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Interview with Jürgen Schemel
I wanted to make sure before I ended the podcast show, we talked a little bit about work life, home balance and being able to have a healthy relationship. As consultants, we’re working a lot, traveling a lot. One area that easily is a challenge for a lot of consultants that I know and has been impacted is people’s love lives and being able to have relationships and marriage. How do you make all of that work? I was able to bring a guest on the show that is a relationship expert. I’m excited to introduce Jürgen Schmechel. He’s an author and business strategist from Germany. He’s now based in Australia and he runs a company called Inspiring Relationships. As part of the things that he does, he focuses on helping people create and cultivate successful healthy marriages, partnerships. Being able to make sure that your love life is intact and it’s a healthy addition to your life. It’s such an important conversation. I love the feedback and the guidance that Jürgen brings. You’re going to get a lot from this show to help you take your relationships to the next level.
Jürgen, how are you doing? Welcome to the show.
Thank you, Christie. I’m excellent.
What part of the world are you sitting in?
I’m sitting in Sydney, Australia. I’m from Hamburg, Germany and moved to Australia.
Thank you so much for joining us. Jürgen is a relationship expert. Why don’t you introduce yourself to the go-getters and tell them a little bit about what you do?
Thanks for the opportunity. I’m Jürgen Schmechel. I’m 58 years old. I’m happily married for many years. We’ve got two boys which are now grown up young men. For a couple of years, I’ve realized that relationships are falling apart, left, right, and center. Not just in Australia or in the US, but also in Germany and all parts of the world. Being a mathematician by trade or by education, the stats are always interesting. The stats are shocking because more than 40% of marriages are getting divorced. With many years of marriage under my belt, I thought, “We’re doing something right, maybe consciously, maybe unconsciously.” I then looked into this a little bit further and found that there are some tricks and traits that you could have in a relationship which help you to have a lasting and maybe a lifelong relationship.
As consultants, one of the things that I’ve heard time and time again throughout my career is people working extremely hard and putting a lot of focus on their career. That sometimes being at the detriment of relationships. It’s important as a great consultant to balance both home as well as work. Jürgen as an expert is going to bring some good tips. I love the term inspiring relationships.
Shout out to the men out there. They are under such big stress nowadays. You mentioned someone between 30 and 39. Usually, they are not working 9:00 to 5:00 because they still want to go get something in their career. They’re working from 8:00 until 7:00. They might have some kids at home and maybe their spouse is staying at home or maybe she’s working as well. He’s under pressure because oftentimes the men also look after the finance, so the mortgage is on his back. His boss is in his back. His mother-in-law wants to see the children and his own mother also asks him, “When do we see you again?” His wife is saying, “You’re never home.” He says, “I’m providing for the money and I’m providing for the family.” All this stress is on the back of the male and oftentimes we men tend to internalize. Instead of talking about it, we withdraw and we get silent. We sit in front of the television with a bottle of beer and try to forget the world. That’s the road to disaster in a relationship. When you as a male take all this burden on your back and you’re not talking about this, eventually this will all burst. The usual story is that you meet someone who is nice and blonde and does not demand anything and then the rest is history.
I’m married so I’m trying to get where you are, where you’ve got decades of a healthy marriage. As a working consultant, I feel a lot of the pressures as well. We work together in terms of helping balance the bills and we balance parental responsibilities. As a female, I also have certain expected things to do to help with the house and with cleaning and with food on top of working a demanding career. There are stresses for both genders when it comes to relationships to make it work.
You described a perfect relationship where you share the load, but oftentimes it’s still traditional that the man is looking after job and career and the woman is looking after home and children. Both are under much stress in terms of how their role pans out, especially with children around. You described it perfectly in dividing those chores between the two of you.
You realized a long time ago that maybe you and your wife were doing something different. Share a little bit of the background of what was the a-ha moment you had that made you decide to go into this type of work?
The a-ha moment was that a 22-year-old boy who is friends with my son told to some total stranger that he moved countries to help his parents with their divorce. They divorced after 25 years of marriage and he was 22 years old and he was devastated. I thought, “It’s not just for a two-year-old or a twelve-year-old that’s devastating when the marriage of their parents gets divorced. It’s also for someone who is already in his own life starting his own career, starting his own life, having their own relationship.” At 22, he was beside himself and worries about his parents. I thought, “If we only could have a society that couples would live in loving, intimate, and respectful relationships. We would have many fewer children suffering.” 50% of all children in North America witnessed at least one divorce in their lives. That means their mother or their father, after separation, five years down the track they marry again. Another five years down the track, they get divorced again. You always take yourself with you. You expect that the next relationship is better because she’s more blonde or he has broader shoulders or he has more money or she has more money. That’s not true because you take yourself with you.
If you haven’t learned about how to maintain a healthy relationship, you won’t be successful in the second or third time either. Another shocking stat from Germany is 70% of divorces where children are involved have one child younger than two years old. That tells you something about our society that male and female are not coping with the responsibility and the changes in their lives when the child comes around. Suddenly, they are just parents and they forgot to be lovers. Oftentimes, the men are missing intimacy or sex and looking somewhere else for satisfaction.
What would you say are some of the habits that you have found in relationships that help people stay away from those types of statistics?
One healthy habit is to have an active appointment with your spouse because you’re living together. You see each other each morning and each night, “See you tonight, darling,” or “See you the next morning.” It’s a routine and one week turns into the next and one month is the same as the last one. A year goes by and out of routine it moves over into boredom and suddenly you stopped talking. The difficulty is in the beginning. The moment you move together, you think, “We see each other more often.” The excitement, the dating, the courting is missing. You can bring this back into your relationship by having an active appointment. Meaning you put a date in your calendar where you go out with your spouse. Next Friday, 6:00, the phone goes off. The computer goes off and you go out with your spouse. You could go to the movies. You could go into a restaurant or have a stroll in the city or at the beach and just the two of you.
Keep this appointment in your calendar as if it would be a dentist appointment and then make it happen. Often people are living together, but they are living separate lives and they are touching every now and then. These active appointments are helping you to stay connected with your spouse. The most important thing happens is you communicate. Talking in the relationship is the most important. If you speak to couples who are married for longer than 20, 25 years as I did, they will all say, “The number one thing is we talk about everything. We communicate.” By talking, I also mean not the functional talking, “Who’s putting the baby to bed tonight? Who is buying the milk?” When you’re living in a relationship, oftentimes the functional talking takes over, “What’s for dinner tonight? Could you pass the butter, please?” Real talking, “What’s in your mind? What business project bothers you at the moment? How do we plan our next holiday? How do we plan our finances?” All these things and all these talks only happen if you make room for this and that’s why an active appointment is key.
What about with people who travel a lot for work? I know a lot of consultants that are either in relationships and they’re trying to balance that, but they travel a lot. There are some consultants that want to be in relationships but haven’t been able to solidify anything because of their travel schedule. What type of advice would you give them?
An active appointment becomes even more important. There will be a schedule ahead so you know when you’re back in town and you have a chance to reconnect. Put this into your calendar, both of you, and make it happen. Nothing comes between this. I see couples often sitting next to each other in a restaurant and both are watching Facebook or Twitter. They’re not connecting to the person right next to them, but connecting to everybody else in the world. Especially for people who are traveling a lot and can’t see their spouses often enough. These special times, these magic moments are even more crucial to organize and to keep.
Any other habitual practices you can share?
Another thing we did when the first anniversary came around, I said to my wife, “I don’t believe in flowers and boxes of chocolate. Why don’t we alternately invite each other for our wedding anniversary?” That became a habit. For the last many years, we are doing this and it is amazing. We literally kidnap each other, alternating for our wedding anniversary. That gave us so much fun and many nice experiences, magic moments, magical memories for the rest of your life.
I know my wedding anniversary is coming up. You’re saying months before the anniversary, I would invite my husband to celebrate with me?
You tell him, “Keep that date free. Put an appointment on your calendar, but I’m not telling you what it is.” You then organize. It could be a nice restaurant, it could be a theater show. You could maybe go somewhere. I’ve heard that you have a young child so organize a babysitter without your husband knowing and you organize a special night out just with your husband. The next year, he does the same for you. We did fantastic things. The older the kids were, the more adventurous we became because the more freedom we had in terms of movement. I give a list to my wife, “This is what you need to pick and bring your passport and that’s it.” We drive to the airport and she doesn’t know where it’s going. We told this to a lot of couples and we have some followers doing the same thing. To be honest, we all love surprises. We all love Christmas. We all love what’s in the box. For half a year or maybe four months, you don’t know what’s in the box but you want to tease the other person. Once it happens, for the next four months you reminiscence about the special event.
I know that you came to the show with a freebie. You have a white paper called Top Ten Reasons Why Relationships are Breaking Apart. Tell the audience what they can expect when they look at this white paper.
When you Google the ten top reasons for breakups, you get fifteen different responses and everything is a little bit different. I put my slant on it. I put the top ten things which I see as crucial and talking or not communicating is number one in there. Not only do I give you the top ten reasons, but I also give you a hint on what you could do to avoid this from happening in the first place. That’s on my website Inspiring-Relationships.com.
You’ve also got an eight-week transformational course. Tell us a little bit about that.
What I do as a relationship expert is I give workshops to people live. This problem is not a local problem in Australia, it’s a global problem. I wanted to give people access to my tips and techniques through an online course. I developed an eight-week course which I call Happy Ever After. It’s eight weeks of ten to fifteen-minute video recordings where I introduce you to a model which is essential for a healthy and loving relationship. For eight weeks, it’s a self-paced learning course. You can listen to this video over and over again. I’ll give you a few assessments to do and exercises. It is a proper self-learning course over eight weeks and I can guarantee that you’ll look at relationships in a different way after completing it.
Is that also on your website?
That’s also on my website. Look for Happy Ever After and you’ll come to the intro page. That’s not a freebie, but the investment is worthwhile.
What’s interesting about your white paper, the freebie, the course that you’re creating, as well as the habits that you’ve shared? There’s a key theme. You have to put in the work to make a relationship, where it’s not an autopilot adventure.
If I can tell you one thing after many years of marriage, its daily work. You never can let your guard down. It’s not like, “I’m married now. I can behave like a crook.” You need to stay attractive for your partner. It’s all about self-respect and respect for the other person. How can you behave towards your spouse in a different way than you would do with your best friend? You wouldn’t do your toenails at the dinner table of your best friend’s house, but you do it at home because you’re at home? There’s still someone with you. Respect this other person and behave as if you would be with your best friend.
Any last thoughts you want to share with our audience?
I’m certain that together we can change these stats to the better instead of having over 40% divorce. We can change the world by adopting some techniques, tips, tools in your relationship and keep working on them and never forget that it is with you in yourself to stay in a healthy relationship.
Thank you so much for being on the show, Jürgen. We appreciate it.
Thank you, Christie. Thanks for the opportunity.
You’re doing extremely meaningful work, so keep it up. Go-getters, thank you for reading.
Links from today’s episode
About Jürgen Schemel