Work hard, play hard.
It’s one of the most dangerous attitudes to adopt if you want a strong, fulfilling, and sexually active relationship. Many men try to party well into their 40’s, leaving their wife and child behind. They think their problems will disappear, and they can live the lifestyle of their 20’s.
But this only causes despair, anguish, anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
In this episode, you’ll discover an ethical way to get your girlfriend to beg to go out on date nights, dress up for you, and have lots of passionate sex. You’ll also discover the counterintuitive way your tormenting family can actually unlock a longer lasting, deeper, and stronger relationship
Show highlights include:
- How single guys rob themselves of love, respect, and a 50 year long relationship by hyper-focusing on the next thing (1:45)
- Why falling for the “one-and-done” myth repulses every woman you meet (3:42)
- How working hard and playing hard leaves you depressed, lonely, and full of anxiety (and why slowing down unlocks unconditional love) (6:10)
- An obvious coping mechanism that triggers your wife into an aggressive, nagging, and shrill person (14:53)
- Why you’ll never have a loving relationship with a woman if you continue living a “Peter Pan Lifestyle” (17:23)
- Why conventional coaching represses your inner most wants wants and desires (and leaves you miserable) (19:56)
- How to “ethically force” your girlfriend to beg to dress up for you , go out on date nights, and have lots of passionate sex (22:41)
- How you’ll slip into an unconscious pattern by moving back in with your parents (31:05)
- The counterintuitive way your tormenting family can actually unlock a longer lasting, deeper, and stronger relationship (34:24)
Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 15 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to check out my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at https://www.davidtianphd.com/masterclass/ now.
For more about David Tian, go here: https://www.davidtianphd.com/about/
Get access to all my current and future online coaching courses by applying for the Platinum Partnership program today at:
Listen to the episode on your favorite podcast platform:
Note: Scroll Below for Transcription
Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now, here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.
David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology podcast. I’m David Tian, your host.
In the last episode, we started looking into three case studies that contrast how a couple that is going through the therapeutic process versus a couple that has not been to therapy or is not going through the therapeutic process, how they would approach their relationship or their triggering events in their relationship. After over a half hour, I only got through the first case study, so this episode is going to be dedicated to looking at the next two case studies. [00:50.3]
Again, this is super important because it’ll be very difficult for you to create something as rare as a successful, loving, passionate relationship that lasts decades, if you don’t even know what it would look like, something as rare as a loving and passionate relationship that spans decades, which may account for less than 20 percent, probably less than 10 percent of current relationships that actually are successful, as I’m defining it—that is not just one that has longevity, but also passion that grows over time, and love and connection, and intimacy. It’d be a total fluke, if you were to create this by accident, without knowing what it actually looks like or knowing what you’re aiming for, so in presenting these case studies, we’re taking advantage of the principle of “begin with the end in mind.”
This is also very important because a lot of single guys who are struggling with dating are hyper-focused on just the next thing, for many of them, of getting the next date. They’re just putting all of their effort and mind, their focus, on just getting to the next date or even just getting a date, not realizing that the earliest stages of the relationship are the easiest. [02:09.2]
This is what we call the honeymoon stage, and if you just focus on the next step or the next stage, it’d be like treating a marathon like a sprint, and then gassing yourself out very quickly and then wondering why everyone’s still running. What you’re signing up for, if you want a relationship, is a 50-year journey, maybe even longer, and when you’re just focused on the very early steps, you end up making a lot of bad decisions and bad choices that will hurt you in the long run.
This principle of beginning with the end in mind is not only about keeping your eyes on the ball or setting a goal, but it’s that you really have to have the end in mind before you begin, ideally. I’ve made a recent podcast episode on how to select the right type of partner, the type of partner who would actually have what it takes to succeed in a long-term relationship. [03:05.8]
If you’re just focused on the first steps, the early steps of just meeting a woman or just getting the second date, you’re focusing on the wrong things and it will likely mean that you ignore or miss the most important things, like whether she’s mature enough for a relationship, or whether she is an ethical person or cares about moral principles or has moral principles. I refer you to that episode, Episode 61, if you want to go into more detail and more depth about what it takes to succeed in a long-term relationship.
Don’t fall for that myth, what I call the “one and done” myth, the myth being that the hard part is getting into a relationship or getting the date. That’s actually the easiest part of a relationship, getting into one. The hard part is actually growing the relationship over the long term, over the span of decades, growing it, not just in terms of just staying together, which is what the average people think is a successful relationship, but it’s the bare minimum. I’m talking about a relationship that is growing over time in terms of sexual passion and intimacy and connection. [04:15.0]
So, don’t fall for that “one and done” myth, which is that you just find one or get into one, and then you’re done growing or learning. If you do that, then the relationship will definitely fail and now you’re actually in the negative. You’re not even just neutral where you’re neutral in terms of your happiness, because it’s actually relatively easy to create the conditions for your life to be happy on your own or just to be neutral on your own.
But once you’re in a relationship, it becomes more difficult and challenging actually to create and sustain happiness over the long term, because now you have a whole other human being in the mix, and if you do it wrong, it’s going to result in you being in the negative, that relationship making your life far worse than it would’ve been, experientially, if you were just alone. But the upside is a relationship can make your life exponentially better if you do it the right way, so it’s a high-risk, high-reward experience, a loving, intimate relationship. [05:14.8]
Again, these case studies episodes are in response to a listener request. I’m mentioning this again also to point out that I do read as many of the comments as I can and respond to as many as I can, so please give any feedback you can or want to on any of the episodes. I am very glad to receive any feedback.
In the last episode, we went into detail on the case of Sarah and John, and in this episode, I’m going to be starting with the case of Kevin and Mary, but I’ll be contrasting that with someone who is a lot like Kevin and I’ll refer to him as Roy. Roy and Kevin are both career-oriented men. I’ll start with the case of Roy, who said he was open to therapy, but never got around to it and never took it seriously. [06:01.2]
Roy was not a client. He was an acquaintance of mine who sought me out for advice when our mutual friends recommended it. Roy was of the type who really lived according to the motto of work hard, play hard, and right through into his forties, he wore his working hard and playing hard. He had climbed the corporate ladder to a very prominent and senior position, especially for his age, in a Fortune 100 company and he was posted overseas with a big expat package, so he was really living it up as a single guy.
Eventually, he settled down with a young woman who, according to him, he really cared a lot about. She kept pressuring him to commit more, to be more exclusive, to get married, basically, and he kept resisting and putting it off. But he kept saying that he really loved her and he made her his exclusive girlfriend, so he wasn’t dating anyone else. He said to me and to his close friends that he was definitely in it for the long term and that he wanted to eventually marry her, and I believe that that’s what he was telling himself as well. [07:05.7]
Then they continued to date for a few years and she had moved in with him by that point, and she wasn’t working, so he was providing for her and she was a dependent on him, and Roy really enjoyed this status quo where his good-looking girlfriend lived at his place while he worked long hours during the week and then partied all weekend, and he was fine with this continuing indefinitely.
But she wanted more. She wanted to be married and she came from a relatively traditional background and community in a different country, and then she got pregnant by him and that changed everything, and Roy was convinced that she had done this just to rope him in, to force him to marry her. He gave in and did propose and made an honest woman out of her, so to speak, because she was sharing with him how shameful it would be when her family finds out and all this, and they didn’t want to abort the child. [08:00.4]
So, they ended up getting married and having a beautiful baby girl, and it was at this point that Roy sought me out for advice, because he was actually feeling really depressed, though many people from the outside couldn’t tell, because he was still very busy at work, spearheading a lot of projects. He was traveling a lot more for work. As he explained to her, this was a promotion and required for him to move forward in the company, and he would often be away for three out of four weeks, and it was at this time that he began to cheat on her.
He started to have affairs and started to visit brothels and started to really act out, and this worried him because he felt that this was almost compulsive. He felt a lot of guilt and didn’t want to continue this behavior, but the way he was describing his life, it felt like every time he was home, he was boxed in. He felt like he had been cornered by this woman into having a baby. [09:01.7]
He felt cornered and coerced into getting married, and what he really wanted was just to live that single hard-charge in life again of “work hard, play hard” and not be saddled with this burden, from his perspective, of having the baby and this wife who was getting older by the year, and all the young somethings that he was meeting when he was overseas for work were tempting him with fun and adventure, and his life back home, to him, seemed like drudgery.
He had gotten two maids to help out with the baby and with the housework at home, but his wife, though she was still taking care of herself, according to him, in terms of her body and looking good and all that, just wasn’t fun anymore and he had a lot more fun when he was overseas.
Despite everything he said about how he wanted to be a family man and commit to this marriage and all of that, his actions belied his words. He obviously had many parts of himself that still wanted to live the high-flying, hard-charging, bachelor party life. [10:10.8]
Maybe there were some parts of him that were feeling guilty and wanted to be there as a good father and maybe even a good husband, but those parts were not very strong or winning out within his internal system. In any case, he didn’t have any. There wasn’t any leadership in his internal system. He hadn’t yet discovered his true self who was able to bring that leadership, and then understanding and love to integrate all of the various parts of himself.
When Covid lockdown started in their country, they decided that it would be best if the wife took the daughter and went back to her home country where she had a much bigger family network and Roy would stay behind. As soon as their lockdowns eased and there was that window of opportunity for them to relocate the wife and kid, that’s what they did. [10:59.4]
About a year and a half or two years later, they divorced while they were in different countries, and Roy has resumed his hard-charging bachelor life ways and is dating multiple young women who he’s not planning to settle down with anytime soon. While he admits he misses his daughter terribly, he is otherwise happy and is getting on with his life. In fact, he’s gotten into the best physical shape of his life in his forties. From his perspective, everything has worked out for the better.
Now, you might have noticed that Roy is a lot like Sarah’s father, and the way that Roy has done things with his daughter would, of course, naturally lead to—not necessarily or inevitably, but would naturally lead to—abandonment issues for his daughter, just as Sarah developed, as a result of her issues with her father. Of course, if it’s not completely obvious, I’m referencing the Sarah that I described in detail in the previous episode. [12:05.0]
So, that’s Roy, and notice that, from the outside, Roy seems happy and he probably is really happy in comparison to the way he was in the situation that he was in with his ex-wife and his daughter who he hasn’t seen now in years. At this stage in life, this is the type of lifestyle that would most fulfill his needs, or rather, more accurately, the needs of the parts of him that are most dominant in his life. But from the perspective of a relationship, it’s, hopefully, obvious that their relationship did not survive and the relationship failed.
In my view, for some guys at a certain stage in their lives, it makes a lot of sense. It’s reasonable that they not be in a relationship, that they can be happier not being in a relationship, so that’s totally fine for them and I’m not judging them. I’m not holding up a guy who had a failed relationship as, in some way, inferior. [13:01.8]
Maybe at that stage in his life, he was just not equipped or ready yet to be in a relationship, and that’s totally fine, and he may never be ready to be in a relationship, and that’s fine. Of course, he’ll miss out on the higher-level joys and the unconditional love that you would find in a loving relationship, but it’s a high-risk and yet high-reward, but a high-risk endeavor. I’m describing Roy here to set up the contrast with the case study that I actually wanted to focus on, which is Kevin and Mary.
Like Roy, Kevin was a career-oriented man who dated a lot of different women, and, eventually, settled with a woman that he had fallen in love with and, by his own admission, had considered to be beautiful and had everything that he was looking for, but he was in no rush to settle down. She ended up being the one pressuring him to commit to an exclusive relationship, and over the couple of years that they were dating, he eventually did do that. [14:01.6]
Then they got married and, while they were married, it didn’t really change his lifestyle or their lifestyle that much. They were already living together and he was still going out and partying every other weekend or so, and traveling a lot for his work. Then they got pregnant and had a baby boy, and having a baby at home really put a dampener on Kevin’s go, go, go achiever lifestyle.
Like Roy, he subscribed to the “work hard, play hard” motto and Kevin really worked hard, so he was at the office very late into the evening and then he accepted a lot of work-travel assignments, and it was at this point that Mary really started to pressure him to stay at home more and to contribute more to taking care of their son. [14:51.5]
Whenever Mary would pressure him or make him feel guilty about not being there to help her with the baby, Kevin’s solution or his coping strategy was actually to withdraw, which, of course, triggered Mary even more and caused her to become more aggressive or more shrill, or more nagging, and that caused Kevin to retreat even further. His retreating would be staying at the office longer than he needed to later into the evening and then heading out earlier than he needed to, and then, by his own admission, accepting work-travel assignments that were optional.
Eventually, this dynamic of her pressuring him, him withdrawing, her attacking him, him retreating, eventually escalated into her packing things up and packing up the baby and moving back to where her parents lived very far away in a different country. Both of them were expats in this country that they were based in and neither of them had any family support, so she moved back to where her immediate family was so that she could have some support there. [15:55.2]
Kevin was then free to go back to the lifestyle that he was pining after with the baby there and with the wife turning into more of a mother, not wanting to go out, not dressing up, not being in the mood to go out on dates, and he was more absent from the home anyway, so there wasn’t any time for them to go and date.
This was already, I think, about a year and a half into their baby’s life and they still hadn’t set aside that time for just the two of them to grow that relationship, because they were stuck in this cycle of her blaming him for not being around and helping out more, and then him retreating more. She then moved out to a whole other country and then they just kept up communication through video calls where he’d see his kid, but now he’s free to go out at night and to resume the party lifestyle and also the work lifestyle that he was accustomed to before the baby came.
It was at this point that Kevin found my work. He was at this time in his mid-forties, and he was missing his son and his wife while they were away and wondering why he wasn’t having as much fun as he thought he would from resuming the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle. [17:12.0]
Kevin here differed from Roy, in that Kevin paid attention to these underlying motivations that got him into this relationship and into fatherhood in the first place, whereas Roy and a lot of guys in Roy’s situation and in Kevin’s situation just assume that they’ll be happier if they resume what made them happy a decade ago and they stay in this sort of delayed adolescence, like a kind of Peter Pan state, where they refuse to grow up and, instead, stay in this period of an earlier maturity stage.
I’m not judging men who want to continue to lead that type of lifestyle, because it’s perfectly rational, if they’ve deemed the risk of a loving, intimate relationship over the long term to be too high and the reward not worth the risk. Hey, it makes total sense to me. I have friends who have made those choices and they seem to be relatively happy into their late-fifties, but none of those men have children or were married before. [18:17.4]
Once you have a child, it seems reasonable to assume responsibility for that child, and Kevin not only had that sense of responsibility, but also was discovering that he had this more tender side, a part of him that yearned for that connection, that love and that intimacy, and instead of just choosing one or the other, because in Kevin and Roy’s case, as so far in the telling of this narrative, they were choosing the earlier situation of “work hard, play hard”, but Kevin or Roy could have chosen the other way to go fully into fatherhood and repress the parts of them that still wanted to party and have fun and live it up. [19:01.2]
Neither of those are good, because both of them, both paths would involve repressing parts of yourself or of themselves that were real, that were really there, so the therapeutic process, especially the therapeutic process that I recommend the most, which is a parts-based therapeutic process like IFS therapy, like Gestalt therapy—this is the type of therapeutic process that helps you discover, not only your true self or higher self, but also the various parts of yourself, and how to integrate them into our harmonious balance or harmonious whole, under the leadership of your higher self. I do that in my courses, through multiple courses that all work together in tandem in different areas of your life, and you can get access to all of those through the Platinum Partnership.
Kevin made the wise choice to embrace the therapeutic process, instead of the process of repression, which is how most self-help and life-coaching approach these issues of just more “figure out what your goals are and then figure out a strategy to get there, and then boom, boom, boom, just go and do it, and repress the parts of you that are resisting the goal that you have decided on.” [20:12.3]
The therapeutic process is different from that, which is to listen to, attend to, pay attention to the parts of you that are resisting, to turn to the resistance itself with love, appreciation and understanding, and trying to understand their needs and how they got to be that way and so forth.
Do you struggle in your interactions with women or in your intimate relationship? Are fear, shame, or neediness sabotaging your relationships or attractiveness? In my Platinum Partnership Program, you’ll discover how to transform your psychological issues, improve your success with women, and uncover your true self.
Get access to all my current and future online courses by applying for the Platinum Partnership today at DavidTianPhD.com/Platinum.
That’s what Kevin embraced, and as a result of going through the therapeutic process, he realized that there were parts of him that didn’t want to let go of the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle out of fear, out of fear that they won’t be enough; they won’t be significant; they won’t be significant enough in terms of achievement, but also in terms of validation of what it meant in their view to be a man.
For Kevin, he grew up with this view of being a man as requiring that you are good with the ladies. It was really hard for him to reconcile that with no longer flirting or chasing after women, but, instead, now changing diapers and being fully present with a baby that can’t talk to you and all that, fatherhood. [21:57.2]
Then Kevin worked with his company to move into a more senior position that didn’t require so much travel, and it turns out that while he was telling his wife that travel was required for him to move up in the company, it actually wasn’t and that was a lie that he was telling her as a way of getting out of being bound up in the responsibilities of fatherhood.
They were in a country where it wasn’t common to have any kind of domestic help or to have a nanny, so he then worked with his company who set him up with help. He, then, invited Mary and his son back, to come back to their home, and now with the support that he had hired, it freed up their time so that they could finally go on date nights. It turns out Mary wasn’t enjoying the fact that she couldn’t go out or dress up. She just felt like she was stuck because someone had to watch the baby and the baby, growing up at this very young age, was very demanding, and she was still breastfeeding and all kinds of other logistical issues that made it difficult for them to just hand him over to a babysitter. [23:04.6]
But now with a professional nanny coming in for a big part of the day and on the weekends, they worked together to come up with a strategy so that it would actually free up their time for the two of them to go out on dates and to rekindle the romance. With the strategies that he learned in “Rock Solid Relationships”, he was able to rekindle that passion that was there at the beginning.
More importantly, through the therapeutic process by working with his private therapist, by working through my courses in this area, not just in “Rock Solid Relationships”, but “Freedom U” and other courses in our Platinum Partnership, he was able to get to know those parts of him that were reluctant to give up the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle, and to help them let go of their burdens and to discover the more vulnerable parts that they were protecting in him.
It turns out these “work hard, play hard” achiever type of parts were also yearning for love and connection and intimacy that he would get with this connection with his son and his wife, but it was just that they felt like they couldn’t relax enough to do that. [24:09.4]
Once they let go of their burdens, they fully embraced this aim, this project of doing that, and the parts of him that were already on board and pushing for more connection, more intimacy were very happy with that, and so he had a much deeper level of integration of his parts in becoming a father and growing as a husband. Now, in his late-forties, they’re looking forward to having another child joining the family.
Contrasting Kevin and Roy’s approach to the relatively the same issue, Roy did not embrace the therapeutic process and, instead, just went with repression, repressing the parts of himself that led him into starting a family in the first place and getting married, and recoiled from that level of responsibility and intimacy, and that shift into a different lifestyle. I didn’t work extensively with Roy, so I hope that he finds happiness and peace and love with his current lifestyle. [25:05.2]
I predict, though, that the parts of him that wanted to be in a relationship and were excited to be a father to a beautiful daughter, and the parts that are feeling guilty that he hasn’t seen his daughter in years, I hope that those parts also find peace and love, and happiness and joy.
Kevin, on the other hand, embraced the therapeutic process because he discovered this split in himself, and this is very common by the way. Almost all people are going through phases in their lives, where they have parts that are in conflict or in tension that want opposing things or want different things that seem mutually exclusive—parts of you that want to keep partying and the parts of you that want to settle down, parts of you that want to embrace your vulnerability and parts of you that want to harden up and push harder towards achieving. [25:56.6]
We all have experienced this kind of angst, these wars inside of us, these battles between our parts, and without the therapeutic process, you’re going to have to end up just picking one side to the expense of the other side, and that’s the standard approach of self-help and life-coaching, what therapists would call repression.
Kevin decided not to further repress those parts of himself that were objecting to his lifestyle choices. Instead, he turned to them and listened to them, eventually, developed a relationship with them enough that he could help them let go of those burdens that they had been caring for decades. Once they let go of those burdens, they naturally shifted and transformed, and they became more harmoniously integrated into one whole.
The third and final case study that I want to share is Alan, who is Malaysian and living in Australia where he met an Australian woman. She was also from an Asian background. She was racially Asian, but her parents were very Australian. I think she was a third-generation Australian and she was raised basically like an Australian with Australian values, very white, and she had spent very little time in Asia. [27:09.0]
In any case, they really got on and they went through a kind of whirlwind romance in Melbourne, and then they got married. Alan’s wife, Laura, met Alan’s very conservative, traditional Malaysian, Chinese-Malaysian family at the wedding and a few times leading up to that, but since they lived in Australia, there wasn’t that much contact. Australia is pretty isolated from the rest of the world in terms of even just flying there, right? They had some hi-bye kind of Skype conversations, but that was about it, and then they met at the wedding. I think they had about a one-week overlap or something where they actually met in person. Then, beyond that, there was relatively little contact.
Then there was Covid, and when the Covid lockdowns happened, Alan and Laura’s relationship, according to Alan, actually picked up and they ended up spending even more time together. They enjoyed ordering takeout and the whole deal, just sort of hunkering down at home and working from home. They enjoyed that and actually was, for that, just the two of them in their condo apartment, not so bad. [28:11.2]
But then once Covid ended, Alan missed home and he brought Laura back to Malaysia and they stayed for almost a month with Alan’s family in Malaysia, and Alan had a lot of extended family as well, not just as immediate family, all living there in KL. Then this is when they started to have a lot of problems.
Alan had taken my online course, “Rock Solid Relationships”, and when he and Laura started to get into much bigger fights while in Malaysia, he reached out to my support team for extra help. As we worked together, I discovered that Alan, when he first moved to Australia, it was a big deal within his family. His mother cried and acted as if he was an unfilial son, like he was abandoning the home in some way. [28:57.0]
They were very traditional. They were not an international family. They, for many generations, were in the same area in Malaysia, and Alan, still single, relatively young, according to his family, moving away to Australia, it was like a slap in their face. It was like saying, You did not provide for me well enough in my family home, so I’m going to abandon it and go to a faraway country to restart my life.
They had mellowed out as a result of Kevin’s career success since then, but also of just time, the years that had passed, and for the first time since then, Alan moved back for an extended period, almost a month, with his new bride who was basically like a foreigner. She was an anglicized Asian. Racially, she was ethnic Chinese, but she didn’t identify with any of those Asian cultures and didn’t spend much time in Asia.
That was something that, having grown up in Australia, she was quite sensitive about, because she felt all the way through her childhood and as an adult that she wasn’t Asian enough for Asian people. Then, in Australia, she had to deal with the otherness of being somebody other than the dominant white culture. [30:05.2]
She was telling Alan that she was getting lots of judgmental looks and snide comments, and treatment of kind of contempt, and Alan was saying that she was just being too sensitive and she was reading into things, so she didn’t feel understood or supported by Alan.
Then, as I got to know more of the situation, it turns out that Alan had been slipping into the old patterns with his parents and family where they were basically controlling, controlling him, now controlling the two of them, their schedule, what they could wear, where they could go, what they would do, what time they would be at dinner, and all kinds of things where Alan was easily moving back into patterns of his childhood and not realizing it, but then this situation being very hard for Laura to adapt to and feeling like she was an outsider, feeling like she wasn’t supported and feeling like Alan was choosing his family over her. [30:59.8]
This is a common situation for Asian couples. There are tensions with the in-laws. Especially, whenever you move back in with the family or are spending extended time with your family, you have these unconscious patterns that you’re not even aware of that infantilize you, make you seem more immature and have you move into more immature stages of your life, where you are enmeshed with your family and have your boundaries violated and not even knowing it—and then having that now go onto your partner because now you’re expecting your partner to get with the program that you are in, and, of course, your partner now coming as an outsider, seeing it from the outside, feeling the tension that you accepted or dealt with as a child, but are now unconscious of.
For all Asian couples that want to experience the freedom of passion and intimacy, which will be, generally speaking, traditional Asian families are very sexually repressed, so a lot of that sexual repression gets played out in terms of control in all kinds of ways and many different facets of life, not just sexual and not just obviously the sexual ones. [32:06.5]
This is something that every Asian person, if you want to have a passionate, loving relationship, while still keeping in touch, in close contact with your family, especially if they’re traditional or conservative, you really need to go through the therapeutic process to address the underlying childhood issues. Otherwise, if you don’t have that ability to individuate from your family of origin, especially of your parent figures, then you can expect to have those burdens that you may not even be aware of and those toxic patterns forced onto your partner, who is going to rebel, naturally, at the beginning, especially.
In very traditional societies and even just 100 years ago, it was common for the partner, the spouse who was not with the family, the outsider spouse, to just give in, over time, and conform, and have the same burdens that his or her spouse dealt with thrusted onto them, so they have further burdens from a whole other family of origin, and then having to develop coping strategies and coping mechanisms to deal with a whole new set of traumas. [33:14.7]
Luckily, in modern society, it’s more socially accepted to get therapeutic support to help you individuate, to separate from your family of origin, and good therapy will definitely be having you focus on your family of origin issues and exploring these burdens from your childhood, and that’s exactly what Alan embraced.
When they got back to Australia, the residual fights, the residual resentment, with all of these issues and conflicts and tensions that were not resolved while they were in Malaysia, now simmering in Australia, because the external pressures weren’t there from the family because the family literally physically wasn’t there, but they had not resolved these issues, so there was now this underlying resentment. [33:59.3]
Luckily, they were able to get individual therapy and then couples therapy, where they were able to bring to light and bring to the fore, these issues that were hidden in their unconscious from their childhood and discover the parts of themselves that they had thought were no longer there that had come up as a result of revisiting, for Alan, his childhood home in Malaysia, in the whole situation that had relatively stayed static and not changed much.
In this way, it was like a blessing. In this way, his family was also his tor-mentor. They tormented him, but as a result, they mentored him into discovering, to allow him the conditions to discover those parts of himself that he thought had died off, but that were still very much alive, but exiled and in pain, and they retriggered them for him.
The beautiful thing was then that gave him the work. That gave him the stuff to work with in the therapeutic sessions. One thing to take away that I’ve mentioned in previous episodes is this tor-mentor idea of, when you are triggered, this is a great opportunity to discover those parts of yourself whose needs are not being met and why their needs are not being met, and then discovering how they first got to be this way. In other words, going back into those childhood origin events of creating or activating these parts of yourself. [35:15.7]
Alan and Laura embraced this process, and as a result, they deepened their own understanding of themselves and their own inner integration, and then, as a result of that, deepened their relationship even further. This is in contrast to almost all other couples who don’t embrace the therapeutic process when it comes to the pressures that their family sets onto them as a couple, and the partner, the outsider partner, feeling left out, judged in all of this, and the insider spouse, just siding with his family and saying, “Why can’t you be more supportive of my family?” or “That’s my brother. How could you fight with him?” or “That’s my sister. How could you fight with her?” or “That’s my mother. How dare you disrespect her?” [35:58.3]
Because the insider spouse has not done his or her therapeutic work, he or she is blind to the underlying cycles, toxic cycles and patterns, that are now getting reactivated as a result of being back there in that family of origin. Without the therapeutic process, that person is going to be powerless and just naturally fall into these toxic patterns with the family of origin again. Luckily, Alan and Laura understood the bigger issues and embraced the therapeutic process and, as a result, deepened their relationship with themselves and with each other.
Okay, so that’s the third case study. In this episode, I shared the career-oriented man case study of Kevin versus Roy, and this third case study here of Alan from Malaysia in Australia and having to deal with his tricky sticky family situation, and how the therapeutic process made all the difference for their marriages. [36:56.8]
It’s really important that you see how crucial the therapeutic process is to a successful, long-term relationship. Without it, it’s almost impossible. It would be a total fluke, in the modern times, modern world, where it’s relatively easy to separate or divorce, to actually stay together, because, definitely, you will get triggered. That’s part of what happens in intimacy. The parts of yourself that are the most vulnerable are going to eventually come out and crave this intimacy, and if you haven’t been through the therapeutic process, it’s very hard to believe that you’ll be able to meet the needs of your most vulnerable parts.
Without the therapeutic process, you could go through a period of years where you fight with each other every day and it’s a constant battle. Every time you come home, it’s just this extra layer of agitation, and, eventually, that keeps blowing up bigger and bigger, until it is very volatile and you just want to escape as it happened in some of these case studies that I shared.
With Roy, you could end up losing half your assets, and now having to pay alimony and child support to people that are way across the other side of the world, and you get nothing out of it except you now have to pay for it, and you have now a broken family. [38:08.2]
If you don’t want that, if you don’t want to start a broken family and owe half your assets to someone you’ll barely see and have to pay child support to a child that you have no relationship with, if you want to avoid that, then embrace the therapeutic process and take to heart the principle of begin with the ended mind.
Now, when it was Alan in Malaysia, when he wrote to us, he first thought that he had chosen the wrong person, and, luckily, he didn’t just cut the parachute and hope for or try to find a backup parachute as many people will. They just think, Oh, I got the wrong spouse. I’m just going to end this relationship, get a divorce, and then find the right person.
It’s true that relationship success is 80 or 90 percent due to whether you’ve chosen the right partner, in terms of their maturity and their ethics, and their sense of responsibility and loyalty, and so forth. But if you’re already deep into a relationship, it’s probably worth your while to figure out how you got into that relationship in the first place, before you just cut the cord. [39:08.7]
There was something or a lot of things that attracted you to that person in the first place that led you to want a long-term relationship, to commit to this person, and until you understand those parts of yourself that wanted that fully, you’re very likely just going to repeat that pattern.
Luckily, Alan didn’t just jump ship. He stuck it out to discover what it was that was really at root, the root of the issues, and as a result, ended up discovering more about himself and discovering parts of himself he didn’t even know, discovering a lot of what made him the way he is now, and then deepening that relationship with his wife, who also underwent her own therapeutic journey as a result of going through that hard time in Malaysia with Alan. For both of them, it was a great growing experience, though they didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but as a result, it activated a whole other level of understanding of themselves and deepened their relationship. [40:06.0]
Okay, thanks so much for your comments. Again, this and the previous episode were inspired by a comment from a listener, so please let me know what you think of this episode, and if this benefited you in any way, please share it with anyone that you think would benefit from it.
Thanks so much for listening. I really appreciate it and all of your feedback. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. David Tian, signing out.
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