweet
Why is it that people think in general that committed relationships are where passion goes to die?
Why is that?
I believe it’s because people don’t have the education to know differently. As mammals, we learn through imitation and there is a lack of models of long-term committed relationships, which are beautiful, thriving, nourishing and sexy adventures. It is totally possible with education. My mission is to change the cultural narratives so that everyone knows that in a long-term committed relationship, the most exquisite, beautiful, adventurous, dynamic relationship is possible.
I want to speak to that. I don’t know that I’ve ever shared this publicly. This may sound a little weird. I might get some hate mail over this, but when I got remarried, I went through a divorce and I feel like I’ve done it much better and I’ve got much better. I’m still not perfect, but I’m doing things much better this time around. First of all, my wife, she and I both thought we would not probably get married for similar reasons that you talked about. We realized we were truly best friends and partners. It’s amazing. She is my best friend and I feel like we have a deeply connected, intimate relationship in all areas. There are phases of different things.
When we got married, I had thought about the models that you’re bringing up, the broken model of marriage and the broken model of relationship. When we went to get married, most ministers do lifetime vows, forever kind of thing. The majority, the model is broken. I don’t know that the model is set up for success for a lifetime marriage. When we did the vows, I interrupt the minister on the death do you apart thing. I said, “We’re going to make a shift.” I didn’t give notice to the minister. We’re doing a shift. The reason I did the shift had to do with the fact that the proposal I came up with, I had found, I knew a lot of personal people who had made it that long in their marriage.
I went with that and basically when I interrupted the minister, I said, “We’re not going to do the lifetime vow, but we’re going to do a 50-year renewable.” I knew of people who had 50-year happy, satisfying, nourishing marriages but very few people had lifetime marriages. It might be a little mind game, but I wanted to set me and my wife up for success and we agreed on it. We’ve got a 50-year renewable option and the minister was like, “I normally wouldn’t do anything like this. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard, but I’m going to go ahead and do it.” Plus, both at the time of 50, she’d be 97. I would be 96. The odds are pretty good. I do have a vision of living until 123 for whatever other crazy reason. Nonetheless, there may be a chance that 50-year if it’s available and she’s of sound mind and me too and such that we will sign off on the next renewable.
I love that though because that’s the difference between fantasy, delusion and intentional hope-filled strategy.
I have to ask about kids because as a parent of two going through a divorce, they’re now thirteen and an eleven, what are a couple of strategies or tips you would give parents to best set their kids up? There are so many broken models out there. It doesn’t matter where we’ve been. It matters where we want to go. If we want to break the mold in the model, that doesn’t work to one that does. As a parent, what can we do for our kids, in short, to help them have healthy, nourishing, juicy relationships in their life moving forward? What would you recommend?
The most important thing is to have one yourself. In fact, if I could work directly with children and have the impact I want to have, I might do that. I consider the best way that I can help children is to teach their parents how to have great relationships. I want to speak to the situation where the divorce is happening or has happened. The most important thing in my mind for the divorced parent is to speak about the other parent with respect and love as soon as you can. You can have your own feelings, you can say other things to other people but in the presence of the child, that child is created from both of you.
If you speak ill about the child’s other parent, it’s internalized by a child unconsciously as speaking ill about half of that child. It creates an internal tug of war when loving one parent includes ugly attitudes towards the other parent. It makes for a split personality. I don’t mean that technically, but it makes for this internal tug of war. You give your child an inestimable massive gift if you can get over yourself and speak respectfully about the other parent. It allows the child to integrate all aspects of him or herself and grow up with more authenticity without needing to disown a part of his soul or hers.It actually takes a great deal of safety for a man to be willing to open up because it’s been trained out of him at a young age. – Alexandra Stockwell Click To Tweet
You’ve heard it here before in different ways, leadership is as leadership does. What Alexandra is sharing with you is how to be a better leader at home, in business and in the bedroom to create powerful connections, intimacy, relationships to create that pleasure and pray. Is that what you want? If that’s what you want, I encourage you, go deeper. Go check out Alexandra’s website. Check out her resources. Go check out the Conscious Partnership Program that she’s put together. What are one to three action steps that you hope our audience take from our time now?
I want to emphasize going to my website and downloading The Six Qualities Of Conscious Partnership because in that, I outlined the six qualities. The first one is to cultivate curiosity and there are five more. Playing with those and embodying them in your life will make for a much richer life and a more gratifying relationship. What I would also like people to take from our conversation is this tool. Are you available? I have something vulnerable or important to share with you. This is why I’m sharing it and this is my desired outcome.
The third thing that I hope people take from our conversation is to explore being more authentic. If you’re a loud person who takes up all the space in the room, play with being a little softer and receptive. See if that is also a native way of being. If you tend to be quiet and withhold and more accommodating, step up and get in the driver’s seat. In the journey of becoming more authentic, you don’t know what that looks like until you research and play. You may decide, “I’d like to be more like how I was before,” but give yourself permission to expand and explore and discover a deeper level of authenticity. In that you will lead, you will inspire and you will enjoy all aspects of your life more.
She’s Alexander Stockwell. Go check out what she’s up to. Get her resource, The Six Qualities Of Conscious Partnership. If you want to go deeper, she’s got a lot of resources to help you do that. Do you want to play at a level ten? I don’t know where you’re at right now, but if you’re not at a level ten, she’s got some resources that can help you go from a strained relationship, even a mediocre relationship to transform your relationship. It starts with you. If you want it to be even better at a level ten plus, what would that be worth to you? To truly tap into your authentic, go check out what she’s doing. Alexandra, it’s been a pleasure to have you here with us and share your journey, share your story, share your wisdom and insights. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Dan. I love your mission. It’s an honor to be a part of it.
I challenge you, take action with what Alexandra shared with you. Get The Six Qualities Of Conscious Partnership. Apply the tool. Give yourself permission to play full-on. Give yourself permission to be authentic. Give yourself permission to be the leader that you deserve to be at home in business, in the bedroom. What would that mean for you? More pleasure, more purpose, the ability to have a juicy, nourishing and deeply satisfying relationship. If that’s what you want, take action. We’ll see you next time on GrowthToFreedom.com.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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About Alexandra Stockwell
Alexandra Stockwell, MD is a Physician turned Relationship Expert. Drawing on her experience as a Medical Doctor, Relationship Expert, Emotional Intimacy and Sensual Passion Coach, as well as her marriage of 23 years, she helps committed couples discover how to create the emotional and sensual intimacy they crave. As a physician and then a coach, she has been guiding men and women for 20 years, to bring pleasure and purpose into all aspects of life–from the daily grind of running a household to ecstatic experiences in the bedroom!