Happy Tuesday everybody, I know love was just in the air with the Valentine’s Day romance, but with things resettling, I got the chance to hear some truths about love. Roger Nygard is an investigative journalist turned author and producer with his project The Truth About Marriage and I got the opportunity to talk to him about just that. Enjoy our interview for your reading pleasure below, and be sure to check out the film at TheTruthAboutMarriage.com
Kemdah: Hello everybody. Today, in lieu of Valentine's Day, we are speaking with Roger Nygard about his project on relationships and marriage. He has a movie and a book--both of which you can read about on TheTruthAboutMarraige.com. Diving in deeper, we're going to talk a little bit about relationships and marriage from the scientifically equipped eyes of Roger, also touching on some of his findings in the process of creating his projects.
Roger: Hi, good morning, and thank you!
Kemdah: Good morning and no problem. So, first and foremost, let's get a little bit of background about what intrigued you to do this.
Rodger: Failures are what motivated me. I wanted to know why I couldn't seem to hold it together so I sought out to-- kind of like an investigator-- try to solve this crime/mystery of why's it so hard to have a successful relationship.
Kemdah: Is there anything that you found out from the relationship experts that shocked you or helped you answer that question along the way?
Roger: Oh yeah, I solved the crime! I solved the mystery, and I feel so much better prepared now. One of the biggest problems, if you want to dive right into the solutions, is that we have a problem with expectation! We expect things from ourselves and our partners that are virtually unreachable so everybodys frustrated when said expectations aren’t met.
Kemdah: Yes, I think that's a very good point. Do you think that's something we struggle with more these days vs historically? Because our parent's generations and grandparents got married and just stuck it out forever.
Roger: That's something I asked my grandmother. "When you married my grandfather did you talk about love?" She said, "Oh no, we never talked about that, we talked about accountability. That's what people did--we got married to survive." So clearly things have changed. One thing this historian told me is that the idea of freewill-marriage, for love, is brand new in history-- only about 160 years old. Before that it was arranged--it was a property issue with a survival mode---it was necessary to couple up-- it made it a better chance for you and your offspring. Now, when you are choosing to be married it's to reach this idea of "My partner is going to give me-an amount of happiness that I can't imagine. My partner is going to bring me this degree of happiness, and then when they don't reach that level of happiness that you projected in your mind in this fantasy version, there's disappointment of course because that's another problem that comes from the way our culture is changed. In the old days--by the old days I mean 10,000; 50,000; 100,000 years ago human beings lived in small tribes where you would get all your needs met by different people in the tribe. you didn't expect one person to fulfill your every need, which is what we do today, and no one--it is very difficult to live up to that, very few people can do it.
Kemdah: I think that's a very good point-- speaking to the tribal origin of how social relationships even develop. Today we see a rise in polyamory, and open relationships in general--speaking back to this is more of a partnership than it is moreso a happiness situation, so thinking about that, where do you place marriage in terms of priority for humans? Yes we do have that concept of being married as something that makes people happy, but we also know that being married makes social and financial life easier. So with those two juxtaposing against each other, what do you think is the best way young people can go out and look for people without latching onto or depending upon them for anything, but also being open to not shutting out marriage completely?
Roger: The conclusion that I came to is that first you've to understand what marriage is. It's really just another relationship that comes with a contract. and that contract has particular rights that delineated and they're primarily property rights. It says how two people going forward are going to share their property which means money and how they are going to share what they own and what will happen if you break up because society does not want to have to clean up your mess so that if you do make a mess, which is what 50% of married couples do when they break up--they have to distribute their belongings, there's a framework already built in for handling that. The marriage contract does not legally guarantee that someone will love you, be nice to you, listen to you, be loving, be a good sexual partner.--All of these things are assumptions we make. So when you get married, you're proclaiming that you are now going to be with the person and the basic reason we do that is because the basic reason for marriage is for two people to get together and raise a child. Two raise a child you need two people to pull their resources, or at least promise resources because it's a very expensive endeavor.
Kemdah: We think of that and things like arranged marriage as things we should not do but when you think back to it, we still take each other's last names. So that's a good way to think about it because it's realistically just an agreement between two people to keep life alive.
Roger: Yeah, that's the secret to a happier relationship or marriage--this is what the experts recommend. Get premarital counseling before marriage which is essentially agreeing on what the ground rules are before they get started. Problems come when people have assumed a different set of rules. A divorce attorney I interviewed said that a good solution is to do 2 things, a financial disclosure--debts included, and a personal priority disclosure--a list of wants/likes dislikes etc. that you exchange with each other. Once you all agree on what your rankings of priorities are you'll be set. Couples that do this have a much better prognosis for longevity for a relationship
Kemdah: That's very true.
Roger: How many people do you know that does that? *laughs*
Kemdah: I know one couple that does that, only one, and they're not even close to getting married yet, so shout out to them. They're doing the right thing early
Roger: Good for them!
Kemdah: Yeah, maybe we should all try it. Maybe we all just need therapy at this point.
Roger: Anyone who's never tried therapy, let me just say...it's grrreat fun. It's wonderful because you've spent time with someone that has to listen to you, and they have experience so they've suggestions you can take for moving forward. It's a wonderful process
Kemdah: As a neuroscientist, I support this message. but let's go back to your production process. You were talking about some of the lawyers and people that you interviewed. I know you’ve the book and the film media, can you talk more about what got you started writing the concept and what got you into making it a film?
Roger: When I started making the truth about marriage in both the documentary and then the book I started off as an investigator-I looked for what had come before me. I got a stack of buts probably about 5 feet high that took me about a year to get through most of it and to get my notes and start writing my questions and looking for where I needed to go to find the evidence. Once I got through that process, I took a big map on the wall with push pins for the locations of all the authors and expert psychologists that I've either read their books or research, and started to contact and set up trips to interview--but while I was collecting all of this I realized I had so much information for the the documentary that I'd never be able to fit it all, so if I write a book, I'd be able to take notes for people. I noticed at screenings people would be taking notes, and I asked one woman after a screening at a film festival why she was taking notes and she said her friend needs to get a boyfriend--so that was one reason I decided to finish the book and to collect all the simplest things anyone could do to dramatically change the trajectory of their relationship and be much happier. I wanted really easy things that anyone could implement, starting today and boil it down to 6 simple things you could do today. You don't have to do it, but only if you want to be happier.
Kemdah: What's one thing that people can do in relationships that make them happier out of those 6?
Roger: I'll give you a couple. One thing is gratitude daily. You have to verbalize some form of thankfulness daily. A Relationship is like a flower. It needs your attention, watering, fertilization etc. If you don't do that, it's going to wilt and die. Dr. Gatman put it like this, he said. relationships just naturally deteriorate over time if you don't put consciousness into it on a regular basis. Another thing is to ask for what you want. People dont ask and expect their partners to just figure it out. or to be a mind reader, and people--men especially are horrible mind readers. You have to tell them this is what I need. Here's the recipe for me for my happiness. Men love to hear that because men want to make their spouse happy--it's a basic need within a man, but they don't know how unless you give them the roadmap. Those are two simple examples and I can go on and on but those are two.
Kemdah: Wise words from Roger Nygard everyone. Basically keeping us together Everybody needs to be more appreciative and communicate better their needs
Kemdah: Verbally! That's definitely something we can all work on and stop scrolling down our screen commenting each other thank you and hearts. Roger: Yes, when you come home at night, put your cell phone on airplane mode for 15-30 minutes, turn to your partner and sdk how their day was and then listen.
Kemdah: Well, there's the truth about marriage. Find the book and documentary on your website at TheTruthAboutMarraige.com