Updated: Mar 31
Everyone, welcome. Thank you, Dewaldt, for joining us on Fresh Perspective. I look forward to sharing your perspective with our listeners. Just introduce yourself. What do you do?
My name is Dewaldt. I live in Joburg. I’m a pastor. I work at a church. I’m also passionate about couple-hood. My wife and I, we work with couples. We use Imago, and we the use encounter-centred transformation process to take couples through a process. We like working with larger groups as well, facilitating processes. In the lockdown time, we started a group on Whatsapp called Mating in Captivity. We borrowed the name from Esther Perel. We got a hundred and eighty couples signing up for that. We did… I think it was… We wanted to do the twenty-one days, but then it was extended. In the end, we did a thirty five-day process with the couples, sharing the basic Imago theory from Harville Hendrix’s book, Making Marriage Simple. And from a few other sources.
At the end, we had a Zoom couples evening using Harville Hendrix’s Caring Behaviours. Most of the people on Imago never knew about this book, because he gave it out for free (laughs). So, no one took it seriously. But it was a free book, and in this book, it’s just called Caring Behaviours… and it’s an unbelievable process we took a few couples through for a month.
That is amazing. A hundred and eighty couples!
Yes. Sometimes, we put on things that were not so serious, and then a few couples left. But in the end, we had about a hundred and sixty couples on board. I think that sometimes, the whole lockdown thing… too many things on Whatsapp, too many Zoom groups. Or maybe we do not want to face this, we’ll rather leave the group. But at the end, to see so many couples going through it… we started it as a tongue-in-the-cheek thing. Because after China’s lockdown, they asked a few people, what would you do, the first thing after lockdown? And a few people said, we’ll get a divorce. So, we realised, now you’re stuck in this house with your partner. So how will we mate in captivity? How are we friends in captivity? How will we enjoy sex in captivity? How will we survive captivity?
That’s amazing. Wow. I love Esther Perel. So maybe just talk about Ester Perel's work a bit. Obviously, you know her work, and Mating in Captivity is a fascinating book. So how did you use that? Or was that just the name that you used?
It was the name. And then we put her TED-talk up there because she’s brilliant. And then the basics of the TED talk is… we have a friend, and in Imago, you will know her. Grete Becker. She read the book, and then she decided to go with her husband. And what her husband does, is he works on golf courses. He makes sure that the sprayers are always in the right place, and that the golf course is nice and green. She had to work the computer because everything is computerised. Then she would switch on the water, and it would splash on him. And she looked at him, and they’ve been married for forty-five years plus. And she said, something happened to her. She looked at him, enjoying his work. She looked at him, having passion for what he does. And she got a deep sexual attraction towards this man. Something she hasn’t felt that deeply and intensely for a long time.
And that’s one thing that Esther Perel says. It’s almost impossible to stay with a partner for your whole life and be only sexually attracted to him or her. But when you see that partner working in his and her passion, it can create a sense of sexual desire. That intrigued me a lot. To see your partner working in his or her passion. So, the fortunate thing now with seeing my wife at home, working over Zoom, and seeing the passion and the love with which she does her work. It also creates this… I like this woman. I like what I see.
But no Zoom-bombing in the real sense then?
No Zoom-bombing in the real sense (laughs). Yes, you do not want the camera on. Otherwise, you’re producing movies for a different industry.
So that’s a thing that fascinated me about Esther Perel’s work, is seeing your partner working in his or her passion. She came to Joburg a while ago, and I couldn’t be there, but one of my friends went. It’s just fascinating to… and he’s never encountered her. It was her and a guy called - his surname is White. He’s a poet. You actually went for the White guy. Sorry, not the white guy. His surname is White.
But he enjoyed Ester Perold as well because of the way she speaks about relationships. And the passion.
Could you say something about… Because one of the things that fascinated me about her work, is the fact that she says, you create this emotional safety. You want to be safe with your partner and all those kinds of things. So, you create this safe space, and actually that counters the sexual desire. Can you say something about that, please? That’s a fascinating aspect of her work for me.
I remember that, but I’m not so into… what I think you said is to create a bit of space, of being a rebel. What we did with Sophie Slade that also said that, is to create a sexual tasting menu. You sit with your partner, and like you would do a tasting menu, you create a five-course meal. But all the courses are sexual encounters with your partner. So, you write down this sexual tasting menu. Like the first thing… the ambience. The rest is a restaurant, this place. We want candles. Or I want to be out in the veld. Or I want to be in a public area. And the first thing you do, is you touch me. You do this. The main course is, we do that.
You go through these courses and the after-play, and everything you want… so food can be involved, but it doesn’t necessarily need to have food involved. But she taught us how to write a sexual tasting menu. We take couples through that. Because the moment you do that, you go into an area. Because it’s usually things you want to do with your partner, but never had the courage to tell him or her.
But, growing up, and you being a pastor… especially growing up Christian, right. You can’t even admit that you want those things.
Especially a Christian woman. You grow up, you’re not allowed to have sex. You’re not allowed to enjoy sex. The moment you get married, now you’ve got to have sex. You have to enjoy it, and you have to be a tiger in the bedroom. And that’s almost impossible. What a sexual tasting menu does, is then you share this tasting menu with your partner, and then there are just a few questions. What about this menu excites you? What about this menu… the thing about that menu that scares me?
Just to get it right, Dewaldt. So, you comment on your partner’s menu? They present the menu, and you comment, and you say, this scares me, this excites me. Okay, I like that.
And what I would change about my menu after I’ve heard your menu. Because now I realise, wow, mama, but you’re a wild one!
Because it’s usually like that. We haven’t encountered that… And you should see the couples when they share with each other. They get so excited because I couldn’t believe that you’re wanting to do this with me. So it creates a space, almost a teasing space. Because we fall so easily into the rut of vanilla sex. The rut of, it’s the same over and over.
Vanilla sex. Is that when you listen to Vanilla Ice, Ice Baby the whole time during sex?
Exactly not that. (Laughs) Collaborate and listen!
What happened to Suzelle and myself, is we started to live out these menus. It got to a place where Suzelle started exploring – Suzelle is my wife, she’s not a strange woman – started exploring her own sexual journey. When we moved to Joburg, she drove past a park. And it triggered her because she was molested as a child by her granddad. And it triggered that. She went to see someone, working through her own sexuality and her own sexual issues. She had to reclaim her sexuality from the age of ten. Because he molested her at the age of ten. Up to her age now, which is forty-five.
So, with this sexual tasting menu, making it an explorative journey towards – and a safe explorative journey because that’s what… that’s what makes you discuss the menu. You don’t just jump on your partner and expect him or her to do this. You explore this menu. And with her going through therapy, exploring her sexual healing… going through that and reclaiming her own sexuality, it was a great journey to go on. And to rewrite, and afterwards, go back and write another sexual tasting menu. Because tonight you feel like Chinese. But tomorrow you feel like Mexican. Spicy sex.
(Laughs) Could you say a few sentences more about reclaiming your sexuality?
What happened to her, is the moment she… When she was ten years old, her grandfather abused her. In that specific park that she saw, she told him to stop it. And it never happened again. But from that time, in her subconscious, she had this idea that she had to perform in a certain way. That men expected certain things of her. And what that did, it put her in a place where she separated her body from her soul, basically. She separated those things. So, she could have sex without being fully present. And I always had a sense of that. That we’re having sex, and it’s nice to have sex. But I wanted her to be fully present. And that was the thing. I wanted her to be there. So, for her, sex was almost wham, bam, thank you ma’am. I wanted to do the foreplay, the after-play. The holding of each other. And she was like when it’s over, it’s over. And now we can go on with our lives. And I wanted more.
As she reclaimed her sexuality, she had to see okay, I’m ten years old. I’m supposed to be pure. I’m not supposed to be someone that was abused. And she had to reclaim that until the day… She was in previous relationships; she had a daughter. So, she had to reclaim all those… her sexuality up to the age where we got married. So that was a whole therapeutic process. And I’m not too knowledgeable about how that process worked. But he gave her – the psychologist, he’s a brilliant psychologist, we send quite a few people to him around sexual issues. A guy here in Joburg. He helped her to go through this process to reclaim her sexuality. The moment that happened – now I’m married to someone, we can still have… because we always had sex, and it was always great sex, but now I have a fully present woman. And when she’s not feeling… she’ll say listen, tonight I cannot be fully present for you. She can actually say that. Previously, she couldn’t say it. But I would sense, this sex is just to get it done with. And then I’m not satisfied. I’m not fully sexually satisfied. Because for me, sexual satisfaction is, I’m having all of you for me. And now I’m getting that. So it’s cool.
Wow. That’s amazing.
It was an amazing journey for us, the past two years, around that.
And that’s even after doing a lot of couples work already.
Yes, definitely. Because we were… we went on the Imago advanced sexual training with Sophie Slade, and that opened a lot of tricks and stuff. But it’s to get to that place where you jump over that next thing that you need to jump over. And say, listen, we need to discuss this. So, I think the most important thing is to… just to start talking about sex outside the bedroom. Talk about, what do I really need from you? Because… and that’s what the sexual tasting menu did. It was lots of fun creating this thing. But what it does, it sets the stage. Because then she realised that I want to be with her, naked, without having sex. And that’s a thing. Because for her, when you’re naked together, you have sex and it’s over. That’s what it was. But then it started to… my husband needs more of me. And she needs something else. Because in her heart as well, she wanted more. But she didn’t know how to get it. Because she also stated in the sexual tasting menu… but then we couldn’t get to the first course. It was just the main course, and thank you. It’s like eating a lot of MacDonald’s. Which… it’s not necessarily a negative thing, but we’re always having MacDonald’s. Life can turn out bad. So sometimes you need to do a whole course.
Very cool. Could you tell me more about the process that you took the other couples through during the lockdown? And specifically, about the ECCT method. Could you tell us a bit more about that as well, please?
Yes. So, we didn’t go into the ECCT method during the Mating in Captivity. We wanted to keep it very, very basic. It started out as very short, but at the end… We would take Harville and Helen’s stuff, and we’d rewrite it, we’d put our own stories in there. I’m just going to open it now to quickly check on… because I can’t remember. It’s now been a hundred plus days.
How did you present it?
We took a bunch of people through marriage stuff. So, we told them all about it, said, if you want to join, you can join the group. And send the group out to any… and then they started sending it out. And we saw we had numbers from Singapore, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Germany. It was people all over the world. Our daughter also signed up. But the moment we started talking about sex, she got off. She just couldn’t handle that anymore (laughs).
She’s married in Germany now. So that was our German number that didn’t stay on. Then it was basically a white piece of paper with notes on, and you could read it.
But the group, was it like a Whatsapp group? How did you…
It was a Whatsapp group. Yes. We started with what it was, what we were expecting of them. And then on the third day, we shared Esther Perel’s TED talk, The Secret of Desire and Long-Term Relationships. We shared that TED talk, we shared her book, if they wanted to read more on it. And on day four, we started with the whole Imago theory. Love is a trick. If you’re incompatible, so are we. Conflict is a gift. Being present brings your healing. Then we put Hedy Scheifer’s The Power of Connection, that TED talk on then I will look at you with new eyes. Then, the appreciation dialogue.
Then how to say something in a softer, more loving way. Then we gave them a few date-night ideas. A guy wrote a book a few years ago, it’s supposed to be a theological book. It wasn’t that good theologically, but what he did, is he wrote a book on the date night. So he said – the book is called Fun Loving You. Writer’s name is Ted Cunningham. He taught his children, the first words his children could say was, I only live here temporarily, I will plan accordingly. So, he designed an entire household around that he is the king, mom is the queen, and the children are princes and princesses. But they will leave one day.
So how do you design a house that when your children leave one day, that you will still have a loving space? And he would use really practical things, like when you buy a trampoline, buy one big enough for you two to have fun on after the children went to bed. Have a night where your wife can be off, and you take care of the kids. And what he did, is he built the most expensive bathroom for his wife he could afford. With a chandelier, and he got very expensive Egyptian cotton towels. So, one night of the week, she could just take a bath and enjoy, and he’d take care of the kids.
Then we got a child psychologist just to help us around, how much time do children really need? Because we find that especially Generation X parents are really, really struggling with the amount of time they have to spend with their children. Per child, they only need twenty minutes of undivided attention a day. If you give them twenty minutes of undivided attention, they’re sorted. So, we put that information on the group. And told them, the rest of the time, when the child comes and interrupts: listen, I already gave you your twenty minutes. Now mommy and me, we’re having a discussion. You cannot interrupt us. And they understand that. That’s all they need. Because it’s as if parents don’t know where to put the boundaries.
Where to put the boundary without feeling guilty.
Yes. Then Ted Cunningham – he’s got about 80 date night ideas. We put those date night ideas on, and we got some nice feedback. We did the emotional needs questionnaire by Willard F. Harley. We did that because it’s brilliant and it’s also free on the internet. So we used everything that’s free around marriages, and just popped it on there.
Just structured it. Cool. Can you say a bit about your thoughts on… I know you have experience around this as well. But I’d like to talk to you about divorce. Why you think people get divorced, and affairs. Why do you think people have affairs? What are some of the things that you’ve learned and discovered in your work with couples as well?
What I enjoy the most, is working with couples that had an affair. I don’t know why. It’s the most satisfactory work. Because they get there, and they are totally, deeply disconnected. But it’s the fastest way… when couples get together after that. Because they both realise… and it’s to help them realise that both of them are 100% responsible for the state they’re in. One had the affair. But the other one created the space with this partner…
For that third person.
To make sure that the affair happened. So what we use there, is Hedy Scheifer’s Healing From an Affair Youtube webinar. It’s to take the partner through the whole process. Go through the whole process of healing. Getting into the time machine, going back to the moment that started. Saying, I can imagine what I’ve done to you. And it’s not just to say I’m sorry. Because sorry is always about me. But if the sorry is about, I can imagine how it made you feel. And I can imagine what it did to you. And what you had to go through.
And both people do that, go through that entire process. And feeling the complete weight of what happened here. Sensing that, and saying, from now on, it will never be like this anymore. This is the last time ever that we will be there. From now on we’re creating a new neighbourhood. A new way of living. Hedy works with neighbourhoods, and I love that. So we take a couple into the neighbourhood of absolute destruction to the neighbourhood under construction. And to work with that. It’s very satisfying work, to do that.
Could you just explain some more about… You touched on the space that’s created between two people. And both people are responsible for creating that space for a third person to enter that space. And for an affair to start. But how does that happen? What do you pick up? Let me justify the question some more. Couples don’t notice that, right. It’s not as if they set out to create that space. It’s actually very subtle. So, what are some of the things that you picked up and learned, that creates that space?
That’s where Hedy helped me a lot. She uses Martin Buber quite a lot. And what Martin Buber says, is our relationship doesn’t live in me or in you or even in the dialogue between the two of us. It lives in the space we share. And this space is a sacred space. So, when a couple gets married, they believe this is a sacred space. No matter what they believe, no matter from what religious background they are. They believe this is sacred. But then over time, they contaminate this space. That’s just with saying words… and that’s the space between them. They put words in there. They roll their eyes. They give a sigh.
And then afterwards they contaminate the space. It becomes very contaminated. And your children grow up in that space, your dogs even realise that space. They don’t want to be there. And then, everybody knows that. You walk into a room, and when a couple had a fight, they don’t say a word. But you sense it. Your entire body senses, I don’t want to be here now. The children, everybody knows that. And it’s to… it’s to really reclaim that space as a sacred space. To say, how are you going to decontaminate this space? So to say, listen, I’m entering your world. I’m going to really look from your perspective, and I’m not going to bring anything into this space that contaminates it.
And what happens is, now you’re in this space, you don’t want to share anything in this space. And I always say, an affair starts the moment you start talking to someone else, and that person says well, that’s terrible. Tell me more. That’s where an affair starts. It doesn’t start when… it just starts when someone else really listens to you, and really understands you the way your partner understood you in the romantic phase. The way your partner could end your sentences in the romantic phase.
So, I always tell couples when they start, what you’re having now is an illusion. I love working with young couples as well. To say, listen, the fights will come. And I want to prepare you for that. When I met Suzelle, I knew a lot about the Imago stuff. And I told her, listen, this is only an illusion. We’re going to start fighting. We’re going to have differences. And I said, let’s beat the system. And I tried to beat the system. It’s impossible. Because you’re going to do things that press your partner’s buttons. And it’s the best gift ever for the space, because…
You need that conflict.
You need that conflict because that conflict leads to your healing. So I always say, we want to get you from a place from being in love… because what does Harvel say? He says every relationship travels the same predictable path from the bliss of romantic love to the nightmare and disillusionment of conflict. But with the addition of conscious intentionality, this becomes a place of spiritual wholeness and growth. And we want to lead couples to a place of spiritual wholeness and growth. We want to take them there. To be aware of the things that press your buttons, and then not saying, You’re doing this to me. I want to figure out why I am feeling this way. Because it’s not your fault. This is all my story. So that’s what we do.
An affair starts because I’m blaming you for the things that I’m supposed to take responsibility for myself. I need to grow up and say listen, you pressed my buttons. Let’s talk about this. I’m interested in this.
Could you say more about what contaminates a space?
It can be anything. I would like to work with stories. What happened in our space, Suzelle’s space, is – I cook. I love cooking, and Suzelle wanted to help me, she wanted to be in the kitchen. So, I told her, tonight we’re making a pasta carbonara. Now how a carbonara works, is you mix your egg yellow with your parmesan and your cream, and then you add that to piping hot pasta. But it can’t be in the pan, you can’t still be heating it, because then that mixture becomes scrambled eggs. And it can’t be too cold, otherwise you’re eating raw egg. I’m not a big fan of that.
So, I gave her the herbs to chop up. But all this happens in a very short time, because you’ve got this piping hot pasta, you add this to your egg and cheese mixture, and you add your herbs. As I was telling her to chop up the herbs, I gave her five minutes. It shouldn’t take longer than thirty seconds. She was cleaning the kitchen here and there. And at the end, I needed the herbs. So, I just gently shoved her out of the way, I chopped the herbs. I added it to the plates, I put it at the table, and she was livid. I could see it. But because she’s - the word we use in Imago – she’s the tortoise, she would just slightly turn her shoulder. I would ask her, what’s wrong? And she would say, no, nothing.
But you could sense… and I’m like, I’m the cat in the hailstorm. I’m like, what’s wrong? What did I do? Now I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong. And everything started because of this bowl of pasta that I wanted to be perfect. But she wanted to be connected with me. So now I’m like, what’s wrong with you? You cannot even appreciate a plate of pasta. And she’s like, why did you shove me out of the way? But that’s not the issue. The issue happened when she was five years old and her mom walked into the bedroom and said listen, I’m getting a divorce from your dad. You’re coming with me, your brother’s staying with him. Get in the car. We’re moving away to another province.
So, she didn’t have any say. She was a five-year-old girl. She was just shoved out of the way. Her opinion didn’t matter, and she was separated from her dad and her brother. So the moment I just gently shoved her out of the way to chop up the herbs, that’s what happened. She felt the same feeling. And it’s to be aware of that. Now, it’s easy to say that now, because we went through a massive process. In fact, with you. We went through the process with you. And after that, one night in the shower, she just realised that’s the connection. It’s to start to ask the right questions. Why did I feel that way? What is the stuff that activated these feelings in me? And can I get healing for this?
Because up to that point, if I asked her what was wrong, no, nothing. Now she can say listen, the thing you did now – it made me feel invisible. That’s her hurt. Her hurt is invisibility. She feels invisible. And my hurt is, I feel powerless. I can’t do anything. I feel humiliated. So now I can also say, listen, the thing you did now, it makes me feel humiliated and powerless. And we can talk about it. Versus not saying anything, and me shouting louder, and her just going further into her shell. Now we can come out and talk with each other. And we get to a place where there’s healing. And now in an adult, conscious relationship, we can say those things. But it’s an intentional journey.
That’s a big thing. Could you say more about that intentionality? Because what I hear from you, Dewaldt, is both you and Suzelle understand one another’s back story now. So, when you say, when you did that, it made me feel invisible or powerless… both of you kind of know where that comes from because of the work you’ve done up to now. Could you say more about the intentionality?
The intentionality, for me, starts with the space. We will definitely sit across from each other. There will be no distractions. I would say, I would like to talk to you about what happened. Is now a safe time? By a safe time, I mean there’s no high levels of emotion now. You don’t want to kill me at this moment. Because that’s the whole thing – if it’s safe. Yes, we can talk about it. We look at each other with soft eyes. With loving eyes. We try to be 45 cm apart. It’s a brain bridge. It’s something Hedy… in relational neurobiology, it says we have to… you have to sit close enough to each other that you can see each other’s eyes. And look at each other with soft eyes. The same eyes your mother would have looked with at you as a baby. Because your entire life, you’re looking for those safe eyes. So we would definitely do that.
There’s no way of skipping this. Even after all these years, we still have to do that. And then I would say something – when you did this... and she would say something, when you did this, or you said that, it made me feel like this. And I would say, what I hear you say, is – and I would just mirror what she said. I wouldn’t put in my perspective. I wouldn’t say no, but you didn’t understand me correctly. I wouldn’t come with my perspective. I would completely be in her world. And then she would say, yes, you heard me correctly. Then I would say, tell me more. That’s interesting, I’d like to hear more. And she gets to why this happened to her and how it made her feel.
At the end, I would say something like What you told me makes sense. And I can imagine how it would make you feel. You don’t deserve to feel that way. I don’t want to make you feel that way. What you actually deserve, is this. And because I know Suzelle’s issue is invisibility, I would celebrate her intentionally by seeing her. So, every morning, when we wake up, when I see her, I say, I see you. You are beautiful. You are precious. And I would usually say, today you can get just what you want. I always say that, because she hasn’t got access to my credit card. So that helps.
And I really say that every day. Because the moment I say that, I celebrate her presence. The moment she enters a room, I would celebrate her presence. One of the things we always tell couples, especially when it’s highly, highly volatile, is the four things you need to change in your space intentionally. When you wake up in the morning, when you look at your partner, say, good morning. I see you. This is a new day. It’s great to be with you today. When your partner leaves for work or even going to the shop, you greet them as if they’re leaving for a year. I’m going to miss you. It must be awkward for the children. Always. Everything you do must create… especially at that age when they are teenagers. They need to say something like get a room, guys.
So, you greet your partner as if you’re not going to see them again for a year. When they get back, even after five minutes, you say, you’re back. It’s so great to see you. You must be like a dog. Your dog is always happy to see you. If you lock your wife up in the car’s boot for two hours, don’t do this. But if you lock her up in the boot for two hours, you open the boot, she will be mad. When you lock your dog up in the boot for two hours, you open up the boot, your dog will be like, yay!
Like a dog. When your partner enters a room, acknowledge them. See them. Celebrate them. It’s intentional. Otherwise, you’re like, oh, whatever. It’s not whatever, it’s great. And before you go to bed – even if you go to bed at different times. Because sometimes, someone wants to go to bed at nine, the other one still wants to read. Make a moment of it. Make a moment of those normal things in life. Because your marriage is built on the small things. It’s not built on the honeymoon, it’s not built on the big going away sessions. It’s built on the small things. The daily routine things that you celebrate.
So that’s… we’re very intentional about that. So people will… when we were still newly married, people would say, oh, yes, but you’re still in love. Now people will ask us on the aeroplane, are you on honeymoon? We say, no. But yes. So we’ve been married for eight years now, and it still looks like we’re in love. But we’re not in love. We’re in an intentional relationship.
I love that, Dewaldt. I love the… making those moments. You know, intentionally making those moments big. Love that. Could I ask you one more thing before I let you go?
Could you say something about the ECCT approach? Maybe just how… the basic structure of how that helps couples.
For me, the encounter-centred transformational process… for me, what helps there is to get couples… it’s the intentionality about the space. To make them aware of the space between them. Sitting across from each other…
It’s sacred. Then I usually take them through a precious neighbourhood dialogue. Someplace that made them feel alive. Made them feel vital. It made them the most alive that they ever felt. So, you put the couples in front of each other, and the one enters the other one’s world. And you take them to that place where you felt fully alive. And maybe your partner knows about this place, but they’ve never experienced it this way. But what’s the coolest for me about this, is that the person taking the partner to that space – the host – has also never been there in this way.
And getting to the… what Hedy calls… you go through streets. She calls it streets. I’m going to tell the story because that will help create… when we went through this, we had the privilege of Hedy Scheifer taking us through the whole process. So Suzelle took me to the neighbourhood of weekends, holidays with her dad. And then you’re only allowed to say truth. So Hedy says, listen, you’re only allowed to say five words in a sentence. Anything more she calls bullsh*t. Excuse the French. You only work through very few words. So, the first sentence would be holidays with my dad.
And that’s a street, right?
That’s a street. Second street would be, My dad would take leave. The third street would be, We would do what I wanted. And then she got stuck. Then she would try to repeat those streets in different, creative ways. But what she needed to do was go to the square. And in the square, you say a coherence statement. Something that, when you say that, the weight in that space drops. There’s a presence there. And then she said the words – we were doing it in English, because Hedy is a Jew, there was a bunch of rabbis there. And Suzelle said the words, He made me feel I’m worth dying for.
And the moment Suzelle said that, the whole space – there was a weight in that space. I could see out of the corner of my eyes, the rabbis looking at each other. There was almost something spiritual happening there. And that was it. The precious times with her dad. Because it was always… there’s a picture of her dad on our fridge. And he really looked like Clark Kent. Superman as a young guy. So, he’s this handsome young man, and he’s on our fridge. He passed away a few years ago. And I knew it was very, very special for her. But I never realised that. And that’s what made me realise.
Because after you get to that precious neighbourhood, it gives your partner clues of how can I recreate that precious neighbourhood for Suzelle? And that’s why every morning, I’d tell her, you are precious. You can do what you want to. You are worth dying for. I use those exact words. I recreate that space in our house every day. And that’s even before you get… because what Hedy does, is the encounter centred… Imago usually says, let’s take a small topic of issue and we work with that. Encounter says, take the most difficult thing in your marriage and tackle that. So when you go through the precious neighbourhood, it’s so easy to go through the toughest neighbourhood in your relationship and recreate it, or redesign it to a new…
Feel safe and connected doing that.
Yes. Safe, connected. So, I love that. I love taking couples through that as well.
Dewaldt, thank you so much for sharing. Is there anything you wanted to share? I just wanted to give you the opportunity.
No, I think that’s it.
I think you can go on for a long time, I’m assuming (laughs).
Yes, I love… we love couples work. And what happens for us, is we make it personal. I believe that whole thing, and I know you’re also a big fan of that. That real adult learning – to take place, you have to present it yourself. You have to teach it to others yourself. So, if I get trained in something new, it’s not a week and I apply it. We try it, we test it. And I will tell the couple, listen, I just got to know this stuff last week. So, when we make a mistake, couples are usually okay with that. But the whole thing is intentionality. And I always say, do not work at your relationship. Play at your relationship.
Because if you work the whole day, you get home, you have to work at this relationship as well. It’s a disaster. But when you play at it, when you just love each other, you just enjoy your partner, enjoy the way they think. Your partner will not think the same way. In the beginning, Suzelle frustrated me because I’m so logical, and she is so all over the place. I mean, you can just imagine being married to an artist. My wife has got an artist’s brain. After a while, I just realised, she’s got a beautiful mind. And then I celebrate her mind. I would just ask, tell me more. And I realise, oh. Because she would speak in sound effects. What does that mean, even? And just to enjoy it. And after a while, wow. It makes a lot of sense. And there’s a lot of intelligence behind that.
And to look at your partner with amazement. Say, wow. That’s what Hedy also taught me. The person sitting in front of you is a gift. A gift to this world, and there will never be another person like this. And just imagine what could happen if you two put your energies together to do something good for this world. Imagine what could happen. So, look at your partner that way.
I’m so glad I asked you. I love that, don’t work at your relationship, play at your relationship. Stunning.
Yes. It’s much more fun.
So when people want to contact you, where can they reach you? What’s the best way to contact you, Dewaldt?
firstname.lastname@example.org. When Outlook got started…
You’re one of the founders of Outlook?
I’m one of the founders of Outlook. They started… there was always Hotmail, and then they started this Outlook thing. It was so cool because if you signed up early, you could have your name and the dot com. So I have email@example.com.
All right. Before I let you go, what do you feel is your superpower?
Cooking. Italian food. Tomatoes. I have a superpower with tomatoes. Bring me a tomato, and I can rescue that thing.
(Laughs) That’s brilliant. I’m on my way, by the way.
Italy. Over here.
To you, to your house.
In the beginning, Suzelle and I had a code name for sex. So we would call it Pomodoro. It’s the Italian word for tomato. And when we started sharing this in couples courses, after a while people were bringing us tomatoes as gifts. And tomato paste. Then, you get canned… so the tomatoes from Mount Vesuvius are the best. You get tomatoes growing in this volcanic ground. So, they call them Pomodoro del Vesuviano. So, if you bring me a can of Pomodoro that grew on the foothills of Mount Vesuvius, it’s the best.
You can create something amazing with that.
Yes, with that. Just tomato and pasta. You will cry.
(Laughs) Thank you so much, Dewaldt. Thank you for sharing with us. I’ll see you around.
The books referenced in this episode can be found on Amazon by following these links: