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179

Marital therapist Andrew G. Marshall’s meaningful life

My Day | My Life

BY PETER BOWES | SUNDAY MARCH 20, 2022

Andrew G. Marshall is a marital therapist, writer and host of the The Meaningful Life podcast.  Currently living in Berlin, he is former broadcaster and author of the book, I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You. 

Related: Aging in a meaningful way – LLAMA podcast interview, February 16, 2022

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My Day | My Life explores the lives of people who have, in one way or another, mastered the art of aging. Whether it be through diet, exercise, mindfulness, spirituality, nutraceutical interventions, social connections, generosity or fulfilling careers, we discover the essential elements to living life with purpose, and perhaps, longevity.  

Andrew G.Marshall: I’m 62 years old. I start the day by sending a photograph to a friend who is terminally ill to show her a bit of the world and to tell her that I love her. I’m good at getting up in the morning. I don’t have an alarm clock. I just wake up when I want to wake up, which is generally about 7:30. I will do stretching exercises and sometimes I’ll meditate. Other times I’ll listen to a podcast that’s going to sort of open my mind and make me think about the meaning of life. My mind, I think is generally positive. I think I’m actually getting better at looking forward to the day itself rather than looking forward to a treat at the weekend.

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I will be pleased to get up. I will be pleased to meet the day. I’ll be pleased to take the dog out for a walk. I mean, that’s a source of huge pleasure every morning of sort of sinking into the sensations hopefully in the park close to where I live. The morning is special to me because I generally try and give the morning over to writing, which is my form of sort of meditation. Generally, I’m working on another book. At the moment I’m working on a book called The Best Way Out is Through, and this is thinking about some deep questions. So the question that I wrote this morning is, what is my body trying to tell me? I did discover a really interesting fact, which is that we have more neurons in our gut than a dog has in its brain. And dogs are really quite intelligent creatures.

Food is important. It takes me quite a long time to prepare breakfast. I produce a large bowl of fruit with probably three or four different fruits with yogurt and porridge. And I also make a bowl of fruit for my husband as well. So breakfast is quite important. We’ll eat it together and often listening to some music, preferably something classical. I do stretching exercises to try and keep supple in the morning for about 10 minutes. I walk the dog several times a day. I cycle through the streets of Berlin and I’ve started doing gyrotonics as well.

The highlight of my career in the early days was my first job in radio, which was on a pirate radio station off the coast of Israel playing the International Top 40 to try and promote peace. As you can imagine, it was not a particularly successful endeavor, but it got me started in radio. I think the next highlight of my life was hosting a personal problem program and realizing that actually, rather than being the host, I would like to be the guest and training to become a marital therapist.

The next career highlight would be the publishing of my book I Love You But I’m Not In Love With You, which sold into 20 different languages. And I learned how to say that in many different languages, which was a big thrill. And I think the next highlight of my life was moving to Berlin and starting all over again and experiencing another culture. I have a practice here in Berlin where I see people whose English is their marital language. It might not be their first language. Often I’ll have a German and an American or an Australian and a German, or maybe an Estonian and a Ukrainian. But people who want to talk about their relationships in English.

One of the great parts of the afternoon is an afternoon nap. I’ve become a great believer in a power nap, they call it. I just call it a kip. I find it is absolutely wonderful.

I have an office in Berlin. There’s a group of therapists and we share a building together. There’s been a therapist office there for so long that they have the original bath, which is made out of tiles and concrete, and you could probably drown about 15 people in it, it is so huge and it’s a real remnant from the past. So there is history in the building. There’s famous people who used to used to live there. There are the memorial stones outside for the people who lived there who were lost to the Holocaust. So I live with history.

Cycling through the dark nights of Berlin is just wonderful. There are cycle paths so you don’t have to worry about the traffic and just that sense of freedom. After I used to have an hour and a half on a train to be able to cycle home is just a complete and utter joy. I work in the evenings as well. I have clients most evenings and then the evening finishes with supper with my husband watching a bit of TV.

My wind down routine is to take the dog out for the last pee of the night to pick up the book that I’m reading, which is currently The Line of Beauty, the Booker Prize winning novel by Alan Hollinghurst. And I read about three pages before I switch the light out and full fast asleep. If I have a dream, I wake up and I write it down to take to my analyst. I always thought I didn’t have any dreams, but if you get up the minute that you wake up and you write them down, you can learn a huge amount about yourself from them.


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