Burdens of the Family

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In this episode of Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel, we meet a couple whose marriage was forbidden within their culture. Their union created an uproar in their families, but the two stood united against the opposition. 
After a decade of fighting for her, he’s now trying to avoid her. He withdraws by seeking excitement outside the marriage. She responds by nagging and overly taking charge. This is a common relationship dance, not just the difference between two people. Can the two change their patterns and re-discover playfulness and intimacy with each other?


What to listen for in this episode of Where Should We Begin:

  • He describes the deep heartbreak caused by his mother as “kind of funny.” Esther gently corrects his word choice. When memories are painful we often choose adjectives that minimize the pain. Think about the last time you did this. What did you really feel?
  • When couples bicker about small stuff these ‘little things’ are placeholders for bigger feelings. Consider the last ‘small stuff’ argument you had. What was the underlying emotion or need?
  • Childhood survival strategies live inside us. He withdraws, leading to her charging. She charges, leading to his retreat. Each one activates the survival strategies of the other. What strategy did you use to navigate your early years? How does this impact adult relationships?
  • In the midst of relationship challenges, we ask ourselves, "Did I end up with the right person?" Rarely do we ask ourselves, "Am I the person they thought I was?" It’s a both/and dynamic. How does this language shift feel for you? Consider this perspective in your next relationship challenge.
  • He craves the playfulness of connection with other women as a stark contrast to the heaviness of home. The Partner versus The Lover narrative comes up often. One is a nag, the other is charming. What many don’t realize is, if you bring home even 10% of that charm, the energy at home would lighten. Have you ever been the best version of yourself outside your relationship only to bring the leftovers home?

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