Marc Johnston with High Thrive Coaching: The ICU for Marriage

Marc Johnston
Marc Johnston with High Thrive Coaching

Marc Johnston is an international marriage expert with High Thrive Coaching. He and his partner, Heather Choate, have been featured on FOX, Yahoo, First for Women, CBS and have helped thousands of people around the world save their marriage. Considered the ICU for marriages, their method is radically different than traditional counseling and Marc share some of their secrets in this conversation.

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The Conversations with Influencers podcast has been brought to you by Richard Lowe of The Writing King. Richard is a ghostwriter, writing coach and LinkedIn Profile optimizer.

Interview Transcript Marc Johnston

Richard Lowe  00:02

Good day, everyone. I’m here with Mark Johnson. Talking about marriage. Mark Johnson and his partner Heather Choate are international marriage experts. They’ve been featured on Fox Yahoo first for women, CBS and have helped 1000s of people around the world, save their marriage. Consider the ice for marriage, their method is radically different than traditional counseling. And they’re here to share some of their secrets with all of you. So, Mark, welcome to the show.

Marc Johnston  00:32

Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Richard Lowe  00:35

So, tell me about this ICU for marriage. What does that mean?

Marc Johnston  00:39

Well, you know, the thing is, we’ve kind of created a bit of a niche in the market. And the vast majority of the people that we help are individuals who are trying to patch together their marriage, when their spouse is already starting to head out the door. So what we end up doing is, you know, I talk with these individuals, I kind of help them to identify, Okay, what’s really driving their spouse away, and I give them tips on how to pull that off, and how to rebuild connection. You know, even if their husband or wife is saying, Hey, we got a divorce. So this is this is why it’s the ICU people are in. It’s a marriage crisis situation in most all cases that we deal with.

Richard Lowe  01:19

Well, interesting. Yeah, I could have used that 15 years ago, my wife passed away, but I was married for 12 and a half years. And it was a pretty rocky road. And I certainly could have used some kind of counseling from America. I mean, this is

Marc Johnston  01:33

not an easy period. For a lot of people most you know, it’s not a everyday sort of thing where you say, you know, hey, my marriage might be ending. And if people found it immensely helpful, just kind of have a decent direction to go in, in a situation that they’ve never really encountered.

Richard Lowe  01:51

Yeah, it’s not like you receive training in school about how to manage your marriage, right?

Marc Johnston  01:55

I mean, I did, but yeah, most most people have not. No.

Richard Lowe  02:02

Yeah, I actually got married on the third date, literally on the third date. I asked him to marry me and we got married that night.

Marc Johnston  02:09

I, you know, I’ve heard some really fast courtship. But you know, I think you, you might actually have the record there. For me, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard three dates, and a proposal

Richard Lowe  02:19

proposal and an acceptance and putting together the wedding and the whole thing all in the same day. Oh, wow. Yeah, it was, it was, um,

Marc Johnston  02:28

that’s interesting, because, you know, I’m just going to, you know, some statistics here, you know, something like that a very short courtship, generally, is not statistically favorable for a long term relationship. But you said you lasted 12 years, which you actually would have gotten over that, that hump there. So it must have been, at least in some ways, a good match.

Richard Lowe  02:47

Well, she got sick about two, three years into it, and that guy became very sick. And I wasn’t about to walk out on somebody who was that sick? Okay, so

Marc Johnston  02:56

this is not really about being a good match. There was extra things outside of the marriage that really led to you know, what happened?

Richard Lowe  03:04

Yeah, yeah, we would have gone through divorce. But they’re, you know, I’m not gonna walk out on somebody who I have to change your IVs every, every every day. Gotcha. That makes sense. What are you going to? What are you going to do if you got any honor? Responsibility, right? Well, yeah,

Marc Johnston  03:19

I mean, of course, I mean, if you’ve, I mean, within a few years, I mean, you had basically made the commitment to, you know, for better or for worse, you’re gonna, you’re gonna stick around. It’s honestly, it’s not everyone thinks that way. So I mean, that that’s, that’s commendable.

Richard Lowe  03:37

Yeah. Yeah. And my advice to anybody would be don’t get married on the third date.

Marc Johnston  03:44

I would, I would agree with that. Yeah.

Richard Lowe  03:47

So. So in that case, if we’d come to you, say, after a year and said, and I said, I want to, I want to divorce this woman, or she said, I want to divorce this man or whatever. What would you have done?

Marc Johnston  03:59

Well, I mean, as you were describing, there was other circumstances going on, like she got sick. But even if, if that was going on, we can kind of go through both scenarios, whether that was going on or not. But you know, typically, I like to look at okay, well, what’s, what are the active pain points, like what’s actively causing people to become a part, I think that’s always a great place to start use, you need to eliminate those pain points. But that doesn’t necessarily create a good relation. You know, like my neighbor, I’m honestly, like, I talk very deeply with people, but I’m not a very social person. So like, I don’t really know my neighbor that Well, I don’t have any problems with them, but I don’t have a good relationship with them. I’m not close. And the same sort of thing with a marriage, you can eliminate problems. But then you need to say, Okay, well, what’s, you know, how do you build up that connection again, and, you know, what’s preventing that this other person who’s leaning away from the marriage, to sit down and even mix Some small commitments or consider what’s going on. It’s really different person. couple, a couple, some couples, it’s about rebuilding trust, because there’s been some infidelity. Other couples, it’s because that they’ve lost love there just isn’t that love anymore. And you know, we need to examine what happened there. And, you know, why isn’t, you know why isn’t there this love? And why isn’t the person considering rebuilding that other situations people get into these midlife crisis crises or you know, fall into depression, and they blame the marriage. And it’s really different, depending on what the problem is how you might approach it. Yeah, I

Richard Lowe  05:41

just got so bad, where we, we started, half jokingly talking about, you know, you have to sleep here and I have knives, which was something she would say or watch out for the poison. And

Marc Johnston  05:53

so it sounds to me like, you know, even though that that’s joking, it sounds to me, like there was kind of it became acceptable to have some amount of contempt between the two of you some amount of Nate, like, you’re like joking that, hey, I might, I might do some harm, which really tells me it was,

Richard Lowe  06:12

it was her to me. I didn’t do that to her. She became very bitter for some reason. I don’t know why.

Marc Johnston  06:18

Yeah, that would be what I would call contempt then. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with other big names in terms of relationships. But one of the biggest names out there is John Gottman, who’s really famous for his research. And marriages. He got famous, basically being able to predict pretty accurately who would stay together and who would divorce eventually. And he had these predictors. They’re the Four Horsemen of divorce, one of the big ones being contempt, you know, is there a persistent negative view of the other person and that, yeah,

Richard Lowe  06:51

yeah, especially after I got told by her, she had an affair, and she didn’t care what I thought about it. So it was interesting. It’s an interesting thing. I mean, obviously, I’m not here to psychoanalyze me in the marriage, but I just thought it was a good example for you.

Marc Johnston  07:03

Yeah, a big can of worms there. I mean, you know, when you’re, first you’re like, hey, we’re thinking about divorce. What do we do about this? But yeah, then we add contempt into the mix, we add affairs into the mix. And, you know, my, my philosophy is that there’s always something that can be done to improve the relationship. Even, you know, even if we’re accepting that it might not get to the point where they reconcile. And for some people, that’s enough, you know, if they can at least get along enough, you know, to perhaps co parent well together or because there’s some vague desire to remain in contact. You know, sometimes we have to just settle for those smaller goals. But, yeah, always something that can be done, I think,

Richard Lowe  07:45

yeah, yeah, it was an interesting situation in my life, I’m kind of glad it’s over. But I learned a lot. But in any event, that’s probably on the far end of things that you deal with, although you probably deal with ones we’re both married people are at each other’s throats. With me, it was just hurt my throat.

Marc Johnston  08:05

Honestly, though, I think a lot of the people that I do talk with are more that one sided, because because, you know, it takes a certain someone to approach a professional and say, hey, I want to fix my marriage, well, typically means that they still have some feelings for their partner. And, you know, you’d actually be surprised how often I get into this, where it’s just one person has built up this resentment for their partner and it all of a sudden that comes out and the client that I’m working with is surprised at the state of it when it’s really been building up for some time.

Richard Lowe  08:41

Yeah, we did do counseling and that I got that surprise. It was it was very, it was like, Whoa,

Marc Johnston  08:48

that’s common. I tend to see that a little bit more with, with women, where they are, they make an emotional decision. And they sit on that for a while. I’m not sure what it is specifically about women. But you know, I will see things like that, or they start planning their exit strategy way in advance before they actually let their spouse know.

Richard Lowe  09:11

Yeah, yeah. And she was also Guatemalan, and she had a somewhat different approach to life than I was born in California. So it it there was some cultural differences that made it a little rough to

Marc Johnston  09:24

deal with that. Richard, you’re hitting all the all the marks that just kind of statistically point to know, not as likely, yeah, the the differences in values or culture is, you know, people can get over that. And this is nothing against a interracial marriage versus culture, marriage. But, you know, there are certain values, you know, and if those values are different, you’re stacking the numbers against you. Even within like the say, the same culture, you might have different values. You know, my wife and I were both you We’re both Caucasian come from similar religious backgrounds, but you know, have different values. And we there’s sometimes even clashes between us even though I work with people on marriages and relationships every day. So it’s just yeah, that’s another just factor that there that statistically doesn’t favor a long term relationship.

Richard Lowe  10:19

Well, an example would be in as a Californian, my approach and as a as a man and probably, I tend to be overt. If there’s a problem, I want to solve it, I want to talk about it. I’m gonna get it done. Her she was covert. So she would hint, she would drop hints. And I didn’t pick up on them at all. That just infuriated her like, why are you so stupid? That dude can’t figure that out? After weeks of trying to make me figure it out? It’s like, why didn’t you just tell me you wanted that?

Marc Johnston  10:47

Well, it’s, and that’s, it’s a cultural thing. Well, it’s, it’s, I see that among a lot of cultures, though. And it’s, it’s, it is a problem. It’s kind of this assumption that if you don’t know what, you know, what’s going to make me happy, you must not love me, when really the the factor is you, you’re expecting the other person to read your mind and then are upset when they don’t guess it correctly. And it’s just, I talk to people about this all the time. It’s much better just to, you know, clearly state what you want. But, you know, if your wife didn’t want to work things out, or didn’t want to accept that that’s the better route and well, yeah, there. Yeah,

Richard Lowe  11:30

it made things rough. You know, she was she everything was always fine. You know, the Doom word, I’m fine. You know, you’re doomed. So it just became interesting. It it was a good learning experience. I think it was very painful. We had a stepson, her son, also, which he complicated the mix, because he was very hostile towards me, I was the enemy from the second we married, he got him at 14. Bad age.

Marc Johnston  11:58

You can just keep ticking those boxes. So blended families, you know, once again, like nothing against blended families, but it’s just an IT is another stressor that tends to Yeah, in so when you stack all these things? I can. Yeah, I can see why there might have been problems.

Richard Lowe  12:17

Yeah. And he never had a father. His father left very early before he was when he was like, in his early ones. So he basically grew up with his mother. And I came in and other man, I guess, and that would cause a lot of stress. And then she was the illness helped also or didn’t help.

Marc Johnston  12:36

Oh, I’m sure. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. adding extra stress on to an already stressful relationship is not going to be a good situation.

Richard Lowe  12:46

Yep. Yep. So that’s, that sounds like that’s the kind of thing you deal with all the time.

Marc Johnston  12:52

Oh, yeah. That’s, that’s my bread and butter. That’s, that’s every day for me.

Richard Lowe  12:56

Now, you say you’re the ICU for marriages. So if we had to come like, back to the question, if we’d have come to you, what would have been? How would you’ve handled us like an ICU? What would you have done? Well, I’m

Marc Johnston  13:07

going to treat this a little bit like you actually are coming here with your wife. So I’m wondering here in this hypothetical situation, is your wife actually interested in making any changes? Or are we are you just coming to me by yourself? Well, that makes a difference.

Richard Lowe  13:22

We would be coming together, but she’d be coming under protest. That’s the way we went in in the first counseling sessions.

Marc Johnston  13:28

All right. So right off the bat, you know, I’d be looking at this as a term as a problem with motivation. And I just know that if I’m having to fight someone on on a goal, that the likelihood that they’re going to actually follow through with any suggestions that I have would be next to nothing. So I’d be looking to establish right off the bat, you know, what would your wife actually be interested in fixing here? And I would start off with her complaints. So if she’s saying, okay, Richard, is this terrible? husband who doesn’t understand what you know, understand me at all? I’d say, Okay, well, what do we actually want that to be changed? Is that something that you’re interested in? And so, like I said, we would be starting off if the two of you are there together, really looking to see what actually provides motivation and breaking it down. A lot of times when I encounter these situations, I might even have a spouse who says, Well, I just want to be done. Well, that that’s not an actual goal. And so, you know, even if your wife was saying something like this, oftentimes, I will tell people divorce is not really an end goal. No one wakes up in the morning and says, you know, I think it’d be a really good idea to divorce. That sounds like a good life plan for me. They want what divorce actually affords them in divorce is a means to an end. So maybe they’re wanting relief. Maybe they don’t want arguments anymore. Maybe they are wanting some freedom or basically Did you know they want some respect for some of their choices? And so we look at some of those underlying goals. And we see, okay, is there actually any motivation to work through that problem. And typically we can find something that they want to solve, even if the end goal is not reconciliation. And from there, when we solve some of these problems, it becomes easier to go a little bit further and a little bit further.

Richard Lowe  15:26

Yeah, you would have had a hard time because for her, everything was fine.

Marc Johnston  15:31

See, no, you wouldn’t have been able to crack that? No, no, I would have called her out on something like that. So I this is, like I said, Richard, this is my bread and butter. I go, I know not want to talk to me. I get people who are uncomfortable. And I think one of my you know, not to toot my own horn, but I think one of my big talents is to really put people at ease and make them feel understood. Well, that’s important. or hostile? Yeah, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve had people yelling and screaming at me, and I have them, close friends with me, and 10 minutes later. So I don’t know. Like, you know, break that down. But you know, that’s, that’s one of the things that I really pride myself in. And, you know, who knows, I mean, it’s hard to say, with your wife having passed. But if she was really resistant, I’d probably move towards meeting with her individually, so that I could at least take some of the pressure away from you know, having to answer the right things in front of you, or of course,

Richard Lowe  16:31

conflict, but that would have been fine with me, because I just wanted to stop getting attacked, basically. Get Oh, it gets. But yeah, it was it was, you know, in hindsight, because I’ve been through therapy on it. And a lot of the pain points are handled. So I can talk about it without getting emotional. That wasn’t true a few years ago. It, the counselor was lost.

Marc Johnston  17:01

He’d never, here’s the thing, Richard is, most people will just go to their local counseling office and say, Hey, I need marriage counseling. And I’m going to just say, you know, I, you know, I went to school for psychology, and you know, what, getting my, you know, working towards that clinical psychology degree, I was not required to do anything in terms of couples counseling, I elected to, there was two classes that were offered, which is hardly enough to do that. Because, you know, for the most part, most general, therapists or counselors, there, most of the client load is not couples counseling. So, you know, I decided early on that this is what I wanted to focus on. And so I had to do a lot of my own research, I had to do a lot of my own studying. And, you know, so I have my, my library or books that, you know, I would never have really even needed to under normal circumstances. And that’s what a lot of people go to, is that situation, someone who says, Hey, I’m a counselor, but you know, most of the time they’re dealing with people who have depression or anxiety issues, you know, the very common mental health problems, right, which I don’t, yeah, so, you know, the, the approach for, say, relationships and couples met, you know, saving marriages is not the same sort of, Sir, there’s some crossover, but it’s like going to your general practitioner versus the, and I’m gonna get this wrong. I’m hoping I’m using the right term oncologist for cancer. Yeah, exactly. Got it. Right. Okay. Yeah, you know, if you have cancer, do you want to go to the general practitioner? Or do you want to go to the oncologist and, you know, most people are gonna say they want to go to the oncologist.

Richard Lowe  18:55

I usually skip the GP if I know if I think I know what’s wrong. So I understand. So yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s fascinating. You must run into some very interesting situations with marriages, some which probably are easy to solve, and some which probably you couldn’t solve.

Marc Johnston  19:11

Yeah. In terms of crazy situations, I think I’ve been doing this long enough that I think I’ve heard most everything at this point. And yeah, you’re right. There are some things that are, you know, I hear it and they say, Oh, this we’re, this is so terrible. And we’re at each other’s throats. And then I hear that the problem I’m thinking, Oh, well, this is just this is just like a regular Tuesday for me. This is this isn’t. Exactly. And other people. I’m like, oh, man, I this is going to be there’s going to be a challenge here. And yeah, you’re right.

Richard Lowe  19:46

And you need armed guards in there to keep them separated. Oh, yes. Figuratively, anyway. Like, where are the guards? Where’s the bulletproof glass?

Marc Johnston  19:59

For the most part, though that’s what people are coming to me for. They’re they I’m the mediator, I’m the one that allows them to talk and not, you know, stab each other in the eyes.

Richard Lowe  20:10

Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. You must get some anger issues that are phenomenal, I’m sure because it builds up over time. Oh, yeah.

Marc Johnston  20:22

That’s Yes. Well, here’s, here’s the part where people get really confused is, you know, I’ll get a fair amount of people who say, you know, I’m trying to help my spouse, I’m trying to fix things, I’m trying to even support them. And then they’re reacting in anger. And that’s what really throws a lot of people for a loop is, you know, anger when it doesn’t really make logical sense for there to be anger. And luckily enough, you know, I’ve, I’ve taken enough time figuring all of these things out, you know, I write a lot of training material for the couples to look over. And I mean, this is, once again, it’s just part of our course, you know, like this.

Richard Lowe  21:02

Sure. So they go through a course.

Marc Johnston  21:05

Yeah, that’s, this is part of the reason why we are different. So, you know, typically, you’ll, if you’re looking for couples counseling, on a regular basis, you’d go see them maybe once a week, maybe once every other week. And because we’re often dealing with these marriage crisis situations, it needs a little bit more attention. So I typically am talking to my client. And in addition to that, I run group calls, either myself, or one of my team members, is there every day of the week, for like, a couple hours to just answer questions in case you’ve gotten into a fight where we’re there. And then on top of that, we have a lot of trainings like what to do if your spouse is dealing with an affair what to do if they don’t want to talk to you. And you know, so it’s really easy for me to say, hey, here are the principles, I want you to go watch this next time, when we come back together now that you know the principles of how to deal with this, I actually want to apply it to your specific, specific situation. It makes it really good for holding our clients accountable and making sure that they’re doing some work to learn the skills themselves.

Richard Lowe  22:13

Right. But it sounds like the basic thing foundation is that the two wants to want to solve it. Or believe,

Marc Johnston  22:24

like, we actually come up with the assumption that only one person wants to fix the marriage. That’s, that’s like I said, that’s why we’re the ICU. That’s why this is a niche that we’ve created. And so we look at, okay, basically, I would say 95% of the people starting out with us are, you know, one of the spouses is wanting separation divorce or something like that, and we’re looking to put out that fire and then rebuild.

Richard Lowe  22:53

So at least one of them wants to obviously to come to you, somebody has to want to come to you. Of course, yeah. That means they want to fix it somehow, then they’re seeing a problem. But the other one, it sounds like probably doesn’t want to be there probably thinks it’s over or they’re happy. As in the case of my wife, she was fine. With the situation, I was the one who was getting attacked or wasn’t fine with it. So you would I’m not sure which one of us would be the one you would focus on?

Marc Johnston  23:26

Well, well, in this hypothetical situation, that o’clock, yeah, I’d be talking to you. And we we’d be looking at figuring out how to settle the problems that your wife is bringing to the table. Now she says she’s fine. I would just say bluntly, that that’s a bold faced lie. And that’s, you know, part of the problem. Very likely, you know, if I were to assess just from the limited information, I’d say that the pattern in your relationship is that there’s resentment that builds up, your wife wouldn’t talk about it. In there, we’d be examining why. And then it builds up to the point where it explodes and she gets upset. And then here you are, you’re left confused. Why is my wife so upset when you know, to her? It’s been obviously, you’ve been hurting her this

Richard Lowe  24:14

whole time? Well, yeah, exactly. That’s, that’s almost certainly what was going on, is there were little things that I was missing, because she expected me to catch hints and clues and things. That was the way she operated, and I didn’t,

Marc Johnston  24:26

then we’d be looking at other things because your wife was aiming for divorce we’d be looking at okay. A common problem here is let’s say that you were trying to fix it, you know, I’m sure you’d probably get a lot of anger and, you know, resistance to you trying to fix the marriage. Very common problem that we deal with, and a lot of times the solution is to let go of trying to fix the marriage and focus much more on the relationship. does it actually feel good to be around each other? Because here’s the thing your wife probably was, you know, for some time not feeling loved or heard or respected, or whatever the lack was there. And if you go into the say, hey, let’s fix this, you’re going to you’re not going to have a whole lot of motivation. I two things keep people together two types of commitment. One of them is all the things like marriage vows, having children, you know, time together, commitment, stigma against marriage, things outside of the marriage, the much more powerful thing that keeps people together is does it actually feel good to be around each other? And until you have that, it’s very unlikely that your wife would have considered at all to stay together.

Richard Lowe  25:38

Interesting, very interesting stuff. Yeah. I don’t know that. I don’t think I could do your job.

Marc Johnston  25:45

Oh, I hear that often enough. I’m not sure how I do my job either.

Richard Lowe  25:53

Yeah, cuz you’re going to hit all these emotional highs and lows and everything in between?

Marc Johnston  25:57

Oh, yeah, I’m dealing with people crying, uncontrollably. I’m dealing with people who are, you know, that tension is palpable, you know, in the session, anger is there. And, you know, it takes it takes a lot on my end, to make sure that I have those emotional walls up as odd as that might sound, or just being able to guard myself against the extreme emotion that I’m seeing on a constant basis. Yes.

Richard Lowe  26:23

Did you ever have anything turned physical in the counseling session?

Marc Johnston  26:27

Well, no, because I mean, I mean, you know, we were just talking about this just before, and this is, of course, over, you know, I do my I conduct my sessions over zoom. So I’m like, I’m seeing people all over the world. Okay. You know, and oftentimes, you know, even if I do have a couple sitting with me, they might be in separate locations. Can I see? Over zoom? So

Richard Lowe  26:50

because you may run into situations of like a battered wife or something I’m sure you’ve had Okay.

Marc Johnston  26:54

That’s a that’s a different situation entirely. If I’m encountering something with a actual abuse going on. I do not typically recommend reconciling and under though that wouldn’t make sense. Yeah, I it’s more than how do we peacefully exit this without further damage?

Richard Lowe  27:15

Or how do we get you out of danger?

Marc Johnston  27:16

Exactly. That’s exactly what I’m yeah, what I’m talking about.

Richard Lowe  27:19

Yeah. How do we stop the damage from happening? For the most part,

Marc Johnston  27:22

I’m not seeing that though. Because, you know, we a lot of our advertising a lot of what we’re doing to draw clients, and it’s talking about saving the marriage. And for the most part, you know, if you are this battered wife, probably not on the top of your priority list.

Richard Lowe  27:41

If you can’t even go there, because there’s, there’s the husband might beat you if you didn’t, or the wife, sometimes it happens the other way. Sometimes the husband is the better husband. That’s true.

Marc Johnston  27:48

It is true. I actually, I do actually have clients even currently, where that’s the situation. Yeah. Well, I mean, I was just saying, Hey, I don’t help those. You know, it’s, it’s not a you know, just to clarify, it’s not at the level where we would say, Okay, this is abusive, but you know, it’s approaching that level. And, you know, we do have to have talks about boundaries and respect and whatnot.

Richard Lowe  28:14

Of course, yeah, our marriage never got physical. We just didn’t like each other after a while. There was nothing to do about it because she was sick. So there you go. So fascinating. Yeah, it sounds like you could certainly have helped us back 25 years ago. Sure. Hope so. Then you probably also run to code dependencies a lot.

Marc Johnston  28:39

Yes. Where typically what that will look like is the the client who’s approaching in they’re going to present much more desperate you know, their their spouse is pulling away and we have someone who’s so desperate so distraught over you know, considering that their their husband or wife could possibly leave them. i Yeah, and then that the case there is you like you said, there’s a problem with codependence like, just the idea of could you actually be happy without this person is hard for them to fathom. But is it’s needed? And a lot of times I’ll talk to clients about okay, well, what is the healthy what would be a healthy foundation for a relationship if you were to get back together? And you know, certainly a codependence or this situation where you couldn’t possibly be happy without them is not a healthy foundation.

Richard Lowe  29:38

No, of course not. That’s actually very unhealthy.

Marc Johnston  29:41

Yeah. So mental illness. Yes. And so we would have to talk about in those cases. How do you be happy with without your partner, you know, even if we’re aiming to fix the relationship?

Richard Lowe  29:54

Yeah, cuz it’s important to spend time apart. That’s something I found is it is important to have space And absolutely. And which was one of her areas of contention, by the way as I needed space, and she didn’t want to give it. So it became interesting.

Marc Johnston  30:10

Well, yeah, there needs to be room for individual interests, hobbies, to a certain extent, friends, so that when you do come together, there’s something to talk about. Yeah. Something to share with the other person.


Yep. But yeah, this is this is fascinating stuff.

Richard Lowe  30:27

I think that marriage, and relationships are important. And they’re close. So of course, you can get in each other’s face, and have issues and, and you don’t want to hurt the other person. So you start not talking about it, about what’s going on, and then it just builds up and builds up and builds up until finally this pressure cooker goes off. Right?

Marc Johnston  30:49

Yeah, I often will tell people that, you know, the two things that will kill a relationship is if you have no ability to be open about problems, or if you have no ability, no avenue to be open about what’s wanted either. And just like I said, if you don’t have those things, it will the the pressure will build up and it will explode or just die. Essentially,

Richard Lowe  31:14

let me ask you a hypothetical here. Suppose you had a couple of come in, and you finally got one of them off to the side, because you realized that that one needed needed to be separated. And she she or he whichever said they had an affair, or were gambling or had some serious problem that they were not telling their spouse? Would you recommend that they tell their spouse? Or would you recommend that they solve their problem?

Marc Johnston  31:38

Well, first, I would be wondering, why can’t Why can’t they share that with their spouse? Okay, because that would actually be a huge part of that problem to begin with. You know, I will, it’s not uncommon for me to encounter spouses who have some sort of addictive problem, of course, and, you know, a big thing that fuels addictive behavior is that that secrecy, I like this idea, I can’t share this with my spouse, it’s too much for them to handle, they’re gonna leave me. And, you know, even getting, so where I would get to is I do think that that would eventually need to be discussed, but we would have to need to work through why can’t it be shared in the first place?

Richard Lowe  32:19

So you wouldn’t right away to have them just disclose everything they’ve done to each other?

Marc Johnston  32:24

No, I think that’d be done. Honestly, just not not because it shouldn’t be shared, it’s, you want to be able to share it in a healthy manner.

Richard Lowe  32:33

So you got to build up to it and get some affinity between the two before. Yeah,

Marc Johnston  32:37

I mean, the whole, the whole reason that this person can’t, this hypothetical person can’t share is it would be a major problem in the relationship anyway. So this would be on the same path of fixing this hypothetical couple is being able to be open enough to share problems, I’ll sometimes talk about levels of intimacy. And, you know, ideally, you want to be very close, emotionally intimate with your spouse. Well, level one, we have basically an intimacy that you might have with a cashier, like I called the cashier, and you don’t, you might wish them a hat, you wish them a good day, but you don’t really care whether they have a good day or not, most Sure. Level two, you’d have like a business or facts, you can talk with your co worker about what’s going on. At work. Level three, you have an ability to share opinions about things outside of yourself, you know, what was Tom doing at work? And oh, is he cheating on his wife? And do I like this show or not? Level four is more interpersonal and personal opinions? What do I like about you? What do I like about myself? Can we share those things? And level five is what we’re talking about. And why this? Why this is a hard thing to share is can you share struggles and weaknesses and make that a connecting experience? They’ve been here? And that’s a very intimate relationship.

Richard Lowe  33:59

And if you can’t, then you’re really not at level five.

Marc Johnston  34:03

No, no, yeah. You’re not like, one of the things I really appreciate about my marriage is my ability to share those things with my wife, I know that I can go to her and say, Hey, I’m really struggling here. And I, I can expect that she’s going to be there to support me. So this makes for a very open relationship where, you know, we can ebb and flow and we can have struggles, and we know that it’s not going to be a deal breaker.

Richard Lowe  34:33

Interesting. Interesting. Yeah. That sounds like a very good relationship. Thanks. I think so. Let’s get your wife in the room, find out what she thinks. Don’t kidding.

Marc Johnston  34:44

Honestly, you know, she’s she’s involved in our business here in there. And I’ll often have her on the podcast and we’ll talk about our relationship all the time. Cool, because we’re very proud of it where we say we’ve been married for 15 years. We have five kids now. And we say Hey, we’ve been we’ve been through some rough times. And you know what? We know some stuff. I think we do some things.

Richard Lowe  35:08

Yeah, my, my sister has one of those marriages she’s been married to, to her husband for 30 years. I think they have five kids, one autistic, and she’s run she owns a school with 4000 students. I mean, she’s fantastic. And I remember going to a get together with some of her family. And there were a universe when I was graduating from university and just looking around and thinking, wow, this family is actually getting along. This is weird, because I actually never seen that before.

Marc Johnston  35:41

Well, I like to, you know, I’m not gonna take all the credit. You know, I think I my parents were a really great example. They’ve been now married for 55 years. I grew up with a family of eight kids. We, I you know, I think we all get along really well. We we. And so you know, that example there. I think we really set a precedent. Yeah, family was really important to us. And so, you know, my wife and I have really kept that up.

Richard Lowe  36:10

Yep. Yep. Well, this has been a fascinating conversation. Do you have any, any closing remarks? Um, how do people get ahold of you? The usual questions?

Marc Johnston  36:18

Yeah, the best way to get a hold of us, you can always go to our website, it’s www dot high thrive Some really easy entry points. If you’re just looking for some information we have, do it yourself courses, you know, with some tips, tricks, things to look over. We do have a Facebook group called the thriving, the thriving marriage on there. I have weekly trainings or podcasts. You can also look us up on YouTube. Nice that way as well. So the podcasts are there. So we do offer as has should be abundantly clear at this point. We do offer the the one on one traditional sort of coaching or counseling sort of stuff, but we we run the gamut and have lots of different services if that’s not your cup of tea.

Richard Lowe  37:07

Nice. Nice. Well, thank you for coming along. And it’s been a pleasure talking to you and I learned a lot actually.

Marc Johnston  37:12

I’m glad to hear that. So it was good talking to you. Thanks for having me.

Richard Lowe

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