Monica Tanner on the “Secrets of Happily Ever After” in Marriage

Monica Tanner, the host of the Secrets of Happily Ever After podcast, joins Tony to talk about the secrets of achieving “happily ever after” in your marriage. They cover parenting, tension, physical and emotional intimacy, narcissism, and why being intentional with couples’ date nights is a fun way to connect and model healthy relationships with your children.

They also discuss Tony’s presentation in Monica’s “Secrets of Happily Ever After,” summit which brings 32 marriage therapists and life/relationship coaches together to provide a wealth of tips to strengthen your marriage. You can sign up for the summit for free using the following link: https://tonyoverbay–

If you are interested in being coached in Tony’s upcoming “Magnetic Marriage Podcast,” please email him for more information. You will receive free marriage coaching and remain anonymous when the episode airs. 

Go to to sign up for Tony’s “Magnetize Your Marriage” virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you’ll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

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

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


Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 339 of the Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, the certified Mindful Habit [00:01:00] coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultra marathon runner and creator of The Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that is helping people break free from unhealthy coping mechanisms like pornography and just live the life that they’ve always wanted to live. And there’s an incredible group, a weekly group call that is a part of the path back. So go to and you’ll be able to download an e-book that talks about myths, mistakes that people make when trying to overcome pornography once and for all again. And if you are a couple and you are interested in some coaching, some real life coaching that will be anonymous and will be part of the Magnetic Marriage podcast that is coming soon, then reach out at info at Tony over or go through my website and let me know and we’ll get you on board. I’ve got a lot of those episodes again in the can and it’s just phenomenal. And if you’ve never been to couples therapy, I think you’re going to gain a lot from even just hearing me do some four pillared couples coaching in real [00:02:00] time on this podcast. So reach out info at Tony over, let us know that you would be interested or go through my website and a couple of quick things before I get started. With today’s episode, there’s something I just want to share.

[00:02:12] So many of you have been incredible, just kind, supportive, loving, empathetic, generous with your support of my daughter Alex, Alexa and her recovery from a near-fatal crash in February, where she posted an update on social media just a couple of days ago that I really want to read. And if you follow her, if you don’t do, she’s just she’s truly an inspiration. Here’s what she said. I’m going to read the post. She said It’s been seven months since my car accident and I thought I would post an update again. Since it’s been a while. I’ve made a lot of progress lately and can see improvements in my body. I have been off of my cane and walking independently for a little over a month now and ever since my second surgery I’ve noticed a decrease in pain. My numbness is unfortunately still present down [00:03:00] my right leg, and the nerve pain throughout can be very painful. I still deal with a lot of soreness in my pelvis and sacrum and I’m working on pelvic mobility every day. My body still doesn’t feel like itself, but I’m grateful that things are slowly improving, she said. I found this excerpt from my journal in July and wanted to share it. Sleeping is uncomfortable. Taking my first steps in the morning is painful. Getting dressed this hard when I can barely bend my legs to put my pants and socks on sitting hurts my bones. My muscles are extremely sore and tight all the time.

[00:03:31] Showering is hard. Getting in the car is hard. Moving as hard. I feel like I’m constantly moving in slow motion because everything takes me double the time it did before the accident. It’s funny the things we take for granted, and then when I make that realization, I get angry. Angry at the driver who wasn’t paying attention, angry that I left the house when I did. Angry that I can’t do anything without pain. Angry that I’m not as independent as I used to be. And then I get angry that I’m angry because I’m alive, [00:04:00] because I’m not paralyzed, because it could be so much worse. But I must remind myself that my pain is still real and valid and hard. And in fact, it’s incredibly lonely going through something that not many people around me have. I’ve experienced the lowest of lows during these last few months, but I can tell that my mental state is improving as I see physical progress. Thank you for the continued prayers and support. I just thought she’s she’s incredible. And I know it sounds so clichéd, but she’s literally one of the strongest people that I have had the pleasure to be around. And she happens to be my daughter. We visited her and her son in law, Mitch, just a couple of weeks ago. And yeah, she may get around slower than she would like and the future is uncertain. It really is so many things that are ahead of her.

[00:04:46] We just don’t know what we don’t know. But she literally just radiates strength and humor. And there there’s nothing like making an impulsive excuse for something, anything. And then having your daughter say, you [00:05:00] know, at least you don’t have ten inch bolts holding your pelvis and sacrum together. And then there’s an awkward pause and then she’ll just bust out in laughter. And I can’t I just can’t describe the feeling of gratitude that just washes over the room that she’s alive. So. All right. On to today’s interview with someone that I definitely consider a friend, Monica Tanner. I was on Monica’s podcast a year or so ago and you’re going to see I Love Her Energy. She recently invited me to participate in an online marriage summit. It’s called The Secrets of Happily Ever After, where she got, I think, something like 30 other therapists and coaches, all to talk about what they believe is believe the secrets of living happily ever after in their marriages. And I don’t want to spoil anything, but I really loved. How the recording of the summit went and man, bless her heart, 100%. Sounds like I’m going to be condescending. And I promise that I am not Monica. I’m really not. But the reason I’m saying that from a blessing standpoint is because we were talking about marriage, we were vibing, we [00:06:00] were communicating, we were talking about communication in the relationship and four pillars. And then she asked me about narcissism. And in essence, the question she asked you’ll hear are not here.

[00:06:09] It’s in the summit. But she asked me in the marriage summit, hey, how do you essentially work happily ever after into a relationship with the narcissist? And so if you follow this podcast or waking up to narcissism, then you’ll probably know that if you are in a relationship that has narcissistic traits or tendencies or emotional immaturity, that all those things are really heavy topics. So what I really admired and I appreciated about her bringing it up in that way, honestly, what I love and it was this innocence in the way that she brought it up is typically the person that is looking for just a few extra tips to spice up their relationship. The chances are they’re not somebody that’s dealing with narcissism or emotional immaturity, and so they’re not even aware of what that looks like showing up in a relationship. And so if you are somebody that’s ever opened up to a friend about wondering if you’re [00:07:00] in an emotionally abusive or narcissistic or emotionally immature relationship, and if that other person has met you with sayings like, well, there’s two sides to every story or right, but you just kind of focus on the positives in your relationship. Then you’re going to hear that that isn’t a very supportive way to show up. And I get it because if you really don’t know what that’s like, if you didn’t grow up with a narcissistic parent, or if you don’t have a narcissistic spouse that you’re dealing with, then you hear this word narcissism thrown around.

[00:07:31] And I had people talking about that in my office often where they just say, Yeah, I think that that it’s over. It’s overused. Well, if you’re somebody saying you think it’s overused, and I’m glad that you haven’t had that experience in your relationship where you’ve gone on a deep dive listening to all the narcissistic podcasts or reading books about it or blog posts about it, because that isn’t something that you’re most likely experiencing in your relationship. I’m 339 episodes into the virtual couch, and meanwhile over waking up the narcissism, I think I’m on the [00:08:00] mid forties and it’s already receiving as many downloads per episode as virtual couch. And I could never in a million years of imagine having the number of downloads that I have on the virtual couch. So I only say that because the topic of narcissism and emotional maturity and people that are starting to wake up to that in their relationships or even in their own lives, they cannot get enough information. It’s almost like you’re starving for that information to feel validated and then to know, what do I do? And to put words and names and meanings to things that you felt like were only going on in your relationship can be really empowering. So I’m on a soapbox right now, but so I just I appreciated the way that Monica brought it up because it gave me an opportunity to almost shift.

[00:08:40] And if you take the summit, you’ll feel that shift that I have in energy where it’s like, Oh, hey, all right. We were going for pillars and and man, what an amazing way to have this new connection. And one plus one is three. And and you’re two interdependent people and almost like record scratch breaks hit and then oh, narcissism. All right. Let’s [00:09:00] let’s slow things down. Let’s back up and talk about attachment, abandonment, emotional immaturity and what that looks like. And and here’s a framework to be able to communicate about it. So if you’re interested in taking this summit, again, it’s 30 something presenters. The link is going to be in my show notes or it’ll be in the bio of my Instagram account, which is that virtual couch. Or you can email me at info or and I’ll send you the link directly. And you’re going to hear what I believe was a very dedicated landscape service that was working in the background at Monica’s house during the interview. And so it will get a little loud at times, but I think you’ll still be able to hear what we’re talking about. All right. Without further ado, let me get to this interview with my friend Monica Tanner. And we are talking about a lot of different things, but then we are alluding to her secrets of Happily Ever After Summit, which I highly recommend that you click on the link in the show notes and find out more about that right away.

[00:09:58] Come on in. Take [00:10:00] a seat.

[00:10:04] Monica, welcome to the virtual couch.

[00:10:07] Hello. I’m so happy to be here.

[00:10:09] I know. I’m super excited and I have to be as authentic as I possibly can. We have been talking for 5 minutes before we hit record because I you interviewed me for your secrets of a happily ever after. And I cannot wait to maybe talk a little bit about that because there was a really fun twist there. But then at the end I said, Oh, I can’t wait to have you on my podcast. And then you said, I said, What should we talk about? And you mentioned some things and there was something you said and you remember I got so excited.

[00:10:34] Yeah, you were. You were so excited, like, let’s do it.

[00:10:37] And now we can’t remember what that was.

[00:10:39] We’re both getting old.

[00:10:40] Oh, absolutely. And so Monica and I just went through a bunch of topics, and then I realized, oh, I sound like a jerk because she’s like, we could do this. And I’m like, Well, well, I did recently. I did one on that. And she’s like, How about this? I’m like, I’ve got a little different take. Monica So they were saying, What do we do now? We were talking about we want to talk a little bit about dating and couples and dating. And I think that would be amazing [00:11:00] because I think it’s one of those things where how often do we hear, yeah, you should probably schedule regular dates, date nights, and I say that all the time, but I do find that it’s one of those things where people say, okay, what do we do? And then it’s easy to say, Hey, whatever you want to do, you’re adults now. But really, literally, people probably need some advice, suggestions. And so you speak fluent couples date nights.

[00:11:21] I love date nights. I think it’s so, so important. And it’s also the first thing that gets wiped off the calendar when you have activities and things like that. And so I think it’s really important to set a rule that date night does not get erased, like it can slide back and forth on the calendar. Like you can move around a little bit. You should never be erased in Casey.

[00:11:43] I love it. And we’re off because this is good, because I feel like there’s so many there’s so many layers to this, too, because I feel like even though we may feel like we’re doing the right thing, I need to address whatever the immediate fire is with my kids or my family. But over time, what are we telling our spouse?

[00:11:59] Exactly. [00:12:00] And I think the bigger picture, what people fail to recognize is by doing these regular date nights and by sometimes maybe missing a kids practice or having a carpool for them or something like that so that you can go out on a date or leaving them with the babysitter so that you can spend that time together. What you’re really teaching them is that our relationship is so important and no matter what it takes, we are going to carve out this time because we love each other. It’s important to reconnect in this way and it helps us come back and be better parents like better for you guys. And so you’re teaching him, you’re teaching your children this pattern over time that your relationship is more important than anything else.

[00:12:46] I love that. How long have you been married?

[00:12:47] We just celebrated 20 years. And here’s a funny thing about that. We were in a huge argument on our 20 year anniversary meeting. We go out and celebrate that night.

[00:12:58] That is kind of I feel like you lay [00:13:00] down on your couch and tell me more.

[00:13:01] There’s still disagreements. That happened after 20 years. You guys.

[00:13:05] It’s okay. Yeah. One of the things I love when I do talk about my four pillars of a connected conversation, which we talked about when we were talking about the secrets of Happily Ever After, is I make sure and share almost on a weekly basis when my wife and I need to use my very own four pillars. And we’ve been married almost 32 years and we make so many assumptions and so we have the tools to communicate. Have you guys done regular date nights throughout your marriage?

[00:13:28] When our kids were young, we weren’t as good about it, to be honest. But the times that I have felt the best about my relationship, about myself even are the times when we have really made that a priority. So it’s easy to look back on the last 20 years and see, Wow, we were really connected during this time. We struggled here and the first thing to go, I’ll tell you, was date night. And so honestly, if you can maintain date nights, even when you’re not getting along very well, you can go on a date [00:14:00] night when you’re like grumpy at each other. Then you you’re really doing something very special and good for your relationship. Again, also showing your children that sometimes mommy and daddy get an argument, but we prioritize these date nights. We come back, we’ve talked it through. That’s really important to us. And then we can be better for you guys. And you don’t have to worry that mom and dad are going to go off and leave you or make a decision that is going to be difficult for the family or whatever. We prioritize this so much that even when we are mad at each other and we’re not disagreeing and we’re not agreeing and we see things differently, which is always going to happen, by the way, that you care enough to take this time apart.

[00:14:48] Yeah, no, I love it. And when you were saying that early on in the relationship, those were things that went, were you aware that you were starting to. I don’t want to say just make excuses, but. But putting those other things first, [00:15:00] was that something you guys were talking about often or did it just happen?

[00:15:04] Yeah. It wasn’t until I started getting obsessed with marriage and feeling like that was really important that I could look back and be like, Man, see, right here, we weren’t very connected. I was doing my thing. You were doing your thing. And it was easy to be like, I’m too tired or this isn’t really important, or I could get so much done in this time. I just did this. And you watch sports and it’s like that thinking that you’re not telling your partner, Hey, you are more important to me than my hobbies, than the housework, than anything else that could possibly come up.

[00:15:36] Yeah. Monica What I loved about when we were even talking before we started with this was you were by no means saying, Oh, I’m unprepared if we go down a different direction. I love that you were saying whatever direction we go. So if you will allow me to be somewhat spontaneous here, even when I was shutting you down before and saying, Oh, I’ve already talked about those things, but I like your passion. So tell me about you have your own. I talk about my five levels of intimacy, but [00:16:00] there again, no scarcity mindset. Talk about intimacy then, because we’re talking about dates. But as we’re starting to talk about it, let’s talk about the connection. Tell me about what you know about connection and what you teach and coach and let’s hear it. I’m excited.

[00:16:12] Yeah, well, as humans, we need we crave connection, right? We’re born. We have that connection with our parents. They hold us. They love us. Like hopefully we’ve developed a good, strong, healthy connection with our caregivers. And if not, then that’s something we kind of have to go back, hopefully in therapy and kind of rectify and talk about and work through. But we’re built for connection. We want to connect, we want to pair off. That’s what marriage is all about. But we get into it and we don’t realize that there’s all of these barriers, I guess. And so I think that my levels have to do having emotional intimacy without sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy without emotional intimacy or neither. Right? Yeah. But I think a lot of couples and Jennifer Finlayson [00:17:00] talks a lot about this. I love her content on this. But we get married thinking that we’ve locked in somebody who’s going to constantly give us approval and validation and think that we’re awesome no matter what. And then we get like deer in the headlights when we’re like, Oh my gosh, this person doesn’t think I’m awesome. So now what do I do? And so it’s this process of how we have to learn how to validate ourselves and grow really strong in our own self worth and self concept. And then we can share that with our partner and what a great process it is when our partner is also doing that work. And then we can just come together and be like, It’s not that I’m locked in here. It’s not that I don’t have any other options. It’s just that I choose to be with you because I really like you and I appreciate you. Even when you see the world completely differently, even when you tell me I’m wrong, even you don’t think I’m awesome all the time. I really do [00:18:00] genuinely care about you and want to create this friendship with you. So that’s really what date night is. It’s like constantly nurturing that friendship and making memories and solidifying your bond. Right. That’s date night. So that’s why that’s so.

[00:18:18] Well, let me ask you with your and I love that, too, because and I find that as the therapist piece of that because I love the idea of coaching and I’m trying to do more of that because you can be a little bit more directive and suggestive. And so then I end up in the therapy side where maybe you only have one person engaged and the other person’s being drug along. And so do you find yourself more working with couples that are both willing to take a look at what that connection would look like?

[00:18:43] Well, I’ve been doing this for about four years and for a long time. I used to run by this this idea that it only takes one person to change a marriage. You can do your own work and it’s fine. You can completely change your marriage because it’s a dynamic. So if you change, then your [00:19:00] partner has to change in relation to you. And that’s true. Marriage is a dynamic, but I have also learned that both members have to at least be willing to learn the same principles and both both couples have to be willing to show up and be like, this marriage is important to me, so let’s let’s figure out how to make it better, right? They have to be willing to work as a team so I won’t work individually with people anymore. That’s like when I send them to therapy. Like if I have to partners who are like, Hey, we feel like this marriage could be better and we want to both work on it together as a team. Then I’m like, perfect. We can work together because that’s I think that’s the prerequisite to really building an incredible marriage. You have to have two partners that are willing to say, we want to work together to make this better.

[00:19:53] I love it. It’s funny when you bring up Jennifer. I had the last time I had her on my podcast, it was a couple of months ago, and she and I talked about therapy versus [00:20:00] coaching and I took that little clip and I put it up on my YouTube channel because I. As a therapist. Most therapists start off by being a little bit averse to coaching because we feel like but we’re therapists as we stick our nose in the air. And then you start to realize, man, you do want to be more directive. And so I really appreciate a good coach who has has programs and things in place that are really motivational and say, here’s how you do it. And then we were joking about then I like the therapist. And then when you don’t follow through, then come back in and we’ll get you on the couch and we’ll figure it out. And so I like that you’re saying if somebody is listening right now, if their partner is not engaged or is not willing to, then that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them. But if their partner is and I feel like this falls under the how many things do we just don’t even know what we don’t know. We don’t know how to have that connection or what to do on date nights or that sort of thing. So what you recommend, where do people. Yeah, go ahead.

[00:20:49] I think a big thing for me about that. My parents are both therapists and I actually oh, wow. Five years ago went back to school to become a therapist because I was like, this is all I want to do. I want to help [00:21:00] couples. And I think something that turned me off about therapy is there’s a lot of therapeutic philosophies or theories that give away a lot of your power. And I think that’s probably why people come into therapy is because they feel very powerless, powerless about things that happened in their past, powerless in their relationships, powerless to really take charge of their life. I think that’s where coaching comes in. It’s when you’ve worked through a lot of that stuff. Yeah, I think people go into therapy to learn how to stop blaming and shaming, that kind of thing, and then when they’re ready to take their power back and they’re ready to take control of their life, in their relationships and the things that are happening to them, then they’re ready for coaching. So that’s the interplay I see. And I didn’t want to I didn’t want to help people with that power struggle. I wanted to coach people who were ready to be like, All right, this is my life. I’m not blaming my parents [00:22:00] anymore. You know, my husband isn’t the one who’s making me miserable. Like, I’m ready to get the tools and the confidence I need to take charge of my life and my relationships.

[00:22:11] So I love that man. I want to ask you a million questions about having two therapists as parents. That would’ve been the fun thing or was it a fun first of all? Right.

[00:22:19] I was always like, don’t psychobabble me.

[00:22:24] It’s just both of them coming at you. That’s so. Okay, here’s what I like what you’re saying, too. So if I look back and maybe this will be a fun time to talk about the recording on The Secrets of Happily Ever After, because no surprise, I think you had asked me for three, three tips. How did you frame it? It was three things that I could recommend for a couple to the secrets of happily ever after. Was it three things?

[00:22:46] Maybe I asked everyone. If you had the undivided attention of all the couples in the world, what could you teach them about living happily ever after? Okay, gotcha. Three tips.

[00:22:56] Well, I gave four, so I went down and did my four pillars. I think that was me. I felt like I was being rebellious [00:23:00] by adding a fourth things. So maybe I just made that up in my head. You. But, but what I loved about the interview that we had and Monica and I have talked in the past and so I really feel it’s she’s very easy as a very good interviewer. And so we were laying out my four pillars and I felt like there was a real good connection there. And then at one point then she said, Okay, hey, and how does I think the question was something like and if you’re if you feel like there’s narcissism in the relationship, how do you how do you make that work? And and I had just you had given me some questions ahead of time. And that one I didn’t read until right before we recorded. And I remember thinking, oh, boy, that takes the stuff in a whole different direction. And I feel like I can even understand that more now because I like where you’re saying if you’re working with people where they have figured out that, Hey, this is I can only take care of what Jennifer says, my side of the street. And so I need to stop feeling reacting or I need to stay in my confident presence and I need to I’m seeking connection. And because that sounds amazing. So then when you brought up that narcissism piece, that’s the part where it’s, oh, [00:24:00] somebody if that word’s even being tossed around. And I think on your on that episode, I talked about narcissism versus emotional immaturity and how they are in the spectrum. But it’s like that person has tried desperately to get out of that shame and blame part of the relationship. And every time they try to stand up for themselves, it’s it gets worse because they’re brought back into that unhealthy dynamic.

[00:24:23] And I think I asked you specifically, is it possible to live happily ever after when narcissism is involved? Right.

[00:24:29] And question it honestly, I think I even maybe joked and said, all right, cue the ominous music and this thing just got a little bit more real. And then we had a really good conversation around that. And I’m not trying to do the so the hook, but boy, that is part of the interview that we did. So I’m going to encourage everybody to go. Maybe now’s a good time to even talk about that. When is that going to be available?

[00:24:49] Yeah, the secrets of Happily Ever After Summit is going to be live on October 3rd. It’s a four day summit. I’ve got 34 of the most incredible [00:25:00] experts on all areas of marriage, including Tony. So exciting, really great interviews with everyone on their kind of specific specialty around marriage and intimacy and happily ever after.

[00:25:13] Yeah. And so then that’s a four day event. People can go there and but then I think we when we went deep into the narcissism piece, that’s a that’s like some bonus material, right?

[00:25:23] Yeah. So the summit recordings are free for everybody. You can just sign up and you can watch those interviews for free. But then we did do some there’s some extra special upgrades and bonuses that you pay a very nominal amount for. But your reward there is you get to keep all of the interviews. You get to watch them and rewatch them, which I absolutely recommend. If you are serious about really living happily ever after and writing that happily ever after story, you’re going to want to revisit these interviews at different [00:26:00] challenging points in your marriage.

[00:26:02] Well, again, no scarcity. And I think having 34 experts talking about marriage is an incredible thing. And so what I know you’ve been interviewing people so far. What are who are some of the other people you have or what are some of the things that you’ve been talking about?

[00:26:16] Oh, we’ve been talking about so much, but we’ve got Jennifer Finlayson Fife, who’s always a favorite. She’s talking about differentiation and just incredible wisdom from her. We’ve got Tony and Elisa DeLorenzo, one extraordinary marriage, talking about their six pillars of intimacy. Oh, my gosh. We have so many incredible. Today I’m chatting with Amanda louder. She’s going to talk about sexual intimacy and learning how to want it more. We’ve got Nick and Amy of the ultimate intimacy app and then we’ve got Dan for Cell of Intimately US app. So we’ve got two great creators of apps that are going to help you develop all of these skills that will help [00:27:00] you with Happily Ever After. I’ve got McCall Hopkins of the average daters and she gives tons of at home like pretty much free data ideas so you can’t say we don’t have the money or we can’t leave the house or we can’t find a babysitter. All of those excuses out the door because she gives you tons of at home dating ideas. Oh, we’ve got the dating divas. We’ve got so many just fantastic, fantastic interviews. So you definitely are not going to want to miss it.

[00:27:26] No, I appreciate that. So now because here I was thinking, okay, man, we got to do the dating ideas, we have to do this sort of thing. But now you’ve got that in the course. Now I feel like I am going to be this big ad for it because I realized, okay, that’s 34 different experts can be fantastic. I didn’t know there were apps that couples and intimacy. Now it’s like an old man.

[00:27:44] Oh, you’re kidding me.

[00:27:45] Oh, right. Look at that.

[00:27:47] Apps ultimate intimacy and intimately us. Fantastic. You can jump on there and link your accounts with your spouse and all kinds of of course, there’s tons of conversation starters on there which [00:28:00] are really fantastic. It’s like bedroom games. There’s all kinds of just fun ways to amp up your intimacy. And what I love about both apps have a function where you can there’s an encrypted messaging between you and your partner. So if you ever sent like a sexy text or something like that and your kids read it and you’re like, Oh, so embarrassed. You can totally use that app to send each other, you know, hot pictures or suggestive text during the day. And you don’t have to worry about your kids happening upon it.

[00:28:34] Okay, now, my brain isn’t such a joke mode like crazy where I feel like, okay, I am just a marriage therapist at heart because what I’m thinking about is, okay, how’s that going to be brought up in therapy? If he doesn’t send me enough encrypted text, he doesn’t whatever. Look at that. But that’s why I’m glad you’re on here, because there are people that are just saying, I just need ideas, I just need starters, I just need help. And I really am sitting here saying, okay. And then when that goes south, now here’s the four pillars of a connected conversation and how you can communicate because [00:29:00] you’ve had these childhoods and didn’t see healthy relationships modeled. And so, I don’t know. I love when I have the epiphanies in the middle of my own podcast. Now, when.

[00:29:07] They came out of that, blaming their childhood, all of that, and they’re ready for coaching with me.

[00:29:12] Yeah, exactly right. And apps and encrypted texts and data, ideas and date nights. Although if we get back to that, though, I like what you’re saying before, I really do feel like if there’s anything, even if a couple doesn’t feel like they are ready for coaching in there, maybe even if the intimacy is not where it needs to be a thing as simple as date, night and structure can at least start to give them something to look forward to and something they can count on. And I feel like what I like, what you were saying earlier is even if we feel like we’re going to give up on tonight’s date night because of something that the kids are doing, man, your spouse wants to feel like you care and that they are chosen. So I feel like I say I’m going to keep this date. Night is showing them that maybe even if they don’t feel like they have the tools to communicate how important that is.

[00:29:54] Absolutely. And honestly, I’ve heard every single excuse known to man [00:30:00] why people don’t go on date nights. Like, I feel like I. Throw the hammer down. I’m like, Give it to me. What’s your excuse? I guarantee I can help you overcome it, because even when my husband and I, we dated long distance for almost a year and would send me an email and say, Hey, hot stuff, do you want to get together on Friday night? And we would read Harry Potter together on Friday nights. Like we would call each other on the phone and we could just hear each other breathe and we would read. We both had a copy of whatever, whichever of the series we were reading, and we would just read it to each other, just listening to each other’s voice and having that shared experience. That’s a deep name.

[00:30:42] I mean, I love.

[00:30:43] It honestly, like sharing our thoughts and talking through what happened to us this week and sharing that having that memory of Harry Potter, that means so much to us. There is no excuse for not spending that time together.

[00:30:57] So what I love about that, Monica, is that’s why I [00:31:00] talk about so I love this type of therapy called act acceptance and commitment there. Yes. And any direction you point your your self to now sit back and listen to all the habits. So it’s like, okay, you know what, we’re going to do it. We’re going to date. Yeah, but we don’t have a babysitter. Yeah, but finances are tougher. Yeah, but I’m not even sure what to do. And all of those are adorable. And that’s where you just thank your brain. I hear you. You’re trying to. It’s scary, and we’re not sure that’s the unknown. So let’s yeah, let’s work through the Abbotts. And I like what you’re saying. This is where those ideas would come in. My wife and I would go just sometimes go to a different neighborhood and go on a walk. Or a couple of times we went on runs or you walk around the mall and you get a dollar sundae or you do anything like that, and let’s just survive here for a minute. So I also love this. So I feel like we would trade babysitting. We live next door to her sister and so one Friday they would go, they have six kids. The next Friday we would go, we had four. So we got the short end of that stick. But I mean, it was so worth it to even trade off the babysitting.

[00:31:54] So when we were younger we would do that for couples. So we were younger, we had less children, [00:32:00] but they were all young. And so there was four couples. And so we would watch all of the children one night, one one Friday, and then we had three Fridays to go out. And we would I remember it was complete chaos. We didn’t live in big homes, so we would have eight children all on the floor. We’d put them to bed in the living room, like on the ground. But it was amazing. It was awesome, such great memories. And sometimes we’d go out with those couples and sometimes we’d just go out on our own. You know, we have this, like, babysitting co-op. There’s so many things you can do make friends with, like older couples on your street and just say, Hey, can I bring over a Disney movie and sit my kids in front of your TV? And we’re just going to go out for a couple of hours. There are so many things you can do.

[00:32:49] Yeah, there’s depending where your city is. I know. And where I’m at, there’s the kids club or kids camps where I didn’t realize you can drop them off basically in a little strip mall, it sounds.

[00:32:58] Or at the gym. It’s [00:33:00] like our drop off.

[00:33:02] Yeah. Yeah. So, okay, I like this. And then I feel like another thing that I would we would say is that we used to keep ice time everywhere, little sticky notes. And I know we could do this on a phone now, but just just writing down things throughout the day. And I would have them I would have that in my back pocket. And so that we weren’t just talking about schedules and kids. And my wife and I, to this day, I’ve joked about wanting to start a podcast of things that we sound really dumb about. So we would talk about politics, we talk about finance, we try to talk about cryptocurrency, we try to talk about and at this point now we know and it’s hilarious where I would say, okay, what do you know about cryptocurrency? And then we just we just go and it’s hilarious. And I think if somebody heard us, they would think we were absolute lunatics. But I think it’s really fun and it’s playful and it’s safe to know that we don’t have to know everything. So it’s kind of nicely.

[00:33:48] Yeah, another great idea if you have trouble to conversation starters are always great. But another thing that my husband and I love to do is we love to people watch. Like we’d love to go downtown [00:34:00] and just sit somewhere and we’ll watch people and we’ll come up with like stories of what we think their life is like.

[00:34:06] I love it.

[00:34:07] What might those people be like? They’re so different from us and maybe they look completely different from each other. It’ll be like some guy who’s, like, heavy metal, like total, like crazy, pierced everywhere, right? This beautiful woman. And we’re like, how did those two meet each other? It’s just so fun to just come up with stories. And that doesn’t require a whole lot of, like, deep, emotional going deep, but it is very connecting. And it’s funny you create inside jokes out of it. Yeah, that’s another big that I love to talk about is these shared memories and the inside jokes and even these like code words, like my husband and I have a code word for let’s, like, ditch these children and get into the bedroom. Right. We’ll talk about how dirty the floor is and how it needs to be scrubbed. And it’s our code word for these kids are driving [00:35:00] me crazy. Let’s go have some fun together. It’s really important if you’re going to spend 50 plus years with somebody like a lifetime, you’ve got to make it fun. You’ve got to make it special and tailor it to the two of you and your personality.

[00:35:19] I love it. I want to maybe you can start thinking about this. You had mentioned before when we were just spitball and some things. You’ve been interviewing couples who’ve been married for 50 years, so I’d love to hear a couple of those takeaways. And while you’re thinking about that, what I so appreciate is the going back to that people watching. I remember when I’ll have people bring into my office things like they feel like they okay, they’re going to stop gossiping or they’re going to stop doing that sort of thing. And at one point I specifically went and got the data around the where the origins of gossip and and it really is a way to test like, yeah, boy, look at that guy, huh? What do you think? And we’re trying to test to see. I think he looks great and it’s like, Oh, yeah, no, I do too. Or Man, he looks crazy. And then it’s I know, right. And I say, I feel like that even just understanding that that [00:36:00] is a form of play and it’s a form of saying, what do you think about that? Because sometimes we don’t feel comfortable to say, hey, I’m thinking about getting a mullet. What do you think? Yeah. So I love the idea of I want us to be intentional. Monique and I are telling you, go people great. Inside jokes have your own lingo. Which, of course, I went to a joke. So what if your floor really is dirty? Does that one ever gotten misconstrued later?

[00:36:22] Okay.

[00:36:23] So. So what got you to start interviewing people who’ve been married for 50 years?

[00:36:27] Well, I just thought it was so fascinating. My growing up, I had neighbors and they were like the coolest humans on the planet. Now, listen, they are in their nineties. They’ve been married for 78. Actually, I keep saying 78. I think it’s 68. Okay. Yeah, they’ve been married for 68, almost 70 years at this point and I wanted to interview them so bad because they are that couple that you look at and you’re like, I want to be just like that, right? Yeah. Contrast that with my neighbors [00:37:00] who are like old and crotchety and they never smile and like all they do all day is get upset about people who were like building stuff on their house and they’re like constantly just pissed about everything and they don’t even like each other. Yeah, right. And you’ve got like, old people. Some old people are just really grumpy.

[00:37:21] I tell you. Monica, sorry, I’m cutting you off, but I just have to. And I’m looking. I’m showing you on the webcam, but I did an episode on the virtual couch a week or so ago and I forget the context even, but I was my wife and I were shopping and then we see a guy and there’s a giant sign on the side of his car and it says, I own a home. And and it’s the retirement community that’s in my area, which is an amazing place. And he said, turns out it’s the best public toilet that money can buy. That is a grumpy guy. I mean, he gets it put on the side of his car. And so that is somebody that it’s what you’re talking about. That guy’s what it feels like to be him must just be miserable versus what this couple 68 years into it. Is it just amazing?

[00:37:59] And, you know, what I find [00:38:00] is the couples who are happy together and who have, like legitimately learned things in life about each other and relationships and all the things they’re happy to share. Oh, because they’re like, Hey, we’ve lived a good life and we’ve got lots of cool stories and things to share with you and the grumpy, curmudgeonly, like, kind of jerk off people. They’ve kind of been mean to each other their whole lives and they don’t really have anything useful to share, so they don’t want to be interviewed. But I’ve learned that you can tell really quickly when you sit down with a couple by their body language, by the way, they look at each other when you ask them how they met and about their love story, you know, they look at each other and exchange these sideways glances and you’re just like, Oh my gosh, they love each other. They look back on their life with fondness. And I’m sure that they’ve had challenges and really difficult things in life, but they learned from them and they’ve grown closer together through it. That is so [00:39:00] joyful. I just.

[00:39:02] Love.

[00:39:03] Talking to those couples. And then you’ve got the couples that you ask them and they’re like.

[00:39:06] Oh yeah.

[00:39:07] We met. We met at a dance. You know, there’s no details there. Just totally matter of fact about it, you know, like, do you guys even like each other? Like, why are you still together? And it’s probably because there just wasn’t anything better that came about.

[00:39:23] Too much work. Okay, can I soapbox for a second? Because you’re nailing something that I just hadn’t think about. With 68 years in, I’ve been really obsessed with a couple of episodes on virtual couch of really trying to figure out what it feels like to be you. Who are you going to be when you grow up or get older? And so I found this concept around implicit memory from this book called The Boot of Brains.

[00:39:42] I listen to.

[00:39:42] That. Did you? Okay. Oh, okay. And it’s what you’re saying. So it’s right in this one paragraph. I say this all day long where when recants, an author says This is implicit memory. It includes your expectations, your models of relationships, your emotional tendencies and your general outlook. And he said implicit memory establishes [00:40:00] the interior landscape of the mind or what it feels like. To be you based on the slow accumulation, slowly accumulating residue of lived experience. So every date that you take, every people watching, every shared experience, every inside joke, every time you’re going to go scrub the floors, if you know what I mean. All of that is starting to become the slow accumulating residue of lived experience or what it feels like to be you. And I think you’re nailing it. Where? Boy, I think that episode I tried to talk about, if you were doing that, whatever, that is long enough. At some point, what it feels like to be you is the cool couple versus the ones that what’s the point? Right.

[00:40:37] And that’s something my husband and I talk about all the time. We’re always like, if I do that, just hit me over the head with my band because I do not want to be that grumpy old person that just looks at the. Oh, the youth these days.

[00:40:52] Yeah. By the way, hit me over the head. The frying pan is my wife and I secret word. Oh, okay. Okay, [00:41:00] so I dig that. So what else did you learn from 50 year couples? I’ve been married for over 50 years. Other takeaways?

[00:41:06] Yeah. I feel like those couples that are just so happy together after a lifetime spent together is they’re genuinely they genuinely care about each other’s well-being. And it’s not like there’s no one upping. There’s no, like I told you, SOS or anything like that. They just genuinely respect each other, like to be together and just do things for each other. Like this couple 68 years. She loves to garden but she’s and so it’s hard for her to get on her hands and knees and reach the little things. And so she says he comes out and does it for me and they’re out there in the garden together and they’ve enjoyed like the fruits of their labors for 68 years together and it’s just so cool. So yeah, I think it’s just this really creating this genuine friendship. It’s like I do for you. You do for me. Not because we have [00:42:00] to, right? But because we don’t. You only want to.

[00:42:02] Like about that. Because I love what you say. Jennifer’s coming on to talk differentiation, and I have a whole speech where I talk about being two autonomous, interdependent people instead of enmeshed codependent people. And I do feel like there’s a part of that where when we’re talking about that, we are talking about you each have your own passions and hobbies and stuff. But then I feel like what you’re talking about and I feel like my wife and I are at is. But then once you accept the fact that we are autonomous, interdependent, differentiated people, now we can approach things with curiosity. And so I am happy. I want to go along with her on the things that she does and I don’t have to be better than so. I really like what you’re saying because I do run into the couples that say, okay, if I’m trying to find myself, they do feel like they’re disconnected from their spouse, but I feel like that’s the they just don’t know that that is a model of. Right. That autonomy.

[00:42:49] Thing. Yeah. One thing you really touched on and Jennifer nails it with her podcast Room for two is that both partners, you can tell, have been allowed [00:43:00] to develop and grow into who they are meant to be. So she was a teacher and he was an administrator, and she got to have her career and do the things that she was really passionate about. But she went back to school much later in their marriage, so they had some kids and then she went back to school to become a teacher and he had to. Back then it was the traditional roles, but he had to pull a lot of the weight, do dinners in the carpools and things like that, so that she could do school and do what she wanted to do. And so it’s really cool when you see a couple who have like really allowed for both of them to do what they were really passionate about.

[00:43:40] Absolutely. No, I love that. And I feel, again, back to that implicit memory, what it feels like to be you, all the reps you’re getting in date nights and just having conversations. Boy, you can see how those pay off over time because if people feel that there’s this disconnect and maybe it is because they don’t spend the time going on dates or whatever that looks like, I know I’m oversimplifying that. But then when somebody [00:44:00] does say, Here’s what I want to do, that other person is going to feel like, okay, well, you don’t do anything for me. And now that’s what it feels like to be them. Is, is a curmudgeon, crotchety old person that just yells at the kids all day to get off their lawn.

[00:44:13] Yeah. And one thing I actually picked up from talking to these couples, too, and I’m developing a little bit of a theory around it, but I don’t think that you can actually get to this place on your own with your partner, like they didn’t call it coaching back then. They called it they had mentors. They talk about how when they were young in their married, they moved to this very small town. And he was the football coach and they joined a little church and they had these mentors that they looked up to, these marriage mentors. And I honestly think that a couple just especially just starting out, but even after years and years of marriage, it’s very hard to see what you can’t see. And so having a neutral third party who can point out not [00:45:00] take sides, but neutrally. Point out, like you might be missing this, or I can see that this is affecting you in this way. So I know you have a podcast that does this. Jennifer Finlayson has really opened my eyes to this, but having a neutral third party come in and say, it really sounds like you’re overlooking this, you might be missing this. You’re blind to this cycle that’s going on in your marriage. You’re creating this marriage, the two of you together. Co-creating is really valuable. So I actually don’t think that you can get to that really highest level of happiness and joy together in marriage without having a neutral party come in. And that can be a friend, it can be a coach or a therapist. It can just be another couple that is farther along and just has that kind of insight. But I think it’s really important to be humble enough to be like, I’m not seeing everything here. Like, I [00:46:00] know this cycle isn’t working for us, but I’m not quite sure what’s happening. So somebody else maybe who has that third party vantage point could probably point some things out that I could definitely benefit from confronting.

[00:46:16] Yeah. And I say we run with that theory because that is as a as again, as a therapist, marriage therapist, couples therapist. There’s a lot there that you just hit on to. There is a belief or a concept that the person, even if your spouse becomes completely differentiated and they are safe and they take ownership of all the things that they may be done in the past, they’ll never be the person that fully tell you that this is man. This is the direction that I think that you should go, because that’s where that we have that built in defense mechanism of reactance, of the negative reaction of being told what to do. And so I think it’s fascinating is the therapist and the way it shows up and I feel like people listening to this will also identify is I’ll say somebody will bring something up, I’ll validate or say, yeah, here’s what that means or looks like. And then the spouse will then look at me and say, okay, [00:47:00] I’ve been saying that for two years, but now he says it for one time and now you agree. And that is exactly what you’re talking about, where at times it’s okay, I want to believe him, my spouse. But I’ve also we’ve had we’re humans, so we’ve had periods where I haven’t been able to trust him or maybe he’s broken that trust. So I love what you’re saying there. And I have to tell you, and I know we’re we’re almost out of time here.

[00:47:20] So I’m doing a magnetic marriage coaching podcast, very similar to what Jennifer’s doing with Room for Two. Well, and it’s funny what you’re saying is yesterday and I’m putting a bunch of episodes right now in the can to have them before and it is so cool, not the exact right word, but I’m, I’m coaching this couple yesterday and there’s, there’s a guy that’s had a lot of addiction and it’s heavy and the way it’s shown up in this call and at one point, I’m just bringing up some bringing some awareness around how often do you sit with discomfort? How often do you sit with uncomfortable emotions? And it was interesting because I could pick up on the wife and she’s looking like over at him, almost like how many times have I said that? And then the guy acknowledges that, man, I haven’t [00:48:00] really done that much at all. And I feel like we were having that moment where I bring it up and all of a sudden he says, I think I need to look at that. And a spouse has been bringing that up for who knows how long and then even to look at them. He wasn’t even aware because he was basically expressing that, well, when I’m uncomfortable, I’ve let her know I need some help versus the. And so then she feels like she’s is keeper of all happiness in the home. And that can.

[00:48:21] Be it’s so interesting because my own personal experience, there’s been times in my life where my husband gets so frustrated because he’s like, Why don’t you believe that I have your best interest at heart? And I don’t know. It’s just there’s just certain times where it’s just really easy to distrust him. And I don’t know why I do that. Yeah. And he’ll say that and I’m like, Oh, okay, you do want what’s best for me, but it’s just really hard to feel that a certain time.

[00:48:49] It is, and it’s innate. It’s a defense mechanism, you know, that’s why my pillar one is assuming good intentions or there’s a reason why somebody is saying or doing what they’re doing because it’s and it’s because it’s so easy for that to do. [00:49:00]

[00:49:00] Yes.

[00:49:00] Practice. Yeah. You have to be intentional. Monica, I feel so bad now. I feel bad because the time we spent at the beginning, we could have been even vibing more. And so but thank you so much for coming on. This has been long overdue. And then where do people so where do people find the secrets of happily ever after?

[00:49:15] Yeah, just there. W-w-what secrets of happily ever after? Dot com is my website. It’s also the name of my podcast you can find on any major platform. And I hang out on Instagram a lot at Monte Tanner one.

[00:49:28] And then people are going to I’m going to have a link that people can click through to for me, or are they going to have a code I can even edit this part out? Or Will or will they just click through a link?

[00:49:37] You’ll have your special link. So if people go to the show notes of this episode, they can sign up for free of Happily Ever After Summit through your link. So you’ll get a little bit of recognition for that. And yeah, I guarantee it’s so well worth your time. However, many presentations of that you can get to will vastly improve your marriage. [00:50:00]

[00:50:00] Okay, sounds great. Monica, let’s. Let’s do this again. In the not too distant future. Well, all even remember whatever we decide to talk about ahead of time. But this was well done. But look how in the flow that was. I’m very impressed. So thanks for coming on.

[00:50:13] You bet. Anything.

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