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On Purpose with Jay Shetty
Esther Perel ON: Finding Love & the Real Reason Couples Break Up
Esther Perel ON: Finding Love & the Real Reason Couples Break Up

Esther Perel ON: Finding Love & the Real Reason Couples Break Up

On Purpose with Jay ShettyGo to Podcast Page

Esther Perel, Jay Shetty
35 Clips
Jul 12, 2021
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How do I make a request that doesn't turn into a protest instead of criticizing the other person, tell them what you want and tell them what you want, without implying that they're not doing it because then they pay attention only to the fact that you told them you're not doing it. You're wrong. It's you again. And then they will basically do whatever uman being does, which is defend themselves because nobody likes to be attacked.
Hey everyone, welcome back to on purpose. The number one Health podcast in the world, thanks to each and every single one of you that come back every week to listen, learn and grow. Now, I'm really excited for this conversation because I've been speaking to this guest for a while to get this to happen. And I'm really excited because I know that this is a theme and a topic and a subject that is something you have so many questions about
Psychotherapist, a New York Times bestselling author. Esther perel is recognized as one of, today's most insightful and original voices on Modern relationships fluent in 9 languages. She hums therapy practice in New York City where she is today and serves as an organizational consultant for Fortune, 500 companies around the world, her celebrated TED Talks have garnered more than 20 million views and her International bestseller mating in captivity.
T unlocking, erotic intelligence became a global phenomenon. Translated into 25 languages. Her newest book is the New York Times, bestseller the State of Affairs rethinking infidelity. As there is also an executive producer and host of the popular podcast, where should we begin? Please give a big warm. Welcome to none other than esta. Por El estor. Thank you so much for doing this.
It's a pleasure to be here. It's been a long time coming.
I have
It's been it's been too long and this is truly one of my favorite books. And I was just saying earlier to you Offline that we have so many mutual friends and your name pops up all the time that I can't believe we haven't met yet but I'm so looking forward to having dinner with you one day soon. But I want to Dive Right In make it happen. We will we will I want to Dive Right In because I mean relationships is just the core of our being
In the core of our lives. And as you know, they cause us so much joy, but they also create can create so much pain in our lives and you know, you always say the quality of our relationships, determines the quality of Our Lives. I want to ask you. When did you start to First experience that? When did you first start to notice that?
That I noticed it because there had been such a tremendous
Loss of loved ones, a family members of my parents, entire Community. I know, because they came out of World War 2 and the Holocaust as the sole survivors, the absence of the connections was what highlighted the importance of the connections. We talked about people who I will never meet and have never met. We talked about what it means to experience the decimation of a community.
T to be immigrants to create new community, to make new friendships. What does it feel like to love again? When you've been so dehumanized? What does it mean to trust again to play again to fall in love to make love? And I think that I would say I was four years old when these conversations began for me that I always thought people, people, people, you can have money. You can have education. If you don't have the loved ones, the people, the real
The ones that make the eulogy and not the CV as David Brooks often distinguishes. That that is where it's the heart of the matter
lies. Yes. I think I mean, it's such a beautiful answer and you can see how, how these beautiful purpose that you have today comes from so much pain in one sense and challenging and these these stresses and presses. And if anyone who's stresses and pressures, sorry, if anyone's listening or watching right now are
Hope you're hearing how you may be going through a really tough relationship or a tough loss right now, but often that can be the birthplace of so much power and so much greatness, I wanted to ask you as that from your perspective, what do you think is the biggest challenges that we faced for our relationships during the quarantine and lockdown? Because I feel like this is just the biggest part of our lives that has been affected has been our relationships. You know what has been the biggest challenge?
Then for our relationships during the quarantine or that you're hearing from clients people, you're working with and the communities that you're serving. What are you hearing?
It's a great question. I would divide it in three men categories. The first thing is that lockdown, quarantine pandemics disasters, our relationship accelerators. What it means is that when you deal with,
A massive Global event like this, it puts you in touch with mortality we are. It is a it is a pandemic. So life is short, life is fragile and so you begin to rearrange your priorities. What truly matters who is really important, who are the few people. I'm going to make sure to stay in touch with the accelerator says, I've waited long enough. I'm out of here. I want something else. The accelerator.
So says, what am I waiting for? I like you. Let's move in together, so you get the beginnings and the endings, really heightened the pandemic. Also highlighted, all the cracks that existed in the relationships, but also highlighted, all the lights that shines through the cracks in the relationship. So people got to really experience their strengths but also their challenges with each other the pandemic highlighted how much when you live
Eve with a partner, you have a rhythm, you know. You move away from each other. You leave for the day. One of the people travels, both people travel, you come back. It's like an accordion. You expand, you get some air, you get input from the world and then you come back together. Here people who live together with 24/7 on top of each other with no are now, you know, I've written mating in captivity to say that fire needs are, this was mating in captivity the quarantine Edition. No are at all.
Coming into the relationships, people needing to flatten the curve and ending up flatlining themselves. Then, what lacked as what was missing as well, is that a relationship dances between the need for security and stability, and the need for novelty and exploration, and risk-taking and experiences, and we could not do any of that decision. We had to completely stifle the erotic, the erotic, in the sense of what makes us feel alive curiosity at.
Adventures, novelty change risk, taking that whole side of us, had to be shut down, so that we could feel stable secure and safe and that made people really feel that the life, the energy was being siphoned out of their experiences and out of their relationships. And for those of us who were alone, this prolonged isolation with the prolonged uncertainty about how long the isolation will even last really was.
Crippling, to people the degree of loneliness degree of longing. The degree of touch hunger that people have experienced. I don't think we've even begun to understand the long-term effects of all of that. And this is just talking about adults. I haven't even begun to talk about what this has done to the little ones that live with
us, that is such a great analysis. That is without a doubt, the best analysis, I've heard of how the quarantine has affected our relationships. Thank you so much for that, I think.
I was listening and I was just nodding the whole time. I was like, that is so true. That is so true and I'm sure everyone is listening is feeling the same way. You know, when we think about relationships during these times of extreme pressure, there are those of us that are trying to be the perfect partner, the perfect parent, the perfect person at this time. And there are those of us that are just so overwhelmed that we can't even feel
Like we're getting ourselves together, whichever side you're on from that perspective. How do you approach a relationship at times of pressure? What is an effective way to approach relationships at times? That a completely unexpected completely? You know, no one could have predicted. This was going to happen. What do you what are you meant to do at that time? What's the right thing to do? If there is one?
Well, I will start by saying that the right thing if you want to call it like,
That is certainly not to try to be perfect and to think about optimization at all time, there is other things, you know, I did a whole season for the podcast. Where should we begin on? Couples under lockdown, couples in. Nigeria in Sicily Germany. In New York that were in the middle of April and May but this could still be today. Are this is not pass a at all about what we're the tensions that they were experiencing. What were the questions? So you had the couple that is
On the verge of divorce and that suddenly has to be together just as one person is about to move out and basically, they have to just be civil, they don't have to be perfect, you just have to be kind. Then you have the couple in Sicily, where the woman goes to work in the hospital and the husband suddenly became the Frontline parent with three young children and every time she comes back from the hospital, she's just afraid that she's going to contaminate them and she scrubs herself so that she can protect her family because she is as we've come to call her.
An essential worker and you have the couple who was separated for a year and a half and suddenly, in the pandemic, she says come back, you know, and they realized that they really didn't have a really good reason to separate that. In fact, they had so much more to stay together, so the stories are very, very G. That's not one thing. But if I was to say what are some of the things that have helped people?
Exacting. That's what you're asking. Right? What is the help people be together in a better way possible? I would say three things have been extremely useful, actually, for one is boundaries, the loss of boundaries that we have experienced, especially when you sit at the same table and all your roles mother teacher-parent lover, friend, sister of daughter of bass, you name. It are all in the same spot without any delineation. Where
You don't know where wanting stops and the other things start, boundaries boundaries between work and home, boundaries between the table that is used as an office and the table. That becomes the dinner table boundaries between week days and nights, you know, just boundaries to recreate structure. And then routines people really needed to stay connected to their routines. No one's that they created, you know, old ones that they really like these routines became a marker of continuity of
Stability of consistency, and then rituals rituals that people created, you know, I always say if you cook every day, it's a routine. It means you have to eat, but if you actually suddenly make a very nice table and you pretend that you're your kitchen, has become your favorite Bistro, then you have turned a routine into a ritual. The routine says, we need to eat the rich. Will says there's something special between us
And these small, three categories of events have been extremely helpful in people, being able to be with each other, you know. And with the people that they stayed connected with in their pods add to that kindness just civility, not Perfection when somebody brings your coffee. You can be very nice and just say, thanks for bringing the coffee but you can do even better. When you say, thanks for being such a thoughtful person.
And especially at a time of isolation, when you don't have 20 other people that can give you feedback and the person that gives you feedback is the one that's all the time right there with you with whom you have to suddenly do all those things at the same time. It's very important to feel that they get you. They see you and you're not just a function because those are the validations that we get when we leave home as well. And here we suddenly asked one person to replace an entire
T. That's incredible. That there's a such great tips, rituals routines and boundaries three really, really powerful steps. And I know that when I was thinking about it, the beginning of the pandemic, me and my wife had to reset our new expectations and boundaries of each other of our space of our home
and what's one way you did this, what's one of the ways that you think you made a tweak that really was helpful?
One of the things that me and my wife did was she said to me that now, which is living in the same spaces. I need to make sure that I feel that you're helping this space remain, what the space is. So she was like you know before we would leave our laptop out or we would leave our trainers or sneakers in the living room because we were going to the gym or whatever. She was like now that we're in closed we need to make each space feel like the space, that it is because we no longer have the freedom that we're going out to the
Jim more that we're going out to see a friend. So we need to make sure that we're cleaner that we're tidier that were making sure that we're putting everything away. Now, we're not ordering food, we're not going out to restaurants, so we need to make sure that we've cleaned up everything straight afterwards. It's very basic things, but these things often get lost. When you're all going through your own pressure and stress. And to me, those simple, resetting of expectations and boundaries was so useful. We also made a rule that we wouldn't, we would only work
In certain areas of our homes. So, she had her work area and I had my work area. In the beginning, we were both on the same dining table, taking both of our phone calls and trying to get the other person to be quiet and it wasn't working. And so, for me, it was integral that we had that conversation. But here's the interesting Esther that I wanted to ask you is when couples are having those conversations. They think it's bad. We get worried, we think. Oh, no, my partner should just know this. They
Should they should just understand this and we almost get scared when we're having conversations like that because we think that we should just know. We should just be aware how do we get Beyond this false and idea we've created that difficult conversations show, weakness, when actually difficult conversations help build strength,
you just said it, you know, difficult conversations when you get through them.
You feel emboldened, you feel more trusting and you feel more confident.
You know, the one time where the other person knows what you need, what you want, what you care about without having to say editing is when you're in utero.
Before you born and just as soon as you're after you're born, you know, after that the whole your whole life is a dialogue in which you begin to express your thoughts, your wishes, your needs your hurts. And you begin to Intuit what other people need from you. We are relational creatures. The only time where somebody gets us for you is when you're a baby and you can cry and then there was five things, which the caregiver can decide is probably what you need.
I think what you did was it looked small because if you think about this as the laptop, you know and the shoes Italy and you think that it's about the shoes then it looks been, you know trivial but you miss the point because what you're really doing is you're are creating an awareness of the other. You say we are both people here. We each have things that we need to do. We have to show up. I respect your work. You respect mine. I am.
We're of your presence. I don't pretend you're not here. I think of you, even when you're not there, I know what you care what you meant, what matters to you, and what you care about, even when you're not telling it to me because you've told it to me before I carry you inside of me and vice versa. It's that the conversation. If you think that it's about the shoes you missed the point. The shoes are a representation, the shoes, the stuff, you know, the table, all of these things and
In addition to why it is important is because it says where you stop and where the other person starts and that sense of boundary is extremely important because every relationship is made up of my relationship to myself, as I am with you and my relationship with you while I don't lose myself. It's both and it's how I hold onto me and how I Hold On To You vice versa. How I hold on to you without losing me.
However, hold onto myself without losing you. That's the dance. And this conversation that you were having with your wife is all about that and when you put it this way, it's no small feat.
Yeah, absolutely. I love how you unpack that, it's so much more deeper and it has so much more of a true impact on each other. When it's performed in that way, I'm sure there are a lot of people listening right now as they're going, you know, what I'm doing, all of that, but my partner is not responding.
Adding right, like they're not putting, they're not thinking about me, they're not aware of my presence. They are priorities prioritizing their work. They are not being aware and being conscious and being intentional. When someone is feeling that way, this is probably the number one question you get asked always, but when someone is feeling that way that they're doing everything they can, they're trying to clean up and do this and do that, but the other person doesn't respond. What happens. What do you do in that situation?
Well, there's a few things you do, see the beauty of couples is that you have another person to blame and to think it is, it's unavoidable. It's irresistible. I am doing my share. You're not, you know, it's like when people come to couples therapy, they come to my office and they often come to tell me here is my partner, let me tell you what's wrong with them, fix it, you know, mentally, I'm hit it.
Drop-off center. You know, that there is a reality in which this is the one of the, the Hidden Truths of relationships if you want to change the other change yourself. If you continuously go and say to the other person, you're not doing, you're not listening. I keep asking you, why don't you pay attention etcetera? You're going to get the same response. We're going to get defensiveness. You're going to get. What about you? You're going to get Tit for Tat, etc? Etc.
if you want to call the attention of the other person,
Maybe there's a way in which you actually think to yourself what's different way I can say this.
How do I remind the person that when we pay attention to each other things are much better. How do I make a request that doesn't turn into a protest meaning? Instead of criticizing the other person, tell them what you want and tell them what you want, without implying that they're not doing it because then they pay attention only to the fact that you told them you're not doing it. You're wrong. It's you again. And then they will basically do whatever uman being does which is defend themselves
Because nobody likes to be attacked. So the Temptation is to say, how do I make my partner different? And I say, start with the one thing you can control is is there anything I can do different? That is more likely to elicit, a different response from my partner, mmm? It's the one thing you can control is you start their
portal from Facebook is a video calling device that makes you feel like you're actually in the room with the person you're talking to.
Uses smart camera and sound technology to completely untether. You that way, you forget the portal is even their leading to real conversations the deepen, your connection to the people. You love. Mom. How's it going? The video calling device designed to bring people closer. Share, something, real portal from Facebook.
Yeah, great advice. Great advice. And and you're so right about the blaming, you know, we're always looking for escape, go in any in any scenario and and often, you know, I want to be empathetic and compassionate that it can be true. Sometimes that you could be doing everything you possibly could. And someone is not conscious or focused, but then again, it comes back to what you just said, which is you still need to go and do what's right for you and and do what's best for you if you need to feel
Connected and loved. You may spend more time with family or more time with your friends or spend more time on the phone to get that fuel. You need now moving forward, Esther, I know a lot of people are struggling with what you call re-entry anxiety, right? The idea that we're entering back into the workplace we're entering back into dating. We're going back into being in person. You know what are the symptoms of that re-entry anxiety that people are feeling?
That you so beautifully explained and have coined and also how can we start what are the sky? Actually this is the question I want to ask, what are the skills that we lost in the pandemic and what are the skills we gained? Because I think people are unaware of beautiful question, right? It's like we gained some really good people skills during the pandemic and we lost some to telling me about the re-entry anxiety and what we lost in gained,
I think that what many people have experienced. Well, there's a
Stairs people who have experienced acute loneliness, and they have been talking way too much with themselves. They've heard their own Echo, they were in and, you know, in an echo chamber, me and me. And for them, suddenly hearing the, the real voices of others can be quite shocking, then you have people who have reduced their pod and basically, the acquaintances have dissipated, and they have really stayed in touch with
A few important social ties for them. The re-entry is you know, oh God, I'm meeting, you shall we hug and we kiss vaccinated tested, you know what's the protocol do I trust you? Do you tell you know, are you just saying this? Because you know, we're here at this gathering together or is this really true? You know, what's the what, what can I ask, you know. So that's the first thing then there is
You have a bill? That's a question. Many people are asking, are you huggable because we arrived with this, you know, I haven't held you. I haven't touched you in so long. You know. And the hugs that you see people do, it's just like usually you see them at airports. When people come back from many years of not having seen their loved ones, you know, and they hold each other for dear life like that. Then there is, you know, how the fact is basically many of us have only seen each other from the chest up for a year.
And a half, you know, what's it like to suddenly be
embodied, just
fully embodied, you know, we can't hide in the same way and then, you know, what is the chat going to sound like chat is a four-letter word. What's the shot going to be when I see you? So, I see you. And for the first time we actually have a whole different range of conversations every Gathering where I've gone so far where people are meeting. It's like, oh, this is my first time I haven't seen that many
But in a long time I'm so I hungered for this or this is weird. I've not been so close to so many people in a long time. I don't know how close I can come to them. You know there is all these experiences that people are talking about where were you where you would your family, where you would you loved ones how was it for you? And you know what were the important moments? Have you lost any one? Is everybody okay, you know, and when it's when lost could be loss of your plans, your weddings your bird.
Is your anniversary is loss of my family members loss of income loss of your apartment loss, in the multiple sense of the word you know. And I think that's what people are experiencing in. The re-entry is what is okay to talk about? How do we deepen? The conversation people are slightly less in the mood to be just on the surface completely and you know I had a very interesting experience about this because
I doing this pandemic at one point, I just began to feel like I miss my friends, I miss being in a home you know in my other homes and abroad and and I thought, you know, I'm writing about playfulness but I'm, but I want to create something playful. I want I missed my dinner parties. How am I going to do something of that sort? And I kept noticing, you know, there's very little surprised, there's very little
It'll, you know, mystery unknown. The unknown is basically something you worry about and I thought I'm going to create a game. You know, I want to actually create a game that reconnects us with our storytelling. It was, it was and what I ended up doing, because all of this, I did on Zoom. I came up with a thousand questions and zoom but it was old zoomed, so you can't play playing. Is me looking at you that smile, you know, that Mischief that it's all.
And so I brought friends together in a pod that I've known for 25 years and we basically started to play test every night after dinner. Just what what are the really important conversations we want to have? What are the stories? We feel? We need to tell and it was it was very moving. Actually, it was like you could see so we a social atrophy
gee, you know, when you're the social muscle, you haven't used for a long time and slowly it opens up it, loosens it strengthens and people are laughing and sharing and asking questions and building on the stories of others. And basically we creating social threats. That's I think what we are going to do in this re-entry at this moment. And basically, you know,
The question was always the same where should we begin? You know and and it was like I want to know about this. Tell me about that you know.
Yeah what are some of your favorite questions from the game? Where should we begin? Can we can we play or try to play some part of it so that we can and then you can let my audience know where they can find the game so that they can actually get it and play it to I'd love. I'd love for them to have that.
It's really a game. It's not just questions and yes. So the
In the game there are prompts because I was thinking, this is what happens at my dinner party. How do I I needed this? Like I want to feel that thing and generally you have a tone at a dinner party, right? Like you set an intention when we started. So you can have there's a set of prompt cards, The Prompt cards basically can say, share something that, nobody knows, or that change your worldview or that is embarrassing or that was heartbreaking or that you would never tell your mother. That's the problem.
Yes, the emotional lens with which I'm going to, then, put a card in front of you a rule that I secretly love to break.
I imagine that you get to thing something embarrassing and I put in front of you, the card, a rule that you secretly love to breathe because we are all all the players put a card in front of the Storyteller. It's yeah, it's a game where there is one story teller at a time, a phone number that I would like to delete. Yeah, everybody has some phone numbers that kind of linger with them in their life, you know, if I wasn't working as
I would be a if you caught me at my fridge with the door open in the middle of the night, you would catch me. Yes. My most irrational fear is and it is a combination between the prompt cards, and the story cards, and then we have coins. So that if you want to evade my question, I can impose on you shoe to answer the question that I want, you know? And then you have deeper question, you know, I've never told you this.
Story. I've never told you the whole story about everybody has stories that they have fudged. Mmm. You know. And what is it like my guilty? Pleasure is, if I could change something about the way that I was raised, you know, or I'm most judgmental when it comes to and then we go a level deeper a dream that I've never shared out loud a blind spot that I have a mistake that I will never make again. Or I haven't told anyone about the time when
And then we have a whole set of questions around sexuality and intimacy, you know, a text message that I fantasize sending I wish that somebody had told me X about sex. My sex life was never the same after and a sexual situation that I have always wanted to try. So you can play the sex card so you can take them out if you play with colleagues. But basically what I try to do, I thought what are the many dimensions of my life? What do I want people to ask me about
And what am I curious about and we all have a story teller inside of us and anybody who has ever been a child knows that one of our greatest pleasure was someone telling us a story before we go to bed. Yes,
I love that. I'm so glad. Where can people find the game if they want to go and get it? I know I'm gonna order it straight after this, the
game will come out in June, it will be called, where should we begin? Like the podcast a game of stories, okay? And when it is out, J, I promise.
As I tell you and then you can tell your entire Community, but it will be available directly to my website. Where should we begin?
Okay, perfect. We'll, we'll make sure that we put the link in the comments when the episode goes out. And then when it's available because that
sounds nice sort of it as a re-entry game. It's a game for correcting and reconnecting that because I, everybody's asking me, what do we talk about? What are the conversations? And I just said, let me create it because I see it in my office. I sit on the housework, but
As people are going back to work and all the work related questions. And yes, one thing is love wanting is work. What happens when people start to go back to work right now and and, you know, and all what that evokes in pin us and I just thought, okay, let me let me select. But the thing that was so important was the shift between the time when I did it on zoom and then doing it in person and then doing it with.
Strangers and doing it with people who I thought I knew or who we thought we knew each other and to realize how much we still had to discover. Yeah, I think that that's one of the things about friendships love relationships is how do we remain really curious?
Yeah, I love that. I'm so glad that you designed a game around. I always think I always think people approached these conversations feeling. It's very heavy and they don't like, it's going to be quite stressful, and they think it's going
Be like really weird and then when you have a game, it's like all of a sudden, you know, we drop our guard. We start laughing, we get playful. I love that. I can't wait to play it myself and I've been saying the same. I was I was doing a corporate keynote recently and I was speaking to an executive who was briefing me on, you know what I would be talking about and what the audience was. Like I know you do lots of corporate speaking as well. So it was one of those briefing calls and he
Ask me a question. He said, he said to me, Jay, what's the coolest thing that you've done in the last seven days and all of a sudden I was so alert and fresh because no one had asked me a question like that. Well, I don't remember the last time I answer the question. Like that, most questions are like, how are you, how's your day going? You know, ditch the usual stuff and the small twat and as soon as he asked me that all of a sudden, like, I felt alive and so I can only imagine that your game will do the same thing. And the other thing was I was encouraging
A lot of people to ask more interesting questions because otherwise, of course, the people in your life are boring, right? We asked them boring questions. How can people be interesting? And I was also encouraging people to
look. I want to repeat this. I'm going to repeat this. If you ask boring questions, you will feel that people are boring. Yeah, if you ask, you know, interesting questions, questions, that breed energy in you like you just described with this guy.
If you receive a completely different person right in front of you totally really
crucial, I actually came alive and even the idea of, and I was going to say, with your beautiful painting or artwork, you have behind you. I was encouraging people to be more curious about what they see in the zoom call with people. So, I was sitting with another client and he had a paintbrush hanging on his wall behind him. Like you're speaking to me now and and he was a, he was a corporate client and had a paintbrush. I
Know him that well and I said, hey, look, I don't want to be creepy or weird. I'm just intrigued. I'm curious. I've never seen a paintbrush on someone's wall. Can you tell me where it's from? And, and he started laughing? And, and he said to me said, oh, you know what? No one ever asked me that. And I was like, alright, well do you mind telling me? And he said, I have it there because my first ever job, he's probably in his 50s now, he said my first ever job when I was around, 14 years old is I used to paint fences.
And paint walls and paint homes. And to this paintbrush reminds me of where I started and and you know it just opened up and then I told him what I did is my first job, I used to be a paperboy and deliver newspapers in my area and it just was such a refreshing conversation that I'm still talking about it right now. And so I can't I can't wait for people to play, you know, where should we begin? It's, it sounds wonderful. I just wanted to share those with you because I can't I couldn't agree with you more
subject us.
Important objects, tell stories, you know, I asked in many sessions, bring an object that represents the part of your relationship that you would like to talk to a harness to develop further to maintain and bring an object that represents a part of your relationship that you would like to let go. Now it can be a relationship with your partner. It can be a relationship to money, it can be a relationship to sex but objects
Wonderful catalysts, you know, you start to talk people, bring things, I did a conference this year on on sex, death and money. And for each one people brought objects that represented the relationship, the taboo to death to sex. And to money, the stories that people would with a caption, the objects that they chose. It is, it was a book. It really was a book. So this brush is very, telling, everybody has a brush. Everybody has a
Version of that
brush. I love that. Thank you so much. I how can ya, how can can people be encouraged to try out that activity at home to think about what object represents the thought around sex, death or money and and what does that indicate for them?
Oh you know when people did the relationship, the biggest one was the relationship to money actually. Interestingly surprising to me I thought death or sex would be way. Bigger people had it went from, you know,
A checkbook because my father lost all his money and could never pay his bills. To a pair of shoes that represented either the shoes. I would never allow myself to buy the shoes. I finally felt that deserve to buy because I've worked so hard to shoes that I've never dared wearing, if they were so expensive, I've kept them in the box and the shoes I continue to wear while they are holes in it, because I don't feel like I deserve to get new ones. Shoes were very
you know, about money, you know.
The Ring, The Ring that I received, you know, for a wedding that marriage that lasted for a year or two. So people told stories of homelessness of destitution of hard work of intergenerational legacies inside the family around, what was lost and what was gained. I mean, that's it at little object told stories of generations. So you can do this at a table with a small pot with your friends. There's
A few of them actually in the card game as well. But basically bring an object that represents what you discovered most about this year. For example, what was most important to you this year, bring an object, you know, and what you will notice if done that when people have brought things, that involve baking, because they've been baking, why, what was that, sour doting, it's not the bread. It's the fact that people needed to create something people needed something from nothing that became something. It's an antidote to death. When you bring
Being into the world, creativity things like that. People brought things related to Nature people, brought things related to painting writing. You know, art at the importance of art to pets and two children, because children were the ones who could remain imaginative. You know, they put three books on the floor and it becomes a
rock. That's beautiful. I love those examples, especially the shoes that I am going to go and try that out with my wife later on and see what we would pick for each. I love that. Tell me as to one of the things.
Is that I see a lot of my closest friends go through and experience is that they're all, you know, they're doing well for themselves that they're successful the in their own way but they have this desire to be in love and often they fall in love too fast or they fall for someone very quickly. Only for that to end very quickly as well. They have this rush to want to find that right person.
When they think they found someone, they're all in. And then within a month, things are kind of going backwards again. What is the intention of the mindset with which one should approach love and relationships? When seeking out a partner today, we have guides on how to have the perfect online dating profile and how to put the perfect caption to describe how you look and how you what you like, and what you're looking for, and what you're interested in, what really should be going.
Going on in that preparing for a relationship and love phase.
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Hmm, I have bad news for your friends.
I'd rather you tell them than me. So
you know, I I've been working for almost 40 years now. Helping
Well with you know the challenges of their relationships. The first thing I would say is Love Is A Verb. It's not a permanent state of enthusiasm.
It's not about finding the right person, it's about being the right person.
You know, if you just want to be dazzled, you will have an adventure. You will be infatuated. You will fall in love. You will have a love story, maybe. But you won't have a life story. And a life story. Is different from a love story. The Many love stories that are never becoming life stories. You know, people have had beautiful things experiences with others of few days or a few years for that matter, but they don't really integrate
To become a life and a life, has more than just a feeling of love. It's to build something. It's sometimes to raise children together. It's sometimes to bury parents together. It's sometimes to deal with illnesses together. It's sometimes to move countries and migrate together. It's a lot of other experiences that make a life. It's building a business, losing a business, or building a second wind after the first one did very well. All of that if you just think of it as I see,
You and I have butterflies inside of me and then after a few months, I see you. And I don't feel the same intensity anymore. I'm sorry to say, but your conception of what is love is, not one that will give you that what you are looking
for. Yeah, so, well said, and I love that idea of
I think so much more always about like does this feel right and does this feel good and I've been thinking about that a lot lately. I've been thinking how I'm not I'm and I'm still trying to investigate this thought I'm not this is not something I'm sure about. I'm sharing it as a expertise is an experiment and it's the idea of just I'm not sure if asking myself how I feel is always the right question because sometimes
You feel like doing something, and sometimes you don't feel like doing something. But it's often the times when you show up even when you don't feel like doing something that something build something is created. There's, there's something there's more of a possibility and opportunity. So I'm just investigating that thought recently around how people go from feeling madly in love to then feeling out of love. When actually, they were never in love in the first place. Like, you rightly said, they may have had
Life store or Love Is Love, is something that you actively cultivate. Yes, you nourish it. You do things that express it, that show the other person that you're thinking of them that are important to you, that you carry them inside of you even when they're not there. I mean II just think, you know, it's an in or out, it's very, very narrow. Now, the other thing is, when you see, you know, how do I feel, I think it's a very important question.
Question to ask, but it is one of many questions. Our emotional life is one narrative, then we also have a values life. If I acted right, have I done. According to my principles have that have I done right by virtue of this person to whom I owed something. You know, you don't always feel like going to the gym, but you rarely regret afterwards because it feels good. So sometimes the feeling comes after the ACT, that's it, it always as a proceeding of the ACT,
And then sometimes it's not how do I feel? But what am I thinking? That is coloring the way that I feel. So you have behaviors actions, thoughts, feelings, and then you have a spiritual Dimension to what you do as well. And to just sit with the emotional truth as the only truth. I think we miss a few other parts of life. We miss the values. We miss the morality and we miss the spiritual and all four are part of
of our life.
This is why I love doing this podcast. I don't have to investigate that tour anymore. You just answered the question for me. You just you gave me exactly what I was looking for. That is such a brilliant answer and I love how you explain the idea that and that's kind of what I was trying to think about and I was playing with was the idea that sometimes you have to do something and you get the feeling afterwards and working out is death. You spoke my language. That's for me, I say to my wife. Every time I get back from tennis which is what I do to exercise.
I said to my wife, I say never let me miss a tennis lesson every time I get back. I always tell it, never let me miss a tennis lesson because I always feel phenomenal when I get back, but in the morning, if I'm not feeling up to it, you know, my mind can trick me. And so we have to remind ourselves. So that's such a brilliant answer. As to what you've, you know, you've advised couples for so long. You've worked on relationships, you've seen every different type of relationship when you've really looked at the heart and the core of it.
What are the deepest truest? Most root reasons that relationships fail? What is it at the heart of it? Like you said, you've unpacked everything. So deeply today. What is that? Deep root of why relationships fail.
I have thought about that, but I'm going to say that invert in light of what you just said, what I did when I answered you is share with thought I and never think I'm right. I sound very confident, but that doesn't mean that I know this.
How I think of it today and if you come back and we have another conversation, I may answer the very same question differently and I think that that's very important for all our listeners here to these are not questions that have a black and white answer and it's so important to be able to hold neurons and ambiguity, when we think about these things. So when you ask me what are the killers of a relationship, I do turn to the work of John gottman very much. I would add a few but you
No, he talks about the Four Horses of Apocalypse.
And wanting is criticism.
This constant negative sentiment override criticism. And that's why I said before, remember behind, many criticisms is a wish ask for the wish. Don't give the criticism or you will never get to wish love that to stonewalling. Stonewalling, you know, and that lets the other person just feel like they don't exist. They can talk, they can weep, they can scream, they can even hit you, and there is no way.
Answer. There is no answer. The third one is defensiveness. I can't say anything that you don't answer defensively. You never owned anything. You don't take responsibility for your actions. It's all about blaming the other or externalizing, and it's always everybody else's fault. And everybody every other circumstance that made me do, and I'm just a victim and I've never done anything. And then the big one, the fourth one is contempt and I think that's considered the killer of them all contempt, because when I am contempt,
Louis, I looked down upon you. I despise you. I belittle you. I diminish, you ID value you. And I basically do, one of the most important things is, I take away your meaning. And we are creatures of meaning, we want to know that if I'm here, or if I'm not here, there's a difference, I matter. And if you manage to make me feel, like, I mattered, numb, that one is that, you know, to realize singer. So, I think these for basically some up,
Death of a relationship that can give you smaller ones, smaller ones. You know, I did that. That, I'm that because not everybody is at that end. So the smaller ones for me, our complacency freaking complacency people would never, you know, you have a lot of entrepreneurs and a lot of people who do their best at work when that listen to you. And most of these people would never treat their clients. The way they treat their Partners, they give the best to their clients and they give a Smither of
At attention to their partner. So, to the people at home with them that laziness complacency lack of curiosity, just routine Management Inc. I do this, you do that. And when is the last time, we actually looked at each other and checked in with each other and said, and how are you today? But how was your day? How are you today? Because, I think of you, you know, that. And that is the many, many couples that come to couples therapy.
Feeling like the life has been siphoned out of the relationship so then when they say I do, I mean I still love you but I'm not in love with you or I feel like you know, we have nothing to tell each other or it's kind of a dead end between us. I say what are you doing to enliven yourself? What do you do that? Brings energy and an aliveness and vitality and curiosity. If you do none of this, it's like leaving something in the fridge for months on. End it dries
Well sad. So, L said I love all of those examples. And I think the interesting thing about the first four that you mentioned also, is that, like you said, behind the criticism is a wish and often behind the stone. Walling is just a genuine desire for space, but when you don't express that and you don't communicate that, of course, the other person thinks you're just ghosting them and that it's about them. That's right. And as you can see that behind each of our
Havea is there is a deeper desire that may be genuine and may be necessary and even behind your contempt, there's some sort of internal content that's that's bringing that out. There's some sort of internal criticism that's going on and and you know, it's okay it's so crazy because when you hear it it sounds so simple and it sounds so obvious. But one of the things that's really helped me in my wife is I do this thing where I and I really like
What you said about, how we treat our clients, I try and do this check in with thing with her all the time and I'll be like how do you think our relationship is going? You know and I always ask her that question. How do you think our relationship is going like what you know what do I need to improve? What do you think you need to improve? What are you working on? Whatever I'm working on and it's funny because you never do that update your status update with your partner because you like you know you just assume that you've already made the decision and now it stayed.
That's right, we married. And now the thing is just going to go on like that for 30.
Is on rolls on Wheels, as, I mean, it is a very strange that the type of exceptionalism that people think about when they think about marriage or committed relationship. This notion that, you know, that you made the decision at 25, the 20 35 and this string is just going to go on with you intact. I mean, it is really
strange, it is such a strange thing, but it's something we all we all live with. I know so many people who have unfortunately,
Perience, infidelity or been cheated on? And, you know, you write about this, as I said, this one of my favorite books that you've written. I highly recommend it to anyone. I mean, I recommend any of Esther's books, will put the link in the comments when you're working with people who've been through that. A lot of people take it. So personally that it demolishes them, and destabilizes them for the future. What parts of it do you take personally, and what parts of it? Do you distance from?
How do you respond to that experience? And I know that it's Case by case, but how do you know which parts of it? You should use to improve versus how do you know which parts of it? You shouldn't.
I think that my first entry with you into this topic would be this. If I ask you have a huge vast audience that is currently listening to us. Have you been affected by the experience of infidelity in your life?
Either because you had a child, whose parent was unfaithful or who left for another partner either because you are yourself the child of an illicit, Love Story either because you have been unfaithful or you have been cheated on or you are the third person in the Triangle, the secret lover, or because you're the friend on Whose shoulders, somebody's been weeping for days or the one to whom somebody's confiding.
If I last your entire audience now about 85% of the people will tell you that they have been affected by the experience of infidelity. Absolutely. So the story of infidelity is not just a story of two people of one cheater and one betrayed, the story of infidelity is the story that accompanies marriage from the day marriage was invented.
And it travels in families and it travels all over the world and my exploration of infidelity was using this betrayal. This violation of trust as a way to understand, Modern Love because infidelity hasn't always meant the same and doesn't meet the same depending on the various cultures and the various models of marriage that we have. But if I live today in the west and I
It'll I'm in my third is to choose you, and I've had loads of people before you and I ever met, which means monogamy is not one person for life, but monogamy for me is one person at a time and I have been on apps, and I have had to deal with all my phone was in the thousand people I could choose from, and you're the one that I've honed in on. Now, my develop my sense of trust for you. What you represent for me is all those people, I
Did choose.
And we do when you expand, I experienced infidelity, it's like the shattering of the grand ambition of love. I thought we'd this is it, you're the one and you're my soul, mate. You know, we today have brought the Divine into the social, and I call you sold me that. So I don't turn to God. I turn to you and you did this to me and I feel like I've lost my entire sense of self.
Some Affairs really are expressions of relationships that are in trouble. We never talk. We never touch. When's the last time we made love to each other? You despise me. You control me. I could, you know, the breadth of reasons for why people want to run away and then some Affairs have very little to do with the partner. Unfortunately, or just as a matter of fact, they often have to do with the fact that people
Will breach and betray in search of something that they have lost lost parts of themselves lost. You know, they have descendants that always stayed to me is when somebody would say, I didn't just want to find another person. I wanted to find another self. I didn't want to leave my partner. I wanted to leave what I had become
and I didn't know how to change with my partner. That's not a justification at all, but it explains to the partner. This is not about you're not smart enough, Rich enough, tall enough thin enough. This has nothing to do with you to the extent that this can help you understand. Why this happened my work with you is going to be not on the facts and if they did it standing or lying flat, my work with you is going to be on understanding the meaning and infidelity tells a story.
What is the story that this affair? What does it mean? Not what did you do? And therefore how is this relationship going to be able to either learn from it? Grow from it or make a decision to leave because of it. All options are open right now. Your first marriage is over,
Your first relationship, then we can decide together. You will decide if you want to have another relationship with each other, in light of what has happened and we will need to heal, like many other crises, there are ways that you can heal from this and trust each other again and love each other again and maybe even better than what you were before. I can hold that space for you
so powerful. When does someone know that it's time to break up and move on vs?
Time to still try and build. I think a lot of people that I meet and it and this is in any breakup, it could be leaving a job, it could be breaking up with a person. It could be leaving a long-term commitment. Whatever. It may be we always you always find people say, I stayed in it for six months too long. I stayed in it for two years that I shouldn't have. I was in it for six years that I shouldn't have. We spend so much time making that decision. How do what are the signs that you know?
Oh, that it's now time to move on and call it quits, or it's time to actually build and try our
best. But that presupposes that once, you know the signs, you ready to act and what you've just told me is that people often knew the science for a long time but they needed to prepare internally and sometimes externally to do the ACT. Yeah. To do the leaving. So we sometimes know for two years that this is probably not going to last but then there is a process of preparing.
And when people say, I, you know, why did I stay so long? I said you left when you were ready to go. Mmm. You can, you know, because after the fact, it's easy to say I should have left sooner, but why sometimes I was there two years before. So I can tell you two years ago when you thought about, you know, what will happen the day that you walk into the house, and there is nobody there, you couldn't bear the thought. So we needed to prepare you for that. We needed to prepare.
Are you to know that you won't be seeing your children every day, we needed to prepare you to realize that you were going to be working again after not working for a long time. We needed to prepare you to accept that there is another partner here, that is going to be loving your children as well. And these things are all, or if you want to do about work, we needed to prepare you that you had done the thing that you loved all your life. And you were going to let go of this or you needed to prepare to accept that. You had done the thing that was right and you were
Find the LIE going to do the thing that you really wanted and they were not both the same.
And once you lay down like this, people actually, close the gap between the, I knew it, and it took me so
long. Yeah, Esther I love that. It's, it's such a joy talking to you. I am just loving, just the back and forth, and being able to find so many of the answers. I've been thinking about, in speaking with you and reflecting together, I could do this with you for hours. But we have two lost segments that we do on on purpose that I want to do with you. One is called fill in the blanks, so I'm
To read out some sentences and you have to fill in the blanks to start off with. So, are you
ready? Yeah. Okay. I'll try I'm very proud that those
men. Are you gonna be great? You're gonna be great. Okay, true. Love is
True love is living with those differences that you think you can never
tolerate. I love it. Great answer. Okay. Great. Partners are funny.
They know how to bring in humor, just when you're about to
bite, that is my wife. My wife is a genius that she's so, and it comes naturally to her.
I had one like that too. I bless him for being able to make me laugh.
The moment that we could go down that path, that is just like me.
Absolutely conflicts in relationships are
defeating, but but part of relationships conflict are part of relationships. And yet, they can be. So
defeating couples therapy is
couples. Therapy is the place where you create a safe and provocative.
I meant to check yourself as you walk in and stop focusing on checking your partner and leaving yourself out of the
game. Amazing, great, aunt, sassy. That was, that was great. You don't know. No. So I'm now going to ask you the final five. These have to be answered in one word or one sentence maximum. So, same as same as last time you did a great job. So these are your final five, what is the best relationship advice you've ever
It's perfectly fine to go to sleep angry.
Okay, great answer. Okay. What is the worst relationship advice you've ever received?
You have to tell your partner everything.
So what do you not have to tell you find? Let's let's just dive into that. That's an interesting answer. Tell us, tell us a bit more about
that certain truths are cruel. And overrated, ask yourself, Is it wise?
Is it kind that just is it true?
What you want me to say Jay, you really are an awful. You know, you look awful. It's like, I'd never want to touch you. You smell bothers me. I can't believe I'm sitting here with you every day, then leave
got it makes sense.
That's more than a sentence.
No no I was encouraged. I wanted to learn more. I was encouraging you to. That was great. All right, question. Number
three, you're the dumbest person you've ever I've ever been with. I can't believe that you that this is the way.
It's the stuff that is insulting, you know, I never want to make love to you. Again, if I'd never had sex with you, for the rest of my life, I wouldn't be bothered. Is there a value in saying these things? Does anybody see the anything positive? But this sometimes people think that in the name of Truth, in the name of your question before I should tell you how I feel. Well, some of your feelings, you should go tell them to somebody else.
I love it. Is so great. Alright, question number three, what?
Something that, you know, is true about relationships. But people are still disagree with they still trying to get their, what are you? So sure is true about relationships but most people in society, they haven't quite got there yet or they may disagree with it.
That at times, when it feels like, it's a mission impossible. Repair is
possible. Beautiful question. Number four, what's the biggest lesson you've learned in the last 12 months?
It's Ivory learned. It
it's not that I never thought of it. But that helping others is one of the most powerful ways for me, not to feel scared or helpless myself.
I could serve relate to you. I love that I can. So relate, the okay, question number 5, the final question. If you combine, if you