Chris Parsons is the author of “The Happy, Healthy Marriage Reset: Using Sincerity to Erase the Relationship Baggage & Restore the Love”. After almost losing his marriage and family, he discovered the root cause of unhappiness and disconnection that leads to divorce, and the solution that resets marriages to be loving and peaceful so that you can get back to enjoying each other again.
Book available at www.happyhealthymarriagereset.com
Jon Dabach (00:00.909)
My guest today on the relationship revival show is Chris Parsons. Chris is the author of the happy, healthy marriage reset, using sincerity to erase the relationship baggage and restore the love. After almost losing his marriage and family, he discovered the root cause of unhappiness and disconnection that leads to divorce and the solution that resets marriages to be loving and peaceful so that you can get back to enjoying each other again. Chris, thanks so much for being on the show.
Chris Parsons (00:29.066)
Yeah, thanks so much for having me.
Jon Dabach (00:31.917)
I really connect with that myself. I think I’ve mentioned it on the show before, but my wife’s a therapist. I’m a therapist and about 12, 15 years, I don’t know exactly what we’re very early on. We had a big fight very soon after our wedding and we went to four marriage therapists or couples therapists, or I should say self-proclaimed couples therapists.
And, and then I, they were so bad that I ended up going to two of my own individual therapists and, um, kind of had to figure it out on my own through reading and stuff. And, um, and that’s, and, and that’s one of the reasons why I made it my life’s work. So it sounds like you and I kind of have the same origin story for the work we do. Is that right?
Chris Parsons (01:22.355)
Jon Dabach (01:24.641)
So what clicked for you? What made you realize how to fix your own marriage?
Chris Parsons (01:31.606)
You know, the hardest part was looking in the mirror. It was so toxic in my marriage when my wife said she wanted a separation. We were both so bitter and we both were blaming each other. I was looking at myself thinking about all the things that I do right and that make me an amazing husband and father and everything that was wrong with her.
And she was doing the same thing, looking at herself saying, I’m great, you’re terrible. And, um, and so, you know, when she said that we needed to have a separation because of how toxic things had gotten, um, I really, I had to look in the mirror and I had to ask myself, like, if I was as great of a husband as I thought I would was, would I be here right now? And the answer was no, I wouldn’t be.
Jon Dabach (02:00.733)
Chris Parsons (02:28.678)
Um, and so, you know, I turned to books and programs and trying to find answers to fix this problem, because I absolutely loved and cherished my wife and did not want to lose my family. Um, and, you know, some things helped and some things helped for a little while, but ultimately I felt like we were just putting Band-Aids on problems. And, um,
Jon Dabach (02:54.269)
Chris Parsons (02:57.682)
I’m just the type of person that I love to problem solve, and so I set my mind to solving this problem and figured out a lot for myself. And then I started helping other people, just friends and guys from Bible study and different people that I’d hear about their marriage struggle, and I would tell them about things that I had done. And I started to figure out what the common issues were.
and really see all these dynamics were happening across so, so many marriages, you know, and really dive into creating a systematic approach to solving it instead of kind of, you know, just figuring it out on the fly as I did in my marriage.
Jon Dabach (03:48.049)
Yeah. What did you find were issues that kept coming up? I’m sure a lot of people listening will resonate when you start getting slightly specific. I mean, obviously you can get really specific and then it’s only one couple, but the kind of the normal things that you saw falling apart.
Chris Parsons (04:04.586)
Yeah, so like for my wife and I, we would cycle between being toxic and then being disconnected roommates. And so, you know, we would be distant and, you know, just treat each other like, you know, a co-parent basically living in the same house. And we would talk logistics and stuff, but there was no emotional intimacy, you know.
Jon Dabach (04:27.549)
Chris Parsons (04:30.714)
Sex was something that we agreed was necessary, but not something that, you know, felt organic.
Jon Dabach (04:36.165)
Well, first of all, you already are better than most couples if you both agree it’s necessary. So at least you had something going on there.
Chris Parsons (04:43.81)
I actually, I don’t think it helped us. I, yeah, I am not a fan of, you know, maintenance sex or, you know, trying to fake intimacy because it builds resentment. And so, you know, at the end of the day, I don’t wanna have sex with somebody that doesn’t wanna have sex with me. And so, you know, that, but we did.
Jon Dabach (04:46.074)
Jon Dabach (04:56.585)
Chris Parsons (05:13.29)
Um, you know, keep that alive and going because, you know, we heard it was important and you were busy doing all the things we thought we were supposed to do. Um, and, uh, and then we would.
Jon Dabach (05:18.941)
Jon Dabach (05:26.782)
If nothing else, if nothing else, one thing that probably was good about that was letting you know your wife was still trying to figure out how to make it work. Right. So maybe the sex wasn’t great and maybe it was, you know, a little hurtful at times. But the fact that she showed up at least let you know she hasn’t given up. So at least there was a little bit of a silver lining.
Chris Parsons (05:48.818)
Yeah, yeah, and honestly though, I mean, you know, everything has pros and cons. For me, I would have known and recognized and dealt with the problem a lot earlier if we weren’t having sex.
Jon Dabach (06:03.233)
Oh, wow. Because it would have put fuel on the fire. It wouldn’t, it wouldn’t have like, so I had a mentor once who talked about, and honestly, like my podcast is rarely about sex. I don’t know if you’ve listened to it, but like, I think it’s, you brought it up. So I, I had a mentor who once told me that sex can be the oil that keeps the squeaky wheel quiet, but the kind of, to your point, sometimes you need to let that wheel squeak. So, you know, you gotta fix it. You gotta tighten the nut. You gotta switch something out. So you’re right.
Chris Parsons (06:22.242)
Jon Dabach (06:31.557)
You know, if that wasn’t there kind of pacifying everybody, maybe you would have addressed the real issues a little faster.
Chris Parsons (06:38.098)
Yeah, yeah. And so then when we would try to connect and be close, it would get toxic. I mean, yelling, shouting, name calling, mean, you know, hateful things said. And just really, you know, it was not an environment we would want our kids growing up in. It wasn’t an environment we were happy in. And it felt like we had to choose between those poisons.
Jon Dabach (06:47.741)
Chris Parsons (07:07.414)
And ultimately what I realized is that, you know, even really not just marriages on the brink of divorce, but many marriages are either completely disconnected or, you know, so there’s no emotional intimacy or deep bond. Or, you know, it’s toxic and it’s mean and ugly and, you know, you’re walking on eggshells, you’re afraid of upsetting them and…
Jon Dabach (07:16.305)
Chris Parsons (07:36.502)
You’re not saying how you feel because you’re trying to prioritize, you know, their feelings and all these different things. And, and both of those have the same reason, but whether you’re one or the other or cycle between them, the two, like I did, comes down to how, how much you want to avoid conflict. And so the, whether you’re disconnected or toxic isn’t really that important.
Jon Dabach (07:38.001)
Chris Parsons (08:05.538)
But what I found is that resentment is what gets there. And that’s when you start becoming bitter because you’re blaming each other instead of owning your power to make the changes. And when you’re unhappy saying, I’m unhappy and this needs to change or I’m out.
Jon Dabach (08:20.125)
Jon Dabach (08:24.121)
Right. It’s, you know, it’s interesting. What I found is most therapists and you probably don’t know this because you’re not on the clinical side, but, but I, I both being one and, and talking to so many, the reason therapy doesn’t work often for couples is because therapists don’t get training at the university level on couples really. And so anyone that I’ve had on the show who does specialize in couples, not that it’s only couples experts,
The ones who do really well with couples know that it’s a specialty. You kind of have to get outside after school. Um, and a lot of what you’re talking about connects to some of those schooling thoughts. So the three main ones are emotionally focused therapy, Gottman and Imago. You’re talking that you’re using a lot of the same words, even from Gottman, but I like that there’s a, first of all, there’s a very personal approach with you because you’ve lived it, right? It seems like you’re, it doesn’t seem like your faith.
based, but you’re probably faith friendly, if I could kind of put it in the kind of, you know, kind of like me, I’m, I’m an ordained rabbi. So it’s like, I, I kind of have, it’s, it doesn’t come up unless you bring it up, but it informs the approach a little.
Chris Parsons (09:26.465)
Yeah. Yeah, so I’m.
Chris Parsons (09:35.562)
Yeah, and I’m a Christian and I don’t, my thing is, you know, with a lot of Christian help out there, it feels, this is going to sound harsh, but pointless, because they just, the answer to everything is pray about it. Yeah, and I’m just like, what are we doing here? Why am I talking to you?
Jon Dabach (09:51.249)
Pray. Yeah, it’s a criticism I have to. Yeah. What are we doing here? Right.
Chris Parsons (10:04.99)
was not based on what your faith is or beliefs. And yeah, my approach, I was a psych major for about a year and ended up dropping out of that because I was like, I can’t listen to people complain all day, I’ll go crazy. Right, well, so for me, coaching is so different because,
Jon Dabach (10:12.245)
Jon Dabach (10:26.189)
And yet here you are kind of doing it now.
Chris Parsons (10:33.458)
I don’t listen to people complain. I listen to people tell me problems and I help them fix those problems. Yeah.
Jon Dabach (10:39.469)
Right, it’s very direct. It’s solution oriented. It is different. You’re right.
Chris Parsons (10:45.111)
But and so.
Jon Dabach (10:46.765)
When did you figure out that the things that you learned for yourself that you kind of figured out are applicable to other people? How did that happen?
Chris Parsons (10:56.254)
Yeah, so it was about six years ago when my wife and I separated and, you know, probably a three to six month kind of process for me to kind of figure this out, at least patch it enough to where we could be moving forward.
Jon Dabach (11:13.125)
Did you guys separate? Did you actually live apart?
Chris Parsons (11:16.03)
So I went to the cheapest little place I could find to rent, which was like a campground three hours away. And you know, it was just I needed space and I had a lot of reflecting to do. I wanted to be out in nature. And it was cheap. So it was only I think it was less than 10 days, maybe eight, nine days something like that.
Jon Dabach (11:23.214)
Jon Dabach (11:33.742)
Jon Dabach (11:39.073)
Okay, yeah, alright. It’s like a short business trip of sorts.
Chris Parsons (11:42.866)
Yeah, yeah. And so, yeah, and then, you know, like, six months later, I had a good friend reach out to me. He’s like, Hey, I heard you fix problems with your wife. My wife is telling me she wants a divorce. I need your help. And so I did everything I wrote the text messages for him. I told him exactly what to say and what to do. And a week later, she was, you know, putting her wedding ring back on saying
Jon Dabach (11:45.338)
That was six years ago.
Jon Dabach (11:56.33)
Jon Dabach (12:03.757)
Chris Parsons (12:10.978)
I love you, I want to spend my life with you. And he told me the very next day, he’s like, okay, I got it from here. I don’t need your help anymore.
Jon Dabach (12:15.293)
See you next time.
Jon Dabach (12:19.577)
Oh, that’s a mistake.
Chris Parsons (12:23.318)
So I’m like, we haven’t even fixed any of the problems yet, right? Like you just got her on board with starting to fix them. And he’s like, well, I didn’t really agree with some of the things you were telling me to do anyway. Um, and you know, it was two days later, she was taking her wedding ring off and saying, I don’t know what I was thinking. I can’t be with you.
Jon Dabach (12:25.229)
And you can go.
Jon Dabach (12:45.209)
It kind of reminds me of that story where someone’s like praying for God to help them find a parking space and they’re circling. It’s like, please, please. And then they find one. They’re like, nevermind God, I got it. And it’s like, hello, wait a second. Did you not see what just happened? So what happened from there? So he, so she took her wedding ring back off. Then what?
Chris Parsons (12:57.614)
Chris Parsons (13:02.346)
Yeah. And he did not, he said, I don’t agree with what you were telling me to say or do. So, you know, I don’t, I’m not going to go that route again. Um, and they got divorced and, and I had to, you know, this was somebody I cared a lot about. And I had to watch him go through that and lose his, his kids and his house and everything. And it broke my heart really. And that’s when I got really, really interested in coaching because
Jon Dabach (13:13.447)
Chris Parsons (13:31.294)
I wanted to understand what motivates people to make real change. I didn’t want to just tell people what to do, but actually be able to create something that was real in them, not just give them the words, but make it something that was coming out of them. And so that’s when I started diving into the world of coaching. At that point, I still had no concept that I would do this professionally. I joined a Bible.
Jon Dabach (13:57.725)
Mm-hmm. Where’d you, what field did you come from?
Chris Parsons (14:01.782)
I’ve got a degree in finance and I was an operations manager. I guess that’s what I was doing back then. I don’t know. I’ve done several things, but yeah, I was always very interested in high performance and success and the way the mind works and everything. I used to read a self-help book every other day or so.
Jon Dabach (14:09.629)
That’s so funny.
Jon Dabach (14:21.787)
Chris Parsons (14:31.006)
read Italian. Yeah. And I was just, you know, very interested in it, dove deep into it. And then I was in a Bible study with about a dozen guys. And I think all but maybe me and one other guy were, they were all on their second marriages, and they were all starting to struggle heavily in their second marriages. And so I started just asking a lot of questions, you know, what happened in your first marriage? What?
Jon Dabach (14:31.355)
You have a hungry mind.
Jon Dabach (14:52.487)
Chris Parsons (14:59.742)
what’s going on in this marriage. And mostly they didn’t see similarities. They thought it was separate. They thought it was different. But the differences were surface level. When I looked at it, I saw the same problems. They were trying really hard to be good husbands and fathers. And they felt like a failure because they weren’t succeeding. And that gave me a really big hint as to, you know, kind of
Jon Dabach (15:02.109)
Chris Parsons (15:28.366)
figuring out the solution, which was it’s our beliefs around what we’re supposed to be and do that lead us astray. You know, I think Mark Twain said, it ain’t what we don’t know, but what we know for sure that’s just ain’t so that gets us in trouble.
Jon Dabach (15:46.841)
Yeah. So are you, is your program and your coaching and your methodology specific to husbands then?
Chris Parsons (15:55.922)
Nope, no, it’s husbands or wives. I started off with just husbands and I had several husband clients where their wife actually told their husband, like, I’m amazed at what changes I’ve seen, like who is this person? And, you know, I wanna reach out to them. And so then I started helping wives and it really expanded my horizons and viewpoint when I started working with wives and started.
Jon Dabach (16:12.878)
Jon Dabach (16:17.193)
Chris Parsons (16:24.022)
really able to nail things down to an even deeper level because I understood what was universal and what was more gender specific.
Jon Dabach (16:32.581)
Did you find there was a lot of gender specific stuff? I’m curious what your experience has been now. Most of it’s universal.
Chris Parsons (16:37.594)
No, yeah. Yeah, I was shocked. I thought it would be mostly specific to gender. And that’s why I didn’t start with wives because I didn’t think I knew how to help wives. And what I found is that, you know, we both have, there’s different ideas. You know, wives generally have a different idea of what a good wife looks like compared to a good husband. But we both got false ideas that leads us
Jon Dabach (17:04.049)
Chris Parsons (17:07.382)
Ultimately, the problem with these beliefs is that they’re partial truths and they only work when you’re not doing it in a way that allows resentment to build. Right. And so, you know, the five love languages is a good book, a good tool. But the way that most people, and the way my wife and I approached it was a to do task. Right. I used your love language. Now you have to use mine.
Jon Dabach (17:35.257)
Yeah, that tit for tat’s not a good approach at all. Yeah.
Chris Parsons (17:37.99)
Right, but that’s what most people resort to because I get to check my box that says I’m a good husband because I did this. Well, and so, you know, but, but when you’re doing that you’re building resentment and anytime you’re doing something you don’t want to do to try to make your spouse happy. Even though the things that people do that men do and that women do are different. It’s still ultimately the same thing, which is
Jon Dabach (17:40.697)
Jon Dabach (17:45.828)
Chris Parsons (18:07.086)
trying to appease your spouse, which builds resentment in both of you. It makes you codependent as well.
Jon Dabach (18:10.81)
Jon Dabach (18:15.183)
Yeah, I mean there is a bit of a jump there to codependency, but I see where you’re making the connection for sure. Yeah, absolutely.
Chris Parsons (18:20.21)
Yeah, I’m not saying it’s the exact same, but in my experience, it typically leads there.
Jon Dabach (18:26.517)
Yeah. If it’s going to be quasi successful, you know, like someone eventually says, well, I guess their happiness is the only thing that matters. And then it starts that kind of bad cycle. So let’s, let’s kind of get into some, do you have any tips, you know, generally for someone who’s listening, obviously they should buy your book and you have a minute to you’ve made it amazingly affordable, which is great. Um, and, and we’ll get to where they could find it, but kind of.
Is there kind of a generic tip or two you want to share with someone who might be listening right now?
Chris Parsons (18:59.062)
You know, I think the biggest tip is that if you are not on the brink of divorce, but you can sense the disconnection and the resentment building, get it addressed as soon as possible and don’t be comfortable with how things are. Because I talk to people every day that feel totally blindsided by their spouse’s affair, their spouse is, you know, asking for a separation or divorce or saying, I love you, but I’m not in love with you.
And I think, you know, we’re all just kind of floating through life and, um, the biggest first step is to recognize that you’re not happy with how things are. And most of us are trying to make ourselves happy with it instead of recognizing we are unhappy with it. So it’s time to take some action to change that.
Jon Dabach (19:50.685)
sure. Is there a point where it’s too late to start working with you where it’s like, ah, it’s a little too far gone.
Chris Parsons (19:58.058)
Yeah, when you have a restraining order out against you, that is, you know, I was shocked. Yeah, when I first started doing this and I had, you know, guys would reach out and they’d be like, you know, I can’t contact her, I can’t write her a letter, and I’m like, I’m not a magician, I don’t know, you know. And so, but really, any time that the door of communication is open and there’s still
Jon Dabach (20:04.04)
Hard to work with it, yeah.
Jon Dabach (20:14.073)
Chris Parsons (20:27.302)
showing some level of interest or care of concern about you, then there’s an opportunity to move forward.
Jon Dabach (20:37.213)
I think that’s great. That’s a great benchmark. I use the same one. I mean, if there’s been violence or if there’s been, if there’s been violence and there hasn’t been healing, I should say technically, and then the restraining order is a great one for sure.
Chris Parsons (20:50.246)
Yeah, so that’s a, you know, another thing is a hard, what I call a hardline boundary, which is like physical violence, right? If, if a boundary has been crossed that you are not willing to forgive and move beyond, then it just is what it is at that point. Right.
Jon Dabach (21:06.617)
Yeah. Deal breakers. Yeah, for sure. Hardline boundaries for sure. Yeah. Those are, that’s kind of core. I think of my own work too is figuring out what’s non-negotiable, right? I think, I think physical violence is kind of on everybody’s list, but you’d be surprised and I’m sure you can kind of agree with me here. What is a deal breaker for so many people, right? It’s different for everybody.
Chris Parsons (21:29.658)
Yeah, and so, you know, what I encourage people to do, and this would be my second tip, which really goes to the first one, but it’s to raise your standards of what you’re willing to tolerate and accept in terms of what your spouse is bringing to the marriage and for the marriage itself, you know.
Jon Dabach (21:48.773)
I love that. I love that kind of set the expectation high, right? So that you don’t just get complacent with a ho hum kind of marriage, right? I, how many times have you heard someone say, well, I’m okay with sex once a month, or I’m okay with not going on date nights, you know, unless it’s a birthday and you’re like, no, you’re not. You’re just, you’re lying to yourself.
You know, I mean, that’s, it’s, that’s not a recipe for a healthy marriage. I think that’s a great, and you phrase it in a great way. Raise your standards. I love that.
Chris Parsons (22:19.722)
Yeah, they’re settling for being unhappy together instead of possibly happy without them. And so, you know, probably something not many marriage coaches, counselors, anybody would say is I actually think that it’s a very healthy thing for you to say, this marriage isn’t serving me and if this behavior doesn’t change, then I’m out.
Jon Dabach (22:43.557)
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Well, where can people find the book and how can they get in touch with you? Um, kind of give, give people a, a very clear path to kind of working with you.
Chris Parsons (22:56.734)
Yeah, so you can get the book on my website. That’s www.happyhealthymarriagereset.com. And, you know, comes with bonuses. It’s only five bucks. And, uh, after you buy the book, there’s other products on there. If you’re interested in that, there’s also the option to get in touch, to learn about coaching. Um, and so that’s the best place to start. And really the information in the book.
It’s profound. You know, it’s very practical, very much a, you know, here, take this step, do this action kind of book, and it’s written the way that I speak. You know, I’m blunt and to the point and not afraid to be vulnerable about my own experiences.
Jon Dabach (23:48.165)
That’s great. It’s refreshing. I mean, a lot of times in therapy, the therapist can’t, I break a lot of rules, but there are therapists, like my wife is a great example. She’s a therapist. You won’t know anything about her and she practices that distance. And that’s wonderful for that kind of approach. But oftentimes you want to feel like you’re with someone who’s been in the trenches and has kind of lived through it. And I, that’s, I do share more than some, and I like that you’re open about it as well. I think it is helpful.
Chris Parsons (24:18.806)
Yeah, and you know, I think there’s a role for both therapists and for coaches. And I didn’t want to try to be a knockoff therapist. You know, I wanted an approach that is what I’m good at and that’s effective for my clients.
Jon Dabach (24:36.913)
Fantastic. So it’s happy, healthy marriage reset.com. I’m going to put it in the show notes. If you’re listening, if you’re in your Tesla giving it a listen, just, uh, I’m saying it out loud, but you can always check the show notes. There. We’ll have a link. Uh, Chris Parsons, thank you so much for being here and keep doing the good work that people need. I mean, there’s, there is no shortage of people struggling in their relationships and, and those who have focused on it and make it a priority in their work are
are few and far between. So I appreciate you kind of entering the fold as a coach and spreading good information out there.
Chris Parsons (25:09.666)