And I think we often think about getting it. We want to get it from our partners, because I think, as retreat leaders, we are giving, and we’re pouring into our partners, and we’re facilitating transformations. And I think that, in some way, we want someone to do that for us. But our partners, 99% of the time, don’t have those skills or tools to facilitate erotic transformation and emotional healing.
– Janelle Fraser
Darla LeDoux: Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Retreat and Grow Rich, the podcast. I’m Darla LeDoux. I’m your host for this series, and we’ve been talking about transforming the leader, and the way choosing to be a retreat leader actually changes your life for the better. When you’re the person hosting, you think you’re showing up to make this big difference for all the people in the room, but the truth is that stepping into this role actually lets you have an amazing life. So I’m really excited today for our topic, and our special guest, Janelle Fraser. Hi Janelle.
Janelle Fraser: Hi!
Darla LeDoux: I’m so excited because Janelle is going to bring forward an insight that she had on retreat that totally changed the direction of her business, actually. And one of the things I talk about, Janelle, is earning while you learn or learning while you earn. And that’s the beauty of retreats is you’re doing the thing, you’re getting paid because you need to have a business. But we also learn and grow, and we hone our message. And that’s something that happened for you.
So we’re going to dive into that in just a minute. But guys, I want you to know who Janelle is. So Janelle is an intimacy and communication coach for couples with nearly a decade of experience. As a partner in an 11 year relationship, a sexual abuse survivor, a new mom, Janelle is committed to putting her work into practice, and after years of struggle, now has a more satisfying relationship and sex life with a baby than she ever did before. I met Janelle through a Mastermind. So those of you who have listened for a while, you know I’m a huge advocate of being in a container of support where you have other leaders who are growing along with you who can contribute to your journey, and Janelle is one of those people for me.
So I was so lucky to meet her in Mastermind, and one of the things that really struck me about what she was doing was she and I share a common commitment to what I call transforming out loud, and what she calls naked leadership, which is really being able and willing to share what you’re moving through that’s making you who you are rather than just that perfect version on the other side of the transformation. And it’s a tricky thing to do, and it’s a really bold commitment. So Janelle, I’m so excited you’re here. I’m so excited that you’re willing to share, and just, thank you for who you are in the world.
Janelle Fraser: Yeah, I am very happy to be diving into this topic, because I think you also… When we met you, we kind of met in the transformation of this. We met when I was kind of really on the cusp of not only learning this but integrating it into my life and then changing my business direction because of it. So yeah, I feel like we had a lot of great in-depth conversations, just personally, that got me to here even.
Darla LeDoux: Amazing. Amazing. So I want to go back, because when we met you were training coaches and had a very successful business training other coaches to build life coaching practices and to be excellent coaches who lead from this place of naked leadership. So can you talk a little bit about what your business was like then and the types of retreats you were doing at that time?
Janelle Fraser: Yeah. Actually had this moment of you explaining that, I just haven’t even thought about that version of my business for so long. I just had this moment of like, emotion that popped up, and that was great and this is better, but that was great. So I was running heck, 10+ live events or retreats a year, kind of a series of three clients went through both on the deep personal transformation side, as well as giving them the tools and skills to be an amazing coach and grow their business. So it was new leaders, specifically, that I was running, and that’s what I was up to. I loved it! That was really, I’d say, the most successful financially impact time in my business, and now I’m here and moving into something totally new and scary and right.
Darla LeDoux: Amazing. So, first of all, I just want to underline the level of courage and commitment to truth and authenticity that it takes to have this amazing thriving business. Having groups of people go through, and get trained, and launch their businesses, and all of that, and then to have this insight about what it’s all really about for you, and be willing to follow that, and change directions just takes so much courage.
So, Janelle, talk a little bit about what were you learning through hosting these retreats that really sparked you to go in a different direction? Because when we’re putting ourselves in the container of transformation, we really can’t be a bystander in that work, right? We can’t say, “Okay, you guys go transform, and I’m just going to be over here perfect.” We’re in it, and we’re really committed to the best results for clients. So you noticed your clients were bumping up against something over and over and over again. That was really a mirror for you. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Janelle Fraser: Yeah. Well I’ll say what it is, and then I’ll go back to the mirror because that’s absolutely spot on as what it was, was a mirror for what was happening in my life. They were bumping up against going home. They were connected. I don’t know why I’m so emotional about this topic right now.
Darla LeDoux: I can have that effect on people.
Janelle Fraser: I’m so happy to be having this conversation, because I think it’s even almost just like, “You can.” That’s why I was like, “I can talk to you all day long, because I know I’m going to get stuff from this interview.” Yeah.
You know when you’re at a retreat, I think anyone who’s following you can relate to that inspiration you feel, that connection, that like, “I am goddess. I am home. I am…” Just infinite possibility, and energy, and transformation, and it’s deep, but it’s broad. It’s just like there’s so much juiciness of being in retreat, and then you go home. And the going home can look slightly different for everyone, but normally one of two things happens. It can be an immediate crash of like, “Whoa, the energy is so different at home. I tried to share with my partner what was going on, and they’re not really in the same energy.” So you’re just not getting back what you wanted from them. So as you’re sharing your excitement and it’s kind of like diffusing your excitement and energy, or it might be a couple of weeks, but I think at every point what I was noticing was my clients struggling to come home, and it was showing up. Initially, they weren’t saying, “It’s my partner.” Sometimes people would, but I’d say most of the times they would struggle. They’d be procrastinating on all the things they wanted for themselves, and all that momentum and direction they thought they got at the retreat, it would kind of come to a halt for some strange reason when they got home.
Darla LeDoux: Hmm. Wow. Yeah, I’ve definitely seen that. And we always check in on, we call it re-entry after retreat, but what was it about that phenomenon that really got you curious?
Janelle Fraser: Well, like always, I think I like to reflect on how is it showing up in my life? I feel like my leadership often comes a lot from my personal experience, and so as I started sort of tuning into my own life, it was like the most obvious thing that I didn’t feel, even the power that I would feel leading a retreat. I made a Facebook post one time, or actually I don’t think I ever posted this. I think this was something I wrote and never posted around, “I feel powerful. I am this incredibly strong leader who can just feel like I can take on the world, and then I get home, and I’m with my partner, and we’re in bed at night, or we’re having time together, and I feel like a little girl. I feel like I’m so articulate, and clear, and decisive when I’m leading and then I’m home and I’m like, I don’t know what I want. I don’t know who I am. I’m scared to share my opinion.” And so I was feeling this massive amount of connection with my business and with my people and in my retreats, and then I would get home, and it would just be flat. And so I started really dissecting that. And our biggest challenge was around intimacy, and around our sexuality, and our relationship struggles. We loved each other. We have a great relationship in so many ways, but my ability, I guess, to be that version of myself that I was continuing to step into every time you come home to a life that you created before you stepped into that person. I don’t know if that made sense, but…
Darla LeDoux: It makes perfect sense to me. I talk a lot about environment, right? Our environment reminds us who we are, and when the old us created it, it’s so easy to go right back there.
Janelle Fraser: Yeah, absolutely. And so I think you get sort of thrown back into the old environment that you created every time you come home, and it’s hard. And a lot of people, I think, don’t get the benefits of their retreats, of their transformation, because they don’t have the tools, or skills, or conversational dynamics inside of their relationship to also move through the changes that are necessary to now bring home.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, 100%.
Janelle Fraser: Your relationship and your life… Your relationship needs to evolve, and I think what often happens is we get into relationship kind of, I mean, in some ways people, they say, “Oh my relationship is supposed to grow, and change with me, and go through hard times and…” But I think there’s still the under-lying that it’s like, “The person that I started this relationship is going to be the person that I’m with.” But I think the reality of retreats, and your people definitely see it, and I know you have, people become completely different humans through transformational experiences. That is not at all the person that your partner signed up to do life with, right? And so then there’s the side of, I’ll say the transformed one for very surface level conversation here, they come home, the person who was at the retreat, and so there’s their struggle. But I think we need to also bring into the conversation is the struggle of your partner who gets land blasted with this new evolved and, probably slightly egotistical about their evolution, person that just walked in the door, and it’s like, “Where the heck is my wife or my husband that left and came back?” Like, “Where is that person?”
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, makes perfect sense, and I can relate on a personal level in several ways, actually. I’m in a relationship now, and my partner is often with me on retreat, so is witness to what happens. But there’s a whole different dynamic with that. When I started my business, I was in a relationship, and I don’t really talk about this a lot because it doesn’t feel as significant a part of my story now, but I would go on retreat, and I would come home. And before I even started my business, I had done Landmark education. Did you do Landmark, Janelle?
Janelle Fraser: I didn’t. I’ve heard lots about it, but…
Darla LeDoux: I had gone through that whole curriculum. So I had some tools for conversation. I had this knowing that I’m 100% responsible for what I bring to the relationship and some of those concepts. And so I would go on retreat, and I would come home, and I would think, “Well I can change enough for both of us.”
Janelle Fraser: Oh. Beautiful, beautiful topic.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. So I would keep thinking if I just be more accepting, more loving, more expressive, more this, more that… Then magically this relationship will change. And I have since learned some things. But I’m curious, what are your thoughts about this? Why is this such a struggle, first of all, for so many leaders and personal development junkies, this struggle with relationship. And can we talk a little bit about can we just change ourselves?
Janelle Fraser: This is probably my favorite angle of this whole conversation, because I spent most of my relationship and, as you mentioned in my introduction, it’s been an 11 year relationship, and I have spent the majority of that relationship trying to do that, trying to change myself, trying to like, “How do I become more involved? How do I have my business grow so then I can have more time to put into the relationship, or have more money to put into the relationship?” Or literally trying to do every backdoor way besides doing the actual work that needed to be done. And so I think that’s also what I was seeing with my clients, as well, is, and I think this is a struggle in my opinion now doing this work now, my work is working with women and leaders to bring the change they want inside of their homes, inside of their relationships, inside of their sexuality, and bring them home, bring the transformation home with them essentially, and how to navigate that in their relationship.
And I think it’s a different journey, and it is extremely vulnerable, because all of a sudden, the vulnerability that people experience at retreats is very real to say the least, but then when you come home, that vulnerability, to me, is 10X, 100X. And I think a lot of people who are into the retreat world, I can say from my experiences, they’re very independent. They are go getters, I can do this on my own. They’re solo-preneurs. Yeah, they’re building teams, but they’re the leader. The unique thing about relationships is: it’s a partnership. And it is unlike any other relationship because you are not leading. You have to be in your relationship and you’ve got to work with someone else. I absolutely agree that we can change. I’ve seen it. You change parts of yourself, and the relationship automatically changes, because it is a relationship dynamic. However, once I started really committing to doing the work inside of my relationships, going in, and having conversations, and actually doing the work with my partner, that just skyrockets the results. It allows you to transform and actually bring your transformation home, which ultimately brings your transformation into completion, I’m going to say. I think a lot of people’s transformations are incomplete, because they can’t show up that powerful connected version of themselves. They can’t show up that way at home.
I mean, your partner is a significant influence in your life and in your home. And so I think that’s a good sort of addition to this is that I think people’s transformations are often incomplete because they haven’t brought it home.
Darla LeDoux: Well, there’s the idea who you’re being anywhere is who you’re being everywhere, which I subscribe to. Even though we can bring different parts of ourselves, like you were bringing the badass goddess leader who knows what to say to the front of the room, and then the little girl back to your relationship. And those are distinct parts of you, yet at some level, both of those seep into the other, right?
Janelle Fraser: Absolutely.
Darla LeDoux: How did you experience that?
Janelle Fraser: I’m going to say I experienced it with a lot of rejection, because it felt like, especially as a transformation leader, there was something about that leadership role that I love so much, and I feel so powerful in it, but then at home, I use the analogy of I would feel like the little girl. And truthfully I will still feel like that sometimes. But I used to judge her and now I see her, and I feel her, because this work is vulnerable. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s a little girl anymore. To me, it definitely has who I am at home and in my relationship when we’re having more personal conversations is not, I’ll say quote, unquote “powerful leader”, but she’s the vulnerable leader. And so I think it was really also about reframing that it feels different in your relationship. On stage, or with your audience, or when you’re dealing with problems that aren’t in your life, it’s totally different. But when you’re bringing these same skills you’re sharing them with lots of your clients home, it’s like now you’re dealing with your life, and that’s a very different role to be in. And so it’s okay to be vulnerable there. And in fact, that’s where the beauty, magic, intimacy, passion, that’s where you actually get to kind of lock this transformation in is in the vulnerability at home.
Darla LeDoux: Wow. What I’m hearing is we might automatically assume, especially any Type A, leader type people, that the goal is to bring that powerful leader home, but what I’m hearing you say is, “Yes, that’s part of it, but it could be equally valuable to bring the vulnerable girl to the business.
Janelle Fraser: Yeah, I think it works both ways. So one of the things I was thinking about before jumping on this interview was, and I think we need to bring this up, because when you come home, I want to talk about the partner you come home to for a minute because they are straight up intimidated. I was actually listening to something by Rachel Hollis today, and she said, “Your partner is intimidated because they don’t know who you’re going to be and how you’re going to change, and therefore if you’re going to need them or want them anymore.”
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Janelle Fraser: And so when these transformations happen, your partner is just in a kind of very vulnerable position. And I think when we try to bring our leader, our power, those types of things home, we’re in such a different place, because our partner, whether they’re saying it or not, is in some way vulnerable, And I think that we need to be able to bring a level of vulnerability to that situation and compassion and grace to our partner to do… I hear this from leaders all the time, that their partners don’t support them or that’s how they feel, or there’ll be so excited about something and their partners just not interested, or they’re not interested in the same things. And I think that as leaders and these motivated individuals, I think we’re really hard on our partners and judgmental, but I think we need to also understand how incredibly vulnerable it is to be in a relationship with someone who wants to change and wants to grow constantly. And I’m certain that your partner wants to grow as well in some way, but perhaps they don’t have that confidence to do it so easily as you seem to. And it can be just really intimidating and vulnerable, and I think that we often don’t give our partners enough grace. We’re just so focused on, “You don’t support me,” and, “You’re not celebrating with me,” and that type of energy.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, I totally get that. I know I’ve had those conversations with a partner, and I know my clients have also. On our next coaching call it’s like, “Whew, okay, you really didn’t give a lot of space for that person to respond or reply.”
Now for me, when I started my business, I was in this relationship, and I would come home, and I would try all these different things, which ultimately was a whole lot of trying to figure out the right way to be to change the dynamic, right? Which is not healthy for anyone involved.
Janelle Fraser: And probably trying to coach your partner, wants you to help.
Darla LeDoux: A little bit. I felt like I knew not to do that, but then it was even more kind of manipulative, right? Like, “I’m not going to coach you. I’m just going to shift me, and then I’m going to get frustrated when you don’t shift,” because I wasn’t really… And the truth is, I did have a lot of direct conversations, and I did have a lot of skills. I was really trained in how to have these conversations, but I wouldn’t get the outcome I wanted, and then I would get really, really frustrated. And what I ultimately really had to realize is that this person did not want what I wanted. There was no part of him that wanted to grow in this way at all. And when I look back, it makes perfect sense, because I had chosen that relationship when I was in a place of having had been hurt by someone, and I was like, “I just want a safe person.” You know? So I picked a safe person, and then I got upset that that safe person didn’t want the things I wanted.
Janelle Fraser: Because once you were feeling safe, then you are probably ready to grow again.
Darla LeDoux: Exactly! Exactly! So one of the questions we talked about is what if your partner is not open to getting help, or what if someone is bumping up against this conversation? What have you discovered about that?
Janelle Fraser: Yeah, I think before we started this recording, you mentioned just about having the experience of being in retreat, and then the action steps are to either end a relationship or go home and have sort of a come-to-Jesus type of conversation about their relationship. So I think that sometimes, of course, we do pick the wrong relationships. I think that is definitely a thing, so I don’t want anyone to hear that wrong. Sometimes we do pick the wrong partners, I shouldn’t say we pick a wrong partner, but we move into a different season that that partner is no longer a fit for, I think they were the right partner at the time, so that definitely happens. However, I’m going to put my stick in a different side of this conversation.
I don’t know what analogy I’m trying to use here, but I’m going to take a different angle, because I am a really firm believer that we can, under many circumstances, again, not all, under many circumstances, we had to transform and heal the relationship we’re already in. Because if you don’t solve a lot of the issues that are present in one relationship, they’re just going to follow you to the next, generally speaking. So again, and there’s always the people who are like, “Yeah, but I needed to leave,” and yes, yes and yes, I hear you. But I think there is a lot, a lot, a lot of people who might not need to leave or they wouldn’t necessarily know that with certainty until you actually do the work in your relationship. Because I think when you do the work inside of your relationship, one of two things is going to happen. You’re going to part peacefully, because you’re going to see that, “Oh, we are not a fit,” or, “We’re moving in different directions, and that’s actually okay for both of us, and sort of thank you for the time we had.” Or you’re going to find that connection. And I feel like I really do believe that a lot of people give up on relationships too quickly, or a lot of relationships will divorce or separate without ever even getting help. That’s just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. You never went and “seeked” any help.
Darla LeDoux: Well we are a do-it-yourself culture.
Janelle Fraser: Absolutely. Yeah, to a fault. And so I think that these conversations, I think it’s important to always be having these conversations in our relationship, but I think a lot of people are scared to change and evolve their relationship. And something that I’m really passionate about is helping couples, especially the couples that I work with are all people who are transformation driven. They’re transformation leaders. They love changing and being the best version of themselves. And so the reality is is that they’re not going to be the same person they were a year ago, a year from now. So helping couples to… How do you evolve and change the relationship and let your rules shift and change in the relationship? How your partner’s meeting your needs shift and change in the relationship.
Maybe for a season, your relationship rules look like this, then all of a sudden, you guys are different people. You’re in a different season. Okay. We change up what the rules are. And by rules I mean how we engage, how we speak to one another, how we spend our time, how our needs are getting met. So I think we often just sort of get into relationships and don’t talk about, what I call, “the rules”. How was our relationship set up? And I think that is what I’m really passionate about is… And I think there’s often a way for couples to evolve their relationship such that it supports who they are in this season of their life. Because I think that’s what often happens is like you evolved, you’re in a different season, you’re becoming a different person, so you need the tools and the skills to catch the relationship up.
And that’s not to say that your partner also needs to go to the same retreat you did or needs to have the same tools that you have. I used to think that it was like that. I remember I did my coaching training. I became an NLP and hypnosis trainer, and so I was teaching these tools and I was like, “Oh, the only way that I can be happy is if my partner is also a trainer with me.” It was like, I was so certain of that. And I think that is definitely not the case. I think a lot of us get confused that our partners need to be in our world. They need to be motivated in the same way. They need to read like we do. They need to be interested in the same topics, and I think that’s also just not the case.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, we do have this assumption, or at least the way it was modeled to us, I will say, or to myself was like, “Okay, this is your person, and now you just coexist with the same rules without ever a conversation about it.” There’s not a lot of structures for even, you said, new season of life, right? And there’s some relationships, like you pointed out, the relationship I was in was perfect for the season of life when I was seeking safety, and healing, and regrouping, and not necessarily evolving for the long term.
And we don’t do this. We don’t do this in our society. We don’t have these conversations. It’s kind of like, “Okay, you’re a couple now. Good luck.” So I love that you’re bringing these tools forward. And I’m curious, Janelle. What tips do you have for people when they’re leaving retreat, and they’re going home, and they’ve had some kind of insight that may be just about themselves that they want to share with their partner and have their partner go, “Woohoo,” or it could be about the relationship and something they want to change. What advice do you have for someone on that re-entry conversation? Obviously we can’t get into all the tools, but in general, how to hold that conversation or how to initiate?
Janelle Fraser: I think my general rule of thumb is always to show, not tell. It’s so easy to talk a big game, or talk about something that your partner will never understand. They didn’t see the heavens open up and that insight come into you. They didn’t see that cathartic breakthrough that you had, or they didn’t feel that connection that happened your mind. And so I think, oftentimes, we’re trying to talk about an experience that was so profound and life changing, and it’s like we’re never going to get the reaction that we wanted or the insight because it’s like they just can’t relate. And so what I really suggest, because I think that almost always ends up in disappointment, is instead, to show your partner what you’ve learned or who you’ve become without having to tell them. Let them see the shifts and not necessarily… A lot of people are like, “Yeah, but my partner didn’t say anything that he noticed, or…” It’s like, it might take them some time. So it’s not about coming home and being like, “Tada, here I am. I’m new. Recognize me!”
Instead, I think it’s come home and blend a little. Blend into your life that you had, and start seeping those changes of who you are now and the insight you learned. A very simple, simple example is say you come home, and let’s say you discovered something about yourself that you need to start exercising and taking your health seriously. Well, option number one, and then you want your partner to get onboard as well and they’re not going to eat any sugar anymore. You want them to stop drinking their coffees and their wine as well as that’s what you’re going to do, because that’s often what we do with our partners. We want them to jump on the same realization that you’ve had. And so, so you come home and you’re so excited, and you tell them about this insight, and how that came from childhood, and then this is what you’re going to do, and you’d love for them to jump on board with you. That’s first of all, it’s like, great. That’s your insight, not theirs. That’s your transformation, not theirs. No one likes to be told what to do. So all of a sudden we’re also trying to then wrap our partner into a transformation that they did not necessarily ask for. Even if on some level they want it, which I’ll argue they do because they’re with you. And I believe the heavens brought you together for a reason. However, I think the positive thing that you can do is show them. Start making those changes on your own. Let them see your commitment to saying no to the coffee into the wine without having to tell them. They’re just going to notice those changes that are different. Let them see that commitment of, “Oh wow, she went to the gym five times this week. Okay, interesting. She’s done that for the last month. Okay.”
When they start to see the changes, I think they could get to come to their own conclusions about how they want to change or shift to meet you versus feeling like they have to change your shift to meet you. Therefore, something’s wrong with them, if that makes sense. To show, not tell.
Darla LeDoux: It just doesn’t put such pressure on any of it, right?
Janelle Fraser: Oh absolutely. I think that’s the biggest part.
Darla LeDoux: That’s what we resist.
Janelle Fraser: Yeah, exactly. I think your partner wants to change. They want to evolve. They want to get on your feel good bandwagon. In a lot of ways, who doesn’t want to feel good and be a better version of themselves? I haven’t met a person on the planet, who, in some way, doesn’t want that, but no one wants to be told to do that or forced into it. It has to be their idea. And so you can let it be their idea by showing them and not telling them.
Darla LeDoux: And I’m thinking about my living, for the last however many years, has been helping entrepreneurs sell transformation to their clients. In one format or another, that’s ultimately what we’re doing. And one of the things that people always bump up against is you can’t explain transformation. It has to be demonstrated. People have to feel it. They have to have that internal ‘click’ that says, “Ooh, I want something to be different, even though I don’t understand it, and I don’t know what it is,” and then once they get it, then they get it. And I mean, this is the perpetual problem we’re helping clients solve is selling transformation. So why would your partner be any different? Right?
If you can’t explain it to your clients, how are you going to go explain it to your partner? So yeah, they have to get it on their own.
Janelle Fraser: And I think I would come home, and I would try to be a coach, in a way, to my partner or my relationship. Not that I would be trying to necessarily formally coach him, but he could feel when I had an agenda for his life. And I think we often try to think that we know better for our partner, because of this insight or this change that we’ve had. And it’s like they can feel that. That’s not connecting him to his power to what he wants out of this life. That’s pulling him into my agenda, and I think that’s one of the bottom lines is when you come home and you’re trying to sort of infuse the transformation into your life, oftentimes you’re trying to get your partner onto your agenda. And it’s less about… I think that your agendas, assuming you want to be in this relationship and it’s worth evolving the relationship, which I think would probably be true for a lot of people, that if that is true, if you can answer yes to that question, that it is worth saving and evolving this relationship, then, it’s like the purpose is to get him connected or her connected, whatever the sex of your partner, to their agenda, to their purpose, to the desire that they have inside of them.
So as a result, I remember… So I said earlier, I wanted my partner to be a coach and a trainer and a speaker with me, and that is just not him. So as our journey evolved, once I started tapping more into his world, he wanted to be a professional athlete. He had a vision and a dream that he was, that was so vulnerable to speak, but he also believed who he was. And so over the last five or six years now, he is a professional athlete. He’s a professional MMA, mixed martial arts, fighter. He is ranked very highly in Atlantic Canada and across Canada and is growing that desire and passion and dream of his, and that has pulled him into places that don’t look like retreat rooms, that don’t look like conferences, that don’t look like having a private coach, but that have stretched him, pushed him, made him reach inside of himself in very similar ways that I’m doing but in a different way. But in his way.
And I think now, there’s times in our relationship where he’s leading me. He’s inspiring me. He’s calling a better version of myself forward. When I think about his dream, to me that’s like this ultimate dream. It’s like you’re either going to be a rock star, or a professional athlete, or it’s like… Those are such big crazy dreams, and it’s like, “Wow. How brave of you to reach for that dream!” And years ago when I was beginning my journey, not only was he not reaching for that, that wasn’t even on his radar of possibility, but just through me continuing to one, stop forcing him into doing things, and tapping more into his desire, and showing him my commitment to reaching for what I want, and showing him what was possible versus just always talking about what’s possible, he came to the conclusions on his own. And I remember the day so clearly. He said… I think he was training just casually. That was how it started. He just started training casually, working out in the fighting world, and then all of a sudden one day he says, “I think I’m going to take a fight, and you always ask me what my dream would be, and my dream would be to be a professional fighter,” and I was like, “What? Okay!” And so I think it’s so beautiful when you can allow your partner to open up into what is perfect for them.
Darla LeDoux: You know, Janelle, one of the things you said that struck me when someone comes home, and they’re kind of in that place of getting their partner to be who they want them to be, you use the phrase, “See me, recognize me,” and I think that’s really interesting, because that’s all we want as humans, right? Is really to be seen, to be truly seen for who we really are. And mostly, we spend, and this is my perspective, we spend our lives hiding who we really are and then get mad that people can’t see us. And when you said that, it struck me. That’s actually our job to recognize ourselves, and we put that in the hands of other people and then get upset about it.
Janelle Fraser: There’s no one’s greater hands that we put that into, oftentimes, than our primary partners, the people that we live with. I think we put so much pressure on them and get… We’re the nastiest to our partners, right? I would never treat anyone else on this planet the way I treat my partner sometimes. And I think a huge part of that is because they’re that mirror for us of the ways that we’re not doing that for ourselves.
Darla LeDoux: Yes! So I’ve played with this a lot in my present relationship, and I definitely go in and out of being really good at it, but really focusing on my own self love and my own recognition of what’s amazing about me, and let that be enough. And I find that that opens the possibility of her seeing it.
Janelle Fraser: Absolutely. I actually just made my insight for today that I shared on social media, I always share very in the moment, and this is very true for me this morning. I went into that old thought pattern of kind of what I wanted in terms of like my partner and our intimacy. And I was like, “Oh, you’re just thinking about all the times that I’ve wanted him to go slower and just be more present with me and not rush through our intimate time together.” And I was sort of like thinking about that old story, they’ll often creep up. And I was coming back from the gym, and I just had this moment of like, “Janelle, when was the last time you slowed down and touched your own body with presence? When was the last time you loved on yourself until you were craving more direct sexual contact?” I started just sort of preaching to myself for a minute and it was like, “When was that last time?” And I couldn’t remember when the last time was! And I thought, “I’m putting so much pressure on my relationship,” and that’s an old pattern that I’ll fall into. And I see that with my clients all the time, is that we’re asking our partners for something that we have never done, or very rarely do, for ourselves. And I think that is such a just awful dynamic to get into, because it’s like all the stuff that we can’t do for ourselves, and the ways we can’t make ourselves feel, and the transformations we can’t quite seem to integrate, it’s like our partner’s fault for some reason. That’s just easiest place to throw it and blame it.
Darla LeDoux: I’m just going to repeat that. The transformations we can’t quite seem to integrate, become their fault.
Janelle Fraser: That is exactly what I mean.
Darla LeDoux: That feels so true. I can admit that for myself, having that like, “If you were just like this, then I would get to really own this part of me.”
Janelle Fraser: Yeah! So when people are following along in my work, I talk a lot about intimacy, emotional intimacy as well as physical intimacy and in conversational intimacy, and that’s really my jam with bringing into relationships, and so today it’s like, to me when I was asking myself those questions, one of the things that I’m integrating, a transformation I’ve been integrating for the last few years actively, is really around my own sexuality. And so it’s like I’m wanting these experiences with my partner that I’m not experiencing with myself. And it’s like, how do I expect him to whip out all these like sexual skills out of God knows where I’m expecting him to pull them out of. He’s like, “How am I supposed to like, satisfy this desire in you, because you can’t even tell me what you need or want or how I can support you?” And so I came home today and I literally, before this call, I spent two hours just in the bath, and moving around the house with music, and in my robe, and dancing, and feeling my body, and self-pleasuring, and just giving myself that love and presence and attention. It’s like, I need to experience this transformation that I’m trying to integrate of sexuality. I’m home alone. If I can’t feel it now, when he gets home, I’m definitely not going to be able to feel it, or when I’m moving through the world, and so it’s like, I think we just need to take that responsibility, those transformations that we want to lock in and just remember that they are our responsibility. And so just taking that time for myself today was huge. And I think that’s a constant commitment in relationships is, what are you seeking from your partner? Let’s first check that you are doing that for yourself. Because if you’re not then you honestly have no right to ask your partner for that.
Darla LeDoux: Wow, that’s so good. And it’s so taboo to apply. It’s one thing to apply it to self love or self care and nurturing or something like that, but with sexuality, there’s this stigma that we need to be getting that from our partner.
Janelle Fraser: Yeah. And I think in the transformation in world, we often… Think of a typical retreat. There is tons of vulnerability, tons of connection, tons of intimate conversation, eye contact… Like, just moments, hugs, affection, completely non-sexual. These beautiful moments, and so I think that people experience these, and I know I did, and I know my clients did. And then they come home, and they’re wondering what’s up in their relationship. It’s like feels like there’s this gaping hole inside of their heart and their relationship, because it’s like they just don’t feel that when they come home. And I think that a couple of things that we need to remember that these are the skills.
The skills that I was teaching leaders to facilitate transformations and the experience they wanted in their retreats and with their clients are the same things that I teach my couples. It’s like setting the container and context. How many retreats do you go to where it’s a free for all? None. So even in my relationship, it’s like having, and this is part of the conversation, this is part of the rules I was talking about earlier. What are some containers that we can set that allow for depth, and vulnerability, and openness, and safety, and playfulness, and try new things? And so I teach my couples how to set containers and context for conversations for sexual experience. So just everything in a retreat is intentional. That’s why these transformations happen. And so when we can get intentional with our relationship and have these sacred experiences in our relationship, it’s actually quite, I’m going to say easy, I’m going to use that word, to experience incredible moments with our partners, and learn about one another, and have great intimacy and sex. It’s been such a struggle in my life, and then the moments that it’s easy are the moments I just… The moment you stop letting your relationship kind of be, I’ll call it like on autopilot, you just kind of go with the flow, or it’s like just treating it with more attention and having whether it’s a relationship meeting, or touch point, or we just need some skills, or tools, right?
Darla LeDoux: It’s so brilliant. We do create the container of a retreat with intention and we get the clients who are coming on board with their individual intention, and everybody is… The magic happens beyond the intention, but creating the intention actually sets it in motion. It’s such a great distinction to think, “Oh, how could I use some of that care that I give my business or my clients in my relationship?” It’s so beautiful.
Janelle Fraser: I think we often think about getting it. We want to get it from our partners, because I think as retreat leaders we are giving, right? And we’re pouring into our partners, and we’re facilitating transformations. And I think that in some way, we want someone to do that for us, but our partners, 99% of the time, don’t have those skills or tools to facilitate erotic transformation and emotional healing, first of all. So we’re asking them for something that they cannot give us, and that is just unrealistic anyways. Yeah. It’s like we just need to really take a step back when we’re thinking about what we’re asking our partners for.
Darla LeDoux: So good. So Janelle, I know we could talk about this forever, and I personally am loving the conversation and have so many insights, and I want to give people a next step with you. So you have a free training.
Janelle Fraser: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: I love this title, more Like Friends Than Lovers. I’m guessing some people can relate to this. Can you tell us about the couples training?
Janelle Fraser: Yeah, so it’s just a free training that you can watch on your own or as a couple, and I always share that because a lot of times, I’m going to say at least half the time, the people that are really desiring to learn more, they’re out of place in the relationship where they’re not even necessarily having the conversation yet with their partner about the emptiness that they feel, or the disconnection, or how incredible they feel outside of, in their retreats, and when they’re with their clients, and then when they come home they kind of feel this emptiness. And so I want to just open it up that it is a couples training in terms of it’s how to make the change inside of your relationship when you feel like you’re kind of just accidentally somehow falling into this coexisting trap. So I break down some steps and some things that you can implement and think about. And so it really is the next step to infuse more both emotional and physical intimacy inside of your relationship. And so watch it alone if that feels comfortable for you ,or if your partner is open and ready, then of course they can jump right in and watch it with you as well.
Darla LeDoux: Amazing. So guys, you can find that training at janellefraser.com/couplestraining and Janelle, thank you for doing this work. It feels like such important work, and I know you and I both really look for the root cause, right? How do we really make change, not just surface level change and tackling this conversation of when one person is committed to transformation and the other person chooses to be in relationship with them, thereby also committing to transformation. How to navigate that. It’s so beautiful.
Janelle Fraser: I love how you just said that. You are together for a reason, and that person, whether you stay together forever, that has no bearing on it. It is that you are together for a reason, and so it’s like your transformation isn’t wrong. Your journey to reach out for more isn’t wrong, and their journey to want more or not want more in terms of their own transformation also isn’t right or wrong, but it definitely is a conversation that we need to navigate when we are reaching for more.
Darla LeDoux: Love it. Thank you. Janelle, for joining us and just big virtual hugs. I hope to get to hug you in person soon.
Janelle Fraser: Absolutely.
Darla LeDoux: Bye everyone.
Janelle Fraser: Bye bye.
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