Ep 112: Destigmatizing Couples Therapy with Dr. Stephanie Simon
Fertility Forward Episode 112:
Many people are under the impression that couples therapy is a last resort solely associated with divorce. Our guest today joins us to share the true goal of couples therapy and its role in helping couples achieve relationship satisfaction and a greater connection with themselves and one another. Dr. Stephanie Simon is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in perinatal mental health and couples therapy. She has a doctorate from PGSP Stanford PsyD Consortium and a wealth of clinical experience. Her current focus is on helping couples overcome the challenges that accompany infertility, fertility treatment, pregnancy, and postpartum. In this episode, she shares her experiential approach to couples therapy using Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and insight into navigating the challenges of fertility treatment as a couple. Tune in to find out why couples therapy may just be the best gift you could ever offer yourself and your partner and why it’s so vital that we destigmatize it as a society.
Rena: Hi everyone. We are Rena and Dara and welcome to Fertility Forward. We are part of the wellness team at RMA of New York, a fertility clinic affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Our Fertility Forward Podcast brings together advice from medical professionals, mental health specialists, wellness experts, and patients because knowledge is power and you are your own best advocate.
Dara: Dr. Stephanie Simon is a licensed clinical psychologist with specialty experience in perinatal mental health and couples therapy. She obtained her doctoral degree from PGSP Stanford PsyD Consortium between Palo Alto University's Professional School of Psychology and Stanford University. Dr. Simon has worked with veterans and their families, women's and teens with emotion dysregulation, couples with varying intersecting identities and relationship concerns and of course the pregnant and postpartum population. Dr. Simon's doctoral dissertation focused on developing a group therapy for parents of infants hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit. She continues to create new engaging content for NICU parents, so stay tuned for that. Her post-doctoral training was at the Motherhood Center of New York, a clinic that provides supportive services for new and expecting moms and birthing people. Dr. Simon is on the road becoming certified in eft, emotionally focused therapy, the leading approach for couples therapy overall, Dr. Simon's very clinical experiences have only strengthened her passion for helping couples work through the emotional challenges with infertility, pregnancy, and postpartum to achieve increased connection in relationship satisfaction. Dr. Simon currently has a private practice in Manhattan, New York, where she continues to support birthing parents and couples through the emotional challenges that come with pregnancy, parenthood, and beyond. Dr. Simon, I'm so happy to have you on today. I know Rena has really been excited as well.
Stephanie: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Rena: Rena has very much been excited.
Stephanie: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Rena: Yeah, well we're so psyched and I'm so excited for our listeners. I mean, talking about couples going through fertility treatment and pregnancy post, part of all the things and how to navigate that is so important and so I'm so excited to be able to tell them some of the tools that that you offer and hear your insight and suggestions because I think it will really help normalize for people that this can be so disruptive on relationships.
Stephanie: Absolutely. On relationship to yourself, but also romantic relationships as well.
Rena: Definitely. So, I mean, I guess to start with, what would you say, what kinds of things do you see most couples going through fertility intervention struggling with? Is there sort of like a couple of umbrella things you see that apply to a lot of your clients?
Stephanie: So I guess there's a lot of different things. So I don't know if I would answer. I mean, I don't know if it, there's most couples going through the same experience, but I can go over a couple, a few examples of what I might see. So obviously you both know, and I'm sure a lot of the listeners know that there are individual emotional challenges that come with fertility interventions or even exploring fertility interventions like the emotional and physical toll on both partners, but really on the birthing parent, the loss of expected or anticipated method of conception, body image, expected reproductive abilities and frustration and anger about the process that might get sort of projected onto the relationship. And then I often will see, like, helplessness in the partner of the birth, like the non-birthing parent, like what can I do? My partner is experiencing so much distress and I don't know how to help or be supportive because I'm not necessarily going through the physical toll that they are. And then also the difference maybe potentially a difference in opinion regarding the path forward, like which fertility intervention do we wanna try out? What might work, what might not work, what your values are as parents and, and sort of the future. And with all of that, I think when there's a big stressor, attuning to your partner can become a lot harder. So when one partner is making like a bid for connection is what we would say in, in the couple's world, which can be small or big, verbal or nonverbal, but sort of noticing something, saying something that's on your mind, wanting the other person to attune to you or to move toward. With stress, you might not feel capable of moving toward and might move away and then leaves your partner feeling unseen, unheard and alone. So that's sort of exacerbated, I imagine, I mean it is by the fertility process.
Dara: Oh, for sure. I feel like it could be challenging without having to think about fertility, the growth of a couple. My husband gave me that book, the Five Love Love Languages, and I found it very interesting because I think a lot of times we often give to our partners the way that we would love to show love. And then when there's this other element of okay, starting a family and you also, you know, different people and different parts of the couple can have different viewpoints, different religious beliefs. I love how you said values that may not be necessarily aligned with your partner.
Stephanie: Absolutely. And talking about that when there's already so much physical and emotional stress can be sort of wrought with conflict. And often what happens is couples can get sort of stuck in this perpetual cycle of being defensive and protective of themselves. And if we're both being sort of protective of ourselves and defensive against to protect ourselves, then we're sort of like locking into a cycle where we aren't necessarily attuning to the other, engaging to the other, out with the other and being responsive.
Rena: I feel like too, not to like geek out, but attachment theory must play so much into this because not only, I mean so much of it is about your own style of attachment and, and your own emotional triggers and to have the awareness that okay, I'm being triggered and then, you know, my defense is to just become like passive and withdrawn, which you know, then creates this vicious cycle, that you have to really be aware of what you are doing and say, okay, this is what I'm doing. I'm now making this worse because you know, I'm my wounded inner child is speaking up and then your partner shuts down more because of that. And so you each have to have some sort of awareness of self in what you're doing in this dynamic.
Stephanie: Absolutely. I mean you just sort of, I wish maybe that all my couples have the insight that you're showing right now, but it's hard when you're feeling triggered to not to sort of refrain from, from the protection because it's something that you learned, like you're saying, Rena, from childhood of like how to cope with hurt, criticism, judgment. And when our feelings get hurt we can so easily fall back on old patterns of defending ourselves and it makes sense. And that's sort of what I always say to couples, like what you're doing in this sort of cycle you're getting stuck in, it makes sense because of course you wanna protect yourself. And the tricky part is, is that's sort of the trigger or the cue for the other person's defensiveness and protection. So that's why couples get so stuck. Yeah. I love the awareness of self.
Dara: Yeah I love the awareness of self. Like, I feel like often a, a defense mechanism is to like blame the other person or to point the finger at at at what they're doing and not necessarily taking ownership of what are you bringing to the table that may also be contributing to a challenging situation or to miscommunication or lack of communication.
Stephanie: Of course. Of course. And I think that's part of what couples, it's important for couples to understand that before starting couple's therapy, the goal is not necessarily to fix your partner. Like that's not, that's not on my agenda as the, as the couple's therapist is to fix one of them. But it's to understand why that protection's coming up and to be able to get underneath it to the more vulnerable emotions like underneath the anger, like sadness, loneliness, hurt, feelings, rejection, guilt because those emotions are actually create more of an opportunity for connection. Right? The anger and the defensiveness. Well anger is understandable and it's there for a reason and it has a function, often gets us into that stalemate of just not being able to hear each other and attune and connect.
Rena: Totally. So do you see a difference in what a couple going through IVF might face versus a couple going through fertility intervention? I know when we had been talking before recording and we were talking about talking points and everything you specifically said, okay there's a difference between the two. So can you share what the nuances might be?
Stephanie: So I think, and I don't know if I articulated this well enough, but I think the difference is the stage that you're in as a couple in terms of we just learned that or we've been having trouble conceiving naturally or we just learned that maybe we can't. What next? Versus okay, we've decided to do IVF and we're doing IVF first. Because the what next? I think that opens up for, to the potential to have differences in what you wanna do next, whether it's egg donor, sperm, donor, IVF, IUI, surrogacy, I mean the options now with modern medicine are, so there's somewhat many more that there's more of a potential for just disagreement and conflict with the disagreement.
Rena: Sure. I guess, yeah. Now that you're, you're saying that I'm thinking about it, yeah, I would say in my practice I would see two types of, of work with that as well. Right? So one would be the couple that's at odds about how or if to continue treatment and what that looks like. So say someone wants to use a donor and someone doesn't, well that's a whole different issue to address because unless they're on the same page than how are they moving forward? And then you have the couples that are aligned on treatment, but then maybe one partner is feeling really helpless as you mentioned. Right. Usually the, the partner who's not using their body in the process often feels super helpless and then maybe one partner is feeling like they're doing everything. So they may be aligned on the treatment but not about how they're doing it together.
Stephanie: Exactly. So one comes with like a whole decision making process. The other, the decision has been made, but how do we best support each other through that intervention? Which can be tricky because of the feelings that I mentioned get brought up and the stress involved in hearing each other, listening to each other. And we talked about the bids for connection and then also like communication breakdown. Like sometimes with a high amount of stress that fertility just engenders naturally, the way that we communicate to one another in a couple relationship that worked for maybe even like years, just kind of breaks down it. It no longer is functioning in the way that it was before because of the amount of stress.
Rena: Well, I was gonna say yeah, and I think that makes sense. I mean whether or not, you know, I I'd say, and I don't know if you feel this way, I'd say the, the most amount of people I see as couples are are those that have not faced a huge challenge before. Maybe they've faced before this like the death of a grandparent or the, or the death of a parent, you know, which is obviously very traumatic, but it's different. And so often I see couples that are, this is the first trauma they've faced together and then each of them are in their own sort of like fight flight freeze mode and then acting on that stress impulse and then therefore it's very difficult to care for the other person when you're so in your own like high cortisol fight, flight freeze. Like what, what am I doing?
Stephanie: Exactly. Yeah. And then our natural survival strategies kick in, right? And our natural survival, survival strategies are, can be like I mentioned earlier, like the sort of cue for distress for the other person and then we get into that back and forth just stalemate cycle that we can't often get out of without help without a third party.
Dara: So in terms of, in terms of help, like strategies, what are some great techniques or tools that you work with with couples that can really help support them and get them out of that cycle?
Stephanie: So it's funny that you say that cause I wanna, I can act of course share a couple strategies. I will not deprive the audience of that. And with a caveat that I think a lot of the work that I do, which is leans on emotionally focused therapy, which is what Rena was saying earlier, like attachment based is really experiential. So it's very much about the process that's felt in the therapy room with me. So the idea here is that if we can start to let down some of our defenses and our protection, then we can become more open and vulnerable and take more risks with one another. And so what I will do is I'll often set up what I call what EFT calls enactments between partners where they're expressing more of their longings, their fears, their concerns, anxieties, desires, fantasies, underneath maybe some of that anger that and defensiveness that's coming up in their cycle with the hope that it builds more safety and muscle memory. So if they're talking to each other in this way and often it's gonna come with defensiveness and we have to kind of explore that further. But if they're doing it in the therapy room, they're much more likely to do it outside of the therapy room. So again, I can share some techniques and, but a lot of this is very felt. And so it's really hard to explain it because it is so sort of like process oriented.
Dara: I find it interesting in terms of, like you said, the word safety. The first thing that comes to mind is that also can help expose vulnerability which can help people open up and then feel safe that they're sharing and communicating with each other how they're feeling. So I guess is that safety coming from opening up and expressing feelings, thoughts but in a safe environment?
Stephanie: So that's a really good question because like I said, and often I, most, most of the time couples come to me it is not always the best, the response that we're looking for when we do share. We might get that defensive response and that's okay cause that's just, that just means to me that it doesn't feel safe yet. So the safety comes from the response being compassionate, attuned, loving, reinforcing, reassuring, but that's not gonna come right away because if a couple's getting into a locked stalemate cycle of defensiveness and protection, I need, my job as a therapist, is under to understand why. So when someone shares something vulnerable and the partner isn't quite there yet and sort of locks up and and defends, my role is to go toward that sort of block is what we say in EFT and dissect it, understand it because like I said, the protection is there for a reason, right? And then with the hope that then maybe the next time it can create a different response and essentially a new cycle. But I think in the area of fertility interventions and, and infertility struggles, a key part is really like anticipating and preparing for challenges that come up. So having a conversation together of like what topic might become an issue. For instance, like what you said earlier, helplessness around like I'm the partner, I'm not necessarily going through these physical changes that me the birthing parent is going through. And that might be a struggle for for me, but I don't wanna project that onto my partner. So how do we navigate that and like getting behind the problem before it actually becomes a problem I think in this specific area of infertility is really important.
Rena: Well, so okay, so here, and here's a tough question. So knowing that so much of your work, I mean obviously we're talking about couples therapy and working with a couple together, what about the person who wants to do couples therapy and their partner will not do it?
Stephanie: That is tricky. That is a tricky question. So I guess it kinda depends, like, where they're at with it. If they've been talking about this for years, it would be different if they just mentioned it for the first time and their partner is not, is not interested. If someone reaches out to me and shares they're looking for couples therapy but their partner is not necessarily open and and willing at the current moment, I might offer to see that individual but with an understanding that I likely will not see them as a couple that we will refer out if the partner becomes interested and willing and we can talk through what's getting in the way, what would it be like to be in couples therapy, what are your hopes, desires? But you can't force it.
Rena: Yeah. It's so hard. You know, I kind of usually say, well look, we can't make them come here, but we can work together and we can work on how you respond to triggers for you to understand what's going on and still do work ourselves.
Rena: Yeah, it's tough. I always sort of, that's a tough one.
Dara: My assumption would be, which I probably shouldn't make assumptions, but seeing the couples together, is there a protocol that you often do where you'll see them separately and then work together? Or what, is there a best way, a best practice in terms of working?
Stephanie: So I, I think if you ask one couple's therapist, you've just asked one couple's therapist because I think everyone does it a little bit differently. But I think I tend, like I said, to follow the EFT frame, emotionally focused therapy, and that framework is the assessment phase is the first about four or five sessions where I see the couple for one session, sort of get an understanding of what is getting in the way of connection and attunement, getting a history from them of their relationship, and also finding about out about the strengths. Like, they're here and they need help, but there's obviously some good things in the relationship that we can kind of build off of. And then I will see each one individually to get an individual history. So this is based on, like, attachment. So who did they go to, first support growing up, how was that support received, how was it not received, love languages, trauma histories, all of that. And then we come back together for a fourth couple or fifth couple session and I kind of share what I've gathered and we determine also whether it's a good fit ,whether we wanna continue because sometimes it might not be, and that's okay for both parties. And then depending, I will maybe see, do a couple more individual sessions. If I feel that we're kind of stuck all the three of us collaboratively decide that we're sort of stuck. For me that means I might need more information and to mix things up a little bit. So I might see them individually each another time or another two times. But if I'm seeing one partner individually, I will see the other partner individually.
Dara: I love that I'm limited. It's, I think it's great because you would think that in terms of when you're, when you're working as a partnership, you communicate with each other, but sometimes there could be some deep-rooted things that perhaps are still shameful. And I think, I think it's a great idea having that one-on-one to be able to have perhaps open up and and share things that may be blocking them that they don't necessarily feel comfortable or don't know how to communicate with their partner.
Stephanie: Exactly. I will say in the beginning though, the first session, probably within the first five minutes, I'm not a secret holder. So if there is something that you are holding and it's a secret and you haven't told anyone and you tell me in the individual session that I have with you that is part of a couple's therapy, I am going to assume that it is fair game to bring up. And if it's something that you want to share but you don't know how, then we can talk about how, but not, I'm not gonna hold that and not share it with the couple because then there's no safety at all.
Rena: I think that's a great precedent and I, you know, I think sometimes they come to therapy because they feel scared sharing with their partner. And so it seems safer to share with a neutral party who can then kind of navigate that feels a little safer.
Stephanie: And it might take time to figure that out, but the ultimate goal would be to share and express it.
Rena: Sure. And then I guess, okay, you know, I know so many people, there's a stigma, right? Couple's therapy is just on your way to divorce, which I certainly don't think is the case. I think that, I think everyone should really go to to couple's counseling. You know, I think relationships take work and they take maintenance and maintaining. But any sort of words of wisdom to share to someone that is contemplating going to couples therapy but really scared because they think that means that they're getting a divorce.
Stephanie: Yeah. Oh my gosh. I wish couples therapy and just every type of therapy were destigmatized because I'm such a strong proponent for couples therapy. I think it's such a beautiful thing that you can, like the greatest gift to your partner in your relationship is to be able to work through conflict with someone that you can trust. It's absolutely not a sign of divorce. Some couples will come to couples therapy as a last resort and say like, we've tried everything. We're thinking about splitting up. This is our last sort of option. But that is not the majority, at least in my experience. Most couples I see the goal is to stay together and the goal is to get on a path where they're communicating differently, where they're connecting rather than disconnecting. I see couples before marriage for premarital counseling. I think those couples are just like on the road to better success in their relationship cuz they're sort of like making sure they're on the same page about values, parenting, finances and all of the stressors that naturally come up just being a human being. And I don't wanna say it's never too late, but you know, if you're with a good couples therapist, like, and your goal is to stay together, but they're gonna do their hardest to make that happen.
Rena: Yeah. And I think it's like individual therapy, you know, don't wait until it's too late and you're feeling like, you know, you're kind of going off the deep end. I think it's just part of self-care to have that space and be able to check in with yourself and you know, I think there's also an ebb and a flow. Sometimes maybe you need to go more frequently if something's come up. I mean, sometimes it's okay to kind of taper and I, I think, you know, if you're with a good therapist too, they'll also be honest with you about that and let you know like, yeah, I think it's fine. You know, we can take a couple weeks break or you know, I, I think right now there's something that you're really working through and I think more frequent sessions are gonna be beneficial. So I think that's definitely a dialogue to have with a therapist as well.
Stephanie: Absolutely. I'll say also that couples come to see me and, for the first time, we work through their, like I've been talking about the cycle that they get into, which kind of maps onto all different contents and topics. And then they feel ready to do it on their, the work on their own. And then they might come back to me when a really big stressor is happening. Like, I'm thinking of a couple right now that is, has come back to me because they're going through the, through I v F together and they wanna make sure that they're supporting each other well. So stress is a part of life and conflict is a huge part of life. I mean, conflict is what creates growth and change. So it's, conflict is not avoidable, but getting into this sort of, like, constant dynamic where you're missing each other and the relationship can be avoided.
Dara: I think, yeah, destigmatizing, it's really important. I think a lot of people look at getting help or, or seeing a therapist or getting support is a weakness and it's the opposite. I feel like it's, it's shows so much strength in someone to realize that they could use some tools and techniques and support and guidance in an area that maybe is not their area of expertise. It's like we all have our own area as our own niches. And so for me it makes total sense to go to the expert in this situation when you're, when you're struggling
Rena: Right.Just as how you would go to a reproductive endocrinologist to try and conceive.
Stephanie: Yeah. I mean my, I would love if mental health and therapy were seen as just another type of doctor maybe more people would actually end up going. Relationships are hard. They're not always easy. I think what's really important as a couple's therapist is to, obviously couples are coming to me with conflict and they want repair and resolution, but a huge part of what I do is building on the strengths that are already there. Like, they're together for a reason. They were attracted to each other at one point or another. Like, it's possible to get that sort of back and rekindled and build on the strengths that they already have.
Rena: Absolutely. Well, I guess any sort of parting words of wisdom or advice or tips or tricks for couples going through infertility or, or already in treatment? Anything to share?
Stephanie: Yeah, you asked a really important question and I sort of gave a caveat and didn't really give you any skills and techniques, but I think part, like a huge part of a couple's work is hearing your partner and a lot of people come in and they say, oh, but I hear them. I know I, I know what they're saying, but my opinion is X, Y, z and what really hearing each other it, it, it's hard. It's like suspending your subjective experience. Attuned listening is, is about that and being able to reflect what your partner says, like maybe even word for word at first, to make them know that you are hearing them and acknowledging their, their hurt or their pain and validating. Validating is another piece that's so important you might not agree with or even like what your partner is saying and that's fine, but you can always validate the emotion and the pain there even if it involves you. And I think that can be really challenging for anyone. Me too, I mean in my relationship as well. But that's sort of a key to the couple's work for the couple's work to work. Another I guess tip or something to know is, they're not alone. I think that's such a huge part of what stigmatizes or sort of reinforces the stigmas thinking like, because my relationship is not doing so well right now. No one else is on the same path. And looking at Instagram and seeing these beautiful relationships and vacations and every relationship has obstacles and challenges. So I just knowing that can be a huge weight off and, and getting and seeking help. And then lastly that couples therapy, like any therapy is about fit, right? So if you go to a couples therapist and within a few sessions, I always say give it like two to three sessions, but if you just feel like this is not the right fit for me, that is totally okay. I always suggest bringing that up first in the case that it, it can actually be worked through and then there's an experience where you worked through a difference and can actually take that into the couple's therapy or you bring it up and realize it's just not gonna be a good fit and then they can give you other referrals. But to trust your gut on that.
Dara: Yeah. I think that applies for, you know, seeing anyone in the health and wellness space. It's the way I, I say it, there's enough to go around, there's enough people out there hopefully to help support you and it's tough a lot of times when, when the first time it doesn't feel like the right fit. Sometimes you can get discouraged, but seeking support is important and, and finding, right, yeah, using your intuition and finding out what feels right for you is, is part of the growth. So I think that's great that you're, that's a very mature thing. I think a lot of people, you know, we take it on personally if we couldn't help them, it was our doing and sometimes it's just as simple as it did, it mesh well and that's okay.
Stephanie: Absolutely. Like I, I have a very specific style and if you come in and you're not really vibing with my style, that is totally fine. I want the couple to have success, so I'm not gonna make them stay and I will suggest referrals. And I think that's another important thing to know is that like every couple's therapist has a different style and approach. I tend to be more direct and I interrupt a lot in couple's therapy. That's another, I think answer to your previous question sometime in the last 30 minutes is really important part of the couple's work is, like, being able to be interrupted by the couple's therapist because if I let couples go on in their cycle, we're not creating a new environment of safety. So I very often interrupt as a way to understand and get them sort of on the same team.
Dara: And I'm sure to break old habits too, if there's certain habits that you, that you gauge that may not be supporting one another…
Dara: …kinda catching them in the act so to speak, to help break that pattern and I'm sure explain to them why, why you're interrupting, but also giving them a tool to help them break that pattern.
Stephanie: Absolutely. Because I mean, it's like what Rena was saying earlier about the fight or flight and the, the sort of survival response coming up is that happens so quickly outside of sessions of course that what my job is, or part of my job is to slow it down. So if it's speeding up and we're all in the fight flight or freeze mode and interrupting each other and talking over each other, I have to slow that down because that's what I want the couple to do outside of my room.
Rena: Well, and I think too, I don't view it as interrupting as much as it's that fine line of okay, letting people come into your space and dialogue back and forth, but then also they're in a session with you and, and to be able to have your voice and help, you know, it's not, couples therapy should not be a space for them to just come and fight for 45 minutes,, right. And so it is about using your voice protecting and sort of, and getting in there.
Stephanie: Yeah. And that's a, that's an important for couples to know ahead of time if they're going into couples therapy is it won't just be a sort of like place to fight. It's gonna be a place to understand how you fight and repair and in the understanding there's gotta be some timeouts, interruptions and and like a breaking of the habits.
Rena: Exactly. Yes, exactly. Breaking of the habits. Well this has been so fabulous. I mean, you're such a wealth of information and I think hopefully a source of comfort for people listening to know they're not alone and you know, what they may be navigating and that going to couples therapy does not mean you're on the road to divorce. And it really should be sort of a part of the, not only the package of fertility treatment, just I think the package of being in a relationship.
Stephanie: Absolutely. I mean I know that it, it will be a touch point for my relationship moving forward throughout life. It's just such a, it's a beautiful thing to know that you have something to fall back on when things get hard in your relationship, which is a huge part of your life. I mean, you're with your partner a lot so yeah. Things will come up.
Dara: I feel like it's part of, you know, you go to your OBGYN once a year, you go to your internist, like I feel like it should just be maybe something that's mentioned at some of those, you know, at some doctor's appointment and it really should be something. And that could be, I think a way that it could be dis destigmatized. So how do our listeners get in touch with you if they're interested in connecting?
Stephanie: Great question. You can look at my website. So it's D-R as in Dr., stephaniesimon.com. And then there you'll see my email address and my phone number and you can actually just contact me directly on my website. There's a contact us or contact me form to fill out.
Rena: Amazing. Well thank you so much for coming on and I, I definitely feel we could have a part two to this. I think there's so much to discuss. So we are so grateful that you shared your time and wisdom with us and how we like to end our episodes is by something of gratitude. So something that you are grateful for today.
Stephanie: Oh gosh. Hmm. I am grateful. I mean the first thing that came to my mind was my partner. I don't know if that's just because we're talking about partnerships and relationships, but I also think my partner and just being such a great support to me, but also like therapy. Gosh I'm so grateful for, for therapy and maybe this is a way to share that listeners are not alone and what they're experiencing cause like a therapist too have therapists. And I think the healing process and just having such a consistent support person is such an amazing thing throughout life and anchor. So I guess I'm grateful for that too.
Rena: Well we hope your partner listens to this and gets the shout out.
Stephanie: I hope so too.
Rena: Dara, what about you?
Dara: I actually echo what you just said cause I was thinking, like having a support system. So therapy people in my life who I've turned to who are experts to really help my growth and really make me hopefully the best version of myself. And also I'm grateful for, for those people in my life who've also given me great resources. So yes, it's great, you know, I, I love the idea of having people who can support me and also resources. I know Rena, you're definitely one of them in terms of like, we go back and forth between books we should read or we send each other quotes and it's so nice to have, you know, to be surrounded by, by others who really help me in terms of my own growth. What about you Rena?
Rena: I think I'm grateful for communication and being able to be with people that can communicate and can recognize when maybe they have, you know, not acted in their highest form of self regard and can can own that. And for myself to know my own triggers and be able to understand the why and be able to be with people who sort of love me even when I've not acted maybe my best because I've been triggered and, and people that are receptive and can dialogue about that because I think as Dr. Simon said, you know, conflict leads to change, which I think is incredible. So I feel lucky to be surrounded by people that can kind of go through that conflict with me, but but come out the other side with growth.
Dara: So beautiful. Thanks so much again.
Rena: So much. Yeah, this is fabulous. We're so happy to have you on.
Stephanie: Yeah, thank you guys for having me. Such an honor. I really appreciate it.
Dara: Thank you so much for listening today and always remember - practice gratitude, give a little love to someone else and yourself, and remember - you are not alone. Find us on Instagram @fertility_forward and if you're looking for more support, visit us at www.rmany.com and tune in next week for more Fertility Forward.