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Coming up on the Dr. John Deloney.


Show, I decided to take a genealogy test.


Oh, no.


I didn't know anything about my dad. I was never allowed to ask questions about him. My mom never wanted to talk about him.


What's the most shocking thing you found, Monica?


He's alive. I was so shop.


Hey, what's up? This is John with the Dr. John Deloney show. Show about your relationships, your marriage, who you're dating, work relationships, your kids, your psychological health, your emotional health, whatever you got going on in your life. For 20 years, I've been sitting with people when the wheels fall off. Actually, more than that now for a long time, for more than two decades, been sitting with people when the wheels fall off. I got two phds, and I've been spending most of my career sitting with people who are just in ash. Like, I don't know what to do next. And I've also got to spend a lot of time with people who are knocking out of the park the best of the best of us, right? Who are really who inspire me, whether they're high school kids or college students or their parents or professors, people out in the world doing amazing things. And so here's what I believe. I believe that we all find ourselves in places where we get stuck and the whole world feels like it's caving in on us or maybe something small. We just don't know what to do next. And that's what this show is about.


So if you want to be on this show, real people going through real things, give me a buz at 1844-693-3291 or go to John askask. And don't forget to hit the subscribe button, especially roll over to YouTube and hit the subscribe button, man. We're doing a subscription drive, man. I have a goal for YouTube this year, so I want to blow it out of the huge, huge help for me. If you'll go over and hit subscribe. Doesn't cost anything, just 2 seconds of your life and I'd be really grateful. All right, let's go out to Toronto, Canada and talk to Amanda. Hey, Amanda, what's up?


Hey, John. Not much. Just trying to get some help here to start off. My husband and I do not want to end our marriage. Separate, divorce, anything like that.


Awesome. You knew I was going to ask that, right?


Absolutely. So I thought I'd just put that out there. But we are struggling with intimacy and connection in the bedroom. We seem to flirt outside the bedroom. It's like when we cross that threshold, something changes.


So what changes? What changes?


I feel like we are roommates. As soon as we get into the bedroom, we flirt outside the bedroom, we kiss. But it's like when we get into that bedroom at night after our daughter goes to bed, I think we're just so exhausted. We get into our devices, tv, and we just don't even connect.


That sucks. It does hate that for you. So do you trust me that there's hope here?


Absolutely. I am still very hopeful for my marriage. My husband is still very hopeful for our marriage. We just don't know where to go. And there's a lot of stuff that has brought us to this point, so we just don't know how to walk back to where we were or start anew.


There you go. There it is. All right. So almost always somebody who's making this type of call has some sort of major life transition. Has anything happened recently, whether it's jobs, how old's this kid? I mean, has things changed?


So things have been in flux and transition for the last five years, we had some fertility issues, decided to adopt. I've always wanted to adopt. So we brought, at the time, this was back in 2018, a four year old into our home as a foster to adopt scenario. And it took us four and a half years to be able to finally finalize that adoption so that she can stay with us forever and ever. Amen. So that just concluded last August.


Well, on behalf of everybody, thank you. Like, you're lighting the path for us, and I know that doesn't make it any easier on a day to day basis, but thank you. It's amazing. Yes, it's amazing. So when you cross that finish line. Yes, she's yours after, I guess.




Eight and a half years, right? Almost nine years.


Well, we got her at four. She's now nine.


We've had her five years. Okay. All right. She's nine. Go back four years ago when you said she's the one. Yes. And you all filled out all that paperwork and you got to see her and you got to meet her and do that little awkward interviewee thing and go back to there, and you're like, no, honey, she's it. And she's the one. And he's like, yes, she's going to be my daughter. I want you to be really specific, okay. And this is important, so I'm not just playing with you. Okay.




What was graduation day? And for those of you I'm not in that world, it's like, it's forever family day, right? I can cross the line. The judge says, I decree. What did you think that was going to feel like?


I thought it was going to feel more momentous than it did.


And what did you think your home was going to feel like? Take me back. Paint me a picture of what your home was going to be like the day you drove home from the courthouse.


I knew it would be hard and there would be struggles.


But I didn't.


Expect it to take the better part of almost five years. So emotionally, we spent most of the last five years focused on her. She's a special needs child. She's got developmental delays, she's got ADHD, she's got possible trauma coming down the line from the adoption and the foster care and the apprehension. So there was a lot more needs than anybody knew about five years ago. So we've been struggling through that and we put our marriage on the back burner thinking, okay, this might be six months, eight months, and then we can move forward. And it took four and a half years.


There you go. Not only.


Go ahead, I say, we.


Woke up a year ago, year and a half ago and said, oh, my gosh, our marriage sucks.


Well. And beneath that, both of you all think yourselves suck, too. Yes. Because you all put yourselves on the back burner also. Yes. Like good parents do in a time of crisis. The challenge is Cris aren't designed to last four and a half years. Our bodies aren't built for that. They're built for a momentary crisis.




And so your marriage is an outgrowth of what you think about yourselves and what you think about each other individually. And so over the last four and a half years, you all have developed a couple of what I call xanaxes, which are screens, avoidance tv shows. What else? What am I missing? What else has become your numbing agent of choice in your household?


For me, it's been to find things, to try and take care of myself. So I have a lot of commitments and things that I do outside of the house that bring joy.


Busyness is an awesome drug, whereas my.


Husband does not have anything besides work that brings him out of the home where I think he could benefit from doing some things and I could probably benefit from scaling back a little bit.


Awesome. So you all are totally normal. You're better than average. I won't say you're better than average, but you all are pretty amazing. You spent four and a half years fighting for an adopted special needs child. That puts you in the upper tier of humanity. As far as I'm concerned, that's up there with the Kelly's of the world, right? Who's lived that life, too. Yeah, but it makes you normal. Things got chaotic, things got wild, and you put your marriage on the back burner. You put yourselves on the back burner and you wake up four and a half years later and you don't like yourself, you don't like each other, and your marriage is like, oh, my gosh. And then it feels like we don't have a way back. Fair. Fair. Okay, now, you mentioned, like, we hug and we kiss, and so things are okay outside of the bedroom, and then we get inside. It all gets weird. What gets weird inside the bedroom?


The fact that both my husband and I, previous to us getting together and dating, were very inexperienced with previous partners. Neither of us had long term relationships through university, through high school.


Amanda, I don't care about any of that. I'm talking about right now. Right now. Because going back in time, that's an avoidance strategy, too. Right now, y'all smooch each other. You clearly love each other. You want this thing. You put your kid down and you all go, oh, God. It's nightly. Like, oh, thank God. And then it's finally like, oh, yeah, time. And you go in the bedroom and you're like me, and you pick up your iPad, he picks up a cell phone, and you all head off into your fantasy worlds. And then you just go to bed. Yeah, or the kid goes to bed and you go out to do some volunteering thing, things that you have. Your cocaine is busyness. And then he just stares at his phone because his cocaine is avoidance. Or he checks his email, pulls his laptop out. What happens there in that moment?


In that moment, we just kind of let it happen and continue to avoid. I've tried to bring things into the bedroom to help.


Have you tried taking things out of the bedroom?






It's crossed my mind, but I've never pulled the trigger on, this needs to go. This needs to go.


Yes. One of the people in the booth just raised her eyebrow. I was like, oh, what? I'm not talking about having sex outside the bedroom. Well, that could be great, but I'm talking about creating a sanctuary. Number one, no cell phones in the bedroom, period. No screens in the bedroom. No iPads or laptops ever in the bedroom ever. Okay, that's number one. Because now we got to stare at each other. Now we have to be awkward, be anxious, be like, that's number one. Number two, the life that has been. I'm going to use the say you created, but I don't think it was done intentionally. I think you've been surviving. Okay. So it's not a blame thing. It's just an is thing. The life that you all have created is a life that you all don't like. You don't like the life you love that baby girl, you love each other. You don't like the world you all created. And you think things outside the bedroom are great. I don't think they are.


Probably not. They're better than in the bedroom.


Let's say that.


That's fair. That's cool, but I don't know. Diarrhea is better than throwing up, but they both are not great, right? So one can be pretty better than in here, but neither of them are great. And so I always go back to Dr. Emily Nagotsky, and a book that I want you to pick up is called come as you are by Emily Nagotsky. It's incredible, Dr. Nagotsky. It's such a great book, but it walks through this idea of intimacy, sexuality, being about gas pedals and.




Not about a list of tricks and tools. Tricks and tools are cool, but they work only on top of a foundation of as many gas pedals going as possible and as few brakes being hit as possible. So if you could snap your fingers, what would you do differently in your life? What role would your husband play different? What would you do different?


That's a really deep question.


It's deep, but it's also pretty simple. What would you do different?


I would definitely get rid of the devices. The tv.


Okay, done. What's next? And by the way, I'm moving quick because you are so good at getting stuck.




You are so good at avoiding the moment you're in. And I'd love to just have a beer and some nachos with you and dig on that one. We just don't have time for that here. But for sure, you are so good at. You're the guy on the movie that they keep getting shot with lasers and he blocks him with his sword. That's you. You're so good at it. So that's why I'm moving quick. Okay, cool. Devices out. What's next? Don't overthink it.


Don't deflect learning to talk to each other more.


Okay. About what? Deep stuff. Little stuff. Just chitchat.


Deep stuff. Because we avoid that. Even if we have date nights, we avoid those deep conversations.


What happens during deep conversation?


My husband shuts down.


Why does he shut down?


Because he's not emotionally available.


Have you created a relationship where it's okay for him to be emotionally available?


I think I have.


Okay. That's not an indictment. That's just a question. Yeah.


No, we had a small kind of breakthrough, I guess, last night when I was letting him know that I was going to be on your show today. And he actually seemed hopeful, and he said, I think this might actually be able to help us start to move forward.


Very cool. So you don't think he's emotionally available. So give me an example of a deep thing you want to talk about.


I want to talk to him about his lack of confidence in the bedroom and how I can better help support him through that.


Okay. So do you think together? Do you think your intimacy challenges are. He doesn't know what he's doing or he's not good, and then he shuts.


Down what he's doing. He feels ashamed, and I don't know what I'm doing.


Okay. How do you know that? Is it awful? Is it painful? Is it not fun?


He can't climax.




It's been an ongoing issue for him since he was a teenager.




So I know it's not just a me problem.




By the way, overcome that.


Lead with that first next time.




That's all good. I'm married to a man who can't. That's a start with that one. I know that's hard to get, to just be like, hey, everybody, I'm Amanda, and here we go. But, okay. That's a big deal.




And there's a lot of shame. You have felt shame because you thought it was your job, right?




And, jeez Louise, he's just grown up with. Of course. Right. So can he climax by himself?


He says sometimes, but not always. And when he does, it's difficult.


Okay. Has he gone to talk to a doctor about it?


We started down that path, and then in order to investigate further, would involve him being put under for surgery so that they could do exploratory stuff. And we just weren't prepared at that point to do that.


I think we're there now. I don't necessarily know that surgical. I'd have to get some more details from you all, and this isn't the time for that. But there needs to be a psych eval first, and a doctor or a psychiatrist or psychologist will walk you through. Here's some things I want you all to try. And let's go through some conversations. Because there might be sexual abuse in his past. It might be purely physiological. But if this is something that's been going on since he was a kid, since he was young. Here's what I always tell folks. These things are a context. They're not an excuse. Right. You both came into the marriage, and this is, I mean, devastating. It's awful, it's hard. It's scary. It's really scary. And this is his journey now to go get this stuff. And by the way, I think the language is going to be really important. If I was struggling with this myself, I would feel awkward with my wife saying, we are going to the doctor. No, I'm going to go. I think it's a matter of, I know you all are experiencing this together, but this is something that has haunted him for a long time.


And so there's a transition from, we're going through all of this the same way we went through the adoption. We went through IVF. Actually, you know what? I bet it's similar. Did you go through IVF?


No, because of his issues. Okay. We didn't even explore that option.


Was your infertility based on the fact that he is not able to climax?




Okay. And you all didn't seek a doctor then.


So that's when we sought out medical intervention to help. And the urologist we saw said, you have to go surgery at this point. And at that point, I had always wanted to adopt. He didn't want to do the surgery. So we just went down the adoption route. And here we are almost six years later from that.


Yeah. It's time. Right now, you'll need to go see a doctor because I've got concerns. There's other things going on.




And an exploratory. When you say surgery, I'm not thinking they're going to scope something or they're going to send a tiny camera up as urethra, or they're going to go through and figure out if there's a physiological thing or some type of MRI or anything like that. When I think of surgery, I think they're going to go in and start cutting and removing things, and I don't think that's the case here. So it may be a matter of the language. It may just be like, no, we're going to have to go check some things out.




That shouldn't scare anybody now, before they start cutting and everything. Yeah. I'd be nervous and scared. That's fair. Okay. Yeah. I'm self censoring in real time. But here's the deal. You all have to go do that. And quite honestly, I should have done that four or five years ago, y'all made a huge. Y'all drove all the way around the continent to avoid going by somebody's house.




Right. And the way you're saying yep makes me think you've been telling him this for a long time. Yes. Okay.


Pretty much.


All right. It's time. And I think it's a matter of being worried that he has got something else going on physiologically that needs to get doctor's intervention aSAP. I also think there's a strong. Is there any hint that this is psychological.


Possibly, like I've suspected it for a.


Would? If you have a primary care provider, and I know healthcare is different in Toronto. In Canada, if you have a primary care provider that doesn't sit down and go through an asus screening, it doesn't go through a childhood abuse like, walk me through what led us here. How long have you been experiencing this? Because it's abnormal. It's not within the bell curve and goes straight to, well, we got to do surgery. Then you need to walk out that door and find somebody else. And again, I know that's more challenging in Canada, but I want someone who's going to sit down and talk to your husband first, because the chances of this being something psychological are very strong. Very strong. And I'd let him know I support you 100%. I'll be with you every step of the way. As much as you want me to be involved, I'm going to be involved. But as your wife, I love you, and I'm scared to death for you and your health, both psychologically and physiologically. And, I mean, you can go through all of the intimacy stuff on planet earth with this big elephant in the room, a husband who doesn't feel like he works properly, who doesn't feel like he can enjoy sex, because sex is this whole other thing.


It's a health care issue. It's a psychological issue. It is any number of things going on. You can do everything in the world, and it's not a matter of you all being inexperienced. It's not. It's just not. It's not true. This is a matter of, your husband's got to go get some help and figure out what's going on with his body ASAP. And then, hey, if he goes and it's like, hey, it's nothing physiological, nothing psychological. It just doesn't work. Call me back, because then I'll work through what happens next. Okay? But up until now, let's go get the appropriate care we need ASAP. Time is down. Time is now. We're not going to drive around avoiding driving past this house anymore. We're going to go right to the house and we're going to figure out what's going on. He owes that to you. He owes that to your family, and he owes that to himself. He will not have peace until he goes and gets this figured out. We'll be right back. Hey, it's Deloney. Lint is one of the cornerstones of the christian faith, and it's got a bad rap over the years.


People think it's just like a month in a week, like 40 days of giving up a thing like candy or alcohol or whatever, until we can get to Easter and we can finally get back to poisoning ourselves with junk food or staying up too late or whatever bad habits we tried to cut out. Lent is so, so much more than just abstaining from some vice. Lint is about entering into a season of 40 days of reflection, prayer, and, yes, fasting. It's about finding meaning, purpose, discipline, and finding connection with God and finally letting go of trying to control everything. If you've grown up in a christian faith and you've heard about Lent and you want to jump in with both feet this year, or if you're not a person of faith and you're always wondering what your coworkers are talking about during the season. My friends at hallow have created the 40 day Lent prayer challenge. It's going to be an incredible 40 days meditating on the theme of surrender, and it's going to be led by mark Wahlberg. Yes, that mark Wahlberg, Jonathan Rumi, and more. There's going to be lint themed music, stories, prayers and even special things for your kids.


I personally am going to take on the challenge, and I hope you'll join me and millions of others across the globe. Hallow is the number one prayer app in the world, and for listeners of this show, you get three free months of hallow, all 10,000 plus prayers, meditations, music, the lecture series, all of it by going to deloney. That's three free months of the app at hallow. deloney. All right, let's go out to Kansas City, Missouri, and talk to Hannah. Hey, Hannah, what's up?


Hi, Dr. John. Thanks for taking my call today.


Of course. What's going on?


Well, I wrote in with a question. How do my husband and I stop living in the past, move forward with our marriage and our life together when we've put each other through some pretty.


Traumatic things what you all do to each other?


Well, we have three kids. He had a child from a previous relationship, and then we had two together. And when I was pregnant with our second child together, he had an affair with a coworker. And I found out about a month before I gave birth.


Good gosh.


It had gone on for like four or five months before I found out. And I was just kind of in survival mode and was like, well, what am I going to do? I'm going to have a newborn baby. I have a child under two. I have a stepchild. I was just kind of in survival mode and just was taking it day by day and trying to process everything, and I chose to stay. Hold on.


Did you choose to stay out of survival mode or you survived? The sun came back up and you were like, no, I'm going to work. We're going to work on this. Or was it the terror? I have a newborn and I know it's like, oh, I would leave him. People who say that have never stared economics in the face. They've never stared single motherhood in the face. It's a scary proposition, right?


Yeah. At the time, I was just kind of numb when he told me. I said, no, you didn't, because I just didn't believe it. I was like, the person that I married would never do that. And so I didn't even believe it. And then he told me everything, like, literally everything. Some things that I wish that maybe I had never known, because now they're in my head forever and I have to deal with that. But I stayed because he told me everything. And he was like, we're going to make this work.


I love you.


I want to be with you. I don't know why I did this, and I didn't think I could leave.


Okay, so you had this baby. You found yourself between a rock and a hard place. You said, all right, fine, we're going to figure this out. And then what happened?


I brought it up a lot because I was trying to process it, because I just couldn't believe that the person that I thought I knew just wasn't that person anymore to me.


Okay, you've heard me say this before on the show. You lost trust in you. Yeah, because you're a pretty smart woman. You're growing a human, for crying out loud, and you missed it. Four or five months in your own house, under your own roof, and there's almost this staggering. I don't even trust me anymore, which is unnerving if you've never experienced it. Yeah, there's one thing to not trust another person anymore. All of us experience that, but we don't always experience. Oh, I failed me.


I kind of had.


Thoughts that maybe that was going on.


Yeah, here it comes. And I could haves and all that kind of stuff.


Well, I told myself when it was happening that, oh, well, that's not him. He would never do that. The things that he was telling me seemed like they were valid. Okay, let's skip away.


So you were mean to him, and you kept bringing it back up. You said, I'm in. But then you kept bringing it back up and hitting him with it and hitting him with it and hitting him with it then happen. Yes.


And then we bun our tires through it and just kept going round and round, and then things would be okay.


You're avoiding telling me something. What is it, Anna?


Well, fast forward to 2020. I was back to work after I stayed home with the kids for a year.


You cheated on him, too?


Yes. I met somebody at work, and that lasted, like, maybe two weeks. I had been talking to this person at work. We didn't work in the same office, so he would come to our office and I would talk to him, and then eventually got his phone number and texted and met up a handful of times. And it was more of an emotional affair than anything.


Did you all sleep together?


No, we didn't.


Okay, so you all just met and talked about how much you liked each other?


No. There was physical, but it never got that far.


Okay. All right.


And I just.


Things now we're three or four years past that. Did you tell your husband everything?








How did he respond? He was upset. I mean, he. He was angry, as he should be. I quit my job.


Good for you.


After, it was because I didn't have another job lined up.


That was really tough. That tells me you were all in on your marriage. Or at least you were all in on. That's not who I want to be.




Good for you. That was hard. All right, so it's 2024. What are you all working through? How can I help?


Well, I've been going to therapy. I mean, I went to therapy immediately after his affair because I had postpartum depression. I didn't know how to process anything on my own, and I was aware that I needed help, and I quit going to therapy. Now I go back to therapy again. I go to a recovery program for alcohol.


Okay. Do you drink too much?


I used to. I will have three years in February.


Congratulations. That's awesome. Proud of you. So let me ask you this. What about 2020? Besides, I don't know, the world was melting down. Besides that, you have what I would call, like, an extraordinary fantasy with this guy at work. Right? You still there? Yeah. Okay. So you have this extraordinary fantasy with this guy at work. The emotional, the physical, the. Somebody is finally making me feel alive. And that's about the same time your alcohol is really reaching its pinnacle. And in both of those situations, your body is telling you to run and escape your life. The life you had built for yourself.




And now you're sober. Now you're just back with your husband. Have you cheated on him any other times?




Okay. And you've just meandered in the desert for four years, and here you are. Right?


Yeah. I've tried to get him to go to therapy with me. We did visit with our pastor at our church a couple of times.


What's the problem? What are you all trying to solve right now?


Right now, for me, finances are a big thing, but I have yet to have that conversation with him because I know how it's going to go.


Okay. Let me tell you, your marriage is almost over. It's almost completely over. It's one more like the table has been set for another affair. I would be surprised if one of you all have not had some sort of something going on. It would take two extraordinary people to have held out because you all are as far apart. You all are co managers of your household at this point. Is that fair?


Some of the time, yes.


Okay. And can you all come together and just have these really crazy, emotionally wrought erotic times? And then it goes back. Is that what happens?




Okay. That type of sexual connection is desperation. Like, you ever watch those movies where somebody's underwater and then their oxygen tank runs out, and then they finally make it to the top and they go, that's what that is. And you all crash into each other, and you get a couple huge gulps of oxygen, and you'll go back underwater on your separate places. Your marriage is almost. It's at the brink. And so here's what has to happen. You have to have two adults sit across a table from each other and say, the marriage we had is over. I would like to build something new. Will you build it with me? Please say yes. What is that supposed to mean? I'm going to tell you. You've hurt me. I've hurt you. We've lived in a desert for the last four or five years. We get to choose what happens tomorrow, and I'm choosing to not continue to live like we've been living. Are you in? Because if you're in, here's what I need. I need transparency when it comes to your phone use. I need transparency when it comes. I need us to sit down and have chitchat time together or talk time together.


We're going to put sex on the Calendar so we don't just have it once every two weeks and it's these crazy get togethers. I need you to tell me what's going on financially in our house. There cannot be any more secrets between us. Are you in?




Because right now, both of you all are scared to have that conversation. So you're both quietly, gently suffocating the other one. And your kids are watching every second of this and they feel the electricity in your house. It's not fair. Yeah.


I don't want them to have the example that we're setting.


They do. Until you decide to set a different one.


Yeah. I don't want them to think that that's what love in a marriage looks like.


Okay. But they do until you do something different. Is your marriage over?




Are you done?


No, I'm not.


Okay. He needs to hear that. But it can't be desperate at the end of a fight or at the end of a dark moment or the end of a crazy sexual escapade where you all both are able to breathe again and then you go off on your own. It has to be in a controlled, emotionally safe moment, probably. I tell everybody, go to breakfast where the sun comes up and where you're at a restaurant, you're at a different environment, so your body doesn't get all keyed up because it takes environmental cues. It doesn't have to be at breakfast. It can be at a park, it can be at a hotel. It can be anywhere. But we're going to have a grown up conversation. It's going to be very, very hard. Are you willing to build a whole new marriage with me and that picture? If he says yes, I'm all in. Then he's going to get to say, here's what I need in this new world. And you're going to get that. Say, here's what I need in this new world. And you all are going to have to decide, here's what it's going to look like when we get there.


And then, by the way, your kids are going to be teenagers and you all got to go do this again because you all have never been married with teenagers. And then one of them is going to leave the house and you're going to feel lost at sea, and you have to do this again. And then you have to do this again. And this is the beauty of marriage. You get to be married to somebody new every couple of years, but you got to go back and redo the whole thing again. But here's the thing. How do you stop living like this? You flip all the lights on and say, I'm stopping living like this. And that comes with a risk because you might say, I'm not doing it. I'm done. My lawyer will be in contact with you. And then you got to own what is because it is what it is. Hopefully, though, he'll exhale and start weeping and say, I've been waiting for this moment. Let's go all in. You. And you're going to have to look at him, say, what do you need to go all in? What do you need? And he's going to ask you, what do you need to go all in?


That's where you start. And you all have to imagine something beautiful and reverse engineer it. How do we get there? I'm 100% confident you all can get there if you choose to. I don't see a path forward with that. You all go into a marriage counselor because you all both need a bunch of tools that you're going to learn and practice with a counselor. But he doesn't have interest in that right now. Cool. Because he probably feels like marriage counseling is punishment for him. That's probably not the moment you'll get there. Turn all the lights on. Turn the music off. Have a grown up conversation about what comes next. We'll be right back. Today's show is made possible by some of the best potions and powders on the planet. Organifi. I first bought organifi with my own money after several of my brilliant, muscled up friends kept ranting and raving about how great they were. And now I take them every single day. Even my wife and kids are in on it, and they're an essential part of my wellness routine. Y'all know that I take a number of supplements every single day depending on what my goals are and what I'm trying to accomplish.


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That's deloney or use promo code Deloney at checkout. All right, let's go to New York and talk to Monica. What's up, Monica? Hey.


Hi, Dr. John.


What's up?


Oh, not much.


I'm so happy to be talking to you.


Well, thank you. I'm happy to be talking to you. I have become a fan recently. I've been watching you, and it's been great. You are helping me keep moving forward every day.


That's fantastic. Well, thanks for being in our weird little gang here. I'm so grateful that you're with us. What's up? How can I help?


Well, my mother passed away after a short battle with lung cancer back in 2015. And shortly after that. Thank you. Shortly after that, my grandmother passed away, and then my uncle passed away. They all passed away within months of each other.




And it left me and my sister. That's it. We have no other members of our family, just the two of us. Because my dad died when I was two years old, and so my mom had been married four times. We've had men come in and out, but basically just been my mom, me, and my sister. I decided to take a genealogy test.


Oh, no.


Because I wanted to know more. I didn't know anything about my dad. I was never allowed to ask questions about him. My mom never wanted to talk about him. So it was just kind of a written rule in my house that we don't ask questions. And I didn't know anything about him. Like what nationality. I knew nothing. So I wanted to take one of these tests to see, and I also wanted to see if I carried the cancer gene. Health wise, I want to make sure I was okay.


Hey, listen, 100%, I would have done the same thing I would.




I just know usually where this is headed.




Oh, Monica.


I got the results back and I found out that I was scottish. So that was shocking and surprising. I've always had a love with Scotland, so I thought that was funny.


What's the most shocking thing you found, Monica?


What I found was it said I had a familial match. Either a first cousin or even closer. And it listed a girl's name on there. And so I contacted her and I said, I think we're first cousins. My dad is so and so. And I listed my name and she texted me. Or she emailed me right back and said, we're not cousins, we're sisters. That's my. And your dad's still alive? Yes. And he was in Florida living this life. He's alive. I was. So and so I started to get to know my sisters for the next seven months. And my dad never reached out or anything, even after they confronted him about it, and he never reached out. So finally one day I wrote him a letter. And he wrote me back and said, if you'd like to talk, you can call me. And I called him. And I thought he was going to tell me some crazy story that maybe my mom had kidnapped me. I just wanted to know why she had lied and told me he had died and he was alive. And basically, he told me that he knew I was alive.


He just didn't look for me. He just started a new family. He just left my mom, walked away from my mom. Or he blamed my mom and said that he just wanted a new family.


Monica, hold on. I'm so sorry.


Thank you.


You've heard me say this over and over. I can't breathe without my daughter. She's eight. And so I don't even have a psychology for what it would take to walk away from your daughter. Your baby girl.




And I know it feels like you found him and he died all over again. I'm sorry.


Well, he sent me a text and he said, I am your dad, and I would like it if you called me dad. And I can't call this person. I've never even met him.




I can't call this person dad. He keeps asking me to come to Florida to visit him, but I don't know if I can do that.


You don't owe anybody anything for any reason. And it's not your job to make him feel better for abandoning his little girl. Okay. And also, this is a context, not an excuse. This does not anyway excuse at all. But, God, what must have happened back in the day for him to take off? Who knows?


And the problem is, I have no one to listen.


Monica, you're never going to get an answer to that question. That's going to be a haunting question that you'll carry in your heart for the rest of your life. You're never going to get an answer to that. The only answer you're going to be able to get that is real. And something you can hold on to is, what are you going to do next? That's it. There will be no. Why? There will be no. Oh, okay. That will never come. He just acts like he doesn't know what to do.


Pick up right now.


His daughters that he raised are so disgusted with him.


Well, they keep telling me what a great dad he was, how he went to all their games.


Of course.


Sent me pictures of him walking them down the aisle.


They're trying to do the best they can to paint a picture like he wasn't bad. Something must have happened. They're trying to help. I bet.


I keep thinking, I mean, if he was such a great dad to them.


You'Re never going to get an answer to that question. You're asking. Stop asking it. You're going to drive yourself mad. You're going to drive yourself crazy.


My sister and I have been trying to deal with this and just trying to deal with the fact that our mom lied to us.


And also, hey, what good is that going to do for you, right? Your mom has passed. Who knows why she lied? Who knows what kind of pressure she was under back in the day, right?


She was young.


Who knows?


Yeah, I know. She married my dad when she was 18.


Yeah, who knows?


I know. And we've been dealing with this. And I got a call out of the blue one morning from my sister that my 21 year old niece, one very close to, passed away suddenly. And my sister has been really struggling. It will be a year, January 26, and she's just pushed everybody away.


Your sister has? Yeah.


And I don't know what to do to get her to. I don't know what to do.


Have you showed up at her house.


A lot?


I write her letters.


Does she say leave?


I tell her what a great mom. No, she's let me in.


Okay. Keep showing up, Monica. Keep showing up. Keep showing up. I know you feel like you're not doing anything. Just keep showing up. Bring tacos. Just keep showing up.


I'm trying.


I know you are. And it kills you to watch your sister falter underneath you because she's all you got left.


And in my house, growing up, we just never talked about anything ever. That's just how people deal with stuff. You just act like it didn't happen the next day. And she's not talking.


Yeah. She doesn't have the tools. It's not a matter of not wanting to. She doesn't know how. And it's hard. And you know as well as I do, those things she's not saying are going to kill her. They're sitting inside of her, turning into another cancer. They're going to kill her.


And I just feel. Sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed. I feel stuck. There's a sludge. Everything is just a sludge to walk in every day.


That's right. When I feel like everything's coming down, one of the greatest gifts I can give myself is to step back and take a yellow pad and a piece of paper on that pad and a pen and write down what can I control and what can I not control? I can control what kind of apocalyptic news I'm reading. Twenty four seven. I can control what I'm eating. I can control my exercise. I can control sitting on social media. I can control showing up to my sister's house and bringing a meal. I can control texting this man back and saying, I'm not going to call you dad. Ever, or I'm willing to give you a shot. I'm going to come to Florida and stay at my own hotel. And you're not going to know where it is. And we're going to meet at this restaurant and at this time. And if you can make it, I'm willing to start over from scratch, maybe. But you don't have to. Those are all things you can control. And you've lost a mom, you lost a grandparent, you lost an uncle, you lost everybody all at the same time.


And your body has responded to that by grabbing as tightly as you can to everything, right?




And it feels like it's all dragging you underwater. Because it is. Let go. Let go. Can I say some hard things all in a row?




Your mom got cancer and died.




And she lied to you about your dad. And your dad didn't break down the gates of hell to go get his little girl. He just moved on and started over. And your favorite niece passed away and your sister is drowning. You don't know what to do to help. All of those things are true, right?




And that's so much. So much. And I'm going to ask you a scary question. Can you, my friend, Monica, can you do anything about those?




I hate it. But you can't.




And it sounds like your grip has been so tight on everything for so long that you haven't grieved it. Have you written your mom a letter?


No. I heard you. I just was listening to you give that advice to somebody today. I just heard that, and I thought, that is such great advice.


But hold on. I want you to write your mom two letters. Once you write one letter, it tells you how much you miss her. All the great things that she taught you. All the funny little wacky things that you find yourself doing or saying. You're like, oh, my gosh. I sound just like my mom. I want you to write her all those things. The hilarious things. And then I want you to write her a second letter. It starts off with, how in the hell who do you think you are? Okay? Because that's a part of the story, too. Both. And by hanging on to only one side of that story, you're not being honest. And then I want you to end that letter with letting her know what she's going to miss. Here's what you're going to miss. I'm going to reunify with my dad. I'm going to meet him or I'm not ever going to know him. I'm going to go on about my life with no bitterness or hatred in my heart. Because I'm not carrying anybody else's crap. But I'm going on. I'm going to miss us getting bagels downtown. I'm going to miss us being silly.


I'm going to miss your cooking. I'm going to miss all this stuff. But when you start writing that letter about what you're going to miss, what she's going to miss, you're just slowly putting out into the universe. Especially to your body. We're moving on. And same with your niece, if you haven't written your niece a letter. Okay. And what we're doing is we're letting our body open our hands up a little bit. They're gone. And the scariest question we have to ask ourselves is, what are we going to do now? So I'll ask you. Are you going to call that old man? Are you going to go visit him or. No? I got no judgment on it one way or the other.


No, I'm probably not.


All right. You should block him then be done with it. Because otherwise, you're hanging on to a fantasy. You're choosing torture yourself.


What do I do about my two sisters?


You tell them hey, I want you guys to be a part of my life. It's amazing to meet you or, hey, guys, it's been so good getting to know you. I wish you all the absolute best in the world. I've kind of tried this on and I just got to move on with my life. I love you all, wish you all the best. Block them from everything or go all in and say, I want to meet for Christmas next year.




But here's the deal. You're drowning in a sea of neutrality. You're trying to play both sides of the fence and it's going to kill you.


Yeah, I've been told that by my husband.


Well, he's a wise, wise man.


We've been married for 32 years.


You should give him his sainthood patch. But here's the deal. You got to decide which side of the fence you're going to be on and just be on it. And by the way, if you make peace on one side of the fence, if you say, I'm going to go meet this man, I'm going to go meet him, I have to for me, not for him, but for me. I got to meet him, I got to see him. I got to ask him face to face, why did you leave me? Do it. Go do it. Go do. It's not going to give you the resolution that you think, but go do it. That's what you want to do. And you could always leave that exchange and say, I'm never talking to that man again. I'm out. Or you can reach out to your sisters and say, hey, guys, I just need a break. I wish you all the best. I'm just going to take a break and go from there. And then when you're done with a break, you can reach back out to them. My fear is your sister. You're going to use them as a way to bridge your pain with your sister, and that's going to be hard.


Keep showing up with your sister. And keep showing up with your sister. Maybe time for her to sell that house. Maybe time for her to change environments. Maybe time for her to have some hard conversations. And given the amount of grief that you both have suffered over the years, again, she may just not have the tools, she may not have the desire. She may not want to. She may not want to breathe without her daughter standing next to her. And I hate it because you can't do anything about that. What can you control moving forward? And what can you not control moving forward? Let's double down on those things. And as for your sister. Keep showing up. Keep showing up. Let's make the next ten years as beautiful as we possibly can. We'll be right back. If you're a regular listener to the show or if you're brand new, you know that one of the things we talk about all the time is your marriage, dating, relationships, trying to find that spark or trying to get that spark back. Or how do you stay married and have kids or deal with money, deal with all the stress that's going on?


By the way, being married in this day and age is an act of rebellion. It's hard. You're swimming upstream, and I happen to believe it's worth it. And last year, for the first time, me and my good friend Rachel Cruz, we put on a money and marriage retreat. We invited couples from all over the planet to come into Nashville, Tennessee and spend the weekend with us. And we had a prom, we had educational sessions, we had tons of q A. We had some back and forth. We had couples on stage for live coaching. It was amazing. I've told everybody who will listen to me. It's the single most important event I've ever been a part of. And it was so valuable to the people in the audience that half the audience bought tickets for next year. That weekend, everybody said, this is going to become a regular part of my life. So I'm excited to announce today that the money in marriage weekend retreat getaway is back. This October, join Rachel Cruz and me for a weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. Bring all of your questions because there's Q A and by the way, it's not recorded.


So the things that get said there stay there and things get very real. We had couples showing up last year who were on the brink of divorce, couples who found out on the ride to the marriage retreat that the other one had been stepping out on the marriage challenges with kids. All of it. Listen, couples call me every day and say we love each other. We just can't get on the same page about our money. We can't get on the same page about raising kids. We can't get on the same page about what we want life to look like now the kids are gone. Bring it all to Nashville at money and marriage getaway, you're going to get all of it. You're going to get tools that you need to stay connected when you get back home to your mad house lives that we've all created for ourselves. Right? Tickets start at $799 $800. Listen, it's all weekend. There's meals. It's an amazing getaway. And there's going to be a bunch of special guests. I promise you. I promise you. It's worth every penny, if not more. Most of the marriage retreats that go on across the country are double or triple that price.


We kept it as low as possible because we want everybody to be able to go because I'm on a mission now to help marriages succeed. We do have a few vip spots, and that's only because they open up some more. The platinum spots and all the vip spots sold out last year, and we were like, that's ridiculous. We got to let other people in on it. So those include meet and greets and small private coaching sessions, all kind of things. So I'd love to see you all face to face. There are a few vip spots that they've reopened. Go to getaway to get your tickets today. All right, we are back. Hey. As we wrap up today's show, I want to walk you through something, an exchange that happened on social media and clarify something. It's a great question. I often write these little black text posts. If you're not, follow me on Instagram, please go do that. But I often write these little text posts, and 99.9% of the time, there's something I've screwed up in my life or something I'm fighting with and wrestling with. And so I just type them out real quick to get them out of my head, and then I just post them, often in real time.


And occasionally somebody has done something stupid in my sphere or what I think is stupid, and I will write about that. But almost always, they're about me. And so I posted this. It says, we often think forgiveness is about weakness, caving in or giving up. It's not. Forgiveness is about letting go. It's about reclaiming ownership of your heart, your mind, and your body. Forgiveness is about you deciding to no longer carry the weight someone else has put in your backpack. It's about taking the bricks out and setting them down so you can move forward lighter and free. Forgiveness is about freedom. Forgiveness is about you. Somebody wrote in and said, hey, what thoughts do you have on this idea of forgiveness doesn't equal reconciliation? Right. And where does our obligation to pursue broken people butt up against the need for very real boundaries with those who've hurt us out of that brokenness? I think that's a great question. No, forgiveness does not require reconciliation. It doesn't. In fact, often people who have hurt us don't care or they hurt us intentionally. They lied about us on purpose. So until somebody comes to the table and says, hey, I lied.


I tried to hurt you. I manipulated what you said for my own political gain. I tried to jump over you so I could get this raise, so I could fill in the blank. Whatever. The thing is, no, forgiveness doesn't equal reconciliation. And this idea of going to rescue people, I want to free people from that. You can't. What I can do is become a peaceful person. And I'm wrestling with this. I'm trying myself a peaceful person. I don't carry other people's baggage. If you don't like me, if you're going to lie about me, cool. I forgive you. I'm not ever going to do business with you again. I'm not ever going to interact with you in any way again. I'm treating you with dignity and respect. Dignity and respect doesn't mean I have to do everything you say all the time and I have to respond to all your things. People text me and they're like, hey, send me this number. No, I'm not sending you that number. I forgive you for being so demanding of my time, but no, thank you, right? So no, forgiveness doesn't equal reconciliation. And it's not my job to go rescue people.


It's my job to be a beacon of peace and light. It's my job to take care of me in a way that allows me to repel off into the craziness that is our world and help others. That's what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is for me. I'm not carrying your stuff anymore. And if you've got people out there in the world that you just can't forgive them, I'm going to challenge you. Ask yourself, what's that getting you? Is it making your day any better? It might make you feel a little bit more powerful to feel like you have this thing over them, but I promise you, they're sleeping just fine. Forgiveness is for you. You're free. Be free. That's my Instagram response post note thing of the day. I need to come up with a better way to end that. And we crashed a car. But hey, I love you guys. Forgive people. Move on with your life. Take care.