NEW: Plant Yourself merch designed by my daughter, Yael Zivan.

After the First Marriage: Learning and Growing in Relationship: Dr Susan Orenstein on PYP 445

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Susan Orenstein, PhD, started a new podcast last year with an intriguing title: “After the First Marriage.”

Which is to say, the first marriage is over, and you're starting over.

In her clinical practice as a couples therapist, Dr Orenstein sees people who are struggling to learn the lessons from a marriage that ended. Typically, there's pain and loss, which often gets filtered through guilt and blame and rage and disappointment.

All of which gets in the way of learning.

And that's the whole point of her work, and podcast: that no matter what happened, what went wrong, or how it ended, it's worth it to perform a “post-mortem” on the first marriage so you don't repeat the same mistakes going forward.

I wanted to talk about divorce and moving on as it relates to our health goals and health behaviors. Many of my health coaching clients' issues around food and lifestyle are entangled in a messy relationship. Eating salad instead of steak isn't just a food choice, but an act laden with layers of unspoken meaning between spouses.

You're eating healthy now? Does that mean you think you're better than me? 

I've gained 30 pounds since the kids were born. And we haven't had sex for six months. You must be grossed out by my body. Look at me suffering with this salad.

You don't expect me to give up my favorite foods and eat rabbit chow with you, do you?

And so on…

The core of Dr Orenstein's work revolves around Attachment Theory, which posits that it's our primary relationships in childhood that form the template for all our subsequent relationships. If we were tended to with care and presence when we were babies, we can form secure adult bonds.

But if we were ignored, or abused, or betrayed, or felt insecure in the attachment with primary caregivers, we'll carry those wounds into our present relationships. And the first marriage – or any serious relationship, past or ongoing – can give us clues to those wounds, and help us heal them by practicing new attachment styles.

Oh, and by the way, you could still be married to the person from your “first marriage,” if you decide to grow together and create a mission statement for an upgraded “Marriage 2.0.”

In our conversation, I asked Dr Orenstein about typical relationship scenarios that impact the work I do around health behaviors, and we brainstormed therapeutic approaches to some of the thornier problems.


Dr Orenstein's first Plant Yourself visit: Creating a Safe “Couple Bubble”

Diane Poole Heller's work on Dynamic Attachment Re-patterning

Attached, by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

Wired for Love, by Stan Tatkin

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, my team and I are studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, with the goal of introducing it into our health coaching training.

If you're interested in experiencing the magic of memory reconsolidation coaching with me or a member of my team trained in the process, click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab. Someone will get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


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