200: Creating Together in Partnership with Vienna Pharaon and Connor Beaton
“The relationship is a third body.” – Connor Beaton
Hey, guys! Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio). In this podcast, we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey
This week we’re talking about couples — with a couple! Vienna Pharaon and Connor Beaton have been guests on podcast episodes 129 and 128, respectively, but that was well before they got engaged! Now they are an official pair, and they work together and separately as therapists.
One of the most important topics that we all are interested in is relationships. That’s what both of them focus on together. They’re creating, and they have courses together and separately. Though it might be a mystery to some individuals how intimate and professional relationships can co-exist, the thing is, they can — with the right tools and knowledge, of course!
So, today, read on as we talk about co-creating as a couple, what healthy co-working relationships are, and how couples can navigate conflicts.
If you’re ready to know what it takes to be successful while in a relationship with your business partner, then this is definitely for you. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Who are Vienna Pharaon and Connor Beaton?
Vienna Pharaon and Connor Beaton are therapists— and newlyweds!
Vienna has been a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York City for over five years. She’s worked with countless individuals, couples, and families to help them strengthen themselves and their relationships.
This is what led her to create Mindful Marriage & Family Therapy, where Vienna focuses on helping her clients enhance their emotional well-being to improve their interpersonal relationships. She also works with them to gain insight into the root of their emotional triggers. She and her team also provide necessary tools for their clients to feel more in control of their lives.
Meanwhile, Connor is also a fantastic therapist who specializes in doing men’s shadow work. He helps men work with the unknown parts of themselves — the parts that sabotage and get in the way when they’re trying to build healthy relationships or businesses.
He is also a man of many talents, having an excellent knowledge of business and personal development. He can work with anyone from any background or culture with ease due to his extensive experience working globally. Connor doesn’t just do online courses, retreats, and one-on-one consultation sessions: he also hosts podcasts. His podcast, Mantalks, offers modern guys advice on how they can evolve into their authentic selves while being accountable for things that matter most.
In this episode today, this duo is sharing their years of experience and knowledge in building successful relationships while co-working with romantic partners. You’ll take away so much! Let’s dive in.
Co-Creating as a Couple
There is a specific energy that happens when two people come together in partnership: and it’s not just the romantic kind. For example, when two people with different skills come together to create something, the results are often overwhelmingly positive and may even be life-altering. This energy drives couples or business partners alike to keep creating, as they do their best work when they partner with another individual. This is what Connor saw at the beginning of his relationship with Vienna.
“I definitely saw the merit, growth, and expansion for each of us individually within the possibility of working together. And I also saw the impact that we, as a couple, could have in our work that could deepen our impact with people.” – Connor Beaton
But before this can happen, there are struggles that any couple must face. For Connor and Vienna, their contrasting personalities proved to be the most difficult hurdle to come at first.
“I was an only child growing up…I’ve been creating and establishing myself in a certain way on my own. And I wanted to do that autonomously. So when Connor started talking about merging certain things, that felt threatening to me.” – Vienna Pharaon
The process of creating things together can be a challenge for many couples. Some of us feel like professional boundaries are crossed. At times, insecurities can surface, and we feel like we can’t stop comparing ourselves to our partners. But if we take the time to work through insecurities and communicate openly, many can collaborate successfully. In the case of Connor and Vienna, they were even able to discover something beautiful in each other.
“I think the first time I saw Connor work with people, I was pretty blown away. I think my sense of respect really shifted significantly.” – Vienna Pharaon
There is indeed power in working together. If we can find a balance, the outcome can be fantastic for both parties involved. This is particularly true for couples who could use their creative assets for something that would have more impact than what they had been doing individually. However, overcoming these obstacles takes time, patience, and a strong commitment from both sides, like all couples do.
Alchemizing Together in a Partnership
We can have such a powerful impact on the world, but it often doesn’t happen without some partnership, —whether it’s a one-on-one partnership or a bigger group collaboration. It won’t always come easy, but it’s very much possible.
Just like Vienna and Connor, they were able to push against their own insecurities. As a result, they were able to work together for the greater good. Their secret? They can alchemize their relationship both personally and professionally.
Some of the learnings we can all take from them include the following.
#1: Setting Boundaries
Setting clear boundaries can help keep couples focused on their goals and manage stress when things come along that throw off a part of their plans. Vienna explains why this should be important to any couple who wants to create or build something professional together.
“I honestly think that most of this comes down to the clarity that we are individuals first. Then, we shift into this relationship.” – Vienna Pharaon
For example, setting clear boundaries and structures in a professional relationship with a romantic partner or close friend might mean ensuring that the partner is on board with what’s been planned before rolling out a big project. It can even be as simple as knowing who needs to call this person or charge the camera batteries. In this way, they can understand what the parameters are and still be creative without sacrificing their personal and intimate relationship together.
Connor also thinks the same way about the importance of structures in relationships. According to him:
“In a relationship, there’s you, there’s me. Then there’s a relationship, which is the third body. But before this can happen, a person needs to reflect and internally identify what they need to operate in this dynamic. It’s crucial to know what they value and the boundaries they need to set. In this case, they would still feel tended to and taken care of.” – Connor Beaton
Like Connor and Vienna, I also believe that too often, when couples start a working relationship together, that working relationship can begin to consume what was the intimacy of their romantic relationship. This happens as work and personal lives overlap, and their life as a couple gets lost. Connor gives a few practical pieces of advice to avoid this scenario from happening.
“Create some boundaries around when to discuss work. Also, make sure to carve out a lot of time to protect the intimacy of the relationship. For Vienna and me, we go on dates where we wouldn’t talk about courses or events and just focus on ourselves.” – Connor Beaton
#2: Be Wary of Codependency
Whether it’s co-working or marriage, Connor and Vienna give their thoughts on codependency. For Connor, he sees codependency as a way of outsourcing emotional care — confidence, worth, value — because we don’t want to contact the deeper part of ourselves.
Thus, to work through a person’s tendency to co-depend, Connor reminds us of the importance of intimacy.
“The etymology of intimacy is a Greek word, intimus, which means innermost. So the origins of intimacy is ‘into me, I see.’…It really is about diving into our origins and our pain. ” – Connor Beaton
His perspective resonates with how his wife, Vienna, looks into understanding personal relationships. For Vienna, the way individuals act in their adulthood is all an extension of the real fabric of an individual and their origin stories. She sees these stories as something that stems out from our childhood.
“We are very attuned as children. We want to make the system function, lessen the load and relieve the system. I think relief is an essential word when we talk about codependency. There’s an attempt at relieving something that’s going on or someone who’s struggling. If I can relieve you, then you’ll stay close to me. If I can relieve you, then you’ll love me more. There’s a loop that happens there, and that loop obviously comes along with us.” – Vienna Pharaon
The danger of codependency lies in the possibility of the relationship diminishing when couples outsource their self-worth or safety to each other. There is also that thwarted sense of sacrifice, where one diminishes themselves to be responsible for somebody else’s emotional capacity or incapacity. Both hinder individuation and sovereignty, which are crucial in one’s creative space and ability to live life to the fullest.
Thus, as a partner, whether in a professional or personal venture, it is our responsibility as co-creators to offer a supportive, listening presence. We can, however, alchemize this situation by being aware of boundaries and self-care practices for ourselves while remembering an opportunity to generate new ideas or connections in the process.
Navigating Through Conflicts
In the process of co-creating, there will inevitably be conflicts. It may happen in one’s own head or with the other person. Disputes can arise from different opinions on approaching the situation, differing levels of commitment, and time invested into projects worked together. Thus, to navigate through these scenarios properly, Vienna and Connor suggest the tips below.
#1: Don’t try and solve conflict when you’re in conflict.
Connor and Vienna emphasize the importance of not doing anything with too much intensity when in conflict. Connor explains in detail:
“There are two types of conflict: generative conflict, which turns into connection and intimacy, and the conflict that is going to deteriorate …the intimacy and the connection of the relationship.” – Connor Beaton
When couples start to work together, many things will naturally begin to come forward: insecurities, control mechanisms, lack of safety or trust, or whatever the case may be. Though we may be tempted, he suggests that taking time for ourselves and creating space between each other is the better path to take. It gives room for reflection by allowing yourself to process your emotions before getting back to discussing what just happened.
#2: Prioritize self-regulation.
When conflict comes up, there’s always a tendency for us to tell our other half, “You’re angry, you need to calm down,” or, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” or, “You always do this or say that.” According to Connor, though, it doesn’t really help in the process of conflict resolution.
Instead, when we say things like this, our partner ends up shutting down completely to protect themselves. Other times, they’ll start to criticize the other person’s reactivity, which only lengthens the process.
Thus, he advises that we need to wage war and reel in the nets to ourselves to prioritize self-regulation in those moments. As we begin doing so, this may create a safe space for our partners to express their emotions without feeling like they have no choice but to react.
#3: Create agreements on how you are going to deal with conflict.
One of the best ways to make a relationship healthy is to deal with conflict in an open, honest, and constructive way. Thus, couples may also come up with a structure and agreement on how to deal with conflicts.
“Most couples have shared values that they know about, but the majority of them don’t have agreements on how to deal with conflict … I’ve found that in most cases, when there’s structure, conflicts turn into humor or intimacy, or love. It can even be like learning a deeper understanding of one another.” – Connor Beaton
Connor’s words helped me realize what Conflict Alchemy means. In his words: “It’s transmuting conflict into something generative.” This transformation may take years and might require a third party to make it work. Still, it is worth it if you want your relationship and partnership to be successful.
Be a Creative Alchemist With Vienna Pharaon and Connor Beaton
Alchemy is defined as taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.
With that being said, I define Identity Alchemy as the process of deconstructing who you don’t want to be to create who you want to become.
Through it, you’ll be able to identify your shadows and shed them slowly. I believe that the deconstruction process of life and your inner world is such a massive part of understanding who you are, so you can curate everything you need to become the person you want to become. In general, I noticed that the more inner work I do — the more profound shadow work I do to understand myself — the better life becomes, and the closer I feel to wholeness.
There’s an alchemy in how we co-create when we have a partner. This is a path that’s not too easy as, at times, we might be forced to take a look at our shadows or parts of ourselves that we don’t want to see. However, this doesn’t mean that we should get discouraged with the process of co-creating. On the contrary, it means that we’re humans and we’re not alone in our life’s creative journey. Hopefully, the tools given by Connor and Vienna can help us create a better life individually and together.
Today, I would also like everyone to know that my identity alchemy course is coming up. It aims to create a congruent personal brand from the inside of your inner world to the outer visuals you’re building through photography, video, and design. Also, as you might know, my creative outlet is making hats. People are buying hats and booking photoshoots, and it’s becoming a whole thing, which has been really exciting. So if you want to check out all the fun designs, Instagram is at @onkenhat.
Also, thank you so much for checking out today’s episode! If you enjoyed it as much as I did, make sure to share it on Instagram! Don’t forget to tag Vienna @mindfulmft, Connor @connor.beaton, and me, @nickonken. You may also check out more of Vienna’s work at her website, and finally, make sure to listen to Connor’s podcast and visit his website, too!
Also, make sure to leave me a five-star review on Apple Podcasts so that I can share this with more Creative Alchemists like you!
Remember, being a Creative Alchemist can happen even while co-working and in partnerships.
Until next time —
You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!
“When we’re in conflict, there’s an opportunity to learn something new about the self and the other.” – Vienna Pharaon
Some things we learn in this podcast:
- When did Connor and Vienna first work together [11:40]
- How can couples work together [13:30]
- How do you balance a relationship and a work relationship [15:00]
- How does codependency hold people back [28:10]
- What is individuation [28:30]
- What makes a healthy relationship [32:00]
- How to deal with codependency [35:00]
- What is the difference between codependency and sovereignty [39:00]
- How to navigate conflict [52:35]
- What is fawning [55:40]
- What is conflict alchemy [1:06:20]
- Listen to ONKEN radio Episode 128: Vienna Pharaon – Unpacking Your Inner World for Better Relationships
- Listen to ONKEN radio Episode 129: Connor Beaton – How Personal Growth Catalyzes Your Creativity
- Onken Hat