Kristen Bell is an absolute delight as a human being. Dax Shepard is a little darker but a hilarious comedian. In his new podcast, Dax takes on the role as an armchair expert of all kinds while interviewing guests. In his first episode, his wife begrudgingly agrees to sit down for an interview all the while wishing she was at Michael’s (#relatable). You make think that this has the makings of an adorable lovefest, but you would be very mistaken. The episode starts out very tense + almost caused me, someone who dislikes others in uncomfortable situations, to stop listening. But I was prepared for it thanks to Dax’s disclaimer at the beginning.
In the midst of, and once you get passed all the slights + distrust, you will find some amazing nuggets of wisdom. You don’t see them coming, but they make a powerful statement. Plus you learn A LOT about the Dax + Kristen as a couple + as individuals along the way. You get a glimpse into their relationship + how much effort they put into themselves + their relationship to make it work. This is something they stress on the podcast + also in social media. They don’t want to fool anyone into thinking love is easy + that really comes through in during this podcast.
The Glass of Water Metaphor
Kristen Bell + Dax Sheppard share several stories about their lives throughout the duration of this podcast, the most powerful was when they talked about getting glasses of water while on the couch. Having grown up in different families, Dax + Kristen had very different interpretations of love – very much like the 5 love languages if you will. For Dax, you showed love by taking care of your own stuff + not adding any burdens, no matter how small to other people. Kristen Bell’s family showed affection by doing things + serving one another. Early on in their relationship, this posed an interesting juxtaposition and highlighted by communication is so key.
Occasionally when laying on the couch, Kristen might ask Dax to get her a glass of water. To Dax + his interpretation of love, this meant that she didn’t love him. She didn’t respect or value his load because she would add to it. On the flip side, to natural nurturer Kristen, she was giving Dax an opportunity to nurture her – something she enjoyed doing to him. This left them in an interesting position. No matter which route they took, one person was interpreting a lack of love or respect. By asking for water Kristen’s attempt to allow Dax to love her made him think she didn’t love him. He never saw the numerous times she got him water without having to be asked, he only saw this moment. Once they realized what the other person was saying + that this was an issue of their love languages, they were able to better understand, connect, and show love to each other.
This may seem like a silly story, but I think the principle plays out in our relationships (and friendships) way more than we think. When we are asking or giving love, we so often assume our partners give + receive in the same way. These miscommunications can lead to hurt feelings + damage to credibility. If you’re a person who feels love through words of affirmation, but your partner is an “actions speak louder than words” type, you may be left feeling inadequate + unloved. Having open communication with your partner can save you unintentional heartache + cultivate a healthier relationship.
Kristen Bell’s Happiness to Suffering Scale
The second big piece of wisdom came from Kristen Bell. The couple spends a lot of time reflecting on good vs. evil + what makes someone a good person. Kristen grew up fairly religious + was taught a very binary version of good + bad. As she grew up, she realized it was much more of a scale. Her moral code weighs happiness vs. suffering. Does this decision hurt anyone? If not, then it isn’t inherently bad. When it comes to how you treat people + things, are you helping or hurting? I never quite put it into those words, but this is very similar to how I see the world. If you aren’t hurting anyone (yourself included) then you do you. I don’t have to agree with it, but I am certainly not going to condemn it. If we look through the lens of what will cause the most happiness + least amount of suffering (for everyone) our world would be a much better place.
This can also play a role in your relationships. The couple recounts two instances where Dax royally screwed up by Kristen’s standards. Instead of lashing our or chastising him, she realized he understood his mistake + that showing him kindness – even in her anger – would benefit their relationship much more. Once she decided it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for her, she took the needs of her partner into account over her desire to punish him. I have a habit of wanting wrong people to know their wrong + not being afraid to be the messenger. But how much better would all our lives be if we showed each other a little grace + genuine forgiveness by realizing that may not always be what the person needs, especially if they realize + feel remorse for their mistake.
This podcast is a hefty listen at 2 hours. However, if the review above hasn’t already convinced you, let me reiterate that it is worth it. Shave off some time by not listening to the corrections from their producer, but that part is actually pretty funny. So, I say enjoy the whole thing. I don’t think the rest of Armchair Expert is for me, but I am glad I heard this one. Listen through the embedded player above + check out more episodes of The Armchair Expert. Add to your Dax + Kristen Bell fix below.