Peter Lynn and Tod Jacobs: Your Marriage is Not a Partnership | Episode 18

Peter Lynn and Tod Jacobs: Your Marriage is Not a Partnership | Episode 18

How do you define marriage? What can you do to fix the issues in your marriage effectively? How can you reignite the joy and happiness in your marriage?

In this podcast episode, Billy and Brandy Eldridge speak with Peter Lynn and Tod Jacobs about their book, Not A Partnership, and their ground-breaking perspective on marriage.

Meet Peter Lynn and Todd Jacobs

Tod Jacobs is Director of the David Robinson Institute for Jewish Heritage in Jerusalem, which he co-founded in 2005. Prior to his current role in teaching and counseling his students and alumni, he enjoyed a distinguished career on Wall Street as one of the leading authorities on the telecommunications industry globally. As a managing director at JP Morgan and before that a partner at Sanford C. Bernstein and Company, Tod acted as a frequent commentator on network television and in leading newspapers and magazines, and testified several times before the U.S. Congress as an expert on telecom and media issues. His credits in print and broadcast journalism, where he worked prior to Wall Street, include nominations for both the Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism and the Emmy Award. Tod lives in Jerusalem with his family.

Peter Lynn has served as Dean of Students at the David Robinson Institute for Jewish Heritage since its inception. An MA in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania, Peter lectures at Touro College in Jerusalem. He is also Founder and Director of the Greatness Within Seminars, where he helps empower individuals and organizations through the application of Positive Psychology. An accomplished athlete and Ironman finisher, Peter was captain of the US World Duathlon Team. Peter lives in Jerusalem with his family.

Visit their website and connect on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

In This Podcast


  • The path that led to ‘Not A Partnership’
  • Defining marriage
  • Taking responsibility for fixing the issues yourself
  • The two-phase formation of reality
  • The four pillars of giving
  • Going from despair and hopelessness to joy and happiness

The path that led to ‘Not A Partnership’

You’ll find Tod and Peter at The Dr. David Robinson Institute for Jewish Heritage in Jerusalem, established in 2005, where they work with accomplished students in their 20s and 30s from a variety of backgrounds, including medicine, finance, consulting, social work, and acting, but generally with little to no involvement with or training in religion. One thing that Tod and Peter find with their students is that regardless of how accomplished and knowledgeable they are, they are sadly unprepared for building their families, a part of their lives they deem the most important.

When entering into a new career, people generally prepare for years, get relevant education, and have an idea of what succeeding in that career would look like for them. They know how to go for the job, they know the review process, and they know how to measure progress or lack thereof. Conversely, looking at marriage, people don’t approach it in that same way by doing research, preparing, getting education and training, understanding the review process, and having a clear picture of a successful spouse or a successful marriage.

Once they realized the potential of looking at marriage similarly to how people look at careers, Peter and Tod began spending more time studying within the field of marital education. Combining Peter’s knowledge and expertise with psychology, specifically positive psychology, with Jewish wisdom relating to marriage such as what causes love, how marriage works, and how to exercise self-control, they were able to create teachings that have revolutionized how their students approach marriage. Tod mentions that they’ve seen actual success in their student’s marriages, with a much lower divorce rate, especially when compared to the American divorce rate, which encouraged them to share their wisdom with the world in the form of their book, Not A Partnership: Why We Keep Getting Marriage Wrong & How We Can Get It Right.

Defining marriage

Most people approach marriage like a classic business partnership – you’re constantly checking which of you have which rights and which responsibilities in the partnership/marriage. Ultimately, you spend most of your marriage watching your spouse failing to perform as you want them to, in terms of their roles and responsibilities, and waiting for some or other disaster to strike.

Peter explains that, as opposed to the definition of marriage in line with a standard partnership, you should be able to look at it as giving your all to this person and investing all that you have in their well-being by committing your life to empower them, to giving them the life that they want, and to making sure they feel supported. Not approaching your marriage in this way creates a partnership that could devolve into a tit-for-tat situation, based upon conditions, instead of an unconditional, compassionate, and supportive relationship.

Taking responsibility for fixing the issues yourself

Most of us have some kind of central character problem that we carry around with ourselves. And we control it pretty well at work, but the place where we let our guard down, as we’ve mentioned a couple times, is usually in the home.

There is a chapter in the second half of the book, Not A Partnership called ‘It All Depends On Me’ which discusses that, in order to have a marriage where you are both not only surviving but thriving, you have to take responsibility for the things that you have caused and for fixing those things.

In the preparatory process with their students at the institute, Tod and Peter teach about what a marriage is, what causes love, what giving is, and how to fix one’s character in preparation of marriage. Then they guide their students through the early process of marriage, the middle process, the child-raising process, and all the rest as far as is necessary. If and when a problem arises, they encourage one of the spouses in a problem-stricken marriage that they can fix the situation by starting with themselves.

The plan of action is:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Take responsibility
  3. do the work to fix the problem – therapy, reading books, exercises, etc. – however would benefit your spouse the best.

99% of the time, these recursive actions will inspire your spouse to do the same, forming a virtuous cycle instead of a vicious one.

instead of moving towards more personal responsibility, many people in society choose to blame others for their unfortunate circumstances and therefore relinquish any control they could have over their own emotions and their own issues. This is not conducive to truly solving the problems within a marriage, but rather people should take that responsibility and look inward to address and fix their issues.

The two-phase formation of reality

Great marriages don’t just happen, they have to be built.

This is another paradigm shift to the classic idea of marriage, the first being the definition of marriage described by Peter. Tod explains an idea in Jewish mysticism which accounts for how everything, in reality, comes into reality, namely in two phases.

Phase one

The first phase happens on a miraculous level of inspiration where something begins to form itself in this world and then disappears relatively quickly. An example of this first phase in a romantic relationship could be that first moment seeing someone across the dancefloor, that intoxicating moment which rapidly develops into what some people call ‘love’, but which Tod explains is more than likely a God-given, unique, short-lived, inspirational period of time, making you want to get involved with that person.

Phase two

The second phase is where you have to build, rebuild, and maintain the idea that you were inspired by in the first phase. Following the romantic relationship example, the second phase would involve building the love, investing in each other, and investing in the relationship.

The four pillars of giving

Marriage is essentially built off of one ingredient, which is giving, and you need to invest your efforts, your time, and your energy into giving love and building the love in your marriage. These are the four different ways you can give in your marriage:

  1. Keeping it fresh – go out of your way to make your spouse feel young and alive, and make your marriage feel exciting.
  2. Gratitude – Stay grateful and show your gratitude.
  3. Respect in all its forms – Be respectful of your spouse and of the things you both value in your marriage.
  4. It all depends on me – Take responsibility and acknowledge your issues, and then work on those issues within yourself.

Going from despair and hopelessness to joy and happiness

Advice from Tod

Remember that you have the free will to change anything, and to do the things that are necessary to fix what might be broken. One suggestion for everyone to do for their marriage is to take the initiative and plan a date night, dress up, put your phones away, and make the evening really special.

Ask your partner what they need from you, what they’d like you to work on within yourself, and what would make them happier, and then let them ask the same questions to you. Use these questions and their answers as the starting point for a conversation that will lead to many other conversations, all for the benefit of you, your spouse, and your marriage.

Advice from Peter

It’s never too late to delve into the world of marriage education. Find books, podcasts, seminars, YouTube videos, etc. and apply what you’ve learned to your marriage and your situation. Start this week by putting marriage education at the forefront of your mind.

Books by Tod Jacobs and Peter Lynn

Are you ready to find the freedom to be yourself as a beta male? Do you want permission and tools to be your best beta? Are you ready to join the revolution to find strength as a beta? If you want to be comfortable in your skin and be the most authentic beta male, then our free beta revolution course is for you. Sign up for free.

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Meet Billy Eldridge


Meet Billy, the resident beta male. For Billy, this is a place to hang out with other beta males and the people who love them. We’re redefining what beta males look like in the world. I have learned to embrace my best beta self, and I can help you to do the same. As a therapist, I understand the need to belong. You belong here. Join the REVOLUTION.


Meet Brandy Eldridge


Hello, Beta friends. I am an alpha personality who is embracing the beta way of life. I feel alive when connected with people, whether that is listening to their stories or learning about their passions. Forget small talk, let’s go deep together. Come to the table and let’s have some life-changing conversations.


Thanks for listening!

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Podcast Transcription

Beta Male Revolution is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a family of podcasts seeking to change the world. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Imperfect Thriving, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to

Welcome to the Beta Male Revolution. This is a podcast for beta males, the people who love them, and the alphas that enjoy their company. Today on the podcast, we had Peter Lynn and Tod Jacobs. They wrote a book about marriage called ‘Not A Partnership’ which challenged a lot of our ideas and our own thoughts and belief systems. They came and hung out with us all the way from Israel.

Wait, they didn’t come and hang out with us. They called us and we talked to them.

It’s a brave new world…

Just wanna make that clear.

They were not literally here.

No. They were in Jerusalem around dinnertime. and you can kind of hear that because they were, I think, one of them was warming up something to eat. It was late for them.

They were two professionals living in the States, living out their careers, and they moved their families to Israel to start an institute. And they wrote this book together as friends and colleagues. And it takes an awesome perspective on marriage. And it’s really just about owning your own stuff, working on it, and championing it for each other.

But they have really practical things to do. And that’s why I’m excited about this podcast, because you can leave working on some things and have tangible things that you can do at the end of this episode. So, even if you’re not struggling in your marriage, it’s good practical advice, but I think we all are, if we’re working at it, it is going to be a struggle at some point.

I read a quote from my favorite, Brené Brown, the other day about marriage, and she said, “The best marriages are the ones where we can go out in the world and really put ourselves out there. A lot of times we’ll fail, and sometimes we’ll pull it off. But good marriages are when you can go home and know that your vulnerability will be honored as courage, and that you’ll find support.” And that’s a lot of what we talked about today; just being there for that person. Enjoy.
Hey, Beta Male Revolution. Today we have Peter Lynn and Tod Jacobs on the show, and they are authors of a book called ‘Not A Partnership’ which, the title in and of itself, grabbed me and caused me to start asking questions.

Because we’ve been doing everything wrong, apparently, according to this book. We definitely need this book.

We learned by failing forward in our relationship, and at least we’re open to the process, but I feel like we’re gonna get a lot of information today for not only us, but for you guys, our listeners. And so, without further ado, Peter and Tod, would you guys like to introduce yourself?

Welcome! All the way from Jerusalem. We’re so excited!

Thank you. Thank you so much. This is Tod. I’ll just give you, maybe, 30 seconds on myself, and then I’m sure Peter wants to introduce himself. My own background and pathway to writing a book about marriage is somewhat meandering… I’m not gonna take you through the whole thing, but it includes, you know, growing up in the South in a place called Ocala, Florida, heading north for university, spending a period of time as a journalist and investigative journalist, moving from there to a career on Wall Street where I was an analyst covering a very complex and dynamic industry called telecommunications, and eventually decided, after spending all my time trying to figure out complicated, you know, industries and boiling it down to help people invest in them, there was a certain point when my wife and I looked at each other and said, you know, instead of spending life trying to figure out a complicated industry so people can invest, maybe we can spend more time figuring out complicated life problems like marriage and meaning and purpose and things like that, and try to simplify those issues and help students in the process.

And so, we began a journey with our family that took us to Jerusalem, where we wound up opening up, basically, a school for postgraduate students and young professionals with, kind of, a Jewish perspective, classic, mystical, you know, perspective, coming out of very ancient, you know, Jewish texts, philosophy, ethics, leadership, relationships, love… all those kind of topics covered. We opened up this institution trying to help students figure out a pathway to successful living, and that is about the time that I met Peter, about 15 years ago, and he was the perfect person to partner up with in running this institute and teaching, and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since, and that brought us, at some point, to write this book together.

Tod, I am really excited. Before Peter gets on, first of all, I’ll get some investment information from you later on

Where do I need to put $5?

No, but, just about your institute that you guys are doing with these younger people – and why don’t you take people in their 40s and 50s is my second question – but I really want to get into that work that you guys are doing. Peter, if you want to tell your story and then talk a little bit about that?

Sure. So, the basic background is, many years ago, I was pursuing a degree in architecture and I was living in Boulder, Colorado. And I decided that, instead of, basically, building your kitchen for my future, I wanted to invest my time and build people. And that really led to a big change in my life where I really focused on how people can have their best possible lives. And that led me to joining up with Tod and us being involved with this institute together for the past 15 years. Along the way, I’ve also done a lot of different academic pursuits; I pursued a master’s degree in the field of positive psychology, and then, after that, I pursued a doctorate in the world of organizational psychology. So, all tools to really help me do whatever I kind of can to help people really kind of live their lives the way they want to and to actually succeed in all areas. So, that’s kinda my basic background over the past 20 years.

Wow. And I read somewhere in your studies in positive psychology – you studied with one of the greats, correct?

Correct. So, the degree I went to was at the University of Pennsylvania and, basically, there you have the founder of positive psychology, Dr. Marty Seligman, who created the whole field and the whole everything around it that’s come from it, and he is there. So, the beauty of the program is that he was one of our teachers, he was there with us, and it was really an amazing experience and one that I’m still in touch with today.


I’m a little jealous. I’m so jealous right now.

So, you guys go out and have this life in your different career paths, and life brings you together and you form somewhat of a partnership, and write a book called ‘Not A Partnership’?

You got it. You’re zeroing in on exactly the issue. That’s right.

So, you have this institute you guys are a part of which is a beautiful thing. And, you know, I know just a little bit about Jewish mysticism, just a very little bit, but just profoundly fascinating, and the little bit I have read about has been life changing. Just, kind of, take us down the road to the institute, and the book, and how you guys have this partnership based around the book ‘Not A Partnership’.

Sure. So, again – this is Tod – you know, the impetus for writing this book is, you know, a lot of the students who come to us, really, I think most people would consider to be kind of best and brightest. They come from a host of backgrounds, most of them come from backgrounds where they have not had much religious training or involvement, but they’ve had exceptional training and things like… in all the different careers they come from, whether it’s medicine or finance or consulting or social work or, you know, acting or whatever it is, you’re talking about quite accomplished people who, you know, all things considered, you would say, “well, these are people who are just set up to live really successful lives”. And then, one by one, you begin to find out that, as prepared for career and navigating the world and that whole arena as these students are – by the way, I’m calling them students but we’re talking about people in their 20s and 30s, by the way, so, you know, so they happen to be students of ours, but they are, you know, they are accomplished and they are adults in their own right – and one thing you find is, as accomplished as they are and as knowledgeable as they are in all these arenas, the one place that they will tell you is the most important part of their life, which is going to be, you know, building their families, ultimately, they are woefully, woefully unprepared for.

And, you know, it’s an interesting thing to realize, you know. Nobody would enter into a career, you know, sort of haphazardly, you know. You prepare for years, you get educated in it, you have some picture that’s clear about what a successful career is meant to look like, you know how to go for the job, you know, that you’re going to get reviewed, you know, how to measure whether you’re doing well or not. And by the way, it’s also an arena in which you exercise almost complete self-control and would never lash out, you would never lose control of yourself and speak improperly or act improperly, you know. Everybody sort of knows the rules and knows the rulebook and knows how to do it, and that’s all fantastic. And then you look at marriage which, for most people, according to the research, is the thing that people look most forward to in life as being, you know, the source of eventual meaning and purpose and, you know, satisfaction and security. And you say, “Okay, how prepared are you for that? How much education have you had? How much training? How much are you ready for the review process? What how clear is your picture of what a successful marriage looks like and what a successful spouse is?” And you’re met with, kind of, like, a dumb look of, like, “oh, wow, that’s scary.”

And so, as a result of that, we wound up spending more and more time in the field of marital education, which was a function of Peter taking his expertise and knowledge of, kind of, cutting-edge psychological research and positive psychology and marrying that up with, kind of, ancient Jewish wisdom on the subject of what causes love, and how does a marriage work, and how do you exercise self-control properly, and what is giving, and all the things that make up a successful marriage. So, we put that together and it became a bigger piece of what we did. We eventually realized our students had a very, very low divorce rate over the years – about a 10th of the American divorce rate overall – and we said, you know, we got to share some of this some of this wisdom with the world.



The world needs it. So y’all kind of flip it on its head with ‘Not A Partnership’, I mean, take us into that. You know, because we’re all told it’s a partnership, it’s 50/50 or 100/100, and that’s the goal. But I love how y’all talk about it in relation to business partnerships. The majority of business partnerships fall apart. I was told there’s two kind of ships that sink; ships that you get on and sail on, and partnerships. You got to be careful of both.

That’s exactly right. And I’ll give you a spoiler alert. The spoiler alert is when you do marriage right, it’s the greatest partnership on Earth. It’s the kind of ship that doesn’t sink. And not only it doesn’t sink, but it sails you off into, you know, a lifetime of happiness. But the problem is that most people approach it like a classic business partnership, which is to say, I am constantly looking at what are my rights and responsibilities, what are your rights and responsibilities, and I spend most of my time feeling I’m doing my job and you’re not doing your job, and so most of marriage is spent watching my spouse, you know, failing to perform as I want her to, and that is a disaster waiting to happen. And it usually is a disaster that happens

I mean, I don’t even know how to say this. But yes. And I was taught that you should approach it like a partnership – and we’ve even taught premarital courses and use that as part of the curriculum – you go in, you divide, you conquer, this is what the greats say, this is what we’ve been told, and you guys are flipping that, and it’s just a completely different paradigm shift. So how do we do that? How do we not look at our partner saying, “You know, I’m doing all this and you’re not contributing”? How do we get away from that?

So, I think that I – this is Peter, I’ll just come in here for a second – I think that people have, in some way, the wrong definition of what a marriage is supposed to be. And what we really try and explain is, let us give you a clear definition. I think that if you have this clear definition then the question falls away quite fast. What you were just describing as a marriage is here’s my rights, and here’s your rights, and here’s what you bring to the table and here’s what I bring to the table… And as we all know, these things usually don’t last so well. If they don’t last in the business, all the more so when we let our guards down, our marriage is not gonna last. But if I look at my marriage as this is a person that I am going to give my all to, and I’m going to commit my life to doing everything I can to empower them, to give them the life that they want, to make sure they feel supported, regardless of what I get back, I’m totally investing my all in their well-being. If you have one side doing that to the other and the other side doing that back, then all of a sudden what you have is you have a definition of what a marriage is.

Unfortunately what happens is, since many marriages look at things like a standard partnership, or very tit-for-tat, or very ‘here’s the tally’, you know, who’s up and who owes each other, then things fall apart in a disastrous way, quite fast. But when you change it and you have a different paradigm of how we describe this relationship, all of a sudden, whoa, there’s a lot of room here for good days and for bad days and for ups and for downs and for one side putting in more effort than the other. There’s a lot more room to be able to build something which is totally unique, and that unique thing is called a marriage, which is the very thing that all of us yearn for. So, what we find is that a lot of times people just have that definition so wrong and it’s a huge problem.

Hmm, we have it wrong. Sometimes. I mean, I feel like a lot of times… Billy is my biggest cheerleader, he’s the one that’s in my corner. You know, he’s my biggest support.

And vice versa.

And then sometimes it’s scorecard day. You know, where I’ve done this, this, and this, and what have you done? And some of our biggest arguments have been over, like you said, keeping a tally sheet – which I know is unhealthy – So how, what if one person is giving and the other one is not? Because isn’t that what you see?

Well, and I’ll put a put an extra caveat to that, early on in our marriage, it was Brandi, carrying the bulk of the load, when it came to the physical things that needed to be done in our household and also the emotional. And a lot of that came from emotional immaturity to me. We talk about it in our story, I dealt with addiction and alcoholism, and I’m in recovery now. And through that process, I mean, I was a selfish, self-centered human being, and would have taken every bit of anything anyone gave me. And so, I had to be called out on some stuff and taught to live a different way, to become a little bit less selfish and self-centered and step out of the center of my own universe and realize that, man, there’s other people that need to be cured and tended to. So, I mean, when it is unbalanced, I mean, what can be done?

So, I’ll tell you. In the second half of the book – where we take on practical advice in terms of how to implement this kind of big picture and this, you know, these new paradigms, what your relationship is supposed to look like – we have one chapter, which I think in many ways, Peter and I both agree, it may be the central chapter in that whole half of the book, it’s called, “It All Depends On Me”. And, you know, what you’ve just described, Billy, is right, you know, it’s very inspiring. And it’s suggests that, at some point, you just said, you know, I’m going to take responsibility for fixing the things that I’m bringing to the table right now. And I mean, and it sounds like the two of you have, you know, not only survived that but are thriving in that which is really an example of exactly what we’re talking about.

We have found, dealing with our students and, you know, we start with them in the preparatory process; let’s learn about what a marriage is, let’s learn what causes love, let’s learn, you know how, what giving is let’s learn how to how to fix our characters to get ourselves ready. And then we hold their hands, to the extent that they want us to, through the early process of marriage, which is very different than the middle process of marriage, which is different than the child raising process of marriage, there are many, many, you know, parts of that. And one of the things we found is when people begin falling apart, as much as they can’t believe it could possibly work and they can’t believe that they’d be able to actually accomplish it, we’ll tell one of the spouses, you know, you can fix this, just do it yourself.

Now, in a perfect world, as you begin showing that, irrespective of what you’re going to get back in return, you’re going to keep putting into this marriage. And by the way, putting into the marriage may mean looking after the spouse and doing for that, but by the way, it might equally mean, I’m gonna just begin fixing my own problems. You know, Billy, you described an addiction issue. For some people, it’s an anger issue. For some people, it’s a selfishness issue. And, many times by my deciding, I’m going to work strongly on my problem, forget about the marriage, forget about the relationship, I’m going to work on the anger problem, which is the center problem of my work. By the way, most of us have some kind of central character problem that we carry around with ourselves, and we control it pretty well at work but the place where we let our guard down, as we’ve mentioned a couple times, is usually in the home. And if I’ve got an anger problem, for sure the one who is bearing the brunt of that is going to be my spouse. When I start working on that problem, I take responsibility, and I start doing the work that I got to do, whether it’s therapy, whether it’s reading books, whether it’s exercises, whatever it is, my spouse is going to benefit from it and, nine times out of 10 and maybe 99 times out of 100, my spouse is going to get inspired by that. And so, you know, what do I bring to the table? And you wind up creating this virtuous cycle instead of that instead of the vicious cycle of both sides almost like trying to outdo each other in some sense, again, it’s I mean, I don’t mean trivialize but people can really start saying, wow, you know you’re working on your issues, I’m going to work on mine. And when we realize that we’re doing after each other, ultimately, that’s an incredibly powerful, you know, spark that you that you can light up your marriage with.

That is so good. And I think we, you know, I love how you said there’s, like, three or four main issues that you probably need to look at. When I deal with people, and in counseling, and myself, I think I’ve got all these issues I’ve got to work on, and where do I even start? But really, if you drill down, there’s maybe like two/three main things – anger or selfishness – if you would just focus on that and begin to work on that and become an expert on how to deal with that one thing, there’s usually not a million things out there you’ve got to do. Do y’all find that to be true?

I find that – this is Peter – I find that, you know, we make many situations quite complicated. But the reality is, usually things are pretty simple. And what we usually find, I’ve seen this in a lot of research and I’ve seen it with our students, is just like you’re saying; people have, when it comes to our negative traits, we have about two to three negative traits. Let’s say a person has an anger issue, like Tod was speaking about. That’s gonna manifest everywhere in his life; it’s going to get in the way at work, it’s going to get in the way with his friends, it’s gonna get in the way on the sports field, it’s gonna get in the way at the supermarket when you’re frustrated with this person… it’s gonna rear its ugly head everywhere. So, we make things so complicated and you think I have a work problem and I have this problem and I have that problem and that problem… You don’t have a problem; you have one basic problem, which is an anger problem which manifests itself everywhere.

And then, what we find is that when people are able to get in touch and really narrow it down about one of those core issues and, like you’re saying, you can then attack one of those core issues. It’s gonna be hard, because that anger issue is probably really deep inside of you. It could be something that happened in your past that you never dealt with, it could be a dynamic that’s happening in your marriage, it could be something, some other insecurity, you don’t know. And it may take a lot of work and a lot of time and a lot of money to kind of fix it in some way, but what we have found, more than anything else, is that when people are able to fix that core issue, or at least try and knock, you know, chisel away at one of those core issues, it’s amazing how much progress happens in the marriage. It’s really unbelievable, because what happens in our home or in anything else is that the real us comes out and we spend a lot of time throughout our day self-regulating, you know, I want to say a thing to my boss but I hold back, I want to say this thing to the guy in front of me at the supermarket, I hold back, I want to give my opinion here, I hold back… all of a sudden you get home, the one place where you should step up your game the most, we drop our guard and, boom. It all comes out, especially those core issues.

Oh, it’s so true. I can hold it all in all day and then I come home, and all those defects of character seem to bolt – not all of them, the few that I have – they do come to the surface. But I remember, and this seems so in line with what I learned in early recovery when they were teaching me how to live as an adult human being in the world, inside my own skin without altering the way I feel, they would tell me to clean my side of the street. And I would say, no, no, but you don’t know what she’s doing. No, you clean your side of the street. You keep stepping across onto her side and trying to work on her, but what you really need to do is work on yourself. And it’s this great institution, the spiritual tool in relationship with her, it brings the stuff to the surface that I need to work on. And it illuminates the things in me that just bubbled to the top that I’ve held in all day. And then I come home and my wife and my kids, and there’s this, I realize I’m getting irritated, and I can ask myself today, where’s that coming from? It’s not their fault, it’s in me and I’m the only one that has the power to change that. Do y’all experience that in your work?

Absolutely. I mean, I think what you’re describing is exactly what we’re saying. And I think that, when people learn to take responsibility, and again, we’re in a society, which unfortunately, rather than moving towards more and more personal responsibility, tends to be moving more towards blaming the other for everything that’s happening to me, both on an individual level and collective level, I mean, that’s just the way the world is moving. That is not helpful in the world of marriage, which is really a function of self-control, giving, and responsibility. So, you know, I think the things that you were taught in the recovery process are, you know, that is another window in to that same, you know, body of wisdom that we’re talking about from our end.

So, in your ‘Not A Partnership’ book, you talk about these paradigm shifts, you talk about how we’ve been taught one way, but really, it’s different and you go through, I believe it’s four…

Four pillars of giving.

The four pillars of giving. Can you or would you speak on that a little bit?

Maybe, this time, let me give you a couple of paradigm shifts and then Peter, I think, can summarize the pillars of giving. The first paradigm shift Peter hit on before, which is how to define a marriage and, you know, and I think he did that very eloquently as, you know, as a place where I’m taking on making another person’s life great. I think that’s what it boils down to, I take that responsibility.

A second idea: this is what, you know, you mentioned that you’re interested in Jewish mysticism. I’ll hit you with a very, I think, really incredibly powerful idea from that world, and that is, you know, we call it ‘great marriages don’t just happen they have to be built’, and the mystical idea behind that is that everything in reality comes into reality in two separate phases. Phase number one is kind of, almost above-this-world, above-nature, kind of, miraculous level of inspiration, where something begins to form itself in this world. And then that disappears pretty quickly and is followed up by a period in which we then have to rebuild that slowly, painstakingly, to kind of reach that vision that we were given for free the first time around, but in the process, we make it real. We make it our own. I know that sounds very abstract, let me give you two examples.

One quick example is childhood versus adulthood, right? Child comes into the world, and children are so amazing and so inspirational to us. Because, you know, when a child has that feeling ‘I could be anything’ and, you know, today, the kid’s an astronaut and tomorrow, she’s a ballerina and the next day, she’s a policewoman and the next day, he’s an actor or a soldier or a doctor… And childhood is filled with that feeling of complete ‘anything is possible’. And the beauty of that is that we get a very inspirational time in life where, you know, where we really do feel life is nothing but optimism and possibility. And then that gets replaced relatively quickly over the course of a lifetime by something called adulthood where, if you don’t actually do the work and cut away all those possibilities that you could have been in order to choose one that you really can be (if you would only work towards it) then you remain a child forever. Whereas, if you actually do the work and you say “I’m in a different phase of life now, and it’s no longer fantasy, and I can do anything, but I’m going to do the hard work to become something, then I can make it real.” And that’s what adulthood is all about. It’s a painful process, but you can actually make it real. If you think about, now, our main goal here is to take that and say, how about marriage? How about loving relationships?

Well, everybody knows, and most people crave, and many people never get away from phase one of the relationship. What’s phase one? They see each other across the dance floor, you know, the music is thumping, and the, you know, the mirror ball is going, and her hair is flowing in the wind ,and he looks so handsome and debonair, and they meet, and he’s charming, and she’s funny, and he’s handsome, and she’s gorgeous, and they fall into each other’s arms. And, you know, that’s the romance phase, that intoxicating phase that people think actually is called love. And, unfortunately, that’s not love, that is that’s almost like a God-given, you know, unique, short-lived, inspirational period of time which gives us the ability to get involved with another person. But if you don’t then take it to phase two and say, okay, that is going to fade quickly, that feeling of ‘I can’t breathe when I see you’… You know, as one of one of my mentors once put it, if you can’t breathe after five years of being married to your wife, you can’t breathe when you see her, that’s an asthma problem. So the point is that, if you don’t realize early on that before all of that inspiration, you know, fades away, I’m going to now make a decision that this is the person I’m going to start investing in and this is the relationship I’m going to start working on, you’ll never get to phase two, which is actually building the relationship, building the love, investing in each other, which, if you do it properly, you actually come back to something which mirrors that initial love and inspiration, but it’s so much more real. It’s yours and you own it at that point.

I’m taking notes. Like, I’ve got a notepad, I’m like “Alright, phase two”. This is good stuff. Okay.

Yeah. Peter, do you want to… Go ahead.

So, just to launch in here to really where the, kind of, the whole latter half, about 60%, of the book goes is, you know, just to go kind of from where Tod went to this next part, is we really go into the practical world and what we say very clearly, is that the PDF manual of how a marriage functions is basically built off of one ingredient and one ingredient only, and that’s called giving. And where we invest our efforts, where we invest our time, where we invest our energy, that’s where we love someone and that’s how we actually build more love. But to go into the really practical part of it, what we do in our book is we say, okay, if this is the PDF manual of how a marriage is supposed to be great, you’ve got the paradigms clear as far as how a marriage is supposed to function, now you want to build a great marriage. And if all marriages are really built by using this manual, which is called the giving, what we do is we say, let us give you four different ways of how you can give to your marriage, and those are the four pillars of giving. So, we have four different categories that are all different ways and how to look at this beautiful idea called giving. And I’ll just give you an overview of the four.

The first one is to keep it fresh and how couples can go out, you know, go out of their way to make their marriages feel alive and feel young. We’re amazing at you know, dating, we’re amazing at new relationships, but people stop making an effort very fast and therefore that leads to a lot of frustration in that relationship, and sometimes you end up craving newness elsewhere. People don’t like things when things get older, when things get worn down, they like things when things are fresh and exciting. And there’s actually ways of how to keep that freshness and keep that excitement in your marriage. So that’s what we talked about in our first pillar.

In the second pillar, we speak about gratitude and the importance of gratitude. We’re usually great at expressing our gratitude everywhere else. But, unfortunately, what happens in the world of marriage is that we have expectations, and usually when you have expectations, there’s a huge void of gratitude unless someone surpasses the expectations by a landslide, which doesn’t happen so often.

The third one we speak about is the idea of respect, like we spoke about before. We are amazing at being respectful in all areas outside of our private life; I’m respectful to my boss, I’m respectful to the person at the store, I’m respectful to, who knows, you name it. And then what happens is that we come home, and the respect changes, and the way we treat each other, and places that we slack off… It’s real unfortunate. And therefore, we speak about the idea of how to show respect and the importance of having respect in your marriage.

And the fourth pillar, which we spoke about before, which is the idea that it all depends upon me. And therefore, let’s go back to our example, if I have an anger issue, me deciding to work on the anger issue isn’t just something that I’m doing for my own good, I’m doing it because I want to give to my wife. So, it’s more of an indirect way of giving. And these are kind of a summary of the four pillars. Basically, the whole latter half of the book goes through each pillar at length and gives lots of practical ways of how you can begin to implement these ideas into your marriage today.

Well, if people want to go a little bit deeper, they can grab that book. And I believe we’ve skimmed the surface today on what can be done in a marriage. And I see couples, day after day, week after week, just struggling and suffering, it’s true suffering. But to know that, within your marriage you have right now, you can create a beautiful thing. If you put in the work, there is hope. And I believe books like this and works like these can help us go to those deeper parts of ourselves where we do that work. And I tell people, you know, you spend a lot of time in your marriage. Why not put the work in that it takes to make sure it’s a beautiful institution that’s life giving, and not this soul-sucking, energy-draining, dread of a thing you have to come home to at the end of the day. So, with that being said, the one thing people can do today is go get your book, ‘Not A Partnership’. But also, just a quick takeaway – we’ll go to Tod and then Peter – you know, what’s one thing, just one simple thing people can begin to do today to change the direction of their relationship? If they’re finding themselves in that place of despair and hopelessness and thinking that they need to go outside of the relationship to find joy and happiness. What can they do to know that the thing they’re in can change?

Well, so, listen, I mean, the hope is that we know that people have free will to change anything. I’m going to give you one piece of advice I think everybody in a relationship, and it could be a relationship which is failing, could be relationship which is good but not great, which is unfortunately a large percentage of those marriages who, when they do stay married, it doesn’t mean the marriages are sparkling, and I think even if people have very good marriages that they’re working on, I’m going to make one suggestion that everybody can do, if not tonight, then tomorrow night or the next night, and that is, let’s plan a date night, let’s make sure that we have, you know. that we’re going to dress ourselves up a little bit, we’re going to put our phones away, we’re going to commit ourselves to an evening which is going to be special. And in that evening, we’re going to go in and we’re going to make an agreement that, in very soft and sweet terms, I’m going to ask you to tell me, what is one thing you would like me to work on on myself that would make you happier? And in return, you’re going to ask me the same question. We’re going to think about it for a couple days. We’re going to approach this, and we’re going to say, we’re the only team members on our team. It’s us against the world. We’re here to support each other, make each other happy. And I want to know what can I do? What can I change? What can I start working on now, even if it may take me a long time, that would make you a happier, more fulfilled person? And that’s a great place to start a conversation. Your date nights can go week after week after week talking about this, getting into new arenas, a new chapter every week. You know that it’s just one of those things that creates a new spark to light that fire.

That’s good.

So powerful, so good. Peter?

I would say that it’s never too late to delve into the world of marriage education. And, you know, even forget our book, there’s so many great books out there could be helpful. And we live in this world where we think that, well, if the marriage is amazing, it should just flow, and I should just be amazing at it, and it should just be dynamic, and… I don’t know where that comes from, it’s the most ridiculous idea in the world, just to think that it should just be perfect. Every other area in my life isn’t perfect, but if it was meant to be… And I would say today that, no matter what stage you are, whether you’re before, whether you’re during, whether you’re deep in it, whether you’re thinking about getting out of it, there should be a book on your bedside table which is speaking about marriage, which is giving you more skills, which is helping you understand it better. You always got to be involved with the marriage education. There should always be a book, a podcast, a seminar, a YouTube video, or something that you’re looking at to figure out more skills and how to become better at it. So, I would say my practical tip is do something this week to begin to put marriage education on the forefront of your mind.

Peter, Tod, thank you both. I’m so impressed and in awe because we have a world class athlete and doctor and we have a Pulitzer Prize nominee and an Emmy nominee, and you both have decided that what we need to work on are relationships. All the other stuff in the world, this is our focus. So, thank you for that. Thank you for putting such good things out there in the world. And thank you for spending time with us.

Thank you, sure.

Thanks for coming all the way over and for coming into our home today.

Okay, thank you so much.

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