Jim Enright interviews Stuart Fensterheim, a counselor specializing in couples therapy. Failure to care about a partner’s needs leads to arguments, pain, frustration and could eventually lead to a relationship’s demise.
Stuart shares how couples can build and repair their relationship to truly lead a happy life. He discusses the value of accessing outside help as soon as possible and why Emotionally Focused Theory (EFT) in an incredible tool to help solve marital problems.
Stuart also urges all couples to acknowledge the effort that their spouses put in small, day-to-day tasks, as a way to show your appreciation for them.
Tune-in and discover ways to nurture, repair and ultimately have a relationship that you so desire and is made of pure GOLD.
Time Stamped Show Notes:
● 00:58 – Boomers need to concentrate on relationships along with health and finance
● 01:25 – Today’s guest, Stuart Fensterheim, has been counseling and teaching couples for the past three decades
● 03:37 – Originally a teacher, counseling is Stuart’s second profession; having watched his dad be in a profession that he resented all his life, he is grateful that he got a chance to take up a career that he really enjoys
o 06:00 – Started working as a couple’s counselor with a family agency
o 06:18 – Since he experienced a lot of pain and anguish from his parent’s divorce; started providing couple’s therapy in order to make a difference
● 07:19 – Leading a FULL and PRODUCTIVE life
o 07:19 – A full and productive life is one through which you can make an impact
o 07:32 – Need to establish a CONNECTION with the people in our world: our kids, our parents and most importantly, our spouse
● 09:41 – The key to your business success is your relationship at home
● 10:42 – A good relationship is the FOUNDATION of a happy life; if the foundation is shaky, then the house above it is going to be shaky as well
● 12:29 – Often the fights that keep on plaguing a relationship tend to injure a relationship; the trigger, rather than the actual issue, is what causes a fight
o 13:47 – A true partner cares about your needs; absence of this care results in an insecure relationship
● 14:04 – Adopts an experimental approach that lets you DISCOVER something new about your partner
o 14:53 – Negative experiences results in people building emotional walls around themselves
o 15:35 – No sooner does a wife express a desire to talk, a man goes into an emotional shutdown; Stuart attempts to prevent this emotional shutdown
● 16:29 – The fact that couples fights a lot is NOT the problem; the real problem is that they do not REPAIR enough
● 20:00 – A relationship that is authentic and vulnerable is like real GOLD
● 20:57 – What causes a relationship to be SABOTAGED
o 20:57 – Beliefs about your partner which are not accurate and acting as if they are
o 21:18 – Triggers that lead to cycles of fighting
o 21:45 – In the midst of a heated argument, it would really help if you could tell your spouse, “I love you. I don’t like how we are talking to each other. Could we do something that would make this easier?”
● 23:02 – Relationships are not “nice to have” but “have to have”
● 23:26 – People who are unable to establish an emotional connection tend to be in an emotionally dark state and do awful things
● 23:58 – Having a great relationship with your spouse results has a domino effect on your friends and family
● 26:00 – A big proponent of pre-marital counseling, Stuart believes that you need to have dialogue with regards to your triggers and insecurities before your marriage
o 26:35 – Equips you to deal with challenges such as loss of job, raising kids and extra marital affairs
o 26:52 – Likelihood of having an affair decreases through pre-marital counseling; affairs are a means to remove loneliness and sex is just a means to achieve that
o 27:47 – Baby boomers need to encourage their children to take up premarital counseling
o 28:35 – Zero-in on specialists who are predominantly dealing with couples
● 29:57 – One of the few attachment-based therapists, Stuart concentrates on dealing with the emotional aspects of a relationship; read Susan Johnson’s book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love to learn more about attachment-based therapy
● 30:34 – Gottman method is the other theoretical framework that deals with couples counseling
● 31:35 – Believes that divorce happens because people give up; if you don’t give up, you will eventually get there
o 32:00 – Resorting to EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) can save a marriage
o 32:20 – Does not believe that a divorce is necessary, except in extreme cases where there is substance abuse and domestic violence
o 33:08 – Research shows that couples tend to take the help of a therapist six years too late; resorting to help earlier when there are no emotional walls will surely save a marriage
● 34:34 – Face-to-face therapy is the best option since you can connect better with a person; however, if a couple has busy work schedules, Stuart also does Skype calls
● 35:52 – HIGHLY recommends pre-marital counseling to baby boomers considering remarriage; 50% of remarriages tend to end in divorce
● 37:06 – Get someone to guide you to remove the things that hinder the closeness of your marriage
● 38:41 – Celebrate your marriage by following RITUALS like going on a trip or renewing vows
● 39:05 – Every single day of your marriage, tell your partner how MEANINGFUL they are to you
● 40:34 – Emotional autopsy of a past marriage is important before proceeding into another relationship; figure out what did not work out in that past, and what you were accountable for
● 42:49 – Staying apart from your partner for some time will help you realize what your partner does for you
● 45:35 – As we age, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor in your marriage
● 47:34 – Listens to music by The Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell and The Allman Brothers
● 49:52 – Wants to die while making love to his wife, Debbie, at the age of 99!
● 50:23 – Cut off ties with his family for a 10-year period on the insistence of his ex-wife; even in a relationship, there are certain lines that cannot be crossed
o 51:59 – A relationship should fit into who you are; there should be no sacrifices because all it breeds is resentment
o 52:32 – Be in a relationship with someone who has equal values, morals, ethics and desires
● 53:29 – Get a 2 minute video, 5 days a week by signing onto Stuart’s website
● 54:36 – Attend a 2 day, seven conversation weekend hosted by Stuart
● 55:43 – Jim Enright’s sign-off message: Be stellar, and live life lively
3 Key Points:
1. An AUTHENTIC and VULNERABLE relationship is like real gold.
2. Utilizing resources and seeking help such as Emotionally Focused Therapy will help you rebuild your relationship and save your marriage.
3. Show your appreciation for your partner; acknowledge the effort that your partner puts into small, day-to-day tasks.