Where Should We Begin?
“Step into iconic relationship therapist Esther Perel’s office and listen as 10 anonymous couples in search of insight bare the raw, intimate, and profound details of their story. From infidelity, to sexlessness, to loss, it’s a space for people to be heard and understood. It’s also a place for us to listen and feel empowered in our own relationships. So…where should we begin?”
All communication is an attempt to bridge the almost impassable chasm that exists between the subjective experiences of one sentient being and another. It is by necessity indirect. It uses metaphors. It’s inexact. It requires context. It requires skill. When I say something, it might mean one thing to me, and yet you might hear something completely different. In that sense it requires trust--trust that what you’re saying is somehow crossing the chasm and communicating something reasonably close to what you intended for the other person to understand. That’s why, through the trust that exists in close relationships, you’re able to communicate on such a profound level. Think, for example, of all the inside jokes you might have with a friend, which occur through a sort of language that’s almost gibberish to those outside the relationship. In very close relationships, sometimes even a look is enough.
What Esther Perel does, in her momentous Where Should We Begin?, is explore the intricacies of communication--and more often than not of miscommunication--between people in troubled relationships. In short, she’s a couple’s counselor. But if you leave it at that, you’re really missing out on the magic of Esther’s ability to first cut through all the bullshit that couples tend to put each other through, then identify the source of the miscommunication, and finally to reroute it into a healthier channel.
The production of the podcast is simple. It takes the format of a recorded one-on-two 30 minute therapy session between Esther and the aggrieved couple. The content, however, is rarely so straightforward. From couples who’ve experienced endemic adultery to those with a seeming inability to be sexually attracted to one another to those who’ve experienced a gradually growing distance, for Esther it nearly always comes down to poor communication. As stated in the podcast’s description, “It’s a space for people to be heard and understood,” rather than the far more common (and far less effective) tactic of impatiently awaiting your turn to speak (something Esther has no patience for).
If the content of this podcast does not on the surface sound appealing to you, let me say, the value of the show lies less in the episode-to-episode conflicts and resolutions between couples, and more in the pearls of wisdom--actual, actionable wisdom--that Esther drops. Sometimes they’re in brief monologues, and other times they’re completely off-the-cuff, but they always reveal Esther’s deep understanding of communication and the traps of miscommunication. What Esther teaches is that communication is a skill, that like any skill it can be learned, and that she has some key insights on how to learn it. So if you value your relationships--any of your relationships, not just your intimate ones--then Where Should We Begin? is an absolute must subscribe.
Simple, but good.
The podcast is released first through Audible, and only later is it available through other podcasting platforms!
Overall Score: 9.0/10
All of them!
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