Podcast Transcriptions

Pursue What Matters

Episode 199: Book Review – Us

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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Are you ready to be more united with your spouse? Do you want more love more fun and more connection in your marriage? Well, the first step is to abandon thinking about yourself, and instead, consider what’s best for us.

Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast, where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So I’m so excited to bring a book review to you. It’s that time again of the month, and I have a great book to share with you today. So it just came out in 2022. And boy, this author really hits it out of the park. And so the book is called us getting past you and me to build a more loving relationship. And it is by Terrence real. And so Terrence real is a best selling author. He is also considered a master clinician when it comes to couples work. And I think he’s very practical. He is he is he’s a truth speaker, right? Like he says things as they are he doesn’t, he doesn’t pretty things up. But he’s right to the point. And he’s got another great book. And so let’s learn a little bit about Terrence real. So Terrence real is an internationally recognized family therapist, speaker and author. He founded the relational Life Institute offering workshops for couples, individuals and parents, along with a professional training program for clinicians to learn his relational life therapy methodology. He is the Best Selling Author of I don’t want to talk about it, how can I get through to you, and the new rules of marriage and so he really, if you have not come across any of his books, he’s a real treasure. And this new book us is excellent. So let’s learn a little bit more about the book. So from from the description, not much is harder than figuring out how to love your partner, and all their messy humaneness. And there’s also not much more that there’s not much that’s more important. At a time when toxic individualism is rending our society at every level. Bestselling author and renowned marriage counselor Terence real, sees how it poisons intimate relationships. In his therapy practice where he works with couples on the brink of disaster. The good news warmer, closer, more passionate relationships are possible if you have the right tools. And so Terrans often describes himself as a turnaround artist, right? So he really works with couples who are on the brink, like they are ready to give up. And he is he’s really wonderful. And so he brilliantly observes how our winner take all culture, infiltrates families with devastating results, repetitive fights that go nowhere distant relationship in which partners end up living alone together. And the book has a lot of insight, a lot of humor and a lot of charm. He guides you to transform your relationship into one that’s based on compassion, collaboration, and closeness. And so it’s really it’s such a good book, I devoured this book. And so what are other people saying about it? So first of all, the introduction is by Bruce Springsteen. And so he says Terry’s writing is loving and kind, clever and strong. And he’s written a beautiful and important book, particularly for the moment we are in. It helps lead the way to a more powerful and noble society, based on the tenants of love, justice, and respect. And so there has been a lot of there’s been a lot of praise for reals work on this book, in particular, in particular, from Esther Perel, who is also a master clinician when it comes to couples work. She’s the New York Times bestselling author and podcast host of where should we begin? She said when I need advice I call Terry real so they are very good friends. His decades of clinical experience, research and wisdom are invaluable to my patients, colleagues and friends. US brings his advice to life. It is the book that we all need to read, to create more thriving and intimate connections. And then from Rick Hansen, PhD, he’s also a New York Times bestselling author of resilient he’s a psychologist. He’s one of my favorites. He says this is a stunning book, with page turning flair and brilliant insights. Terry real exposes the hyper individualism that ruins relationships, and shows us many effective ways to move from me to we have a masterpiece from a master psychotherapist. And so really great, great reviews, advanced praise, the books doing very well. And I can’t recommend it enough. So let’s jump in and, and see what see how this book could help you. And of course, I’m never going to try to cover everything in a book, but I just kind of want to give you a flavor for it and cover some of the highlights so that you have some good information to decide if this is a book that’s worth your time that you maybe want to check out. And so of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead. We do that with clarity. What are you doing? And why does it matter? We do that by helping you lead with curiosity, where we really focus on self awareness and self leadership. And then of course, leading and building a community. And so primarily, we’re really looking at curiosity. So how do you strengthen yourself? How do you show up more effectively in your marriage, understanding that this, this has a down a down river effect, right, that when you have greater self awareness and show up differently in your marriage, there are benefits in every other area of your life, right? So we think about work. These, these principles that Terry teaches in his book are also helpful in any relationship we might be in, of course, his focuses on our most important relationship. But there’s lots of practical application. So let’s go ahead and jump in by just sharing a few of my highlights. So some of the points that I thought were really helpful from the book. And so I’ve got four points to share with you today. And the first one is that we’re thinking about marriage all wrong. And so with this, Terry talks about the myth of the individual, and that as part of Western society, we have been taught to prioritize the individual over all else, to ask what’s best for me, what’s my purpose? What does it take for me to be fulfilled. And if we’re not careful that individual focus will lead us to selfishness, which is the death knell of marriage, our focus is, is on the individual, usually at the cost of our partner, usually at the cost of our marriage at the cost of our families, because we don’t see eye to eye, because we all want to negotiate, because we have to delay gratification, because we have to sacrifice, it’s a lot easier to just focus on what you think is best for you and what you want. But if you swallow the Western ideal of individualism, focusing on us instead of me can kind of feel wrong, it can feel like oh, my goodness, like I shouldn’t be giving up this ground. And so even though you we can recognize the benefits of rugged individualism, right, and some of the values of Western society, we can also recognize how that might not be really adaptive within our homes, it might not be really adopted when it comes to our marriage. If we focus on individualism, we won’t have a marriage that survives. The other thing that’s happened is that we’ve had the self esteem movement of the 1980s. I had a podcast on that a while ago, so I will link to that. But as part of that self esteem movement of the 80s, we came to believe that if we could just instill self esteem into our children, then they would be happy and well adjusted. And, boy, we fell for that hook, line and sinker. But we’ve had enough time to see kind of how these programs and how this research has unfolded. And guess what, it totally backfired. It actually led to helicopter parenting. It’s led to entitled fragile kids. And it’s led to a culture of navel gazing narcissism, in which the only question that matters is what do I want? So real says that when we fully embrace Western individualism, we all become a type of narcissist. So we don’t see ourselves directly. Our self perceptions are filtered through acquired knowledge. And so the good news is that our self perceptions can change if we are willing to put in the work. And so the work from his perspective is that we need to move from me to us and that if we can create that shift, then we will do a lot of good for our marriages.

So we know that a focus on individualism is really a recipe for disaster in marriage and indeed in all meaningful relationships. So What I’m here to say is don’t buy the hype, right, which is why I’m so thrilled about this book. Because he’s talking about selfishness, he’s talking about reorienting to what matters. And he’s such, you know, real is such a gifted clinician, but he also has a very common sense approach to marriage. So he does not have a problem disrupting conventional thinking. He’s practical, practical about what it takes to be happy in a marriage. So these are not lofty, you know, highfalutin ideas. And he’s not above pointing fingers, assigning blame, and calling partners to accountability, which, quite frankly, is refreshing. And that’s just what he does in his newest book. He definitely does that in his other books as well. So you know, that’s the that’s the first point that I think can be really helpful is the myth of the individual, and that we’re really thinking about marriage wrong. And that focus on me instead of we can really set us up for for failure when it comes to marriage. And so the second point that I want to share from the book is that we need to start thinking like a team. So instead of demanding your spouse to change, you should be the first one to change, you can consider what’s best for us. If what change could I make that could help my marriage? Right? That’s a hard question to answer. Because first of all, we don’t see ourselves accurately, we’re really wired to defend ourselves. And it’s vulnerable, right? Because it, it calls us to accountability, it calls us to change and to growth. And so you can best influence the interaction of your partner by changing your own behavior. So if you want your partner to change, change your behavior, that that’s, that’s the golden ticket right there. So change your response First, take an us view, right, that we’re in this together, you and me instead of every man or woman for himself or herself. And so I really liked that, that point that we need to think as a team. So our decisions are not ours alone. And then the third point that I want to share from the book is that you cannot love from above or below. So partners must be equal, we need to have an equal say in the relationship. No one is better than another. Pride has no place because the minute pride enters in, someone’s better and someone’s worse. This attitude that sometimes is spoken sometimes it’s not spoken, but it’s present, which might be my work is more important than yours is BS, we just don’t have any time or space for that. The belief whether it’s said, or left unsaid is it’s a wife’s responsibility to manage childcare, Bs, you both have these kids, you’re both responsible, and you need to be thinking as a team, right, we’re in this together, we’re partners. And if there’s rigid separation of family tasks, that’s gotta go. There’s no place for that, right. Because when we have that kind of separation of the one up one down, it’s communicating. Arrogance is communicating pride, it’s communicating a better than, and it’s this entitlement that is part of this individualism that is so toxic to marriages. That doesn’t mean that you don’t pay attention to your needs, of course, but you cannot love from above or below, you’ve got to be on equal footing. And so this brings us to the last point that I want to share today, although there’s so much more in the book. And that is that self esteem is a team sport. And so what what real says about this is that we tend to hold ourselves the way we were held. And so if you think about your own experience in childhood, if you were treated harshly, your self talk is likely to be harsh. If you were indulged as a child, you’re more likely to indulge yourself. And so you know, we need to learn to embrace healthy self esteem. And so what is healthy self esteem, right? I’ve done I’ve done a few podcasts on this.

So definitely go back and check out some of those if you want a refresher. But it is our capacity to esteem ourselves to hold ourselves warmly, to hold ourselves tenderly in the face of our screw ups and imperfections, because we’ve all got those. So healthy self esteem includes a focus on behavior, not character, right? So I messed up, it doesn’t mean I’m a mess up. And so though working on self esteem can seem very individualistic, right? Real teaches that it is actually very social. You are neither better than nor less than other people. And you don’t look at who’s up and who’s down. You don’t focus on comparison and competition and sometimes the trap of self esteem you is that we get caught in those comparisons. And what he says is none of that matters. And it’s, it’s recognizing that our self esteem is strengthened and nurtured in, in a secure relationship. And so being able to be compassionate with ourselves, helps us to be more compassionate with our partner. And so the fighting the who’s right, who’s wrong, none of that matters. And it, it calls to mind and he shares this in the book, one of my favorite quotes by Rumi, there is a field beyond right or wrong, I will meet you there. And so many couples get caught in the field of right or wrong, who hurt who, who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s messed up who’s not messed up. And what real says is none of that matters, that learning to love one another and shop for one another as a team sport, and you’ve got to be able to get past that field of right or wrong, right, I will meet you beyond that field where it’s, I love you, I’m here for you. Help Help me to change helped me to to be better so that I can show up in this relationship. And that that’s really the the fertile ground for growth in a marriage. And so with that, is a little bit of a taste of our book review for this month, us by Terrence reel, I will include a link to some information about Terry and a link to his book so that you can learn more. Today, we talked about four highlights from the book that I really enjoyed, although there are a lot more. So first, we’re thinking about marriage wrong. And he talks about the myth of the individual. Second, we need to start thinking like a team in our marriages. Third, you cannot love from above or below, you’ve got to have total equality. And fourth, self esteem is a team sport. And so when we talk about equality, it’s not that there’s a perfect separation of tasks necessarily, right, that would be crazy making, but that we show up as equal partners in our decision making in our responsibilities and our expectations. And so it’s a really excellent book, I would really recommend it. Regardless of the state of your marriage, regardless of whether you’re married, it’s excellent.

So make sure to head on over to my website to check out the show notes. With all the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/199-usbookreview. Of course I’m on Instagram @dr.melissasmith, I’d love to connect with you there. I will also link to some information about Terry and also my some of my self esteem podcasts if you want to review those. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care

Transcribed by https://otter.ai