What can a single guy teach us about marriage? What is the secret to happiness? How can we make small changes that will radically improve our relationships?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks Roger Nygard about his documentary “The Truth about Marriage”.
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Meet Roger Nygard
Roger Nygard has directed TV series such as “The Office,” and “The Bernie Mac Show” and he has edited Emmy-nominated episodes of “VEEP” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Who is America?”
As an award-winning documentarian, Nygard has tackled topics like “Trekkies,” “The Nature of Existence,” and now “The Truth About Marriage.”
In This Podcast
- How Roger got into his work
- Using humor to get your point across
- Failed relationships
- Tips for getting to know and develop yourself
- Long-term relationships
- Core things Roger discovered during his research
- Premarital counseling
How Roger got into his work
Roger loves to laugh, laughter keeps him sane. He gravitated towards TV shows and even his documentaries are essentially comedies. Roger looks for the humor in humanity and this comes through in his work.
Using humor to get your point across
These documentaries are first & foremost entertainment but underneath there are really important core values that we all hold because we’re social creatures.
This was the main reason for this project. Roger set out to fix himself, to learn about himself. We’re all doing something wrong. There’s no class in school that teaches us how to have happy and healthy relationships, so how do we learn to? Roger wanted to do better, to break the cycle. He was sabotaging his relationships without realizing why or how he was sabotaging them.
Tips for getting to know and develop yourself
- John & Julie Gottman – 69% of relationship problems are never solved, only recognized/acknowledged.
- Acceptance – The secret to happiness is acceptance.
- Talking about feelings and needs.
- You have two choices – leaving or accepting.
We’re meant to complete each other, not duplicate each other.
- Having children influences our happiness.
- The purpose of marriage at its core is a piece of paper where two people are agreeing to pool their financial and property resources for the benefit of raising children.
- Passion, as our relationships continue, this fades. But it is possible to get it back, increase your physical activity in new and exciting ways.
Core things Roger discovered during his research
These little changes in behavior can change the trajectory of your relationship drastically.
The biggest problem is that we don’t recognize what our partners need, someone needs to tell us. Generally, women need 20-30mins a day when they are genuinely recognized and listened to, and men need freedom and disconnection. Roger suggests ways to try this out for a week and see how it can change our relationships.
If you know the rules going in, you’re going to have a much better chance of making it than if you go in unknowing and there’s a lot of surprises and shock and potential disappointments awaiting you.
Books mentioned in this episode
- Josh Fonger Wants You To Work The System | PoP 452
- How to Host Virtual Events with Liam Austin | Bonus Episode
- Podcast Launch School
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Slow Down School
- Killin’It Camp
- Next Level Practice
- Free resources to help you start, grow and scale
- Apply to work with us
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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Welcome to the Practice of the Practice pod cast. I am Joe Sanok, your host, a busy month for podcasting and I am so glad you’re here. You know, we’re going to be talking about marriage today and when Roger kind of gets into some of this, if you have little ones you might not want them to be around because some of the topics covered, you might not be ready to talk about as a parent. That’s the reason we flagged it as explicit. But there’s no swear words. It’s just the content. We want to make sure that if you are listening to this on a speaker in the car with your kids, you understand that there’s some topics we cover that you may not be ready to talk with them about. But I interviewed Roger and what an amazing guy. You know, it’s cool in his bio, I read this at the beginning. I mean he’s worked on shows like The Office and Veep and Curb Your Enthusiasm and has done tons of films and has a new book and film out. And I’m just so excited for you to hear this interview about The Truth About Marriage with Roger Nygard. So, without any further ado, here’s Roger.
[JOE]: Today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Roger Nygard. Roger has directed TV series such as The Office, the Bernie Mac Show, and has edited Emmy nominated episodes of Veep and Curb Your Enthusiasm and Who is America. As an award-winning documentarian, Nygard has tackled topics like Trekkies, The Nature of Existence, and now The Truth About Marriage. Roger, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[ROGER NYGARD]: Thanks. So, I’m really glad to be here.
[JOE]: I feel like I don’t even want to talk about The Truth About Marriage. I just want to talk about The Office. No, I mean that list of shows that you have worked on and I mean those are pillars of our society. I would love to know just a little bit about how you got into that work, but then also how does that connect to just relationships, in this newest project?
[ROGER]: It’s all connected. You’re right. Partly it’s, I decided, maybe I didn’t decide. I just realized about myself at one point that I love to laugh and laughter is what keeps me saying, if you don’t laugh, if I don’t laugh, I will go insane. And so, I’ve gravitated towards TV shows, and even my documentaries are all, are essentially comedies. The Truth About Marriage is a comedy because what I do is, I look for the humor in humanity. I look for, what is it that makes us laugh?
And I want humanity to be laughing with me, not at me, but I think we’re all in this together. In a TV show, like The Office studies human nature, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David is sort of on a quest to pull apart, pick apart social morales and find the humor in it. And Veep is a very fast-paced political show that looks at some of the darker sides of human nature and finding humor in it. So, everything, all of it is tied by laughing and laughter.
[JOE]: My wife and I joke, you know, we’ll watch a show like Vikings and we’ll have to have a chaser afterwards before we go to bed. Otherwise we’ll both have these dreams that are just terrible. And so, you know, having shows like The Office or other shows that are kind of capstones to the evening, it’s like, yeah, my day can be super serious and even maybe the shows we choose to watch can be intense. But at the end of the day, I want to go to bed laughing and feeling good about the world, and also, you know, kind of critically thinking about it. You know, all those shows you just mentioned, I think, in humor are able to discuss questions and discussion items in a way that maybe your typical show can’t. I mean, you even look at like Trevor Noah, he can talk through humor and call people out on things differently than your typical newscaster can.
[ROGER]: Yeah, that’s a great point. One of the documentaries I made is about Star Trek fans. And Star Trek is a great example of what media is supposed to do. Storytelling evolved amongst humans sitting around the campfire or in their caves or wherever as a way of telling morality tales. The best stories have a moral or, they’re cautionary tales or you learn something about human nature. The Bible is filled with stories. The old Testament, the Torah, take your pick the Bhagavad Gita, they have stories of human beings so you can learn. It’s like a manual for life. Here’s how you can live your life and be happier. And I feel like that’s the best media. The best television shows, they do that as well.
Every episode of Star Trek, of course it was these scientists, the military/scientists in space, but there were morality tales that took a problem that was going on in society in the 1960s and transposed it to space so we could look at a little bit more dispassionately and learn from it with respect to our behavior now. And ideally you laugh a few times along the way because if you don’t entertain people, you’re going to lose them. Even a priest in a church knows giving a sermon, you’ve got to entertain first and then slip the message in underneath and my documentaries are like that as well.
They’re for, number one, they’re entertainment. You’re going to laugh a lot when you watch either whether it’s my Existentialism Documentary or The Nature of Existence or because the universe is absurd right at its core or The Truth About Marriage. First, you’re going to laugh at human nature, but underneath they’re really important core values that we all hold because we’re social creatures. And if you can understand them and exist within them and follow them, you’re going to be a much happier human within this social group.
[JOE]: And I think that’s such an important point to kind of go back to, you know, what is either the teaching or the philosophy or the need, the core need that’s being addressed in a film. Because even right now as we’re recording, we’re in the midst of this, you know, bonkers locked down with the coronavirus, which hopefully in the future we say, “Wow, that was something that was a onetime event, and, but who knows,” you know. So, I was just talking to a musician friend of mine yesterday and we were talking about how like, what’s the pain that your music addresses usually? And so, he was talking about loneliness, of isolation, of community. And here he has a very kind of social activist side to his music.
And I said, “The music is the modality for these beliefs you have and that that modality has been cut off for you. You can’t play in bars anymore. You can’t put, I go to music festivals or put on festivals, but the core beliefs are still there and those core pains are still there for you.” How do we now take those and have a new modality that music may still be a part of, but we may be using Zoom and doing online festivals and you know, even you’re taking things in a different direction. Then maybe he would have. And the same thing with your art that you’re making. There’s these kind of core beliefs or topics that it’s manifest through the film, but it’s not just about creating a film.
[ROGER]: Yes, it’s true. And one reason I made this documentary, The Truth About Marriage is because I felt like a failure, a complete failure in my relationships. I’ve been in love and was unable to get to the alter and, three times specifically when I knew, you know, the reason you know you’re in love is because it’s so painful when you break up. If you break up and you don’t feel that hurt, you weren’t really in love, I think. But I set out to try to fix myself, to learn about myself and as I went along and talked to psychologists, anthropologists, everyday people, a divorce lawyer, as I learn, the audience learns with me what it is we’re all doing wrong. I find out we’re all doing relationships wrong to some degree, some less wrong than others and it starts with our education. There’s no school, there’s no class in school that teaches us how to have a good, healthy, happy relationship.
We would teach math and science and home economics and gym class, but you would think this thing that’s going to be the most important thing in your life, your relationships with others you would teach, why don’t they teach us, give us some basic pointers instead of kicking us out to make mistakes over and over again? There’s some really easy minefields or things that you could learn to avoid the minefield with just a little bit of guidance. And so, then we end up speaking with counselors later and they become our guide helping us to avoid these problems or fix them or do better. One of the psychologists I interviewed, a guy named Jonathan Friel said that when couples come to him for therapy, it’s often like, you break your leg and then you go to see the doctor six years later.
[ROGER]: And he said, you know, I wish you’d come to me when you first broke your leg. I could have helped you so much more. I mean, we’re going to do our best now, but it’s going to be much harder than if you came right away when you were hurting.
[JOE]: Right. And it’s like, you know, in the sense, if we use that leg analogy, you often may have to rebreak that leg to get it corrected, in line. So, I would love to hear, before we dive into kind of what you learned, why was this topic important to you? I mean, you mentioned you had these kind of failed relationships. You’re a single guy that’s out there trying to learn about marriage. Like, why?
[ROGER]: Yeah, well, I wanted to do better. I wanted to break this cycle of sabotaging my relationships without realizing why or how I was sabotaging them. I was always so confused. Why did that go wrong? It seemed like it was going great, and then neither one of us could fix it. Either the passion started to go away where we were arguing over things that were seemed inconsequential. There must be a solution. And I found out there was. There were simple solutions to some basic things that you have to understand about yourself. First of all, they tell you, you can’t love anybody if you don’t love yourself, right? First of all, so, you need to understand what and who you are. As a species, who are we? What are we? That was a starting point. And then your needs, —
[JOE]: Let’s talk a little bit about that.
[JOE]: So, what are some tips or tools or mindsets that you learned along the way around specifically kind of knowing yourself? Because I think there’s a lot of people that, you know, might even say, “I don’t even know if marriage is for me.” Like, you know, society has shifted so much in regards to even just should I kind of lockdown for, and now we’re using lockdown everywhere, “Should I be in this relationship forever?” And so, our marriage therapist, I actually recently said to my wife, “If you get to know yourself better and know what you want just out of life, whether or not that helps the relationship, it will be good for you and for Joe.” So even if the relationship were to fall apart and you know yourself better, that healthier you is so important. And so, I love that you start there. What were some tools or tactics or things that you learned around specifically getting to know yourself and developing yourself?
[ROGER]: One of the psychologist teams I interviewed was the Gottman’s, John and Julie Gottman.
[JOE]: That’s what hooked me in your trailer; was that you interviewed them. If you hadn’t, I would have been like, “I’m not sure if you went to the best sources.” So, I was so happy to see them in your trailer. So, John and Julia, awesome.
[ROGER]: As a quick aside, yeah how I got to them is crazy. I mean, I sent emails, I called, no response, nothing for a long time over a year. And I finally got their publicist on the phone, Katie, and she said, she explained nicely, “You know, they just don’t do interviews.” They only come into the Institute once a month and it’s just, it’s impossible.” And I said, “Well, I appreciate you being honest, but let me just tell you a little bit about myself. I’m a filmmaker and I’ve worked in television, TV shows and I make documentaries and one is about Star Trek fans called Trekkies,” and she said, “Oh my gosh, John loves Star Trek.” And that was my in. I was able to lay it out there.
[JOE]: Oh, awesome. So, it’s like, I had Julie on the show too and it was, to be able to finally get access, I mean they came as they were launching their Eight Dates book. And so, you know, it’s nice when you can get access to them because they’re just so brilliant. They’ve done such great work. I mean, what did you take [crosstalk] what’d you learn from them?
[ROGER]: Julie said to me an astounding statistic that 69% of relationship problems are never solved. They’re only recognized. You acknowledge it and then you have to accept it and move on. And that’s kind of, right there, acceptance, the word acceptance. The secret to happiness is acceptance. First of all, of yourself and your partner for who you are and who they are. You cannot change into someone else. You can change your behavior, but that’s going to engender resentment and which is going to come out in other ways later on. A better solution is to just realize, “I am this person. I have these needs, let’s talk about them.” And let’s, you have to be able to talk about your feelings, your needs, your partner’s needs and feelings. And there are ways to talk about them. The Gottman’s as you know, deal with conflict management and dealing with conflict and the way you deal with conflict can be the recipe for whether your relationship will have longevity and how happy you’ll be.
So that’s the, I came around to there are better ways of conflict. Once I realized there are problems that I’m going to have with anyone and someone will have with me and you have to accept that they might not pick up their laundry as often as you’d like or whatever it is. The garage is not as messy or is just messier than you like. If you love that person, if you can accept the things about them, then you can move on toward being a better partner yourself and being happier. One of the psychologists, Dr. Pat Allen, she put it this way, “You don’t have nagging rights. You can’t nag someone into being a better person. You only have leaving rights; acceptance or leaving.” Those are really the two choices you have and expressing your feelings and being able, you know, another friend of mine said, “Ask for what you want. Be kind, but ask for what you want.”
Most of us are, oftentimes we are afraid to say what we really want because of fear of rejection or they will disapprove or we’ve been taught not to express these things. But getting there quickly, if you want to get there quicker, you’ve got to say, “This is what I need.” And Julie Gottman put it this way, or Dr. Gottman, John Gottman put it this way. “You have to tell your partner what works for you. Here’s the recipe for making me happy.” You do this for each other. And now it’s not, there’s no mind reading involved. There’s a big problem, right? We expect people to just know and no one knows. Especially I didn’t know I’m an idiot. You’ve got to tell me what you need.
I dated this girl once many years ago and it started going badly and I don’t, at one point I said, “Just give me a list.” And she said, “Okay.” She wrote a list of 10 things that she wanted from me and I was so grateful. She had handed me the treasure map, the keys. It was things, simple things like hold my hand, open the car door for me, tell me you miss me. Great, thank you. And I can do all those things. And I wasn’t doing them enough to her satisfaction and I was glad to do all those things. And it made her happier and I was happier because she was happier. And so, it was just about ask for what you want and don’t be afraid to say, “No, I can’t do that for you.” Because you can’t pretend, you can for a while, but eventually that mask is going to slip off.
[JOE]: Well. And I think that, you know, I often hear, well I want you to want to do it, but each person has their own kind of top five things. So, for her it may have been holding hands, opening the doors, those sorts of things. For someone else it might be a foot rub or making dinner. And so, I think that I’m learning more and more. I’m reading this book Untamed by Glennon Doyle right now. My wife was reading and she said, “If you really want to understand kind of the mental judo that women go through, read this book with me.” And I was like, “Okay, awesome.”
And as I read it, just learning how much kind of women have been trained in our society to be subpar. One point she makes in the book is even just how you know, the story of Eve, that she goes after her own pleasure only to ruin mankind, humankind. And how much that story of you know, be quiet, be less than. So even just encouraging your partner to say, “I want to know those things that are your top five,” I would hope that would build kind of freedom within that relationship.
[ROGER]: Right. One of the couples I profiled in my documentary are polyamorists and it was fascinating to study them and how they interact. I found them to be a very high functioning couple and I tried to figure out why. In my theory or my conclusion is that they work so well together, not because they’re polyamorous, but which means for those who maybe you don’t, a quick definition, polyamorous means that when they got married, they agreed they were going to continue to see other people as well. They were considering each other their primary loves, but they might have other loves throughout their lives. And what they do is they renegotiate, called renegotiation of contract.
Every day, they renegotiate or rediscuss or acknowledge that they are changing human beings, both of them, and that their relationship will have to change as a result. So yeah, it’s not just swingers or having sex with many people and their particular version of polyamory, they call it situational polyamory, where they remain monogamous until they decide, “Let’s have a polyamorous evening where we’re going to do something exciting.” And they talk about it in advance. And the reason they were, I felt a high functioning couple is not because they had sex with multiple partners or were polyamorous. It’s because in order to do so, they had to be completely open and honest with each other about who they are and what they need and what they want.
That complete openness meant there were no surprises or far fewer than the paradigm that we have in this country typically is you go on a date with somebody, you put on your best face, your best clothing, your best makeup, your best drive, your car, get your car washed, and you put on this persona, this facade of being this person who is great and perfect in so many ways. Behind that facade is the real you and it takes a long time if, and sometimes never that people learn who the real you is, but then when they do, when that mask slips, there’s the inevitable disappointment and now you’ve got to deal with the disappointment or conflict and unhappiness.
With the polyamorous or anyone who can be completely open about who they are you’re going to reduce the disappointment because you know what you’re getting right from the beginning. And ironically, I’ve found that when I have been dating someone that I didn’t really like in the past, I didn’t care to put up the mask so I could be myself. Suddenly I’m with that person for many years because I could be who I was and maybe the lesson I or the lesson I draw from that is going forward as I’m learning how to be a better partner, I hope I am, I am being myself now from the beginning as much as I can or you know, within the, I’m getting better.
I’m certainly, it’s very difficult. I’ll acknowledge it’s very difficult to be yourself and that doesn’t mean being rude or unnecessarily hurtful under the guise of, I’m just being honest with you because there is a delicate balance between being honest and, you know, do I look fat in these jeans, honey? No, you look wonderful. I mean, you have to, you have to kind of read the room a little bit too because partners, our partners look to us for some of their own self-worth and we are there to help provide, as a partnership to help provide their needs in some ways. So, it’s a delicate balance but complete openness with I think a buffer of being kind.
[JOE]: Now, when you think about long-term partnerships or marriages, what did you learn? Because I think that, you know, at least the few things that I know about marriage, I know the research shows that, you know, after you have your first child, happiness goes down and never recovers till the last child leaves. And [crosstalk] where you know, it’s just the easiness of becoming like roommates when there’s kids that need to go to bed and dishes that need to be unloaded and just the amount of just logistics it takes to just keep a family going. I can see why, you know, in Downton Abbey they had a whole team of people keeping it going. So, what did you learn about kind of the longer-term relationships? You know, we’ve been married 15, it’ll be 16 years in August. How do people kind of keep connected, just keep it alive from what you learned?
[ROGER]: Yeah, there’s a couple of competing interests going on there. One is why do we exist? First of all, well, one potential answer is we are here to create a new, smaller, better version of ourselves and help raise that entity into a good contributing better member of society. That becomes your entire focus and purpose. And it’s not easy. It’s difficult. In my first, my prior documentary, the nature of existence, I interviewed a psychologist named Gilbert who wrote a book called the Stumbling on Happiness. And he, I asked him this very question, “Are people with children happier than couples without children?” And he had done a study, do children make us happier or not? And in that study, they asked people with children to rate their happiness all day long on a scale of one to 10, how happy are you right now and compared that with the same rankings by couples without children.
And he said the results, they were remarkably similar. They’re roughly equally happy with or children. maybe without children, they were slightly happier overall on average. And they found that interacting with children was about equivalent to doing housework, like vacuuming on the happiness scale generally because it’s hard work. They need your attention. You get less sleep. you have less money because you’ve got to spend on their needs. And all these stressors make it difficult. However, he said when you have that occasional moment when your child says, “Daddy, I love you,” or brings home their report card or interacts with you in a way that brings such intense joy, this joy shoots their happiness off the scale into the stratosphere and makes up for all those very difficult times.
And so those extreme moments of joy or something, the childless couple are not getting to experience in the same way. So, there’s one aspect of the long-term marriage, long-term union. And the whole purpose of marriage ultimately, I discovered is a piece of paper where two people are agreeing legally to pool their financial and property resources for the benefit of raising children. It’s really a contract for raising children at its core. There are other aspects too as well, but that’s the core point of having a marriage contract. Now, a competing interest to this is when you’re single or when you first meet somebody, you love that passion.
There’s this connection, this blending of two souls. The orgasms are incredible. The frequency of sex is off the charts. You feel like this person makes you into so much better of a person and over time through habituation, you begin to take them for granted and the passion drops, the frequency of sex drops and you start to yearn for that and that’s sometimes where cheating happens or temptations happen because we want to, we don’t want to live without that thrill, that excitement that we’ve been missing for seven years, nine years, 12 years, whatever.
And one of the chapters in my book is specifically about passion. Why does it go away and can we get it back? And it turns out we can get it back. Psychologists have studied this and there are even passion workshops. And I sat in on one and watched how the passion experts, this couple teaches other couples, married couples or couples who have been together a long time how to reclaim their passion. And what they tell those couples is to stop talking about their relationship. Talking won’t get you there on the passion scale. It’ll get you there in other ways. Dealing with conflict.
But to get back your passion, what they do is they recalibrate polarity, which when two people are together for a long time, they become more and more similar. And you want opposites to have a spark. So, to get you back to the masculine and feminine polarity, they teach the men how to be men again and the women how to be feminine again or vice versa because it can be reversed. The man could be the feminine one in the group of the partner sometimes, and the woman could be the masculine one. And we all have percentages of both within us. And sometimes I’m in my feminine and I have needs that my feminine needs and I have masculine needs. Overall, I have mostly masculine needs.
So first you have to recognize that polarity is what works, gay, straight or otherwise. A gay couple, you’ve got a masculine and a feminine partner. Ideally, because we’re meant to complete each other, not to duplicate each other. So that’s in short what they teach the couples and how to get back to polarity in the passion seminars. And the psychologists who have studied this specifically looking for ways to increase passion have found that there is a recipe for couples and that is to increase your physical activity together in new and exciting ways, because when you used to go out on dates, you used to do new and different and exciting physical activities. You go to an amusement park, you’d go to a comedy club, you’d go out and do something, you go skiing, walking, play tennis, and then you stop doing those things.
What they found is, Erin is the psychologist who, one of them who studied this. He would take couples who has passionate diminished and he’d have them do simple things like bouncing around on kiddie balls, bouncy balls. And the bouncing around together got people laughing. It gets their blood flowing and what they attribute, the increase in passion that comes along with it is that you assign the good feeling you get from the physical activity to your partner, each of you. And that brings back your interest in life, your interest in being together and your interest in sex, once again.
[JOE]: Wow. You said there’s other steps, I’m sure that the audience would love to know other things that you’ve discovered in regards to just reconnecting with your partner.
[ROGER]: Yeah. Well, in the book I specifically laid out every step of the passion class, what the couples went through. And then I referenced all of the research like Erin’s research. So, if anyone is interested in pursuing or learning more about what Erin has discovered or the other psychologists, it’s all footnoted in my book.
[JOE]: Awesome. And then what was the name of the different resources that you went to, just if people want to look into those resources too?
[ROGER]: Well when I started making this documentary, I read a stack of books four or five feet high and just kind of blindly swinging in any direction, any book written about relationships. And there are a lot of them obviously and several of them started to kind of stand out to me and I sent out emails and contacted people and started tracking them down and interviewing them. And they’re all talking about different aspects of the same thing. Like Gary Chapman talks about the 5 Love Languages. It’s a very famous book of course, and we sort of touched on this earlier in this talk, right? You have to learn what your partner needs. Learn your partner’s love language. We all have a different way that we like to be loved, that we need to be loved and yours is probably different from your partners and if you give your partner what you need, it doesn’t count.
And that’s typically what we do. We make the mistake of giving our partner that which we seek and the 5 Love Languages that Gary Chapman has identified in his thesis are words of affirmation, spending quality time together, giving or receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. I discovered acts of service is a big one for me. The way I show my love is by doing things for people, one of the ways. And if my partner doesn’t recognize that as a way that she needs to be loved, it’s not going to count in my behalf. If she needs words of affirmation and physical touch, those are the things I’ve got to be mindful of; telling her I love her and expressing verbally my gratitude daily. This is something you need to do daily and part of this at the core.
Here’s at the core of what I discovered after talking to all of these psychologists and therapists. The biggest problem in my opinion is that we don’t, because we don’t recognize what our partner needs, we need to, somebody needs to tell us and so here I’m going to tell you. Guys, pay attention. Men who are listening right now, I’m going to tell you an easy way. It’s simple experiment that you can do in my opinion, that we are doing wrong right now. Probably a lot of you. Women or the feminine, the person who is in his or her feminine, I’m just going, for ease of discussion, say women. Women need to be heard. They need to be recognized. They need about 20 to 30 minutes of listening per night, per day. When you come home from work, if you want, you don’t have to do any of this, only if you want to be happier, but if you do want to be happier, turn off your cell phone, put it on airplane mode, turn off the TV, make eye contact and say, “Honey, how was your day? How are you feeling about it?”
Then shut up. Your instinct is to interject and ask or offer solutions or try to fix it. She doesn’t need it, doesn’t want your solutions. What she’s doing is processing her emotions of the day and she needs to verbally express her feelings and she needs someone to genuinely recognize her and listen to her feelings. 20 to 30 minutes, and try this experiment for a week and see if your passion doesn’t increase, if your connection doesn’t increase, if your happiness, it should. All of these things should shoot up because she’ll be getting this. It’s like a relationship vitamin that she needs daily and if she doesn’t get it, she’s going to become more and more frustrated, over time. Frustration leads to anger, which leads to arguments and conflict. It’s really, you’ve got 20 minutes. Find the time. Try the experiment. That’s half of the formula. Did you want to interject Joe?
[JOE]: No, that’s great. You’re on a roll.
[ROGER]: Let me give you the other half. Here’s the other half. Women, this is what I learned that you need to recognize and accept about the masculine. The feminine needs to recognize about the masculine. The masculine entity is different from the feminine entity and the masculine person, the man, he also desires connection. The feminine wants connection 24/7, always constant connection, but the masculine needs, freedom, needs disconnection. He yearns for it. Once he’s got the connection, he begins to yearn for freedom and so he will orbit a way just like the moon orbits the earth. He’s going to orbit away and then he’s going to orbit back again endlessly in this cycle where once he’s got connection, he’s going to yearn for freedom and once he’s got his freedom, he’s going to miss you and then come back with an even stronger desire for you. And the more you try to get in the way or impede this cycle, the more frustrated he will get and which will lead to anger and then arguments.
Now guys, the way you facilitate this disconnection that you need, it’s like the masculine vitamin, relationship vitamin that is needed. You facilitate it by announcing your disconnection, when you’re disconnecting. “Honey, I’m going to go golfing with the buddies. Honey, I’m going to go out to the garage for a while. Honey, I’m going to go on a fishing trip for the weekend.” And when you announce the disconnection, you also need to announce when you will reconnect. “Honey, I’m going golfing and I can’t wait to see you tonight for dinner at 7:30 honey. I’m going fishing this weekend and I can’t wait to see you Sunday night when I get home with the fresh fish and I’ll cook it for dinner. So, looking forward to doing that with you.” Now she knows that you’re disconnecting, she knows when you’re going to reconnect. She feels safe and secure.
And crucially, if you say 7:30, be home at 7:30. You must be a man of your word. Your reputation is everything. And if you’re going to be late call. This is the core. There are many other things, but these are two core things, understandings, that people have a difficult time or for some reason no one ever really taught us or we don’t naturally fall into these patterns. But if you can, and it’s really, it’s not that hard, it’s pretty easy to do these things. These little changes in behavior can change the trajectory of your relationship radically.
[JOE]: Well, Roger, the last question I always ask is if every private practitioner in the world we’re listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[ROGER]: How important their work is. And it should be mandatory. Counseling should be mandatory. That is good news for your industry. It’s so helpful to people to have someone to listen and offer dispassionate, objective, helpful advice. One of the most important things that the experts told me, whether it was the divorce attorney or the marriage therapist, is one of your best strategies for a successful marriage is before you get married, do premarital counseling. The religious couples tend to do better than non-religious couples, and not because they’re religious, they found in studies, but because they’re forced to do premarital counseling before they get married. It’s part of the tradition of a given church or meeting with the rabbis or what have you to talk with each other about what are your expectations for your union and for your partner.
So, one of the things that I did is in my book at the end. I made a personal priorities checklist, that a couple planning to get married or even just to have fun. It’s a fun thing. Go through the checklist and answer some questions about what are your priorities? And answer some questions like, is there any particular kind of sex that’s off-limits? How do you like your bedroom light or dark? TV on or off when you’re sleeping? Are there religious holidays that should be celebrated or is there any topic that’s off-limits? How many children is the perfect number of children? Just to discuss these things that if you know the rules going in, you’re going to have a much better chance at making it than if you go in unknowing and there’s a lot of surprises and shocks and disappointments, potential disappointments awaiting you. This tactic of premarital counseling, ideally with someone who can guide you in an objective manner will give you your best shot at a happy relationship.
[JOE]: Oh, Roger, thank you so much. If there are URLs or links that you want to share with us, if people want to connect with you, with your book, with your movie what’s the best places for them to find those?
[ROGER]: Oh, great. Yeah, thanks. Well the movie is called The Truth About Marriage and the website is thetruthaboutmarriage.com and it has links for the video where you can find it. The book is on Amazon wherever you find your videos. And you can find me that way as well. I enjoy hearing from people who have seen the movie or read the book and have thoughts or comments or criticisms. I am a little bit of a masochist too because you don’t improve without criticism and I’m no different.
[JOE]: Well, Roger, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[ROGER]: Oh, it’s been great talking to you. Thank you.
[JOE]: You know, some of my big takeaways from this interview are, you always have the choice of acceptance or leaving and then building that polarity. That’s something that I want to continue to look into. I would love if you’re on social media and you have resources, will you tag me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, if you have resources around polarity that you enjoy, that you feel have been helpful for you or for your clients. That’s an idea I’ve heard about for a while but haven’t really dug into and honestly because sometimes it feels so gender-specific and stereotypical that I feel like ‘Uh’ inside of me. But I would love to hear your thoughts on that because you know, I want to be open to all sorts of research and ways of thinking about things. So also, the next episode that we’re going to be doing, it’s Dr. Morgan Oaks. Dr. Oaks is going to help you build your ideal practice.
So, we’re going to go back to some interviews that are a little more about your practice and you know, given you know, we might want to say B, C, and A, D like Before Corona and After Distancing. So, if we think about some of these interviews coming up, you know, we’re done well before the whole coronavirus thing. And so, there’s going to be things that we can apply immediately and there’s also going to be things that we may have to delay the application for. But we’re going to keep releasing them because we know that eventually, things are going to, in one way or another, get back to normal. And when I say normal, my hope is that we really don’t ever go back to how we were before Corona because if we do, I think we’re missing the impact of going through something like this collectively.
I hope we end up loving people more, having more kindness, maybe even evaluating how much we slow down versus how much we try to fit into our life and value that time with friends and family on a different level. So, I think that you know, thinking through that as we head into this next episode with Dr. Morgan Oaks.
Special thanks to Therapy Notes. Therapy Notes has been a longtime sponsor and they have such a high-quality product. They’re doing so much with their customer service, especially during difficult times to be able to have access to that level of customer service. It’s just amazing. If you use promo code [JOE] you’re going to get two months for free and if you’re a Next Level Practice member, you get six months free. So, when you sign up, then if you’re a Next Level Practice member, just forward that sign up to me and then we will connect you to get your free six months.
So, thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing day.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.