This is a transcription of Episode 78. The transcription was done by software, apologies for anything that seems out of whack. A link to the episode is below.
Joining me today is Collete. Delete is a relationship coach. She’s a PhD student, and she’ll correct me on exactly what that is in because even though there you go, he told me 30 seconds ago, and I’ve already forgot. And with her partner, Sal, who you guys know, was on the podcast Previously, she runs the potential state website, is that the potential State
Institute? Yeah, it’s a potential State Institute for enriching relationships. Yeah.
So after that long introduction, there’s no pressure on you to hit it out of the park here.
Good. We can play and just be human.
Absolutely. So why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, if you’d like or, you know, anything else you’d like to cover?
Great. Okay, so I am good leads. Relationships are my jam, I just what I love, it’s what I apparently have always been curious about. I, I look at relationships kind of from I’m a sociologist at heart, so I kind of look at how society and our environments, whether that’s our family, or our community, or our society at large influences, the way we interact and engage and the messages we have received and how that gets translated into our relationships. And I’m sure we’ll touch more about that. Because I think that oftentimes, we think that our problems or challenges, or fears, or baggage that we bring to relationships is on a personal and individual level. But actually, I think it’s much larger than that. And it’s on a social level. So it’s a lot of an internalization of the messages that we’ve received and what we then bring into our relationships from those external messages. And so yeah, so sociologists in Hartsville, kind of my lens is zoomed out, and then zoomed in, and Master’s in gender studies. And now continuing on with a PhD in gender studies. I like to look at kind of the social constructs of what makes us and our identities. Parenting also is a big part of my journey. And actually what led me to do my PhD, I’m a mom of two, I have a boy named Zack who’s 10, and a daughter named Lila, who’s seven and a half. And they have taught me more in my journey into motherhood, I think, than any book class. Any other relationship I have ever had the amount of wrestling with, I call them I call my kids little mirrors, because they confront me with blind spots that I didn’t even know I had, the emotions are like on steroids, whether it’s rage, or love, or frustration, or disappointment. It’s just like everything is heightened when it’s your kids. And I don’t think that any kind of parenting style book or class can prepare you for for that change. And also what that does to relationships. I’m a product of a lot of parents who are divorced. My mom has been divorced twice. Both parents remarried. So my mom divorced my dad when I was three. And my mom divorced my stepdad when I was 30. So a lot of insights from that process. And a lot of kind of pennies dropping from seeing my mom divorced when I was 30. So that shed a lot of light on the relationship with my dad and all kinds of things that as an adult, I could understand far better than a three year old.
I’m sure I there’s probably 1000 questions I have around. But yeah, one of the things that just popped in my head while you were talking about and this is why I always have a notebook and we always create an outline or I always create an outline because I rabbit holes are frequent. Because say that phrase at least once a podcast what is what is more of an influence on an individual and their relationships, their family or society? In general?
So that’s a really great question because I think that I think it’s hard to say I think that our families are so you know, it first of all, it depends on the type of family and how that family interacts in the community and how you know, what, what are the parents like and how tight that family is and how it influenced it is or aware of social pressures or, you know, family scripts and kind of the generational pressures that have been And, and the message is that they have internalized and, and and kind of handover to their kids. So that’s a really good question. And I don’t know if there’s kind of a clear cut answer to that. I think that, and that’s kind of where I play with the lens, right. Like, I think it’s about recognizing what the social constructs are, or what are the messages that I received within my community or from my family? And where am I able to have agency? Where do I choose? Or why it has been kind of so passed on? You know, I was listening, you know, like, why do we do what we do? Is there a place to question why do we do what we do? Or is it just, this is how we do it. And so we continue to do it. And I think that really depends. And it probably also depends on you know, culture to culture in different places that we, that we, you know, that we live and how we’re exposed how how, how much we’re exposed to other ways of doing things. So
it’s probably about environment, I would guess, like in terms of your family, sort of, like you’re saying, sort of small knit and focused on the family or, and, and strict in in regards to maybe a religion or philosophies or whatever. Or the is there an allowance of outside society and cultures to
Yeah, and influence? And yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s also exposure, right? Like, the more that we’re exposed to other things, and open minded about them, then those boundaries might become a bit permeable, and we can become open to new influences and question things. So it’s 100%, you know, kind of our environment has a big impact on us.
Well, in one of those things, I think that is pretty heavily influenced by society, and probably by family units, as well, is men’s emotions, what we’re allowed to express what we end up expressing. And I wanted to touch on that with you. Because in a pre interview, we had a brief conversation about this in terms of, I believe, and I don’t think you disagree in terms of men need to be able to express themselves. You as a female, you have a partner who I was fortunate enough to spend some time with and get to know a little tiny bit, I can tell he’s an expressive guy. I don’t think there’s things that he keeps in. And so I wonder how, even though that’s a good thing, quote, unquote, I believe it is. And I say, quote, unquote, because I do think that sometimes when women and I’m not asking you to speak for all of them, I guess I kind of am, like I said in my last episode, but you know, you don’t you don’t have to take that mantle, but how have you received his emotions had? Have you always been receptive? Do you think that perhaps there is a desire for women to have that out of their man, but then not know what to do with it when it comes to so foreign?
Absolutely. So I think that I’m gonna break it up into like, into a few pieces. So I think first of all right, there’s psychological patriarchy, which is basically that we have, almost, I almost want to say universally, but I’m not going to be that bold and say universally, but, but definitely men have received the message. And if men have received this message, then also women have received this message. That men, you know, don’t are stoic. They don’t show emotions in the same way, they don’t have the full range of emotion. You know, boys don’t cry. That’s the messages that that you men forget. And then and that obviously just kind of continues and perpetuates, and what is the masculine man? And what does that mean in terms of what emotions you can express and, and what we then see is kind of this severing of your ability to access your emotions and express your emotions and share your emotions. And then the flip side is, is that we as women, as your partners, don’t know what to do when we say that we want you to open up and we say that we want you to express your emotions. And then you do and we’re like, whoa, whoa, scale it back. You’re afraid like, well, you’re feeling pressured about, you know, work and this and mortgages and raising the kid like, whoa, like, I can’t handle your pressure as well as mine. And I think that that’s kind of where there’s this. I think that’s where the challenge happens. Because if we and I think this is where it kind of like surpasses gender, right? Because we’re all born with a full range of emotion. And unfortunately, because of the messages we receive from our families from society, we aren’t necessarily given the same emotional vocabulary. And we don’t necessarily have permission to feel the same feelings, or certainly expressed the same feelings, or be in touch with those feelings. And then men tend to be and again, you know, I’m speaking generalizations and obviously, I don’t mean to speak in generalizations, but just for the sake of men are kind of reduced to being allowed to feel anger. And, and, you know, have a sexual appetite. That’s it. Right? Like, those are the two main things that you’re allowed to feel and anything outside of that is, like, we, and then as a result of that, we don’t actually know how to handle when you show vulnerability, or when you show fear, or when you show, you know, I, you know, those, we just we, then we feel and I think in general, the real issue is, is that we don’t as a whole as humans, we don’t really know how to sit with emotions. Any of us Yeah. Enough. Yeah. And, and I think kind of what’s happened now is that there’s become much more of an awareness. I don’t know whether a Corona exacerbated it or just awareness in general. But I think that there is a growing awareness to the fact that regardless of gender, right, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, or we don’t know how to sit with certain emotions, and we don’t know how to express them, and certainly in relationships, we don’t know how to allow the person that’s with us, our partner, to have them express them without having to feel like we have to fix it or solve it or, and I know from my personal experience with a Sal, you know, it’s funny, because because when you spoke about him just now, we were like, oh, you know, he’s very expressive, and this that and he tattooed feel on his arm, right, I have speak because I need to learn how to kind of part of women’s issues is that we don’t know how to express ourselves fully, and what we want, and even, you know, our assertiveness or things like that. And for him, it’s film. So I said to him, we were just kind of on holiday. And I said, like you’re not sharing with me, you’re not telling me you’re not sharing your feelings. I don’t know what’s going on. And as far as he’s concerned, and the impression that he makes is that he is he does share and he does feel. But I think that in a way the bar is so low. And and I know that there have been times when he has shared, you know, like anxiety, or, you know, I can’t I don’t sleep well at night, because I’m worried about, you know, the business or I’m thinking about the kids or, and then as soon as he does that I can feel I can feel my anxiety bubbling up and my fear bubbling up, like, I can’t hold his toe. But the work is but the work is to remind myself that I don’t need to hold his for him. Right. I just need to be able to hold mine so that he can share his
knowledge. It sounds easy, right? That’s
Oh, my God, it’s the hardest thing in the world?
I really think it is. And I think I think all of this. I’ve been thinking a lot about a lot of these things. I mean, think about all the time, but but especially lately, and I think I think it all boils down to the relationship that you have in working it in a way that works for both of you. And yeah, I’m tired. I try to find cookie cutter answers because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Right? Like, oh, if this happens then do this. I’m very logical and very pragmatic, like, but I think you know, when you consider family and society, and I think family, especially in terms of your parents, and I think there’s so many factors and influences that how you handle something is going to be different than someone else’s obviously. And that it needs to be the internal framework of the relationship to handle it together. And and that doesn’t always mean like you were saying take on his issues, rather than rather just give him understand, okay, this is the way he is. Now what do I need to do for him and for me to make sure that we’ve navigated successfully it and while that kind of sounds easy, easy it also is, I think it sounds very fucking complicated in some ways to
it is it’s so complicated because we’re not really given tools to do that. Right, like, I don’t need to fix any, you know, there’s kind of like the cliche joke of like, you don’t need the husband saying to the wife, like, you know, or the wife complaining to others and be like, you don’t need to fix it, you just need to listen kind of thing. But that’s true for all of us. Right? Like, if he’s sharing with me, I also need to remind myself that I don’t need to fix it, I just need to be able to listen. And it’s not a complaint. And it’s not a criticism. And it’s not something that I need to change or do differently. I just need to give the space and if we want men to be able to share, we have to make the space. And we have to stop talking about manners if they don’t have emotions can’t express emotion, right? Like emotionally handicapped? No, they’re not emotionally disabled, they’re not emotionally handicapped. They have a full range of emotion, men, boys, we just need to give them space to express it. And, you know,
it’s, it’s not I think it’s sounds easy. Again, it sounds easy, but Right. Yeah, I have questions about because you, because you’re a parent of both, but I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole just yet. But what I do what
I will say it’s challenging, especially imagine kind of, you know, very, very aware and kind of with, with everything that I know, in terms of kind of gender, and sometimes I find myself still, you know, falling through things. And I recognize that, for instance, with my with my daughter, I’ll say like, Oh, be careful, be careful. But I’ll say way more Be careful with her than I will with him. Right. And like, it’s just, it’s in such small things that we don’t even notice. It seeps into our language and our mindset in such small ways. And, and it really does start in childhood, it starts so quickly.
Yeah. I think there’s a whole conversation there, too, about the history of that. But again, for another day, perhaps, but yeah, but what I do want to focus on is sort of a lot around this man having emotions. And, and I had this conversation on my last podcast, and I wanted to sort of address this. It’s just a perfect time. We talked about this in a pre interview anyway, but the feminization of men, there are some folks and I interviewed a gentleman not too long ago, who said, you know, standard therapy will tell the man he just needs to get more in touch with his feelings, and he needs to express his feelings and you need to get more feminine. I’m paraphrasing with what he’s saying. And I, I believe that to be true in terms of you need to express your feelings get in touch with them. Yeah, I don’t what I think the standard operating procedure is, is that that means you get more feminine get more in touch with your feminine.
But that can that goes back to kind of what I’m saying about like, yes, emotions aren’t. Yes, gender are the emotions aren’t masculine and feminine emotions. We have that’s what society’s done, we’ve placed specific value on certain emotions. And then because the in the hierarchies of gender, right, there are masculine emotions in their rough and rugged, and they’re this and that. And then the feminine ones are more thought, you know, like, I just saw something on social media today about like soft skills. Why do we call them soft skills? Right? Like, they’re friggin hard? It’s not they’re not it’s not, it’s not soft to learn how to be an empathetic listener and to be compassionate like that is hard work. Why are we calling them soft skills. So I think it’s the same thing with emotions, like emotions are not masculine or feminine. We have done that we have placed these values, and kind of gender eyes them. And what we need to what we actually in my mind need to do is kind of strip that away and go back to like, to our, that’s our humanity. Yes, our feelings and our emotions, our humanity. And that’s what makes us human. And so if we want to be whole humans, we need the full range. If we want to live whole lives, we have to have the full range. And that’s incredible joy, and bitter sorrow. And we all have that. It’s just that some of us have permission, and access and language, and others don’t. And it’s kind of ironic, because just now when I said that I realized, like, in the Gender Wars, right, like that’s what it’s about is that men traditionally have had in certain spaces, access language permission, and women have not. So maybe that’s also part of the issue is that we aren’t kind of women aren’t willing to hand over the emotional world and sphere, because we you know, we have to be, we have to be queens of some domain, right? But I think that if we want to see society again, to a healthy place, each each side needs to kind of put down the keys to the world and be like, we all need full access. That’s what equity looks like. We will all be better off if we all have permission access language.
No, I agree. And I think I, I want to clarify that, you know, because no one has challenged me or anything. But I felt after doing that episode, and it just came out. So, you know, I don’t know if anyone, everyone has an opportunity to listen. But I felt like afterwards, like maybe I was shitting on men a little bit too much, and also pushing for men to be feminine. But that that doesn’t, by the old definition, or the I don’t know, classic definition didn’t mean that I want men to, you know, suddenly start doing their makeup or whatever. I just want them because I want men to stop killing themselves. Because,
yes, so I’ve managed to stop severing the softer side of them. And I think I I always think about yin and yang, you know, like, and I think that that’s what it is, like when we’re whole I just It just always kind of sounds because it always sounds like so kind of new age and yin and yang er, but But it’s true. That’s what it’s about. Right? We have a dark side, we have a light side, we have a soft side, we have a harsh side. And we all need to be able to bring more of that. And women also women need to access their assertiveness and their aggression, I would even say, you know, like, we also when we have a lot to learn from from men. And I know that Estelle and I often have these conversations. And I think that’s part of why we also started working together in the clinic with couples, because we each bring the different perspectives. And you if you want to have that 360 If you want to have that wholeness, then you need to learn how to engage with it and access both. And I think that oftentimes in our relationships, that’s actually the beauty of it, right? Like, where I am lacking a little bit, it’s possible that my partner has a bit more and so they can, they can fill my cup a little bit in the places that that I can’t, and I can sell their cup. But I think that’s where we need to be open and receptive. And I think that part of the issue is become is that as a society, we have, like I said, we’ve severed men from their emotions, and so they don’t know how to access it. And then if they do, their partners don’t necessarily know how to hold that space and encourage and continue to encourage them.
Yeah. No, I agree. I think it’s not and I’m sure you weren’t shitting on men. I’m
sure you. I’m sure some brothers, Let’s heal
both. Exactly. That’s what it is. I just want them to stop killing themselves. Oh, yeah, there were things that are difficult, are hard, but survivable, if we had these fucking skills, and yeah, they’re considered feminine skills, I suppose. But as I am learning and growing and evolving, and I’m saying fuck that, there, yeah, human skills. Exactly.
Here, you Yes, they’re human skills. And, and, you know, I’ll say for myself, like, there’s a lot. I was just thinking about this today, actually. Because I said, and I also have been focusing a lot on our parenting, and I’m playful by nature. But I think that it’s actually uh, you know, he’s kind of self taught play. That’s kind of what he has, has anchored. And that’s what his doctor was on. And, and I think that it’s funny, because I think that had I not met him when I did, and had he not kind of had that. Anchoring in play. As a man, he had permission to continue to play and as a woman, I think I would have had to kind of let that go. But because that’s what I’m saying. Like that as partners, we can really help each other. And I think that oftentimes, watching him play, and still be able to play and you know, not care what society says because he has, you know, there are certain things that he can do because he’s just he’s, you know, he’s a guy that I that I that I look at, I’m like, wait, I can I can do that, too. I like that’s fine. I can play I can be 38 and play. Like who says I can? No, I think that we we have so much to learn from each other. If we’ll just if we just are willing to kind of like, put our guard down. We just need to put the armor down.
Agreed. I think that’s a large part of it. In doing so, I think you’re open to, you know, to other things that other ways too. Yeah, maybe maybe I can be a man and I can cry. Maybe that’s yes, absolutely. Maybe that is okay, absolutely. So let’s shift a little bit. So in terms of, then the question can become, what is masculinity, then? What is desirable to a female? What do you as a attractive female see as masculinity? Or what are the things that you would look for that you consider masculine?
Yeah. I love that question. And I’ve been thinking a lot about that. And I have to say that, like, I do want to kind of caution, because like I said, I think it’s important that it’s a conversation. And that, you know, men, if they’re listening and kind of adopt some of this stuff that they like, prepare their partner, because I think that otherwise, they might not get the response that they want. And I wouldn’t want that to happen. But I think that vulnerability, and sharing your emotions and your feelings, by the way, the full range, I think, so often, we think that sharing emotions means sharing the hardships and where we’re afraid. But it’s also sharing the moments of joy. And I think that oftentimes, we kind of overlook that because we think, Oh, well, obviously, I’ll share the happy moments, or I’ll share the moments where I looked at you and thought you were beautiful, or I looked at you and thought you know, you’re a great mom, or I looked at you and thought the kids are amazing. And so we don’t share that. Because, like obvious, but know that like, I would say, You know what I would say I would say the first place to start sharing is with the good stuff. Like you have a good thought you have a positive emotion you feel like you feel content, or happy or surprised by something your opponent or dead or sad, and it can be literal, share it, say it, say it. I think that’s huge. And also, it’s funny, because I was just having a conversation with a girlfriend of mine. And she said that, ironically, moms who are divorced, kind of have a more equal relationship with their x, right? Like they get more free time. The you know, custody split, they, you know, there’s more like equal parenting than moms who are in relationships, and who kind of take the burden. And that kind of relates to maternal gatekeeping? Because oftentimes mom’s like, No, I can do it myself. No, I got it, I got it. It’s all on me. And they don’t actually ask for help. Or if they ask for help, they don’t actually allow help, because they want it a certain way. But actually, if we kind of changed our mindset, and thought we don’t have to wait to get divorced to have equal, shared more contribution in the house. Yeah. You know, but that means that each side, you know, someone needs to step in, and someone needs to tap out a little bit. And actually, it’s mom that needs to tap out.
Yeah, I think there’s a again, there’s, there’s so many facets and, you know, topics that can be discussed, and that’s one that is probably for another one. But what I would say is, I think that’s a huge struggle right now for both both men and women because it’s no longer a one. Workforce household. Right, right. Both are out in the wild. But there’s still that, like, for me, for instance, I’m a Gen X or my mom did not work she you know, I mean, she did when we were young. She did and then eventually she started going back into the workforce but so that’s my template. That’s my now that didn’t mean that I expected her to be chained to a to a stove. But the template was what mom did the cooking mom, the mom did the dishes mom does the laundry.
Mom puts away the clothes. Yeah. Five activities. Mom gets a snack smart. Yeah, yeah. We, it’s it is changing. And we need to make space. Like that change needs to come from both of us. Yes. Like, I know that I need to let go of how the laundry will be folded. If I want a salad to do it. Yeah. Right. I can’t. I can’t, like in that sense. I gotta let it go. Like, what do I prefer? Do I prefer to fold it my way? Or do I prefer to have 10 minutes that I can do something else? I prefer to have those 10 minutes. And like, but I think that even that can be a conversation. Because maybe, maybe some mom would be like, no, no, it’s got to be my way. But But yeah, but I want to invite I want to invite I want to invite couples to have those conversations and I want to invite moms to like you can take a step back. It’s okay. Because you know what? I went into my room lationship with a sail and, and I grew up thinking that fathers were overrated. That was what I learned from home. That was the sentence that my that was the narrative. That was the narrative that I kind of grew up with from my mom. And it’s not true. It’s not true fathers are not overrated. And, and, you know, kids have a lot to learn, especially if fathers to kind of start tapping into their emotions. That’s just gonna do a world of good. If kids can see their dads, you know, bringing a soft side. And, and their playful side. Yeah, you know, then wow, well, all when?
I can’t I can’t agree with that. More. And it’s one of the things that divorce exacerbates, in a way the different roles and I had to take obviously had to take on things that maybe I well, not maybe things that I didn’t in the past, wholeheartedly, like, maybe I helped with laundry, but now I gotta do the laundry. Right? Right. And there are days when it gets done and sits in baskets for like, a week and a half.
Yeah, I’m gonna fold. Also here also here. Yeah, but absolutely, I mean, that’s, but I feel like if couples can start talking about it, and playing with it, and recognizing that like, because I think often what happens is because of society, and kind of like pressure, I know, I know, I felt a lot of pressure to be a certain mom. And certain things meant that I was a good mom. And, you know, if I had a clean house and, and tidy and this and that, like all these things, and I had to do it all by myself. I think oftentimes, we get the message as women that like, we want to be good moms, we have to do it all by ourselves. No, we don’t have to do it all by ourselves. And it’s and you know why we fold the laundry better? It’s not because we’re better at it just because of like nature, it’s because we have more experience, because we’ve done it more times. If we let you guys do it, then you’ll be good at it too. Like so. So there’s there’s there’s something to be said for kind of like moms tapping out letting go and and letting dads step in a little bit and and doing it their way.
Yeah, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think, again, it’s a conversation. It’s a comfort level, it’s a it’s an openness, hey, let’s do this. Because this isn’t working. Whatever this is, it’s the sometimes I think it’s it’s one of the more difficult things is the ability to have an uncomfortable conversation. Absolutely. But those uncomfortable conversations can lead to some successes.
Yes, they’re crucial. They’re crucial. And I think that that’s part of what we all all as humans need to learn is to like sit through the uncomfortable ones, because they’re only uncomfortable in the moment. But the reward and benefit of sitting through those uncomfortable conversations is huge. And it actually, if we if we kind of get the tools to do it, then we get better at it. I wouldn’t learn and they’re not so uncomfortable anymore.
No true. The practices, you know, for for any skills, I want to shift back to masculinity a little bit and talk a buzz phrase, I guess toxic mess, toxic masculinity, which some men lose their mind over that, that that little phrase? Because they think, yeah, I’m gonna speak for men. Yeah, please do they think that that means that masculinity is toxic. That’s not what it means. It means that there are certain things that men do that were are considered masculine, that, frankly, are fucking toxic. So
is that are you that you you defined it perfectly? I think that what is toxic are certain things that have been like, you know, the same thing with like, oh, certain emotions are, yes, you know, feminine. So the same thing is certain behaviors that men have been allowed to do or have done, have become toxic. And I think the main one is assuming that this kind of like, obliviousness to other perspectives or other experiences or other realities. And I think that once I think, in my mind, like that’s at the heart of it, this kind of not even recognizing that someone can have a very different experience than what I’ve had. True. Right, like assuming that, like, my experience is the truth, that in my mind is at the heart of toxic masculinity. And if, if, and I think as soon as men recognize And you know, I don’t know, I’m not a man. So so maybe there are other things kind of that you’ve that you’ve noticed, and maybe you have a fuller list, but in my mind that’s like, at the heart of it, that if you’re willing to put down and recognize that, like, my truth is only my truth. Let me hear. Let me hear your experience, then that will like that will be that will be the bridge, or at least the start.
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s taking that stoic way. So to way too far in that, like, you don’t care about anything or anyone, like you just have your way. And that’s your
you don’t even recognize that there are other ways. Right? It’s I don’t think that the I don’t, I can see why men maybe get kind of upset because I don’t think that they intended for that to happen. And so now to kind of acknowledge like, yeah, it’s a bit oops, you know, like, yeah, oops, sorry about that. Sorry about that. Okay, there are other realities that we have not taken into consideration, and we will do better next time.
Yeah, I think it comes down to it. It’s becoming so I just keep coming back in my mind when I think of toxic masculinity. i What i and I’ve seen it honestly, I’ve seen it. Don’t cry. Don’t feel. That’s
just like Lone Ranger. You don’t need anybody. You don’t need anything like poker face. Don’t show emotion. Don’t that. That is so toxic. You know what happens? You die inside?
What? And I think it I really truly think it does lead to suicide. Yeah, especially when men are faced with really catastrophic, traumatic emotional events in their lives, and they have no ability to handle it. Yes, especially. Amen, brother. I’m a bit biased, but especially divorce. Because not only are men general, generalizing, they isolate. They’re alone. And then they lose their emotional.
Because you can’t talk to anybody. You can’t talk to anybody, you’ve cut everybody off, right? Because what connects us at the end of the day, what gives us humans that ability to emotionally connect emotions, like we connect on the emotional level, that’s what we by sharing by sharing our experiences, our thoughts, our inner worlds are. So you’ve, you know, you’ve become a poker face, nobody can come in contact with you. You can share outwardly you don’t have the even you don’t know how to express you don’t even know how to necessarily identify what you’re feeling or even acknowledge that it’s painful that it’s scary that it’s sad, that it’s hard. And yeah, you’re right, then you’re on your little man Island all by yourself. No.
Sometimes I think the one of the challenges that I face is, I’m really going forward. My focus is going to be I haven’t said this on the podcast before, but I’m going to write a book. And it’s going to be a guide for men to get through divorce, but but in a different kind of way. So my intention is, and I’ll get to my point here in a second, my intention is to start bringing men together. Yeah, particularly men that are going through divorce and when they get together, and I think AAA is the best template for this. When they get together, they need something to guide them in their meetings in their interactions. Definitely. And you know, hey, you know, remember step, whatever. And you know, that thing.
Oh, I love it. I love it. Michael 100%. But I think it’s a it’s a men’s circle. Yes, it’s a men’s support group.
Yes, in the trouble that I’m even I’m even finding it now before I have sort of somewhat of an infrastructure of a website and I’m there’s some groups private groups there that men can join. I am having trouble and but I’m not a quitter by any stretch of the imagination. But I am having trouble getting them to come together. To to to say fuck this isolation thing. Let me yeah, let me get let’s let’s let’s do something together. And I am struggling to get men to do that. And I know we’ve kind of covered some of this, but why am I struggling so bad? Like why? Why is it so hard to get men together?
Because men have been taught that they are self sufficient. that asking for help is weakness. that emotions are not for them. then you have all these and there’s shame. Shame is so big. And the I love Brene. Brown. I don’t know if Yeah, so she, I mean, she talks about how I’ll never forget her. So I read her first book, about shame. And she’s, the whole book is about women and shame. But at the very end, she has this one point where she says that a man at the end of her conference came up to her and said something like, you know, you say you want to hear about men’s shame, but then nobody really does. And that, you know, for all the things that we for all the points that we covered, you know, it’s and shame thrives on the isolation, right and not speaking about it and not sharing. So I think you’ll have to, you’ll have to go through like the backdoor and like, invite guys over for beers and stuff and like, sports games, and then through that, kind of open it up. I don’t know, I’m hoping I’m hoping that there is a new, a new masculinity. Yes. And I think that there is I think that there’s kind of a budding new masculinity that is a bit more aware and forthcoming and men who do recognize that, and also, we don’t want to be alone, right, who wants to be alone?
No, nobody. And I think what I come back to, sometimes when I think about this stuff, this challenge I think about, it’s really hard to open up, I think for people but I think for men especially. And therefore, if we are men, if you want to look at it, that old school pound on your chest type of view. Why the fuck aren’t we doing the hard things?
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I love it.
It’s easier to ignore your feelings.
Duff it down. I mean, eventually, yeah, but yeah, it does. But if it’s hard to open up to be vulnerable, then why are we fucking saying all right, I got this.
Love it. Yeah, I’ll be a man and I’ll do it. Oh, yeah.
That’s what a man that’s me. That’s it’s your shit. Own it. It’s yours. Yes, absolutely. So I think that’s the manly thing to do. In my view, in my view, I think that’s more manly than pretending that you’re not hurting. Give me a five. Absolutely.
I think that there’s something so courageous in being able to admit that you’re afraid. Yeah. Right. Like, that’s courage. Or, or share that you’re in pain or, or even express tremendous joy. Like, all those things take so much courage? Because they’re so raw. And unfortunately, they’re also so rare. Yeah.
No, I would agree with that. I don’t think it’s exclusive to men. I think it’s right. i Yeah, expressing feelings and emotions, it facing them head on. It’s hard. And it’s really so
hard. It’s so and it’s, I have to say I this past, about two years ago, I kind of transitioned to be self employed and work a lot more with a sale and in the clinic. And I had to also meet myself, right, I had been used to, you know, working in an office and part of a team and, you know, and it was like, a very different it was, it was very different. It was a transition that I wanted, and I sought out, but I had to kind of meet myself and meet myself in terms of worth and value and productivity and working. You know, independently and like meeting myself every day was so hard and so exhausting. And yeah, that emotional work is challenging. Yeah, so yeah, I agree with you. I think it’s I think we all you know, if we want to let live whole lives, where we feel like we belong and we’re close to the people we love, that’s part of it. That’s part of it.
I want to shift to to your story a little bit. It’s just popped in my head as things often do. And being that you went through a divorce as a child, and it sounds like there was some of the some of what happens I think with with men, when they go through a divorce, and and they get very angry at women. It sounds like and I don’t want to put words but it sounds like your mother maybe was very mad men.
She wasn’t actually it, I have to say that we just had a big fight about this a couple of days ago. It’s really funny. Yes. So for many years, as I didn’t even let you finish your question,
well, I was gonna ask like, how, how, how did that affect you? Yeah. And if it was in a in a in a negative way, in that you picked up that belief system from her? How did you get out of it? If you didn’t? How did you not?
I did, I did pick it up from her, because like I said, I grew up thinking that fathers were overrated. So I grew up with the narrative that fathers are overrated, men are useless. And and for many years, I was not I did not have a good relationship with my dad. And there were even a few years that I didn’t speak to my dad. And I think what helped me wise, first of all, a master’s in gender studies, education, education, and a recognition of, you know, what are the messages that we get? And what are the messages that we perpetuate? And how do these serve or don’t serve us? And, and the other thing that helped me was that I married a man who has dedicated his life to couples and family therapy. And when we started dating, we talked a lot about parents and our families, and what we learn through our families and fathers and father figures, and, and I think that when we got married, was when I started to kind of reconcile my relationship with my dad. And then I think when my firstborn, was born, my dad flew out to kind of to see me and spend time he was the first grandson. And, you know, becoming a parent also changes a lot of things you get, you gain so much perspective, and you kind of see things differently. And, and I think that I also recognized that I was hearing one narrative, but I wasn’t hearing you know, there’s always more than one narrative, there’s always more than one, you know, there’s, we each have a side to the story, and there are multiple truths. And both stories are right. And, and I think that really kind of changed the nature of my relationship with my dad. And then from that, from there on, I also I sought out my dad’s narrative. So during Corona and locked down, I would have zoom calls with my dad. So and this was only so this was only like, what, two years ago, I guess, or a year and a half ago, where I would, we would have, you know, weekly calls on Zoom. And I would say, you know, tell me, tell me your story. Tell me your side of things. And I was older, and so I could hear them in a different way. And I could, you know, kind of bring together the different stories that I had heard from my mom, and the different stories from my dad, and then I could kind of create my own narrative.
Do you mind if we dive into that? More specifically, just in terms of ages? And so if it’s Yeah, or whatever? Yeah. Oh,
there’s, there’s no too personal
is. So I would say, based on what you’re saying you were you were alienated? Is that a fair description of because that’s a big buzzword in the circles of divorce is parental alienation. And it sounds like in a way, yours would be a textbook case of that.
Alienation sounds a bit harsh, but I mean, there was also there was kind of a long disk because my mom remarried a man from the States. So we relocated to the states for four years. And my dad was still I’m in Israel. So my dad was telling Israel now he lives in New Jersey and I live in so like, there was some international stuff going on, but but I do have to say that recently, and I think this is important. Recently, I had a conversation with my mom about something. And she I asked her a question about her and she said, Well, you know, your dad and your stepdad and then I was like, Wait, but I’m not asking about them and and then later You know, the conversation kind of escalated into an argument. And she said, Well, you were very defensive. And I said to her, yeah, I was defensive. Because when I heard you saying my dad and my stepdad that already in my mind triggers that you’re going somewhere negative, because you usually speak about them negatively. And that’s, you know, that’s been with my dad for many years. Like, only recently has she kind of, I guess, I don’t know, gone through her own process. And now feels differently. But, but yeah, I mean, that’s
so there’s man, there’s so much here. Okay. So now a lot. Did you have any resentment? Because he, yeah, he’s, he, maybe he allowed or the fact that you were able to be separated from your father? Did you have any resentment towards him for that?
So I think as a child, you know, there’s so much you don’t know, as a kid and you piece things together. And you So kids, I think kids pick up on everything. In terms of their if we’re talking about emotions, like they pick up on everything in terms of their emotions, and then I think we’re we mess them up as parents and adults is that we don’t necessarily, you know, we kind of fill in the gaps or don’t fill in the gaps or tell them, you know, oh, no, no, don’t be sad, because this and this, and then, and then we actually sever their emotions from what their understanding of reality is. I think that I felt my dad didn’t kind of make the time wasn’t interested. But in hindsight, now, I know that, you know, he was, you know, working his butt off, we were far away. It’s, you know, it was expensive to call, you know, wasn’t in the days of internet, I’m, it was expensive to call, there’s a time difference. Like, there’s so many factors that as a child who thinks about that, nobody thinks about that. And now as an adult, I can and I think that I think that and I recently said this to my dad, I said, you know, I’m so happy that you very kind of quietly just, you’re You were always kind of you always tried you were always there but never like the just the right amount, you know, like he wasn’t too pushy. It was never kind of like you have to talk to me, I’m your father kind of thing was always just like, these quiet check ins like maybe now she’s ready. Maybe now she wants to communicate maybe now she but never was pressured. Never. And eventually I, you know, and now, we don’t talk often just because of, you know, time differences in life and kids and that, but like when we do, I really enjoy talking to my dad. And I’ve, I’ve really learned to see an incredibly warm, insightful, hard working person who I just didn’t see as a kid. But But I think my most important kind of message to dads who maybe are struggling with their kids is like, just hang in there and like, be patient. And keep at it in a very, like, warm, soft. Because, like, just leave the door open. You know? Yeah, I
think the truth always comes out. And I think especially I think I’m biased. I’m a father, he fathered child relationship can’t be severed. It just can’t be. I’m not saying that mother’s child candy. I’m just saying for sure. I feel it. And these types of stories I got it makes me emotional, because despite what happened, and this isn’t to trash your mom or anything, but despite what happened, despite some mistakes on her part, I’m sure it sounds like she’s getting to the point maybe of realizing some of these mistakes, but your connection didn’t go away. It might have been strained and damaged. But it didn’t go away. And eventually, you know, things came back around. At what age did you start questioning things in terms of my dad’s a bad guy? Like At what age did you go like? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe he wasn’t so bad.
You’re not gonna like my answer. But like, I think when I, I think when I started to get I think when we got married, so I was like, 2820 30 like, my own also, I think, Yeah, as long as also having kids of my own like really, really made a big shift. Also, I have to say as, as a mom, I was like, I wouldn’t want to do this alone. Like Thank God, you know? Oh, that I have a sale who like cuz I had a really hard time transitioning into into motherhood. It’s still one of the, one of the roles that I struggle with most. I, there’s a lot. It’s hard. It’s so hard. Parenting is so hard. And, you know, you’re confronted, like I said at the beginning, like, you’re confronted with emotions just on a level of like, you see parts of yourself that I think you don’t get to see in any other relationship, you know? And I think that it’s also like, it’s a heavy lift. Yeah. And so to be able to kind of share that,
do you? Do you feel guilt over those feelings of being really hard? And like, do you feel like you’re doing it wrong? Or that you shouldn’t be thinking that it’s so hard or
my mind motherhood? And my Yes, so being a mother. So I think for a long time, I had a lot of guilt and shame. I struggled a lot with with breastfeeding with Zach was Jack, my oldest and, and I was convinced that like, I thought I was a failure as a mom. I was just convinced that that’s what it was. And, and, ironically, I think that that is part of what allowed us to take a more central role, because you had to because I was just, I was just busy shaming on myself and, and just, you know, being guilt ridden? And
did you share that with him that he was here with me a while
it took me I usually kind of have kind of verbal diarrhea, and I just got everything out. But with this one, the shame was so big was so great. And the, the, the smack between the, the gap, I think that the larger the gap between expectations and reality is, the harder you fall, and the greater the shame or the guilt or the you know, mess. And for me, the expectation and reality, there was such a big gap, that, that really kind of, I don’t know what the word is that but that like, that’s what got in the way of my transitioning into motherhood. I had to figure out how I kind of bridge that gap. And I but now because guilt I think they’re, you know, there’s some guilt that’s like in place when you in your moral compass where you kind of do the wrong thing. But I think that oftentimes, we feel guilt. And that’s kind of socially constructed. So I’m really trying to get rid of that. Do you think and I, again, I
I’m just I’m asking you to put on a, you know, an educational hat rather than a spokesperson hat. Do you think that that’s perhaps that guilt and shame of not doing it right, as a mother causes? Issues and perhaps, and some marriages,
I think what happens is, is that we don’t realistically share and talk about the transition into parenthood. And then each parent is dealing with these emotions that nobody talked about, that nobody spoke about. And so they’re each like, so it must be just me, because nobody else has talked about it. And then this wedge starts to emerge in the relationship, and then it just grows. And so I think that an add to that sleep deprivation because you’ve just come home with a baby and frustration and inexperience and you know, pain or healing. And, and it’s a mess. It’s a mess. And if we I think that one of the biggest disservice as we do to young couples, young families, young parents, is that we don’t realistically depict that transition into parenthood. And we don’t give skills and tools for couples to share. What happened from you know, birth, like when I gave birth to Lila our second, it was a very traumatic birth like she was born six weeks early. It was an emergency C section. If we were to say I wasn’t allowed into the operating room. And I remember afterwards, I was like, tell me, you’re like, Tell me what happened. Tell me what your experience was. And I think that so often we don’t ask dads. How was the birth for you? Like, what? What was that experience like for you? We don’t do it enough for moms, we don’t celebrate and give them space to like, we don’t acknowledge the society, like the momentous experience of birth and that postpartum time, but we also don’t do it for dads. Hierarchy becomes baby mom, dad, and we need to just get rid of the hierarchies because they’re not serving anybody.
I’m just curious in terms of maternity leave in Israel, what’s How do you guys because it’s virtually
I know, it’s non existent in the States. It’s yeah, we get 15 weeks paid maternity leave.
Wow. Yeah. Civilized society. Oh, interesting. Well, yeah.
No, I think like France gets like six months. But
yeah, well, 15 weeks, I think. I don’t know what we get honest. I don’t even remember. Like,
I think you get like two weeks. I think you get two weeks paid. And you can take like six weeks sick leave? Yeah, I think you’re right like that. And you’re like, Lucky.
That’s yeah, that’s the mother to the father doesn’t get it. Right. Right. Right. Right. So equally, kind of crazy. Yeah. It’s terrible. Yeah. It’s I don’t think it sort of sets the tone, I think. Absolutely. I wonder, are there countries? Again, I’m asking you things that you may not even be familiar with. But are there countries that are much better at teaching mental health and skills? Because America doesn’t teach jack shit about it? Clearly.
So I don’t know, in terms of kind of, like education. I know, in terms of I know, the Scandinavian countries do a really good job in terms of parental leave, and parental equity, and things like that. But I don’t know in terms of kind of emotion, emotional, and mental health. I don’t know. The answer to that.
It should be something mandated in schools everywhere. Like, absolutely, it affects everything. You know, we live in a society that we’re not as concerned with, where we’re getting our next meal. I mean, obviously, they’re poor folks and all that and I’m not trying to comment on that kind of stuff. But I’m just saying are large, large Lee, a large the largest struggles in our lives now our mental and emotional, so I would think we would be somebody would teach us some fucking skills.
It’s time. It’s time. Well, that’s why we’re, you know, that’s why Michael, you’re doing what you’re doing. We’re doing what are what we’re doing.
Speaking of let’s, let’s jump into that. Let’s talk about what what are you guys doing? I say I spoke about it a little bit. But please talk about potential state and what you
so we, we have a clinic we see couples, together. Separately, I work with moms as to and also works with couples, individually. My My favorite is when we work with couples together. We also do webinars, have lectures, and yeah, we’re on the potential state.com. And, you know, we put out some videos, we’ve got a YouTube channel, where we try and kind of break down some concepts, share things that we’ve gone through our Dynamics, I bring kind of the social gender lens, a sale brings his couple and family therapy, a lot of improv play to the mix. And yeah, we try to have fun and he’ll heal the world one couple at a time.
So let me ask you two questions about that. Sort of what is what has been your biggest struggle as a couple something that you guys really struggled with and but were also able to overcome?
I love that that’s a great question. I’ll tell you what, we’re we’re struggling so it goes in phases like right it’s like the Mario brothers like we we can go to the next level. We are currently struggling and working on forgot the word in English one second. I have to find it. Like collaboration, okay, working collaboratively and not competitively. So trying to, I think, again, the messages we received from society is to be the best and better and the language is competitive. We focus on winning but not within ourselves in being the best necessarily winning, right, like winning is a construct. Right? So like, it’s an it’s relative, like, Who determines what winning is? So I think that, for us, it’s kind of recognizing when we’re in competition, and when we’re in collaboration, I also thrive working with a team, and I say, as has for many years worked on his own. And so it’s kind of bridging the gap of how do we bring our gifts together, without one upping each other without trying to compete without letting egos get in the way? And I think that is something that you know, and I’m not just talking about in the business, I actually think in our, you know, like, in the clinic, there is no ego, we don’t bring our ego there. I actually think it’s like, with parenting. Or, you know, with family or because we’re both extroverts, so like, you know, who was right, or, and various, various opportunities like that.
But how do you tackle these things? Is it merely based around something as simple as conversation?
If only conversation were that simple like that. That’s yeah, that’s where we start, we start with you know, naming it, name it to tame it name entertainment, talking about it, and where did I feel like you went off to me? And where did I feel like I, because some of these things are ours, right? Like, if I feel insecure, that’s not necessarily because he was one upping me, that’s just because I was feeling insecure, that has nothing to do with him. So it’s, it’s sharing it for me to look at and for me to observe, not for him to necessarily change his behavior, he I don’t want him to, to, to shine less bright, because he’s worried that I can’t handle it. The idea is, what we strive for is that each one of us as individuals in our relationship can shine the brightest we can shine. And if we each shine super bright, then we’ll be even shinier together.
It’s similar question about the work that you do. I’m always curious in terms of like, success and wins. And that’s, I think life is really definitions are so important in life. And like you said, like, what does winning mean, but in your eyes, what has been a victory or a really satisfying conclusion to a situation where you were a couple was just not doing well. And you were able to sort of get them on track? Do you have any of those kinds of things that stick out to you that stand out to you?
Yeah, I mean, we see we see couples in the clinic who, you know, they go to the next level, they go like we were working with one couple and you know, we joke that like when they come in and they’re arguing about like, the dishes or like you did this you did that like we call that fishy cocky, you know, have you ever seen the movie Crazy, Stupid Love, right? It’s always like it’s pitchy cocky. So like, we call that pitchy cocky like, and then, and then, you know, we give them the tools, we give them the skill set, we give them the language, and then all of a sudden, you see that the arguments are not about pushy, cocky, they’re like, they’re about emotions. Right? You start having a different conversation of like, I was scared here. I was, you know, disappointed here. And that’s a whole different conversation. Because the pitch you cocky is we’re not able to speak our emotions. So we act it out. And if you’re able to get to like, speaking emotions, you don’t have to act it out. You just have to, like, you have to hold the space in a different way. And that’s, that’s like the best that’s amazing to be able to kind of witness that.
I, as things often do some something else popped in my head. I noticed in doing what I’ve been doing for two years now, with with the war support and stuff that oftentimes it seems like women check out it varies two years of her one year, whatever it is, but it does seem like once a woman makes up her mind that she is done. That she is done. Is that in your Have you seen any of that sort of experience where it wasn’t possible to come back? And I guess I’m trying to provide not hope, necessarily. But clarity, maybe someone who is just in the beginning stages and they’re there, they’re hopeful that that perhaps that relationship can be mended. And I, I don’t want to say can’t be a but in my experience it typically when a woman’s done, she’s done. Yeah. And I say that to give hope on the other side that there is life after divorce. There is after divorce. Yeah, did you choose but in your experience and as a woman, do you? Is that something you have seen or noticed that once she’s done, she’s done.
So it’s funny, because usually when they come when couples come to I think from my personal experience, yes. Like, in other words in my personal life from my mom and from friends and from, but I think that what we’ve seen is that when couples come to the clinic, if they’re ready to work, and they don’t just want like a bitch fast, then they’re ready to work. So, yeah, so like, if, if your wife wants to go to therapy Go, go.
Yeah, no, I agree. I think if they’re willing,
I think if she doesn’t, then because I think, you know, again, like with my mom, I think in hindsight, I think I realized that actually, maybe she didn’t want to go to therapy. Like maybe maybe it was in the woods. Maybe it wasn’t my stepdad that didn’t want to go to therapy. Maybe it was her that didn’t go to therapy. Do you know what I mean? So I think there is something to what you’re saying about like, when she’s done, she’s done. But, but also like, let’s, let’s let’s not, let’s not get there. Yeah, let’s try not get there.
Yeah, I don’t wish it upon anyone, I certainly would prefer the latter. Well, luckily, this is been as awesome as I thought. Thanks, Michael, thank you for doing this. I really, really appreciate it. You’re so welcome. I feel like we could do this. Probably another two or three hours. But I’m sure you got stuff to do. And my kids are here. So gotta go spend some time with it. Yes, go. Yes. So we talked, we covered your state, your your website, potential state.com. People could check it out there. As you said, you have your YouTube channel, I’ll put all this stuff in the in the show notes. And when I post it, I did it for a sales episode as well into a few hours. The last question I asked everyone is what words of wisdom would you impart to a man who’s just starting out his divorce process?
Wow, I’m gonna give you my stepdads advice. And he is amazing and wonderful. And he’s three times divorce. So he’s got a lot of wisdom. And he’s like, lived life. The first to forgive is the happiest.
I’m just gonna sit with that for a moment. So if you guys are wondering, why the fuck isn’t he saying anything?
Yeah, it’s a really good one that I keep with me. The first to forgive. It’s the happiest?
Yeah, that’s profound.
Harder said than done. Harder said than done. Oh, that’s so good. But so good.
I can’t argue it. I can’t argue it’s, it’s excellent advice. I hope. I don’t know if I’ll be the first. But I hope that I get to that point someday. I struggle with it. I struggle with it. But I hope someday I get there. Thank you again, for doing this. I really appreciate you
for having me.
Don’t jump off. Because I got something I want to talk to you about going forward. But again, thank you very, very much for doing this. I’m sure we will do it again. And you know, I just I thank you and Sal for for being so open and vulnerable. I really appreciate it.
Yeah, pleasure. Thanks so much.
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