Jennie Miremadi is a licensed functional nutritionist, coach, and EFT practitioner who
has been a regular contributor to The Chalkboard for several years. She specializes in helping her clients
with difficult GI and inflammatory issues, and coaching them to overcome emotional eating with a
variety of tools. When Jennie met her fiancé Ahram Arya, she had already done a ton of personal work
on herself, and so had he, which was the catalyst for their deep connection.
Ahram is a coach and “spiritual surgeon” who uses the science of Human Design to help his
clients manifest the life they want to live. Together, Jennie and Ahram coach individuals and couples.
At a time like this, it seemed ideal for them to share some of their own relationship wisdom…
Relationships are stressful enough without the added pressure brought on by living and
working together 24/7 during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re having a hard time
right now, it makes sense. In fact, there’s a growing concern about a mental health
crisis that may be brought on by these Stay at Home Orders, including a possible
increase in domestic violence and child abuse. We’re grateful that the media is focusing
on mental health right now, and one way we are responding is by making healthy
relationships a priority.
In “regular” life, one pattern we see over time is that couples fall into the habit of
covering up their most sensitive wounds to avoid a confrontation. It’s only natural that if
one person is not getting their needs met or not being seen by their partner, they avoid
predictable cycles of conflict.
Years of “productive avoidance” may have flown under
the radar to this point, often disguised by the fast
pace of everyday life.
Now all of sudden with these brand new Stay at Home conditions, many of these avoidance
routines have been stripped away, exposing raw emotions and old wounds.
During this time, we can either choose to continue avoiding the hard work that goes into
a relationship or decide to co-create the growth that we desire. Instead of just hoping
that our relationships survive this pandemic, why not aim to come out the other side of it
closer and more connected than ever before? To help, we wanted to share our best
advice from coaching couples through the daily challenges. We’re offering some of our
most powerful and inspiring tools below, including how we implement them in our own
Holding Space vs. Problem Solving
If you’ve gone through a lot of difficult emotions lately, hopefully your partner has been
able to support your process. But if it’s been a struggle to get the support that you need,
know this: Sometimes we actually don’t know how we feel or how to articulate what we
need from our partner in the moment. For this reason, we recommend that you make
the default setting to simply hold space for each other. This way you automatically create
a container to process feelings that can allow both of you to feel seen and heard.You can
also circumvent disagreements that may arise from feeling like your partner
isn’t giving you what you need.
Holding space goes beyond just listening- It means listening openly and supportively no
matter what until the emotional sharing is complete. For many of us, our gut reaction is
to respond to our partner by attempting to solve the problem or to give them advice. If
you jump to problem solving, your partner may not feel seen. Problem solving can be
incredibly helpful in the right moment if you can offer it in a way that validates your
partner’s experience, but we recommend that offering advice should be by “invitation
only.” Waiting patiently until your partner is done speaking and then responding with,
“would you like some help with that?” gives your partner the opportunity to tell you if
that’s what they need.
Once you get a feel for this, you can actually step into a discussion by asking for what
you need at the outset, by saying, “Hey I just need to vent about this, can you hold
space for me?” or “I need your help with this, can you tell me what you think?” Coach
each other to practice this approach to reduce your reactivity and help each other feel
supported now and in the future.
On Personal Triggers
We all have little triggers that can escalate an annoyance into an aggravation or a full
blown disagreement. And now that we’re all in close quarters, this may be happening
more frequently. It’s important to work through your triggers together. We suggest
spending some time reflecting on what triggers you and your partner so that you both
can recognize them and come up with your own creative solutions.
Here’s an example of how we have done this in our own relationship:
When Jennie feels triggered, it’s usually because Ahram is too aggressive with
his problem solving by projecting or “man-splaining” (man + explaining). Upon
reflection, Jennie realized that it wasn’t Ahram’s words that were the problem, but rather
his harsh tone. Ahram has learned to use a slower, gentler tone and that makes an enormous
difference in Jennie’s receptivity toward him.
For Ahram, his trigger is that sometimes Jennie leaps too quickly into emotional sharing
without providing enough background about a particular situation. He gets confused and
frustrated. In order for him to hold space like he should, he needs to understand the
context of Jennie’s situation. When Jennie reflected on her part in “triggering” Ahram,
she realized that often she wasn’t providing enough context for Ahram to understand
the situation. Now she catches herself when she isn’t giving enough background and
reframes the situation for Ahram with more details.
There may be more to say.
If you and your partner bottle things up from time to time, the above heading might
seem obvious. The problem is that deep resentment can build up over time if one or
both of you is not speaking your full truth. The intention of this advice is actually to
direct your attention to your partner to sense if they have more to say. This can be
When we tune into each other, sometimes we sense that our partner’s energy
and disposition doesn’t fully align with their words.
Trust your partner’s energy and body language as the ultimate gauge.
If they say they’re okay but they still seem tense, angry or not over it, there is more that
you can encourage them to share. Saying, “Okay, I understand, but is there something
underneath that?” is a kind way to allow your partner to discover their own truth. If you
are the person not sharing enough, it’s time to speak up. And of course don’t hesitate to
contact a professional for support with this.
Have Fun: The 3rd Person Game
Adding a little levity can make a difficult conversation feel lighter, easier to receive, and
playful. We call this the 3rd Person Game because all you have to do is tell your partner
what’s going on and how you feel, but you have to talk about yourself in the 3rd person
as if you are the narrator of your own story. When we shift our orientation from “I” to
“Jennie” or “Ahram,” it forces us to really examine what we say about ourselves, and it
can remove the sting out of a confrontation. By bringing laughter to a conversation that
may otherwise feel inflammatory, it enables us to be more receptive to each other.
Example: Jennie says “Jennie felt completely underappreciated and ignored this
morning because Ahram promised he would clean the bathroom yesterday…” Ahram
responds, “Ahram is sorry and sincerely forgot about his commitment. He’ll do it today
and he wants to make it up to Jennie by asking her on a pizza delivery date tonight. Will
she accept his invitation?”
Use Human Design in your relationship.
Our most advanced tool to coach couples is to utilize the wisdom of Human Design.
This is Ahram’s specialty, and we use it ourselves to regulate our emotions and improve
our communication. And it’s fun! People gravitate to different aspects of Human Design,
so we recommend that you hone-in on what speaks to you about your personal design.
To begin, imagine that each of us is uniquely designed to respond to our world and
make decisions in a particular way. We each have insecurities, gifts, and challenges
that are part of our programming. When you understand your own Human Design and
your partner’s, the door opens to completely accept yourself and each other. It can
inspire empathy toward your partner and your relationship, and it also gives you new
tools for communicating and resolving conflicts. You can read more about Human
Design here: A Complete Guide to Human Design.
Here are a few examples of how we use Human Design for each other: For Ahram,
when he is out of sync and not in flow, he is often just “in a hurry to get things done to
be free of the pressure.” This is one of his own “Not-Self” behaviors. See more about
this idea here: On Forgiveness of Self. When Jennie senses this, she brings it to his
attention. Most of the time, to be his best self, Ahram just has to slow down and wait for
things to come to him instead of rushing projects along. In Jennie’s case, she has an
uncommon Authority, which is Human Design lingo that describes her way of clearly
picturing a situation. Jennie’s Authority is called “Sounding Board,” which means that
she needs to speak her thoughts out loud and then hear them bounce back to her. So
when Ahram senses that Jennie is stuck on a problem, he encourages her to sound out
her ideas until they crystallize for her. Human Design helps us to be our best selves and
make better decisions together.
Create a morning ritual.
Now more than ever, we need to start the day with inspiration. If you can create a
morning ritual together, you can automatically begin each day feeling connected to one
another in a positive way. Our advice is to keep your ritual simple and to commit to
doing it every single day.
Here’s what we do: Right after we wake up, we make our favorite lattes and sit in front
of our fireplace. We share what we are grateful for and say a prayer for what we
want to manifest that day and in the future. We speak what we want into existence from
this place of gratitude and abundance.
This practice is a way to powerfully connect your independent dreams into a collective
purpose. What do you want to create for yourselves and your community by the time the
Stay at Home Order is lifted? Why not dream it together?