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Insights From Relationship Week: Part 1

Relationship with Semi Retired MD and Tony Robbins

Summary: Marriage is work. Or is it? In this two-part post, I share insights from our week spent at the Tony Robbins Platinum Relationship Program in Maui. Even though this post has nothing to do with real estate investing, the relationship week was so valuable that I feel compelled to share some of the key insights with you, our readers. These are insights that have already improved our relationship and can do the same for yours. Are you ready to take your intimate relationship to a new level? Then check out this post!


[Author’s note: While this article talks about relationships in the context of marriage, this article is applicable to any individual who is in a relationship or wants to be in a committed relationship]

There’s a platitude about marriage. Maybe you’ve heard it?

Marriage is work.

I’ve always disliked the statement. It makes marriage sound like it’s a job. Like it’s something to be slogged through. Like it’s fraught with difficulties and, frankly, not any fun.

Honestly, whenever I’ve heard someone say, “marriage is work,” I’ve nodded in agreement just to be polite. But inside, I’ve thought: “Our marriage is not work.” 

But, this week Kenji and I attended Tony Robbins’ Relationship program (an exclusive event for platinum members only,) where we spent the entire week improving our relationship. By the end, I changed my view of the “marriage is work” statement.

You see, I realized that Kenji and my marriage has not involved much effort up to this point, but that is not necessarily a good thing. Most of the time, our relationship has been easy. It’s been a bedrock. Sure, we have times where we argue and there is tension. But, for the most part, it’s not what I’d consider “work.” 


So what changed for us during relationship week?

I now realize that an extraordinary relationship and marriage does take effort, a lot of effort. It doesn’t just happen.

What Kenji and I have been doing until this point is just coasting along. We have not consciously been putting effort (a.k.a. work) into building a stronger, more fun and passionate relationship. Really, we have just taken its existence and strength for granted. We have taken our love for each other for granted, and we have consistently made other things, such as work, a higher priority. And this is a recipe for disaster long term.

Sound familiar?

I thought so. 

You see, this week we spent 12-15 hour days with 600 other busy, high-achieving attendees all thinking deeply about where we are in our relationships and identifying how to improve them. To say the least, we had a chance to see a range of relationships. A great majority of them fell into the “love each other deeply but don’t have enough passion” category. 

But there is a level above that. It’s the level at which a couple loves each other deeply and has a passionate, exciting, and intimate relationship that is constantly getting better. And this level of relationship can exist for decades. 

How do I know that? Besides Tony and his wife, Sage, we saw and spoke to other couples who had long-term relationships that they described using words like amazing, phenomenal, mind-blowing and just keeps getting better. These were 20-year relationships filled with love, support, devotion AND fulfilling sex, passion, and excitement. You could literally see the joy just radiate off of them.


How can we make this happen in our relationships? 

In this two-part post (which is not real estate related at all – in case you didn’t realize it yet!!!), I describe the highlights and key distinctions from relationship week and my conversations with some of the phenomenal attendees. 

In an associated article, Kenji will also do the same, from his perspective and tying in how relationships relate to real estate investing. That way, you have a chance to get additional insights from relationship week, reinforce concepts through repetition, and hear another perspective.

What we learned this week was worth more than the six-figure sum we paid for our platinum memberships. Seriously. It was so life-changing that we had to share it with all of you.


What are the stages of intimate relationships?

I want to start by giving you a little context so you can better understand the key insights and more easily identify what changes you and your partner may want to make in your relationship. 

As you read through this section, try to pinpoint where you and your partner are currently in your relationship and where you want to be. 

Tony’s framework for the stages of relationships are as follows: 


The moment of attraction. There is energy, connection, hope and risk. Certainty is low.


Flirting. There is an exchange of energy and momentum.


Early dating or courtship. There is testing and comparing beliefs and not everything is shared honestly. There are low expectations and not a lot of certainty.


Love. There is a feeling of indescribability, very few rules, there is enough certainty to be open. You are starting to meet each other’s needs. Everything is wonderful. 

Young adult

Deeper relationship. You are trying to align beliefs/blueprints, make decisions together, and start thinking about your future together. You are trying to decide the real needs of your partner. Arguments are starting. Rules are being established. Most relationships end here. 


Devotion. Love and passion are at the highest level. You have flexibility. Rules get reduced – with only the most important ones remaining. There is trust and respect. Your interests are aligned. 


Focus is on maintaining. There is less energy being put into the relationship with more energy and focus elsewhere. Things begin to break down. There is so much certainty, things are routine. There is less physical passion. The rules are becoming more important again.

Aging/Rapid breakdown

Llittle passion. Focus on blame. Partners evaluate whether to stay together. Partners go outside the relationship to meet needs (work, kids, friends, affairs). There is distance and isolation, criticism, contempt and defensiveness. 

Institutionalization of Misery and Suffering

Low expectation of happiness. Learned helplessness, unhappiness and suffering. Partners are making escape plans or staying in the relationship just for the institution. They are living separate lives. Conflict may remain but is toned down. 


Relationship ends.

I know it can be a little depressing when you realize you’re no longer in Prime. So here’s the good news: you can get back to and then stay in Prime long-term. All you have to do are the following two (yes, only two!) things consistently: innovate and market. (These will be discussed later in this series). It just takes focused effort.

With that, let’s dive into some of my main takeaways for the week.


Takeaway #1: Your partner must be your first priority

A lot of us think our partner is our first priority. But we act in ways that prove differently. We might be talking to our partners and answer a work call, interrupting our conversation. Or we might be scrolling through our phones while they’re talking. We might put our children’s needs above theirs. We might allow the stress of everyday life to intervene. 

Just think about how much focused time you dedicate to your partner each day. Focused time means that you’re only thinking about and doing the things that are needed to fulfill your partner’s needs. And these aren’t the needs you think they have. These are the needs that you’ve identified by asking them. 

Is it even an hour?

We’re all busy. We all have a lot of responsibilities. The fact is, though, we choose to elevate these responsibilities in importance above our partner. 

And this is, for lack of a better statement, messed up.

Just think about how much your personal happiness is tied to your relationship with your intimate partner. Think back to when you were in Prime. How fulfilling was that? Wasn’t your future overflowing with possibilities? 

No wonder Tony says the quality of your life is the quality of your relationships. 

Do you want to get back to that?

If the answer is a resounding yes, then the primary thing I learned this week is that your partner must be your number one priority. Not just in your mind, but in your daily practice

How do you do this?

Here are a few ideas that I gathered both in the lectures this week and through my conversations with other attendees. 


Schedule time with each other every day

This is an insight Kenji and I actually gained from our friends, Scott and Jill, during relationship week. Scott and Jill shared that they had revolutionized their marriage about six months before the conference by scheduling time from 8:30-9:30 PM each day, completely focused on each other. Each day they rotated who had responsibility for choosing the way they spent their time together. And when it’s the other person’s turn, you go full out, even if it’s something you don’t want to do. They guard this shared time intensely, and, during their time, no interruptions are allowed. Only 100% focus on each other. 

After they implemented this practice, Scott and Jill found that they thought about each other more throughout the day. It added excitement, freshness and play to the relationship. They’ve learned how the other person likes to spend their time. 

How many of you really know how your partner likes to spend his/her time? And how many of you spend a solid hour a day just giving to your partner in the way that they want?


Take 100% responsibility 

If you feel resistance (a negative feeling during an interaction with your partner), resentment, or even start to blame the other person, you have to take responsibility for your feelings and then change your pattern of thinking. What this means is that you never believe your partner is at fault for your feelings. You realize that any feelings you have directed at your partner are just a mirror, reflecting back what you need to improve about yourself and how you are choosing to see things. Tony advises telling your partner: It’s not you – it’s me. It’s my blueprint and my conditioning, and it’s my job to free myself from it. And then go do it. (Change your perspective and let it go.) 

Ask yourself: Do I want to be in love, or do I want to be right?


Greet each other like a loving dog would

One of our lecturers described how her dogs greet her at the door. They come bounding to the door, out of their minds with excitement, jumping, just packed full of joy. What, she asked, would happen if you greeted your partner that way each time he/she came home? What would that do for your connection?


Bring a beautiful state

A lot of Tony Robbins’s teaching centers around your state. Your state consists of your physiology (physical energy), your language, and your focus. You can determine how you show up for your partner by deciding your state. 

Let me give you an example. You can choose to be overwhelmed, frustrated or angry after a workday – and show up for your partner that way when you get home. Or you can choose to be in what Tony calls a “beautiful state” where you show up with love, gratitude, and boundless energy. Energy is a state of mind (and body, since it’s easier to have sustained high energy when you are in good physical shape). 

In order to show up in a beautiful state, you have to be committed to changing your focus, your language, and your physiology. It’s effort. But, it can mean that your partner’s experience of you is one of joy, fun, excitement, and love. 

Now, I don’t want to be so simplistic to think that you’re never going to be in a negative or bad state. The key here, though, is that you can catch yourself when you get into these states and then change your focus, language, and physiology to get yourself into a better state, and (as one lecturer put it) make a decision to show up as your best self each day. Imagine what that would do for your intimate relationship let alone your other relationships (kids, work, etc)! 


Be a generous lover

A generous lover is a partner focused on his or her partner. This concept goes beyond just what Tony calls horse trading. 

 What’s horse trading?

Horse trading is when you keep track of what you’re doing for your partner and what your partner does for you. This means you’re measuring and exchanging acts of love or service. 

In contrast, being a generous lover means that you selflessly give without expecting anything in return. It’s about taking responsibility for meeting your partners needs unselfishly and unconditionally. 

That’s what seems to come naturally when your partner is your first priority. And I imagine we can all get behind that.

Note, one thing that being a generous lover is not about is trying to get your partner to conform to how you want him/her to be or things you want him/her to do. 

As Allison Armstrong says: If you decide you want to get someone to do something for you, it kills the relationship. It’s called the manipulation routine (how do I get my ______ [significant other] to _____ [what], ______ [when]?). So set the alarm bells if and when you start to think that way.


Read more in the next post

After all that, we’ve covered just one of my major insights from relationship week. Yep, that’s right. That was just one!

As you can imagine, I’m not going to be able to share all of the phenomenal information that I learned this week from the conference with you. But I have some more good stuff coming in the next post


In the meantime, be sure to join our Facebook community to connect with like minds!

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Semi-Retired M.D. and its owners, presenters, and employees are not in the business of providing personal, financial, tax, legal or investment advice and specifically disclaims any liability, loss or risk, which is incurred as a consequence, either directly or indirectly, by the use of any of the information contained in this blog. Semi-Retired M.D., its website, this blog and any online tools, if any, do NOT provide ANY legal, accounting, securities, investment, tax or other professional services advice and are not intended to be a substitute for meeting with professional advisors. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of competent, licensed and certified professionals should be sought. In addition, Semi-Retired M.D. does not endorse ANY specific investments, investment strategies, advisors, or financial service firms.


Hi, we’re Kenji and Leti

we provide coaching and mentorship for doctors and high-income earners

Several years ago, we were newlyweds working as full-time hospitalists. On paper, it looked like we had everything: the prestigious careers, the happy marriage, the luxurious rental home, the cars, etc.

But in reality? Despite having worked for several years, we had very little savings. Despite our high income, we had very little freedom in terms of time or money.

One thing was clear: we had to do something.

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