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E50 Mort Fertel shares the true secret to a happy marriage

· marriage,happy couples

Michaela (00:00):

You asked and I listened. How much more apropos could this be then having the founder of the marriage fitness bootcamp program on the BU find happy podcast for stupid Cupid week. Right? That's what I call Valentine's day. For those of you who've been listening to this podcast since last year, so thank you and welcome back and listen to these secrets and I guarantee it's not what you expect.

Michaela (00:24):

[Inaudible] I'm so happy to have you on the be you find happy podcast today. We have a lot of listeners who are struggling in their relationships and have reached out and have requested to have, you know, kind of a marriage guru on and you do seem to be the marriage guru. So I'm honored to have you and I've got lots of questions to dive into to get a little bit more insight and pick your brain. But can you tell the listeners a little bit about who you are and how you got into this?

Mort (00:50):

Sure. First of all, thank you so much for having me on and for me, this really comes from a very personal place. It's not just a profession. A number of years ago, my wife and I had our own marital crisis, you know, conflict resolution and communication techniques and all this kind of sent us backwards into the problems. And we found the more we went into the past and the more we talked about the problems, the more we were mired in sort of the negativity of our whole situation. And instead of things getting better, we just found they got worse. Instead of, you know, arguing at the kitchen table, we were arguing in their office or wherever else it might be. And it just, it wasn't effective and didn't make any sense to us either. We just didn't feel like we were moving forward. And so we we decided at some point just to kind of put the problems and the issues aside and to just like, just be good to each other and try to build some Goodwill in the relationship.

Mort (01:52):

You know, I say that in, in, you know, in a half a sentence now. And I'm able to do that back then. I can't say that we like it. It was a plan or we exactly knew what we were doing. But after we got through the whole experience and successfully reconciled and really even transformed our relationship and there's something much better than it ever was, we felt we had a responsibility to look back and see like what did we do actually, you know, what, what worked and and how could we share what we did with others for their benefit. And that was really the origin of marriage, the whole marriage fitness methodology that I ended up creating the book I wrote, the online program that now exists.

Michaela (02:37):

Oh, I love that. No, thank you. That's exactly what I was looking for. Thank you. All right. And then back to the back of the back to the be fair. So you have a program and it's called marriage max. And you, you kind of explained it as marriage fitness, which I love because I feel like a lot of people can relate to the idea of how does the program work, how, how does having a fitness oriented mindset help with your marriage?

Mort (03:06):

Sure. So, first of all, just to clarify, the website is marriage max.com. The name of the program is marriage fitness. And the main, the main most popular program is the marriage fitness, tele boot camp. And in short, marriage fitness is instead of trying to fix what's wrong, we work to make new things right. And the reason we do that, and the reason that works is because when you have marital problems, it appears to us, it appears to anyone, like the problems are the problem. If I were to ask somebody what's wrong with their marriage, they would tell me what was wrong. They would tell me, my wife's having an affair. My husband filed for divorce. My, my wife is my husband's a workaholic. We don't spend any time together. Whatever the case may be. You know, there would be, you know, we don't communicate well.

Mort (04:11):

We argue all the time. One's attention is drawn to the problems and the issues. And that leads us to believe that it's those problems and issues that need to be fixed or resolved in order for the marriage to heal. It's a little bit of a decoy. It's actually not true. The real problem in every marriage is a lack of connection between a husband and wife. And the problems that we identify as problems are really just symptomatic of that lack of connection. And so that's why marriage fitness is about making new things, right? Because it's when you make new things rights that you form a new connection or renew your connection. And that ultimately is the solutions. All of the problems as one of my own students said, this is a great line. I wish I could take credit for it, but it's not mine. One of my students said, Oh, I get it more so the problems don't actually get resolved. They just dissolve. Well, and that's exactly right. That's exactly what happens.

Michaela (05:21):

So you know, we, you say lack of connection. Are you, are you speaking about validation, understanding, respect, what, what is the connection piece?

Mort (05:32):

That's a good question. You know, connection is a word. It's a, it's a synonym. I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll share with you other words that are commonly used to describe the same experience. The most common word is love. Another one is intimacy, closeness or connected. These are, that are pointing toward a certain experience that's very hard to define and describe. And yet we all know what it is. And so it's that experience of being one with another, being bonded with them, feeling close to them. That is the experience of love. That is the experience of it, a healthy, successful marriage. And again, it's the lack of that experience that breeds the issues that we identify as the problems that have to be fixed, which once again are really not the problems. The real problem is the lack of connection.

Michaela (06:40):

So one of the things, and, and I've, I've I've gone, I've gone through your program, I've taken a look at it. It's very, it's very easy to use. I love that about it. It really puts things in a very simplified way. And there's like worksheets as people are going along and they kind of tap into narratives. It seems that we've told ourselves about our spouse or ourself. Can you explain that a little bit? This self-talk that's involved.

Mort (07:11):

So I'm not a hundred percent sure what you're referring to, but if I'm, if I'm correct in what I think you're referring to we, the, the power of our imagination is enormous. And one of the keys to healing a marriage and redirecting a marriage is using that imagination to envision a new kind of relationship. And so self-talk is PO. You know, really the first step is envisioning or imagining the self-talk sort of follows that imagination. But the more that you can imagine and articulate a certain new vision for your marriage, the more likely you are to achieve it. Let's put it like this. Everything is created twice once in our mind and then a second time in reality, nothing can come, can come into the world before it's imagined. That's why you know, if you're going to build a house, so first you create a blueprint you know, if otherwise you have expensive change orders. So you have to be very clear about what you're envisioning before you in park bark upon any journey.

Michaela (08:41):

Mmm. Yes, that's exactly, I love that. I love that you laid it out like a blueprint. Like what is our ultimate final, what do we want this to look like when it's, when it comes to fruition. I love that. And that's exactly what I was describing in kind of the, the imagining and the, and the, and the self-talk, the narratives we tell ourselves.

Mort (08:59):

Right. And to be very deliberate about that is really important. It's, it's really quite amazing actually. The average couple spins, it's like 800 and some hours preparing for their wedding, imagining let's say every detail. And we all know the excruciating detail that goes into planning for the wedding, the colors and the sizes and shapes and I mean, whatever it is, the food and you know, 800 and some hours, you know, how many average you know, the average couple spends how many hours preparing for the marriage?

Michaela (09:38):

Probably like maybe five. The, the five hours of dating this lesson.

Mort (09:45):

That's you, that's if you count dating as preparing for a marriage. I don't, I don't count that the average couple spends less than an hour preparing for their marriage.

Michaela (09:55):

Wow. Wow.

Mort (09:57):

But basically people don't spend any time. There's, there's not a sense that this is something I have to prepare for. There's not a, there's not an understanding that this is a skill. This is, there's wisdom that has to be acquired here, which is really fascinating because we don't think that way about anything in our life. Not just the wedding. But if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer or you want to start a business or you want to learn to hit a jump shot, whatever it is, you would, you would you would Google it, you would hire a coach, you would go to school, you would get a license, you'd watch YouTube, you would do whatever you could to get yourself up the learning curve because we understand that, that that competency is followed only by knowledge or proceeded, I'm sorry, proceeded by knowledge and practice for,

Michaela (10:47):

I've often said that people shouldn't celebrate the wedding before they get married, but rather they should have the wedding at the seven year itch. Invest the money into the marriage instead of into the wedding.

Mort (11:02):

Yeah. Or, yeah. Or, or at least invest the time.

Michaela (11:07):

Right, exactly. So you, you talk about 43 ways to make a good marriage. What do those look like? What are some of the 43 ways that people who are maybe listening today that are, you know, looking to get started? What are some of those ways?

Mort (11:23):

Right. So first of all, just to pull, to pull a previous thing we discussed into your question and tie it all together, the key, again to succeeding in marriage and helium, marriage is to forge a successful connection. And to connect in a relationship is not a mystery. You know, we, we've been taught that love is a mystery. You have to be lucky in love. These are the lies of romantics. Intelligent, successful people understand that there's nothing lucky love and there's nothing mysterious about it. There really are specific principles and practices that drive a successful relationship and that are the, that are these, these 43 and even dozens more of specific principles and practices that contribute to that connection to a successful marriage. So you're asking what, what are some of them? So we just have a couple of minutes here of course. So I'll just, I'll just give you an example.

Mort (12:24):

One example would be what I call the three CS. Criticize, condemn and complain. And my advice regarding the three CS is very simple. Don't do it. It never works ever. And yet most of us, if we really look at our behavior in relationships we criticize, condemn, and complain quite frequently. We mean well, when we do it, we think it's going to make a difference. We want it to make a difference and therefore we do it over and over again and think that this time it will make a difference. But if we're honest with ourselves and look at our relationship history, we will see that it has never, ever, ever been successful. And it won't because it violates one of the important rules about relationships. And so one of the most important things that a person can do in a relationship to improve it is to refrain 100%, not 99%, but 100% from the three CS. I'm criticizing, condemning and complaining.

Michaela (13:33):

That sounds impossible. I've got, you know, I'm just thinking about times when I'm frustrated with something that's going on and whether it's spousal or any relationship really. And you know, it's hard not to complain when, you know, somebody forgets to do something that you needed them to do or somebody doesn't follow through on something that you hoped they would do. Or we can even take it bigger and say somebody violates your trust. You know, it's hard not to, to, to condemn or complain or criticize those three CS.

Mort (14:05):

Yeah. So you use two words. They're almost interchangeably. I just want to distinguish between them. First you said impossible then you said heart. So impossible. Impossible. I have to challenge you on. I don't think it's impossible. I know it's not impossible hard. I think you're 100% right. It is hard. But so what a I there, there are lots of things that are hard and if I want to be successful at anything, I better be able to identify the things that are difficult, that I have to overcome in order to be successful at it. And you're right, it is hard. And people want easy, they should go to a different website, not mine if they want effective and maybe mom that the right address. So you're right, it is hard.

Michaela (14:53):

So how, how do you do it? How do you, like, what's one tip to get started? Like for people that are listening today and that are going to go home and are going to be disappointed by something their spouses done, what's one tip to hold themselves back?

Mort (15:06):

So I mentioned two things that might be helpful. One might be a little frustrating, but because of the time constraints it's necessary. And a second that might be helpful and interesting. So the first is that the one of the keys to refraining from criticizing, condemning and complaining is to understand what to do when you feel frustrated as an alternative to the three CS. In other words, if my advice was exclusively don't criticize, condemn, and complain and just do nothing, that it would be excrutiatingly difficult, still possible, but excrutiatingly difficult. One of the keys to succeeding, to refrain from the three CS is knowing, okay, so if I'm not supposed to criticize, condemn, or complaints, so what am I supposed to do? What, what, what, what's an alternative? And that's one of the things that we discuss in the program because the kinds of time constraints, we can't get into it here, but just know that it's, it's not only refraining from something, but it's knowing what to do in its place that makes it easier to refrain from.

Mort (16:16):

The second thing that I'll mention is that, you know, in most, in, in lots of other areas of our life, we understand that it takes discipline to succeed. And I don't know you well, and I don't know who exactly the listeners are, but I know that you and everybody listening has areas in which which they're competent. It might be some form of athletics, it could be your profession. You know, maybe it's a hobby. You're good at something and I guarantee you whatever it is, you're good at. You exercise discipline in that area. What's discipline? Discipline is doing what you don't want to do. When you know you need to do it. So somebody who's physically fit exercise is disciplined because they work out regularly. They don't work out when they want to. They work out regularly. That means a lot of the time working out when you don't want to work out.

Mort (17:18):

But I do it because I want to achieve a certain objective. And so for, for reasons we can discuss if you want, we tend to not think of marriage and relationships as something that requires discipline. In fact, you'll hear people say all the time, if I can't tell him what I think freely and openly, then there must be something wrong with our relationship. If I can't speak freely, then this is not right really. Are you sure about that? That sounds pretty foolish to me. If I always speak what's on my mind without ever exercising restraint, that's not a good open relationship. That's stupid. And that won't work. And I'm going to end up saying things that I didn't mean in ways that I shouldn't have said it. And at times that were less than timely. And so again, we have this, we have, we've been, we've been sort of brainwashed and educated very poorly by the culture at large that certain things about relationships are true when they are not, again, I gave two examples in this interview so far.

Mort (18:33):

One is that you have to be lucky in love and that it's a mystery that's a lie. And two, is that a quality of a successful relationship is this sort of this sort of freedom and openness to to say whatever's on my mind whenever it's on my mind, and that sort of in that that's sort of verbal inhibition is somehow a reflective of a, of a healthy relationship and that's wrong. It's not what's reflective of a healthy relationship is a person that exercises good judgment about when to say what and how to say it. And in all cases that that requires a wisdom, discipline and restraint.

Michaela (19:22):

I often hear people in my psychotherapy practice say to the spouse, sorry, I just can't, I just can't change how I feel and I, and I don't feel right not telling you how I feel.

Mort (19:33):

Yeah, right. That's well said. Yeah. Sometimes the expression that's used is, I'm brutally honest.

Michaela (19:40):

Yeah. I can't help but be brutally honest. That comes up too. Yes.

Mort (19:43):

Right, and I, I think that's an ironic term because they're right. It is brutal. Yeah. It's brutal and it's foolish.

Speaker 4 (19:53):

Yeah,

Michaela (19:55):

That's a good point. We hope we have more restraint with perfect strangers sometimes, I think, than we do with our loved ones.

Mort (20:02):

Yes, that's exactly right. Somebody once said to me, a man once said to me was a little annoyed with some of my advice saying like, gosh, more, I'm feeling like I got to walk on eggshells and such, you know,

Michaela (20:16):

Welcome to the way your spouse feels every day.

Mort (20:21):

And I said to him is, you know, if you were on a first date, wouldn't you be walking on eggshells a little bit? If you were invited to the white house,

Mort (20:36):

Wouldn't you be quote walking on eggshells? Like it's a derogatory phrase, but it's describing something that I don't think we should frame as derogatory. It's describing a inexperience of cautiousness. You know, when I, when I cherish a relationship, I'm careful with it. If I, if I go to, if I go to Marshall's and I buy a vase for $15 maybe I'll bring it home and throw it on the couch, give it to my 11 year old. When I get around to it, I'll put it up on the mantle. But if I go to Southerby's and I buy a vies for $1 million, there's no way I'm going to put it on the couch. There's no way my 11 years old was getting anywhere near it and I'm going to hire a professional to secure it to the mantle immediately. Why I do I handle those two things so differently. Why am I walking on eggshells with the million dollar valance? It's because

Michaela (21:32):

You value it.

Mort (21:34):

It's because I value it. That's right. That's exactly right. So this gentleman that I was speaking to is framing a, a character trait that is honorable and, or I should say it's a, it's a, a good quality and he's framing it in a derogatory way, which is putting a, an untruthful spin on it.

Michaela (21:57):

Right? Absolutely. So do you think that so many marriages, which is some 60% or something and did divorce because of a lack of connection or is it a lack of follow through?

Mort (22:11):

Well, first of all, I think that 99% of marriages that end end because of a lack of knowledge. Okay. That's, I mean that is an 90 and I'm being generous. When I say 99%, I'd really like to say 100% but I try not to speak in extremes. You know, I, I really think that the vast majority of people that fail in their marriage fail because they, they fail in their marriage for the same reason that we feel in whatever else we fail at. It's a lack of knowledge. We don't know how to do it. And in the case of marriage, we don't know how to do it because we don't think there's a way to do it. Again, you have to be lucky. It's a mystery as a chemistry, right? It's just not true. You know, just as there are physical laws to the universe, so to, there are relationship, emotional and spiritual laws to the universe. And we just simply have to learn them and then practice them. And our chances of success just skyrockets. And most people end up divorce because they've never learned them.

Michaela (23:15):

So you talk a lot about avoiding separation and stopping a divorce and that your program can help people with that. Is that, is that coming on the heels of gaining knowledge and what does this knowledge look like? Is it knowledge about how your spouse feels? Is the knowledge about how you feel? Is it knowledge about the ways marriage, marriages work? What is, what is it? I guess there's two questions buried in there. Sorry.

Mort (23:40):

I have, so if I understood the question correctly, I think it's primarily knowledge about how relationships, and we've given a bunch of examples just in the last few minutes, right? We talked about the three CS. We talked about putting aside the problems and the issues and recognizing that healing and marriage, we don't get there by solving problems we getting, we get there through forging a connection. So you know, the, the, the path is to understand what are the per these principles and practices that drive a successful relationship. I'll give you another example. Cause I, I sense that you're, and I appreciate this, you're looking to translate some of this sort of philosophical discussion into something more concrete, which I appreciate.

Michaela (24:29):

Well, and I'm thinking of, I'm thinking of people who even say my spouse has checked out, my spouse is checked out. So if one spouse is that way and the other person is the one seeking knowledge, how does it work? How do you stop the separation or divorce like that, for example?

Mort (24:44):

Yeah, that's a really different question in my opinion. I mean, your spouse is checked out because the marriage failed because there's a lack of connection. I mean, they didn't get married and with a plan to check out. Right. Two of the two of you behaved in ways that resulted in certain feelings emerging, which resulted in your spouse checking out. So if you just follow the logic there, where did it all start? It started with behaviors. The behaviors led to the feelings, the feeling led to the decision, I'm done. So you have to be smart enough to realize the flows so that you don't start talking to your spouse about not being done. Cause that's not, that's not going to help, right? You have to go back to the source. The source is the, you know, for example, maybe you've been, you, maybe you've been overboard on the three CS for the last 15 years and your spouse just, you know, feels about two inches tall. They feel unappreciated. They feel insignificant. They feel like you know, they feel not good when they're around you, right? That's not, that didn't happen by accident. It happened because a person's overboard on the three CS, for example. I'll give you another example.

Mort (00:00):

This is so simple, SA, I feel even a little silly mentioning it. But what is common sense is often not common practice in relationships. Relationships require for the group for relationships to succeed. They require time. A lot of time, one on one time. And again, I feel silly saying it's like, no, duh, but take a look at your average marriage. People spend lots of time at work, lots of time with chores, maybe lots of time taking care of things in the kids. Do they spend significant quality one on one time with each other on a daily basis? 99% of the cases, no. People are leading parallel lives and then they, and then they wake up, you know, 20 years later and wonder why their spouses checked out

Michaela (00:53):

That, that reminds me of the phrase, couples that play together stay together. There's power in that.

Mort (01:01):

Right? And you just mentioned, by the way, another important quality in a relationship. You, you, you made that statement referring to time. And it's true in order to play together, you have to spend time together. But playfulness. Playfulness is an important quality in a marriage. Most of us have it when we're courting. And most of us don't. Once we're into the marriage and

Michaela (01:29):

Laughter and the fun and the adventures and the experiences.

Mort (01:33):

That's right. That's exactly right. So, you know, why is your husband or wife having an affair? Well, part of it, it's a breakdown in their moral capacity. But a big part of it is because your marriage is lacking those qualities, the playfulness, the adventure, and they're, and, and that's not, we can't, we yearn for that. So when it's put in front of us in the opportunity of another relationship, people sometimes get seduced. It's not right. It shouldn't.

Michaela (02:08):

I've heard couples say right in front of, you know, in front of me to the other spouse the idea of having a date night sounds terrible. What would we even talk about? I don't even want to be around this person anyway. Why would I want to go and go bowling? You know, whatever. Something like that. So how do you encourage playfulness when people are so irritated with each other and you recommend them going to a comedy show or something like that? Like how do you recommend they, they insert playfulness when they're not feeling playful?

Mort (02:39):

Well, the first thing I think that a person has to realize in that situation is that if you wait to you, if you wait until you feel like doing it, you'll be stuck forever. Like if, if you, if you approach the relationship with that mindset, how would you ever take a positive step? [inaudible] Let me put it another way. It's important to realize that in a lot of instances in life and relationships are certainly one of them. I could give a couple of other examples, but sometimes the action comes first and the feeling comes second, like a motorboat going through the ocean. The boat goes first, the wheat comes behind.

Michaela (03:23):

Ooh, I love that. So she'll want a date night, maybe have a beverage, loosen up a little, and then the laughter will come.

Speaker 3 (03:32):

Yeah.

Mort (03:32):

Yes. And it's not just the date night, but it's a whole series of behaviors and activities that begin to create a different kind of feeling and experience in the relationship. If you want the experience in the release and the feeling in the relationship before you take the actions, you're not understanding how relationships work. It's, it's like getting back to somebody who might be, you know, physically fit and exercise regularly. I gave an example of them exercising even on days when they didn't feel like it. But if you carry, if you follow through with that experience, for those of us that have had it, we don't feel like exercising when we start, but how do you feel 10 minutes into the routine?

Michaela (04:18):

Yes. So glad you did it

Mort (04:20):

Right. You feel completely differently. In fact, I wish I felt this way when I started. It wouldn't have been so easy. It wouldn't have been so hard to start. So that's just the, that's just an experience that most of us are familiar with. That is sort of evidence that life works that way sometimes where the feeling comes after the action.

Michaela (04:44):

So what about for people who are going through, maybe affairs are different. It doesn't even have to be as as big as an affair, but what, how do people rebuild trust when trust of any kind has been broken down in and, and disrespected in that way?

Mort (05:01):

Okay, so that's a huge question. How to rebuild trust. And I have a quite a large section in my program about how to do that and the three pillars of trust because of time constraints. We can't possibly get into all of that, but I'll give you two sweet nuggets that is not far from the whole picture, but I think insightful. So the first is first of all, it's important to appreciate is a certain dynamic about trust. And that is that trust is not a choice. You have to really think about this for a second. Trust is not a choice. Trust instead is just the natural, spontaneous experience that you have of somebody that is born of trustworthy behavior. [inaudible] I hope this just doesn't sound like semantics. Please think about it deeply who's listening? And in other words, what I'm saying is that you don't decide to trust somebody. You don't because you can't. You IX. Do you trust somebody because they're trustworthy or you don't trust somebody because they're not trustworthy? It's just an experience. You don't, you don't have any control over it. Let me put it to you this way, whether or not you trust your spouse is not up to you, it's up to your spouse. If they behave in a trustworthy way, then you'll trust them.

Michaela (06:31):

The spouse who is behaving trustworthy, but the other spouse is just paranoid and constantly freaking out.

Mort (06:37):

Thank you for, it's a perfect transition to my second point. Perfect transition. Yeah. So sometimes people will come to me and they'll say, you know, more of your first point sounds good, but I don't buy it because I am trustworthy and my spouse doesn't trust me and what I almost not almost, what I always find is that they're actually not behaving in trustworthy ways. They just don't realize it. They don't understand what it means to be trustworthy. Let me give you a specific example. People think that to be trustworthy, I just can't make a mistake. I have to just do the right thing. It's not true. You don't have to make a mistake or do the wrong thing to breach the trust in your marriage. You just have to look like you're making a mistake.

Michaela (07:34):

Oh wow. That's a lot of pressure.

Mort (07:37):

Suspicious, suspicious behavior destroys the trust in a marriage and my responsibilities, not just to do the right thing, but it's to be beyond suspicion. And so if I'm a good husbands, of course I'm thinking about if you know, if, if, if I'm presented with something that's not the right thing to do, of course I can't do it,

Speaker 3 (08:02):

But

Mort (08:03):

Just because something is the right thing to do doesn't mean I should do it. I have to ask myself another filtering question, which is, is it possible this could look like it's not the right thing to do? And if the answer to that question is yes, then my responsibility to my wife at a sensitivity to hers to modify my behavior so that not only am I doing the right thing, but it's beyond suspicion.

Michaela (08:28):

Well, I see this a lot in the case of social media, in the couples that I work with, one couple, one person in the marriage relationship is so paranoid because their spouse is on social media and the other person isn't. And I don't think in and of itself being on social media is suspicious, but the other spouse in a lot of ways thinks that is like, you know, what's your, what's you're looking at, who you're following, who can DM you, you know who's following you. And that's where I see this a lot with the trust thing come up. That's not as extreme as a fairs or something like that. And you know, the other person isn't even engaging in anything that's you know, on trustworthy, but the other spouse is just freaked out by it.

Mort (09:12):

So I don't want to put you on the spot and I know you're doing the interviewing, but I'll, I'll ask you if you don't mind, I want to ask you an interesting question. So in those instances, if, if one buys, what I just explained that our responsibility is to be beyond suspicion. So then what you're bringing up here is a fascinating question which I'll, I'll ask to you and I'll ask to you and we can noodle it around if you want. How do we determine if that suspicious behavior?

Michaela (09:40):

So how I kind of approach it when I, when I'm working with couples and I certainly don't have, you know, my my expertise in level is not to where you are, but I kind of take the transparency policy. If there's really nothing to hide, then spouses should have access to passwords and not, not necessarily need to lock down their phones. I mean, locking down your phone these days with Apple pay and things like that is important. But, you know, transparency and passwords, transparency and access, you know, not being secretive with their phone when the other person is around that kind of stuff.

Mort (10:15):

Right. Okay. But let's, let's take it, and I agree with you, by the way, transparency is very important. One of the, one of the pillars of trust, but let's take it outside of social media. Let's, let's just not even define the issue. Let's just say somebody saysX , Y, andZ is suspicious. How do we help that couple determine whether or not in fact that is a suspicious behavior? I don't mean to put you on the spot. I'm sorry. I'll [inaudible].

Michaela (10:40):

No, that's great. No, I love it. Yeah,

Mort (10:42):

I'll answer if you want. I could just answer my own question cause it's a little, it's a little bit of a trick question. The answer I believe the answer to the question is that suspicion is not an objective matter. It's subjective and therefore if you want to know whether or not something is suspicious, don't ask me. Ask your spouse if they say it's suspicious the next year. Answer. It's suspicious. If you seek to me my husband, my wife is paranoid and I don't know anybody else that thinks that's suspicious. I would say to you, you're not married to anybody else.

Michaela (11:25):

Oh, that's good. Yeah, that's, that's really good. Yeah.

Mort (11:28):

Your responsibility. My responsibility is to be sensitive to my wife. It doesn't matter what the other 3 billion women in the world would think about X, Y, and Z. What matters is what my wife thinks about it.

Michaela (11:46):

So can people kind of on along those lines, can people go through this program alone?

Mort (11:51):

Absolutely. We have a lone ranger Trek. There's two tracks to the program, a dual track for couples doing it together and a lone ranger track for couples doing it alone. One of the other myths of, you know, that are out there and culture is that it takes two to tango. That's a lie. One person can have an enormous impact on a relationship as long as they're willing to take unilateral action. And that's the whole purpose of the lone ranger track is I teach people unilaterally things they can do to, to, to to impact their relationship.

Michaela (12:21):

Is it dangerous to, to, I mean, the way that I see it just for the record is that any work that you do towards your marriage is only going to help you as an individual throughout your lifetime. But is it dangerous for people to take the lone ranger approach and then constantly get the same behaviors from their spouse if their spouse isn't willing to make any shifts or adjustments?

Mort (12:43):

It depends what you mean by dangerous. I mean, I, you know, on on the surface, I would quickly and easily answer that question as a big no, I don't think it's dangerous. You know, when I, when I think of danger, I think of sort of physical danger, but on the other hand, is it possible that they could be hurt? Yeah. but, you know, I don't think anybody can, I don't think relationships are inherently dangerous emotionally. Right? I mean, if you're not willing to be emotionally vulnerable, then you need to be alone in relationships, you know, are inherently risky. And so dangerous doesn't quite resonate with me, but if you want me to, you know, be honest about the fact that, you know, a person could experience some emotional hurt. Yeah. But, you know, I, as I say unapologetically to my clients and the people in the program, my job is to, in a sense, look past how you might feel today or this week and help you get to where you're trying to get to in your relationship six months from now.

Michaela (14:13):

Certainly building a house and you know, you endure a lot of challenge and pain along the way to get to the final process.

Mort (14:20):

Exactly. And I, I don't mean to sound insensitive when I say that I don't want anybody to experience hurts and I don't think I ever gave anybody of any advice intentionally that unnecessarily caused them hurt or pain. But I'm not scared to give advice that I know will be difficult to employ in might result in them being emotionally vulnerable in the short term. If I know that in the longterm it gives them the best chance to transform their marriage and, and I think a person should be willing to take that path.

Michaela (14:54):

I love that. I love that. Oh, that's, that's a Pearl. So, so how can people listening assess their marriage?

Mort (15:05):

Well if I could offer a a quick promo. Sure, of course. I can't resist. You walked me right into that one. I actually offer a free on my website is a free report, seven secrets to fixing your marriage and that comes with five marriage assessments. And you can get that free at [inaudible] dot com marriage max.com. And so that's, you know, I, I'm certainly not the only one who has assessments and it's not the only way to assess one's relationship, but you, you could, you know, use that tool. It's the first thing that came to mind more for tel.com to get the five marriage assessments. How else can want assess their marriage? I mean, I think there's a certain gut experience we all have.

Michaela (16:02):

Yeah. Kind of like the trust, the intuition of trust.

Mort (16:06):

Yeah. I mean, I think we all know where we're at in our marriage. Are we fulfilled or unfulfilled? Are we excited or bored? You know, I feel very blessed. You know, I, I I'm really not exaggerating and I say this not to, not to boast. I say this because I believe that you, I don't mean you, but I mean, you, you, the listener can, can, can experience what I'm about to describe very easily if you just know how to do it. I can't wait to speak to my wife at night. I really look forward to coming home and we always spend, I dunno, somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes together at the end of every day. And just hanging out, being together, you know, sipping my smoothie that she made me and listen to some music or just talk about the day and she'll tell me about my daughter's violin print, whatever. We just hang out, you know.

Michaela (17:11):

No TV though, right? The TV is not on, you guys aren't watching a program. We don't have a television. Okay. I think a lot of couples things sitting on the couch watching TV counts. Is that quality? We're watching the same Netflix show.

Mort (17:26):

Oh, that's nice. No, gosh, no, you can't. You have to turn the phones off, turn close the laptops, the television one. And I mean, we don't have any open sewage pipes in our home, including a television. And yeah. So you know, I will look forward to that. And and so can anybody else, you know, you just have to sort of know how to get there. Oh, so sorry, I got distracted there. So that's one of the ways in which, you know, that's one of the ways in which you can do sort of that gut assessment of your marriage. You know, do you, if you really look forward to coming home and being with your spouse, you know, do you look forward, I look forward to going out with my wife. Now again, just a reference you back to the beginning of our interview.

Mort (18:14):

It wasn't always that way, right? You know, and we to acknowledge it took and effort and it wasn't luck. There really are specific principles and practices that you can employ that forges this closeness. Then this connection, the more you learn about them, just like anything else in life, the more likely you are to succeed. One more. Thank you so much for being on the show. I'm sure a lot of the listeners are feeling very hopeful, at least a lot more helpful than they were when they probably turned this podcast on. I will put all the website links and to the program that you talked about in the show notes. And thanks so much for sharing some insights on love and relationships. You're welcome. Thank you so much for having me. Take care. Bye. Bye.

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