It should come as no surprise that those with the deepest sense of meaning and purpose tend to have the strongest relationships. So what about those whose lives carry no deeper sense of meaning? In the final episode of a series on how to ruin your marriage, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss the role spirituality plays in a relationship. Whether spirituality is defined as religious beliefs or a sense of connecting with something larger than oneself, it’s important to realize how your version of that connection affects your connections with those closest to you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Doctor Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen.
In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like brain SPECT imaging, to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're going to talk about your spirituality and ruining relationships-
Tana Amen: I actually like this series.
Dr. Daniel Amen: How are we going to do that? I want you to think about your relationship with God, your relationship with your deepest sense of meaning and purpose, and how that's impacting the relationship that you have-
Tana Amen: Yeah. If you're spiritually bankrupt-
Dr. Daniel Amen: We're talking primarily about love relationships, but it really can-
Tana Amen: All relationships.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Any relationship-
Tana Amen: Because if you're spiritually bankrupt, it's really challenging, if you're spiritually bankrupt and you're not whole within yourself, it's pretty hard to give to other people.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So what question should we ask, is how is your sense of spirituality impacting your primary relationships-
Tana Amen: And if you're not sure, then that's okay, post that too, ask us questions. We actually have a whole chapter on finding your purpose in Brain Warrior's Way, on how to find your purpose, on how to understand your deeper sense of spiritual connection. I mean, for us, it's a religious, it's God. But for some people who aren't in that place, connecting to a sense of purpose is an important step, so-
Dr. Daniel Amen: So when I talk about purpose with my patients, I ask them about their relationship with God, how they see that, their relationship with the planet, their relationship with the past, and their relationship with the future. So-
Tana Amen: Sort of upward, outward-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, it sort of comes-
Tana Amen: Upward, inward, outward-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Out in a cross, which is cool, but for me, the past is I primarily think about my grandfather, who I was named after, who's my best friend growing up, I think about how important my past is. But I also think about my grandchildren, and their children, so I'm thinking about the future, my relationship with the planet, because if the planet's not here, we're not going to be here. And then, my relationship with God.
Tana Amen: That's really good.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What's your purpose? And, as you said, if you don't have a purpose, then it's easy to act in ways that are harmful to other people. I mean, I'm obviously very purposeful when it comes to you, because you're my primary relationship-
Tana Amen: You are. You are very purposeful-
Dr. Daniel Amen: And my mother, speaking of what happened in the past, my mom was actually super clear, and she had seven children, that my father was her number one priority-
Tana Amen: Yeah, it's interesting, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That it wasn't the children-
Tana Amen: And she's not a-
Dr. Daniel Amen: And so many of you are like, oh no, the children are it-
Tana Amen: And she's also not a meddling mother-in-law, so, I mean, she's-
Dr. Daniel Amen: But, you know, as much as I love all of our children, that you are going to be here long after they are gone, and I take care of my marriage first, it's the first thing. I do.
Tana Amen: I actually think that gives kids a sense of stability and settles them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And I've often said, and heard it said, that the best thing you can do for your kids is love your wife, or love your husband. That they get a model, and with half the marriages ending in divorce, divorce is not innocuous for children. It's harmful for them. Now, being in a relationship-
Tana Amen: That's abusive, yeah-
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's filled with chronic conflict is not good for them either. But-
Tana Amen: [inaudible 00:04:45] here to protect your children, also.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So knowing your purpose in the relationship, and obviously, if you are attracted to someone who doesn't have the same spirituality you have, or-
Tana Amen: And the same values, also-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Purpose, or values. But, they make your toes tingle, you want to really think about that-
Tana Amen: Yeah. That's not going to stay there forever. So, it's got to be a deeper connection, I mean, that might be fun for a little while, but if it's not a deeper connection, if you don't share the same values, just look at the divorce rate. I mean, that doesn't last if you can't connect at a deeper level. So I love that we share the same purpose for helping people. Right. And we don't always agree on the situations, the actual situations moment to moment, but our deeper values are very much in line. And so that's what keeps us connected.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So what are the spiritual things you've seen that screw up relationships?
Tana Amen: Well, in my mind, when someone does not have a sense of purpose, when they're not spiritually connected, if they're spiritually bankrupt, let's put it that way. It makes it too easy, there's no reason to do the right thing. There is no sense of accountability.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You mean, if we're just here by random chance, and there's no design-
Tana Amen: Go do what you want. Go play, do what you want, you don't have to be kind, you don't have to be truthful. You don't have to do a lot of things that you're held accountable to if you do believe in a deeper, a much higher purpose-
Dr. Daniel Amen: So it's easier to have an affair.
Tana Amen: It's easier to do a lot of things, yeah. And now-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Easier to be mean.
Tana Amen: Now, that doesn't mean people that have that sense of purpose, or believe in God or whatever you want to call it, have that sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. That doesn't mean they won't make those mistakes, they clearly do. But they typically learn from them and feel bad about it and try to become better as a result. That's the difference, right. So, do you learn from your mistakes, do you try to be a better person, do you have a sense of responsibility and accountability, are you willing to apologize for your past, or do you just think, well, so what, we're only here once, let's go live and party and have a good time. Live hard, die young, leave a good-looking corpse, I mean, what is your, it's an 80s rock star thing. What is your-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Live hard-
Tana Amen: Live hard, die young, leave a good-looking corpse. Yeah. So-
Dr. Daniel Amen: But it's only good-looking for, like, two days.
Tana Amen: It's only good-looking if you die young. But yeah, if you have no sense of accountability, it's easy to do that, right. Sex, drugs, rock and roll baby, I mean, whatever. It's not, there's no reason to do something more than for yourself in the moment. It's selfish.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You know, I think of, you know, part of my purpose is to be a good partner. Because we are better together rather than-
Tana Amen: Way more powerful.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Just separate. And, I think sharing a purpose of being of service is helpful-
Tana Amen: Super helpful.
Dr. Daniel Amen: As well. Because then we can share the joy and we can share the stories and we can do the work like we do with the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, that that's a purposeful thing we do on a regular basis. I think we're, like, 420 podcasts or something crazy.
Tana Amen: And it's so fun.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I want you to think about how you can bring purpose into your relationships. What are the things you can do together that really bring a deeper sense of meaning and purpose to your lives?
Tana Amen: And if you don't have one, I'm actually curious, too, to hear from people, have your behaviors been selfish? If you can be honest about that, if it's been self-centered, because you don't have that sense of purpose, then if you're honest about that, it gives you a starting place to change it. So, let us know, this is a place for me to change, this is a place for me to start. It's really important.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And just something super simple. What is the one thing I can do today to have a meaningful life?
Tana Amen: I like the two questions-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Or what is the thing we can do together?
Tana Amen: I love the question, and you taught me this question: Why is the world a better place because I breathe? That instantly puts responsibility on you. Why is the world a better place because I breathe, or because you breathe? So, and that's something I taught Chloe when she used to say, "It's not fair." Life isn't fair. It's about you taking responsibility and making it better, right. So, I love that you taught me that one. And one of my favorites is, does it have eternal value? Because instantly, that puts things in perspective. If I'm mad, if I'm frustrated, if I'm self-centered, does it have eternal value, am I going to think about this 10 minutes from now, five years from now, if not, that is not a purposeful thing to be thinking about.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And one of my favorite exercises I did in college, I took a death and dying class-
Tana Amen: Me too, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I think you did too.
Tana Amen: Was really great.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Was actually writing your funeral. You know, at the end of your life, what is it you want people-
Tana Amen: And that really-
Dr. Daniel Amen: What, not really what people think of me, because I've learned that's just-
Tana Amen: Doesn't matter.
Dr. Daniel Amen: A trap. What is it that I would've-
Tana Amen: What do you want to think of yourself?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Wanted to accomplish, or what has been important?
Tana Amen: How do you want to have been thought about? That's what's important. But that lends itself to that eternal value.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Or what would I think about me, at the end of my life? Have I lived a life worth living? And, was I a great partner, in the process?
Tana Amen: And you know what's so important about that? In my 20s, like, I love that question because in my 20s I would've been like, oh, dear. But then in my 30s, I started working hard toward that, and now at this point in my life, I feel like it's manifesting, and it's such a great place to be. But asking yourself that question can really stop you dead in your tracks. Like, at the end of my life, if I had a funeral right now, are people going to get up and say the things about me that I wish they would have said? So, will I be the person that I wanted to be?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, I don't know, with my children, it's actually scary, I'm not sure what they're going to say, and I'm glad I won't be there, I suppose. So, from a spiritual standpoint, how does that influence your relationship? Post that, and then tag the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. Leave us a review on brainwarriorswaypodcast.com, and this whole series, what are the three or four ways, what are the things you do to mess up your relationship? Because if you know what they are, you can change it. Stay with us.
Tana Amen: If you are enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And while you're at it, feel free to give us a review, or five star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code podcast10 to get a 10 percent discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.