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Episode 185
The Doctor's Farmacy

How To Have Successful Relationships

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Modern love comes with an unprecedented list of expectations. Relationships can of course be a source of amazing connection and joy, but they can also be really hard.

We want our partner to be our best friend, lover, confidant, coworker, therapist, and so much more. We want from one person what an entire village used to provide. To take it a step further, we want a soul mate; we want in another human what we used to look for in the realm of the divine. We want that person to help us become the best version of ourselves.

I’ve been extremely lucky in my life with my career and friendships, but romantic relationships haven’t come easy for me. I was thrilled to take a deeper look at this part of my life in this episode with my dear friend Esther Perel.

Esther and I get right into the problems most relationships face these days. Many of us carry issues from childhood into adulthood, whether it’s from getting too much of something or too little, and we end up choosing partners who actually activate our unique inner issues. Esther has gained so much knowledge throughout her decades of work with couples, she explains how the dysfunctions she sees today are different from what couples struggled with in the past.

The majority of arguments between couples are around three main areas: control and power, care and closeness, and respect and recognition. Esther explains why these are so prevalent in the structure of modern relationships as well as the four key relationship killers she sees the most. There’s always a story beneath the story; Esther and I discuss why people need to work on themselves if they want to create a change in their partnerships.

Quarantine was a rough period of time for most people and many couples. Esther shares what isolation felt like for her and how it led her to create a new game to help people create more connection in their intimate relationships but also in non-romantic ones as well. We play a little bit ourselves and she prompts me to share my most irrational fear and the biggest thing in life that I can’t believe I’ve gotten away with.

This was such a fun and insightful conversation. I hope you’ll tune in.

This episode is brought to you by Rupa Health, Athletic Greens, and Cozy Earth.

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I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

Here are more of the details from our interview (audio):

  1. Our expectations of romantic relationships have drastically changed over time
    (7:42)
  2. Our childhood sets us up for difficulty in romantic relationships
    (10:42)
  3. Why we choose partners who activate our own specific issues
    (14:53)
  4. What drives couples to divorce and why the end of a relationship does not necessarily equate to failure
    (18:36)
  5. What brings couples to couples therapy today vs. in past decades
    (23:13)
  6. Four relationship killers
    (33:05)
  7. What makes a relationship successful?
    (34:27)
  8. The card game that Esther created during the pandemic to incorporate lightness and play into our relationships
    (41:01)
  9. How our relationship to giving and receiving impacts our relationships
    (51:51)
  10. Esther’s main nuggets of wisdom from her work with couples
    (1:00:19)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Esther Perel

Psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author Esther Perel is recognized as one of today’s most insightful and original voices on modern relationships. Fluent in nine languages, she helms a therapy practice in New York City and serves as an organizational consultant for Fortune 500 companies around the world.

Her celebrated TED Talks have garnered more than 30 million views and her bestselling books, Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs, are global phenomena translated into nearly 30 languages. Esther is also an executive producer and host of the popular podcasts Where Should We Begin? and How’s Work? Her latest project is Where Should We Begin – A Game of Stories with Esther Perel

Show Notes

  1. her new card game, Where Should We Begin - A Game of Stories

Transcript Note: Please forgive any typos or errors in the following transcript. It was generated by a third party and has not been subsequently reviewed by our team.

Speaker 1:
Coming up on this episode of the Doctor’s Farmacy.

Esther Perel:
Couples therapy really became a discipline of its own in the center that it is today when the expectations around intimate relationships began to rise, the more we expect from the couple and the more we need couples’ therapy to help us with those expectations.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to the Doctor’s Farmacy, and that’s a Farmacy with an F. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman. And this is a place for conversations that matter. And if you have ever been in a relationship, which I think is most of us, this conversation is going to matter to you because it’s with one of my good friends, an extraordinary teacher, visionary, and wise woman on the subject of all things relationship, Esther Perel.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Esther is an icon, not just a human. But mostly, I know her as a human. She’s a psychotherapist. She’s a New York Times bestselling author. She’s recognized as one of the most insightful and original voices on modern relationships, which are complicated. She’s fluent in nine languages which would be enough for her resume if that’s all there was, and I’m so jealous of that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
She practices in New York City and is an organizational consultant for Fortune 500 companies around the world. Her TED Talks are amazing. They’ve garnered over 30 million views and her bestselling books which you should read called Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs. And it’s not a political book, it’s about relationships are global phenomena. They’re translated into 30 languages.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
She’s also the executive producer and host of two podcasts, not just one, Where Should We Begin? And How’s Work? Where should we begin essentially is a podcast where you get to be in a therapist office with a couple working on their issues, like a fly on the wall, it’s fascinating, trust me. And I encourage you to listen to it, it’s one of the top podcasts out there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the other one, How’s Work is similar but with colleagues from work or relationships related to work. Her latest project which is so awesome, Where Should We Begin – A Game of Stories is just a fabulous way to engage in intimacy, connection and conversation with the people in your life. It’s a card game, such a game of stories and conversation starters. So, we’re going to talk about that. We might even try a little bit about that. So, welcome, Esther.

Esther Perel:
Thank you. Thank you, Mark. Big pleasure to be here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, we’ve known each other a long time. We’ve had fun in Costa Rica. We’ve had many Passovers together. And have lots of fun over the years. And mostly I know you as a friend, not a therapist. But I’ve heard you speak many times. And I’m just blown away by your insight into the nature of human relationships, which are infinitely complicated, often stressful and difficult.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And personally, I’ve had a lot of success in my life and my career, and business, and in so many ways. But relationships have been my holy grail. I’ve had three marriages, multiple relationships. I just seem can’t figure it out. So, I’m really excited for this conversation. And I don’t want you-

Esther Perel:
This was just meant to be a session but you wouldn’t tell me.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m not looking for necessarily personal advice. I mean, you’re welcome to share anything and ask me anything. But I just think it’s such a vexing problem. And seeing my view, who I know has really healthy, great relationships? Who I know is fulfilled and happy, and satisfied? Who I know is really alive and vibrant in their relationship, and it’s a source of happiness instead of stress or struggle.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And honestly, I have a list but it’s a very short list of people. And your work really is talks about how, yes, relations can be a great source of happiness and fulfillment, but they’re also a source of stress. Why are relationships so frigging hard?

Esther Perel:
But the thing that you also said is, you had three marriages and many relationships. But you also have other relationships with friends, with your children, with siblings. And in that sense, I would say that friendships, family relationships haven’t really changed that much. Parent-children relationships have changed.

Esther Perel:
But there is one relationship that has really undergone an extreme makeover, and that is our romantic relationships. We expect more from them than we ever have. It’s an unprecedented set of expectations that we bring in modern love. And that makes it much more complicated than the particular expectations that we used to have for long term, basically, generally, marital relationships.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And those things that we expect are a lot. We want people to be our best friend, our lover, our mother, our companion, our work partner, just all of it. Right.

Esther Perel:
And we want companionship. Look marriage or romantic relationship, well, they were not called romantic relationships, that’s the first thing, is that they were quite separate. Marriage was primarily a financial arrangement. It was a companionship for life that gave you a family, succession and social status. We still want all those things too.

Esther Perel:
But now, I also want you to be my intimate partner, my erotic partner, my trusted confidant, my passionate lover, all, all, all in one. And we live twice as long, let’s really add that since you are a longevity person. You live twice as long. And so, we are asking one person basically to give us what once an entire village used to provide. And we even have gone a step further, the thing that many, many people talk about today is the partner as a soulmate, and that’s a very new concept.

Esther Perel:
Soulmate and one and only basically used to be God. Now, we want it to be a person. And we basically bring to this romantic love, expectations for ecstasy and meaning and transcendence and wholeness, things that people used to look for in the realm of the divine, as the Jungian analyst Robert Johnson says. And then, I want you to help me become the best version of myself. It’s like love as an identity project. And-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s a tall order.

Esther Perel:
… thinking a beautiful image. It’s a tall order for a party of two. It’s a new Olympus. And as he describes, when people climb a mountain, the view at the top of the mountain is spectacular, but the air is also thinner. And not everybody can reach the top. Those who reach the top have an amazing view, better than all relationships in history.

Esther Perel:
But so many people don’t get there. Why? And this is part of your question, why is this been so hard for me? Our childhood is often… a few things that were done really, really beautifully and right, well. And then, people who got either too much of something or too little of something, right? Too much attention, too much intrusion.

Esther Perel:
Too much information of boundaries or not enough attention, neglect, abandonment, aloneness. Too much or too little, basically, is really what we can often summarize, add some of the challenges of our childhood and we bring those developmental traumas into our adult love. And really, Mark, this is probably the most interesting thing, people can sit in my office and say, I don’t have these issues with anybody else.

Esther Perel:
And I have long lasting friends and colleagues, and students, and mentees. And I always say, “There’s only two relationships that mirror each other.” And that is the one that you had with your original parental figures, the ones who took care of you and the ones that you encounter in your romantic life. That’s where the anti-chamber, the resonance, a box is right there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And that’s where all the juicy stuff is, right? Where you learn about yourself and where you discover the parts of yourself that may have more darkness than you like or that are actually capable of great love? I mean, all of it is in that crucible of relationship that shows up.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it seems the pressures of expectation on relationships today are so high. You said, to be soulmate, lover, partner, confidant, just grocery shopper, dishwasher, bed maker, whatever it is. And it takes us out of the story of actually, how do we navigate this? Because-

Esther Perel:
Because the needs that I have for the person with whom I want to renovate a house, not necessarily the same as what I want with the person with whom I raise children. I’m not necessarily the same as the person with whom I would like to experience erotic intimacy. I’m not necessarily the same with whom I want to travel.

Esther Perel:
I’m not necessarily… and basically, we have a model in which we really do expect that we can do all of those things and navigate these roles and flexibly move from one to the other from the mundane to the sublime, from desire to love, from security to freedom, from togetherness to individuality, from connection to independence, and that all of this should seamlessly be handled by two people. And that is a challenge.

Esther Perel:
Relationships are complex social systems, really, they do. And they involve a lot of complicated things about how we manage expectations, how we communicate. How we establish trust. How we feel safe to be open and vulnerable.

Esther Perel:
How we apologize and take responsibility for the bad stuff we do. And how we straddle some of these contradictory needs and emotions in one social relational system, that is really the challenge. But we don’t give up. We are tenacious. You’re still looking for love. You’re still hoping that-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I’m taking a break. Because I’m like, I got to figure out why I keep doing this and then just figure it out.

Esther Perel:
Yes, that is true. And you have said that before too. But many of us continue to hope that we will have that relationship. I mean, the longing for love for intimacy, for connection doesn’t really go away. We may defend against it. We may say, I’m taking a break, I’m being chased for a year, I’m not doing anything I’m not dating. But the need doesn’t disappear, it just is on hold.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And now, we often pick partners that our reflections, our unconscious challenges that we haven’t really thought of or work through are dealt with. And seems that’s where a lot of us bump up against. So, we’re picking people based on matching some type of dysfunction in us that that all comes out. And I wonder how you see that in relationships, how you deal with that with your clients.

Esther Perel:
I was presenting an episode of Where Should We Begin this morning to a group of students. Really, what I look for so much in that choice that you described is, what is the invisible complementarity thing, right? Here is this one person and basically, she lives with a chorus of people that speak to her, speak through her mother, her brother, her grandmother, I mean, there’s all of these people.

Esther Perel:
For every decision she makes, she has a Greek chorus, literally, giving her input. And she finds this man who basically at 13, lost his mother and father at the same time through various issues of health and mental health, and divorce, et cetera. And he is all alone, with no needs, supposedly.

Esther Perel:
Meeting a woman who has plenty of needs and never questions them. And it’s a perfect match until it is not. Until it is not, right? And she is very happy that he doesn’t say much because she has already enough people talking in her head all the time. You have all these ways in which I seek you out sometimes for the very things that you’re trying to get away from.

Esther Perel:
And I can give you a few other steps to the dance of who chooses who for what. At its best, you can if can say we reenact those things, we replay, we get this resonance so that we can finally work through some of these things. And at other times, you can if say you were deprived and you systematically put yourself with people who are not particularly generous.

Esther Perel:
And you love generosity. I think that’s something I would say to you. You are a fundamentally generous person. And you often find yourself with people who are more in a scarcity mentality. And at first, you are loving these people because you love to give to them. And then, at some point, you wonder, and what about me?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Or the expectations get so endless and some possible fulfilling because you can’t ever fulfill that for somebody else, and they’re looking for you for all these things. And instead of being self-contained, they will often be looking for you for their fulfillment, their happiness, meeting their expectations. And that seems a recipe for disaster. And-

Esther Perel:
But in the beginning, it’s great because you think I can do it, and I am honored that you think I can do it. And I love the fact that I can actually succeed at it, that makes me feel so good that I can give you what you need. And then, slowly, it becomes you need too much. I don’t get much myself. Do I really want to be in that room? How much is love caregiver, and at what point? And so, this is the very things that are initially attractive often become the source of conflict later.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s interesting. So, we know that 50% of marriages end in divorce, right? And people don’t want to get divorced. So, why did couples struggle like that and what do they do wrong when trying to fix conflicts in relationship?

Esther Perel:
Well, let me suggest maybe something first. I would like us to imagine that not all divorces or all breakups are synonymous with failure. When people have lived together for 20, 30 years, 15, whatever. When people have buried parents together, build homes together, raise children together, dealt with economic adversity together, they have done a lot of what marriage or companionship, or companionate coupledom is about.

Esther Perel:
I think it’s unfair and inaccurate, and shame inducing to think that the only marker of success or the main marker of success is longevity. In this case, some stories end because life changes. Because people have fundamentally different needs. Because there is a loss and they cannot overcome the grief together.

Esther Perel:
There are lots of reasons of why people divorce, that doesn’t mean it was a failed relationship, that set. So, this is the first thing. Divorce means it’s the end, but sometimes it’s the end of something that was limited, maybe, but still very good.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I feel that. I feel that was my last relationship, that it was really an incredible gift. And incredibly beautiful and perfect for both of us in what it was, and had a chapter that needed to be written, but then it was over.

Esther Perel:
Right. The next thing is that divorce rate increase when women have greater economic independence. That’s a very important thing. In the Soviet Union, 97% of divorces were initiated by women. Because there was economic equality, everybody earned the same $1. And so, we were together for all the other emotional reasons.

Esther Perel:
And if those needs were not being met, then there was no reason for her to wash his laundry. By definition, divorce is initiated more often by women. And the divorce rate goes up when women have an alternative, that is a very important social factor to include in what we otherwise look more as relational factors, social and economic factors.

Esther Perel:
But that means that the reasons for staying together become more emotional, will become more about connection, communication, intimacy, sharing, thriving together. And that when that disappears, then the sense is for what? Now, I would add to the conversation about divorce today is that it used to be that people divorce if they were really unhappy.

Esther Perel:
Today, people will divorce if they think that they can be happier. And the happiness mandate is at the heart also of this, is this good enough? Can it be better? Or the midlife question, is this it? Will this be the next 25 years? More of the same. Is there more to life?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Is this all of the risk? Yeah.

Esther Perel:
Yeah. So, all of that are part of the modern questions of divorce which are very different from what it used to be.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Totally. And I think, I think people are more willing to jump out of things that aren’t working. There’s less reasons to stay together like you said. And I think a lot of people try counseling. But I think one of the challenges that I think for relationships is that there’s a lack of ability for couples and people in general to have no conscious communication. It’s not violent that allows each person to share what their experience is without conflict. And that simple skill of communication is not something we learn. And I think that’s where a lot of relationships break down.

Esther Perel:
And you want me to riff on this?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, sure. Yeah. I want to know what you think because that’s my perspective but it may not be true.

Esther Perel:
So, here’s the thing-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Because you do counseling. And so, you find that you work-

Esther Perel:
I do couples’ therapy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… with people and trying to actually help them talk and communicate. And you see the challenges that people have and hearing and learning about each other are feeling or wanting, or thinking, or needing.

Esther Perel:
So, I do couples therapy. I have a real predilection for working with couples because I find it one of the most fascinating relational systems that we have at this moment. A couple can really induce bliss and hell in a level that is amazing, so do families for that matter. And I work with families as well.

Esther Perel:
Here’s the thing, it used to be that when people came to couples’ therapy, they came actually for their children. They didn’t come to couples’ therapy. And slowly, we would identify that there was something maybe in the relationship that also was interacting with the challenges that a child was having.

Esther Perel:
Couples therapy really became a discipline of its own in the center that it is today when the expectations around intimate relationships began to rise. The more we expect from the couple, and the more we need couples’ therapy to help us with those expectations.

Esther Perel:
When the couple was not the central unit of the family, but because the family was more important than the couple. And people stay together for the family. Today, not the children and not the family, it really will keep people together, they may keep them a few more years.

Esther Perel:
But ultimately, what keeps people together is the quality of the relationship between the two people. So, therefore, couples’ therapy becomes a much more sought-after practice. I don’t just do communication. I was thinking and I was editing another podcast session. And it’s an incredible session. It’s the first session of season five that I’m producing now.

Esther Perel:
And they come in and he says, “We are both people who like things to be done, who like to do things our way.” And I said, “That’s okay, that’s interesting.” But what I’m hearing also is that you are two people who like other people to do things your way.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. That’s what they meant, right?

Esther Perel:
So, then, I asked, how did you learn to say yes and how did you learn to say no? And he begins to tell me a whole story of how… basically, his father would continuously belittle him, lecture to him, be contemptuous. And we would start with the conversation son, and then what followed was often berating him for all the things that he wasn’t doing right and living up to expectations.

Esther Perel:
And she grows up with a drug addicted mother, a father who commits suicide, and she is the adult in the house from that little home and raises her two children. And they say to me at one point, we fight about everything, we don’t communicate.

Esther Perel:
And I say, “I don’t think you fight about everything at all. Actually, I think you’re fighting about the same thing all the time.” For the moment, he experiences you’re saying to him, you’re incompetent. You’re not doing it well. You’re not doing it, right. He is in that original wound of him, of his. And the moment, he says, “You’re not going to tell me what to do. I’m doing it, I’m out of here.”

Esther Perel:
And he goes for a break. You think I’m once again all alone with all the responsibilities and the four children on my shoulders. And I will always be alone, and I will never have anybody by my side. And you fight about that original wound. That’s what every argument is actually about.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s the same story over and over.

Esther Perel:
And that was so illuminating for them, that it wasn’t about the chore chart that she had made, and it wasn’t about the kids. And it wasn’t about his parents. It was about, I don’t want to be inadequate and I don’t want to be alone. Those were the themes that each one was really… and then, we started to work. So, that becomes different than just communicating, how do you say things nicer-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And how do you get people to move past those really primordial conditionings of childhood? That’s the $64,000 question.

Esther Perel:
Yes. I think the most important thing is that you teach people two things. When I say teach, it means you help them see two things. You help them separate the past from the present. The fact that this brings back vividly the experience of back then, doesn’t mean that it is actually what used to happen back then. The past and the present sometimes feel they come together into one, but they are not.

Esther Perel:
And the second thing is that you then say, at seven, you were helpless. At seven, you couldn’t respond. At seven, you couldn’t just leave the house and say this is dangerous for me to be here. Whereas now, you are an adult and you have choices. And then, you go and you basically help them first of all through the body to separate the past from the present. In this moment, I get that tension.

Esther Perel:
I want to start fighting. This man was a master of defiance. But he got all his confidence through defiance which means that it was pseudo confident. And when she would actually say, go ahead and do things, I’m with you, I support you, then he would start to talk about all his doubts. He was always sure only when he was in a position. When he was in a fight, then he knew what he wanted.

Esther Perel:
But when he had somebody who was actually loving and giving, then he didn’t know what to do with himself. And you go through the body and you track the feeling because the feeling is also embodied, then you articulate the experience. And then, you know what I really did with them? I really had a lot of fun. They had a lot of fun. I said, “Lay down flat on the floor.” And then, I said, “Now, continue the argument.” Do you know can’t fight when you’re lying flat?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Or wait, if you take your clothes off, I think that’s another thing I’ve heard from couples, ever take your clothes off and have a fight?

Esther Perel:
It’s like we are meant to fight in straight up position, like manners. So then, it opened up completely different. And it went from the fighting to the athic behind the fighting, which is often the fear of loss, which is often, will you leave me? Which will you be there for me, et cetera. And then, you go deeper, deeper, deeper. And that takes some time.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s so beautiful. Esther, you’ve been at the front seat of literally probably hundreds if not thousands of relationships in ways that most people don’t ever have insight into, by simply the virtue of your job. Just like I’ve seen so many people who’ve been sick. You’ve seen so many people who’ve had relationship challenges.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, in that perspective, looking back after decades of doing this, what do you define as the success of relationships day-to-day like? What are the keys to a successful relationship? And what are the things that really destroy relationships?

Esther Perel:
Yup. I will start with what destroys-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I’m taking notes. I’m taking notes.

Esther Perel:
I will really refer to the work of John Gottman, John and Julie Gottman here on what destroys them. They have a wonderful way of separating between the masters and the disasters. And they talk about the four horses of apocalypse. And basically, what will kill relationships is chronic criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling. And the killer of them all is contempt.

Esther Perel:
Because contempt, and this we know also in large scale trauma is contempt is the dehumanizing. Contempt is whatever you feel or think is irrelevant and doesn’t matter. You don’t even reach me. So, those four horses of apocalypse I think summarize things well. And one-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, criticism.

Esther Perel:
… could add a lot of things, defensiveness-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling, basically you’re shutting down, right? Shutting people out?

Esther Perel:
Yes, yes, yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And contempt.

Esther Perel:
We walled off and contempt, which is basically… shame is one side and contempt… shame is contempt for oneself and contempt for the other. It goes in both directions. I think when I once wanted to write a paper, I wanted to write a paper about what are creative couples? Because we talk about lasting couples. We talk about stable couples, but we rarely talk about what is creative couples, or what you may include in successful couples?

Esther Perel:
And what was fascinating, is what you said before. The majority of people when I said do you know couples who have a spark? Couples who inspire you? And people on occasion come up with one, maybe two, often none. It was really scary to them. Because if I said, can you come up with entrepreneurs? With artists? With writers? With intellectuals?

Esther Perel:
People have lists of people that inspire them. But here is everybody wanting to be in a relationship. And not many people can think about, yeah, I liked that, I want to do this. I never wrote the paper because what people ended up saying seemed rather banal to me, as in I know that. But then, I have been sitting on this thing for years thinking actually, maybe it’s not that known.

Esther Perel:
What they said was this and that was very interesting. This is not in order. One is admiration, admiration for your partner. It’s not respect, it’s different. Admiration always implies a level of idealization. It’s I look up to you. I admire you for who you are as a person, as a human being more than just in your role as a partner, as a parent. So, that was one, big one.

Esther Perel:
Two, the relationship is basically a foundation with wings. Meaning, there’s a solid anchor of trust. And that solid anchor of trust interacts with the ability to take risks in life and in the relationship, and to be playful. It’s what I often have looked at the combination between of the integration, between our need for security and safety, and predictability, and reliability.

Esther Perel:
And our need for change and novelty, and exploration, and discovery, these two fundamental human needs. I think that the best relationships have a nice balance between what is togetherness and what is separateness. People have their own lives. But before I even continue, I think the best thing to say is this, there is no one size fits all.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Fits all, yeah.

Esther Perel:
I can’t tell you one. It’s like you with health. It’s not like you have a sense in hell that it’s an interaction of different parts.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Of course, yeah.

Esther Perel:
But if it is more of this or more of that. Some couples have Venn diagrams that are completely overlapping. They do everything together. They spend all their time together and it works beautifully. And some other very creative and successful couples are much more differentiated.

Esther Perel:
And actually, they have a strong core but with big individual lives separate. So, there is no one size fits all. I really would love that to be actually my opening line to your question before I even say what makes for success. People who feel free in a relationship, that makes for success.

Esther Perel:
For sure, people who feel oppressed or under surveillance, or who have to constantly lie or hide, or not say what they bought, or what is, that stuff. Those are major differences that I would add to the Gottman list. It’s a degree of autonomy matched with a deep sense of belonging. These two together is a beautiful dance.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s beautiful. I think there’s some really practical ways that you talk about for people to achieve whatever it is their best relationship is, right? Boundaries, routines, rituals. What are the kinds of things that you help people establish within their relationship to build that foundation that’s structured? Is that something that we know automatically? Is that something we actually are taught? How do you help people build those structures in those relationships that help them get to that?

Esther Perel:
So, it’s very interesting. This couple that I was mentioning before where he walled himself off with no needs because he was all alone and there was nobody who could help him anyway. And she is permeated by all these voices. I thought that I had done a rather limited session with them. I really thought, I didn’t really reach them. I didn’t really go underneath the noise, et cetera.

Esther Perel:
And then, I get a letter today that you never know. You never know about how much some of the tiny things that I did that I thought were almost slightly… they were not… basically, I would say it’s one thing to say, how about you tell Esther about this versus shutting your partner up and talking for them.

Esther Perel:
Of course, you want to bring something up, but you also want to let them tell their own story. How about when you have a problem or a question about sex, or about children, you don’t first go to your mother and grandmother, but you also go first to your partner. And you set a boundary with all the people from your family so that you can create a more sacred space with your partner.

Esther Perel:
The boundary is not always inside relationship, it’s between the relationship and the outside world. How about, you are able to make a request that isn’t a protest. So, say what you need rather than what the other person is or is not doing, just make a request and stick to that. And adding up these things, basically, they write to me three weeks later and say, there’s been a fundamental shift. We haven’t had a single fight.

Esther Perel:
I was able to no longer go and talk to my mother about everything. He feels much more open to me because I’m much less critical with him and I appreciate his openness. And that makes me more fond of him. And that makes him more sexual with me and more expressive of his desire for me. And it becomes the opposite of the escalation. And the negative direction is now escalating. And they’re going up in the positive direction. That’s the work.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s so powerful, so powerful. And I think that, you’ve created a really fun, during COVID, a really fun game that I love to do and share with everybody. And I think it’s just so fantastic. And we’ve had all the stresses of quarantine, isolation, like a travel, our social circles are shrinking sometimes when we need the most and our relationships are often challenged.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But you created this card game which is came out of this isolation, lockdown and it’s a way for all of us to reconnect and I just love it. Because sometimes, it’s heavy. Talking about relationships and love and lurking stuff out and it’s a lot. But you’ve created a fun, playful way to enter into the space of intimacy and connection and relatedness that I think is just so beautiful.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, by the way everybody, the game is called Where Should We Begin, the game. And you just to go to estherperel.comwhere-should-we-begin-the-game, with dashes in between each word and you’ll find it, and it’s just fabulous. So, tell us a little bit what inspired it and what it is. And maybe we can play a little bit with it.

Esther Perel:
Yes, love too. One day, as I was working in the middle of the pandemic, experiencing my own sense of isolation, my constant need to be in a state of vigilance, in risk assessment rather than risk taking, and lacking intimacy with my close circle. I just thought, I can’t only talk about these things in therapy or even in the podcast in the most heavy way that is permeated by this pandemic fear.

Esther Perel:
And I said one day, I’m talking about the importance of celebrating even at times like this, about the importance of self-care and about taking care of others, and wellbeing, enjoy in the midst of tragedy. And I did think about myself. There was a very personal connection as a child of two parents who were Holocaust survivors and I spent years in concentration camps in Germany.

Esther Perel:
I had heard a lot about lockdown. And not two months or 15 months of lockdown but years. And I remember my mother always saying to me, “Honey, there is laughter in hell.” You don’t survive otherwise. On occasion, you have got to be able to look at the absurdity and the tragedy of your life and just become… develop power over it and mastery over it through humor, through play.

Esther Perel:
And it stayed with me. And so, one day I just said, I want to create a game. I don’t just want to talk about the experience of playfulness and remaining curious. I want people to have the experience. That I felt that during the pandemic, we lost touch with the erotic, right? The erotic is serendipity, spontaneity, improvisation, curiosity.

Esther Perel:
Everything that you go outside to discover you have to suddenly be much more shielded from. And I thought, if I can create a game on the inside that people can play together, I really will create an antidote to the seriousness and the heaviness of the moment. It came out that at this moment, it was the perfect timing that it became connected to the social reentry and to the anxiety of the reentry.

Esther Perel:
And so, the connecting and the reconnecting is even more timely. I wanted it to be a game of stories because my podcast, Where Should We Begin, I believe that stories are the way we make sense of our life. Stories are bridges to how we connect with people. And so, it’s not just conversation starters. And it’s not just icebreakers, it’s really storytelling that can be done between strangers on a first date, between co-workers or between best friends basically.

Esther Perel:
Let me explain it to you actually, three components, three parts. So, it has the play cards which are really fun to hold in hand, the play cards. And play cards really have a whole variety, a text message, I fantasize receiving, the best prank I’ve ever pulled off. It was hard for me to say no too. I’m surprised I’m still alive after. An important object I have lost. In my family, my role is. The most unexpected compliment I’ve ever received. A friendship I need to end. I mean, I just took the first 10 that-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow, that’s incredible. So, it’s a way for people to get intimate with each other and talk about things that they normally talk about. And feel deeper relationships with each other.

Esther Perel:
Yeah. I had a dear friend this week, we were playing together. And there are prompt cards. So, these blue cards are the prompt cards and they share something that’s changed your worldview from your teenage point of view that you would never tell your mother that is taboo, that you would never tell your co-workers.

Esther Perel:
And so, she gets a card and it says, share something cringe worthy. And the next thing she receives is… so, all the people, the players submit a story card to the storyteller. And the storyteller gets to choose between the cards that were submitted, including one that they choose themselves. And on occasion, peer pressure is done with those little tokens in which I put a token on your card because I wanted her to tell the card, a person I unintentionally hurt.

Esther Perel:
That is cringe-worthy. So, you combine the story [crosstalk 00:40:35]. And she proceeds to tell us about this dear friend. And basically, she introduced that person to another friend and just said, this friend is very rich, very fat and very crowned, and sends it to the person in question. And everybody goes, “Cringe-worthy.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You mean, by accident and send it to him?

Esther Perel:
By accident.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, no. Oh, no.

Esther Perel:
So, it’s multiple variations. It’s a multitude because you never get the same prompt cards with the stories. The prompt cards give you the lens, the vantage point to which to tell the story. And the stories are just mind-blowing, mind-blowing stories that I’ve been hearing.

Esther Perel:
I’ve been playing nonstop. People I’ve never met and people that I knew very well. And during the pandemic, it was all virtual, so I couldn’t hold the cards. Everything was on a screen. That is the big transition, is to finally actually have it as an object in your hands.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, can you actually play this online as well as in person?

Esther Perel:
Well, that’s what you and I are going to try to do right now, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay. All right. Let’s do it.

Esther Perel:
So, for example, let’s say that I give you the prompt card, share something that you’ve never told anyone.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay.

Esther Perel:
And I would put in front of you different story cards, right? One that you would pick. So, this is different from the way we play normally. You can play it in the committed version with all the rules and you can play it in the casual version where you just make up your own rules, because the stories are the stories. So, a rule that you secretly love to break.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
A rule that I secretly love to break.

Esther Perel:
Or, my most irrational fear. Or, I can’t believe I got away with.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You want me to answer all three or just one?

Esther Perel:
No, you pick one of them. Share something you’ve never told anyone. A rule I secretly love to break. My most irrational fear. I can’t believe I got away with.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Gosh, there’s so many things in there. I get to pick one?

Esther Perel:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What did I secretly get away with? What is my most irrational fear?

Esther Perel:
Or something that you can’t believe you get away with. You’ve done so many mischievous things, my dear.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What am I can’t believe I got away with.

Esther Perel:
Now, you don’t have to pick that one. You pick whichever one you want.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think my most irrational fear might be a fear of sharks. I definitely get freaked out in the ocean. I control it but I’m always like spinning in my head about being attacked by a shark. Briefly when I was in Hawaii all winter and they were three or four shark attacks and I was just feeling… and maybe it’s not irrational, but definitely is probably not. The likelihood of getting bitten by a shark is pretty low, so I think I over react to that.

Esther Perel:
And what’s the image? What’s the gory image? What’s the idea, what is the shark-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The image is the shark coming and biting my leg off and just being bleeding off. All the images I’ve seen of shark attacks in oceans. I think it was because of Jaws. When I was 13, I saw Jaws and it just ruined me for life.

Esther Perel:
Right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, that’s a big one.

Esther Perel:
But it doesn’t stop you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It doesn’t stop me. No, doesn’t stop me but I definitely feel anxious and stressed. And what did I get away with that I know can I get away with?

Esther Perel:
I do the things I do that I love so much.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I can’t believe I actually get paid for doing what I do. And actually, get to have this blessed life that I did. I mean, it’s how do I get away with being so blessed? I receive it but I’m like, wow. I feel so blessed to have… because I’ve seen people struggle with finding the meaning of life and being physically healthy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And having meaningful relationships with their community. And having just goodness in their life. And I just can’t believe I get all the magic that I get. So, I think it’s… someone said it’s a reflection of how much you given the world. But I don’t know, I always feel overabundance-

Esther Perel:
I was just going to say the same thing. I was going to say the same thing. I mean, you are fundamentally a life lover. And you love to live life at its fullest. And you give in that way but you don’t feel that you’re giving because you feel that you receive while you give.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, that’s true.

Esther Perel:
Which by the way, are two… it’s very, very important verbs that I work with, in my work with couples a lot.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Give and receive?

Esther Perel:
Yes. Well, there’s seven key verbs. Since I speak many languages, what you were saying before, I’ve always really enjoyed looking at love as a vocabulary and a language. And what are the key verbs that you need to be able to conjugate so that you can start to speak that language? In every language, there are a few basic verbs that become the structure of the language.

Esther Perel:
So, in relationships, it is to ask, how do you feel about asking? Can you ask, do you comfortable asking, do you feel deserving of asking. And therefore, deserving of receiving because you asked. Do you never ask because you don’t want to oh? Do you never ask because you don’t know what you need? I mean, the whole explanation of the verb to ask.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Ask, yeah.

Esther Perel:
Do you enjoy giving? Do you find that you give in order to acquit yourself of a debt? Do you feel that you give in order to then be able to ask? Do you feel enriched by the giving? Do you feel depleted by it? Do you calculate how much you give? What is your experience of giving? Do you feel that you were given too? What is your experience around receiving?

Esther Perel:
And you can use these verbs in the relational sense or even in the sexual sense, right? My work around sexuality, I use the same verbs. How do you feel about receiving? Does it feel good? Does it feel deserving? Does it feel too passive, too weak? Too at the mercy of, too dependent, too something? Or, does it actually really feel filling you up, et cetera. So, to ask, to give, to receive, to take? Like little children, it’s mine, it’s mine-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Doesn’t seem a good one.

Esther Perel:
No, to take it. So, it is also a way of saying, I don’t need to just never eat because I feel other people are more hungry, I can take a piece. It’s fine. There is enough for everybody. I don’t stand out. I’m not greedy. I’m not too much. Taking is a very important verb. And certainly sexually, taking is an important verb as well to share, to imagine, to play, to want and to refuse.

Esther Perel:
Because if you can’t say no, you don’t really have a good experience of knowing how to say yes. And so, these verbs really out, they’re neutral, they’re rich, they’re deep, everybody can interpret them in their own way. They’re fantastic set of conversations. They’re all included in the cards, but not like this. But they are part of the questions and the stories that are involved in the card game.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So, beautiful. And I think the ability for us to be present, to listen, to drop in, it’s been so served by our crazy modern lives and technology. And I think that’s the beauty of COVID for me, personally, was to witness how much I was in a fast forward way of living that wasn’t allowing me to drop into the present in myself, in relationships, even in my work in the way that I wanted to. And so, having this game which is just so fun and easy, and interesting. It’s-

Esther Perel:
Maybe do a few other questions.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it takes us out of all that busy doing crazy stuff and drops us into relational work, it’s so powerful.

Esther Perel:
I mean, I’ve sat in groups, Mark, of six to eight people where one round literally took two hours. I mean, it’s just gripping stories. And often people don’t even know what they’re going to tell. They start like you, yeah, I don’t know nothing, that’s difficult. And then, suddenly, the story presents itself.

Esther Perel:
A game is a container. Playing is the creation of a space in which people get permission to explore, to be curious to ask questions, to open up, to divulge under the guise of the game. And so, it’s a fantastic container for creativity, for the imagination, for surprise. And the storytelling is the oldest thing people do when they come together. They tell stories.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s so true.

Esther Perel:
One guy last week, he got a card, gutsy was the prompt.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Gutsy?

Esther Perel:
And then, he got the question gutsy. And then, the prompt was something I need to work harder. Now, that was the story card. So, basically, you get everybody to submit your story cards. And you get to choose one of them. Unless people put tokens in which they begin to put peer pressure.

Esther Perel:
And so, he picked the one that said I have to work harder at. And the next thing he starts to tell us is about how he’s always been a conflict avoidant. And he always makes everything look like it’s fine. Everything is fine. And then, what that led him to, and it was just like, we had never met this person.

Esther Perel:
We were a few people who had never met this person. And I’m telling you, don’t bother asking what do you do? The guy runs a mega company of this and that and the other, it’s irrelevant. This gave you an entry into this person’s story, their life and it was wow. And that’s the effect that you really want. You leave and you remember exactly what people have told you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I think that’s such a key point, Esther. Because I think most people are not really great at the inquiry and curiosity, and asking questions in relationships. And when I find is when I meet someone, if I just start to ask them questions then I start to ask their story and pull it out of them, people are just so happy to share, and they never get asked. And it’s such a powerful tool for building connection, relationship, intimacy. And it’s what your cards do, which is what I love.

Esther Perel:
Especially now. People come to work and somebody says, how was the pandemic for you? Excuse me. And do I want to answer? I want to say something but at what level? What can I say? How interested are you really? So, to create these questions that are basically containers, they provide a frame so that you can then improvise and be spontaneous.

Esther Perel:
So, you get just about the right amount of both. You get rules and then you get everything… once you follow the rules, you get this whole expansive space where you can ask loads of questions that are relevant in this moment. One of the things that is keeping me up at night.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, it’s interesting, Esther, when I found my relationships, it’s like when I take the time and when we just drop in, and really get to the deeper layers of conversation of what’s underneath in our stories and sharing, it’s really powerful. And I didn’t do these cards with my wife.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it was just such a beautiful way for us to learn about each other, to understand what moves us and motivates us, and what flips us up, what scares us, what inspires us. And I think we don’t really have many of those opportunities in life. And it’s just such a beautiful invitation that you’ve created.

Esther Perel:
So, we have to safe version for work, so that you can take out all the cards that have a pink triangle which-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, you do.

Esther Perel:
… for the date and for the sex.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay. All right.

Esther Perel:
So, yes. So, it has its multiple settings where you can play. And what are the questions that are suitable here and maybe not suitable there? So, it’s done for you. So, you don’t have to constantly worry and fret, can I ask this? Is this too personal? Is this okay? You get the permission because you’ve picked the colors that you’re going to be playing with. But yes, curiosity, active listening, asking for more. My favorite question in therapy, but also in the game is, tell me more?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Tell me more.

Esther Perel:
Tell me more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s the joke of the therapist, though. It’s, tell me more. What do you think about that?

Esther Perel:
Tell me more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And then-

Esther Perel:
But there always is more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. There’s always more.

Esther Perel:
That’s interesting. There always is more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. There’s always more. Yeah. So, instead of conclusion, what are the things that you’ve learned after decades of working with couples and relationships that are nuggets of wisdom that you would lead people with about? That it could help them with relationships that they may be struggling with.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
What are the things that people should anchor to? And of course, there’s your book Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs and your podcasts, and all that, which is great. People should dive into that. Your TED Talks. But I’m still wondering if you could distill down what you really learned?

Esther Perel:
The first thing I would say and I think I have really, really learned it from the millions of people that listened to Where Should We Begin is that you’re not alone. These days, on the one hand, we have unprecedented expectations of our couple’s lives. But at the same time, we are also in a machine of fake news on social media.

Esther Perel:
So, people curate and posture and filter and you don’t know where is the truth. When people lived in the village, you heard the fights of the neighbors and you heard the frolics of the neighbors. Now, your best friends can come and tell you that they’re breaking up and you never saw it coming.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, right.

Esther Perel:
Nobody tells you the truth about what goes on in the couple’s relationships. And then, you’re left thinking these are-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Everybody’s great, right? Right.

Esther Perel:
They’re doing great and we are alone with our problems. And so, I think really, Where Should We Begin showed me that when you listen deeply to the stories of others, you see yourself in front of your own mirror. And you don’t feel as alone and you get to tools for the conversations that you want to have.

Esther Perel:
I think that’s the first thing I really realized that this is a unit that doesn’t talk. Friends talk to friends. Couples often talk to nobody about what’s really going on. They may be struggling with infidelity. They may be struggling with infertility. They may be struggling with bipolarity and mental health issues.

Esther Perel:
They may be struggling with unresolved grief. They may be struggling with economic hardships, with unemployment, with addictions. And they won’t talk about it to anybody because they have to present themselves a certain way. And it breaks my heart sometimes to see how alone people are with some of these major, major challenges.

Esther Perel:
So, that’s the first thing I’ve really learned is to make sure that that’s part of the game too, is to give people a tool to make hard conversations less difficult. The second thing that I have really learned is this couple that I was describing where I thought, oh, my God.

Esther Perel:
They really came in to say, we need you to tell us are we broken? Are we beyond repair? At the end of the session I thought, I don’t know where this is going. And I have been so many times surprised by people where I think there’s not much left here. And then, when you change one thing like this woman, she stopped trying to change him.

Esther Perel:
And she went ahead and took responsibility for her contribution. And she changed a few things about her own behavior. And it just unleashed a cascade of changes for the better. And that is a real important piece. Sometimes it looks like everything is over, is interconnected and it’s an impossible heap of nuisance.

Esther Perel:
And yet, if you make one shift, it has the power because systems are interdependent parts to activate everything else. That’s the second thing that is very important. The third thing is that there is a big difference between what you feel inside and what you experience inside affects the people around you.

Esther Perel:
You may be depressed and feel weak, and hopeless, and helpless, and anhedonic. But when you are in relationships with those who love you, you often wield all the power. Because you activate everybody around you to try to make you feel better. To give you advice. To try to lift you up.

Esther Perel:
And in the end, they feel undefeated and deflated like you. So, power doesn’t always come from the top down. Power often comes from the bottom up, from places that are not nearly that obvious. I think we really don’t understand enough the complex interplay of power dynamics in relationships.

Esther Perel:
If you want to change the other, change yourself. And maybe the last thing I would say is beyond most issues that people argue about, generally are three themes, control and power, care and closeness, and respect and recognition. Whose priorities matter? Who has the power here? Can I trust you? Do you have my back? And do you value me?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Those are huge.

Esther Perel:
These are the three major themes that many, many couples basically struggle about. But it comes in the forms of talks about sex and money, and family, and in-laws, but that’s not the issue. It’s not the issue. It’s the emotional crucible in which those issues play off.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. So, it’s the story under the story is essentially what you’re talking about. Yeah.

Esther Perel:
What is really going on here that I don’t see that is not being said. What are they really fighting about? Like the couple where she fights about being alone and he fights about being inadequate. That’s care and closeness, and power and control.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, incredible. Well, Esther, your work is so important. And it’s just such a beautiful light on a very challenging topic for so many people which is relationships, whether it’s work relationships or love relationships. And I encourage everyone to check out your work. Everybody should go check out your books Mating in Captivity, State of Affairs, your podcast, Where Should We Begin and How’s Work. And of course, your game, Where Should We Begin, right? Is that the name of that? No. What-

Esther Perel:
Where Should We Begin – A Game of Stories, yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Forgive me, Where Should We Begin – A Game of Stories. So, everyone, go to estherperel.com, E-S-T-H-E-R-P-E-R-E-L.com, and it’s all up there. And thank you so much for everything you do and inspiring so many, and helping people navigate a very tough landscape, which is much harder than disease, honestly. I think you do as much harder than what I do.

Esther Perel:
It’s an interconnector, Mark. Relational health and physical health. I mean, we didn’t even touch on that, how much these two are related. Stress at home, domestic violence, the pressures of caretaking go directly into your body.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, that’s true.

Esther Perel:
Right? And that’s a whole other subject. But we have closer sometimes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, the interesting to think about that just to finish is that women tend to live longer when they’re alone. And men tend to live longer when they’re in marriages and relationships. So, I know what that says about dynamics of relationship that maybe you don’t serve women as well as men sometimes.

Esther Perel:
That’s an old set of research that the quality of life of a woman emotionally speaking is often in diminished when she’s in a marriage and the quality of health of a man in a relationship is increased. And that has to do with the dynamics of power and caregiving, and responsibility or what we call emotional labor.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
For sure.

Esther Perel:
So much more things we could talk about, but.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Thank you. Thank you so much for being on the Doctor’s Farmacy.

Esther Perel:
It’s a pleasure.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
If you’ve all been listening to this and you loved it, please share with your friends and family. If you’ve struggled in a relationship and found ways of making it work, let us know, we’d love to hear them. Who knows, maybe we’ll all learn something. And subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and we’ll see you next week on the Doctor’s Farmacy.
Speaker 1:
Hi, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services.
Speaker 1:
If you’re looking for a help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search there find a practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed health care practitioner and can help you make changes especially when it comes to your health.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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