Tag Archives: Ty Tashiro

Marriage: A Global Epic Fail

marriage_fail_by_bytebullet-d4um8y1

Artwork by bytebullet at Deviant Art.

If seven out of 10 children flunked out of school or demonstrated a complete inability to adapt to the classroom and learn basic curriculum, everyone would lose their minds.

The top priority would be to fix this totally broken and dysfunctional system. There would be plenty of blame to go around. But the basic premise would boil down to: Ummm. Maybe we’re doing it wrong!

You think?

Education is already one of the most-important political and social issues of our time, and that’s with 90 percent of our students graduating high school or achieving an equivalent degree. About 34 percent earn a bachelor’s or higher degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

So, I got to thinking. And I came up with this: What the fuck, world!?

SEVEN OUT OF 10 MARRIAGES FAIL AND NO ONE IS DOING DICK ABOUT IT!

To be clear, 70 percent of marriages don’t end in divorce (but more than half do). According to Ty Tashiro, who wrote The Science of Happily Ever After, 70 percent of marriages end in divorce, or feature two people who resent the hell out of one another.

I’m just trying to understand! Plenty of people care about this. It’s impossible for us not to. Divorce affects 95 percent of us!

But there’s no national or global dialogue about the problem. I’m having trouble understanding why.

Maybe People are Out of Fucks to Give

But it couldn’t have started out that way. As a percentage, how many couples do you think wanted to get divorced on their wedding day? Like, con artists aside, we’re dealing in the zero range, right? Right.

So everyone REALLY gave a shit and was like “Hell yeah, let’s get married and love each other forever!!!” and then seven-ish years later were like: “Honestly? This is shitty. I hate my life. I have no more fucks to give.”

Then, BOOM. Divorce. And everyone’s sad. And all the kids cry. And we get boyfriend and girlfriend and step-parent drama. Everyone has less money afterward. It’s seriously so unbelievably horrible and shitty in most instances that despite trying hard, so hard, I can’t come up with multiple reasons why this is happening more than half the time.

There can only be one reason.

We’re Doing It Wrong

Just own it. You’re fucking shit up right now. I know you are. Because you’re a person just like me and even the really, really, really, really, really exceptional ones mess up.

If you’re part of the mythical 30 percent, you needn’t read further. I’m not talking to you. Just carry on being better at life than me and trust that I appreciate you more than you know.

The rest of you? You’re in this pile of shit with me and I’m begging you to start being part of the solution.

“Hey Matt! Why are you being all snide and cheeky today?”

Because of Scott, that’s why. Who’s Scott? Glad you asked.

I wrote a series of posts called An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands and through the magic of SEO and social media sharing, a lot of people (relative to my audience) read them.

Vol. 1 gets read the most these days, and yesterday Scott read it. I don’t think he liked it, because he said: Fuck women! They can’t be pleased! No matter what you do, it’s never good enough! They’re intolerable, crazy and unreasonable! And I’ll never be happy as long as I’m married to her but hopefully I will be happy when I’m dead!

I’m paraphrasing. But he pretty much wrote that.

Some guy. I don’t know him. Maybe he’s awesome. Might be. He’s married with kids and wants to play golf on Saturday and to be left the fuck alone about it.

Which is fine. I’m not privy to his family’s wants and needs and financial situation and how the decision to play golf as an escape from them affects everyone psychologically and emotionally.

Scott could be anyone because millions of men feel this way. MILLIONS. Just like the millions of women who are frustrated with Scott because he doesn’t understand that it’s not the golf that upsets her. Maybe she feels like he values his friends more than his family and it hurts her. Maybe she feels like the money would be better spent on needs for their children and it erodes her trust. Maybe he’s so emotionally disconnected at home that she thinks he’s having an affair and every time he leaves for five hours it triggers inner turmoil because all she can think about is him being with some imaginary woman and: how is she ever going to make it on her own after the divorce?

It goes both ways. I don’t like to write about it because I don’t like to point fingers. Pointing fingers causes defensiveness and then things don’t get better. But sure, ladies. Let’s deal with it. You’re occasionally awful, too. Maybe give this a read and tell me whether it rings any bells: I Wasn’t Treating My Husband Fairly, And It Wasn’t Fair.

I blame dudes all the time because they’re wrong more than you. On balance, I really believe that. But, yeah. You are also capable of extraordinary shittiness, ladies.

But I’m going to trust you to own it after your other half starts owning his. Someone has to fire up the healing train, and I’m perfectly okay with men taking the lead.

Here’s the Thing

We have to fix this. How? If I figure it out, I won’t have any money problems. I don’t have any answers and I’ve never claimed to. But I know one very important thing.

WHAT WE’RE DOING NOW IS THE WRONG WAY.

You’re doing it wrong! Right now. (Not you, 30 percent!) And I just want to know what’s so hard about doing it differently. Try a new way!

“If she is not happy with all that shit then we should fucking leave them,” Scott said. Scott’s angry.

Well, Scott, I’m fucking angry. Because your way is BULLSHIT. It’s a massive failed experiment (70 PERCENT, man!) and you perpetuating it is just about the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.

Getting mad? Leaving? Complaining? Cheating? Playing more golf? Putting your kids through divorce?

That’s your grand plan? That’s the solution to all your problems?

Try Something Different

So, I wrote back to Scott. Because I want him to try something most people don’t. I want him to take the road less traveled and save his family because that’s hero shit. And I said something like this:

We live in a world where everyone is always asking: “What’s in it for me?”

People get married with the idea that their partner is going to make them happy, and so often failing to ask: “What can I do to make them happy?”

And we wonder why everyone is feeling miserable and shitty all the time.

So, again, I ask: Why not try a different tactic? It might seem a little radical. But, desperate times, and all that.

You give all you have to give. Every day. And you make your marriage about the other person. About their wants and needs and happiness.

Expect and demand (kindly) the same in return. And then maybe you get everything and more you want while providing the same to your partner.

So you have two people. Two people who give to the other more than they take for themselves.

I don’t know much, but I do know this: No one’s doing this (again, not talking to you, 30 percent!) and everyone’s getting divorced or wanting to because their relationships are broken and shitty.

So maybe my way is worth trying. And yeah. It’s super hard. All of our human being baggage gets in the way of executing this plan to perfection. I don’t think it’s easy. I just think it’s worth it.

And I’m becoming more and more convinced this is how we can get a bunch of people to wake up in the morning not feeling angry and sad and lonely and shitty and afraid all the time.

This is how.

Give more than you take.

I did it wrong. And everything broke.

And now you’re doing it wrong, too.

But you don’t have to.

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The Secret to Life and Marriage

Guy-telling-a-secret

No. Not again.

It’s a dull, pulsing pain that starts in my stomach and runs to the bottom of the back of my head between my ears.

Unregulated, the headache starts. Very acute, sharp pain around the crown.

Almost every muscle feels engaged. Tense.

Everything hurts.

I can’t find my smile.

My face, stuck in place, just, hurts.

It’s stress. A physiological reaction to anger and perhaps my least-favorite way to feel.

Don’t forget to breathe. In, then out. And again.

If you had EVERYTHING in the world you ever wanted, but felt this way on the inside? How long could a person make it? Not long for me.

It’s poisonous. Anger. And we feel it a lot. We make others feel it.

My marriage ended because of anger. My entire life circumstances—my entire reality—dictated by the net results of angry people doing angry things.

People are Dicks

We are. Perhaps me more than others. But—and this is VERY important to me and I’ll defend myself and others with it until my last breath—I try.

In a candid moment. When no one’s watching. When it’s just me inside my head left to make whatever choice I want: I choose kindness. I intend to be good to others, even when it’s hard.

I don’t know if that makes me a good person. But I hope it makes me close.

When I’m angry, only two things work to make it go away: love and laughter. Staples of a life brimming with kindness. A life worth chasing.

I want to know what motivates people to intentionally choose unkindness and I want to know why, even though it has been documented ZERO times in human history to benefit anyone, people choose abrasiveness in their human relationships at home or at work or in some other facet of their lives.

My favorite writer James Altucher has written repeatedly about how he has cut out of his life every person who makes him feel bad on a regular basis. How peace and contentment are so hard to achieve when constantly dealing with emotional vampires.

If people don’t pass the Vampire Test? Stake their asses and walk away.

But What if You Can’t!?

It’s a fair and difficult question. Because there are many examples in life of people being tied too closely together to simply cut the cord and walk away.

In my search for answers, I kept coming back to marriage.

Why do people have so much trouble loving the people they forsook all others to love forever?

I found something beautiful and important and insightful when I stumbled on a great piece in The Atlantic called “Masters of Love” published about six months ago.

You should read it in its entirety because it’s better than this blog post. But I’d like to explore the highlights, and hopefully by doing so they’ll become more ingrained within me. And maybe moving forward it can help me be a more patient, wiser, better human being.

According to Ty Tashiro, author of The Science of Happily Ever After, only three out of 10 marriages remain happy and healthy.

You read that right: 70% of marriages either break or turn miserable and dysfunctional. Think we might have a problem with kindness and anger?

Psychologists John and Julie Gottman run the New York-based Gottman Institute—an organization dedicated to helping couples achieve loving, healthy marriages through science. They did some homework on this kindness thing.

From The Atlantic story:

John Gottman began gathering his most critical findings in 1986, when he set up “The Love Lab” with his colleague Robert Levenson at the University of Washington. Gottman and Levenson brought newlyweds into the lab and watched them interact with each other. With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had. As they spoke, the electrodes measured the subjects’ blood flow, heart rates, and how much they sweat they produced. Then the researchers sent the couples home and followed up with them six years later to see if they were still together.

From the data they gathered, Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages. When the researchers analyzed the data they gathered on the couples, they saw clear differences between the masters and disasters. The disasters looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story. Their heart rates were quick, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was fast. Following thousands of couples longitudinally, Gottman found that the more physiologically active the couples were in the lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time.

But what does physiology have to do with anything? The problem was that the disasters showed all the signs of arousal—of being in fight-or-flight mode—in their relationships. Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger. Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane facets of their relationships, they were prepared to attack and be attacked. This sent their heart rates soaring and made them more aggressive toward each other.

The masters, of course, were physiologically calm and steady.

Giving a Shit Matters

Gottman wanted to know how the masters had achieved the emotional state of being that allowed the relationship to thrive even during difficult times, so he conducted another experiment.

He designed a lab to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat. There, he observed 130 newlywed couples doing what couples do on vacation—cooking, eating, chatting, hanging out, playing games, etc.

Then Gottman discovered something I’ve never heard anyone talk about before as a predictor of marital success, but it makes perfect sense.

From The Atlantic:

Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t—those who turned away—would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.

According to The Atlantic, Gottman can predict with 94 percent certainty whether couples—gay or straight, rich or poor, with kids or without—will be together and happy, together and miserable, or broken up several years later.

Was my divorce a foregone conclusion?

That’s a hard idea to stomach.

Contempt is the number-one factor that tears couples apart, the researchers said.

People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman told The Atlantic, “which is this: they are scanning social environments for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”

“Being mean is the death knell of relationships,” The Atlantic’s writer Emily Esfahani Smith wrote. “Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from [the Gottman’s] has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved.”

It’s hard to be kind when you’re pissed.

But it’s also when it’s most important.

To walk the walk under the most trying of circumstances. That’s what separates the strong from the weak.

INTENTION is a very important concept. One that should be used to fairly evaluate every situation and person involved.

I’ve believed it forever.

It made me feel good to see these renowned researchers agree:

“One way to practice kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. An angry wife may assume, for example, that when her husband left the toilet seat up, he was deliberately trying to annoy her. But he may have just absent-mindedly forgotten to put the seat down.”

Psychologist Ty Tashiro offers this parting advice: “Even in relationships where people are frustrated, it’s almost always the case that there are positive things going on and people trying to do the right thing,” he said. “A lot of times, a partner is trying to do the right thing even when it’s executed poorly. So appreciate the intent.”

Another breath. In, then out.

Everything’s going to be okay.

Knowledge is power.

And then I find my smile again.

Because I like knowing secrets.

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