Managing Marital Entropy…Why Doing Something, ANYTHING For Your Marriage…is Better Than Nothing At All!

For most of us, when we think of our marital relationships our minds don’t immediately go to the second law of thermodynamics, or entropy, but according to some marriage researchers, there is definitely a correlation. According to Stephen F. Duncan, entropy suggests that “starting on your wedding day, your marriage will begin a slow downward slide–that is unless you take action. Entropy is caused by inattention to the emotionally soft underbelly of a marriage, which needs constant attention. We have to do something active to counteract the erosion processes that are a natural and normal part of most marriages.” In today’s episode, we’ll talk about what that action looks like, and Tony will give a sneak peek of sorts to his upcoming Magnetic Marriage course on marriage communication. Tony references the article Resisting Marital Entropy by Sue Bergin https://magazine.byu.edu/article/resisting-marital-entropy/ 

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.


Tony also mentioned his appearances this week on two podcasts, The Betrayed, The Addicted and The Expert with hosts Ashlyn and Coby, and Virtual Couch former guest Brannon Patrick where we discuss narcissism in detail and the challenges people face in relationships with narcissistic individuals https://www.betrayedaddictedexpert.com/podcast/episode/25d19bf1/is-narcissism-nature-or-nurture and The Millennial Member Podcast hosted by Emily Ensign where we discuss the topic of pornography, what helps with recovery, and what doesn’t https://www.buzzsprout.com/1072564/6209683-tony-overbay-pornography-and-recovery

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the “uh’s” and “um’s” that, in his words, “must be created by wizards and magic!” because it’s that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ

Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and sign up at http://tonyoverbay.comto learn more about Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage” program!

Tony’s FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to https://www.tonyoverbay.com/courses-2/ and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

Tony’s new best-selling book “He’s a Porn Addict…Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions” is now available on Kindle. https://amzn.to/38mauBo

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of “He’s a Porn Addict…Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions” now available on Amazon https://amzn.to/33fk0U4. The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

You can learn more about Tony’s pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

—– TRANSCRIPT —–

Ep233 MaritalEntropy POST Descript.mp3
[00:00:00] Coming up on today’s episode of The Virtual Couch, what if you just simply leave your marriage to just happen? What if you don’t actively or intentionally look for ways or tools or things to improve your marriage? According to some researchers, you are at risk of marital entropy, meaning that starting on your wedding day, your marriage will begin a slow downward slide unless you take action. We’ll talk about that, what kind of action to take. And so much more on today’s episode of The Virtual Couch.

[00:00:42] Come on, take a seat.

[00:00:49] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 233 of the Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist certified by Malevich coach, writers, speakers and father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back, which is now a path back 2.0. The Path Back is a pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you are anybody that you know is trying to put pornography behind them once and for all and trust me, it can be done and I’m not kidding. And a strength based hold the shame, become the person you always wanted to be way then head over to pathbackrecovery.com. And there you will find a short ebook that describes five myths that people overlook when trying to remove pornography from their lives once and for all. Again, that’s path back recovery. Dotcom and path back 2.0 is just exciting. So every Wednesday now is part of the path back 2.0. I actually do an hour long Q&A and we’re getting a pretty good group together that is showing up week after week. There’s the forum now that is active and flourishing. So if you’re interested in even just checking out the Q&A, call Goulden email me at contact at TonyOverbay.com and I will give you access to that Q&A call and you can take a look at what the Path Back 2.0 is really about.

[00:02:02] And speaking of groups, I mentioned this on a few different episodes and I have started a group, and it is for women who are in relationships with or have gotten out of relationships with men who have narcissistic tendencies or even full blown narcissistic personality disorder. So if you’re interested in that, please email me again, contact@TonyOverbay.com and I can give you more information on that. And I’m just grateful to be able to even have a group like that. There’s just a lot of good that’s taking place there. I wanted to read a quick review that came in this week, and this is one of those things where I love when I listen to a podcast and they read the reviews and I forget I neglect to do this constantly. But there’s a funny part in here that seems like a setup. The review says this is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to and says I wait for this podcast to come out each week. I am so thankful that Tony would share his wisdom and expertise with everybody for FREE. All capital letters. I feel like I’ve learned so much and love the personal growth from his podcasts. Thank you, Tony, for making a difference in the world and says Tony needs to sell merchandise.

[00:03:06] If he isn’t already, I would totally wear it. And that just made my day because I’m literally sitting here with a virtual couch, blue puffy jacket on and a virtual couch beanie. And last night on my run had my virtual couch tech fabric running shirts. And I have not made those available to anyone yet. But man, my family is inundated with virtual couch beanies and virtual couch hoodies and virtual couch jackets. And I’m just having a lot of fun with that. So I probably will start posting a little bit, maybe some pictures of the merchandise on Instagram so you can go over to @virtualcouch. And if I can figure out how to do what with all the cool kids do on Instagram as far as doing contests and that sort of thing, I have a lot of extra merchandise that I’ve been making and having made and just really enjoying that I and I. So I appreciate Kathy who wrote that review. So if you feel so inclined, nothing warms my heart more than anybody taking the time to rate and review the podcast wherever you find your podcast. So I want to get to today’s episode. There’s a real quick caveat. I believe that’s the right use of the word. I did a video, so the video is up on my virtual couch YouTube channel, and I would love for you to go check it out there and subscribe.

[00:04:19] If you think about it, subscribe on the YouTube, the YouTube, the YouTube’s these days, the YouTube button, if you could subscribe, that would be great. And the reason I’m bringing that up right now is the audio I feel like is a little bit tinny, a little bit hollow once I get over to the audio that accompanies the YouTube video and the recording is great. Did it in a nice 4K webcam that I love using, but the audio was maybe not as strong as I would have enjoyed. So I’m going to try to to polish that up with the audio filter. But I feel like you’re going to hear a slight decrease or degradation in audio, which is hard for me because I’ve tried to ever since it was like episode nine. I think I had a guest on my buddy Eric shranz, who runs the Ultra Runner podcast, talking about being a stay at home dad. And right when we were done, he gave me a couple of tips and a program that I could sweeten the audio. And so I’ve done that since. So I really hope that that will take care of the audio because it’s definitely a different sound. So I just wanted to make you aware that I was aware of that and I mentioned that a minute ago.

[00:05:24] But head over to a virtual couch, the Instagram account, and also you can go to TonyOverbay.com. And there’s a lot there. Now, I have to tell you, there’s the free parenting course. There’s links to the Path Back recovery program. And there’s a way to sign up for my. Marriage course, that is coming up, and I know I’ve talked a lot about it, but I’m just giddy. I can’t wait. It’s very good. We’ve been editing it, getting the workbook ready, the videos, and it is going to be really good. And yesterday, I’m recording this on a Tuesday morning. I did do my interview with Dr. Jennifer Finless and five that’ll come out probably in about a week or so. And man, we covered some ground. I was so grateful for her time and for I know there’s a lot of Jennifer Finlayson, some fans, and we boy, we did good. She’s that’s her third appearance on the virtual couch. And that is coming up. And again, hopefully that’s by next week. So stay tuned for that. OK, we’re going to be talking a lot about marriage, marriage therapy, marital entropy, how to intentionally do good things for your marriage. So let’s get to today’s episode on marital entropy.

[00:06:26] Today’s topic is one that I almost I want to take you on my train of thought on why I wanted to record this episode and why I almost recorded this episode and then why I didn’t. And now I am again. So the concept is on marital entropy. And this is something that Preston had mentioned to me when we were just prepping some of the materials for the course while we’re now editing the videos and getting the workbook ready to go. And he just mentioned off hand this concept of marital entropy. And I have studied the concept of entropy in the past without much success, because I have never been one that is very solid in the ways of science. And and so I thought marital entropy tell me more. And he went on to talk about this concept where in marital entropy, if one is not working on something, that it will eventually fall into chaos or disregard. And apparently there is and I found this, but I don’t have it up in front of me now. But there’s an example that is well known or well used. And it talks about, I believe, a teenager in their room that if they are just left and not working on cleaning the room, that the room will eventually fall into discord, that it will that it is the second law of thermodynamics known also known as entropy, kind of kicks in and it says that energy degrades over time.

[00:07:42] So that teenager and if anybody has a teenager, you’ll recognize this. The bed continues to not be made. Dishes are left around, dirty clothes. All of those sort of things are left all over the room. And it degrades it definitely does degrade over time. And so in layman’s terms, then, entropy, which is absent of any kind of skill set or intervention that naturally moves toward disorder. So how does that apply to marriage? I felt like this kind of summed up everything that I have learned over the last decade plus of seeing couples in my office for therapy that people naturally mean well, that they go into a relationship wanting the best out of their marriage. But over time, if they aren’t actively working on the relationship and that can mean a variety of things, that it will start to fall toward more chaos or more disorder. And a lot of times there are so many reasons why people don’t necessarily have the skills or the tools. They maybe were never modeled a very successful relationship growing up, or they just don’t know what to even do. They don’t even know what those interventions would look like.

[00:08:47] And so they start to have this wedge that’s driven in between the couple. And you get 20 years down the road, the kids are almost out of the home. And then the parents often realize, I don’t even know who my my spouse is. And so a lot of times I feel like that is maybe what this marital entropy can look like. So I don’t have a lot of data. I normally and here’s why. Here’s why I didn’t I was about to record this a week or two ago, and then I didn’t because I really like to find evidence based studies or models or that sort of thing to base my podcast episodes off of I’m such a anti pop psychology guy drives me crazy almost maybe to a default where I will default. I will be honest and say I meant to say almost to a fault where I feel like if I don’t have a nice evidence based study to work off of that I am in danger of falling or succumbing to a pop psychology myth. And I’ll give you one of my favorite pop psychology, MTT, to bust. And I do this every chance I can. And so if you listen to several episodes of the virtual couch, you’ll see where I’m going here.

[00:09:47] But take that example of how many days it takes or weeks to create a new habit. If you are like most people. If I asked you right now, how long does it take to create a new habit, your first response might be twenty one days, three weeks it takes to create a new habit. And that data is out there. Google it right now. If you’ve never heard that and you will find that in droves, you will find that all over the place. And that is based off of a plastic surgeon who was traveling with the troops in World War one or two. I can’t remember right now. And he was working with people that had limbs or blown off in combat. And he observed that I think his name was Maxwell Moss. But after about three weeks, 21 days, he noticed that people stopped feeling that phantom pain. And so he published some sort of report on that. And then every every motivational speaker, every psychologist, therapist took that and ran with it and said, OK, it must take. 21 days for the brain to come up with a new these new neural pathways or these new habits in essence, and so people move forward and it takes 21 days to create a new habit.

[00:10:52] Now, be a therapist and have that, you know, circulating around and have somebody that says, I’m going to exercise or I’m going to eat better and have them than do that pretty religiously for three weeks. And then if it doesn’t work, they come into your office and they say, what’s wrong with me? I read everywhere that it takes three weeks to create a new habit. And I don’t like running yet or I’m not eating better just for the sake of it’s not a new habit. And that’s where I started looking at, OK, what’s the real data? And there’s a lot there’s so much data now and people that have taken different measures or different tests to figure out how long it takes to create a new habit.

[00:11:27] And it’s more like anywhere from three months on certain habits. It’s depending upon the habit to I think on average it was like 180 or 182 days. So it could take up to six months. So things are going to feel like they aren’t coming naturally to somebody after three weeks. And that’s perfectly normal.

[00:11:43] So I have things like that stuck in the back of my mind so that when I want to record a podcast, I wanted to just be based on all this data and I want to regurgitate it in my own language and talk about things that I’ve seen in the chair. So marital entropy sounds amazing. And then when I actually started to dig deeper and Google it, I found a couple of articles that are good. But I also found a lot of people that are debunking that concept of marital entropy and talking about how it doesn’t necessarily even fall in line with the what is it, the second law of thermodynamics, which is entropy, which again, the law states that energy degrades over time. So I want you to know that as I recorded the rest of this episode, that I’m very aware that marital entropy sounds like an amazing concept. And I believe that there is a lot of truth there, but I do not have the scientific data to necessarily back it up. So let’s talk about this. I was on a walk over the weekend with my wife and just put it out there.

[00:12:39] I had a son, I have a son, and he’s 16, almost 17. And he parked in and he was spending the night with a friend and he parked in the friend’s neighborhood. And it’s a neighborhood full of these townhomes that all share a driveway. And he comes home the next morning and he has a big sticker across the side of his window and says, you were almost towed. So we say, oh, man, that is really frustrating. And what if he would have gotten it towed and it would have been very expensive. And so we are on a walk. We actually walk by the neighborhood and see that there are some spots that seem to be available to park. So we my wife and I have this discussion and my wife says, so I don’t want to come across as offensive to our son, but I really want him to know or understand that, hey, can you do me a favor and just park across the street park in a different neighborhood and walk over there because this could cost a lot of money.

[00:13:30] And she said, hey, is there anything wrong with that? And I said, no, absolutely not anything wrong with it. But I feel like this is one of those situations where there’s almost a good, better best scenario with ways to communicate. And let me tell you, it is so difficult. The last thing I want to do is make it sound like I am doing therapy on my wife. That is, no one likes for their spouse to say, here’s what I think you need to do or you need to do it this way or you’re doing it wrong because they immediately have. I mean, we’re married 30 years. She has so many examples of things that I don’t do very well that she could have just pulled them at random and said, oh, really? So I don’t communicate well, how about the way that you say this or this or that sort of thing?

[00:14:07] So in this scenario, I said, let me just share with you what I would say to someone that’s coming into my office. And here’s where I would go with that. There’s several layers here. And this is where I feel like that marital entropy or communication related entropy kicks in, that if we just over time aren’t necessarily actively trying to work on new skills, then what that scenario might look like is one of us just telling our spouse, hey, can you not do that next time? Can you do it this other way instead? And that might land the person might then. Sure. In this scenario, my son may park across the street the next time, but he’s it’s not that he’s going to necessarily think that, oh, we just increased our communication skills or the relationship was just built in this moment. And I know that might sound dramatic at times. I mean, is the goal that we can really take every single scenario, every single communication opportunity and turn that into something where I know I can go to my spouse and say, hey, I’ve got something I want to bring up. And at the end of this this conversation, it’s going to go so well that I just learned more about my spouse and they learned more about me.

[00:15:13] And now we’re even closer together. And now that just further shows that the next time we have anything to talk about, that will even be closer. And that’s where I want to say, yeah, actually with the right skills and tools, that can be the experience. So I know it sounds like I’m probably jumping around a little bit here, going from this experience of my son to what that would look like in a marriage. But bear with me. So we go back to the scenario. And she said, OK. She said, I would love to not just say you need to do this. To our son, but I would love to say, hey, can you do me a favor and just do this next time? And that’s where I said that’s that’s good. I mean, that’s even better. And I feel like the tools that I’ve learned through emotionally focused therapy, the tools I’ve learned through acceptance and commitment therapy, and the tools that I’ve learned in one of my favorite words, psychological reactance. Now, when you put all those together and let me explain the different ways that this could go. So, first of all, psychological reactions. No one likes being told what to do. Reactance is that instant negative reaction of being told what to do.

[00:16:13] So when someone comes to you and says, hey, can you not do that anymore? Keep parked somewhere else next time. Our first response, and it’s innate, is born within us. There is a lot of data here that shows that our first response is I’ll do whatever I want. And it’s a way to protect ourselves from not being just run through by some alpha male or dominant society. So there’s one of the first things now, will the person now from that day forward park across the street? They might they might park across the street. If you say, hey, can you park across the street next time and never park in that neighborhood again because you’re going to get a ticket. And that’s going to take me off because I’m ultimately going to be the one that’s going to pay for the ticket. All those things may be true, but is that going to be best for the relationship?

[00:16:53] Hey, excuse me. Pardon the interruption. Just going to take care of a little bit of business. I’m going to make this as fast. Honestly, this can be the world’s fastest, betterhelp.com ad. If you are looking for help, you are not sure where to go, not sure where to go to find a licensed therapist in your area. Go to better help dotcom slash virtual couch. You’ll get 10 percent off of your first month’s counseling services. They have programs available if you need a sliding scale, if you need a lower rate and they can get you in within a matter of sometimes 24 to 48 hours. And trust me, that is that is phenomenal right now because there are so many people that are seeking help with all of the things that are going on in the world. So you owe it to yourself, your family, everyone, to get a little bit of help if you’re struggling, a little bit of anxiety, maybe depression, a little bit of OCD, or you just want to check in and just see if there’s anything that you’re missing, your blindspots, being able to talk to somebody. And now somebody that talks to people for a living every day knows some of the things to look for of ways that might be putting you in a position where you can you’re not being your best self. Go to betterhelp.com, less virtual couch, get ten percent off your first month services. Over a million people have done that now. And I highly encourage needless to say, I’m a big fan of therapy. So if you if you would rather not go wait in a waiting room and if you’re looking for online services and we’re talking email, we’re talking text, we’re talking video therapy, any or all of the above, again, head to better help dotcom slash virtual couch. OK, back to the podcast.

[00:18:22] Now, here’s where I say that. What is your goal? If your goal is just to put things out there, to be brutally honest, then you just met your goal. And that’s great. And that works. If your goal is to develop the relationship, if that’s something where you’re looking for a relationship instead of not just spouting out rules, then there’s a better way to do it. And so you’ve also you start off with that psychological reactants in mind. Do you go to your spouse or do you go to your kid and say, do this or don’t do this? Because if you’re doing that right away, there’s where the reactance is going to be built in. So how does one do it differently, you may ask? This is where you ask questions. So in that scenario I just laid out to my wife, so and again, it’s so difficult because I’m not trying to say I know how to do everything perfectly because she could sit there and talk about 100 hundred different ways and probably the last few months where I have not communicated as effectively as I like to think that I have. In the scenario, though, it would be a, hey, bud, tell me about getting that ticket. Like, what is that like? Where did you park and were there any spots available, you know, what their rules are in that and that in that complex, that compound.

[00:19:30] Have you seen those stickers elsewhere? Have you heard lots of stories about it? Tell me more. Tell me more about this whole situation and maybe you can see where we’re going here. But that person says, my son in the scenario says, oh, yeah. And people get all the time. Or if he says, you know, no one’s ever gotten a ticket, they’ll get the sticker, they’ll put the sticker on their window. It’s super annoying. But in the grand scheme of things, I think they’re just there to scare, to warn, or if he has this data, this is where I want to seek first to understand I want to ask questions before I make my comments. If he has all this data that says it really isn’t a problem, then I’m probably going to change my approach. I might say, hey, I really appreciate that. And I can share my I feel statements, you know, OK, I appreciate that. But, man, I feel like I if that does, if there is a chance that you might get a ticket and especially knowing that I’m the one that is going to end up paying for it, then I would just love it. I would really appreciate it if you could maybe park across the street in this other neighborhood.

[00:20:25] I mean, I hear you and it sounds like that is not a scenario that I need to worry about. But I so appreciate you sharing what you know about parking in this complex. And I just feel like it would do me well if you could just park across the street. But I hear you again. I understand that. You aren’t aware of anybody that’s gotten a ticket, but that would just make me make me feel a lot more at ease as the one who’s going to pay this ticket. And I hope you can kind of sense the whole energy shift there that the shift goes from. I’m not saying, look, do what I’m telling you to do. You don’t know what you’re talking about, because in reality, I really don’t know. I’ve got a good idea of what I’m talking about. But ultimately, I’ve never parked there. I’ve never talked to his friends. I’ve never talked to his friend’s parents about parking in that complex. So the good better the best way. If my goal is a relationship with my son, then I want to be aware of that reactance. And I want to ask questions. I want to say, hey, tell me more and I’m going to share my thoughts, my man. I feel like this might be the best way to go. So the reason I start there is in developing this course with Preston, there have been some things that I’ve done, has an emotionally focused therapist and F.T.

[00:21:31] based practitioner in working with couples for years, years and years. Now, where I say that one of the first key principles of working with your spouse in communication is to assume that they did not wake up in the morning and think, how can I hurt my partner? So that is a big one. And so we call these four pillars of a connected conversation. The first one is assuming good intentions, know that we’re on the same team. So even if my son in the scenario and I hope you’re following why I’m going back and forth, because this was a scenario that was just this weekend. And whether it’s my son or whether it’s a spouse, it’s a way to have a connected conversation. And I feel like this best was best exemplified how this could work well and how this could fall into entropy or chaos if there weren’t the skills or tools to have this conversation effectively. So the first thing is I have to assume that him getting the ticket and that he assumed good intentions. He didn’t wake up that morning and think, oh, I totally know a way to tick off mom and dad. I’m getting a ticket parking wherever I can.

[00:22:32] I’m getting a ticket. So there’s the second one. The first one assume good intentions. The second pillar of a connected conversation is I cannot put out the vibe. I can’t literally say, hey, you’re wrong.

[00:22:44] You don’t know what’s going on. Because if I do that now, all of a sudden this conversation devolves into him explaining something that I don’t really have the data on, or all of a sudden he’s going to and we do this in our couples communication. So often if our spouse if I said, hey, I parked on the street, I thought it was fine. You know, I parked in this neighborhood. I wasn’t aware if my spouse comes right at me and says, I don’t buy that you driven there. You parked there are a lot of times I don’t believe you. Then what’s the energy that I go from there? I mean, what do I say? Well, it’s true. At that point, the conversation shut down or all of a sudden you have to defend myself. Or worse yet, when we are accused or when we’re told that we’re wrong, oftentimes we say, OK, well, it’s not like you’re perfect either. Here’s all these things that you’ve done before that I don’t I don’t necessarily believe you either. So you can see where at that point the conversation is off the mark, it’s off the rails, and now we’re going in some direction where we’re just in our bunkers and we’re hurling insults.

[00:23:40] We’re trying to come up with better analogies and none of those things are going to be productive. So you must stick to these four pillars of a connected conversation, one, assuming good intentions that no one wakes up and thinks I’m going to hurt my partner today.

[00:23:51] I’m don’t need a ticket. I’m going to start yelling, I’m going to withdraw whatever that is. The second model. Then the second pillar is to say, OK, I can’t just say I don’t believe you or you’re wrong. So I want to say, all right, tell me more. Tell me, here’s what I want that tell me your experiences in parking there. Tell me the rules that you know, tell me the conversations you’ve had with people who have parked there as well. Tell me, have you ever heard about anyone else getting tickets? Tell me what that is like. Tell me what that would feel like if you were to leave that sticker on your window. Do you worry at all the next time somebody comes around to enforce parking that that will be the the big red flag of saying, hey, I’ve already done this before, so give me a ticket. Tell me more than the third pillar is that seek first to understand before being understood or ask questions before comments. So this is that scenario where a lot of times in relationships are in couples that are in my office, they they wanted to say, well, let me just tell you really quick that I can’t believe you said that. I mean, that really hurts my feelings. And it basically makes me feel like you don’t care about how hard I work because I’m going to be the one paying for this ticket. But now that I’ve said that, let me listen. Tell me more. Tell me more about that. Because at that point, the person that you’re talking to in the scenario would be, my teenager is shut down.

[00:25:01] I mean, they’re defensive. So that is not putting them in a space where they want to communicate or want to open up more. So that third pillar then is again ask questions before making comments. If I just go in and blast out with my comments and then ask questions, I could even be doing the first two pillars. Fine. And we’ve already taken that conversation off on a bad place, it down a rocky path. And then the fourth pillar of a connected conversation is to stay in there. Don’t go run into your bunker and retreat. You’ve made it this far. You’ve assumed good intentions. You haven’t told the person that they’re wrong. You’ve asked questions before making comments and then stay in there because conversations are going to get uncomfortable. We’re going to feel a whole range of human emotion and one of the parts that people do so often that stops a connected conversation is they violate this fourth pillar. They don’t hang in there and have the uncomfortable parts of the conversation. There’s a big concept that we have. It’s called primary and secondary emotions. The primary emotion is that immediate feeling. We have got reaction that we might have. And if somebody is telling us something that we don’t want to hear, we may have this immediate feeling of embarrassment or this feeling of insecurity or any of these primary emotions, and we don’t want to sit with them.

[00:26:12] So we quickly jump to this secondary emotion. One of the most popular secondary emotions is anger. So if we feel if I feel all of a sudden like I’m being taken advantage of, that my son doesn’t care about getting a parking ticket. And I feel like, oh, my gosh, they don’t care about me, I’m being taken advantage of. I’m not going to sit there with it and feel that, oh, man. OK, I appreciate what they’re sharing and I need to sit here with my own primary emotions and they’re going to pass.

[00:26:35] I’m there. It’s I got lots of other emotions or experiences that are coming up next. But if I immediately go to anger, I can’t believe you’re doing that. I mean, do you how that makes him feel. Then we jump to that secondary emotion. And again, we could have been the first three pillars. Well, and then that fourth one, we just derailed the conversation. And Preston and I in the more field work that we did and in this magnetic marriage course, using these four pillars of a connected conversation, the more we saw that not almost any conversation that goes south and evolves breaks up. You can go look and see where which one of those pillars did things devolve. And some of the most common examples are people that just they tell the person they’re wrong and they just want them to know, I don’t believe you. I’m willing to hear you, but I don’t believe you. And when you tell someone I don’t believe you, then that person now goes more into this defense mode. Or oftentimes we hear all of these responses like, OK, well, I know there’s nothing I’m going to say that’s going to make you believe me. So I don’t know what the point is of having this conversation. So I often say that somebody can of course, you’re human. You may not believe the person. You may have all the evidence or data that’s contrary to what they’re saying. And I ask you right now to if you’re engaging in a conversation, I would say put the fixing in the judgment brain over here, turn it off, or set those feelings or emotions over here to the side.

[00:27:55] They’re right there. You’re human. But right now, we’re going to just leave those. We’re going to leave those over here. And I have so many examples of this. One of the ones that I give so often is a conversation that a couple had in my office where the husband comes home. They’d had a bit of a verbal agreement on household duties or chores, and nothing had happened to have gotten done that day. Husband comes home, kind of gets really angry, throws a fit what you do all day. And the wife’s friend had passed away and she was looking in on her phone pictures for memorial. And so had he gone in and assumed good intentions, she didn’t wake up and not do anything just to hurt him. And then the second one is he’s not going to say, hey, you’re wrong. If she says, man, I had a really bad day, I haven’t really been able to get a lot done. If you were just jumped in and said, hey, don’t buy it, how many times have you said this? The third one is he needed to ask questions before making comments. He jumped right into comic mode. And if it would have been. Tell me more. Tell me about your day, what’s your day been like? And put a put onto the side here. The fixing and judgment part of I thought we had an agreement. I thought you would have dinner ready. I thought the house would be clean. I thought the kids have done their homework. Put that aside while you follow these steps of this connected conversation script.

[00:29:02] So at that point, if he would have been heard my friend passed away, then is he going to say, OK, I mean, fine, but I thought we had this agreement. No, he’s going to say, I am so sorry. What can I do to help? And that’s going to be a moment where people become more connected. And then the fourth one is the stay in there and have those difficult conversations. So the reason I wanted to bring this up back to this concept of marital entropy is I feel like we don’t have these skills built in. We typically do see our spouse after years. That can be a few years, many years. And if our spouse wakes up and they’re withdrawn their turn to their phone, they’re putting all their energy toward the kids, we assume kind of bad intentions. So pillar number one, I need to assume good intentions. I need to assume that they again, they didn’t wake up and say, man, I don’t want to be connected to my spouse or I don’t want to come out with these other things. And then that would lead to a it would lead to this. I’m not going to say that they’re wrong either. If I say, hey, how are you feeling today? And they’re saying, I’m fine, it’s we’ve probably all been in a spot where we said, I don’t believe you. You don’t seem fine. And so I don’t buy it.

[00:30:10] Then in that person at that time, the person that is being accused in that scenario is most likely going to feel like they have to go into defense mode. Either say you wouldn’t understand anyway, or it’s not like you’ve been the the the pillar of happy conversations yourself or any of those things. So and then the third pillar that comes into play then is ask questions. Hey, tell me what’s going on here. Tell me why you feel like maybe you you feel a little bit down and tell me why you don’t feel like you can share that with me. And then the fourth one is because I’m here for you. I’m going to hang in. Here, I’m going to I’m going to be here for you, I want to change this dynamic and that is not trying to develop some codependent relationship that is saying that I want to change this dynamic and I want to avoid this marital entropy that happens over time. And people will discover that there are rifts in the the relationship or that their struggles or challenges and communication a few years into the marriage or could be decades into the marriage. But that doesn’t mean that, well, this is what it is or this is what happens with all couples are now we’re stuck. That’s not the way it works. So there’s some pretty cool data. If I do go and look back up to this concept of marital entropy, I found an article called Resisting Marital Entropy, and it’s by IMSA Berghain Fall of 2005 issue, which is a really old issue of BYU magazine.

[00:31:27] And that was really fascinating to find out was abused Google marital entropy. That’s the first one that came up. And so they talk about entropy is caused by inattention to the emotionally soft underbelly of a marriage which needs constant attention, says Stephen Duncan, a professor at that time. And that’s a long time ago. I know BYU School of Family Life. So entophy suggests that starting on your wedding day, your marriage will begin a slow downward slide unless you take action. And so, again, I’m not trying to make this sound dramatic, but I feel like this is just something that happens. And the reason I brought up that example earlier about ways to communicate about my son getting this this morning at this parking complex or this home housing complex is we fall into these patterns of entropy or where we the conversations that tend to devolve over time. And we aren’t even aware that there are better ways to have those conversations. So we just fall into these patterns of just saying, just don’t do it anymore to my son or to a couple. We might often feel like I don’t want to have this conversation. I’ve tried to have this conversation a million times, whether it’s about parenting, finances, intimacy, any of those things. And so we fall into this pattern or as Stephen H says, it’s caused by this inattention to the emotionally soft underbelly of a marriage which needs constant attention, goes on to say that a powerful countermeasure is marriage enrichment. And that’s a subject that’s been researched by a lot of people.

[00:32:50] And there’s a lot of good data out there. And that includes any anything that has been done under the marriage enrichment umbrella, any deliberate activity that works that change an individual or couples attitudes or skills or behavior, whether it’s going on dates or reading books or visiting websites of ways to strengthen marriage. And again, this is 2005 research, and I’m sure there’s more updated data here. But couples that want to improve their marriage, they go on to talk about theirs, they have many options, workshops and seminars. And they said several long term studies have shown that a prevention and relationship enhancement program or prep can be effective in helping couples improve their marriages and prevent divorce. Develop at the University of Denver and teaches communication and conflict management skills and six to 12 hour workshops on a they are split into several days. And this is one of those areas where long term studies show that and again, that is being spinning and making it intentional to work on one’s relationship. There’s another example. It’s a couples communications, a research based program from the diversity of Minnesota teachers, 11 skills that effectively strengthen marriages. And there’s another example that talks about a relationship enrichment, one of the oldest and most studied marriage enrichment programs. They say it essentially teaches couples to be therapists for each other. There’s a really questionnaire. There’s various books, websites. And that’s what led me to want to record this this podcast, because it does need you need to put effort to avoid this marital entropy, to avoid the marriage, to just kind of regress to this place where we’re just kicking the can down the road and thinking it’ll get better when the kids are out of the house and get better when we’re out of debt.

[00:34:25] It’ll get better when. And we need to look at that as well. We can make it better now. And so this magnetic marriage course, the person I have put together that will be launching in a couple of months, it’s we’re going to give you some very specific things that will help you enrich your marriage and will help you based on these four pillars have connected conversations that will allow you to just find out more about your spouse. This is going to be the goal. The goal is going to be to learn how to communicate and connect again with your spouse and maybe not even again, maybe connect in a way that I feel like people have never they’re not natural ways to communicate and by natural ways to communicate. I just mean that by the time we get married, typically we have put ourselves out there. We’ve been vulnerable. We’ve had opportunities where that has not gone so well. So we become a bit reserved or a bit guarded. And it’s hard for us to go ahead and put our full emotion and heart into relationships at times, if we can’t trust that our partner is going to treat our emotions with respect. Sue Johnson, who is founder of emotionally focused therapy, says it best where she says that we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being.

[00:35:35] Simply put, processing emotion or being in a relationship is a dyadic collaborative process. We are designed to work together with emotion. I had an example not long ago where a couple was talking about the spouses, the wife and the scenarios, anxiety that when she was feeling particularly anxious or stressed, she would withdraw a little bit in the relationship. And there were a couple of things that could have happened. One is that I often hear people in the scenario where the husband would say something like that once and they’ll bring something like this into therapy and the husband will say, I need her to go figure that out. I need her to work on that because I can’t be a party to that or I can’t develop some codependent relationship about that. She needs to work on that and then come back into the marriage. And when she’s worked on that, then we can move forward. And this is that part where I feel like man emotionally focused therapy or this magnetic marriage course that I’m working on based on these EFT principles, we are designed to process emotion in concert with another human being. In that scenario, someone that is not even fully aware of what that anxiety looks like when they are getting stressed, they start to withdraw. If someone is just telling them, hey, I don’t like that, you go figure that out and you’re in a committed relationship, that is the opportunity, if you feel safe to know that that person is withdrawing or having this the stress or anxiety, that is they have good intentions.

[00:36:55] They didn’t wake up in the morning and think, here is how I will hurt my partner, I will withdraw and I will have some crippling anxiety or this overwhelming amount of stress. So if that is my wife and I notice that and then again, it’s maybe feels like it’s a stretch to say I have to assume good intentions. I have to assume that they didn’t wake up and think, how can I hurt my spouse, how could my wife hurt me? I have to know. I have to know that is not the intent. So then the second part is I can’t say if in this scenario, this wife said, I’m sometimes not even aware of it and I’m not even exactly sure what I’m doing or what I need to do. If the husband said I don’t buy it because you’re not being very nice when you’re going through this stress or anxiety period, what is she supposed to do with that? So #1, if he says, OK, assuming good intentions are on the same team because she’s not doing that intentionally to hurt me. Number two excuse me. #2 is I can’t say I don’t believe you. I don’t buy that. Then a number leads to #3, ask questions. Hey, so tell me what you’re feeling or tell me what you’re you know, when that’s happening. Can you identify any triggers or patterns that is at a certain time of the month? This is a certain time of year, certain time of the day.

[00:37:59] Do you have pressures on at work or with kids or any of those things? Let’s try to figure this out. I’m here for you. I care about you. You can count on me. I have your back. And so in that scenario, now, if the person, if the spouse, if the wife in the scenario truly is not aware of what is happening, I hope you can feel that shift of energy right there where we’re designed to deal with that emotion in collaboration with another human being. So then I want now and this did happen with this particular couple. I want that husband to shift his whole mindset from I can’t deal with this. I don’t know what to do with it, to man, I’m here for you. And so now that we’ve identified that this is something that happens, the stress or anxiety happens, and I’m not going to tell you. I don’t believe you. I’m not going to assume that you are doing it to hurt me. And I’m not going to just throw my stuff out there and say, look, I can’t deal with this. Then I’m going to and I’m there for you to hang in here for this conversation. What is that going to lead to? It’s going to lead to her feeling safe. So if he now goes up to her and says, hey, I’m noticing this is one of those times where I feel like you’re a little bit disconnected from me, now she’s got to do the same thing, right? I assume that he didn’t wake up and say, I know how I will hurt my wife.

[00:39:02] I will tell her that she’s distracted or detached, and then she’s going to ask questions. She can’t say he’s wrong again. Right. That’s pillar #2, which leads to that pillar #3, where now he’s she gets to say, help me, help me understand what am I do and help me see my blind spots, because I’m not even aware that that’s what I’m doing right now. And so I hope you can see that now, if we just clean these four pillars of a connected conversation and we’re aware that if we are not doing something intentional, that there is this concept of marital entropy where things just naturally erode or devolve or degrade. And it’s not by intention, it’s not by design, it’s not by any malicious ill will that that’s just the way things happen. And then we fall into these patterns where then we just assume or think that this is the way that marriage goes, that every marriage is the same, that this is what I have to look forward to, and that I just have to slog it through and get through the rest of my life. And that is not a way to live. So in in a connected magnetic marriage, a connected conversation. If you adhere to these four pillars, which we are going to go so big on in this marriage course and give you so many examples of the ways to put this into play in conversation topics and styles and ways to avoid these landmines that pop up all over the place and ways to have more empathetic statements than just tell me more about that, that when you are intentional about that process or that concept, you can truly make this marriage be something that you never dreamed of or maybe you always dreamt of it.

[00:40:29] And now here you are, five years in, ten years in, thirty years in. And you realize that’s not how my marriage is. That does not mean that you have now. The world of marital entropy, and it will never, ever be good, it means that now you have some information and data and you can do something intentional to avoid that marital entropy and to start to charge your marriage again and put it in a position where now you actually do want to communicate with your spouse. You want to go to them as the husband in the scenario that you can go to your spouse and say, hey, I noticed that there are times where you seem a little distracted or detached and you know that your spouse is going to say, OK, he didn’t do this to hurt me. I’m not going to tell him he’s wrong. I’m going to ask questions that I can say. Then she would say, oh, my gosh, tell me I’m missing this. I must have some blindspots. Tell me what I’m missing.

[00:41:19] Or in that scenario where you can take the same concept into that situation with my son and what a world this is going to be when we get these kind of concepts in in our communication as parents or in the workplace where he’s going to know or I know that he doesn’t mean ill will or he’s not trying to hurt me by getting a parking sticker on his window.

[00:41:40] Then I can go in there and say, and he knows I’m not going to say, I don’t buy it bud, I don’t believe you. And I’m going to ask questions. Hey, tell me more about that, because that is the way to have him most likely say, yeah, it is. It is dumb, but OK, fine, I’ll park across the street if I can’t find a spot to park because he feels hurt. He doesn’t feel shut down. I didn’t just throw that. I need you to do this or you better do this or you’re a horrible person, kind of a vibe that we often put off. So there are ways to improve communication with your spouse. Absolutely. With your family. You bet. Colleagues, coworkers. This this concept, these concepts work incredibly well and they avoid that whole concept of marital entropy. All right. Hey, I appreciate you taking the time. I appreciate you. Let me kind of go a little bit on my train of thought here that there wasn’t as much data, evidence based data perhaps around this idea of marital entropy. But I believe this is one of those where even the anecdotal data will support the concept that our marriage is if we aren’t more intentional about them or our communication with our family or friends, that they will tend to devolve or it can become a little bit fallen into disorder if we don’t intentionally work on it. And I know that these skills that I talked about today are ones that will help you in your relationship. And so I cannot wait to get this magnetic marriage course out to you. Go to TonyOverbay.com right now and just sign up to find out more about this program, because it’s coming soon and it is literally going to just change marriages for the better. So with that said, I hope you have an amazing, wonderful day and I will see you next time on the virtual couch.

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