As the world continues to move, so are people’s perceptions of relationships. We can see how each generation differs in the way they approach and think about relationships, navigating through them amidst the changes happening. But is there a way through these generational differences and celebrate them instead to withstand the changes? In this episode, Whitney Lauritsen sits down with Drs. Michael and Barbara Grossman to dive deep into lasting relationships. They dive deep into the challenges we face today, from fear of disconnection and body changes to the pressures we put on others to be the way they are. On a lighter note, Drs. Michael and Barbara give hope by sharing the three secrets to falling in love forever and how living a long life impacts relationships. They also discuss coming together on the issues that separate couples, how to know whether to stay in a relationship and do the work or end it, and the impact of personal development on our relationships. This is one full episode on discovering what it takes to keep our relationships against the changes happening around us. You won’t want to miss it!
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Coming Together: How Living A Long Life Impacts Relationships With Drs. Michael And Barbara Grossman
I’m here with Dr. Michael and Dr. Barbara. Dr. Grossman, both of you. I always love the conversations I have with guests like you before the show begins. One thing that came up in that conversation was my curiosity about whether or not there are any couples who don’t need professional support or outside mediation or guidance to work on their relationships, which is the topic of this episode.
I would love to start off with this question. Are there ever people that the two of you come across who seem to have it all figured out in their relationships, or even if they don’t have it figured out, do they have enough tools in order to figure it out themselves? Is there anyone who doesn’t need outside support?
This is an interesting generation that is current and wants a lot in life in all areas. It might have been some time ago when being married and having children was mostly about taking care of everyone and surviving. Personal development wasn’t so central to our desires. In this generation’s present, there’s a desire for not only true law but continuous personal transformation, creativity, and self-expression. For that, most of us need some assistance, encouragement, support, and in actual training.
That is interesting because it certainly seems like each generation has different approaches to it. I would love to know what you observe from different generations. What are the nuances in which they approach relationships or intimacy? In my perception, it seems like a lot of the younger generations, Gen Z, for example, grew up or spent their lives as they’re maturing. This can be said about Millennials as well as having access to online dating in a way that older generations didn’t.
I remember watching online dating develop. When I was a lot younger, I would see that as embarrassing like, “You’re going on Match.com or whatever platform.” Now it’s very commonplace and so common that it seems most of the younger generations are using dating apps, so it’s no longer taboo. I’m curious about what you observe about how relationships develop and how people approach relationships differently depending on their generation.
I’m not sure I know what the impact of dating platforms is. I do know that in recent generations, there’s been a challenge to male and female roles. Since we’re able to define ourselves in any way that suits us, there’s a lot more to learning about a person and negotiating a relationship, adjusting, and finding how a partnership can work. There’s a lot more thoughtfulness and conversation about it isn’t so relationship isn’t as predictable as it may have been in former years.
It was only in World War II that women began to work in the United States. It was not common prior to that but now, it’s uncommon to have women not working. To stay home with the kids is the exception. Now you stay home for a few months, but then you go back to work. For a husband and wife relationship, you have to work at defining the roles now and making them work for each other.
The complexity is if you define the roles that says, “You take the garbage out Monday. I’ll take it out on Tuesday. You do this half the time. I’ll do this half the time.” That does not work for a romantic relationship. You will lose the passion. You have to have differences that you appreciate what the other person does and thank them for what they do.
You have to create some amount of mystery and adventure in your relationship. If all two people are accountants or lawyers together and everything is worked out like that, you lose the passion and then you end up having an affair. You’ve got to keep the passion there and it’s much harder to do that now. A lot of what we do is counsel couples on how to maintain that passion.You have to get mystery and adventure in your relationship. Click To Tweet
That’s interesting because I haven’t thought about it like that. Let me know if I’m understanding this correctly. It sounds like if you define roles too much, that’s where you lose the passion and the mystery. We’re also in this time where it seems like the boundaries can be crossed differently. For instance, you brought up a woman who might not work, so she stays at home with the children.
Now, she might work, the husband might not work, or her partner might not work. The roles can be, in the traditional sense, reversed, but they also might fluctuate because the partners might go in and out of different jobs and positions, so the roles might constantly be shifting. Does that create more mystery and passion if that’s the case? Are you saying that if there’s too much rigidity?
The roles can be rigid as long as they enjoy what you do, and then you thank and appreciate them for what they do. They don’t have to change. If you have a magnet, the positive and negative attracts, but if you put two negatives together, they repel each other. In your own relationship, one of the things we talk about in our book, Ageless Love, we talk about what makes the world go around is electrons going in an orbit. What creates molecules? Every molecule in the entire universe occurs because, in the outer shell, there are two electrons that fit together. Electrons are all negative, but if they have different spins, they can stay in the same orbit.
The different spins are what make the whole universe go ahead. That’s what makes every molecule in the world. It is because the spins are different and molecules share electrons in this outer orbit and/or they are pulled together. It’s still that positive and negative spins are what we do in romantic relationships. We’re both human beings, but we have differences. When we accentuate the differences, that creates the possibility of creating all kinds of things. Every relationship now has to create those differences. Whatever those differences are, you create them, but you have to figure out what they are. That takes a little bit of work.
It seems like it can be very common for relationships to fall into a rhythm where there the differences are not as evident or they’re not changing as much if I’m understanding this right. Somebody maybe gets into too much of a routine and that impacts the mystery and the passion. Is that what you mean by differences?
Not exactly if the differences don’t give you fulfillment. If you love the fact that your husband is the one who fixes everything in the house, which is what I do. I fix and repair everything. Barbara is the one who cleans up and gets everything neat. As long as we celebrate and enjoy that, we feel this attraction. If you feel that one or the other is doing something that you don’t like in that way, then that becomes a problem.
You can be doing the same thing for 30 years if you love it and appreciate your partner doing it. If they know that you appreciate them, then you’re fine. You don’t have to keep changing things. You do have to keep appreciating your partner and they have to keep appreciating you for what you’re doing. Maybe, at a certain time, things change. We talk about the changes that occur in relationships. We’ve been married for decades and it doesn’t stay the same.
Michael is trying to say that you don’t want to take each other for granted. Do what you do and become buddies because the passion goes away. It’s humdrum and in other things and other people, you become more interesting. Michael fixes things. He fixed something for me and it’s a mystery how he does it. I’m so excited because I’m absolutely helpless in that arena. I appreciate it so much. A lot of what we do for each other comes out of request.
I asked Michael a few years ago to learn ballroom dancing with me and we’ve been dancing ever since. Now we’re competitive dancers and it lights my life up. It makes me so happy. There are a lot of dimensions in which we respond to each other’s needs or we define ourselves in certain ways that we are grateful for. It brings energy to our lives and it pushes us to grow because we’re not operating in our own lane. We’re actually receiving stimulus from our partner to learn and grow in certain ways that wouldn’t have been organic.
I love that last part of that stimulus side of things and growing. This is something else we talked about before we started recording, which was how relationships can help you grow as a person. I also want to point out how you’re emphasizing gratitude and appreciation. Not necessarily encouraging people to change and keep things “exciting” all the time, but acknowledging the differences that you organically have, showing that appreciation verbally, giving that affirmation to each other, and noticing those things.
That’s interesting because when it comes to growth, a lot of people feel like growth means you always have to change. Meaning they’re always striving for more. People want to be different or maybe they’re seeking so much difference and change that leads them to someone outside the relationship, as Dr. Michael pointed out and perhaps an affair. Do you think that the personal development world is helpful and encouraging people to change so much or could that potentially be harmful because people are always seeking something different?
Personal development is more internal self-reflection. Life creates our change. We’re not the same in our 30s as we were in our 20s. There’s an evolution over time. It has to do with very basic biological reasons. When we have children, our roles change. One of us becomes more involved with children and less vocationally oriented. That has a tremendous effect on the personality. It means that we’re more sensitive to children, to people, and to people’s needs.
We’re not so much intellectual looking for goals that are less personal. There was a variation in the relationship when we were young and together and we were both on the same pattern of developing ourselves. The person who’s doing the childbearing takes a step back and isn’t so focused on her personal growth. It’s usually the woman, but sometimes it’s the man.
There’s that to contend with. Later on, as the children get older and not needing so much parental micro attention, what happens to the childbearing partner is they catch up with their personal needs. Oftentimes, it’s not so pleasant because the childbearing parent has been suppressing their personal needs in favor of other people’s needs, so it’s an explosion in a relationship. It’s very easy to misunderstand that.
To make that means that the other partner or life is suppressing them. That has to be worked out in a total rebalancing and revamping of the relationship has to occur. We don’t have to look for change. Life presents us with change, and we simply need the skills in order to navigate those conversations because how we conduct ourselves holds our future. If we’re angry, resentful, and defensive, it’s not going to fare well for the relationship.We don't have to look for change; life presents us with change. Click To Tweet
That’s interesting too because, despite what I said earlier about a lot of people craving change in something new, there also be some fear of change in a relationship. Some people want to stay the same, and if they change biologically, as you mentioned, Dr. Barbara, there’s a fear of getting older, for example.
Their appearance is going to change and they’re afraid that that’s going to impact the relationship. Is that something that you see come up in your work? If somebody is feeling those fears of changing as a human being, maybe they’re afraid they’re going to outgrow the relationship or their natural changes are going to be unpleasant for their partner. How does somebody work through those emotions?
I don’t hear so much fear about aging and there are answers to that. Michael can talk about the interventions that longevity medicine can provide for people to age gracefully. What I hear mostly is people’s fear of disconnection because that’s what happens in relationships over time. It’s an art to learn how to keep the connection between how you speak and how you behave.
One of the things that we talk about in our classes and courses is that there are three secrets to fall in love forever. Secret number one is seeing the big picture of what happens over a lifetime that is more or less inevitable. You move between feeling close to the things and the people you love to feeling more separate and distant from the people that are in your life. That’s something that happens inevitably.
It’s not like you have control over that. When you’re a newborn baby, you suck on the mother’s breath. It’s just you and the breast. You’re totally there. Get to be two, you’re feeling separate. If you’re in the terrible twos, you want it your way. Your mother is not cooperative anymore and you’re feeling like, “Mother is not like she used to be.” It’s you who’s changed and then you get to be 5, 7, and 8. You love being part of the family. It’s great to be brothers, sisters, and parents to everybody.
You’re close to the things you love. You get to be a teenager, you’re feeling separated from your parents again. You want things your way and it’s a difficult time. That keeps happening. If you get to be 20-something, you have a relationship. You may be married, may have children, and love being part of the family again. If you get to be 35 and 40, all of a sudden, you’ve changed. You’ve had enough of the family.
You want your own personal desires, values, and careers to come out. It may be slightly different timing for the man and woman, but it’s going to happen. You then go into another realm which is possible and everybody gets there where you once again feel close to the things you love. If you’re a grandparent, you love feeling it. Your career is not so critical, so you love being part of the family again. This is secret number one.
Secret number two is as you’re going through these changes, you need to be able to listen to your partner without interrupting. Your partner has a different way of saying the world than you do. It’s not right or wrong unless you have a skill where you know how to listen. It’s a skill like ice skating. You’re not born knowing how to do it. We teach that skill to people.
Secret number three is don’t expect your partner to automatically, intuitively know what you want because whatever you were ten years ago is so different now. You have to make requests of your partner nicely. We teach them how to make nice requests. There are two sets of skills and one set of seeing the big picture. That’s one of the things that we teach in our courses.
That sounds so valuable. It brings me back to my very first question about how common it is for people to feel set up with this type of knowledge. It seems to me a lot of people can use this information because people struggle with this outside of their relationships. Communication challenges happen all the time. It feels a lot of people don’t know how to listen. That one in itself sounds interesting to me.
It was not a problem 100 years ago. One hundred years ago, when you were 40 years old, you were probably dead. You didn’t go through all these changes. Two hundred years ago, 35 or 40, you’re not alive anymore, so it was not a problem. Now you live to your 80, you’ve got a lot of stuff going on that you have to deal with.
That is very true. I haven’t thought about it that way. I’m curious, Dr. Michael, with your interest and knowledge in longevity, knowing how to stay youthful seems very important in a relationship too. As Dr. Barbara was pointing out, maybe somebody fearing aging, like how their body is changing, but it’s also about living a longer life and how that impacts your relationships.
That’s a great point. If you were alive 200 years ago and you’re going to be dead when you’re 40, you never have to worry about menopause or hormones because you’re dead. Now you have 40 more years to worry about that. If you have no libido, your brain doesn’t work anymore, your moods don’t work, you don’t sleep good, you’re irritable and angry, then you have 40 years of being miserable. It doesn’t matter how much you love your husband. You’re still miserable about how much you love your wife. You are a tired old man. That’s all reversible. I take care of that. That’s an easy fix. It’s so easy to do that with natural bioidentical hormones. All that stuff is gone.
I’d love to hear more about that because even people in their 20s and 30s seem to be struggling with their hormones and bodily functions feeling things like anxiety and depression. That must have an impact even in youthful relationships.
That’s a different problem. That’s not an aging menopausal problem. There are certain, particularly women, who have hormonal imbalances when they’re younger and we can help that natural hormone. Pretty much 90% of women who go into menopause between 45 and 55 feel terrible. It’s all hormonal and it’s a very easy fix.
What are some of the ways in which a woman can work on her hormones to keep herself feeling balanced emotionally?
There are all things you can do. When you go into menopause, you’re not menstruating, not sleeping, irritable, moody, tired, no libido, and your brain doesn’t work like it used to, the easy fix is natural bioidentical hormone replacement by creams, little injections, or pellets under the skin. It’s traumatic, but it works 99% of the time.
People feel great and it’s such an easy thing. We find that the results are consistent and repeatable. It works all the time. Compared to people who do nothing in terms of hormone replacement, you live longer and healthier if you take these bioidentical hormones. In terms of living longer and healthier, we should mention that we talk a lot about it in our book, Ageless Love, that the most important factor in longevity after age 50 is the quality of your personal relationships.The most important factor in longevity is the quality of your personal relationships. Click To Tweet
You’ve got to have good personal relationships. To maintain good personal relationships, it helps to have these hormones. It makes you feel youthful and much easier to have relationships. Being sexually active seems to promote longevity. People who have sex twice a week or more live long and healthy than people who have sex once a month or less. Having sexual intimacy as you grow older is very important for health and longevity.
Is that true for both men and women?
You mentioned some of the things for women and what they can do as they’re aging. What about men? What is beneficial for them?
The main thing we do for men would be testosterone replacement by injections or little pellets under the skin. It changes their life. For men, it’s not as quick in terms of going into menopause. The andropause for men is much slower. It occurs very slowly over a period of years. When men are 50, he feels not as good as when he’s 40. When he’s 60, he’s not as good as when he’s 50. We find that that’s a big factor for men. Fifty percent of men at the age of 50 have some amount of erectile dysfunction. Seventy percent of men, when they’re 70, have erectile dysfunction, and it keeps getting worse and worse.
To be sexually active and have an intimate relationship, we have all interventions. I do a lot of gains wave, which is a vibrational treatment. I do a lot of injections of platelets and growth factors, which dramatically change men’s erectile dysfunction. For men, they have their own issues, but clearly, they feel so much better. Not only does it help men sexually function, but we give them testosterone to help their brain, mood, enthusiasm, and muscles and they feel youthful once again.
Dr. Michael, one thing you are passionate about is meditation. I’m curious about what role that plays in longevity and your relationships. How does that improve someone’s quality of life?
Meditation is a foundational process that allows you to dissolve stress. In life nowadays, there’s so much stress going on compared to 150 years ago. People didn’t have so many clocks and watches. There were no cell phones. There was no urgency. When you travel to other parts of the world, it is such a different thing.Meditation is a foundational process that allows you to dissolve stress. Click To Tweet
When it’s a third-world country, everything is relaxed, people are calm, and there’s no hurrying. That’s not a first-world country. That’s not America. People are stressed out. When you’re stressed out, your physiology changes. When stress increases, your immune system and your ability to digest food go down, and your blood pressure goes up. We can compare it to if you’re running away from a tiger and you have to jump into a tree to try to survive.
Your body shuts down the immune system, the digestive system, and higher thinking. It puts all the blood into the part of the brain that controls movement. When you’re under stress continually, that’s what happens. You shut down all those things. Meditation reverses all that. Meditation calms you down. People feel happy, relaxed, and refreshed, and then you can be loving.
You can’t be loving when the tiger is running after you. You’re surviving. Meditation is really critical for people. I love teaching meditation. I teach classes twice a week. Thursday night at 7:30 Pacific Time and Sunday at 12:30 afternoon Pacific Time. People love meditation. It’s easy and simple and the results are very profound in terms of benefits.
You mentioned you do that for free.
Right now, I’m doing it for free in the classes. They can go to DrMichaelMeditationSecrets.com. That’s the fun thing. I do that and I enjoy doing it. I’ve been teaching it for many years. It’s fun.
Thank you for your generosity and for offering that for free because sometimes finances are a barrier for somebody trying something new or doing it consistently. Dr. Barbara, do you practice meditation as well? Is this something that the two of you do together?
Meditation is a more individual-focused commitment. I’m an Intermittent Meditator. My spirituality is anchored in other ways. I have a background in Theology, so I’m a spiritually oriented person. My version of connecting with myself is ballroom dancing. We’re talking about longevity. I’m happy to say I’m 71 years old in 2022. I came in second in a world competition in the senior division. It’s a very dynamic exercise and it’s a beautiful expression of art. I’m happy to be an example of living longer and elegantly.
I’ll mention that Dr. Barbara and I go to the spiritual retreat very often and we enjoy that a lot.
I’d love to hear more about how ballroom dancing has impacted your lives. I love that you brought that up as a segue from meditation because, certainly, there are different forms of meditation. You said personal practices and getting in touch with yourself. Dancing is such a majestic form of self-expression and getting in tune with yourself. Dr. Barbara, what is it about ballroom dancing that has impacted you, and also, how has it impacted your relationship?
First of all, it is a wonderful thing to be 71 and have a strong body, able to control my body, and have it not only have stamina but be able to express myself in a beautiful form to the most beautiful music in the world. Dancing is a perfect example of partnership because you have to work together, but you’re not doing the same things. Michael can describe it from his point of view because he’s the man and he leads.
As a woman, I follow. Following is a misrepresentation of what’s involved because while I have to be strong, my body has to be able to move in the direction that Michael leads. Michael’s ability to take long steps is determined by my ability to stretch back. We are in partnership. We can’t go any farther and we can’t be any more beautiful than how we work together. It’s not like one person is in charge. We’re both contributing to the partnership.
It’s a learning experience. We have to give each other feedback all the time about how our bodies are arched and properly expanded. We have to constantly be in communication in a nice way so that our movement is as beautiful as possible. When we have classes in person, we take our students to the ballroom for an experience of ballroom dancing. We have our coach give a class so that couples get the idea of what lead and follow is and partnering together to make it a beautiful expression of being together.
It’s actually a metaphor for what you do in a romantic partnership. You don’t do the same thing, but you work together intimately. The man has certain responsibilities, timing, and direction. The woman is responsible for taking the big steps and following and then extending whatever the man is doing and extending it and looking like the flower. That’s her responsibility. We each have different responsibilities, but we have to work together and allow each other to be able to express ourselves fully. It’s a peculiar balance between boundaries and the qualities of intimacy, both of those things at the same time, which is what you do in a romantic partnership.
That’s such a beautiful metaphor. I also love the points that you made about strength, stamina, and self-expression. It is painting this beautiful picture of dancing, exercise, or creativity and the benefits that it can have or the ripple effects it has on life. You’re also pointing out a few things about masculine and feminine roles in dancing and how that might apply in bigger pictures, like our relationships.
I’m curious about your viewpoints on masculinity and femininity. We talked about generational changes and there’s been a lot of shifts in the way that people perceive what it means to be masculine and feminine. What are some of your thoughts on those shifts that we’ve taken as a society in our culture?
It’s complicated. One of the things we talked about in our book, Ageless Love, which is worthwhile to think about, is the human brain. Every animal, down to worms, has a divided brain. Half the brain is focused on details and half the brain sees the big picture. Why is that? Why is every animal like that? Why not just have one brain? The answer is that you need to spend half of your attention deciding this is a seed or a rock if you’re a bird.
The other half of your attention is spent on an eagle that’s going to eat me or a cloud in the sky that I can ignore. You have to see the big picture of what’s happening. Half the brain, you don’t know what’s coming. You’re looking out. When you’re driving a car, you can’t focus on any one thing. You have to see the whole big picture. If you’re focusing on lights and the plate in front of you, you’re going to crash.
Half your brain sees the big picture and half of the brain focus on the details. In our current society, we’re very busy focusing on details. Everyone has a computer in their hand. Nobody sees the big picture. Who’s looking at the big picture? Not too many people. Meditation helps you to see the big picture. Being in an intimate relationship forces you to see the big picture because you can’t localize your husband or wife.Being in a relationship forces you to see the big picture. Click To Tweet
If you do, it’s a big problem. You have to let them be who they are. We talk about that. In this world, we need to focus on the right brain, which sees the big picture, but you have to do that more and more. Now, that is generally more feminine. The masculine is seeing the little thing and looking at the details. It’s not an exact thing.
Men and women both have right and left brains, but most people now, men and women, are stuck in their left brain seeing the little picture and looking at the little things. We need to see the big picture. We teach in many different forms how to see the big picture. Let your feminine self come out, see the big picture, and let spirituality be there. If you meditate and you do ballroom dancing, you’re learning to see the big picture.
I love the way you’re describing that because it does seem like a big struggle for people. They can get so focused on, let’s say, what’s happening in the news right now. They’re absorbed in the details of what someone else is going through because they saw it on their phone or the television, and then they forget the bigger picture of what’s happening throughout the world or what’s more important than that.
Yes. It’s a huge problem. To see the big picture, it used to be natural. Two hundred years ago, everyone was in the big picture kind of a thing or a lot more of the big picture because that was the nature of life. Now the details have taken over. That’s a big pinch and it impacts our lives in so many ways. You’ve got to have that balance. Right now, the balance has to move back to see the big picture.
Dr. Barbara, you expressed a passion for growth and personal development. I share that in common with you. I love learning about shifts and what I can do at noticing what other people are doing in their dynamics. You also mentioned that relationships can push people to grow. I’d love to hear more about that. How maybe a relationship can help you see the big picture, as Dr. Michael pointed out, or help you notice strengths or weaknesses. What are some more specific ways in which relationships are supporting people in their individual growth?
Let me focus on one particular timeframe and challenge for a couple. In most relationships, at some point, the man is tasked with the responsibility of making more of the money because the woman is childbearing. As a consequence, the man is focused on thinking, strategy, and the bottom line. The woman is focused on caretaking, nurturing, and supporting. You have a man who’s in his head and you have a woman who’s mostly in her heart.
The challenge for human life over time is to integrate both the head and the heart. Many couples get into the challenge of hearing each other because head language and heart language are different languages. If a couple can get through that pressure cooker and integrate both feelings and thinking into each of their systems, be able to experience it, and express it there on the home stretch, it’s very hard to get through that because each partner thinks they’re absolutely right and self-righteous.
It’s a challenge for couples. Our culture doesn’t have explicit wisdom about that, especially in terms of media. It’s mostly head or heart. It’s complicated. Each couple has to navigate that transition and that integration on their own. What part of what we offer is how to share those different parts of self and integrate them because it’s so important for the future development and satisfaction of the couple.
One thing that sticks out on that topic is the self-righteous side of things. I find myself feeling humbled by that because I have a tendency to get a little self-righteous because I spend so much time working on personal development, studying psychology, and communication. I’m very interested in improving and fixing things. Sometimes I feel frustrated when I’m in a dynamic, whether romantically or friendship, family, or with someone else who seems they’re not as committed to personal development.
I have to check myself because I might believe there’s a right way to communicate or a better way to do things. I struggle in those moments of thinking I want to practice these tools, but this person isn’t on the same page or they have a different perspective. How do you navigate through moments where you feel you’ve learned so much and want to apply it, but that person might not have learned the same things and there’s a conflict there?
I think the art of learning how to share personally and not putting pressure on someone to be the way you are. It’s the challenge to oneself to share in a way that’s effective. Most debates don’t work. The more developed you are, the more you can be influential. It may take sharing more of self than ideas for some people. You have to learn how to be effective in the moment. The more flexible you are in presenting yourself, the more impact you’ll have on others.
I would add that the way you share and the deep quality of sharing are different when you have a romantic relationship than you have other relationships. In other relationships, it depends. If you’re having a parent-child thing, it’s very different. If you’re having a thing with a friend, it could be very different.
Now, some friends you can share very intimately and some friends not, but in a romantic relationship, there are differences there. It’s very important to have both of you have the skills to be able to share, listen to each other, and absorb this other worldview that’s so different than yours. Yet you are willing to listen and understand that it’s not right or wrong. This is how you see it and how I experience it. We’ll sit with that difference.
We’re not going to insist that we both have to see things exactly the same way. Some things you may have to compromise on, and that comes out of the sharing. It’s most important to accept that each has a different way of seeing the world. For instance, when I share with Barbara, sometimes she’ll say, “I like the way you see that. I’m going to look at it that way.” That happens.
A lot of times, what will happen is that we say, “I’m surprised that you saw it that way. I don’t see it that way, but I could hear that’s the way you see it.” It allows us then, out of that, to make requests of each other so we can make a request where we ask them to behave in a different way or do something differently. We do it nicely, not from, “How dare you do it,” but like, “It would make me happy if we did it this way.”
Dr. Michael, that reminds me of something I believe Dr. Barbara said before we started recording, which is that many moments are uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong and sometimes it feels uncomfortable to feel in disagreement with somebody, but maybe that’s an opportunity to grow in your relationship and not say like, “We think so differently. We must not be compatible.”
Some people would say, “We can’t get along. We have different perspectives.” They might take that as a sign that they’re not meant to be together. Is that something that you notice in dynamics? How does somebody work through their differences? Does that make them the right person for one another or does that mean that they need to work through that discomfort and find some common ground or appreciation?
We have a dance show where we tell the story of our relationship and the different moments in time where one of us had an impact on the other, or vice versa, and how we’ve grown over time by hearing each other’s feedback. It’s a rather striking shift over time for each of us. It’s so important to be able to share, request, and invite new behaviors. Sometimes big changes can start with a single change in behavior.
We have great stories to give couples an idea of how change occurs. It doesn’t have to be from a therapist, the heavens opening, and lightning striking. It’s from the organic sharing of what you want, what would make you happy and doing something new together that initiates a transition into a new part of self and relationship.
We tell our story so people get the idea of how not to hold back and to ask for those things, not in a contentious way or not as part of an argument or confrontation. It would make me happy if we danced together. I made a suggestion at a time in Michael’s life when his dad was passing away to not go, show up, and hold up the wall with other relatives and watch dad pass away, but to share himself with his dad.
He had no idea what I was talking about, so we practiced it. Serve the purpose of that precious moment of being with Michael and his dad opened up Michael’s heart and initiated a whole new chapter of our lives together. These opportunities happen for all of us at various times. If you’re connected with what’s happening, you connected with yourself, what you want, and you say it nicely, all kinds of miracles can happen.
That leads me to a question that I imagine comes up in a lot of relationships, which is, how do you know whether to stay in a relationship or not or it’s a matter of learning communication, becoming a better listener, working on yourself or is it a matter that you’re simply not compatible? It seems a little confusing because a lot of the challenges, you can end up in relationships that may seem like there’s a way to resolve them.
I would say one of the things we have to distinguish. If you’re in a newish relationship and, for instance, you like to have children and your partner doesn’t, that’s not a little thing. That’s a big thing. You may have to talk and share about it and look at that, and then that might be a reason not to continue the relationship.
If somebody is in a new relationship and they want to live in a certain place near their family and someone else wants to move to another country, that’s a big thing. You have to work that out, which may be a reason not to continue the relationship. If you’re in a relationship for a long time, most likely, those things have been dealt with already. You then have more opportunity to deal with the things that Dr. Barbara says, which is to look at the other person’s point of view, make requests, make compromises, work things out, and figure out how well things work.
Does someone want you to work full-time or do you want to work part-time? There are all kinds of different things that come up that are practical and you need to have the skills to talk about it to work. A lot of people who come to see Dr. Barbara have all kinds of issues that they work on. Here I am talking for Dr. Barbara but she’s capable of talking for herself.
One of the things that she works on is what things are life-breaking in the relationship and what things have to be worked out. It’s amazing the things that she works out. Childraising is things that she is so brilliant at working on that. When couples have upsets around the children, Dr. Barbara has been incredible about how she works things out where the parents have to straighten out their own rules and regulations about how to raise the family, and then all the problems disappear miraculously.
I focused on creating partnerships. If you’ve committed to each other, married and have children, I will work hard with a couple to help them come together on the issues that separate them because the commitment is there. It’s no small thing to get married. It’s a big commitment. If you’re dating someone for a long time and you haven’t married but you love the person, there’s probably something going on that keeps you from committing to the long haul.
I would want to explore that. Most challenges that I hear are from couples who are committed, they’ve created a life together, and then they come upon their differences. For me, that’s an opportunity to grow. I’m committed to the relationship. If you’re not yet committed to the relationship, I’m not yet committed to the relationship either. There must be something that’s holding you back and you need to explore and understand that. Either resolve that so that you come together formally or understand that you’ve been holding back for a reason that you need to respect.
I love the way that your website is set up to address some of these issues. For example, parent-child issues, money issues, power struggles, and feeling unimportant. These seem like such keys to a dynamic and things that people commonly struggle to understand. Through your work, you have your books. As you mentioned, you have your new book, Ageless Love, and multiple others. You also do group coaching and online courses. For somebody who’s interested in doing some of this work, what’s the beginning stage for them? Where did they figure out what’s best for them and their relationship?
One, they can go to AgesLoveQuiz.com and take a little quiz and look at the major barriers or blocks to their experiencing love with their intimate or romantic partner. They can then look at those options of very inexpensive online courses. There are three 20-minute videos that give them homework to do. These are fantastic courses. Dr. Barbara is a whiz at knowing how to help people. She only has done 60,000 client hours, so she’s fantastic at it.
The other thing you can do is go to FallingInLoveForever.com, which is our website. You can see some of the online courses and the books we have. The online courses can be online in terms of Zoom, and people get tremendous value out of that. They get 2 hours of being with us over 4 weekly sessions. It changes the relationship and gives you skills for a lifetime. Those would be the things that would be valuable to your audience.
I’m so grateful for them. Having an online quiz is such a nice place to start. I clicked over on it and I see you get a free report explaining the results, so you get this instant feedback. I feel like there are a lot of panics that people feel in these moments and loneliness. What do they do? Where do they begin? A challenge in a relationship can feel so devastating and impact somebody in some profound ways.
Having these tools that are simple and quick as a starting point is such a wonderful offering. I’m grateful for the work that both of you do. As you mentioned, Dr. Michael, all of the hours that each of you have spent studying these things and taking the lessons from your relationships and the client you’ve worked with to create a guide is fantastic work.
I can also mention that if anyone wants to do some of the medical things that I talked about, they can go to OcWellness.com. That’s my website. They can look it up and look at that options. We can do a lot of things online now all over the country. I can do all these things online. They don’t have to come into my office.
Isn’t that so wonderful? One of the big benefits of the last few years is that technology has developed in a way in which people can get support from all around the world from one another. I’m curious, Dr. Barbara and Dr. Michael, any parting pieces of advice before we wrap up this episode? Anything that we didn’t cover that you want to make sure to get across to somebody?
I’d like to emphasize that life is challenging. What would make it easier for all of us is if we take responsibility for learning how to sort ourselves out, how to talk, and how to share ourselves. A lot of the unnecessary conflict in relationships occurs because many of us don’t know how to share ourselves in a way that’s honest, descriptive, and respectful to ourselves and our partners. We teach that. It’s so important to be effective in how you speak. I want to encourage your readers to look into learning what they need to learn to be responsible partners and share properly so that the relationship can grow and respond to each of your needs.Life is challenging, and what makes it easier is taking responsibility for how to talk and share ourselves. Click To Tweet
I would encourage your readers to follow up on these things that we’re offering because it will be a critical part of experiencing falling in love forever. Not only does extend your life, but it actually allows you to experience the purpose of your life, which is to grow in your heart and develop yourself emotionally and spiritually.
That is a wonderful way to end this conversation and begin somebody’s journey toward learning more about themselves, their partner, and their life purpose. Thank you so much to each of you for spending some time with me and the readers and for all the work that you do.
It’s our pleasure.
It’s nice to be here with you. Our pleasure.
About Drs. Michael and Barbara Grossman
For over twenty-five years, Drs. Michael and Barbara Grossman have taught thousands of couples practical skills to create a fulfilling romantic partnership. They have TV appearances on CBS, NBC, Fox, and CW. Tune in to this powerful interview to discover the secrets to having a fulfilling long-term romantic partnership with a genuine love that lasts forever through all the phases of life.
Dr. Barbara holds advanced degrees from Columbia University and Claremont School of Theology. She has been a Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist since 1986 with an office in Newport Beach, California. She is committed to teaching skills to move couples from an emotional distance and power struggle to feel understood, appreciated, and respected. Dr. Barbara’s passion is for promoting personal development, which is the key to success in life generally, and crucial to the marriage journey.
Dr. Michael has been a practitioner and teacher of meditation to thousands of people for over forty years. He has led Attitudinal Healing classes for more than twenty decades, teaching how to create love, let go of resentments and fear, and create an experience of connection to God. He is passionate about using the romantic partnership as a vehicle to move couples to higher stages of inner development.
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