Unlock the secrets to a thriving partnership in this episode of The Agent of Wealth Podcast. Host Marc Bautis is joined by Dr. Michael Jaquith, a Ph. D. Chemist who left the corporate world and now helps men everywhere discover how to get more of what they want and live the promise of abundant life. By combining analytical science, psychology, and teachings of faith, Michael helps men who feel stuck, confused, and powerless to unlock those chains and find what they really want. In this eye-opening episode, Dr. Michael Jaquith provides actionable tips and insights for men looking to improve their marriage and steer clear of divorce.
In this episode, you will learn:
What encourages men to get more control over their lives.
How men can make real changes to long-term struggles.
Various ways men can improve their marriages and relationships.
How to communicate with your spouse openly and honestly.
Disclosure: The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity and content. It is not a direct transcription of the full conversation, which can be listened to above.
Dr. Michael Jaquith is a Ph. D. Chemist who left the corporate world and now helps men everywhere discover how to get more of what they want and live the promise of abundant life. By combining analytical science, psychology, and teachings of faith, Michael helps men who feel stuck, confused, and powerless to unlock those chains and find what they really want. Michael is married with six children and lives in rural northern Idaho.
Michael, welcome to the show.
Marc, thank you so much for having me. It’s a delight to be here.
I’m going to start off by sharing two statistics about divorce – the first, quite well known, but the second might surprise you.
#1: Approximately 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. That is, according to the American Psychological Association.
#2: In the United States, men file for divorce less often than women, with women initiating nearly 70% of divorces in the country.
While we’ve covered divorce before on this podcast, we’ve never approached the topic specifically from the men’s point-of-view, which is what we will do today. And that’s why you’re here, Michael, to discuss how men can improve their marriages and relationships.
Well, I’m so delighted to be here. And what a great opportunity to bring up what I think is a really critical problem going on in our society. 40% is a shockingly high number.
To start us off, can you share what you do as a Catholic Life Coach for men? What led you to this calling?
What is Catholic Life Coach For Men?
So, I took a funny path to get here. I have a PhD in chemistry, and I spent almost 10 years doing corporate research. It was very high-end stuff. During that time, I found that what I loved the most was engaging with other people. My favorite part of the day was sitting down in the cafe at lunch, talking with various guys about what was going on in their lives. I would offer them help, and that was so fulfilling.
It was through a process of prayer and evaluation of what’s important in my life that I came to this point. Also, I have six kids and I really wanted flexibility in spending time with them. So I decided to launch Catholic Life Coach For Men first as a side hustle, but it became something much bigger.
So, what do I do? For example, a man might come to me and say, “Michael, I’m pretty grumpy and I’m not showing up well in my marriage. My wife isn’t happy with me,” or maybe they’re not happy with how they’re showing up at their work or with their own kids.
I sit down with these men and very carefully work through the issues. The key transition comes when the gentleman realizes he doesn’t need the other person to change, he can change himself. When we work on ourselves, that’s a game changer. We must stop blaming other people for our problems. The power to fix the issues is within us.
So, we started off the episode by revealing that 40% of marriages end in divorce. A lot of times, people experiencing divorce don’t reach out for help or assistance until the decision to get divorced has been made. How do you encourage someone to make a change or come to the realization that something needs to be done about their marital issues?
How to Encourage Men to Get More Control in Their Lives
We need to get crystal clear on the cost of not making changes. If I ask the average guy, “Do you want to double or even triple your wealth 20 years from now?” They’d say, “Yes.” If I asked, “Do you want your children to have a meaningful relationship with you?” They’d say, “Yes.” And if I asked, “Do you want to have a meaningful impact in your culture and your community?” They’d probably say, “Yeah, sign me up.” To that, I say, “Stay married.”
When we get connected with the values, meanings and purpose behind marriage, it gives us the motivation to push through.
Don’t get me wrong, marriage is tough. Marriage is a connection and a bond between two incredibly selfish people. That’s the reality – we’re all very selfish.
But once you’re married, especially if you’ve got kids, the cost of divorce is much higher than most people think. If you ever doubt that, find a divorced gentleman with children and ask him… Or ask his children. The cost is tremendous – financially, emotionally and metaphysically in terms of relationships.
So once someone makes the decision to change or make improvements, where do they start?
The Most Important Tool to Transform Your Life
Stop blaming the other person. Look in the mirror – that’s the person that needs to be fixed.
I don’t care what role your wife plays, you work on you first. Because the reality is, marriage is like a two-legged stool and when one leg moves, the other moves with it.
So, the first step is to work on you. Ask yourself:
What do you need to do?
Where do you need to get stronger?
Are you showing up in your life in a way that will attract, inspire and lead her?
Are you really applying yourself?
At this point, we will assess the individual man’s strengths. I have an assessment program I use for this.
There are various different types of strengths, right? Physical strength, financial strength, emotional strength, sexual strength, intellectual strength… all these different things. I break them out into about 30 subcategories and we go through each to determine where they are or are not showing up. Wherever they are not showing up, they are adding to the problem.
I want to make one important designation about being the man in a relationship… I love swing dancing – my wife and I go all the time. When the guy is in the lead, they raise their right hand in the air to indicate to the woman that they want her to spin. So your right hand goes up, and she does a beautiful spin, right? There’s this leading component to being the man.
Now, I’m not trying to make a patriarchal statement here, but there’s just this essence that it’s the man’s job to fix himself first.
The wife may do the work too, she may not. But still, we must fix ourselves and get stronger.
That 30-point assessment that you’re talking about, is it like a SWOT analysis, looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats?
Absolutely. It’s a numerical system, and you end up with a score between 0 to 100 for each of the areas. The value of the system is that you’ll immediately be able to see where you need to focus.
For example, you can get a low score in the lust category if you’re currently having an affair. Turns out, that’s not great for your marriage.
Another one, which men tend to undervalue, is how emotionally solid are you? For example, can you hold your calm when your wife is angry and yelling? There’s a whole strength category just for emotional solidity.
I don’t have time to go into all of them, but each one breaks down a different facet of your marriage.
Once you identify the areas that do need to be addressed, do you kind of prioritize them and put a plan together? And how do you measure progress?
How Men Can Make Real Changes to Long-Term Struggles
Most of the time, Marc, it’s what we’re thinking. We have some really bad perceptions.
All human beings are inclined to blame the other person, and we get stuck in that blame cycle in our heads. We must unearth these thoughts and replace them with thoughts that make us stronger.
For example, replace the thought of “This is her fault,” with, “It doesn’t matter what she does, I’m going to hold onto myself because of who I want to be.”
Then we start doing the practice. And the reality is, you’ve got X number of decades of practice being the guy you’ve always been. So if you want to be a new guy, you have to do something different. You don’t take a guy who’s never been in the gym and throw him in there and the first time load up a barbell with 500 pounds and say, “Lift that barbell up.” All he he’s going to do is hurt himself. So you have to work through what’s the first practice you can do. Maybe if you want to work on this emotional solid parameter I’m talking about, maybe what you do is you just practice at work where it’s a much safer environment, much less. How can you practice holding your emotional core at work? We talk about what does that mean, what does that look like?
But then how do you measure progress? Because progress is so important. If you can’t measure, it’s really hard to stay motivated. And the measurement has got to come from yourself in this case. A lot of times wives don’t respond right away when we’re making progress. They don’t know what’s going on, they want to be sure it’s going to last. So we look at it and we make metrics. The emotional solidness is a great one. We can say, “How many times did you lose it this week?” Was it 10? How about next week? Maybe it’s eight. Okay, maybe next week is seven. Maybe next week is eight. Okay, we had a setback. No big deal. Get back on the horse. Maybe the next week is six. Get some data. Look at how is that data going and use that to motivate yourself to stay on this path.
Is the spouse or wife in this case involved at all in this or is this all happening kind of behind the scenes?
I think it’s important to know that anytime one person of a marriage is doing something, the spouse is at least indirectly involved. However, my work is solely with them. And my claim to you, this may be a bold claim, is that if the husband is willing to clean up his act and really step up his game, his wife will respond. I have countless stories of people who are separated and he says, “It’s time for me to clean up.” He does and he reattracts her back into a relationship. Because women marry us men for a reason. Let’s be honest, none of us men really deserve their wives. If we’re really humble and truthful about this. My wife got a bum deal and she kind of knows, I know it for sure. And so they chose us for something that’s something that’s hopefully still there and if we clean ourselves up, get our lives back in order, stop doing the stupid stuff we know we shouldn’t be doing, they tend to respond.
How to Communicate With Your Spouse Open and Honestly
And what are some of the best ways to open the communications with your spouse?
Here’s the deal, Marc. In every interaction with your spouse, you have at least some blame, right? There’s something in that interaction that you could have done better.
So, the way you open up communication is, “Honey, this interaction went poorly. I don’t like how it went. I did this specific thing wrong, and I’m sorry.” Stop right there. We’re just taking notice of what we did wrong. It never helps to point the blame finger.
As you mentioned, a lot of these habits are ingrained over years. So I’m sure it can be challenging for your clients to break their habits. How often do you meet or check in with the men you work with?
I meet with them weekly, usually by Zoom. But we communicate by email in between those meetings. It does take time.
I can share a quick story from my own life… My wife calls herself a burster. She gets an idea, bursts into the idea, and thinks it’s the greatest idea of all time. Well, about a year ago, she wanted to get a border collie puppy. I knew in my core being that it was a bad idea to get a high-energy puppy, considering we have six kids that are all very little. But I didn’t stand up for myself. I waffled and said, “Okay, go ahead. Get this dog.”
Well, it was a train wreck. Sure enough, it all goes poorly until one day, the dog – who was a tire chaser – managed to catch a tire and unfortunately passed away. It was a guest driving onto our property, he was going five miles an hour and it was totally the dog’s fault.
The following day, my wife says to me, “I have so much less stress now. I can’t believe how much stress the dog was causing me.”
Well, about a month later, and she had a new bursty idea and I immediately knew it wasn’t smart. But I reacted poorly. Last time I reacted too softly, so this time I pivot the other way. I said, “That’s a horrible idea. How could you possibly think you’d do such a thing?” Blah, blah, blah. I got all worked up.
I talked to my coach about this, and he said, “Michael, you’d want to claim that you don’t trust her because she makes bad decisions, but the reality is you don’t trust yourself. You knew getting poor Daisy dog wasn’t a smart idea, but you didn’t stand up for what you knew was right. And because you didn’t trust yourself the first time, you overreacted the next time.” I realized he was right. These are some of the moments that totally redefine how we interact with and consider our partners.
Let’s look at that example. The first time, you under-reacted. Then, you overreacted. How would you handle the third time?
It’s funny you mention that because actually about a month later, she told me she wanted to start a 3D printer business. She wanted to build puzzles and stuff. Again, I knew that wasn’t the right thing, but this time I did a better job of communicating it.
Here’s what I did… We were with the kids when she brought up this spontaneous new idea. I said “Honey, I love you. I don’t think this is a good idea for us right now at this moment in our family.” She started to get upset, so I said, “Honey, I have a lot of good reasons, but because right now some of them aren’t appropriate to share with who’s around, I’m happy to talk with you at a different time. But the answer is no.” She got more upset, but I just held there and I said, “Honey, I love you. I’m not mad. I’m not going to get mad. But the answer is no. We’re not going to commit to this 3D printer business. I’m happy to go into more details in a private setting, just the two of us.”
I’ve learned enough about her that if I delay that next meeting, it tends to go smoother. And so we spoke later on, and I said a number of reasons as to why it just wasn’t the right fit. I said, “I’m not saying no forever, but the answer is no for right now.” She calmed down and eventually, she moved on.
In this example, I held onto the truth. I held onto myself. I was able to express love to her. Afterwards, she came up to me and said, “Now that it’s after the fact, I kind of see it would’ve been another Daisy dog situation.” That’s our code word now, Daisy dog situation.
Have you got another dog since?
No we haven’t, but we’ve been talking about it. If we do, it won’t be a border collie puppy.
How does the engagement change – or does it change – when kids are involved?
So, let’s talk a bit about psychology for a second. The male nervous system, to a large degree, has evolved for protecting oneself. As a man, I see the world as a series of threats and opportunities relative to me.
You can make a good argument that the same is not true for the female nervous system. The female nervous system is actually evolved for the mother-infant dyad – the combination of the two. Throughout history, it’s fallen upon women to protect an infant. They bear the majority of the burden doing that. I’m not trying to make a statement about worth or value, this is evolution I’m talking about.
Because of that, her perception of the world is relative to that mother-infant dyad. So, the female nervous system views an attack on the children as an attack on the self. That sounds crazy to males, because that’s just not how our brains work. But when you see it that way, it changes things radically.
So, as a dad, you have to walk a fine line. The child needs both a mother and a father, and a father is different. Men should learn to temper their responses to their children out of love for both their children and their wife.
For example, I have an 11-year-old daughter. One of the common consequences I give her is burpees – which is an exercise. It’s just a great way to burn off some steam, right? Now, there’s two ways I can assign burpees to my child.
I can be mad, and yell at her to do a million burpees, or
I can hold onto myself and I say, “Honey, I see that this has happened. We’ve talked about this before. Your consequence is X number of burpees.”
But emotional regulation – being able to hold onto myself – helps soften the mother’s nervous system.
Now, there are times that as a parent, you need to have firm boundaries and clear rules, but the more that I can hold onto myself, the more that I deescalate my wife’s safety mechanism.
I have to institute burpees in my household.
Oh, it’s a brilliant consequence.
Do your clients eventually graduate from your coaching, or is this kind of work done life-long?
So there are several different levels of engagement. The most successful clients engage with me very often for about three months. That’s three months of focus and intensity. Then, we drop down to a lower level of engagement.
I’ll use one of my clients as an example… Let’s call him Bob. Bob worked very hard on some parts of his marriage. Before working with me, he was a high achiever, career-driven and very important in his world. Because of that, he was totally disconnected from his emotions and wasn’t able to hold himself emotionally with his wife. That was causing all this marital friction.
Well, we really did hard work and Bob dug deep. Their marriage improved.
Now, Bob attends a group coaching program I offer that’s specifically for people who’ve been clients and we continue to check in. The other day, Bob says, “Okay, Michael. This thing happened. I think this is what’s going on… I think this is what I should do.” Basically, he is now troubleshooting the problems himself.
There’s always going to be more work to do, but we can become empowered enough to start doing it ourselves.
Do you ever see push back on some of the corrective actions that you recommend? How do you overcome that?
Absolutely. I mean, I’m kind of asking the husband to die on their cross. In essence, I’m asking them to do everything they know they need to do to be a better man to serve their wife, with their being a chance that she won’t respond at all.
Again, I think being crystal clear on why you’re doing this will move you forward in doing it. The why is important.
Have you ever seen this kind of improvement initiated by the wife, and then the husband comes to you to follow suit?
Absolutely. In fact, my wife is also a life coach so a number of my clients are husbands of her’s. So yes, this absolutely does occur.
Remember what I said: Marriage is a two-legged stool. If either leg moves, the marriage moves. Can women start doing the work first? Absolutely.
Now, I know we don’t have time to detail all of the areas you work with your clients on, but are there any high-level areas that you see most men needing improvement?
Other Ways Men Can Improve Their Marriages or Relationships
Sure, I’ll share some areas we do the most work in.
Evaluate Your Endocrine Health
Especially as you age, you need to focus on endocrine health. The endocrine hormones help control mood, growth and development, the way our organs work, metabolism, and reproduction.
I really encourage men to get a full set of blood work done, as a lot of insurance programs cover it.
Work on Ways to Productively Channel Anger
Another thing we work on is, how well have you learned to channel anger? Anger is an emotion, and you’re allowed to have emotions. But what do you do when you feel anger?
Ideally, we would like to avoid anger. But because we’re human, we have to work through how we productively channel anger.
Improve Physical Attractiveness
Physical attractiveness is also important. Allow me to expand on this with another piece of female psychology. There is a female attraction to the male form, and that’s valid. But there is a stronger female attraction to her community’s perception of her partner.
For example, if her friends say, “Michael has been looking really great lately,” that will create a stronger attraction or desire for the woman.
So I’m not saying you should have a ripped six-pack and whatnot, but strive to improve your physical attractiveness.
In the intellectual category, another one is how much are you growing in self-improvement? Are you learning by reading books, listening to podcasts – like this one – and how are you growing in those regards?
Taking action to improve yourself soothes her worries.
All right, Michael. We’re just about out of time. I want to thank you for joining me today. You provided some great, actionable advice for men looking to rekindle and reignite their relationships. Or, for those searching for ways to be a better partner. For the listeners that want to learn more about your coaching, what’s the best way to reach you?
My website is catholiclifecoachformen.com. I also have a podcast, Catholic Life Coach for Men. If you are interested in learning more directly, I offer a free one hour consultation, where we can talk about what’s going on in your life and how I can help you with what you need to change.
Great, we’ll link to all of that in the show notes. Thanks again, Michael. And thank you everyone for tuning into today’s episode. Don’t forget to follow The Agent of Wealth on the platform you listen from and leave us a review of the show. We are currently accepting new clients, if you’d like to schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with our advisors, please do so below.