Are there ways to build trust in your relationship - even if you're in the middle of a crisis? How do you identify your relationship strengths - and use them in these most challenging moments? Today we have a return visit from Dr. Peter Pearson, co-founder of the Couple's Institute (along with his wife, Dr. Ellyn Bader), and one of today's leading trainers of couples therapists. Whether you're in a relationship, or a couples therapist, or both - today's episode is full of practical wisdom to help navigate the hardest moments that a couple can face.

Click here to receive the Transcript for this episode with Peter Pearson

Visit to join Pete Pearson’s and Ellyn Bader’s free webinars on how to use Confrontation in therapy!

And as always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!


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Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.


To join Ellyn and Pete’s free webinar series on "What do you say when..." - to handle tough situations in couples therapy, follow this link here.

Visit The Couples Institute website to learn more about Ellyn and Pete’s work with couples, and with helping therapists help couples.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

Or...check out the Secrets of Relationship Communication complete course!

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Your Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Peter Pearson.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

If you’re curious to hear our first episode together, about shaping a culture of honesty in your relationship, you can also check out Episode 24 of Relationship Alive - Why We Lie and How to Get Back to the Truth

And you can listen to our second episode together, which was about Relationship Development and getting unstuck in your relationship, if you click here.

And here’s our third episode together - Communication that Grows Your Relationship.

And here's our fourth episode together on how to work with Unmotivated Partners.


Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today I want to cover how to handle crisis and conflict in your relationship, and for that conversation, we have a very special guest, a return visit from Dr. Pete Pearson. Along with his wife, Dr. Ellyn Bader, Pete is co-founder of The Couples Institute, one of the leading trainers of couples therapists. They are the co-authors of "Tell Me No Lies," a book about the dynamics of honesty and lying in relationships, and also the book, "In Quest of the Mythical Mate," which is a book that outlines their developmental approach to working with couples in therapy.

Neil Sattin: It feels a bit like coming home, having Pete here on the show, because he and Ellyn have been on Relationship Alive a bunch of times...

Peter Pearson: Hey, Neil, all I can say is it's good to be home again.


Neil Sattin: Nice, nice. Well, we're going to try and keep things lighthearted as we tackle some pretty serious subject matter, because the reason that... There are maybe two reasons that people come to this show. One is they are in a relationship and it's going well, and they think, "Well, how could this be even better?" Or, "Maybe we feel a little stuck, and how do we get unstuck and turn surviving into thriving," at the risk of sounding a bit cliche. And then the other thing is people who are having a really hard time. It's not to say that there aren't other reasons that people come and find the show. I know a lot of people view Relationship Alive as a way to prepare for... They're not in a relationship, but they're preparing for the next one that comes along. But a lot of people come because they're in the middle of a crisis, something big has happened and they're looking for help. And often, in those crisis moments, we don't know how to turn to our partners, and so we turn elsewhere, and hopefully the elsewhere that we turn to is offering us something of value that we can take back to the relationship. So what I'm hoping that we can do today is to talk a bit about how we... If you're a couple in crisis, where the trust that you have in your partner is, at least in that moment, shattered, how do you rebuild from that moment? How do you get started?

Peter Pearson: Neil, first of all, I want to say, I hope today we can cover all those reasons why people tune in to your podcast. I think we could cover the spectrum today.

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Great, let's tackle it all.

Peter Pearson: Now, the question of trust absolutely is so foundational, because without trust, there is no future. You cannot plan a future if there is no trust. It's that fundamental, you have to have trust in relationship. If your relationship is going to improve, to grow, to evolve, and become what you hope it will be, it's all based on trust. So you nailed it right out of the gate, without trust, not much happens.

Neil Sattin: Right. And so that's the conundrum in a situation like this, where you... Ideally, you'd have this big safety net to catch you when some big crisis moment happens. And it could be something really serious, like someone discovers an affair, or your partner spent all your money. There are those big, monumental things, but then we've all... Or many of us have probably also experienced the little things that you think, it starts out as just a little tiny argument, it's not going to be a big deal, and then all of a sudden, boom, things have... Everything's blown up and it feels like your relationship is in jeopardy. And so those are the moments where you want to have a big safety net of trust, and yet those are the moments where you feel it the least in relation to your partner.

Peter Pearson: You're absolutely correct. And when you talk about big things, they can either be internal to the couple, finances or whatever, or they can be external. Like in California, wildfires are all over the place, so people are being devastated through fire, floods, earthquakes in California, so external... Medical emergencies. So a lot of things can be enormously disruptive to our relationship. And what I think is that, if couples are going to make a change or improve their relationship, there are three basic avenues that are catalysts for a change in relationship. And one is desperation, and that's the crisis that shows up, that's unpredictable, can't be foreseen, but it has an earthquake-like effect on the relationship.

Peter Pearson: When that happens, interestingly enough, a lot of couples start pulling together like a team. Here comes a fire, and you don't know if the fire is going to be at your house in 20 minutes or an hour, but all of a sudden you start communicating like champions with each other. Who's going to do what by when? And you count on the other person following through with their part of how we're going to get out of here with as much as we can. So couples often, in a crisis, will start communicating like champions. They don't have to look up, get communication strategies, they just do it because it's demanded and they respond. The problem is though, after the crisis has passed...

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