022: Turning Conflict into Connection

Podcast Guest: Emil Harker

021: Preparing for Marriage

Listen to the Show:

In this Episode

Listen in as Dr. Dave and Dr. Liz sit down with Emil Harker, a respected therapist and talented author, to give you some practical tips and tools for turning conflict into connection
and closeness. By following a few powerful principles, we all have the ability to use inevitable conflict for good in our relationships.

0:00 – Introduction: Who is Emil Harker?
3:19 – Conflict is inevitable - tips for dealing with it in the moment
5:40 – Handling situations so you feel good and your partner loves you more
7:29 – Assuming good intent - hijacking the limbic system
10:18 – They want to feel good, they want you to feel good, and they’re doing the best they can
13:34 – Really taking the time to understand your partner’s behavior
15: 38 – Criticisms are a catalyst for conflict
18:02 – Addressing criticisms by agreeing with the element of truth
21:15 – Responding to attacks - criticism, questions, declarations, commands
24:08 – “The Betrayed CEO” - how the fundamental attribution error hurts us
30:23 – Bad things happen, how we handle them will either make or break us
32:48 – Understanding the crap out of your partner - validating their emotional experience
34:41 – Problems aren’t the problem, how we handle the problems are the problem
36:15 – The process creates connection, not the solution
38:20 – The key to a stronger marriage: develop the ability to seek, receive, and respond to feedback
40:37 – Make your marriage a priority
42:56 – Liz’s takeaway: conflict can either be constructive or destructive, it is up to us
43:44 – Dave’s takeaway: Remember who your partner really is - find the message behind the mess

About Emil Harker

Emil has been doing therapy for almost 20 years. He is passionate about getting through the fluffy stuff to the real nuts and bolts that help people turn inevitable conflict into closeness. He has been on Channel 2 Fresh living program for over 10 years and is a frequent expert guest on podcasts, and radio and tv programs. Emil has worked with NBA, UFC, and NFL athletes. He has his own podcast called The Emil Show and his book “You Can Turn Conflict into Closeness” has been well received by professional therapists and couples alike.

Emil Harker Links


Insights and Invites


Dave: When we view others differently, we start treating them differently. It’s a powerful paradigm shift.

Liz: My mantra to myself and to my spouse is: “I give you permission to not be perfect and I will still love you”.

Emil: If the process is what we are devoted to, then no matter what issues we have we will never have to compromise on the closeness and companionship of the intimate relationship.


  • Before responding to a critical attack from your partner, try to practice “agreeing with the element of truth” by owning your flaws and acknowledge what is true in that
    moment. Although it’s natural, try not to get defensive. This only feeds our insecurities. 
  • Practice getting feedback from your partner and responding to it in a positive way. You could do this by asking what they might need you to do differently during conflict and then thanking them for their honesty.
  • Make your marriage a priority by focusing on connection rather than the solution during conflict. You could do this by validating your partner’s emotional experience or taking the time to try to understand their behavior before responding to their criticisms.

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