Anything that’s alive is either growing or dying, and relationships are alive. – Jean Kadkhodaian
Meet Jean Kadkhodaian
Jean Kadkhodaian and her husband, Dr. Ray Kadkhodaian, have counseled thousands of couples since 2002. They work with couples as a couple. Their experience inspired them to create the Couples Synergy Method, a proven system to develop strong, resilient, and empowered relationships. Join their online community called, Connections, and listen to live weekly webinars. Learn how to work on your relationship through their #1 podcast for couples called “Couples Synergy – Real Couples, Real Stories.” Treat you and your partner to a fun-filled relationship boosting Weekend Intensive, or work with Dr. Ray & Jean personally through their premiere Couple 2 Couple coaching program. Dr. Ray & Jean were married on February 14, 1998, and have 2 adult sons, a daughter-in-law, and 2 pet stingrays. They enjoy riding motorcycles, scuba diving, hiking, and traveling.
Please tell the audience a little bit about your story.
I have eight siblings, and I grew up in a home that had a lot of chaos. I coped with that by working full time when I was in high school, so I would work and go to school, and I was pretty lonely. Early on, I got into a relationship with someone that ended up being a fairly toxic relationship. I was a mess. About a year after that, he decided to go away to college, and I didn’t have a plan. I then decided to join the army. When I got on the plane to go to basic training, I thought, you know, I’m going to reinvent myself.
The whole town where we lived knew who my family was because we were such a big family. There was always a label that I couldn’t get out from under. I was the youngest girl, and I was really shy. I got on the plane and said to myself; I’m not going to be that anymore. I remember getting off the plane and shaking people’s hands and introducing myself and having this false confidence which basic training reinforced. I learned a lot about self-care, self-esteem, self-worth, and discipline. And that changed my life.
I came back home and got lost again and got pregnant at 20 years old. That was such a life-changing event of mine. I joined a single mom support group, and I decided that was the work that I want to do. At the time, I found out I was dyslexic, and it was the beginning of the word processor. I don’t think I could have gone to school unless I had that to correct my spelling. I muscled my way through school with my son. I think I started when he was three and finished my bachelor’s when he was eight. I continued to work hard on myself during that entire time. I then found myself in another toxic relationship.
Relationships became something that was a really strong passion of mine to figure out. And at some point, once I finished my bachelor’s, I bought my condo, which was a huge accomplishment for me. I would plan on being single for the rest of my life because I was so bad at being in relationships, and they were so painful. You have to become the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, to be in a relationship where you have something to offer another person. And of course, once I got to that three-year mark where I knew myself, I had all these wonderful ways of getting my needs met through family, friends, work kids, and pets. That’s when I met my husband.
At the time, we were both working on our master’s degree in clinical psychology. We started working in community mental health, where there’s very little training. We decided we could do it better. We started working together as a couple with couples. The incredible part of that journey is that when I was 30 years old, and my son was nine years old, I fell in love with a guy who was 24. Ray and I had this big age gap. We didn’t look good on paper, but we both had this passion. He, too, was coming out of a seven-year toxic relationship. We had the drive to figure out how to feel safe and healthy in a relationship while supporting and growing together. As we started working with couples, we developed a method called Couples Synergy Method. You can’t do this work without living it. Throughout our relationship, we have gone through, and we share on our podcast, that we fight, we work through stuff, and we continue to grow and learn and develop. I don’t know any other way to live. It’s never been comfortable. Just as it has been painful, it’s been as awesome.
You’ve taken your wisdom from years of training in the industry to start with Lighthouse Emotional Wellness. Tell us a little bit about that.
The foundation is that we started working with couples, and then what would happen is our couples wanted their kids to come on board. We have a second program called Family Synergy Therapy. We also work with individual people. About 50% of the work I did was with couples, and 50% was with individuals. I got certified in hypnosis, which I knew nothing about. From there, I dove into understanding our spiritual anatomy and energy healing and how to use not just the talk therapy or the conscious parts of the brain, but the hindbrain in the limbic system.
When someone goes through a trauma, they will respond in their fight or flight system, which is not in the hindbrain. If they haven’t fully developed, they’re not going to do talk therapy very well. I have a rule, I don’t work with anyone just in hypnosis or energy healing, and I don’t work with anyone just in consciousness. It’s a merging of the two that helps people transform and not go into regression. We hired staff to work with other people, and then we have people who do EMDR biofeedback. We’ve had people add yoga into therapy and a personal trainer who did boxing. There’s not much space for this in the mental health field to bring in different tools to help people. The Lighthouse is a place for our therapists to have the freedom to bring in things like aromatherapy or EMDR that they can integrate into traditional counseling methods. It’s for individuals, kids, families, all of the above, but our specialty is couples and families.
Can you share a little bit more about different kinds of therapy?
The interesting thing about my journey is I do have a foot in both worlds. That’s what I was trying to figure out when we were doing couples synergy because it’s such a passion of mine and my husband’s to work with couples. I always bring in this other piece. I thought I had to give one up for the other, and we found a way to make it both work. That’s why when we do the weekend intensives, we do a component of teaching about meditation and sound healing, and some spirituality.
I explained to you that the fifth chakra is connected to our sense of taste, sense of smell, our sense of hearing, our bronchia, our lungs, in our throat, which are all the symptoms of COVID. To me, when we have an illness, that means we’re going through some form of adjustment, some transformation. We’re told we have to wear masks, and the fifth chakra is about speaking your truth. The difficult thing about speaking your truth is that the fifth chakra comes from our spiritual center. Our truth is a small t truth. Capital “T” truth is gravity, and gravity will work the same whether you’re Russian or American, or have money or don’t have money, or you’re younger or older. It works the same.
The small t truth is, what job should you do? How many kids should you have? Should you get married? Where should you live? What’s true for you and what’s true for me is completely different. And so we get away from that right or wrong stuff. You see that in the world right now, with everyone having a lot of strong opinions, and everyone is frustrated. I guess that goes back to this idea of taking personal responsibility. When we talk about the mess of your life, the garbage, or the fertilizer of your life, if you take responsibility for that, then you have power and become empowered. If you want to give up responsibility, then you are in a place with what I call force where you give up forces external. You either give up your control to something external to you, or something external is trying to control you.
Going into an example of elderly couples that have been together for years, can you delve into the biological aspect of that kind of relationship?
Yes, so there’s a biological component to that, which is fascinating. Before I get to the biological, there’s generational. When my grandparents got married, you didn’t get divorced. You didn’t care about happiness. You didn’t care about happiness and the job that you did. You went to work, you did your 40 years, you got your gold watch, and you put food on the table. This happiness business is hard work. When my parents got married, my mom met my dad at 15. They got married when she was 19. She had seven kids by the time she was 30. That’s how they lived, and she stayed home while my dad worked. Now, we have many options. You can’t go back to your parents and say, hey, how did you make that work because their life was so different.
A study was done on our brain chemistry and what happens when we fall in love.
#1 – At the beginning of the first nine months to two years, our brains are like on drugs. It’s like you can live on sunshine and water and you don’t even need to sleep. I think that’s our brain’s way of saying, hey, it is fabulous to connect with another human being, it’s worth it.
#2 – Then that chemistry slows down, and we go into something called the commitment phase. The commitment phase is where you ask, are we going to work on this? Do we have enough in a romance phase to say, let’s stick with it? Because not being with you is, is not going to increase my life as much.
#3 – Once you make it to the commitment phase, you get into what we call the transition phase. And this is where most couples don’t make it, unfortunately. This is where the work is. Where you are raised like this, and they were raised like that, and that’s your domestication, but somewhere in the middle is healthy.
My husband and I don’t have issues anymore. Issues are in the beginning. Like who’s doing the dishes, who’s going to pay the bills, those kinds of issues. What we have now is healing moments and in forging of who we are as a couple. And that does take 20 to 25 years to get to. What you’re seeing in couples that are 25 years plus, if they did the work, their brain chemistry is more exciting than the people in the beginning, which is cool.
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