Men's Groups for Better Relationships - Owen Marcus
Owen Marcus is the co-founder of Evryman.com - an organisation that assists men in learning to have better relationships. His approach is to help men access the truth, and practice being themselves more fully through taking part in supportive groups.
Owen's TedTalk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tQQGWry_7k&t=671s
What is Evryman? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWUzNz4Jw4Y&t=60s
What Men Say About Evryman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DN8udbgb22I
Grow Up : A Man's Guide to Masculine Emotional Intelligence https://www.audible.com.au/pd/Grow-Up-Audiobook/B00R56HB9A?qid=1641036826&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=771c6463-05d7-4981-9b47-920dc34a70f1&pf_rd_r=CDGVJR559WERRK0SDG63
And if whatever he’s going through privately is heavy and uncomfortable and confusing and painful, then he doesn’t want to put that on her. So the more intense things become, including the pattern of the relationship, the more he will revert to that one strategy of shutting back down. So what are men to do in this situation and what are women to do in supporting them? The work of Owen Marcus is extremely helpful in these situations. And Owen is the co-founder of an organization called Every Man. And Every Man assists men in connecting more deeply and honestly in relationships. What I like about Owen and the work of every man is that they’re so down to earth and that they’re supporting men with how to access the truth by slowing down and accessing whatever’s going on in their bodies. So that’s, that’s not a choice, it just is what it is.
They provide information about how to do that. They provide clear skills, but perhaps most importantly, they provide an environment in which to practice with other guys who are going to back them up with experiences that they’ve never had before. Owen’s also the author of a book called Grow Up A Man’s Guide to Masculine Emotional Intelligence. I’ve personally attended a group that Owen was running, and I’ve had personal conversations with him outside of this podcast, and I can certainly vouch for the fact that he’s the real deal. Owen sincere, he’s knowledgeable and he’s super devoted to helping in the most practical ways. So check out the show notes to learn more about him, his book, and about every man. In the meantime, I get ready for a pretty personal chat about how men heal and grow and the relationship between individual therapy and group work. The combination of gaining traction and insight through individual therapy, having an environment where you can practice safely to develop that competence is really the gold standard. The patients that I see that make the most progress the most quickly are doing it in that way. Individual therapy can help and will bring about change in your life. But if you have a formal environment in which to practice socially, there’s no quicker way to bring those skills online. If you’re interested in benefiting in that way, check out my website http://www.toddzemek.com. For the online groups that I’m offering, this chat’s going to be equally beneficial for men and the women who care about them. Really hope you enjoy meeting Owen. Marcus.
Hi Owen. How are you doing?
Hi. Good. How are you?
We’re rolling already. Are you okay if we just jump straight in?
I’m already, I’m all yours.
So before I introduce you, I thought I might just sort of set the scene in terms of how I came to meet you in the first place. Then I’d be keen to hear you a little bit about your story and we can start helping people with theirs from there. So the way I came to meet you was basically through my own therapy. So I’m a therapist myself. I’ve done therapy on and off for 25 years or so, but it’s not until two years ago that I started making some real progress and I felt like I was coming home to a, a deeper truth and I’d started with someone and, and maybe the third session we started addressing some childhood trauma.
And I was so amazed. I just associated completely and it was a real watershed in my life because until that part it was a mystery in terms of why am I shutting down in relationships so hard? Someone who’s insightful and a bit of a new age sort of person, and meditating and doing all those right things in terms of awareness. Why am I just shutting down so hard? And so I sort of progressed when I was dissociating less. I was noticing that I was still shutting down. I could be with myself, but I was shutting down in terms of I couldn’t really think and I wanted to push this therapist away. I didn’t want them close to me
The therapist said, I think you might benefit from a men’s group. So I joined a men’s group and you know, it, it was okay, but I had heard about every man, the organization that you had co-created and I started the fundamentals program and was blown away by how tangible what you were teaching was. So I’ve started recommending it to my students and I’ve been going a bit deeper into your work really appreciated your TED talk. I’ll put that in the show notes and recommend that to people as well. But what I’ve appreciated most is relationship with the body and then the relational aspect of having other people and being the opportunity to practice those edges where I would usually shut down. So I wa wanna thank you for that and definitely recommend your work because I think it’s so important for so many people in that regard. So that’s, that’s a bit of the context in terms of where I’m, where I’m coming from.
Owen Marcus (00:06:24):
Well, it’s a beautiful introduction. So yeah, I’m all yours.
Todd Zemek (00:06:28):
What’s been your, your story with this and, and one of the things that stuck out from the way you introduced yourself and your TED Talk was something about the combination of your struggle with dyslexia and Asperger’s and in terms of the nature of the work that you do. I guess I understand the, the power of that, if there’s any aspect of Asperger’s that you’d struggled with, but I’d be, if if you’re open to it, I’d be really interested to hear about that.
Owen Marcus (00:07:00):
Yeah, I mean, I struggled in many ways as a young kid and I didn’t know what the problem was. And I actually think that was to my advantage. I didn’t have any diagnosis. You know, I’m 68, so I grew up in the, we’ll say the sixties, you know, I was going to elementary school and you know, I struggled. But no, unfortunately put a label on me and I, so I just had to work harder. High school was better. I did better academically and socially, but still struggled all the way through college. It wasn’t until graduate school that I was I took a SP reading course and the guy said can you do the cross crawl? I said, the what? And he explained it to me. And, and that’s going cross lateral movements. So it’s moving the right leg and the left arm, no matter how slow I did it, I could not do it.
Or how slow I tried to do it, I could not do it. And as he explained, and, you know, as you could find out that that movement going from unilateral to cross lateral and our development as a setup for being able to read. So everything started making sense in terms of my academic struggle. I still saw these other struggles I had. And then I’ll say 20 years ago, I realized that it was probably Asperger’s. And then I started healing a lot of that. And then I go, okay, I’m still struggling with relationships. And then that’s when I got into men’s work. And I realized as I got into men’s work, that in working with other men in groups and first more as a participant, someone as a leader, but that
I think we’re all a little frozen, as you described yourself. We’re all, you know, sort of deer in the headlights when it comes to our emotions. I was just worse than most. And out of that I got really, really tense. So part of my story, and, and really the of my healing was when was it like 1976, I think it was. I was in BOLO Colorado. And one thing led to another and I landed, ended up going through a 10 series of ING sessions, which is a particular kind of body work that’s developed by Dr. Rolf and then, oh, years ago, she’s long passed away. But it really releases the chronic stress in the factual system. And with that, the emotional stress associated with it. So I went through the 10 sessions once a week, nine months later I was an inch taller and 20 pounds lighter.
And I wasn’t fat. It was all sheer tension. So that just gives you a sense of how tense I was. But that physical tension wasn’t from any real physical trauma. It was from all what I would call microtraumas of stress attachment injuries, dealing with, you know, having dyslexia and Asperger’s and speech impediment and all these struggles of pushing myself through that and, and just getting really tense. And so when all that tension started to leave, I started opening up emotionally. And then fortunately I just happened to be in Boulder then, and Ron Kirch, who started the homey type of body somatic, somatic psychotherapy, Peter Levine was there and a few others. And I started starting within, you know, we’re in their first classes that they, or trainings that they did and became friends with them. And they really like imprinted in me, experience also through that training of those trainings, you know, how to work with the body to get psychological change.
And it was so powerful for me. And over the course of 40 something years of working with, you know, thousands of clients first in my clinic and now with, you know, every man and men, I just see that particularly with men, when we can sort of work with their bodies, you know, either in relaxing them physically or just bringing awareness to their bodies as you described, we, we start to make conscious and unconscious links and to our communication and to our relationships. And as all that builds we start to unpack our history and really create a new future. And as you said, one of the powers of these groups is you get a safe place to practice. How did your life start to change? Yeah, in Boulder, in the late seventies, remember one of the things,
And I was always a nice guy. And one day I came home and, you know, there’s a group of guys and all, you know, every dish we had was in the sink dirty. And I just freaked out and I knew who you know, and I knew it was like one guy that was responsible or was supposed to be cleaning it up. And so I went into his room and I got really mad at him and it was like I’d never done anything like that in my life. So I started having these that were really like breaking me out of my past as my body was letting go. Mm-Hmm.
I think it probably still does. And I be was in that and ended up having a relationship with a cold student. And it was like an entirely different relationship with this woman because I was different. I was different. And, and one of the things that was the most impressive I remember the first time we made love and it was like an entirely different experience. My orgasm, my whole, the whole, my whole body participated
Todd Zemek (00:12:54):
I’m guessing that that’s what brings guys to your work is relationships.
Owen Marcus (00:12:59):
You’re right. I mean I think most guys, or the majority of the guys, I should say the most frequent one and probably the majority is some struggling relationship. Either they just ended one or a marriage or they’re catering on ending one. And some guys maybe they’ve ended one and had a series like me, ones that just weren’t satisfying and they realized that they were the common denominator that maybe working on themselves would help shift that pattern in them.
Todd Zemek (00:13:29):
Most of the guys that I work are in their with are in their forties and fifties and they’ve had enough time to
Owen Marcus (00:14:00):
Yeah, that actually comes from a poem of Robert Bly who just died. He was a poet and one of the founders of the first sort of wave of the men’s movement. And he had a poem, a short poem called The Third Body, which described a couple being in a room and there’s a third body in the room. And the third body is the relationship that it never really dawned on me that, you know, a couple creates another entity, some would say literally like a spirit, which is, you know, the relationship itself. And then I started taking ownership for that relationship. And as I took ownership for that relationship, the relationships that I had started improving, I was pretty passive. And I think like most guys, we sort of default to the woman being the emotional responsible party and the relationship and you know, they sort of step up at least initially to sort of do that, but inevitably they get burnt out.
Todd Zemek (00:14:56):
In your TED talk you’re talking about the model of masculinity that it just doesn’t fit. What does that mean?
Owen Marcus (00:15:02):
As you know, with every man, we hardly ever talk about masculinity. Most of our guys don’t come in with that because it’s not a presenting issue. But that said, I think culturally we are impacted by it. And I think one of the ways that we’re impacted by it is that there isn’t a real model for masculinity in this culture. Or some would say a healthy model. And it’s not a conspiracy theory, but I just think ever since the industrial revolution, women have been stepping up because men had to be at work. So men had to go to the factory and you know, and ever since then, men have been gone literally and sort of metaphorically women have sort of filled the gap, which is great. The consequence of that is that as boys we’ve learned how to be emotional from more of a feminine perspective.
And there hasn’t been that masculine perspective there, let alone really modeling how men show up emotionally. And so what happens in these, you know, trainings, but you know, we certainly see in these groups, you know, like on a weekly basis is guys get for, from other guys what that model is. You can put a group of guys or whatever, uninitiated, uneducated, just regular guys in a group with a certain set of agreements like confidentiality and our protocol, which, which sort of guides men through a natural process of learning these skills and connecting. What will happen is they will teach each other because it’s my belief really experience that innate in us. They’re instinctual. And so when we’re given a safe place to just sort of practice and play with it, guys will start finding it and then like, you’ll do it. I go, yeah, yeah, yeah, I want what Todd has. And yeah. And it’s like, cause like I never saw someone do that. Oh, that’s what it is. Because it just, it just like resonates with a guy and goes, oh, alright, that’s how a guy cries in a masculine way. Well that’s how a guy gets mad without being an asshole or whatever it might be.
Todd Zemek (00:16:58):
Yeah, I’ve it’s been amazing to be part of that experience and to see how capable guys are that as opposed to the shutdown, that does not take long for curiosity in that capacity to come to the fore. And it’s been, yeah, it’s been quite amazing actually.
Owen Marcus (00:17:14):
You’re right. I mean guys given a few basic ingredients, most guys will really show up and, and I’m finding over time, you know, over the 40 something years I’ve been working with guys, they’re showing up quicker and quicker.
Todd Zemek (00:17:27):
What do you think that women would need to know? Because a, absolutely there’s going to be women listening to, to this being curious and wanting to support their partners. What, what would they need to know a about some of these struggles?
Owen Marcus (00:17:40):
We in general, men and women are told and sort of believe that men don’t want to connect and, but that we really do want to connect. Mm. We just don’t know how to, and because of our culture and being trained to be, we’re, you know, and as you said for yourself and, and certainly true for me, I think for most guys we’re so disconnected, we don’t know how disconnected we are and we don’t know how to talk about it. We don’t know, okay, it’s okay to talk about it and guys want to win, we want to succeed. We wouldn’t get into a relationship unless we thought we could win at it, you know, unless we think it’s going to be successful mm-hmm.
And then the other thing is, is guys are so oriented towards performance. We’re trained to perform, we’re trained to, to succeed and be accepted and loved through our performance. And so a relationship becomes a performance act and we keep feeling at that performance and we creates more stress. And particularly when with relationships, when we’re under stress, we’re we succeed less and less. Some we’re spar for the guy and the relationship and then it just starts falling apart. And my, I I might have told you, my partner is a couple therapist and we do couple trainings together and Hmm. And she, she’s sending, you know, all our guys to us just, just because she doesn’t need to work. She’s trying to get these people and particularly the guys connected sooner than later. And so the women, they, they love their partners, but they’re frustrated and they try to do what they can to help the man, but they’re trying in a feminine way.
And the guy loves his partner and will try that at least initially. But what I try to tell women is it’s like you love him, he loves you, you, and it’s like you say, look, I’m going to make this beautiful dress for you because it’s what I want, and I’d wear and I’m going to give it to you. And he, he puts it on, I’m a guy, I don’t wear dresses, but hell, I’ll give it a try because I love you so much and it just doesn’t fit for him. And so he gets frustrated, she gets frustrated and it’s really a function of the cultural model, that third body having its own survival strategy that starts to sabotage the relationship. So it’s a lot of compounding factors that are really beyond each person.
Todd Zemek (00:20:07):
We’ve got to say some of the faces that you are making in terms of imagining putting that dress on is pretty much exactly the face that I see the guys when they come in for their first session of couples work, if we get safe enough and I’m able to ask these guys, do you feel like you’re failing her? And how do you feel like you’re failing her? If we are safe enough? Tears are just like, there’s just a, a rhythm to it. There’s just a beat. And then he just dissolves. I, I just see that all the time and carrying that sense of private shame that not only am I not winning, but I’m losing and I’m losing across the board.
Owen Marcus (00:20:43):
Right. Right on with the shame and despair because he has game plan on how to win. Todd Zemek (00:20:49):
No, none. A pretty tough place to be in terms of disconnection and relationships. What percentage of guys that come to every man have reasonable, you know, response of relationships with their fathers, do you think?
Owen Marcus (00:21:03):
I think we get the whole spectrum. But I think you’re onto something. I was probably the classic I mean I had a decent relationship with my father, but what I realized as I started doing all this work was all the things that were missing. My, my father never said he loved me. Now I knew he loved me, but did I ever hear it? Did I ever get that secure attachment? And then, you know, that real, you know, I needed no, but I didn’t really see anyone else getting it. So I had no cognitive conscious sense that I was missing something. But some part of me knew, and as you know, I made it my responsibility or my fault that, you know, the the reason that I didn’t get it was something to do with me, not because of how he was being or behaving.
Todd Zemek (00:21:49):
I mean, it makes sense in terms of needing a model of how you’re going to turn up as a man within yourself in the world and in relationships. But I guess it’s, it’s one of the things where a lot of guys wouldn’t really consider a men’s group as a means of improving their relationship. Like, like you’re saying, it’s, it’s, there might be feminine demands or that that’s seen as a feminine theme, but having models and experiences that strengthen that are actually going to be something that’s actually really helpful in terms of fathers. I guess that’s why I’ve sort of picked up on the commentary about Asperger’s and I, I think that there’s a really respectful sympathy to the struggle of guys in terms of being deadened to their own inner world and then not having had much practice at responding to others. But definitely in the relationship with my own father, there’s a lot of a ton of transgenerational trauma and as a result of that, a lot of reactivity, a lot of struggle with empathy and yeah, it’s a, it’s a very complex it is challenging for
Owen Marcus (00:22:53):
You to just say a little more about that trans generational
Todd Zemek (00:22:57):
In this circumstance basically World War II, P T S D, you know, someone who had been shattered and was trying to hold themselves together in a way that, you know, really wouldn’t permit much in the way of, of tenderness, you know, or safety or co-regulation or any of those, you know, human basics, you know, very common story. But I guess I’ve got a, a very personal interest in some of the consequences of that and how that’s rebuilt.
Owen Marcus (00:23:28):
Yeah, and I think you’re right on with that. I think it becomes generational and now the whole set of research around epigenics really explains how that’s possible. I was doing a, a training mastermind and I was in Montreal and we were going into one of those restaurants where everyone that serves you is blind and the restaurant’s black, I mean, blacked out completely dark, so you’re eating in, in complete darkness. And it’s so, it’s like a blind experience, Uhhuh
Todd Zemek (00:24:25):
Owen Marcus (00:24:26):
And, you know, and so he, you know, he knew enough of what it was about, but still it was like, it was his own trauma. And that stuff does make a difference. You know, the more I work I do with people, particularly men, the more I see what takes us out inevitably in, maybe not initially, but almost inevitably is a physiology of trauma. And it could be the trauma for another generation, it can be what I call like microtraumas, a series of stressful events that has that same impact that creates that P T S D or
Todd Zemek (00:25:01):
In terms of the intensity of those sort of responses that, again, that’s where these groups are so helpful in dissolving any shame around that, turning it into a, a virtue and a and a strength. It’s not just because I have this protection that that’s a pathology and that if I’m carrying trauma from multiple generations, then it’s not an easy task. That’s
Owen Marcus (00:25:24):
No, it’s not. I think you touched on something that’s really important. What’s his name? Stephen Porges says this, that one of the things that he does and sees big reflect from is telling therapists to explain this to people that, and these are my words, your survival strategy, how you’re compensated it got you through that then or that trauma, but now it’s sabotaging you. So that’s not a bad thing, actually was a good thing. And right there, for some people that’s, this dissolves a shame. But when you, you know, sometimes you need to go a little further or maybe in a group you hear some other guy talk about it, you see the group honor that man and not shame him, and then everything starts to let go. Like, we’re watching Ted Lasso now.
Todd Zemek (00:26:04):
Oh yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m a fan.
Owen Marcus (00:26:05):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s
Todd Zemek (00:26:10):
I know how you guys like football
Owen Marcus (00:26:12):
Todd Zemek (00:26:47):
It’s really lovely actually, the, the prospect of self-leadership and that he’s starting to emerge bravely, but the leadership it then shows for others, you know, that that sense of the other guys sort of following, he’s like, oh shit, actually, now that you mention it,
Owen Marcus (00:27:04):
Right. And that’s, and that’s what we see in our groups all the time is, and it’s surprising how, you know, one guy will do something, say, reveal something that’s very in, in the outer culture, shameful, take their risk and some stoic guy that you would not think would be the first one to honor them.
Todd Zemek (00:27:22):
What happens when guys go into vulnerability? And I know I’ve heard you talk about victimhood. I think that’s a really important point as it relates to, to shame and to stuckness and to vulnerability being a, a strength and a skill. Just interested in your commentary on that.
Owen Marcus (00:27:40):
We’ve all been victimized, but the question is, do we remain a victim? And remaining a victim is sort of being stuck in the flight response, even though you might be disassociated and not fleeing, that’s your orientation where you could be orient the other way in the flight response where you’re like Terry real called the grandiose kind of personality, you know, the bully. But that’s more the extrapolation of the fight response. That victim response in my world is someone that doesn’t feel he has agency because he didn’t, and he never got it. Certainly air are more that side than the bully side, you know, and I was one of them. You, that guy becomes very sensitive, which is, you know, has a lot of great upsides. But the downside is that he’s still, you know, he judges himself as not being brave. Others might not really feel him.
He’s not taking the risk that he might want to take or should take to really succeed. Like, and what happens in the group is a lot of things, I mean, he could be encouraged, but one of the things that will often happen for these guys, he has a safe place to get mad because in being that quote victim and being sort of stuck in that flight, often there’s this core belief that I can’t or shouldn’t get mad because if I get mad, my father will beat me. Or, you know, something bad will happen that, you know, was a seed that was laid in his child, or maybe even another generation mm-hmm.
And so we unpacked that and we, you know, we let him get mad. And for years it was me that these guys would often get mad at, because I was the older guy, I was the guy that started the group. So I was the quote authority figure project, but I’m also safe. And so, and they’d see other guys get mad at me, and inevitably most of these guys at some point would get mad and often at me. But for a lot of these guys, it was the first time in their life they ever lost it. I remember years ago we had, you know, many grooves who put them all together. One night we over 30 guys in his big circle, and I said, okay, we’re going to talk about addiction. Everyone went around, really got honest about how much they drank or smoke or whatever.
And then, you know, I just waited because tracking tonight for a while. And then I said, don’t call him Sam. I said, Sam, you love your beers, morning your kids. And I knew that would piss him off one, because in one way it was true, but because he loved his kids and, and, you know, we’d sort of set it up the whole night was sort of set up, not intentionally, but for him. And he just jumped up. And so I stood up and this big guy, and I’m not a big guy, got this close, started yelling at me screaming. He just lost it. And every, you know, most of the guys in the group are like, he’s going to kill Owen
Todd Zemek (00:31:23):
I think it’s a really common phenomenon in terms of that defensiveness. So I remember having a similar situation, you know, when people start yelling and screaming in consulting rooms, everyone else starts freaking, but this guy basically, you know, screaming to, you know, telling me to go fuck myself, and then he storms out. And then I walk out into the car park and he’s just, you know, just collapsed in tears. Very, very similar. Beautiful.
Owen Marcus (00:31:47):
Yeah, beautiful. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it takes skill and courage to do what you did to hold that space and not, you might feel something but not go into reaction just to, just to, to receive that, not your fault, but just let him have his experience because, you know, he’s, he is doing what Peter Levine and Steven Porges would say in terms of completing that trauma. I mean, until then it’s been stuck in his body, in his psyche. And finally he got to do the fight response. So after that, he could really down regulate.
Voice Over (00:32:27):
You are listening to the Todd se connection for information on speaking workshops, supervision, and therapy. You’ll find everything you firstname.lastname@example.org.
Todd Zemek (00:32:43):
So I guess when we sort of have some of these lifetime firsts and we get a little bit safer, then we’ve got options to get creative, start developing new skills. So one of them that I, I know that you’ve spoken about is that the, the power of asking or stating rather than receiving, rather than having to, to map out a trajectory or an outcome, just the power of presence through having language around just stating something of where you are or making a request.
Owen Marcus (00:33:19):
Yeah, it’s, we’ll often say in our groups, ask for what you want. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get it, but the power isn’t asking. Yeah. A lot of guys, as you said or inferred, you know, we will map it out. We will wait until the right opportunity comes or someone else, or a partner says something or initiate something, but we won’t initiate you could say it, we’re, we’re stuck and freeze, we’re the victim. I mean, there’s a lot of ways to interpret that, but part of it’s cultural. We could be assertive in some arenas, but often in these interpersonal arenas, we aren’t.
Todd Zemek (00:33:55):
Tell us about the rock formula.
Owen Marcus (00:33:56):
Yeah, so it’s r o c, so r is to relax and to, to relax. You slow down. So everyone tells guys to relax, but they don’t tell us really how to do it. And so again, we’re given another performance task, but without any support in how to do it. What we’ve learned, and you know, science shows us, is when we is slow down our physiology, and the simplest thing to slow down is our breath. We can, you know, when meditation slow down our mind, and so we just slow down. And naturally what happens when we slow down, we start to relax. As we start to slow down, relax, we start to feel, and, and that state of feeling might be a little scary or uncomfortable, and it’s like we’re literally or metaphorically running from some. So as we slow down, what we’re running from starts to catch up to us.
And that’s where, you know, training or having a man’s group to help support you makes it easier. And then once you slow down, they owe us for opening up, be vulnerable, you know, vulnerable to your own experience, which pretty much happens naturally if you’re slowing down, but with that vulnerable to someone else’s experience. So you become empathetic. You allow other experiences to be impacted by you, and you start to feel their emotions and you start to co-regulate with them. And the C is, you reach out to connect, you take that risk, and you, you connect, which is what you were just saying, Todd, about, you know, not being passive in your relationship, but actually proactive and taking the risk of maybe reaching out to connect or asking. And, you know, that is also scary because you might reach out and not get a response
Todd Zemek (00:35:48):
At a theoretical level. You’re going to get the question of what does it mean to be a man? So I’m imagining that’s been an interview question for you countless times over the years.
Owen Marcus (00:35:57):
Yeah. And I keep, my answers keep changing
Todd Zemek (00:35:59):
Owen Marcus (00:36:30):
Required. Well, and I think women are, and I think men are, and I think the culture is too, because I don’t think it’s a, a conspiracy theory, but I do think that we really haven’t given men a model. And again, it, in my view, it doesn’t need to be a top-down model, like a theoretical model. It can have that as a component, but it needs to be a more instinctual, somatic, bottom-up kind of model that you pick up through modeling, through attachment, through what we had when we were in the tribe. Mm-Hmm.
But at some point you get up as you’re crying, you know, a as you’re in that experience of being vulnerable, you might be subtle or might be extreme, and you assert yourself, you take a risk and you stand up for something in one way. I think that’s sort of instinctual in that we go back of the hundredth gatherers, you know, we’re the ones out there taking the more physical risk, getting the game, bringing the game back, being the warriors, the protectors. And there’s something of, I think, instinctual about a man taking a risk. And women want that. I mean, when I was younger, I couldn’t understand why women were so attracted to the bad boys, to the assholes, the ones that mistreated them. But then I realized I perfected being a nice guy and initially having women really like me, but then women saying something to what you said, like directly, indirectly, you know, I need you to be a man.
I realized that these bad boys, you know, they were taking risks and they were challenging the women, and maybe not in all nice or healthy ways, but there was energy there. And people want that. And women want that for men want energy, you know, and different women want it in different ways and all that. But I think most women, if they were really aware and, and slowed down, they would go, yeah. I mean, there’s something to that. And when and when they see that in the man, something’s going to happen. It might be repelled, but they also could be retract attracted where you know, a nice guy, it, it’s like you just sort of pass by and then you’re not really seen.
Todd Zemek (00:39:25):
So, you know, even if it’s reactive or it’s angry or it’s, it’s not that healthy or that conscious, at least it’s real and there’s something to relate to. There’s an emotional truth Yeah. To be involved with. Yeah, exactly. So in, in these groups, there’s an opportunity to practice and to desensitize and normalize something new. I guess one of the things that motivated me, I, I’ve been thinking about doing a men’s group myself for, for some time, but I’ve kind of avoided it because of what I’d seen with, you know, new ag yogurty sort of stuff. And it’s just like, I can’t
Owen Marcus (00:40:26):
I, I think you, you nailed it. I think it’s synergistic, generative, complimentary, and exponential. I’m always encouraging these guys to get in groups if they’re not. And when they do, I see that change and, and we’re getting more and more referrals from therapists and, and the feedback that they’re, because like you said earlier, I think these guys need a place to practice and they need to, you know, with that build intimate, vulnerable relationships beyond their primary relationship and beyond their therapist. So they, so that, you know, they, they start at those levels, but it’s like, okay, give them fertile ground to plant more seeds and let those seeds germinate and produce. And then what happens is, without much effort, those skills start to generalize a place.
Todd Zemek (00:41:12):
I guess we get so stuck. I mean, part of it’s our, our resources, you know, either time or money, but we go get so stuck of the idea of one-to-one therapy every week or fortnightly. You know, often we don’t think of that as groups as being part of the mix. But I think it’s, I think it’s extremely important.
Owen Marcus (00:41:27):
I think so. And you know, I’ve been teaching more and more therapists. We did something for a whole east coast, the US Association for group therapists. And I’ve had some group therapists as clients, and yeah, I I, it’s really great that groups are coming back in general and then men’s groups are coming back. And you’re right. I mean, that’s why I created a new model that ended up being every man’s model. That was not new Ag was not the old MiFi biotic man’s work stuff, or you’re running around in the woods naked, beating a drum. No, we’re just regular guys sitting, you know, in a room when it before Covid and now we got all these virtual meetings, which actually works. I didn’t, I would’ve thought where, you know, they’re just being real. And, and we’re focused on, you know, what’s happening in your body, what’s happening in our emotions. And, and we’re not training these guys to be therapists. We’re just training ’em to be men. And what happens is they is they get trained to be men. They show up more powerfully in the group for themselves and for other men.
Todd Zemek (00:42:30):
I, I laugh at the idea of the running around naked sort of thing. That was one of the things that put me off. I’d, I’d done a a tantra weekend once
Owen Marcus (00:43:13):
Right. And, and in my experience about I agree with all that. And then, you know, a lot of trainings create deprivation sleeve. Mm-Hmm.
Todd Zemek (00:43:50):
Through some of those experiences. Well, I’m, I’m wondering in terms of, to be candid, like the groups I have got the most out of have had a great combination between little bit of psychoeducation and then the personal experiencing. I’m also part of a, a group which is just more of a, a free flowing support group. And my energy kind of flags for that. You know, maybe I’ve got compassion fatigue, maybe I’m a covert narcissist and I want more attention for myself. I don’t know. But I tend to get more out of having a little, the combination of a little bit of focus and then the opportunity to practice Got. Yeah. And that in terms of the idea of, you know, a long term group, I’m, I’m imagining that the ideal is that we are not, you know, I’ve got respect for AA by the way, but it’s not mm-hmm.
Owen Marcus (00:44:47):
I I would agree with you that when I have my clinic, you know, I was often asked to go speak to different support groups and I never saw it as a way to grow a business just to, you know, be a service. But was interesting because I’d go in saying, you got this disease condition, whatever, sorry, you do, but let me give you some alternatives about how you could heal it. They didn’t want to hear that because it was like, and I started to realize if they healed it, they would have to leave the group.
Todd Zemek (00:45:14):
Yeah, right. Like a, like a fight club sort of phenomenon. Right, right.
Owen Marcus (00:45:19):
And, and so, yeah. And, and, and I imagine myself in those situations and my energy would be drained. So yeah, a good men’s group is not a, it has a support group part of it, but it’s not the traditional support group. You know, our groups, you know, have a, you know, a set of agreements. We give them what we call the G L T Group Leadership training that gives them direction and, you know, after a group or a guy gets some traction, you know, they just, it’s creates some momentum. They keep building on those skillset sets where they’re just not hanging out BSing or, or just talking about their problems. And then, and in a more meta level, what happens is that most of us guys don’t do anything. We don’t get off our ass until we have a problem that’s kicking us off our ass and then we go do something often in crisis.
Well, you know, that’s just how guys are. And they get into the group or in our train, whatever, they get into the, the whole environment of what we’re doing and they start to get better. And often, as we were saying earlier, the relationship gets better. And so they’re scratching their head like, alright, why I joined this group is now solved. What do I do next? And, and the problem with most traditional groups out there, they’re focused on the problem, or some would call it the wound. They, you know, the group hits a glass ceiling because unless you have a problem in this group or support group, you can’t be in the group. And so what I saw pretty quickly in my groups was that is a guy or the group would evolve, we would have to evolve with him
Todd Zemek (00:46:58):
Owen Marcus (00:46:59):
And so over the years, I started to see three basic phases of development, personal development and, you know, group development. You know, the, in the first phase, you know, the guy comes in and, you know, he’s, he’s in pain and he wants to escape the pain of discomfort. And then the next phase, you know, so we, you know, we deal with a symptom, he feels safe, whatever that is. And then he starts to drop down into doing the hard to really, not just addressing the symptom, but addressing the cause. And that’s where the real work is. And I’ve never been interested in just addressing the symptom. I’d rather for myself and others, have it be longer, get to the cause and then at once you get through the cause, then it starts to become sustainable. And then the third phase, you can call a lot of different things. You can call it the ascent back up. You can call it integration or reintegration, but at that point, you, you’re not motivated by the removal of pain. You’re actually motivated by the creation of something new. And if you don’t give the guy that kind of support one, he’ll either leave or he’ll sabotage the group because, you know, it’s like he’s outgrown the group. And so the group in some way needs to support that man and the whole group and shifting from the predominance of dealing with the pain to dealing with creating something.
Todd Zemek (00:48:27):
So we start to move towards growth, starting towards new skills. Talking earlier about the victimhood in terms of relationships and shutting down. But I guess that would also apply to life purpose, money creation, leadership. Exactly,
Owen Marcus (00:48:42):
Todd Zemek (00:48:42):
Those qualities. So as we heal more, there’s more space, energy, time, resources to start devoting to that. So that would be a great thing to have backing in terms of where you are backing away from those challenges and to know that you’re not aligned and then part of it wants to shut down.
Owen Marcus (00:48:58):
Right. And as you know, there’s still work when you’re creating something in your life, you take a risk and you make mistakes, you need support.
Todd Zemek (00:49:06):
Yep. Any residual is gonna get retried.
Owen Marcus (00:49:09):
Right, exactly. But, but your work is being catalyzed by the, the work or the creation of the contribution you you’re doing in the world, not from, you know, healing or past.
Todd Zemek (00:49:20):
For a lot of these guys, as they develop some of that safety and some of those bonds, they’d be some pretty decent friendships that come out of this at a new level and it would re reset the bar of what friendship means.
Owen Marcus (00:49:31):
Right on. Yeah. Not, not a lot of guys see that in the front end, but they experience it. I mean, one of the things that happens is that guys start to change so much that a lot of the old French just don’t feel right. It’s like, you know, going back into your closet and putting on old clothes, they might still fit, but you don’t wanna really wanna wear ’em. Yeah. and the other side of that is like when these virtual groups, these guys were all over the world, or at least all over, you know, the us and, you know, several months into it, they were flying to see each other. That’s awesome. How, you know, how close, not every group, but several of the groups were because they, you know, without such a bond virtually that, you know, there’s like, I want to be in person with you. Yeah. And so,
Todd Zemek (00:50:13):
But I’m, I’m noticing some changes in my own friendships, and this is early days. I only started this fundamentals like the less than eight weeks ago now. But I’m noticing that the way I’m turning up with my existing friends and over the last couple of years I’ve changed and grown, I’ve lost probably the majority of people I thought would be with me for life, just recognizing capacity and accepting for them for who they are. So I, I guess if I’m, if I’m honest, I had some concerns that of, of the people remained
Owen Marcus (00:51:23):
It’s, our goal is to, is to have it, we’d love any feedback to make it the, you know, the entry point for groups for every man. And sort of, you know, the basics, you know, the, not everything but the, the, you know, what are the, the key components that, that we didn’t get as men that we could give men that would get them started on ultimately their own path? Yeah. It’s, it’s sort of the everyman path in some ways, but really it’s their own path and it’s, you know, how they want to apply the skills that we’re going to be giving them.
Todd Zemek (00:51:49):
So for the guys that they’re listening, you’ve got a book.
Owen Marcus (00:51:53):
Yeah. I mean the, the book is grow up and a Man’s Guide to Masculine Emotional Intelligence. It’s real simple. It’s, you, me, just looking at the nine states that I saw in a man’s natural maturation, and essentially what would’ve happened is because of stress trauma or lack of attachment or culture, we would not have a key component. We would skip over that part of our maturation, and that becomes a hole that keeps sucking us in. So it’s about, okay, where is that hole or holes for you? And what can you do to sort of fill that hole? You know, that’s something I wrote a few years ago. I’m in the process of writing a new book more about, you know, what we’re doing with every man, and it’ll be a while before that’s to help. And so every man, yeah, we have that website and it’s every man, but the second e is missing
We couldn’t afford that. So
Often for most guys it’s virtual now which is an hour and a half to few hours a week with a, you know, a small group of guys. You know, we give you a set of guides to do every week. So you just become more effective and efficient and you learn these skills in the process. And then you, you know, you got your group community, you got the general community, and we have close to a thousand guys and every man. And this just so far been word of mouth cause we haven’t done any outbound marketing yet. It’s just working on getting the machine built.
Todd Zemek (00:54:05):
What can, I can see why, based on the, on the quality I guess it’s one of the upsides of Covid in terms of reaching out for connection and doing it via zoom. You know, sometimes I’ll have people say, oh, no, no, that, that couldn’t be as powerful as doing it in the, in, in the real world, but that’s just not true.
Owen Marcus (00:54:28):
Yeah. I would’ve thought that. And you know, I knew that we had to get into the virtual, but I didn’t think it could be as powerful as it has been. And I remember, you know, we do these global calls every few weeks with thought leaders and, and I remember when we started right after Covid guys would come back from putting them in a breakout group and we’d ask them what happened. And inevitably they would say, because they were all new guys in the beginning, oh, I didn’t know anyone. But by the end of 10, 15 minutes we felt like best friends
Todd Zemek (00:55:07):
Owen Marcus (00:55:07):
Yeah. It, yeah. It’s like they covid and all that, I think made them hungrier. But yeah, it was really how intimate the virtual world can really be. Yeah. When it’s done this way and not, you know, social media.
Todd Zemek (00:55:22):
And practically, if you look at how many opportunities are there for guys to connect at that level, if you look over a 12 month period for so many guys, how many opportunities do they have where that happens? And it’s possible for a lot of guys, there’s just none, you know, would be, it would be incidental or in incredibly brief and they wouldn’t be attuned to seeing that as a priority or to following it up. And so this is where, you know, years and decades can go by of isolation.
Owen Marcus (00:55:51):
Yeah. And as you know, and the stats show us as we get older, it gets worse and worse. And, you know, I’ve started many men’s groups and supported other men doing it. And if you’re more of an entrepreneurial kind of guy, you can do it. But for a lot of guys, they want a group, but they don’t know how to do it, where to start. Or the community’s too small or they think too conservative or whatever. Yeah. The great thing with every man, you just join every man. You do fundamentals and we’ll help put you in a group, in a virtual group with other guys, and you get great diversity, what you probably wouldn’t have in your community. And develop these real relationships that if you want, I mean, after say a year doing it and getting the skills up, you go, all right, I’m ready to do a live one in my community and I know how to do it now. Where yeah. Most guys we found would not do it even though they wanted it. They go, they, and we’ve been doing this for a few years, they go, well, if you know some guy in Wichita that wants to do it, I’ll join his group, but I won’t start it.
Todd Zemek (00:56:48):
I think that’d be a natural progression for a lot of guys. For sure. I’ve actually got a friend that’s, that’s done that not so far away. So as we wrap up, if I put you on the spot and you had one message for men who are struggling and are connecting with the message, the struggle with shutting down and then perhaps a, a message for women who are, are looking to connect with guys who are struggling in that way, what would be the message that you would give to each,
Owen Marcus (00:57:16):
Take the risk, you know, reach out. And it’s not even that you’re asking for help, which maybe you are, but like you were saying, Todd, I mean, joining every man is a pretty simple thing. And you can join. Well you can, there’s a few things on the outside without even being a member and even being a member. You can join and you can come to a drop in group. You don’t have to do anything. We get new guys, all they do is says, witness, you can start in a very passive way and join for a month. It’s $28. If you don’t like it, you can leave. It’s not much of a risk. And I think you’re going to find you’re not alone. Because we did this big survey of about a year ago, we brought in this fellow that, you know, had a big survey company and he worked for the large corporations out there, and he did this very extensive interview or survey. And then he interviewed, I don’t know, good 20 guys, like an hour each. And he came back with this huge report and it was very impressive. And the one thing that he found from these guys is that these, you know, men feel like they don’t want to be alone. They feel like they’re the only one and that’s, and they’re failing at life.
Todd Zemek (00:58:27):
Owen Marcus (00:58:28):
And what happens is when these guys join, like every man, they realize that they’re not the only one. They’re not alone. And, and actually just being themselves, even if they judge themselves is being really screwed up is actually a contribution for other men. And that’s a hard concept for most guys to understand. Like, all right, I’ll join, but I’m, you know, I’m probably really weird. I’m really screwed up. Or what could I ever contribute? Mm-Hmm.
Todd Zemek (00:59:17):
I was pretty blown away in one of the first breakout groups, just divided into small groups. Everyone would take a few minutes each, and this one guy starts talking and it was just like, if I looked at a transcript, it’s just like, that would’ve come from me. Like, this is
Owen Marcus (00:59:41):
Todd Zemek (00:59:47):
My jaw dropped a little as as I was now and yeah, maybe a little more at home or a little lighter or a little more optimistic and drawn towards the group. Yeah, definitely. But just a sense of belonging as, as opposed to the naked guys in the, in the bush.
Owen Marcus (01:00:06):
Right, right. And, and to answer your question about women, I I would just encourage women to support men to give it a try. I mean, what we find, even in the best relationships, Logan is the emotional authority. So the guy will go, you know, we will take the, you know, the, the book or the, the website and go, honey, what do you think about this? You think I should do this? And I, I haven’t met a woman yet that said no. And most of the women are the biggest champion, but really, yeah, women love men be it loving the son, the sister loving the brother, or you know, our partners loving us. They want us to succeed for yes, selfish reasons, because they want us, but they, they also want us just not to be suffering so much. They’re often at the wits end because they’ve run out of everything that they have to help us.
Todd Zemek (01:01:00):
I would also recommend participation for therapists. I’ve trained in gestalt therapy many years ago. That’s been part of my thinking. I’ve run a number of different types of groups, but I’ve certainly got something out of this. And I definitely recommend it to any therapists out there as well. And I’ve got to thank you for the recommendation of tuning into Terry Reel’s
Owen Marcus (01:01:21):
Todd Zemek (01:01:21):
Yeah. Yesterday, which was yes. Really stunningly helpful. So for therapists definitely every man provides some resources there that are really wonderful.
Owen Marcus (01:01:31):
Yeah. The two days yesterday I was talking to Sue Johnson, so she’s going to come on, we’re going to do a program with her Esther ll who’s a friend of ours who’s going to do a program with us. And it’s
Todd Zemek (01:01:44):
A, it’s still, it’s still a crew that you’re assembling.
Owen Marcus (01:01:46):
Yeah. I mean, and what these people see is that we’re really trying to help guys and we are, and, and it really supports all these other kinds of therapies. You, we had Dick Schwartz on I’m just really happy and impressed with how therapy’s changing too. It’s getting out of that cognitive analytical model, which was the top down in more the somatic emotional, you know, experiential model. And, and all those therapies are the ones that are so hot now
Todd Zemek (01:02:15):
It’s starting to, to mature both the sophistication and the tenderness.
Owen Marcus (01:02:20):
Todd Zemek (01:02:22):
Be part of, and I think that’s one of the reasons that therapists are so interested in what we’re doing is that when I was learning this stuff 40 years ago from these guys that were, you know, on the fringe, I knew they had some, and I’m so happy that these therapies are really taking hold. I remember Peter Levine back in, you know, like the early eighties. He was really fringe and now trauma work is like the hottest work out there.
Todd Zemek (01:02:53):
Just thank you so much for, for what you do, and thank you for, you know, for the benefits of anyone listening to this and, and for my patients, quite frankly. They have the same reservations that I had, so being able to introduce them to you through, through me I think will be a, a really, really helpful thing. So yeah. Can’t thank you enough for that.
Owen Marcus (01:03:18):
Well, thank you Todd, for having me on. Thank you for joining us and thank you for willing to be the Guinea pig for your patience.
Todd Zemek (01:03:39):
Well, it’s, it’s through necessity, but it’s a, it’s a passion too, so
Owen Marcus (01:03:43):
Todd Zemek (01:03:45):
Yeah. A million. Thank you.
Owen Marcus (01:03:46):