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#236: Love in the Time of COVID | Esther Perel

The coronavirus outbreak may pose one of the greatest challenges to romantic relationships in modern memory. For those of us living in close quarters with spouses or partners, how do we live our day to day without resorting to hollering, stony silence, or violations of local and federal statutes? For those of us living alone, what are the rules around online dating? Esther Perel is on the front lines of this battle. She is a renowned psychotherapist who continues to do couples counseling even as the pandemic rages. Much of this work can be heard on her popular podcast Where Should We Begin? She’s also the author of the awesomely-entitled, bestselling book Mating in Captivity. In this episode, we cover the benefits of sex (even if you’re not in the mood), humor, and a specific kind of "thank you." She also holds forth on anticipatory grief and a concept I found particularly compelling: "ambiguous loss." Where to find Esther Perel online: Website: https://www.estherperel.com/ Podcast: https://whereshouldwebegin.estherperel.com/ Podcast: https://howswork.estherperel.com/ Upcoming Live Broadcasts with Esther: "The Art of Us: Love, Loss, and Loneliness Under Lockdown” - https://events.estherperel.com/april-2020-webinar/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/EstherPerel Other Resources Mentioned: Tanya Selvaratman: Where Can Domestic Violence Victims Turn During COVID-19? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/opinion/covid-domestic-violence.html Pauline Boss - Ambiguous Loss - https://www.ambiguousloss.com/ John Gottman - The Gottman Institute - https://www.gottman.com/ Megan Flemming - https://greatlifegreatsex.com/ Additional Resources: Ten Percent Happier Live: https://tenpercent.com/live Coronavirus Sanity Guide: https://www.tenpercent.com/coronavirussanityguide Free App access for Health Care Workers: https://tenpercent.com/care Full Show Notes: https://tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/esther-perel-236
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Four may be seen as the ten percent happier vodka than her. hey guys we're making a bit of a switch this week. As you know, our team has really been scrambling to meet. Your needs In the midst of this pandemic in particular, up in our production to two episodes a week for the past few weeks, I've been posting on wednesdays and Fridays were now switching to Mondays and wednesdays. On Mondays will do shows built around a relevant and topical issue or theme. thus far, we ve done anxiety, parenting, remote work and ethics in a pandemic. Today, as you'll hear in a moment, we're gonna do romantic relationships on hence days were bringing on some of the biggest names in the meditation game. Oh geez like share in Salzburg and Joseph Goldstein, because
it's our instinct, that it might be useful to help you main line wisdom in these insane times. So that will be. Cadence from here on, in with a few bonuses along the way If you want to support our work, which we would love, it would be awesome if could share any episodes that are particularly meaningful to you, with your friends or on social media? So thanks for that, ok, this week's epoch the current a virus outbreak may pose One of the greatest challenges to romantic relationship in modern memory for for those living in close quarters with spouses or partners had we live our day to day without resorting to hollering, stony silence or the violation of local or federal statutes. for those of us living alone. On the other hand, there are other there are other questions like what are they rules for online dating. Should you do it? How can you meet in Person Astaire Rural,
is on the front lines of this battle. She's a renowned psychotherapist to continues to Duke, pulls counselling, even as this pandemic rages much of her we can actually be heard on her popular podcast, where she We begin where she actually puts snippets ever couples counselling, its fascinating she's. Also the author of the awesomely entitled and best selling look mating in captivity in this area. We cover the benefits of acts even when you're, not in the mood humor and us civic kind of. Thank you. She also holds forth on anticipatory grief and a concept I found particularly compelling called ambiguous loss. I'm a huge fan of hers I suspect you will find that listening to her as a pleasure on two levels. First, you get to hear immediately actionable advise second you get
Enjoy her lyrical and eloquent style of speaking and thinking, so here we go a step rural. It's a pleasure, to see you again, if only on video- and I really appreciate your time as I know you are super busied not only on the front lines of people's mental health, but also produce your own pike, ass and granting other interviews. So thank you for making time for me in us so treatable back, so I be cured before we dive into what your hearing from couples to hear how you? Why are you are part of a couple and you're unlocked down, has icon as to the practical aspect of it, for me, being upstate being in the place where I have nature
at my doorstep, having a room where I can work without being in the same space as my husband who seem patients at the same time in doing interviews is all really really good. I mean we have not had any stress from that aspect. What's more interesting, for me is the historical memory that I'm living with. I think that every one of us has residents fears. You know that live inside the first, but they're kind of stored away in normal times when acute stress occur, your own resident fears, your historical memory appears have your own life to one of your family, history of your community, and so you know this idea I am living with this moment this dinner with people who can say goodbye to their loved ones. I've known that story, but who are wondering when is it time to leave I've known
story as far as a child, the holocaust of errors, I grew up with the stories of the people who live Germany in time and the people who didn't leave and never could leave again, and it was too late and this whole language. around how you flee. How you run for safety, and that is actually what distressing me out, where more than the set up of my physical nice does. That stress, show up in your relationship. I talk about it either We just had a woman earlier when you know when we were in the middle of renovating something- and I said like I can't think renovation when I'm thinking about death and grief and loss, and my husband said but think, about renovation is what gives a sense of normalcy to our life. It's what actually makes it look like. There will be a future, it's important for us and at that was very clear, I at thirty. He was absolutely right, but who's there, you know him.
The life affirming you know, choices, decisions that we have in this moment and I can go into moments of despair and when that conversation occurs, when Did you know that it actually really helps me that he doesn't go to the same place as I go? I'm imagining, though, that you are met like every marriage, is not always Shangri LA and were also under terrible circumstances. generally, which pressurize all relationships I wonder how you gonna have to go into specific. Have your own relationship at the just? What are your, what are your coping mechanisms? Have how Are you able to apply your own advice, so today's, my thirty fifth wedding anniversary, Iceland's. As a result, I am proud to say, like we said to each other. If this had happened twenty five years ago, we would not newly be doing as well as now. We ve learned a few things. If we haven't, we probably wouldn't be together. We would do like many other people do
in a way a lot of the things on which we could quibble and and get on each other. We do, but we have. We have good coping sister particularly humour that help us get through it a place where I think in this moment, like many other families we had to deal with disagreements was you know around? Where will our children go under down, and why should this, and should this day you know we have one in college. He brought him back to New York. We wanted him to be with us and he wanted to be what you know on his own and with his girlfriend and suddenly came this conversation like who makes those decisions you know and like any other cup, when disagreements around particular region child rearing occur, weaken it. We did an instant go back fifteen years
you know and likely about. This is why we almost you know they make it back then, because the wind, when, when we disagree on that thing, you know it's its image, that that is done memory of our relationship gets activated on the spot, so this is a place where we ve had to contend with with good. Friends, I think you know one of us in enormous amounts of media and information and dress I have a limit on the other end. You know, I think it's very want to go outside and two to two just walk and be calm and be nature, and I don't it's, my husband when I pushed him out the door and then he says thank you in also making me go out because he could spend one the more our listening to something which I just after a while I can't breathe. So the challenge is really acknowledging the different coping sties and making for them and not seeing one person style as a threat to the other person in order
should be like me because, instead of prolonged uncertainty, neither of us has the right answer for what is the best way to go through this. Hence the need for partnership and and learning from the other person and figuring it out together. Last summer, Hence the need for using the differences as strength and turning it into a complementarity, rather than polarizing around it, which is what I've been working with. A lot of couples and family with delight in the last few weeks is to action on this you need these two stones. You need one that wants to organise and think that structure will preserve a certain sense. normally, and then you need one who has the flexibility to change everything to save overnight were going. We doing we're doing something different in all. These two need each other. The person who can switch like this and the person who hungers down with with the with routine then
each other. It's not that one is better than the other. In a time like this, the differences become a strength. They have to become a string because it's part of resilience. So let's not talk about that you're continuing to work with your patient. during this emergency, and so what? What? What are you hearing where the big problems that are emerging Many many different situations. What you have is the gist of the breast actually of the jail couples and family dynamics, but as the intersect wit Corona virus, so, for example, divorced couples who have to deal with shuttling their children that in itself can be complicated. some families, but in addition you know I generally dont particularly trust you, but right now I am living with my mother and my son and my son goes to you and you are not taking the precautions that I want you to take it so loud
it comes home and I'm afraid so. My mother and I am being react. You because you are endangering my mother, not my kid myself, my mother, that's, for example, this whole dynamic of people who have to do what they usually do, but the context is adding enormous amounts of other stressors people who are in the midst of divorce. Suddenly find themselves quarantine together, and you know, even the biggest house will start to feel suffocating people who, just recently realise that they were infidelities and they were in the midst of trying to separate and reading the relationship? And here a block the next day there all together in the house, people who were not able to we'll see their grandchildren people who are not able to go see their grandparents other birds, people whose parents are not taking the same precautions as them, and a rumour baron generally Should they sank to the older ones. You know you in Florida. Do stop stop stop at their thing. You know
we don't see anything, we don't feel anything. You know This notion that the people who they endanger are seen as by the others as slightly paranoid or exaggerating, and this is such a. Old story. You know well where the danger of peoples They say is seen by the others as the party to tourists. Basically, as you I wanna go play goods for I wanna go, take a walk people who at home, with children's words, were disabled or who, with a more challenging who have all kinds of difficulties that apparent usually This tremendous ahead in managing and they have to produce to work from home, raised two or three school, two of the three of them and cook, and take care of every in a very small space, when most people live in very small physical spaces. People who want to remain very intimate with their partner when they are stressed its the horse.
you know, holding them touching them. Soothing is the most important the body they have and they called the contact. You know people who just began dating and they suddenly living together. They didn't even see it coming. people who are about to get married and are in two separate countries and the reunited and dont know when they see each other again and people whose parents are dying and they can't say goodbye them, then they know that they just spend the whole last Rick there alone and they could go in the room and sit next to them or sink to them were created them more and then my own country. who are themselves living all of this and doing six eight hours of therapy a day with their plans so that on top of it you know their absorbing so they living it on both sides that that's kind of just over many sample and then not one more and peace,
who have to live in houses where there is domestic violence, and there is incredible volatility and there is no escape there is no escape about, and we know that generally when people are confined like this, domestic violence increases a friend of mine, Tanya Silver rotten. You recently wrote an article in the New York Times about this issue of people stuck and abusive relationships in this time. I'll linked to that in the show notes? So you just what a litany of difficulty and suffering you just You just gave us so many threats to chase down there in terms How you would approach these issues, but we star with getting you to put this in some sort of historical perspective. Has there in your experience in modern times. Has there been a challenge to the romantic relationship on par with what we are currently.
There have been wars. There have been disasters, there have been acts of terror. All of these you know I actually went back to look at the literature of the Gulf WAR when families in Israel had to say in their sealed rooms with gas masks, and there is a lot of actually research on disaster, preparedness and family relationships in disaster. There is an enormous amount of research being done and syrian refugees what happens to families on the move were disrupted all the time so pieces of this. What happens when there is passive disruption. How do people deal with impending disaster an impending glasses? How do people deal with a family dynamics and deserve leadership. You know and its need to give clear, concise, information and instruction all of that actually Debbie exist. There is that our entire field, what exists around the topic
moral injury that we are finally talking about even undecided fear of the of the health providers. What has been different here is to major digs one is it's totally global? go to global and therefore it is creating a homogenisation of the response. The same response to the person who coughs in ruin is happening in New York City Paris the same way that people treat each other like pathogens. You know it has always been a leopard. You know, but you didn't necessarily know about the leopard in other parts of the world who could always had this dispute has always been the outcasts. The person that you fear the vermin the Jew to seek to this turns everybody into a potential pathogen and an intriguing others as such and TAT is.
Making us behaving very, very weird ways, often the opposite of what would be our natural inclination. Instead of going towards were running away when not lifting her eyes were with just like, get a dog breed near me. Then stay away what is also different issues, What is the use of the internet and socially I mean we actually, this very device that a month ago, I would have given talks about about how it often keeps us apart, is currently the most important thing that is keeping us together in lieu of a body the experiences we people that you heard a Dutch and see what we are doing, that we haven't done in a long time is talk on the phone which especially young people. Many of them have rarely done and we are using the internet too, to talk. People worldwide and find out. What's going on with you so those item, two of the major differences in the way that we share,
the information and the way, therefore, that we homogenized our responses, I'm just curious to hear you listed all of these difficult situations in which people find themselves. this is done on volumes of my work. I usually made them just a list of what have I dealt with in the last three days. Unbelievers. and I want to hear, get a sense of how you advise people to handle these issues. I don't over that recall all of them to you. I will ok well to talk to reserve what you're processes there. I go like this, so of you who don't really want to be together for a host of the reasons, the most Some at this moment is to create a functional team. How you feel about each other is probably not going to be the central proved essential preoccupation. What you need is
adaptive responses to an unusual situation and that the man's, because this is gonna, be called the great adapt taken. You know that's what you're asking the question is: is there ever been at an event that has so toppled every aspect of relation in life. You know at every level of generations and configuration so really how you feel about him and how you feel about him. If it's too hers doesnt matter, they have ceased, in this moment. What you want to know is that you have your basic disaster preparedness plan in place. Have you done a map of Europe sources do you know who is where? Who can you reach out for what who is counting on you, food which fought for whatever you know? That's called the resource plan to
Do you need to have what you need in the house and when you don't? How do you deal with it? Have you created a form of schedule? Have you dealt with what how you preserve routines and which other regions that you preserve, which are together which are a parts. Have you found ways to have some sense of structure enrichment so that nothing everything doesn't you didn't to each other. We know that people are working a lot harder at this moment there not taking lunch breaks. They have no commute time. I mean it's like everyday, it's worse. You would have stopped, people do less, none at all. They do they do more and all over the place. It's no different in France than it is in the? U S. So you need to be a functional team and therefore you need to respond to each other from the place of collaborators, not of ex lovers or divorcing partners or any of the rest collaborators. And that means when the other person does something right.
You gonna make a real effort for acknowledging that an beyond just thanks for doing the dishes. I think what is really big and better is thanks for being thoughtful, so that you're not just emphasising the act, the gesture, but you are actually highlighting the characteristic the personality to read the it's about who you are and not just what you do. That will go a long way, because, if you get into distress, distressed relationships typically take the positive for granted and make a big deal of the negative you're gonna have to Do they make an effort with that, because you are doing a lot of things for each other, both of you but you're, not even noticing it cuz. The only time you notice is when you can actually pick up on something that the other person didn't do so you need to really turn that around or you're gonna get very quickly depleted and then you need to- be able to monitor your own stress levels? That means, if you nothing
but you have a conversation or, if you're, on the edge or, if you walk up stressed out or if you didn't sleep well tonight, or if you didn't go out for the last two days because it ran and you feel like you're bursting inside you have to be able to just say: I'm going to have. I'm gonna have to do separation in the house. You know I'm on edge, stressed There were six, I'm stress level, nine! Let the other person know where you are right, so that when they ask you to do something, you don't bark at them from a place where they want to. I only just ass: where did you put the coffee grind? You know it's very concrete things to help people you know observed themselves rather than feel hostage to the reactivity, and that applies to all of them. Actually, placed to go together, watch together and then understand that you know when you have together after while you can touch each other. be afraid once you live just the two of you, if they have no other contact, you know how we no wait. Sexuality is but very important, but of course, some people here
say when I'm stress the lasting? I can think about is being in Tibet and the other person says when I have stressed the thing that really relaxes needs to be intimate, and you know that's a plastic polar region and just find a way to two connecting the wizard unnatural. You don't have to be unfair, then separation from each other after two weeks, like that, would you to? Let me just happened, So, what if you have one partner who is so stressed that they don't want intimate contact and another that feels like they needed now more than ever? How would you recommend people negotiate that I said you know the things usually away, and then they began giving me situations about the kids are in the house. I mean you Does a man list of exports excuses, you briskly, say, look usually dishes and earn? nice part of your life? You know, don't start because you think you in the mood you dont have to be in the mood
no their sometimes days when you don't feel like eating and not in the mood. But you gonna do it because it's it's, it feels good afterwards. You just feel, like you, had a headache and you didn't even realize you had a headache just be together and be open to see what happens daunting. You know don't make a plan now we're going to have sex now, we're gonna, make love but be together and be open and see. Sometimes the desire comes while you are having the experience. A desire is not a precedent for it. You know it's the desire to connect. That is the precedent it to its, knowing that it runs of the edges, so you have to first take people out of the mindset that you start to be sexual, because you turned on your in the mood and that's what you want to do in fact it for many people, it's much more responsive process. It's not.
Think that you start with you touch you kiss you have you caress you embrace and gradually you buddy wakes up. You know it's. When you go run, you not always instantly running, you know you buddy warms up at first, you feel like I'm, not gonna, do more than three minutes of this and then slowly it awakens. The energy comes a flaw arrived and when the energy comes, the pleasure doing it and with the pleasure of doing it is it needs the desire. It's totally reverse process from how people typically have it in their head. People have made love in prisons and concentration camps in Hell, people have had laughed in hell. The need to maintain a connection to the erotic that which provides pleasure in the midst of crisis that which makes you feel normal. Human still, young still alive, toasting have always existed, people have written poetry, they sang songs,
and once you put it in that way, rather than just you know, having sex, they also it becomes much more something a year. I want that. I wanted he more alive. I want to still feel like we have disconnection. I want to have the debt sense of pleasure, rather than I have to respond to my partner who likes to unwind with tax, so the man I said, should be. This is a fundamental part of the human repertoire. even if I don't feel like right now I if we take the proper steps, I will prove, probably my body will probably wake up and over all this is going to contribute to my well being in the functionality of my relationship. My way, in our well being relational, held involve sexual health, Environmental held its a bit too large big thing. I don't have to start because I've been the mood you know of many of us. This is not what's in the forefront of our minds, but it acts
he is a soothing nor had released the oxytocin. It releases ass, it sir it sir it's it feels good afterwards, but you no, it's always up front, and that is the same with a lot of other physical activity were not always in the mood to go and do our physical activity, but we do it and as we do it, the mood comes, and I have yet to find someone who went outside for a walk or who went for a run or who want to exercise or did whatever and said afterwards. I wished. I hadn't done it so the going back a few minutes, you said something else that struck me as an important about the use of words. that's gonna, sound, totally inappropriate in the context of what we just described, but I'm barometer use it anyway, and I don't mean it in a minute throw away in this context, but important lubricant for for a relationship is there
regular, it is paying extra attention. At least I heard you say this to the thank yous, and acknowledging not only what somebody did, but the emotion that under girded the action and then also back all that up reinforcing all of that with physical touch, a hug pat on the back or whatever. It is as a way to pay extra attention to the optimal functioning of the relationship. Given the deeply sub optimal exogenous circumstances, did I get that right? Absolute, The correct and there's plenty of research to John Goodman and Judy Goodman have done a lot of research on that demand. This in general, the ratio of appreciation in a relationship is a very important marker of relation will be ever more so now say what you need. Don't say what the other person does wrong is another one of them very concrete. You know I need you to X Y see rather than you
ever do or why didn't you just? It's so tempting to go into that critical voice. You know, because it has this false sense of control as well The sooner you know when you say I need you hurt you It's always more vulnerable than when you say you did do and since we ready a feeling really, you know much more under the lighting. The big unspoken then in this moment, is that in them, in the face of it, of loss this is what nurse and for many people loneliness and for many people death, but not just the physical death. It's the death of the world that you ve known, which we call grief, and this anticipatory good. Because we're like in the beginning of a horror movie where the set is set up, the characters has been prepared, but the action is just starting and everyone is feeling distant. You know you at first it was called working from home than another
This does not just working from home. This is, and it no normal, doesn't even begin to capture it when people don't regional, six more weeks of this two more months three more months: where is this going in that sense of grief, is very hard for people to access and to really speak about. You know, I'm I'm frightened. This is a word. I don't know. This is a degree of us. Certainty that destroying us interceding, where we have lost whatever sense of security, we ever thought was spent people, even those of us who are comfortable We that awareness- you know you comfortable, because you just don't know the leading and don't go anywhere, but you look at the world than you see. You know this is to be at first. It was. This is China, you know, then it was this.
is it any then it is no its New York. Now it is it's just men had none are no it's coming closer and it's very difficult for us to take a lead that sense of grief specially, because it's it's just arriving it's just arriving still. We ve got so far from the denial stage through the bargaining, h we're gonna work from home, we gonna home school for a few weeks. We gotta two weeks. Everybody talked about two weeks ago to suddenly, where is this going that suddenly quite and everybody you stick, you does nobody has the answer here. I feel grief. Personally, I wake up in the morning like oh right back in this situation, and I have no idea when its and in it all eighty just speaks to the incredible importance of having your relationships be functional at this time because there are so many exterior stressors. You don't wanna want to be having stress from your
direct surroundings, but also hard to avoid this stress for your direct surroundings, because you're so deeply impacted because you're stuck What is all this to you? You used the word loneliness and I think that an important issue that we should talk about an especially for people who live alone, but I feel like I'm experiencing the opposite of lonely I am reminded of a record that I liked the nineteen eightys by the Indy Rock Band dinosaur Junior. They at a record that was called you living all over me, and- and I This assembly used in a really healthy relationship with his wife in and we have a five year old it. But it's worried, others hair, so you have what? What? What would you data people. You know who feel lonely in the middle of all that. So this two kinds, is living alone, does not yet mean lonely and law we can be next week next to somebody and usually it's because these two things happening at this moment. One is
I have a feeling of loneliness that people have at times next to their partner, which give ever heard it an ambiguous loss, note and biggest, This is a term that was coined by pulling burst its an incredible concept when you have a partner, for example, are apparent who has Alzheimer they are still physically present, but their psychologically gone, emotionally absent when you have somebody who was kidnapped or who is at war and you don't know where they are. For example, there are physically absent, but their emotionally and psychologically present in both cases, ambiguous last prevents you from really morning from grieving the last, because it's an incomplete situation when people
living in their phone sitting next to their partner for hours on end, and you talk to them, but you know that you're not really present. People have begun to experience ambiguous loss in their own living rooms or bedrooms. It's like there's somebody there physically but they're, talking to everybody else but themselves, and I think that some of the committee's acting walks at this point for those who can go outside of action he really brought back this old tradition where people would take a walk at the end of the day and there they were there and they would they would talk, and I think the conversations to have is actually how you doing what's. You know. How are you doing today and then listen, don't have a conversation, it's actually one person talks and you listen attentively and you just kind of acknowledge it. You know-
yeah. I know that for you, this is the peace that really is the hardest to know not being able to go see your grandchild, because it's your son is working in the The demand for you, the hardest things and listen and value did and just make space for the other person. This and of emotional space that you create actually heightens the differentiation in a couple and it makes room and it makes you at the same time not shock, but without being lonely, because you're connecting I do not have the other person in enter on you because they maintaining a boundary and letting you talk and then not even answering they're just nodding their head, like you're doing with me now, when I talk, you know I'd, I'm talking to you I read you. I know Should there be a bridge. Fine you're, not in my space, is very interesting. You bring this up because this ambiguous loss, because I I can see that at play a little bit with me and my wife, because we both have.
What's going on, as you said, before, people are working hard or now. I am definitely the case for me working much there are then I'm he then I used to, and I used to work too hard my wife's in the middle of trying to figure out she's a physician she's in the middle of trying to figure out? How did she she hasn't been working for the past couple of years? Is she going to go back in the hospital? That's a life or death decision for her incredibly stressful, and I we were getting into this habit of sitting next to each other bidders, absorbed in her own worlds and then trying to have conversations while one person is focused something will not really fully focused or having the conversations in the interstices of the day where I've just put the gate in the bath and not fully focused, and we really come over the last couple days too, when we talk wearing but take ourselves and endeavour room and actually talk, and that has made a huge difference and I would take the step forward. I would sue you talk. You close your devices that citizens
they because you like every other person and children. You know if you're dead, tired in front of a screen, we're gonna go nuts, and then you can have a date. You can dress up. You can open a bottle of wine or whatever you can to light a candle, and you get go sit in another room. It's a date in another room, you know, and then you just sit and you spend but ever half an hour or an hour, and you give each other full attention that we com you nervous system, it's a ritual, it creates order and pretty- stability. It is symbolic. It says we continue to do these things, even if we just doing them in our imagination and Imagination is essential at this moment as an antidote to our fear of death, not just the physical death, the death of everything, the death of the future, that we know the death of the world that we typically living, and I think that those recommendations are
very far from the people who do it? You know sundayed, naturally, in some just like being given those kinds of ideas you you ve worked a wholly on the kitchen table. Do you go sit even if its go sit on your bed but you don't make the midday meal in a different place from where you eat, create boundaries, green. delineation still. Demarcations are so important. You know it's why people invented the Sabbath. Its white paper invent a prayer a few times a day to create the Marquis nations. How everything bleeds into each other. You become you become earlier about. Basically that are really so we're talking now. I think we ve been talking at least the wave interpreted about how recently healthy couples can adapt. But you spoke earlier about couples that are really stressed: store have eight o r d
with the recent infidelity, are on the cusp of divorce or have decided to divorce, and I can imagine for those people feeling utterly trapped on locked down with this person with whom they ve got such a difference, relationship and one of the things you recommended was ok Unita to the best of your ability, create a partnership figure out what you're emergency response plan is figure out. What the schedule is work together to just gets some semblance of proper functioning in the home and so yes to all that. But what about the residual? Not just residual within this sort of psychological undertow, of feeling trapped in a house with somebody with whom you have an incredibly difficult relationship? If there's a good sign, ass if he were separating or divorcing that you have known that feeling for a long time? This is not a new feeling. This is where you divorcing in the first place. You know. For some, this is not the only script. I you talk to us
people get. You know. One of the nice things of this moment is that a lot of people are reconnecting. Friends from that you haven't talked to in years or people from work who suddenly become your coffee dont every day that you know, because because you left the office the same deal so talk to others find other people to vent commiserate elsewhere. This at this point, is not a place where your exchange of feeling system implementing, but it does a variety of situations. For example, you know I'm doing this special spot gas series, for where should we begin for couples under lockdown? The first episode of the couple in Sicily, the kind of hair were living with what my friend, again Fleming caused the invisible divorce. They were living married, but they were divorced inside. You know, and she goes to the house, every day as a midwife he's home with three children, and they,
The situation is really bringing them in order to have to confront the second, you know who are they for each other at this moment? What binds them together? and in this, so this is: u I'm giving you a sense, a few varieties to the second, that Brazil is a couple that has been living apart for a year and a half, and she called him from Germany to ITALY and ass. He said green red zone come right away. Two hours later, he was in Germany home and they are united for the first time after a year and a half and actually a feeling so much better avert because the the corona virus forced them back under one roof. When they were fighting about, he felt abandoned that she left and she felt abandoned that he didn't follow her and suddenly situation basically put them back together, so nobody wants nobody lost and theirs these varieties you know and for them
it's actually been really really good to be again together and to be the three of them with their daughter. So I think that what happens is you can spend your entire time focused on standards account do another week of this. Waste is gonna. Take I gotta get out of it. You can do that and you can also basically say where would I has been otherwise. First of all, we would, got a mainly let's, let's and if I do go, where am I going, and you know if we do have children do not have a sense of responsibility here. I'm seeing a couple today where they are in the midst of divorcing and there find together in the house, and he feels like he's a prisoner in his own home- that's an expression, it also simply, you have three young children, and at this moment you have to be applied
a new role as the parent is going to supersede your role as the disgruntled spouse grew up for a moment. You know it is uncomfortable, but you know it is. There's nothing I can say about that, but you can make it worse and you can make it more tolerant. You can also say this: Did I dont work necessarily as much. I dont have worker and I'm gonna take my opportunity to really bond with my daughters before I leave the home and fundamentally by relationship the frequency of my visits with them so make a goal. What's something that you would like to accomplish, while you're here that the circumstances pudding in front of you that you do I wouldn't have done this. Otherwise, not not everybody
gonna be able to do that, but a lot of people will actually come up with something interesting about that. I'm not gonna. Let you speaking of Europe I cast with a couple in Sicily I listened to a little bit of that and there is great and one of the issues that it right is very prominently that I wanted to get with. You today was gender roles now, in this case the huh- I used to work out of the home or was working at the home pre crisis, though, but he's on essential work Russia is now at home. The wife is a health care. Worker is Central worker so is now has to leave the house. She had heretofore done all of the or most of the parenting now he's doing the parenting at very interesting to hear about his frustrations, but just brow now from that, we are at a moment
where I magic men are, are handling this emergency differently than women that probably a gross generalization, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on men verses women in this moment. So many say it like this: I prefer often to thinking wars, because what is often described in gender specific terms in straight coppers is actually just as present in gay and lesbian couples, but it's not gendered. So in many couples you wouldn't have one person who went stress occurs, they go and they start to organise they become structured. They become problem, solving stare, instrumental, you know if they organised at the shop they make the list, and all of that and the other person is, you know, respond
this, as in you know, you're you're, locking me up. This is your crazy. This isn't really happening or the other person. Basically, you know, says: what are we trying to organise things for at this moment we don't even know where we're going. This is a classic division. Its you know suddenly having when there is such a thing. Else on the outside. It feels that organizing An order is like a bulwark against that chaos. Order on the inside the outside he's gonna create order on the insight. That's a classic testing I don't know that I always want to put it in gender terms either in straight couples. It often appears as such, I think in men, straight couples- is often a sense that there is an authority on parenting and it's the woman and shit whose best or shooting she does and examines him and he's the help her and then she complains that he's He helps rather than be an equal, and then he complains that you know if you dont, you doesn't do it like she does, then she's gonna be
critical of it anyway. So why bother that's kind of an old slope? You know in this moment take whatever you can get from everybody, and whatever the other person does is wanting less. You had to do and don't try to imagine that the house is gonna, be spick and span as it was. If you know what everybody leaves the house and you can actually make space to clean it up, just it, but adapting to this is a very it goes in phases. It's like people with a baby in the future. We jump Jim would begin to realise that it for a few years to come the house. I'm gonna, be nearly ass neat as it used to be before, but it takes you realizing. Giving up and not feeling that when you give that up to give up a part of your identity had her like a part of yourself has just been flattened so now the one who's. Taking
the team is probably on occasion just gonna feed them something to get it over with an it's. Ok, it's ok, you know in a little bit of survival mode, and you think that worse still in normal mode, just living at home. You know yesterday, I had a conversation like this with somebody pass over, is arriving in and of people usually clean. There. Howison have hot foods that are specific to pass over and you know she wants to make a case. That is the end. It's like you know, I'm sorry, I'm not sure you gonna be able to beg the Jake. but you see, then you start to have a conversation about loss. The cake is just a symbol of holding continuity. What we call the principle of continuity.
Still the way I've known it every year as big that geek there's so much tradition. To that. Keep the grandchildren love that you know that Turkey is a symbol for what you have to let go and what you letting go. Each time is the work that you have known and then you switched from bickering to sadness and, lastly, to totally different emotion and then it's quiet for a moment. You know I just say that kick. If you let go of that jig, it feels like another piece of continuity has just gone, and that is really tough. that's sad, that's loss, that's very different than bickering about. You didn't find course, enlargement, which is what they were doing and there's a good filter, fish shortage there, the Jews are, there will get a job You understand that did that clarify what happens? Gender wife? It's like you go for the sea that isn't gender
rather than you know she bags and which is what she was saying. I do all the cooking, and I'm like this is not the conversation we need to have. You seriously this is not about you. The woman, the cooking the kitchen and how much he enjoys is any lets you do it anyway. Do anything you asked is for him to this but they were into you. Dont entered there and you really help people for a minute to step out of this and to just realized. What are we really talking about is way more vulnerable and may more fragile than the friggin cake speed. You never conversation the way after this better help offers licensed professional councillors specialised in a wide array of issues like depression, anxiety and grief connect with their profession.
Counselor and a safe private online environment. It's a truly affordable option and listeners can get ten percent off your first month by going to better help dot com, slash happier fill out a questionnaire to help them assess your needs and get matched with the counselor you'll love. I was going to say, I put a call it on twitter to ask people if they had questions for me that I should ask you and somebody who goes The handle butterfly wings wanted me to ask you about fight over household chores It sounds like you want to elevate those fight out of the one day neither nominally about the garbage, but there actually about something else in the interpreters to preserve the site of the shoes
how many more times can I ask you to write to organise the shoes to produce through that door suggested? And of course this is not a new topic. She probably has asked him about the shoes for seventeen years. They ve been together and she's asked nicely not nicely. You know by the time they come to believe what will be done. Every version, but the point is What she's really asking you see what I'm not home can I can. I trust you will now and then the bigger peace is not even can I trust you it's. I feel so bad about the fact that I can't be I feel so bad about the fact that I can't do it that when I come home from the hospital, the first thing I do is I scrub myself insult, because I just gave birth to a woman who had fever that day. That's what was really going on the shoes become this thing to not talk about the building. You know, of course people are gonna be paying more attention to the household chores, and I have here one person after another telling me I'm tired of it,
you, don't I'm the one doing all the music has become a teenager. It's like she but she spent all her time talking to people, and you know I'm the one who has to make sure that the homework is done it everybody you know, will heighten in lieu of that, and I dont think that suddenly people who have been bickering about whore, comes chores. Are gonna suddenly feel better about it, so basically what can simply say is half the time at this point when you I doing away about these practical things. It's because there's something else that is knowing at you I mean. I saw it with an eight year old that I spoke with you know recently, and she was having massive tantrums fit
fits like an age old can do is to tell you open, it doesn't matter, but what was so interesting was that she could articulate that it's because she's scared that she's having bad dreams- and you know it- at its you, you'd detention rises, because you actually feel unsettled about other things, the more you can articulate the other things, the more you can actually ground yourself into what you really feel the less likely assassinations in your relationship and in your household. They didn't know, somebody named Daniele Craig asked me to ask you about how to handle differing levels of seriousness. These we v the virus, if you're in a relationship with somebody who's, not again, it is seriously as you think they should feel your first one. By the way bearing pointing also when you bicker over house chosen all of that. If you gonna start going in I resent your slob, you never do anything. I do everything,
and you just going to complain. It's you, you you. Unfortunately, you gonna event. You gonna feel better for two and a half minutes, but it will accomplish nothing. Try as much as you can to be in the watch you need and what you need is not a need to feel taken care of it's. What you need is. I need you to cook lunch today, its let go super practical with a very concrete task. The other person can do. Is that different, though from I thought we thought the move was to elevate out of the fight in it? this sort of underlying emotive those sent its boyfriend yours, Oh you know, if you want more help from the other person, because you're tired of being the one, the one that it does older, stuff, then talk plan and we really concrete and say what you want. What happens when people start to argue about this stuff, is this that what we call kitchen sinking they start putting all
the dirty dishes and they piled up, and you don't even know what we're talking about anymore. We didn t sentences. You can be talking about divorce, you know, so keep it focused. If you really want to talk about the chores than you talk about the choice, you don't talk about the personality of your partner. You know if you realize that you just like picking at anything, because it's the thing that's right in front of you, realize that you need to do a checking inside and say why am I saw rattled that, despite what's making me want to bite, you know I'm wanna bite, because I'm scared like we do animals do when we are scared, we'd bite when people debate each other figuratively, yes, we're dangerous I go find out better let in different ways of more often than not verbal. So, but let me just go back to gender differences first, I can't do you see any difference in terms of men or women being more or less willing to process
their emotions around. This emergency help the tendency to one, that man would be more instrumental in practical and they want to do so. They want to do you know it gets things done and women would be more into the experience of embody. Honestly, it's not something. I see When I talk with many many men and you actually don interruption, you give them time to speak and to formulate their thoughts, and you don't try to shape it. They will tell you they will tell you but indifferent language they'll tell you about what it feels like to not be able to work at this moment, how it feels useless, how they feel bad about not being able to protect their loved ones. How did if you like their trapped in their body in a tight space and they're losing their minds. Because, usually did we need the movement under the they talk to you about how there you know their brother is told him. You know whatever
because you know he he's a- has continued to go. You know, with his buddies due to the spring break. You know they won't say, I'm scared. For my brother. I don't want to lose my brother. My brother, did you see my brother, such bozo? You know attack with what does he thinking Amanda and then he goes to spend time with my parents. I mean it's like I've, nobody to talk to hear, but basically, what there telling you is I care about my parents again. About my brother, I don't want to lose him and he's acting responsibly and is nothing I can do, and I feel powerless and I give those words: ok doesn't, our role as a therapies, but I know that they are talking about their feelings, suggesting we cannot expect everybody to speak one language to have a kind of feminist version of emotion, talk. Let's talk about single people for a moment this. Obviously, if you're single living alone, the issue of loneliness than there are questions around, do you continue go online they do
unlike what he was doing fantastic, but is it worth doing if you can't made up in person were actually is it ok to meet up in person if you're, confident the other person has been quarantined, both local people are waiting, not long before they meet, which means that they are actually having a lot more conversation said something about that is actually really nice. It's alive, it's a lasting. The longer than a swipe, and I think that that in itself is is bringing back something that's very interesting and also people are actually meeting around something that is quite important. That's happening in their life rather than having dates, which looked like job interviews, you know, so the context is making people have conversations very early on that that review them to each other in ways that I have that have not been so present lately and people are taking their time and people you know, on the one hand they can't touch so that there is a
There is a need to relate to these new person and it's the voice. People are talking on camera that this ban more time together this spending a long time together talking more than they usually do before they just touch each other, never know each other's name? There is actually very something's going on very creative things. People are leading to court each other in this other, you know a slower pace. Sequential way. I have found very interesting stories of people who are actually did, and even if you are a single for some people
there are actually surrounded by friends that that reaching out to it it's it's important to not equate alone single and lonely. I think that that that's too quickly is something that we lump together. Lonely is really scary at this point. There are people who have nobody calling them or very few of them and then the and vice versa they can really get lost. At this moment I mean you know, there is a way of thinking that as many, if not more, people will die from the corona virus as a result of poverty, depression and loneliness than from the virus itself. It's what we call the cool morbidity, so there Actually, I think, is a unique moment for that is is, is you know you can try out a lot of things you want. You don't have to worry about the actual event. Yet so let your imagination, gold Why are all kinds of things you know without the actual experience of it, you can do you know people go back
to phone sex, for that matter, I mean there's a lot of practices that are returning very naturally at the. Where do you think it's a testament to his people want to continue to feel Ally's? You know and vital that erotic charge that you have from there even when you can't go outside of your house with people who are, God knows where others in this universe is real testament to the human spirit. sure you are the only guess to his ever uttered the words phone sex. on the show book should, should these people progressed to actual sex? Is it It is, however, at that time that it's ok to go to the to the apartment of the or the house of the person you ve been was given. common look. This is where everybody is going to measure risk right and an end. Like your second cook, a cooler,
Was it a twitter was asking? Is you know? How does risks taker live together with waste management? and in this relationship in that people who are just beginning to date, that thing is going to come up very early on that you know who's. The maker of both of them risk takers is one more likely to because of the risk manager. Where are you living? What are the circumstances of your life when this is like not that different? When you talk about public health and when people began for the first time to have campaigns overcome You know then met people have had to adjust sexual practices with public health all along. This is not the first time you know when we began clear that what is a nasty I and how does it proliferate and how do we protect against? We had to change the way we we practice are or sexual life, and we had to ask people. Are you safe? Are you tested? Are you decide you the cushions that nobody had to ask before like that, so he listens.
Who are you living with and who will sit around and where you come in contact with, and where are you are you still working? Do you go outside of your house? How long has it been that at some point, yes, people will meet you? Do you think this is meeting dating and perhaps beginning a relationship in the middle of an emergency is that of a better than usual time or worse than you the whole time in terms of the quality of the relationship? I'm thinking of my own life, I once began a relationship with a fellow correspond journalists in the middle of a war zone, and it was felt important in that comment, but then, when we were, when life reverted to normal din function as well, and so I wonder,
We're gonna see that perhaps with some of the relationships that begin r, r forged in this particular crucible, you know when I used to write that families of Hanukkah survivors and none of these marriages right after the war was I'm alone. You're alone. I have nothing, you have nothing. Let's get married. A lot of discoveries were indeed very good in surviving together having children right away, Ray firming humanity and normality, and after that they looked at each other in this, as we have nothing to do with each other. So that is a story the where the circumstances give heft. meaning an urgency to your relationships. Lots of people have babies in the middle of war letter. You know the. Let me put it this way when it comes to relationships, one of the most important things that crisis like that global crisis does, is it functions as an
celebrating the accelerator says: life is short. What are we waiting for? Let's have babies, let's get married, or let's leave together whenever and then on the other side. Life is short. I've waited long enough, I'm out of here, and so this is all story that people with divorce. More and win connect more in light of this crisis because it heightens the priorities it brings us closer to them. a sense of life, so I dont over with a better or not better. It is clear that Under such circumstances, the desire to connect is very strong among. people, and so people will date and people will move in together and people will have origins with someone they ve met twice before and then some of them will afterwards. You know we had not really but should govern, but it helped us during that quarantine, and that was that and then other people will say we met then and a big it became. We know a twenty year story, you do
No, but you know that crisis heightens priorities heightens urgency and change the meaning of things and for some people plans lids when in the after years after the war, after the disaster, after the pandemic and for other people, it was just circumstantial and it was meant to be for the pandemic and after that by by so well said, Anne, It brings to mind something that I think I saw in the New York Times recently a prediction that we're gonna see a wave of corona babies and a wave of covert divorces. Do you agree that this is a distant every studies during wars and disasters, and and even The snow, snow, storms and you know I have always had the same predictions. It's like its. It does a bit. It heightens the existential away
and this is not just the psychological relation ways. It's an existential awareness of of our fragility. Look. What does a pandemic say to you. It says that the randomness of the way that we can be exterminated at all times has not change. No matter what progress society has made. You know human suffering is human suffering, lass death. You know our fragility, you know the plagues have existed throughout, no matter what kind of progress we have made, we can be wiped off like that. Laws of impermanence in entropy have not evaporated. Notwithstanding the Iphone diary, when I I agree, and it's actually there can be salutary effect to not with NATO this, despite the massive inconvenience and suffering there can be some positive effects to re acquainting ourselves with the basic laws of the universe. We only have a few minutes before
you're off to your next appointment in their remaining time? Is there something that I should have asked or something you think would be worth discussing- that that hasn't yet come up your question about what you do with two people have different responses to danger to threats. I think is really important. Because you want to be assured the other person by just saying to them you, you know you're, exaggerating, you're thinking about the war scenarios. Let them talk to you and just feel less frightened by the sheer fact that taken talk to you in that you are there to listen and to acknowledge their experience. That is actually doing way more than trying to talk them out of it and to the person who you think is not looking at it dangerously enough forest. You know
Let them explain to you why it is so important for them to still go out. People have gone out in the middle of a blitzkrieg. You know people like your partner who may go back to the hospital. I mean people experience such a sense of urgency and such a sense of purpose in those moments at is really important and it gives people strength to live and to confront the danger and a threat and the fear, and all of that we have different coping sides. It's not one way and what you want is to make room for both in your family or in your relationship. So that is the first one. The second thing is it. One of the very point things you can do is tell stories even when you do sit at night. You know what your partner and you can just scare stories of resilience stories of triumphant stories availability. We all carry that memory from our families from our community. People have overcome at
a city throughout history? What are the strength that you got from your history? You know what other things you learn from your community from your religious groups and those stories a whole give us strength to give us hope they give sense of vision. They give us a sense of future that the people do continue life at one of my people were saying. You know. I lost my mother at thirteen. You know I've known a long time ago that somebody could disappear and your work could be toppled over night. I have lived with last. I know I can make it and it was just so powerful to hear her. Just Talk about, I heavy dear me, you know I need the moment soon. I'm totally scared. I remind myself, you know that I took my sense to load.
school, and I did find made my maid to women Mary together, and I did you know. I have experienced a tremendous amount of lesson and when my put my mice, my brother, passed away last year, I asked you to do and almost relieved that he's not there. He was living in dire conditions and I think that at a war I worry what would have happened to him at a time like to do and to be able we then say it like that and then another person outages, my mother, has Alzheimer Adventure, so relieved that she doesn't know what's happening right now. This is the first time that they actually think good for her below it, people- have this realization that our complete non linear. The paradoxical they feel contradict, like you shouldn't say about the recent Alzheimer that's good, but it these circumstances, things change, meaning and when
then, when you engage with that conversation, when France commit foot for for drinks online, it or dinners or ordered gatherings, you chat about things and have jobs and fun all. But on occasion it's also nice to see the people. You know what kind of thoughts. Has this brought up for you? You know what kind of experiences from your night and you start to see people drop instead sharing with each other at a level that really communal support and that community support is probably the most important factor for mental health. At this time yeah. In closing, I what I hear so much in terms of its it may not be there common denominator, but it's a quite common denominator of the thing You say your recommendations. You're you're reflections is the importance of asking the right questions and listening to the answers,
and making space for the other person to just talk to you and in the talking they feel less alone and you but doing plenty you dont have to reason with them reassure them rationalize, nothing and that action he has a tremendous security, the fact closing thing else ages, one of the shows. That's been getting me through the m. This pandemic is a show called parks in red which is a really really funny show that I recommend and wipe impinging binging on Netflix in there's a great scene in the final season where this couples about have a baby in the husband is really just were. Actually these not a husband, the baby, daddy to be is rushing around trying to fix all four problems and its make her more and more annoyed that he's just trying to fix everything it. Finally, somebody gives him the advice when she's complaining the magic words are that sucks and just a valid
it just to hear, and a valid aid is extraordinarily soothing. I think for most of us absolutely such a pleasure to talk to you. I'm gonna get you out of this interview on times, angrily cabin? I want you right now we are we. Could I it's you know I'm unreconstructed Astaire paralysis, an answer. I really appreciate your time. Thank you. Thank you. So much send for you, well you and I will continue in person. I can invite all your friends to join me to all the different thing said doing focused primarily on relationship options, challenges and choices at this moment in all the relationships that we are in. it's an amazingly, which time for relationships really check out. Where shall we begin and housework and check out maybe captivity
and what's the other book again, this state of affairs check them all out sessions for all of you that work with relationships are interested in relationships. It's my own and training platform which you and I one day. We need to talk about this when you know right, there's lots of things, but without gonna sell, so just go, find me in you'll. Get it often thank you is there pursue? Thank you so much pleasure. Big thanks to a stair, as we discuss briefly in the show she's been interviewing couples under lock down around the world, an airing the conversations on her podcast, which is called. Where shall we begin to give you sample of this, as there has kindly shared snippet from one of her recent conversations check it out, seventeen years ago they met in germany- and it probably would have been just an adventure asked
I was very radiant bessie at the beginning, I was frightened ass to be also a third names. Personally met February, and we were pregnant in July. That was the beginning. The jewels to equally live together in the Tuscan. Hence they ve had quite a nice arrangement, the Nicky Library of between the two of them and this. Actually, we got disrupted a year and a half ago when she accepted a big job in Germany have checking in, but I find this coming, I meant it and he said yes, yes, yes, but he never came. And then I started to realize now he's what's going on and it got worse and the sun he said, look always be that's sent for me. sure this still love you
at a certain point, I felt that something broke up and they thought Our love was seized. When he became a red zone. She called him and ask him to come immediately. Few hours later there actually the first time reunited as a family, the two of them and their daughter in law. that probably would never have happened otherwise, finally, I fear, protected and I don't want to lose it but what is sure if this is going to be the beginning of a new stage or just temporary covered nineteen blip, not permanent, temporary and the finnish, and I do hope, what's happening to us after this. To understand why
here in Germany, steel captured by the dream that we already have like asset fascinating stuff, thanks again to stay Before we go a few reminders, if This conversation with a stair strikes a chord with you right now. You may want to check out the course we have put up on the ten percent happier app, which is called relationships. The teacher there is orange a sofa incredibly useful stuff around communicating now only with people you with whom you are romantically entangled, but with anybody super practical tools, there
another thing to say before we go if you're a health care worker who is not currently subscribed to the ten percent happier app, we want to give it to you for free, please go to ten percent dot com. Slash care will put a link in the show notes, but again it's ten percent dot com slashed and you can also tell anybody. You know who is a healthcare worker, and by that we mean doctors, nurses, admin, custodial staff, nurse practitioners text, the whole range med students. We want to be holistic in our in our thinking about who qualifies as a healthcare worker, give us a shout. They thanks to the team who helped put this show together, Samuel Johns our producers been leading the charge in these difficult days, Jackson, beer
health is our editor, Maria were tell us our production coordinator. We derive a lot of wisdom from ten percent colleagues such as been Reuben, Jen, planned and NATO be as well and finally, a big thank you to reign Kessler and Josh CO hand from ABC News was he on Wednesday, with the amazing. El the abortion there's, not a person in Amerika who hasn't been impact. It in some way by the corona I was pandemic, but it every community. There are pockets of people who were soon.
Every day? This is my last day of the cylinder stretch of photos for one of our or America's essential workers, the people who are keeping moving. I turn into a home mom and now in a new plants from Ebay, see news you gonna hear from damage. Was she went back to my office on cybercrime because he is not here and making sure that our community has found faintly Lorraine? This is essentially inside the from the emergency room, the police cruiser to the Czech outline yoke. You want this pandemic sounds like the people putting themselves ones where there's always a risk. Brain is home to re. Kids are my husband or my parents, listen to the essentials inside the curve on Apple podcast, river, pod, costume.