Interview with Dr. Jeep and Vanessa Naum

In this interview, Dr. George (“Jeep”) and Vanessa Naum explain how to achieve success in marriage.

Best Friends Again is a Physician Marriage Coaching company. Their specialty is in helping physicians and healthcare professionals reignite their marriage.

They use a customized approach based on the unique needs of physicians and healthcare professional families.

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Relationship Coaching

Their experiences include their own battle-tested physician marriage and generational physician family heritage. They have also acquired expertise from coaching hundreds of couples. Applying these experiences enables Jeep and Vanessa to coach failing marriages “off the ledge.”

Their program is called 90 Days to Clarity and Connection. It's a blueprint for guiding healers to heal their relationships, save their families, and enjoy their careers. 

Jeep notes that his experiences working with Vanessa coaching bring many of the rewards of practicing medicine, but with much less stress.

Success in Marriage

Professionals such as physicians face special challenges in maintaining a vibrant relationship. But there are tools and techniques that can be especially helpful.

During our interview, Jeep and Vanessa describe their “Love Huddle” technique as a way to connect and build intimacy. And they describe the most common pitfalls couples experience in their relationships.


Our guests today offer this free gift to listeners: Go to the website at and scroll down to receive a FREE copy of a chapter from Jeep's book What’s Forever For? A Physician’s Guide for everlasting Love and Success in Marriage.”

Also, we encourage listeners to do a relationship needs assessment. It’s a good health and wellness check for your relationship. 

NOTE: Look below for a transcript of today's episode.

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Transcription PNC Podcast Episode 236

Is Everlasting Love and Success in Marriage Possible?

John: All right. Today, we have a slight shift, everybody. This is my first interview with marriage coaches for physicians, and it's also a couple, it's a team. They happen to be married. Let's say hello to Dr. George and Vanessa Naum. Welcome.

Dr. George Naum: Oh, John, it's just so good to talk to you. It's been a while since we've seen each other. Yeah, Philadelphia in person. I've seen you online, but it's really good to talk to you again.

John: All right. Now, before I go any further, I'm going to just let the listeners know that I'm probably going to be referring to George as Jeep because that's his nickname. I don't know where it came from, but I know that's where he goes by. Sometimes the patients call him and his clients I think call him Dr. Jeep. And then we have Vanessa, as far as I know, she does not have a nickname.

Dr. George Naum: Honey.

John: All right. We're going to have a lot of fun today because we're going to learn about marriage coaching, which is different from marriage counselling and therapy. So, we got to be clear on that. But we're going to get right into it. First, why don't both of you take turns or however you want to do this, just tell us about your backgrounds and how you came to be doing what you're doing now.

Dr. George Naum: I am a family physician, have been so for about 30 years. I'm not in practice currently. I have been an advocate of marriage since really, as far back as I can remember, even as a child. I was determined that I wanted to do coaching in conjunction with, when I became a physician no matter what situation that was.

Where my inspiration came from was because I was born in a marriage that was dysfunctional. On top of that, the marriage was a physician marriage. My father was a doctor and a lot of disrespect, a lot of just abusive behaviour. Not a majority physical, but some was physical, mostly emotional and verbal. I saw it with other physician friends of his, and I said to myself I want to be married, but I know that marriage is better than this. I am going to make sure that I have the ability when I get to that point to make a difference in these areas.

So, my father abused the trust in his marriage. Back in the day, he was somebody who you'll understand that there was no residency requirement. You got done, you hung up your shingle, you went out and started practice. So, he was out late and often used the "I'm rounding" or I'm this and I'm that. And that trust was abused and there were affairs. So, it was infidelity. I saw that and I saw how easy that could happen. Especially in regards to a spouse who was very trusting, like my mother.

I was seeing that behaviour and knowing that potential with other physicians and having seen that during my training, I am like, "I want to not only prevent that, but if it happens, I want to be able to resolve that." So that's my inspiration. And I know Vanessa has some other things in her life that fits with that also.

Vanessa Naum: Yes, I come from a very traditional Italian family where the man is the head of the household, and what he says goes. And if you don't do what he says, then hit the road, Jack. My mother, God bless her, I just learned that that is not what I wanted from marriage. However, I married an Italian man and that relationship ended up in a divorce. I just copied basically what I had been living in my childhood and as I was raised.

I really got married too young. I knew what I wanted in a relationship, but he just was not capable. It took me a while to figure out that he just was not capable of it. And we were just really mismatched. I always had my perfect dream husband in my mind. I met Jeep, and boy, did I grill him and grill him because I was not coming within marriage again if it wasn't going to be the right person and with all my boxes being checked. I'm very happy to say that what he wanted from a relationship I also did. We are very, very, very similar that way.

Dr. George Naum: We've been doing coaching really within the first year that we were married because we knew a lot about each other before we decided to get married. It was something that we both wanted to be a part of jointly. And so, it starts back as far as coaching people, that far. Physicians, within the last three or four years we've begun to specialize with that, especially because of the tremendous need now with all the stress that we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis as physicians. That's where we're kind of at right now, as far as what we're focusing on.

John: I think the listeners are going to be just wondering about, so how long have you been married? That might just be something that we're interested in.

Dr. George Naum: 30, it'll be 30 years in November. We've been together for 31, engaged. But yeah, I just wish that it was longer. I wish that we had gotten together sooner, but that wasn't the plan, but I'm ecstatic that did come about and that I waited for the right person and have not at all been unhappy with the choice.

Vanessa Naum: When Jeep and I got engaged, one of the requirements to getting married for our church was doing Pre-Cana. So going through that and seeing such major value in it and learning some tools, we put those into practice and that really lit a fire in us to go into the coaching realm from a volunteer aspect. We spent many, many years, like decades doing that in the volunteer realm.

John: All right. So now tell me what that's like? At some point, along this whole path, we'll throw this in here. Now you actually wrote a book, Jeep, that maybe we should mention, because I think you share a lot in it that both of you have learned over the years. I'm going to just tell them the listeners it's, "What's Forever For?: A Physician's Guide for Everlasting Love and Success in Marriage." Where can they get the book, by the way, just before we get to the next question of mine?

Dr. George Naum: They can get it on our website, which is, and they could get it on Amazon as well.

John: Excellent.

Dr. George Naum: I'm sure other places, but those are the main ones.

John: They can stop by my house I got an extra copy. What does that look like now as far as the coaching that you're doing? What would be a typical scenario? Are you doing it all online? Is it face to face and live? How's that working?

Dr. George Naum: John, you know being a family physician, you like to have, not that this isn't face to face, but it's not chair to chair and looking. Ideally, that's what I would like for it to be, but we both understand the age with which we live and what has occurred as a result of COVID. So many things are digital now that I understand that. Our clients are digitally based. Whether that ever becomes different, I will just have to see, but, yeah, we Zoom just like you're talking with us now.

As far as the biggest issue, I'd say there's probably two and Vanessa could probably contribute to this. Inability to disconnect from the office is probably number one, and what dovetails to that, which often becomes a bigger problem than that is dissolution of communication as a result of that. And we see, but by far and above, by and large, that's it. I knew it was bad, but I've found out that it's even worse than I ever thought.

John: Now, are your clients always like a couple coming on the same call? Do you ever have just an individual or half of the team coming for part of the coaching? How does that work?

Vanessa Naum: We can customize it to however the couple wishes. We've had one-on-ones, we've had couples. What we have is a program that is 90 days and it is 90 days from clarity to connection. And it's taking the couple through the first part, which is clarity, getting to know themselves a little bit more, getting to know each other, and then what do they want for the future?

Docs are just so busy. How often do you all get the time to just sit and think about what you want? You're just pushed in so many directions. So, it's really interesting when you sit down and use the tools that we have. You really get to learn a lot about each other. The second step is, where we deal with challenges. And for example, there are stages in a relationship and there's the romance stage where right before you get married in the first two years of marriage, where it's just absolutely wonderful. And you think that you are going to feel that way for the rest of your life, and that's just not reality.

And so, when reality sets in, then power struggles set in, and then the communication starts shutting down. And the reason it shuts down is because we as human beings want to protect ourselves. So, we go into protection mode. When we go into protection mode and we focus on me, then we're not focusing on we, the couple, and we're not connecting. We go through a number of challenges that occur, that's normal, and teach ways of how to get through that.

Then the last part of our program is about connection. And I would say we get a whole lot more into the sexuality aspect of it than most marriage coaches do. I have training as a sex coach, from an institute in California, San Francisco called The Somatica Method. And it's really learning to not only bring our heads into the game, but really get our bodies into the game, and a whole lot more than we think we're getting them into the game.

Dr. George Naum: A couple of comments that I would add. One is, with clients, it is staggering to see how many really were just for whatever reason and a lot of it is if you were dating and you were in training that a lot of basic things were not even done or discussed. Like superficial conversations about "Oh, I like to go to a movie, I like spectator sports." But not talking about things like, "You're going to be a doctor. I really haven't decided what I want to do yet. Am I okay with moving wherever you're going to move? Am I okay with being a stay-at-home spouse or am I going to work as well? How are we going to handle children? How many children do we want to have? What are our similarities? Can we have a discussion on an intellectual level that fits both of us?" And sometimes this is in marriages that have been 10, 15, 20 years, and these basic tools were never talked about nor were they ever given these kinds of tools by any kind of marriage preparation program before marriage.

Vanessa Naum: And I'll give you an example. Jeep and I have a good marriage. Is that saying that we haven't had pitfalls that we have had to go through? We have gone through things that most people would be shocked to hear about. One of the issues that we had was, after our third child, I wanted to stay home. I had been working with him in the practice. I wanted to stay home because I had mommy guilt with the first two. I just thought, "Now it's my time with him." Of course, after working and then staying home and myself not being intellectually challenged on a daily basis and raising three kids, by the time he walked in the door at night I was ready for him to take over.

Dr. George Naum: And that's where this disconnection issue comes from. And I was the poster child for that, let's say. I would be in my practice, oftentimes I leave at 7:00, I'd come home at 7:00 or 800 and you only know about that. I would have a day fraught with different things that I would have to address. I would come through the door and my brain was burned. I had nothing left.

And so, my thought was to go to my chair, ease it back, look at the TV, and for an hour or two, however long it took just to focus on that and decompress. Well, I did that. I did it a lot as a matter of fact. And here's Vanessa who's behind me, she's got all of our kids and they're pawing at her and she's trying to get dinner and it's later. The kids are having to go to bed and so baths are going to need to be done. And then after that, stories and getting them into bed. I'm just sitting there oblivious to all this.

After a while, she said, "Wait a minute, we decided that we were going to have kids. We talked about how things were going to be with the office. And it's like, you don't remember any of those things. And then plus I have things about my day that I want to talk to you about and decompress with." After a considerable amount of discussion, communication, we came to the solution that I would come home for the first hour, hour and a half, and then I would veg out. And after that we would have dinner or if dinner wasn't a big deal, which oftentimes it wasn't when you have kids and you're trying to juggle all these things, but I would go up and bathe the kids and then take them to their rooms and read a story.

Then Vanessa would do the dishes or whatever else downstairs. And then I'd say, "Okay, let's sit down. I want to hear about your day." And go from there. But if she didn't have the courage to tell me, because as she said, I felt bad for you, but this isn't fair to me. And if she didn't have the courage to bring that up, I would've missed out on so many things as a father with my kids had I not come to understand that. Plus, it would've created a gap that would've just gone wider and wider and wider, but she did. And so, we were able to move on from that.

Vanessa Naum: The point I'd like to add is while that explanation sounded beautiful, it didn't go that well. There were years of time in between, there were arguments, the power struggle, him saying, "You don't understand what I go through on a daily basis. I just need to chill." And you know how that goes. So, it's putting the tools that we have into practice to really hear what the other person is saying, feel what they're feeling, and then make a decision.

John: I like all that. Number one, I like the idea that you have a 90-day plan. That is cool, because I think people that are interested, they think, okay, how long is this going to take? It's going to take me five years to figure this out. At least in 90 days, I can try some different things. You can show me some things I can try. I'm just relating too to my wife and me, and the thing is like, I'm the person that just shuts down if there's an argument. Then I literally go up to a week without even talking to my wife, which I don't do anymore. But if I had a way to get past that and I guess I just made a commitment to myself that I'm not going to do that, even if she's glaring at me when we go to bed, I'm going to actually talk to her.

But these sound like some good tools. So that makes me want to ask you about, in the book, I was looking at something that you were calling the love huddle, which I think might relate to this. Could you just explain that? Because I think it's something having to do with trying to make sure you're doing that communication, right?

Dr. George Naum: Yeah. In fact, when we communicate, sometimes these communications turn into arguments. Although arguing is a type of communication, most of the time, it's not a productive type of communication. And if these arguments over the same thing continue to go on, then they can escalate. And you don't want them to escalate.

What the love huddle is about is you take this topic that you are at an impasse about, and initially anyway, you take the emotion out of it. Each of you goes into the room, you phrase this problem in the form of a question. Let me give an example. You're not paying enough attention to me. And so, you've argued about this and you'd phrase the question like, "How do I feel about the question that you are not paying me enough attention?"

One of you gets in one side of the room, another gets out another side of the room, or you can even go into separate rooms and you sit for 20 minutes and you write about this. You're not being influenced by the other while you're writing. At the end of 20 minutes, you come back in and each of you reads each other's answers and what you have said. Then we tell people to read it twice, once with your head, once with your heart.

Then after that, then you discuss. And it may be the discussion is five minutes, but at least it's five minutes that you've had unfettered feelings that are entering into this. And then you can bring it up again and increase it to 10 minutes and 15 minutes, however long that it takes. But you've been able to get your feelings down. You've written them down without the influence of somebody telling you you're wrong. I don't know why you feel that way. Something in training, feelings aren't wrong or right, they just are. And taking that into consideration when you're writing, it just takes a lot of stress off.

Vanessa Naum: Plus, you're not watching body language.

Dr. George Naum: Yeah, exactly.

Vanessa Naum: And we could all be in the same room and not speak, but watching body language, we perceive moods of our spouses that way. We make assumptions based on body language. And that might not be what he's feeling at all. Whereas getting it down on paper separately, without influencing, you're not getting cut off. You're saying everything that you want to say. It's a very effective method.

Dr. George Naum: And you know what assumptions do.

John: Right.

Dr. George Naum: You know how that word's made out. It's not something that you're going to do this once and it's going to take care of it. Something that you have to work at just like communication. We're so busy that we just go to the default position that, well, it's just going to work itself out. We're not going to talk about it. And so yes, we're busy. Yes, we have things. But is your marriage, is your relationship important? And if it is, you schedule that time, you get on your phone or whatever and say, "Okay, honey, what do you got going today?" And then you take that time an hour, half-hour, you put it in, you stick to that schedule, you communicate then. And it's something that you both have to agree to. Because if that doesn't happen, then the gap gets wider. And all the other things with lack of communication come.

Vanessa Naum: One of the traps I fell into was because Jeep would come home and go straight to the chair, I just automatically assumed that he didn't care about me. And if he really cared about me, he would see I'm struggling trying to cook dinner with these kids hanging off of me and he would come and rescue me. So, here's where you have two opinions. And what do you do with two opinions?

Dr. George Naum: That aren't coming close together?

Vanessa Naum: Exactly.

Dr. George Naum: They're totally divergent.

John: I have a couple of comments here. First, probably I'd come home sometime and my chair would be thrown in the trash. That would be one way to express it. But no, I can imagine though, the first few times you do this and maybe some of your coaches, your clients can attest to this. I don't know. But that writing exercise could be several pages, if not an entire book in and of itself.

Dr. George Naum: It's okay. If you can write that much, obviously, we do this. We coach it, but we do it. And sometimes it is a couple pages. Other times, you're having a little bit of trouble getting it out. And so, if it is several pages, you stick to 5 or 10 minutes and if it's starting to dissolve into an argument and he said, she said, then you stop. And then you do it the next night or a couple of nights thereafter and sit down and do it. After a while, you look forward to that as a way to diffuse a situation that's bad or worsening.

John: Well, I guess if I saw something like that coming on, I might say, "I'm getting the paper out. It's time to write. Start writing."

Vanessa Naum: Yeah. It's like, "We need dialogue about that."

Dr. George Naum: Right, exactly. And say, we don't have time to do it now, but whenever it is after dinner, before you go to bed, okay, let's sit down here and let's do this. And it's active participation by both people. This doesn't work if you're just the only one that's doing it. And that's something that has to be stressed.

John: Now, I have another question here off a little bit in a tangent, but not too bad. Both of you were doing other things before you started really doing the formal kind of coaching for physician couples. How does it compare to what you were doing before? Do you like it a lot? Do you kind of like it? Where does it fit looking back of the things you've done in your life professionally, how is this standing up?

Dr. George Naum: For me, the reason that I went into medicine specifically, family practice, was I enjoyed the relationship. My dad was one and I tailed him all kinds of times and went to the hospital with him and went to the office with him and I would see how these relationships developed. And that is what drew me. And so, is this as good as medicine? It's pretty close because of the ability that I have and we have to make a significant, positive difference in couples' lives. I love it. It's pretty close, John, I would say. Pretty close.

Vanessa Naum: Yeah, absolutely. I am an accountant by profession. What this allows me to do is it allows me to just be more creative. Plus, since it's a topic that we really care deeply about, and we spent, like I said, many years in the volunteer realm, it's just something that is good for us too. And because it's good for us, we want to spread the news to other people because you don't have to live in a miserable marriage. It doesn't have to be that way.

John: It's kind of like being in a miserable job, that's what we tell our physician friends. You don't have to be miserable at your job. You can do something about that. Well, the same thing applies to a marriage, I would think.

Vanessa Naum: Yes. What we've found is that there are many out there really disliking their jobs and they're miserable there and they're also miserable at home.

Dr. George Naum: We had a client and it was the husband specifically. And he said, "Yeah, I've got all kinds of issues, but I really don't think there is any solution to this." My initial contact with him was, "I'm sorry that you feel that way, and I'm sorry for whatever kind of bad situation that you had with any prior coaching or any prior counseling, but all is not lost." And again, I say this to everybody, you're not alone. You think that you are, but you're not, and you don't have to suffer in silence.

Vanessa Naum: We believe that if there are two willing people wanting to make the relationship better, that there is hope, no matter what has happened between them. That's how strongly we feel about keeping people together.

John: Well, we're going to run out of time here pretty soon. We could go into a lot more, I will say though, that there's more examples and some solutions, I guess, in the book, of course. So, people should look that up and check out your website. Again, it's And they can pretty much access and find a place to get the book and all that.

You just kind of did it, but I want you to, again, before we let you go, maybe give some advice to physicians that are listening, who either one, are having some trouble with their relationship or two, are partly because they're having such trouble in their careers. What kind of advice would you give for those people in that situation?

Dr. George Naum: I will say that we've seen relationships where one spouse there's been three examples of infidelity, three by one, and they were able to come back from that. Because even though these things happened, there was still this underlying, it may have been pretty deep, there still was this underlying desire to somehow get back together.

Granted that's an extreme example, but it is an example that as desperate as you may think that it is, if you really want this to work, it can. Because as Vanessa said, we've had our own issues that we've dealt with. And some that have occurred that had we not had a strong marital bond. And a lot had to do with medicine. If we didn't have this strong marital bond, it would've broken us up, but we've not only survived, but we've thrived. So, never think that it's too late, and there is help out there.

Vanessa Naum: And also, if work is miserable, work on home and make that something that you look forward to coming home to. Like when days are really bad with Jeep he would say, "I just couldn't wait to come home and be with you." And it's like, I was his piece amidst the storm. He knew that it was safe to come home and that I would listen to him, and together as a team we would work through that.

Dr. George Naum: When work is the lion's den, you want to come home to not another lion's den. You want to come home to a safe place. That's what we want to try to get with people that are suffering. So far, it's worked out pretty well.

John: Excellent. Well, we know that physicians have a very high incidence of marital issues for whatever reason, we can go down the list, but I appreciate what you've shared today with us. I think the audience is going to get a lot out of it. Remind us, not to ignore that part of our lives even as we're struggling with the professional side. And you also pointed out another thing here, which is that coaching is always a good option for physicians. We like to help people. And coaching is one way that we can help people that have all the upsides and almost none of the downsides of practicing medicine.

Dr. George Naum: Absolutely.

John: That's why so many physicians end up going into something like that. I will put the links in the show notes to what we've talked about today, and anything else I can think of that relates to people getting help from you. And of course, I assume they can even just maybe touch base with you if they just have questions about maybe doing something similar to what you're doing. So, I really appreciate that.

Vanessa Naum: Yeah. We have a needs assessment on the website. Anyone looking, just take a look at that and see where their relationship is.

Dr. George Naum: I didn't mean to interrupt you, honey. But the way I have talked to people is, we all talk about wellness, we all talk about health wellness. Well, you need to have wellness in your relationship. So, sit there, take the needs assessment and see where your wellness is and it's a good maintenance check-up for yourself. And taking that, you may start to realize things that are an issue that you really never thought that there were. Your spouse probably does, but you're taking it. And so, it's amazing when you take what people, our brethren, especially look at and say, "Really, am I guilty of that? Yeah. I think maybe I am."

John: All right, we'll have to do that for sure. It's kind of a check on the relationship and the marriage and see if anything pops up that is a little bit of a warning. All right. Well, I thank you again for being here today. And with that, I'm going to say goodbye to both of you.

Vanessa Naum: Thank you so much.

Dr. George Naum: Thanks so much, John. It's always good to see you and talk to you.

John: All right. Take care.


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