What Deeply-Connected Couples Don’t Do | Amy Morin

Amy MorinSo, here’s a fact that really surprised me. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but research suggests arranged marriages actually get happier over time. Meanwhile, satisfaction actually declines over time for many couples who marry for love.

How do we wrap our modern notion of how the best relationships begin around the idea that some of the happiest couples out there started out as total strangers? That their marriages were arranged by someone else?

It turns out, when people commit to a long-term partnership, knowing little about each other, they’re much more motivated to work harder at building the relationship – and that connection often only deepens from there. On the other hand, in more love or romance-initiated relationships, the opposite often happens. 

Long-term relationships are complicated, yet, when we get them right, profoundly rewarding. Which is why I’m so excited to welcome Amy Morin as my guest today. She’s thought deeply about what makes couples thrive. Amy is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books like “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” have sold over a million copies worldwide.

In her latest, 13 Things Mentally Strong Couples Don’t Do, Amy reveals key habits to break and communication skills to build to craft enduringly amazing, long-term relationships. Her insights are drawn not just from research, but also years of counseling countless couples firsthand.

Through Amy’s gentle and honest wisdom, we’ll explore how to reconnect with your partner’s best self – and your own. How small changes can transform even the most challenged relationships, the habits that erode relationships, the tools needed to build resilient joy, and why some bonds only grow stronger despite life’s hardest trials. Healthy love is possible, but it doesn’t happen by accident. We have to cultivate it.

If you’ve ever felt lost about what your partner needs, or drifted from the magic that first drew you together, this conversation is for you…

You can find Amy at: Website | Instagram

If you LOVED this episode:

Check out our offerings & partners: 

photo credit: Sonya Revell


Episode Transcript:

Amy Morin: [00:00:00] Sometimes just remembering why we got together in the first place after 4050 years goes a long way toward then assuming goodwill in the person. We forget that yeah, love was once very passionate. We had a great time. Here’s all the things we used to do. How do we still do that? We forget to have fun. We forget why we chose this person in the first place. Could just be as simple as saying, here are five reasons why I’m still with you after all of these years. Or here are five things that still made me choose you back then, and why I’d still choose you today. Couples that have those conversations, it can go a long way toward really just reminding them, yeah, this is what it’s all about and why we’re still together.


Jonathan Fields: [00:00:39] So here’s a fact that really surprised me. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but there’s a research that suggests that arranged marriages actually get happy over time. And meanwhile, satisfaction declines over time for many couples who marry for love. So how do we wrap our modern notion around how the best relationships begin, and really connected with the idea that some of the happiest couples out there started out as total strangers, that their marriages were arranged by someone else. Turns out, when people commit to long-term partnership knowing little about each other, they’re actually much more motivated to work harder at building the relationship. And that connection often deepens from there over time rather than falls apart. On the other hand, in more love or romance-initiated relationships, the opposite more often happens long-term relationships. They are complicated, yet when we get them right, they are so profoundly rewarding. Which is why I’m so excited to welcome Amy Morin as my guest today. She’s really thought deeply about what makes couples thrive. Amy is a psychotherapist, an international best-selling author. Her books like 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, have sold over a million copies. In her latest book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Couples Don’t Do, Amy reveals the key habits to break and communication skills to build to craft enduringly amazing long-term relationships. And her insights are drawn not just from research, but also from years of counseling countless couples firsthand. Through her gentle and honest wisdom, we will explore how to reconnect with your partner’s best self and your own, how small changes can transform even the most challenged relationships, the habits that erode relationships, the tools needed to build resilient joy, and why some bonds only grow stronger despite life’s hardest trials. Healthy love is definitely possible, but it doesn’t happen by accident. We have to cultivate it. So if you’ve ever felt lost about what you need, what your partner needs, or drifted from the magic that first drew together, this conversation is for you. So excited to share this conversation! I’m Jonathan Fields and this is Good Life Project.


Jonathan Fields: [00:02:59] You have an interesting inciting incident into your exploration of before you even get into the world of couples and couple dynamics. Just generally sort of like the things that we do and don’t do that make us mentally strong, which, from what I understand, really started as you just sort of channeling these ideas into a blog post that I’m guessing you just sort of like hit publish on and had no idea what was about to happen next.


Amy Morin: [00:03:21] That’s it exactly. I thought, oh, maybe five people will read this. Never imagined it would go viral, but 50 million people read it. And that’s why I still get to talk about it today.


Jonathan Fields: [00:03:29] Yeah, I mean that’s amazing. So larger context. You are in the world of basically helping people live better lives on the therapy side of things. What was it that led you to get curious about mental strength in the first place, and in particular, not just what people do, but what they don’t do, because it’s an interesting frame.


Amy Morin: [00:03:52] So as a therapist, I was taught in college, like to really build on people’s strengths, pay attention to what they’re doing well and tell them to do more of that. And I thought, oh, that’s great. Then we’re going to be strengths-based. And when people come in and say, hey, I’m doing this and this and this, I’m going to pinpoint that one thing that they’re already doing well and be like, you keep doing that. But like early on, I realized if I were to go to the gym and somebody told me to run on the treadmill, I’d do it all day long if I were motivated to get physically fit. But if they didn’t tell me to not eat the jelly donut on the way to the gym, I’d be really mad that all of the effort I was putting in was a counterproductive to that jelly donut. I wasn’t getting anywhere and I thought, yeah, what if I just helped people figure out, like, what’s their worst habit? Or what’s the one thing you could give up? People were coming into my therapy office with these huge lists of things they were already working on, and yet they were like, Amy, it’s not working enough. What else can I do? And they just felt like they were in that hamster wheel and they couldn’t get off. The more things they did, the less likely they were to make any progress. And they were frustrated. So I thought, you know, building on their strengths sounds like a good idea. But in practice, maybe we’re better off to tell people to give up a bad habit. I was seeing a lot of people who thought they were using the mentality. Like, if I eat a giant piece of cake for dinner, I’ll just then eat a salad too, as if they outweighed each other without realizing, like, no, it’s that piece of cake. That’s really the reason that you’re struggling in life is because it’s not the adding the salad to it doesn’t undo it. So I really wanted people to figure out how do I get rid of that habit. That’s perhaps counterproductive to my progress.


Jonathan Fields: [00:05:26] Yeah, I mean, it’s an interesting approach, and especially in the context of I feel like the last ten, 15 years or so, the world of positive psychology has really gained a strong foothold. And a big part of that canon is the idea of building around strengths, focusing less on, you know, like the the weaknesses or just what’s not strong or less strong and identify the strengths. You know, there are assessments you can take and then building around it, focus deeply on that. And the other stuff kind of falls away, and the strengths really become the thing that define your experience and your existence. And I think you probably wouldn’t argue that’s not completely untrue, but it sounds like what you’re saying is yes. And we can’t actually entirely ignore the other side of it.


Amy Morin: [00:06:08] That’s just it. You know, you can practice gratitude and that’s great. But if you’re only grateful for the ten minutes a day, you sit down with your journal and the rest of the day you feel sorry for yourself. That ten minutes doesn’t undo the 24.5 hours you spent in a cycle of self-pity. So I wanted people to realize that just to raise some awareness of, you know, these little habits you do, yes, they matter, but they’re not going to undo the bad habits if you don’t tackle those head-on. And I feel like that’s part of working smarter and not just harder, is saying, how do I get rid of this one little thing so that the other things I do are so much more effective?


Jonathan Fields: [00:06:43] I almost wonder too, do you feel like there’s, um, almost like a logical ordering of this? Because I feel like a lot of times we’ll start to say yes to the strengths, because we see that as the big rocks, and then we’ll look at the things not to do or to cut or habits to break as the things. Well, when we get to the optimizing or fine-tuning stage, that’s where these really make a difference. Do you have a sense for the relative importance of either side?


Amy Morin: [00:07:08] You know, I think sometimes it’s that snowball effect where we need some momentum. If I only ever pointed out all of the bad things in somebody’s life, we’d feel pretty bad, right? Like we don’t want to sit and hear that. So it’s good to know you already have some good habits and those things do work, and we can make them much more effective by just cutting out this 1 or 2 thing. And for me, that’s like, ah, a sigh of relief is like, yeah, I’m already doing some good work. That’s good to know. And my habits I’m doing, they’re not all bad. And the good ones I have are effective. I’m just not using them to their full potential.


Jonathan Fields: [00:07:41] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. So that original post, which then eventually turns into like a giant book and the book, I guess same-ish title, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. I’m also curious about your use of the word strong, because a lot of times when you see mental in this context, the word that. It is not strong, but it’s tough or toughness. And I feel like you make a distinction between those two.


Amy Morin: [00:08:05] I do, because when people talk about toughness, I hear so much about like a Navy Seal who really has to bury their feelings in the moment, somebody who’s in a crisis situation or we need them to rise to the occasion. We need them to be able to act tough. They can’t act scared. They can’t sit and talk about their feelings. We need them to push through the pain in that moment. And that serves a place, and it has its purpose. But true strength isn’t just about pretending you’re okay, but a lot of people think that. They think if you if you don’t cry at a funeral, that means you’re strong. Or if you put up with this toxic relationship for a really long time, that’s strength. And none of that is true at all. When you really think about it, it takes more strength sometimes to admit you don’t have the answers and to ask for help. Or it takes courage to be able to say, I’m struggling over here, or I have this going on in my life to be vulnerable. And so I did want to differentiate between what what it means to truly be strong as opposed to just acting tough.


Jonathan Fields: [00:09:02] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You know, I often think one of the strongest things that you can say as a human being is, I don’t know, because you have to have a certain sense of strength, of identity and of values to lean back on to then in a forward-facing way, say, I don’t know and feel like you’re still going to be okay. You know you’re not going to lose the respect or the compassion of those around you. In fact, maybe this is going to deepen the connection between you because you’re stepping forward from a place of vulnerability. And yet I still feel like that’s a little counterintuitive for a lot of us.


Amy Morin: [00:09:35] It really is, right? We want to impress people. We want to tell them about the good things going on. But then when you step back and you think, why do I like the people that I like in life, is it because I’m so impressed by their perfection? Probably not. It’s probably because there have been those moments when they’ve acknowledged their struggles, and you could relate to their experience and you understood their pain. That’s what really helps us connect. And I don’t know why we sometimes forget that. And yet we put on that brave face of, no, I’m good things, everything is great. And I didn’t want that job. I didn’t get anyway. And we act as though we don’t have any pain or struggles in life, even though that’s really what it takes to bond.


Jonathan Fields: [00:10:10] So when you decide, you know, you write this blog post, it turns into a book and you’re getting a ton of attention around the idea of things not to do to cultivate mental strength. A couple years pass, I guess, and you decide, well, what happens if we apply some of these ideas, or if we take this similar lens or frame and relate it to couples to partnerships? And I’m curious about that, how you bridge that gap, like what makes you go from just saying general public? Like, here are 13 things that I’m thinking about to let’s focus in on life partnerships, long-term sustained partnerships. It sounds like similar to the first one. This is personal for you as well.


Amy Morin: [00:10:51] Yeah. The first book really was born out of my own pain. I didn’t mean to write a to write a book in the first place. I had gone through a series of losses. I lost my mother, I lost my husband when I was 26, and I lost my father-in-law a few years after that, and it was really just meant to be a letter to myself. As a therapist. I never thought I would make my story public, but then when the first book came out, the biggest question I got was from parents about how do we raise mentally strong kids? So that led to the parenting book. And then so many women said, okay, but we hear about so many say Navy Seals who are tough. What is a mentally strong woman look like? That led to the woman’s book. And then I had so many more people asking about for kids book. So that led to a kids book, which then led to a workbook for grown-ups. And then it just seemed like the next logical step in the. And the series was to write a book for couples because, you know, we don’t get stronger in a vacuum.


Amy Morin: [00:11:41] And I put it out there. I asked people like, do you think your relationship would get better if you were mentally stronger? And 74% of people said yes, and the same 74% of people said, and if my partner got stronger too, because the people around you will certainly affect your mental strength. And the good news is, if you have a partner who isn’t interested in building mental strength, you can still make a difference. So I didn’t want people to think like you had to have this perfect relationship to become stronger together. There are still things you can do as an individual, things you can do as a couple. And when you work together as a team, you can accomplish some pretty incredible things. But we also know so many couples are struggling, especially in a post-Covid world. I was hearing from so many people who said, you know, things have changed our, the world has changed, our lives have changed and our relationship is struggling and I don’t know what to do about it. So I decided it was time to write a couples book.


Jonathan Fields: [00:12:29] When you reach out to couples and you’re asking them and you get the 74% of people say, yes, yes, I think the relationship would be better if we were individually mentally stronger. How do you figure out what they actually mean by mentally stronger? Because when you offer the phrase, I imagine, like you have a thing in your mind that says, this is how I’m defining it, but it’s not common language for the everyday person. So I’m curious whether you sort of like, went deeper into that and tried to figure out what are they actually perceiving as being mentally stronger?


Amy Morin: [00:12:56] Yes, and I’m glad you asked that, because sometimes people will think that it’s about almost being robotic, like not having feelings. My emotions don’t affect me so much or other people will think, well, I just I wouldn’t have any self-doubt. I’d be so confident I could accomplish anything in the world. So it is important to dive into that. And we did. And we talked about that and how it looks, which is there’s three parts to it the way you think, the way you feel and the way you behave. Thoughts are realistic. It’s not that you’re overly optimistic and to the point of thinking nothing could ever go wrong. It’s about recognizing your brain lies to you sometimes, but you can evaluate it. Reframe the unhelpful thoughts. The emotional piece is about recognizing when your emotions serve you well, when they’re not knowing that you have some control over them and you can regulate them. And then the behavioral piece is knowing, all right, it’s one thing to think positively, but what kind of positive action are you going to take? What steps are you going to take to improve the situation, change your life? Do hard things. When you combine those three things, then you have mental strength. But it is often misconstrued into various things where people assume that being strong again just is like that tough exterior and thinking that nothing will bother you.


Jonathan Fields: [00:14:03] Yeah, and I think especially the last couple of years, have tested a lot of people’s definition of what that feeling is. So the core thesis of this book is really if I, if tell me if I’m getting this right, that relationships can be changed in a positive way by the individuals within that relationship growing stronger themselves and that that has this sort of like carry-over effect into the relationship that makes the dynamic between two people or maybe more, you know, however you define that relationship better.


Amy Morin: [00:14:34] Yes, you nailed it. Exactly that. We know a lot of things in life are contagious. You can inspire and motivate the people around you, but the way that we often go about it is, is not the best way we nag. We try to motivate people, we do all of these things, but we know that just by changing your behavior is the most powerful tool you have to change somebody else. And I want people to know that because in my therapy office, it’s rare that I have two motivated people who say, here’s what I want to do and here’s what I want to do. Instead, they often come in saying, you know, I’d be happy if my partner didn’t do this certain thing or if they changed their behavior, or it’s my partner’s fault that I’m not happy. So I really wanted couples to know, like, here’s how you take responsibility for everything that’s going on in the relationship. That’s really your piece of the puzzle. And here’s how to to create some positive change. Even if your partner’s not on board.


Jonathan Fields: [00:15:25] And having a partner not on board is always an interesting dynamic. When one person says yes to change or yes to at least exploring, and the other is kind of like, nope, I’m good, right? I want to dive into some of the you you offer these 13 things. I want to kind of like cherry-pick some of them and let’s go deep into to a handful of them, because I think they’re fascinating. But before we get there, you shared this really interesting notion as well, which is that research suggests that couples in arranged marriages get happier over time, while satisfaction actually declines. For those in love-based marriages, arranged couples may actually work harder in connection. Maybe that’s one of the bases, but I thought that was really interesting. I’d never heard that that research actually supports this. I have a couple of friends who are first-generation, and their parents actually were arranged marriages, and they’ve shared a similar thing with me. And I think from a Western mindset, often that feels just so strange and like, how is that possible? And yet a lot of the rest of the world actually functions in that way. And it sounds like the research is saying there’s not necessarily one is better than the other. And maybe a lot of the assumptions that we make are really wrong.


Amy Morin: [00:16:37] Yeah. On the surface, for those of us who aren’t in arranged marriages, it seems really far-fetched. Like if my parents picked out my partner for me. You mean to tell me that I would be happier than if I picked out my partner for myself? But what I think we know from the research is when we pick our own partner in the beginning, there’s those really intense romantic feelings. And in fact, it’s very similar to if you were high on a drug, and it’s almost like an addiction where you have this tolerance for your partner and you have withdrawals when you’re away from them. After a while, those romantic feelings and passion change. They shift as they should over time. We shouldn’t be like that for 50 years. It would be really hard to function when you’re first falling in love. You don’t sleep that much, your appetite goes down and life gets really weird. But we often then aren’t as motivated. So after 20 years of being with somebody, the motivation to work through problems and the idea that you should still stick together even when you aren’t feeling that really passionate burning love anymore.


Amy Morin: [00:17:37] Sometimes we think, well, we’ve lost it, we don’t have a connection anymore. And couples who are in arranged marriages didn’t feel that in the beginning. So they work really, really hard to form a relationship anyway. And then they keep working really, really hard. So they’re used to that because they didn’t feel like it at first, but they did it anyway. Whereas we it’s easy to in the beginning to work like a teammate with your partner when you are having those really intense romantic feelings, your newlyweds or you just started dating. And then we have to learn. How do you do that even when you don’t feel like it? Maybe a few years down the road. How do you still say this is a problem worth solving? This is an argument worth having, a discussion worth tolerating even though it’s uncomfortable or hard to do. I think that’s why the statistics show that sometimes arranged marriages are happier because they’re used to working through those things, even when they didn’t feel like it.


Jonathan Fields: [00:18:28] Yeah, I mean, that’s an interesting perspective because effectively you’re saying that in an arranged marriage, the expectation is you’re going to have to put in effort from day one to try and develop this sense of connection. It’s just that’s the way it is. And that effort, that skill set gets trained from the very beginning. Whereas in the beginning with a lot of like non arranged marriages, especially Western-based, love-based marriages, we’re kind of running on chemistry over effort. And eventually over time that chemistry changes. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a natural thing. So we could get years into the relationship without ever having experienced that. No, actually we do have to sort of like train in the skills needed to actually be able to foster the type of relationship we want for a really long time. So it’s like we’re starting so much later. And we started with a set of assumptions that maybe we wouldn’t have to do that if it was, quote, right in the first place. And we have to almost grieve the loss of that assumption. Does that land that does that?


Amy Morin: [00:19:30] You hit the nail on the head for sure that after that first few years when we weren’t just feeling that burning passion anymore, that yes, it’s going to take work and it doesn’t mean your relationship is broken or that anything’s wrong. That’s just the way that romantic love tends to shift over time. And that’s okay. That’s a healthy thing. Just then, yes, you have to put in work to and as life shifts, you have kids, you change jobs, you move to a new city, your parents are aging. All of the obstacles that we face requires us to to compromise and to work together as a team. And those things are tougher to do when when we aren’t getting along or feeling those romantic feelings anymore.


Jonathan Fields: [00:20:05] Yeah. And I would imagine also the last 3 or 4 years have been a cauldron. You know, they have been sort of like a proving ground for what’s really happening in the relationship and how much effort are we really willing to put into it. And with so many people for such an extended period of time actually being in confined spaces, I would imagine you’ve seen this in practice like that. Little things become big really fast, and if you don’t have the skill set to dive into them, it can turn disasters even faster.


Amy Morin: [00:20:37] Yeah, that’s just it. Some couples certainly grew closer during the pandemic, but other couples really struggled with being around each other so much, not having those the outlet that they did before, not being able to rely on friends and family to, to spend time with and and then in a post-Covid world where life didn’t really go back to, to normal for a lot of people, many more people are working from home still with their partner, and they’re maybe they moved, or there’s financial turmoil going on and the economy has shifted. People are still struggling where they thought, oh, you know, I thought things would go back to normal and our relationship would be okay again. But there’s now like a new normal and we don’t really know how to how to get along given our current circumstances. So I think a lot of people are finding that that it’s tough right now.


Jonathan Fields: [00:21:22] Yeah. I want to dive into some of the 13 things that mentally strong couples don’t do. One of the ones that jumped out at me right away is you say that they don’t keep secrets. And I thought this was interesting because I’ve also heard other people, therapeutic professionals like specializing in partners, who have said to me, everyone has secrets. Maybe they’re not big dark secrets, but like, there’s nobody alive that is 100% transparent with somebody else, even someone who’s their new relationship with for decades. What’s your take on that?


Amy Morin: [00:21:56] I think that that is true, that everybody has secrets. I think statistically the average adult has something like 13 secrets. I don’t know how they came up with that number, but I think it’s different when we talk about keeping a secret from your partner, because maybe there’s something that you want to keep private. Something happened to you when you were 12. You don’t necessarily have to tell your partner, you might tell a therapist or you might not tell anybody. So I really talk about the difference between secrecy and privacy. And the secrets I’m talking about are more like the ones that would damage your relationship. It might be an ex reaches out to you on social media, like, well, I won’t tell that to my partner because they’d be upset or I actually got a job opportunity, but I didn’t want to take it. So I didn’t bother to tell my partner because, you know, I didn’t want them to, to be mad. I didn’t take this job for more money. So I didn’t tell them or, you know, that boys weekend we actually went to Vegas. We didn’t go fishing. Like I said, those sorts of things are what really damages relationships. So when I talk about secrets, I’m talking about the the bigger ones there are there is some evidence that sometimes couples, those little white lie sort of secrets isn’t damaging. If somebody says, um, you’re supposed to be on a low sodium diet and I sneak a little low sodium something into your meal without telling you, that doesn’t necessarily damage the relationship, but it’s those bigger things that when we start keeping those secrets and they become easy to justify, people in my therapy office will say, well, you know, my partner didn’t need to know that I spent that much money on that item, or they didn’t need to know that I had debt. I don’t know why they’re so, so upset about it now. Those sorts of things that can be really damaging to the relationship.


Jonathan Fields: [00:23:27] What’s your take on if we’re talking about those types of secrets, what’s the why behind? Somebody would feel like they couldn’t share that? I mean, when you talk to people, because I would imagine some people would basically say like, well, of course I would share this. This is the love of my life. Like we share everything. I’m wondering, are there common whys or common patterns why somebody says, I just can’t share this?


Amy Morin: [00:23:50] It’s most often because people don’t want to change their behavior. I were to reveal this secret. My partner wouldn’t like it and they want me to do something different. Then I’d be forced to either lie and say, okay, I won’t do that anymore, even though I really want to do it, and I probably will do it later. But they’ll often say, you know, I just don’t want to upset them. There’s no reason to upset them because they’d be they’d be upset, and it really isn’t a big deal. They’d make it into a bigger deal. I kind of justify to themselves, like, I won’t tell him. I, I’ve been eating out at lunch every day because that would blow the budget. They’d be mad. So it won’t hurt anything if I just don’t don’t mention it. But often it’s because of that that we just don’t want to change our own behavior. So we think and we minimize it to ourselves to kind of justify continuing. We tell ourselves it’s not a big deal. They’d be unnecessarily upset. So it’s almost like I’m doing them a favor by not telling them the secret.


Jonathan Fields: [00:24:39] I wonder if some people justify it by saying things feel pretty good right now. If I reveal this, it’s going to make things bad in some way, so wouldn’t that just be damaging to the relationship? It’s almost like this self-justification.


Amy Morin: [00:24:54] Yeah, that happens all the time where people are like, ah, you know, if I come clean about this, I might rock the boat. They might be upset and things will will go south. So you know, what they don’t know doesn’t hurt them here. That sort of attitude a lot for sure.


Jonathan Fields: [00:25:08] So let’s say somebody is listening to this and let’s say this is one person who’s listening. They’re in a relationship with somebody else. They have a secret, this type of secret that we’re talking about, and they’re compelled. They’re like, okay, I can see how maybe actually it would be healthier for the relationship, even if it causes some short tum strain. How does somebody and again, not stepping into like a therapeutic mode with you, but just in sort of like general guidance. What would you say to that person who says, okay, so I get this. I think maybe it’s time to actually share what’s been on my mind or this thing that happened, or a thing that I was been thinking about. Or is there sort of a general approach to saying, well, this is how I’m going to actually step into the conversation. And on the other side of it, for somebody coming to you and saying, I’ve got to tell you something, how to receive it in a way that might be constructive for the relationship.


Amy Morin: [00:26:00] Oh, yeah, that’s a good point. The receiving end. It depends on what it is. If it’s something that’s, say, from my past that I just didn’t mention, maybe something happened to me when I was 12 and I’ve just never mentioned it. So it’s not anything I did to my partner or damaged the relationship. But I just want to kind of reveal this. I think you can start by saying, I would like to tell you something I didn’t tell you before, and here’s why. Maybe I was embarrassed or I thought. You would judge me, but I feel like it’s now time to tell you X, Y, or Z. If it’s something that, you know, like, oh, it’s really damaging to the relationship, it’s my partner’s going to be upset. I think you can still start by saying, I have something I need to tell you. I didn’t tell you before. Here’s why I didn’t want to upset you or I minimized my my part in it. I didn’t take responsibility. Here’s what it is. Don’t minimize it, but just come clean and then apologize and say how you know that you’re not going to do it differently. You can offer to make amends. And for the other person who’s listening, you know, our reaction makes a big difference. If you yell and scream and insist it’s not fair, they’re not going to be likely to come clean with you with more things.


Amy Morin: [00:27:06] So as difficult as it is sometimes to sit and listen to, but to take a moment if you need it, you can say thank you for telling me that I’m going to need some time to reflect on this and take a break if you need to. And it’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to feel whatever it is that you feel. You just want to manage how you show those emotions so that you aren’t overly aggressive. Or if you show really intense feelings in that moment, you might deter them from telling you again. And sometimes people, when they reveal a secret, it’s about it’s not necessarily about their partner, it’s more about them. I’ve had people that have had secret addictions for years, and it’s gone on, and their partner still has no idea. So for something like that, where it’s really shameful, sometimes it makes sense to do it in a therapist’s office too. Or if somebody’s going to come clean about an affair, you might want to talk to a therapist first about how to do it. And if you think it’s going to be too upsetting for your partner or they won’t understand, sometimes doing it in the therapist’s office can be the best space to do that.


Jonathan Fields: [00:28:02] Yeah, no, that’s great advice to have somebody who’s actually trained in how to create the container and be an intermediary in that moment, um, because I have to imagine being on the receiving end would potentially, depending on what we’re talking about, be brutal. I mean, be a really, really difficult experience and be potentially really disruptive in a lot of ways. And probably both people would benefit from being in a context where there’s somebody who knows how to help navigate this conversation, even if it doesn’t lead to an outcome where it’s like, oh, everything’s good. It’s all process, it’s all result because it may not. And I guess maybe that’s one of the questions too here, which is that should there be an openness depending on what somebody is revealing to the possibility that it may be better for this relationship to end up not being a relationship, but having all the cards on the table and an open and honest context, then to have it stay together, but with a certain amount of fiction and secrecy built into it.


Amy Morin: [00:29:02] Yeah, that’s just it. I think when people are living a lie in a relationship, it’s not a real relationship anyway. It’s like you’re putting forth this ideal person that you want your partner to be in love with, but people that do that are often filled with such guilt and shame. And it’s a vicious cycle. I’ve had people that have, say, had a gambling addiction for years that they’ve kept hidden from their partner. They weren’t happy and they knew their partner was going to be upset. But yet at the same time, they knew there was they had to come clean about this at some point. And so just doing it, but knowing, yeah, my partner might choose to leave, they may not be interested in continuing this relationship, given that not only do I have this problem, but I’ve lied about it and kept it a secret from them for so long.


Jonathan Fields: [00:29:44] One of the other things that you talk about things not to do is, um, or mentally strong. Couples don’t try to, quote, fix each other. And I kind of smiled when I saw this one because I can relate to that. I know many people who also have stepped into relationship saying these five things are awesome. These other five things, not so much, but I can fix that. Like give me time, just give me time and like I’ll work on it for them or with them. And like, you know, I can change that so that this person is now a ten out of ten for me. Is that what we’re talking about here?


Amy Morin: [00:30:19] Yes. So often people will fall in love with somebody’s potential. And sometimes it’s big things like, well, they’ll say, you know, well, this person has an addiction. You know, if I just love them enough, I can make that go away. And sometimes it’s other things like somebody will be like, well, my partner’s kind of shy, so I’m trying to pull them out of their shell or my partner has so much potential like in the business world. So I keep convincing them they should do something different. And and it’s those little things too that can be really damaging to the relationship. If your partner has no desire to have that goal, and maybe you do see they have incredible potential that they don’t see, but if you’re trying to draw it out of them all the time, it’s probably not going to go well. And nobody wants to think like their partner is their savior, or that their partner is their parent or their teacher who is constantly nagging them or giving them advice. After a while, that really affects the dynamics of the relationship.


Jonathan Fields: [00:31:08] Yeah. I mean, I could definitely see that, you know, when somebody is trying to fix them. Also, I would imagine part of what they’re saying is my way is right, and there’s something about you that’s wrong. So like, it’s effectively like I’m. A hole in your broken, which is a really big judgment too, because the other person may feel like you know what, those five things that you really need to unbreak in me. They’re part of me, and I’m totally good with them.


Amy Morin: [00:31:35] Yes. And that happens a lot that somebody will be like, well, my partner, they just don’t know these certain things in life. So I’ll teach them. I’ll take it upon myself to show them the ropes, or make sure that they don’t keep making these same mistakes over and over again. And their partner is like, no, there’s more than one way to do things. I don’t see this as a mistake, or I think that it’s okay to do it this way or to be like this. But if couples don’t ever have those conversations and their expectations aren’t clear, often just goes on behind the scenes where somebody’s like, subtly, don’t you think you should? Or when you did that the other day and they have these conversations where it feels more like a put down rather than this inspirational message that the person thinks it’s going to turn into.


Jonathan Fields: [00:32:16] Yeah, it sounds like it could get, uh, passive aggressive pretty quickly. Right?


Amy Morin: [00:32:21] Right. And I’ve encountered so many couples where I think their intentions were certainly good. One person was like, hey, I learned this as a kid, or this is the way that my family was. So I’m going to make sure that you do that too, so that you can be like my mother, or so that you can be the very best you can. But then again, it comes across as like they’re the coach. Or instead of a mutual partnership where you respect, we do things differently. We have certain strengths, certain weaknesses, but it doesn’t mean that we have. It’s our job to fix the other person.


Jonathan Fields: [00:32:50] Yeah. Is there a common why underneath this one also? Like do you see like when somebody looks at somebody else and says, okay, like this person needs fixing, do you feel like there’s a unique impulse generally, or do you see sort of a common pattern behind why this impulse even exists?


Amy Morin: [00:33:05] Sometimes it’s mostly to save the other person from any kind of suffering, and it might be perceived suffering where you think, you know, my partner has a job that is far beneath them. So I’m going to try to make sure I build them up so that they can they may be completely happy where they are, and they may have no desire to have a different job, or just because you think somebody’s shy and should be friendlier doesn’t mean that’s what they want for themselves. But in our heads, we make up a story of if only, if only they were had this other job, if only they were friendly, or if only they put themselves out there. They’d be happier, they’d be better. But people often will pick what they want to work on in life. It’s up to them to decide, but they might not be suffering. We just gave ourselves that story that they’re not happy the way that they are.


Jonathan Fields: [00:33:50] I wonder if you see values conflicts playing into this. Also, like where one person has as a core value money, wealth, security and another person has meaning and purpose, and so that one person takes a job where it’s like it’s all about meaning and purpose, and they love it. They love showing up. But then the other person, you know, who’s with a really core value around wealth and financial security is looking at them and saying, but they could like, this matters a whole lot to me. And I see this other person and I see that they have so much they could make 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 times what they’re making. So they should. So the fact that they don’t want to, that their values are different, means that their values are wrong, they’re limiting themselves and they don’t even realize it.


Amy Morin: [00:34:35] Yes, I see that all the time too. And the the conversations most couples don’t really have about what do you value and our interpretation of what somebody else values. So for example, if somebody works really, really hard, their partner might think, well, they don’t value family, they value their job. The person working really hard might think, I value family so much. I’m willing to sacrifice all this so I can go to work to make sure that we have a comfortable income. But sometimes people don’t have those conversations. They don’t recognize that their partners needs are slightly different than theirs, or that they’re they’re interpreting things differently unless we talk about it. And then to recognize that it’s okay for us to have different values. But how do we then work together with different values? If you value purpose and meaning in your job, and I value wealth and money and storing up a bigger savings account, how do we do that in a way that makes sense for both of us, and figuring that out and having those open conversations, rather than just trying to trick your partner into taking a job that maybe has more money, but also gives you meaning, which would be really tempting for somebody, I think, in that situation to try and change the other person. Yeah.


Jonathan Fields: [00:35:39] So how does that conversation start then? Let’s say, for example, somebody is feeling like their partner’s constantly trying to fix their broken lens on a job, for example, and they want to actually have a conversation with their partner in a way that like, resolves like genuinely says, what’s happening here? What are your thoughts on how to step into that conversation in a way that wouldn’t immediately just raise the shields?


Amy Morin: [00:36:04] So I think it’s about pointing out your observations like, I notice you keep showing me a job ads, and I suspect when you do that, it’s because you really want me to have another job. You can point out what you appreciate. I so appreciate that you’re concerned about about my job, and I think that’s a wonderful thing. Here’s how. Feels on my side. It feels a little bit like you don’t perhaps value the job I have, or that you’re worried about me. You don’t think I’m happy enough at the job that I have, or that I’m earning enough money, and then just listening to what the other person says can be a really powerful exercise. It might be that your partner doesn’t really know that they’re doing it. It’s just kind of happening. Or they may be able to recognize some of their assumptions like, oh, I assumed you wanted another job, but if you can just open the door and then listen, it will go a really long way. And for people that are tempted to fix others, I think it’s important to know that, like nagging, lecturing like those don’t change anybody’s behaviors. In fact, you might reinforce somebody’s behavior. So if you’re telling them, like you shouldn’t eat so much junk food, they immediately think of all the reasons why they enjoy eating junk food. It’s not that that comment is going to change them. So in just recognizing that our behavior of being the fixer might actually be reinforcing the other person’s behavior even more can be helpful to somebody who is intent on fixing somebody else.


Jonathan Fields: [00:37:19] Yeah, no, that’s super helpful. Um, I was once told by a friend who’s a therapist that many people marry the person who most represents the wounds that were created in them by their parent, and then they try and use that person as a proxy for their parent to fix the wounds because they feel it’s going to fix the wounds or the trauma that came from their parent, and they have no idea that they’re even doing this. They have no idea this dynamic exists and that it’s repeated. You’re nodding along like, yup, I’ve seen this.


Amy Morin: [00:37:50] Absolutely. And you would think so. It seems a little too far-fetched or people don’t really do that. But in the therapy office will often talk about when somebody is really experiencing an intense emotion with their partner, perhaps they feel betrayed or they feel really sad about something. We’ll say, you know, like, when did you first feel that feeling? Sometimes they’re like, you know, when I was seven and my my dad didn’t pick me up on the weekends, I used to feel kind of lonely and scared like, oh, really? So then when your partner goes away for the weekend, it’s kind of imitates those same emotions like, yeah. And then as we have those conversations, sometimes the light bulbs will go off where people can connect some of those dots.


Jonathan Fields: [00:38:25] Yeah. So it’s like, oh, I’m not actually trying to fix this relationship. I’m trying to fix one that was historical for me by focusing on this relationship, which kind of brings us to another one of like the 13 and this, this idea of not becoming martyrs. So take me into this. I think this is fascinating.


Amy Morin: [00:38:45] Something I see often is people who are like, I’ve given everything to this relationship and yet my partner doesn’t appreciate me. I’ve put in so much energy and effort, and yet I don’t get any help around here or my partner doesn’t understand me. But what often happens is the person who’s saying those words like they’re doing things that perhaps their partner didn’t even ask them to do. They may spend eight hours cooking a special dinner on Sunday, and their partner eats it in ten minutes, and then they’re like, oh, you’re not grateful to me for doing that really kind thing I just did for you. And it’s a wonderful thing to be kind to your partner, as long as you can be somewhat joyful about it, or to at least recognize I’m doing this because I want to, not because I have to. But when people cross the line into becoming martyrs, they often become bitter and angry and the joy is gone where they just feel resentful that they’re putting in so much and they feel like they’re not getting enough back. But this interesting thing happens when somebody is a martyr is that they often don’t accept kindness back.


Amy Morin: [00:39:42] So if their partner says like, oh no, you take the good seat, they’re like, no, no, no, I’m not going to do that. Or then when their partner offers them something nice, they’re really quick to be like, no. Or if their partner offers to help, they say, you know, like, no, I might as well do this anyway. It’ll be quicker. So they’re kind of like, don’t want any help yet. At the same time, love to show that they’re suffering because they aren’t getting enough help. It’s an interesting dynamic that plays out in a lot of relationships, and then if it doesn’t get addressed, things go south pretty quickly where one person just feels like all I do is give and give and give, and the other person is kind of confused, like, well, I offer to help sometimes and you don’t want it or I give to you, just don’t notice it. Or I try to give to you and you and you won’t accept it.


Jonathan Fields: [00:40:24] So when that happens, when you see a pattern like that where somebody’s like, there’s this behavior that happens, and then there are maybe repeated opportunities for it to shift. You know, somebody actually wants to reciprocate, wants to be kind to you. And, you know, person puts up their hand and said, no, no, no, no, no. They’re effectively reinforcing that martyrdom over and over and over. The question in my mind is if that becomes a repeated pattern, it’s got to be serving some benefit or need for the person. What’s the benefit that keeps somebody in martyr mode?


Amy Morin: [00:40:54] So sometimes people find purpose and and being the one who sacrifices the most, they’ll find some sort of hidden, almost peace of joy of being like, well, I have to do the most around here. But yet at the same time they’re bitter. So sometimes it’s about that where people think that that’s their lot in life. Sometimes it comes from childhood again, somebody who said, you know, it’s kind of the scapegoat as a kid or in my house, you know, I was really the one who kept it all together. My parents had substance abuse problems and I had to to. Be the adult in the home. Sometimes it really goes back to childhood and it’s a learned behavior, and other times somebody just feels like they don’t really have anything to offer of value to the relationship. So they feel like, I’m just going to point out everything I’ve offered, just to make sure that you’ve heard me. Almost like I’m suffering out loud, because I want you to know that I’m suffering. And then, therefore, the hidden agenda might be that I get my way, or that you see some value in here. Like if if a couple says, you know, we are thinking about moving across the country, but the husband wants to move, the wife doesn’t want to move. If the wife’s the martyr, she’s like, you know, I’ve always given up everything around here just because she doesn’t want to move. So she’s really quickly. I’m pointing out 101 things she’s given to the relationship so that she can try to get her way, but I’m saying she. But it certainly happens with men as well who say, you know, I do all of these things and I just don’t feel like I’m I’m getting enough in return. And you can offer to help, but you don’t know what you’re doing, so you can’t help me anyway. And sometimes it’s about a power issue, a strange way to try to get some control. Sometimes it’s about, again, not really knowing what your role is. So you decide. My role is to be the martyr in the family.


Jonathan Fields: [00:42:30] So in a sense, in certain situations, it can also really come from a perceived insecurity or perceived lack of value or contribution. The relationship where you’re saying like, okay, so I have to effectively create or manufacture if to create mechanisms where I can demonstrate that there’s effort and suffering, especially in an unequal way, going into this relationship, because I don’t feel intrinsically that there’s there’s value just in my humanity being a part of this experience. Is that right?


Amy Morin: [00:43:03] That is absolutely right. And sometimes it’s also about people who they are suffering on the inside. They may have a mental health issue, but it’s hard to really make that tangible. So, for example, sleep is one of the most over reported symptoms when it comes to therapy that we found that people are like, I haven’t slept in six weeks. The person might actually be sleeping okay, but that’s a really tangible way to say, hey, I’m suffering over here. And so it’s quite common for people to come up with as many tangible ways as they can to kind of show that they’re suffering, because it’s hard to make it known how much you’re suffering on the inside, or to get really any validation of of how much pain you’re in. But if you can kind of show people, then you might get some reinforcement that, all right. Somebody acknowledged that, yes, I am suffering. And that felt good because they don’t necessarily see the pain I’m in. That’s on the inside.


Jonathan Fields: [00:43:51] It sounds like in this context and maybe in all the contexts we’re talking about, you know, like so far, part of the resolution is to develop a healthy communication, like how do we actually share this in a meaningful way? But also if this is coming from a place of perceived lack or lack of value for one person, part of that’s going to be individual work as well. Part of that’s going to be that person saying, what’s really going on here with me, that I don’t feel a sense of self and identity and value and worth to bring to this, that I feel the need to do that. Does that make sense?


Amy Morin: [00:44:21] It does. So, yes. Sometimes it is about building up somebody’s self-worth and then also teaching people how to ask for help and helping the other person offer help in a way that it can be received. Somebody who’s a martyr is really quick to complain, oh, the house is a mess, or I have so much to do, or the yard needs so much work. And yet if their partner says, do you want me to help with that? Like, no. So if they want help, it’s about then asking, hey, could you help me with this project for a few minutes? And then also the other person to know that they can offer help and if the other person will take it, great. Then you get up and and you help them if they say no, okay, you move on with your day to that. It’s not up to you to to beg them to, to let you pitch in. Sometimes just changing that dynamic where if we make it known, if you are struggling with something, ask for help if you need it, because it does come from a learned sense of helplessness quite often. Or people are like, well, there’s no sense in asking because nobody’s going to do anything about this anyway. So learning how to be better at asking for help and then having the other partner learn to be better at at giving help, offering help when it’s needed, but also stepping up and pitching in so the person doesn’t have to ask all the time. You don’t want to wait until somebody tells you that you law needs to be mowed, but to be able to say, yeah, I can. I can recognize that too, so that it is more of an equal partnership, but also making sure that that we do know it’s okay to ask for help too.


Jonathan Fields: [00:45:38] When you think about the conversation around this that might be had and probably some of the other things that we’ve talked about. Also, do you feel like there is a reason or a helpful reason to create, almost like a regular conversational check in, like every Sunday at 10 a.m. or 8 p.m., whatever it may be, or once a month like this is our time. Where we sit down, here are the rules. The rules are, you know, like we’re honest, we’re open. There’s no retribution. There’s no like, you listen fully and like learn the skill of mirroring and reflect back. This is what you said. Have I heard you correctly? And rather than just immediately like so there’s almost like there’s a set of rules, like there’s a fixed repeated time and there’s a set of. Rules so that things like this, there’s a time when, you know, like you can not only can you, but you’re expected to bring anything that’s building up like this up on a regular basis to almost like, defuse it.


Amy Morin: [00:46:37] Yes. Because a lot of couples will say, well, we have date night. Well, you’re out going out for dinner together. The last thing you want to do is then, like, ruin the mood by talking about something really heavy. But we often get so caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life that we don’t really take a step back and say, well, how did it go? It becomes more about like, I don’t want to rock the boat today or today was an alright day, or my partner seems like they’re in a in a iffy mood, so I’m not going to bring anything up. So like when do you address those bigger issues? And if we don’t make time for that, it becomes very difficult to do that. And even if you recognize problems, they often creep up on us over the course of weeks, months, sometimes years, because we never really have find the right time to do it. So if we set aside time to talk about that, or yes, if you had some ground rules of here’s what’s expected, but we can bring all of those things up, that could go a long way toward helping couples communicate better.


Jonathan Fields: [00:47:31] Yeah. And I mean, talking about the quote, never being able to find time to actually sit down and have a conversation, there’s so many layers to peel back just on that, I would imagine part of it is like, I don’t want to sit down to have that conversation because I know it’s going to be hard and there’s going to be tough emotions or tough things that we have to deal with. But part of it also is just like a lot of people look at their lives and say practically, you know, like between us, like we’re working three jobs, we’ve got two kids. We’re just trying to make ends meet, you know, 16-hour days and like, and one person works this shift and another person works that. And we literally we legitimately just don’t have time for that conversation. I have to imagine that you people come to you saying that. So how do you guide them through that?


Amy Morin: [00:48:19] So we often just take a look at like what are their goals? And some couples will say, we don’t want to fight. There’s no evidence that no conflict means a happy marriage. In fact, most relationships will say, you know, the reason we ended? You’re much more likely to end a relationship because of boredom than not having conflict. And so for couples to know that, like not having an argument this week isn’t necessarily a win, it might mean that you’ve avoided a lot of tough subjects. And then, yeah, you don’t. Maybe you don’t have time to sit down once a week, just the two of you. So then what can you do? Maybe it’s once a month, and if you don’t have time to do it once a month, then I think it’s time to say, well, why not now? What else could we do in our relationship to make things better? And there may be seasons of your life where you literally don’t have a time to sit down together. If you are dealing with an aging parent who is really struggling or you’re going through a crisis, there may be those times. But to then even have those conversations of, you know, it’s definitely not going to be 5050 around here right now, I have this other thing that I’m dealing with or a child who has an illness. So right now we’re in crisis mode and we’re just going to get through. And then when we’re done, we’re going to come back together and make sure that we have more time to talk about these things.


Jonathan Fields: [00:49:29] Yeah, I love the idea of sort of like focusing on like it’s almost like the question you’re asking is what really matters to you right now. Yeah. And also, what’s the truth of the circumstances? And how can we bridge the gap here? Because you have to really figure that out. And that kind of brings us to this other notion that that you share, which is that healthy, mentally strong couples don’t expect a relationship to meet all of their needs, which goes squarely against every rom-com that was ever on film.


Amy Morin: [00:49:59] It does, doesn’t it? The whole idea that your partner will complete you. And I think because of that, sometimes people assume if all of their needs aren’t being met, then maybe I pick the wrong person or there’s something wrong with them and they should be meeting all of my needs. But then when you ask people like, what are your emotional needs? People struggle to identify their own needs. And then we often think, well, my partner’s needs are probably the same. Statistically, they’re probably not. You might have a higher need for for autonomy and your partner has a has a higher need for spending time together. Your partner might place a a huge need on recreational companionship of let’s do fun things together that might be low on your priority list. Maybe you have hobbies and other things that are far more important to you, or friends and extended family. So in just having those conversations about what needs your partner is going to meet, but also then taking responsibility for meeting some of your own needs is really healthy too.


Jonathan Fields: [00:50:53] Yeah. How do you get people okay, though, with the notion that if you’ve been literally born into the mythology that like, you find this one other person and they are quote your person for life or for however long you know it lasts, and that it seems like all popular culture says like, well, they should be able to satisfy the need. And you’re kind of told that. And it’s modeled even potentially by people in your family or older generations where they never actually share the reality of the relationship. They share what they want you to see as like their relationship, which often is, oh, like everything’s good. We’re like the one person. So you don’t have a reference, a point of reference for the fact that, oh, actually, maybe this person is really great in these particular contexts and for these needs. And I also have like another friend who happens to like really be good at satisfying this need for me and another friend where we can do this together. And it’s completely okay to not have to like, how do you sort of like break the expectation, the fiction around this? Because when so many people will probably show up and say like, no, no, no, no, but it’s supposed to be this way. And if it’s not, that means there’s something wrong with the relationship. How do you reset that?


Amy Morin: [00:52:08] Yeah, I’ve had many conversations with people about the idea that they found their soul mate, and that’s the only human being they could ever be happy with. And because they’re soul mates, every all of their needs should be satisfied at all times and just kind of think breaking that down step by step and knowing that there are, again, some needs that are probably going to be incompatible, or the seasons of your life where you are not going to meet all of your partner’s needs. Again, if you were to be taking on a new job or you’re taking care of a sick loved one, and that’s okay. And that that is part of a healthy relationship is knowing that there will be times when you can’t meet all your partner’s needs, but that the difficulties you experience are actually what can help you grow stronger, too, is the ability to figure those things out together. We know that when couples tackle problems as a we problem as opposed to a you have a problem and I don’t, we’re much more likely to grow stronger. So then that’s an opportunity. So if your partner has a high need for autonomy right now and you have a high need to be around them, how are you going to fix it? There’s no way to say, you know, both of us are going to be 100% satisfied all the time, and you could compromise at 5050, but then you might decide, well, neither of us is then happy or how are we going to solve this problem? But just knowing that working on it together could be one of the best things you could do, and one of the best opportunities to grow stronger.


Amy Morin: [00:53:23] And and the book I talk about, say, a hurricane. When couples prepare for a hurricane, their relationship actually gets better. So when they’re watching the news, they see a hurricane’s coming next week. They probably work together to to board up the windows or do whatever they’re going to do. Following the hurricane, couples rate their relationship as being stronger than before, because a natural disaster is one thing where people can say, there’s nothing we can do about it, this hurricane is coming. How do we work together against the problem? And so if we took that mentality with so many other things in life of like, okay, here’s this problem and we are going to work together to try to figure this out, then it could actually make us stronger.


Jonathan Fields: [00:53:59] One curiosity around this. Also, I would imagine that part of what you see is people come in, and one of the big differences in needs is around sex. And I don’t know if you would, even in the context that you’re using the word needs, if you would qualify that as a need versus a desire versus an orientation or a wiring. But when that happens, and I have to imagine that you’ve seen this, you’ve been in these conversations with people where one person feels like the difference in needs is like I need or want or desire this, and the other person is wired just very differently. They’re completely fine with a different set point. That’s got to be a tough one to navigate.


Amy Morin: [00:54:40] It is, and often it goes undiscussed for a. Very long time. And then there’s often if it’s not discussed, there’s a resentment that builds up and anger and snide comments, and then things get interesting because somebody is like, we have a date night. And one person’s expectation is it will end in sex and the other person’s like, well, now I dread date night because that’s your expectation and it’s never discussed. And so for couples to be able to have those conversations of like, here’s what I would like and here’s what I would like and then say, and what are we going to do about it? This is a perfect discussion for couples to have to say, we’re going to tackle a problem together, because this is a we problem. You have a higher sex drive or I have a higher sex drive, or this season of my life, I’m not around very much or I’m working out of town a lot. What are we going to do about it? And when couples can take that approach to have some empathy for the other person to to be willing to listen to what it is that they want and then to say, and what are we going to do about this? It can go a long way toward healing their relationship, but sometimes there’s often some like symbolic meaning that goes on there too, where somebody says, if my partner isn’t as interested in being sexually active with me, is it because I’m not attractive? Is there something wrong with me? And it goes to all of these other issues and assumptions that we often make, which happens with so many things we read into somebody’s behavior, personalize it, and think that there’s something wrong with us.


Amy Morin: [00:56:01] So again, if it goes undiscussed for years, which it often does, then all of these assumptions can be made and bitterness builds up and resentment starts to grow. So I always encourage couples talk about it. And if you don’t know how to talk about it, go see a therapist. And if your partner won’t go with you, go by yourself. A lot of the couples I talk about in the book, I’d never even met the partner. I just heard about the partner because one person came in and that was enough to for us to make a change in the relationship.


Jonathan Fields: [00:56:25] Yeah. And that brings us to the last one I want to dip into with you, which is that mentally strong couples don’t forget why they fell in love in the first place. That’s so poignant. I think for a lot of people it is.


Amy Morin: [00:56:39] And I think it goes back to what we discussed earlier about couples who are in arranged marriages versus couples who fell in love, and sometimes just remembering why we got together in the first place after 40, 50 years goes a long way toward then assuming goodwill in the person. So if they’re ten minutes late, early on in your relationship, you might have been like there was probably a lot of traffic. 20 years later, you might be thinking, oh, that person doesn’t care about me. They don’t love me. They’re so disrespectful. We make all of these things assumptions. We forget that, yeah, love was once very passionate. We had a great time. Here’s all the things we used to do. How do we still do that? We forget to have fun. We forget why we chose this person in the first place. Just because maybe you’re you’re married and it’s a committed relationship, and after a while you kind of forget, well, I’m still choosing to be with this person every day, and here’s why. And sometimes I have couples I’ve worked with who will take their wedding ring off at night and put it on in the morning, just as a way to say, like, I’m still choosing you. And here’s why. After all of these years, and just having those conversations can go a really long way toward not just cementing your feelings for your partner, but for them as well. It could just be as simple as saying, you know, here are five reasons why I’m still with you after all of these years. Or here are five things that it still made me choose you back then, and why I’d still choose you today. Couples have those conversations. It can go a long way toward really just reminding them, yeah, this is what it’s all about and why we’re still together.


Jonathan Fields: [00:58:06] I would imagine also that some couples or some individuals would sit down and ask themselves that question, and they would really struggle to come up with answers. Yeah, maybe they can’t remember in the first place. Maybe they’ve been through a lot of seasons of life or therapy or a lot of growth, and those things that were there in the beginning are no longer true, and that would land us a lot of pain. And I think that also speaks to one of if we zoom the lens out a little bit, your notion of the fact that a lot of what we’re talking about is a process of both individual and shared discovery and exploration and conversation, and through this, maybe there’s an increased likelihood that people will deepen their connection or reconnect when they were not connected, but also at the same time, there is a certain risk that this level of self-discovery and inquiry and transparency and communication may reveal the fact that you no longer are compatible. I would imagine you see that unfold as well.


Amy Morin: [00:59:07] I do, and I’m not a firm believer that couples should stay together at all costs. I think that staying married isn’t necessarily the ultimate goal in life. If you’re completely miserable with the person that you’re married to like, wow, what a really long life that was. And so I think it is important to have these conversations and to be to be open to the fact that, yes, we have grown and we have changed over the years. And the book I tell a story about a man who used to tell his wife, like you used to, want to change the world, and now you can’t change the sheets because they had met in college during a time when they were both, you know, talking about how they were going to go out and change the world. And now. Many years later. They were just getting through life and trying to get through day by day. But she’s still the same person. Life has changed. She’s grown a lot and so had he. But ultimately, they’re still the same human beings who found each other in this big, wild world that we live in. And just acknowledging that yes, we’ve grown and we’ve changed, and here’s how we’ve done it together. And the whole conversations and being open about communication. And sometimes couples come to that conclusion of, yeah, maybe 50 years later, we’re not as compatible as we thought we were back then.


Jonathan Fields: [01:00:14] Yeah, I would imagine, especially couples who come together much earlier in life when just as individuals, you’re sort of you’re less fully formed. And as you learn and grow, you become much more clear about who you are and what your values are and what you believe in and what matters to you. And sometimes two individuals traveling side by side. They grow in ways that were the puzzle pieces, still fit and sometimes not. And I think a certain amount of that is work and communication and really understanding what matters. And then I think sometimes it’s just if the puzzle pieces grow in a way where they no longer genuinely no longer fit, that it maybe it’s sad, but okay. Um, and maybe also that frees one or both people to say, well, there’s still a lot of life left for me to live. And maybe, you know, like, given who I am now and given who they are now, there is opportunity for us to go our separate ways and continue to find others or new pieces where the puzzle fits.


Amy Morin: [01:01:19] Yes. And sometimes I hear people say, like, I failed, I failed at my marriage, but it may not be that they made a mistake or that they failed. It just might be that when they were younger and they chose a partner, they weren’t really looking at long-term compatibility. The chemistry got in the way where they thought, ah, I’m so in love with this person. What could go wrong? So many couples don’t have discussions about their financial values or their family values, things like that, that really make a big impact in the long-term, and that instead they get wrapped up into how somebody looks or how excited they feel, or because they really want a wedding and really don’t look at those things. And then years later, they have to make those tough decisions, like, do I try to make this work or not? Or do I want to try to do something different? And might we both be happier if we decided to part ways?


Jonathan Fields: [01:02:05] Yeah, and maybe if you have the type of regular check-ins and conversations that you’ve been talking about along the way, rather than waiting years or decades and then starting to have them, that the process just becomes gentler and clearer along the way, and you can start to navigate it where you feel like you’re not so far into your life or a relationship that you almost feel like you’re locked in. Well, there’s just there’s not enough time. There’s not enough space. Like I’m at a certain age where, like, you know, it’s just not possible anymore. So I’ll just ride it out that maybe through these skills and these practices and these conversations, you can get to a level of of individual and shared awareness that will let you make conscious, healthy, constructive choices for both of you earlier in life.


Amy Morin: [01:02:49] That’s just it. Nobody wants to get to retirement and then say, here we are, we’re both home and we can’t stand each other. That’s definitely life is too short to live like that.


Jonathan Fields: [01:02:59] Yeah, well, coming full circle in our conversation now, zooming the lens out a little bit as well in this container of Good Life Project., if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?


Amy Morin: [01:03:10] I would say to make sure that your priorities are in line with your values, whatever those values might be.


Jonathan Fields: [01:03:18] Hmm. Thank you. Hey, before you leave, if you love this episode, safe bet, you will also love the conversation we had with Julie and John Gottman about lasting love. You’ll find a link to their episode in the show notes. This episode of Good Life Project. was produced by executive producers Lindsey Fox and me, Jonathan Fields. Editing help By. Alejandro Ramirez. Kristoffer Carter crafted our theme music and special thanks to Shelley Adelle for her research on this episode. And of course, if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and follow Good Life Project. in your favorite listening app. And if you found this conversation interesting or inspiring or valuable, and chances are you did. Since you’re still listening here, would you do me a personal favor, a seven-second favor, and share it? Maybe on social or by text or by email? Even just with one person? Just copy the link from the app you’re using and tell those you know, those you love, those you want to help navigate this thing called life a little better so we can all do it better together with more ease and more joy. Tell them to listen, then even invite them to talk about what you’ve both discovered. Because when podcasts become conversations and conversations become action, that’s how we all come alive together. Until next time, I’m Jonathan Fields signing off for Good Life Project.


Don’t Miss Out!

Subscribe Today.

Apple Google Play Castbox Spotify RSS