Summary of this Episode

In this episode of the Generous Marriage Podcast we discuss:

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The full transcript of the show:

Hello and welcome to the generous marriage podcast. This is episode four and today we’re going to talk about maintaining a healthy relationship. I’m Ziv Raviv and together with me, my partner in crime in investigating what is the generous. marriage is Shachar Erez. Hello!

Hi everybody. It’s so great to be here. Again, excited to share some personal stuff we did today, about my own relationship.

And this is indeed exciting. I remember after we recorded episode three, I felt like that’s all he will do. Sounds like me a bit and in all sorts of aspects and it’s funny how you know, sometimes we hear the story and it feels like, Hey, part of that is actually about about you guys and about us guys and we think that this is the place to share the stories, to reveal ourselves to be vulnerable and at the same time to use that to leverage that to becoming better in maintaining a generous marriage. And today we are talking about maintaining a healthy relationship with your spouse. Before we go into the story, Shachar, I just want to mention when people work on improving relationship, they’re working on making it a more generous relationship and more generous marriage, what they get out of it is that they, they have a deeper connection and they have many moments of smiles and of warm hearts.

Where were they? Just feel the inner being expand and that is the nature of being generous with your spouse. That’s how you feel when you give someone your best focus and your best of times, and I’m really happy to investigate this because it helps me improve my relationship with Rotem and it helps you guys wherever you are right now, maybe you’re driving in your car. It can help you to find ways to improve your relationship with your spouse, so Shachar take us away into the journey. What is the story of today? This is a personal story. I’m excited to hear this myself.

The Story of Shachar and his wife Judy

Yeah, it’s actually a story about me and my wife Judy. I asked for her permission to share it with you guys and she generously agreed and the stories about the recent challenge we experienced. We’ve been together for roughly 13 years or married 13 years. We’ve been together a bit longer and last year we went through a big change because Judy and after being mainly a stay at home mom for the past five, six years, she started a business, the small business, an online business, but that took a lot of time and investment and creativity and it really changed the dynamic between us and the dynamic in the family and it was. It was challenging. One of the main challenges was that we didn’t have. We hardly had any time to meet and it’s hard to be generous and to maintain a healthy relationship when you simply don’t meet enough.

That’s interesting because before, before the change you, you had lots of opportunities to warm up the relationship, to be generous because she was a stay at home mom and you have two girls, six year old son and two year old daughter,

So you have two kids, so staying at home with them was definitely helpful by itself. And so now she becomes busier and busier and busier and being a mom is busy by itself, but now she is also doing the impossible. Something that requires so much mental health, so much mental focus and time and emotional focus and time. And that is to build a business an online business even. So what happens to the relationship?

So first it was really exciting, but then when the excitement, uh, kind of went away, I noticed we’re starting to move apart from each other. I’m a bit more, uh, avoidance. My attachment style is a bit more avoidance. So at first I thought I am enjoying it because the avoidance side, thinks he wants to be on his own but little by little this avoidance, it also feels lonely and they, even though, you know, we were still living here together, I started feeling lonely and started noticing I’m closing up. And uh, when I did a quick inventory of our interactions, whether there are more positive or negative, I notice that it’s not like we’re fighting more. It’s not like we have more negative interactions, we don’t have enough interactions. And the few negative interactions were usually around resources. We were fighting for resources. Suddenly she had to work. I had to work. What do we do? Who stays with the kids? How do we solve this?

So when you say resources, it’s things like time and time away from the kids and time away so that you could continue with your business of being a counselor for couples. And where you help relationships for, for many couples. And she needed time to actually build her business.

Alright. And we still wanted to be with our kids and we needed some time that we, that, you know, they weren’t at preschool but someone had to be with them. So a few things we had to do, one is to find more resources, asked my mother to help more find a babysitter. One of the huge successes was when we found a babysitter that could put our kids to sleep. That adds a whole new level of freedom. That was very helpful. Other things that are more about our interactions where I took on me. I took responsibility for my part in it and decided I’m going to create more interactions even when we’re apart. So I started sending more text messages saying, I miss her saying I love her saying, I’m grateful for this or that, you know, just giving her more attention, which I know it’s part of her love languages.

I know she loves it and they usually do it. But now I really took responsibility to do more of that. I started paying more attention to creating what I call moments of intimacy. We hardly meet. So when we met, you know, when she’s doing something in the kitchen and I’m just passing by. So I will make sure to touch her or to give her a kiss or you know, to do some quick gesture that creates a quick moment of intimacy. I’m talking about emotional intimacy even though it could be some sensual as well, but it’s not about sex. We’re not going to bed now. We’ll just creating a fun connection. Sometimes a sexy connection, but just a quick one.

Yeah. Basically your depositing, you are constantly looking for opportunities for depositing emotionally,

Right? Right. Depositing, just by, creating more connection to paying more attention to the connection between us.

What Shachar did to his wife

By the way, before you tell us more ideas of what you did together and later we will understand why and what is the framework of, of doing all of those small moments of intimacy, adding them. Did you talk with her about it? Did she know that you are taking responsibility to creating more of these moments?

Yes. I did talk to her about it because we were going through a kind of a crisis. We were starting to notice that we’re hardly meeting and that we’re arguing more. So we had to. We both really love and care for each other and generally we think our relationship is pretty good, even great, but something was happening. It was winter and she was busy and so yes, we stopped. We even went for a few sessions with our couples therapist, you know, a couple of therapists go to couple counseling as well and that was a good opportunity to stop and see, to do a check in to see what’s happening, what’s missing, what we need more. And at first I was feeling more like a victim, like she’s so busy and now she doesn’t pay attention to me, but then when I noticed that that I’d done like feeling like a victim I prefer taking responsibility for my part, for what I can do. So instead of missing her, I just noticed I’m missing connection. So I decided to pay more attention to creating connection.

You basically reframed the story in your head instead of feeling like your situation is bad and there’s nothing you can do about it. Then you feel bad about yourself. Instead of that, you took responsibility, you took action, and you can actually decided to create this new reality, a new situation that is affected by what you do, even though you didn’t know for sure what she will do in return. You were willing to go ahead and invest in the relationship and be generous and do all sorts of things to help the situation.

Right. Because the situation wasn’t bad. It was actually great. I was actually really happy for her. That’s another thing I paid more attention to. Celebrating her successes. Even the small ones, you know, being a new entrepreneur is, is so hard. Some days are so hard. Some days are amazing. It’s easy to forget those little successes. So I took it on May to remind her. Okay, so today she feels unhappy because she didn’t do all of her goals, but look, you did 75 percent of your goals. Wow. You’re so amazing. You know, those little celebrating moments are are meaningful as well. Sometimes it’s hard to do it for ourselves and it’s really cool if we can do it for our partner.

20 minute time for the wife

What else did you do to try and reconnect and re-envoke the level of connection with your spouse?

You know, that’s a common advice that couples should have 20 minutes talk every evening. It doesn’t have to be too intimate. It can be technical. How was your day? What do we do with the kids? It’s kind of a check in at the end of the day every day and if it becomes a more emotional end and intimate, great, but that’s not the goal of it and we never had to do it because it will just happen on its own. But now that we hardly had time, we. We really scheduled it. We have a scheduled 15 to 20 minutes a meeting every night. Sometimes we miss, but almost every night and I’m guessing no TV while you’re doing that. Twenty minutes.

No screens, no distractions. It’s not quality time in the sense of close emotional connection, but it’s quality time when we do. The attention is on each other and even though part of it is technical, usually it creates some connection. It’s fun to be together with good. We’re good friends, so it’s a good reminder to our friendship even though what we talk about his parenting and stuff that needs to be done and that was your day at work and stuff like that. It recreates, it reminds us of our friendship and friendship is basic for a long term successful relationship. Yep. We also started to schedule a date, so because I’m a couples therapist, I work many nights so we don’t really have enough nights in the week two for a date night. So we have a date morning you would go for a coffee shop every Thursday morning and we spent a couple of hours together and that’s awesome. It was really important because you know, we always feel like we need this time to work, but when it’s in the schedule it’s actually too easy to work around it and other stuff.

Yeah. So all of those. Ideas are, staff that are each made self practical. Not complicated but the return on investment. We keep using this term because it applies to, you know, not just to business. It applies also to relationships and we sometimes men, we are the experts on energy conversion, so we want to make sure that we get some returns on what we invest in and so we keep going back to the term. But in your case, in the case of your story with the new challenge where your spouse started to, to become a business owner, uh, you needed to do all sorts of things that will be heard, that will be noticed. Um, so are you, when you did all of this, you actually used some tool to create the mindset of why you need to create those, those moments, and what in what quantity. So before we go into the actual tool, I want to ask you, did all of these efforts bringing any change?

Oh yes. Certainly. Yeah. We’re much closer now and we still have many challenges and still time is not a, we don’t have a lot of time, but when we do meet it’s really quality time and even when we don’t meet we leave each other, we send each other text messages and I started living here, posted notes like the example you gave the other the other week and that’s awesome. Super fun and creative and just finding post it notes of love and gratitude around the house. It’s great.

Since our last episode about it, when I read a post it note that my wife made for me, I, I since then got another two from my kids as well and it just, it just wonderful. Once you start to express generosity in a consistent manner, it just eventually overflows and you get a back. So it’s really wonderful to, to experiment with those tools.

Do you know another great thing that happened, happened thanks to her and many great things happened thanks to her, but one thing I want to, I want to share. She went to this workshop and she noticed she wants to be a queen and she noticed how a queen allows the guy next to her, the Queen, the King, sorry to give to her. So she noticed how many things, she doesn’t let me give her because he wants to prove that she’s capable. She’s independent, all sorts of stuff. And she started being more accepting of my generosity and that was a very generous move. When I’m able to give more, I feel better.

I want to send Rotem to that workshop I like seriously. So when you, uh, when you have gifts to give and your being, those gifts are accepted, just accepting the gifts is an act of generosity.  Yeah.  That’s really cool.

The Gottman research

Quite a big insight for me that really made an impact. Yeah. So you asked me about where this, all of this is coming from. So this is actually coming from an idea by Gottman again, we talked about the Gottman last week and Gottman is super. Dr John Gottman is the most known research on couples and he’s been researching for more than 35 years couples and videotaping them and analyzing and just doing amazing amount of data on couples and he’s able to predict with a 90 percent accuracy if couples will be happily together six years and even 30 years later just by looking at a 15 minute interaction, they have a relationship and the main thing he’s looking for is the ratio of negative to positive interactions. What they found out that happy couples have a one to five ratio, so one negative interaction to five positive interactions even have one to 20, one negative to 20 positive.

So first of all two insights are very important. First of all, if if you have zero bad interactions, that’s not good. We talked about it last week, you need to sometimes fight, right? Even Gottman managed to prove that in his research that some certain types of fights are important but so you will have from time to time negative interactions. You’re not supposed to try and minimize those to zero. What you’re supposed to do is flood the negative interactions with positive interactions in a ratio, which is, you know, and one to five a is a is good for you and if you get to one to 20, then you are, you are what Gottman says, master’s. So I’ve got one says, you know, you might, you can be master, so or disasters as a couple and masters, they get that ratio down. They actually have five good interactions and you just mentioned in the beginning of the of today’s episode, all sorts of things that were positive interactions that you did and we have many other examples of that that will be available in the bonus pdf file that we’re making for you with some really clever ideas that you can do even when you’re away, when you’re at work, you can still be creating positive interactions with your spouse in a very generous manner. So we’ve created this pdf and if you go to, you can go to episode number four and just download it. It’s free and it’s valuable. It will make you already, you know, uh, get some points. So the tool or the basic, the basic level is to make sure that for each negative interaction, you need to have five positive interactions.

Yeah and Gottman in his lab. He’s actually counting every little gesture that we do that the couples do. The raise of an eyebrow when they touch each other, when they look at each other, when they look away all these are interactions that he counts. Looking at ourselves, it’s harder to notice all of that, but I think the main idea is, like you said, flood or give a lot of positive interactions to contrast the, the negative interactions, that’s the most generous thing you can do.

Something that we can all relate to

So the tool, the basic, there’s all sorts of ways of how you can use the tool. We started with the basic idea which is, you know, because you know there is the one to five need in the relationship to make it a positive relationship. You can make you to generous relationship. If you need to do those five positive interactions, that means that you need to flood the relationship with positive interactions and that sometimes is hard because you may be feeling hurt because of something that because of the negative interaction, usually the negative interactions makes you feel bad about the relationship. It doesn’t make you want to be, to come and do something positive, but that’s when the generosity comes into play. That’s when you remind yourself that you need to be generous and that’s when you know the tips on repairing the fights come in to play. You don’t have to come in, just apologize. You can just come and maybe touch the shoulder or maybe look at the eye or maybe offer some tea and later on you can get to the flowers and get to the text messages and to create more moments of intimacy. And I dare say even even sexual sex, just have sex with your spouse. That’s by itself sometimes can be a very positive interaction and an act of generosity on both sides.

Sex is so important that we’ll talk more about it in other episode, what you said about the rupture and repair process, a good rupture and repair has a good repair and a good repair has way more than five to one ratio of positive things you do for each other.

Yeah, it’s a little bit, uh, you know, it’s, it’s the sad truth that if you did something that created the fights, it will take way more efforts in fixing it. You need to know that that’s the reality of it. So it’s not enough to just bring flowers and then say, oh, but I’ve bought flowers. Did you bring flowers and sent text messages and talked with her mom and cooked something in the kitchen and cleaned up after yourself. Did you do all those things? And then, you know, feel bad about why the flowers, the flowers didn’t work and you won’t have to because the flowers will, will work if it will be with a ratio of one to 20 or one to five. And is that something that you can do by yourself or does it have to be mutual

Well the whole idea of generosity that when you’re really generous and you do it by yourself, you’re not looking for to positive return from your partner. But it would probably happen because generosity usually brings out generosity from the other, from your partner.

So this is important guys. When you’re listening to this podcast, we’re not saying that you need to be creating a one to five ratio of negative to positive. Where you are actually going to count down how many things the other side did for you. You just need to be generous. Just focus on what you can control. You can control your actions, you can control what you do to improve the relationship. And I want to mention, uh, you, you, you said before, something about celebrating the relationship, uh, and celebrating the, celebrating the successes of Judy with her new business. And I, I just, just the other night, uh, yesterday I had the same discussion with my wife, Rotem and she, we talked about how important it is to actually celebrate some of my business successes because I work very hard. Like now I’m going for a business challenge and we talked about the last year and many times I was hard on myself.

I would tell myself I need to reach a specific goal for specific launch and when I didn’t, I felt bad about myself. I didn’t celebrate the things that were achieved on that launch. And then later on I just went through an entire year of that every one or two months. And so, but, but looking back on the overall results, the overall results of the business are amazing. I just get you to achieve more and more things. And my wife is very proud of me that I’m very proud of the lifestyle that we managed to create ourselves, even though we didn’t separate those things. So we’ve decided that we will create celebration opportunities. So from now on, like we try to go out on a family night every, every week to eat outside. So from now on when we, when we eat outside, we’re going to decide why, what is the reason, why are we going outside to eat it? Because we celebrate Daddy, he did the launch and got $5,000 out of the launch or whatnot. So we’re, we, we work together on making the celebration process. Even if it’s a man, if it’s artificially created, we, we, we, we choose to create a positive interaction that is made up by us, which is to take something that happened in my business and make it into a positive for our family.

That’s beautiful. I love it. I think celebrating life is super important and people that tend to be too much on the perfectionist side and two critical, like myself and my wife, it’s really healing to celebrate successes and not just successes. Just celebrate moments of, of purity, of connection, of whatever. Just there’s so much to celebrate if you actually stop and look around. So I love your idea

And also I think we guys, we love working with points, so we play for the point. We don’t look at things as like if there is a problem with something, we look at the side which was accomplished and we say, Oh wow, 80 percent done. That’s, that’s amazing. We feel so good about it. And sometimes sometimes, yeah, the tendency of, of, of a woman of a woman is to look at the 20 percent that are still problematic and to draw and fix and to say, well there’s a problem here. It’s not completed but, and so this is where we can help our spouses. That’s where we can, you know, uh, encourage them because they will, they will have this ability to see all the things that a wrong. It’s just an amazing ability that, um, that the feminine has, which is to scan the environment and see all the other things that a good for them and all the things that are, that are troubling them. And we are, we are small, single focused. We go and we hunt. But that’s our tendency, but we love the points. So we can help our spouses and encourage them even for the smallest of successes and that will increase the ratio of negative to positive.

Yeah. And it’s not about being right or wrong. Both of us are right and we can celebrate what has been done and what still needs to be done there is no opposing each other. There’s room for both.

Yeah, there is room for both. That’s the, that’s the beauty of being in a relationship with your spouse and, and actually caring to make it meaningful and not just to be roommates. Uh, so, uh, you actually found out that the is a research topic of five to one is well researched by Gottman. Talk to us about the poof.

The proof to back it all up

So he has this apartment in the woods of, of uh, his university where he gives a couple he wants to research he lets them stay the night then there and they video taped them. And that’s actually one way. Sometimes it’s not for a whole week. Sometimes just let them, interviews them and, and talk about their relationship and videotapes this. And it’s not about just about videotaping is so much that I also takes a physiological data. Uh, he also does, um, tons of, um, uh, questionnaires, it just has a lot, a lot, a lot of data about couples and long term research, a 35 year research on couples. So there’s a lot of profile they want to five ratio and even proof of the 90 percent accuracy that it gives of predicting divorce six years later and even longer than that. So yeah, I don’t know what else to say. It’s very well researched.

It just works it’s just the right solution for so many problems. If you own your marriage, feel that it doesn’t give you everything you need and you want to improve it and you want to be generous. The one to five ratio is the right tool for you. If you start to do that, you will see better results. And the research just prove that. And so we’ve created a document for you guys with not just ideas on how to make sure that your interactions, that you have a one to five ratio at the very least, but also to give you some things that you can do right away immediately, even just after downloading the pdf, you could immediately implement some of it and you could create positive interactions with your spouse and use the one to five ratio to make your, make your life better, make your connection more meaningful. Uh, all you need to do is go to the website. Find on the podcast tab, episode number four, and then download the pdf file. It’s free and you can use it in five minutes time from now. You will have already two positive interactions with your spouse.

Yeah. And even if you’re super busy and you don’t have enough time together, you can find some ideas there that will help you strengthen your relationship and make your connection time really high quality.

And if you need, even if you think, oh, you have a really good relationship with your wife, with your spouse, then just download the file so that you can see how to measure and verify that your ratio is good enough. Maybe you’ll find out that your your measure is one to four. Then you can still have some room for improvement. And even when you reach one to five, it’s better to get to that one to 20. You know how you sometimes see those old couple that are very nice to one another and they hold hands and they are just adorable. Those old couple that maybe you’ve seen some time, maybe it was on the TV, maybe it was, I don’t know, in a in a family event, we could all strive to be that old couple one day and being in such a meaningful relationship with your spouse that you, you keep rebuilding the relationship. You keep investing in the positive, positive interactions. And that is the real key for maintaining the relationship

Right!. You can fall in love with each other every day again and again and again. Wonderful! That’s main idea when you’re generous and you open your heart and you’re vulnerable with each other, you simply, oh, fall in love with each other again and again, with that positive message

Recap and ending

We will just wrap up. So today we talked about the story of, of our very own, uh, and his wife Judy, and how her challenge in starting to become a business owner and a business entrepreneur have created a challenge in the relationship which was overcome through the hard work and will continue to over to be overcome through the hard work of using positive positive interactions. How many positive interactions at the very least one to five ratio of negative to positive. You need to create those. A lot of interactions. Uh, we also talked about some ideas of how to create positive interactions today and about the research that was done by John Goodman and how, you know, this is real stuff. You can actually improve a, your marriage and maintain your marriage if you use this tool. Guys we want to ask for your big help, please find someone in your life.

A friend maybe, maybe a colleague at work, tell them about the generous marriage, podcast, they need to know, even if they have an amazing marriage, even if they don’t have a marriage yet, if they’re not married yet, that doesn’t matter. We need your help so that we could, you know, become a community of people that care about, about implementing the generous, marriage concepts and investigated the generous marriage contest and one day even that challenges ourselves to improve our marriage in a generous way. So all you need to do is tell them about, about the podcast, and if you want to read more about the pdf, that bonus pdf that we’re doing for this episode, you can find that on, under the episode 4 post. Thank you again for listening and see you guys next week on the Generous Marriage Podcast.

Thank you Ziv! Thank you everybody. This was fun. I’m looking forward to see you next week and we will be talking about how to handle hard moments.

See you then guys.


Weekly episodes with stories, tools and research that will help you make your marriage generous


Shachar Erez, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, 12 years married, father of two

Ziv Raviv, 16 years married, father of three