Danielle Silverstein, along with her husband Adam, host the podcast Marriage and Martinis. Their show presents a real, authentic marriage at its core, with all the love, hate, teamwork, struggles, laughter, humiliation, and ever-changing dynamics that comprise a spousal relationship.
They are also the co-authors of the e-book THE DATE NIGHT QUESTIONS EXPERIENCE, full of questions crafted to spark intimate, productive, and satisfying discussions with our partners.
We talk about the great divide between dating and marriage, why we are tempted to turn on our partners during rough times affecting our families, and how structured conversations can teach us new things about people, even the person we've been sleeping next to for a decade.
Special thanks to our sponsors for this month:
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FT 56: Danielle Silverstein of Marriage and Martinis
Margaret: [00:00:00] Hello, everyone. And welcome to fresh take from what fresh hell. Laughing in the face of motherhood. This
Amy: and this is Amy today. We're talking to Danielle Silverstein, Danielle and her husband, Adam co-hosts the podcast, marriage and martinis. They're also the co authors of the book. The date night questions, experience Adam and Danielle are the proud parents of three kids and two rescue dogs.
Welcome Danielle. Hi,
Danielle Silverstein: thanks for having. .
Margaret: So tell us a little bit of your story that brought you to becoming a person who talks about marriage.
Danielle Silverstein: Yeah. We've had the podcast a little over three years now. Around four years ago, we were in a really, really dark place in our marriage in our life financially.
It was just. You know, people talk about rock bottom. Our rock bottom was a pretty long period of time and we were going through a lot. My father-in-law was sick and has since passed away. [00:01:00] He was dealing with terminal cancer and my husband was just, you know, kind of manifesting his. Trauma in certain ways that were probably not healthy.
Well, definitely not healthy. And, you know, we just didn't know what was going to happen with our marriage, but we would still sit once or twice a week together in our living room area. What we like to call our adult lounge area and have a cocktail and really just end up either hysterically laughing or hysterically crying.
We just always have this connection that no matter what we're going through, it doesn't go away. And I, one night just said to Adam, you know, we should be podcasting this because I had looked for a podcast or a resource that was basically something that wasn't telling me how I was supposed to handle everything that wasn't giving me religious help or seven steps.
I just wanted someone who was going to be like, I am [00:02:00] there to. So when I said that to him, I, you know, I thought he was going to laugh at me and he didn't. He said, I think that might be a good idea. And
Margaret: here we are. I think it's interesting because I think a lot of people who are providing marriage advice.
Are coming from a place of like, we're doing it perfectly and therefore we're experts on this. And what I really like about what you guys do is that you come from a place of like, Hey, we're kind of struggling with this and we're going to help you figure it out as you watch us figure it out. But that's, it's a vulnerable place to come from.
So was that hard for.
Danielle Silverstein: Looking back, I think to myself, I don't know how the first time we spoke into the mic, we did it. Number one, I don't know how we didn't have more, like who do we think we are to be doing this? Right. And also, yeah. You know, we live in a small suburban town. Our kids. Are in the schools here.
And we knew that [00:03:00] people were going to hear everything we were going through. Our family was going to hear stuff that we had never revealed to anybody, but it actually wound up being something that was for the most part completely liberating. Why was it liberating? Well, to tell your own story and be in charge of your own story is something that a lot of people don't.
People speculate and they tell their own version, or, you know, it becomes a game of whisper down the lane where, you know, it's just a lot of gossip that turns into something else. And I think people knew we were going through something, but when we were able to tell it ourselves, it's like, it can't really spin it.
It's told we've put it out into the universe. We've been completely honest. You couldn't make it much worse than what we set ourselves. So, you know, anytime I was with somebody and they were with me and wanted to be with me, it was them knowing exactly who I was and what I was going [00:04:00] through.
Amy: It's interesting because it takes out the layer we often talk about on this show that.
Mothers, lemon, put an extra layer for ourselves. We have the feeling or the struggle, and then we feel bad about having the feeling of the struggle because we feel like we must be the only one. So don't, we have two things to worry about. We have the struggle of our relationship and the shame of the struggle of our relationship.
What if somebody finds out, I must be the only person that I know who's going through, something like this and you're sharing it. I mean, obviously you're saying it's liberating for yourself. It's definitely liberating for your list. I would imagine to know that there's a sort of commonality of experience.
Danielle Silverstein: definitely. That was really the feedback that we got from the very beginning. And even from the very beginning, you know, we, we revealed a lot, but we actually hadn't even hit rock bottom yet. We thought we had, but we hadn't. So stuff came out during those first six months stuff was revealed that when we started the pod.
I didn't even know [00:05:00] about. So we wound up having to in real time, you know, that I think what was so different about our podcast was in real time, we were having conversations that people have behind closed doors and you never find out about, and that was great for, you know, 90% of people were very, very, they were so grateful and thankful that we did that.
And then you have people. Who, you know, if you find yourself fighting with your spouse and you put a camera up to yourself where you recorded yourself, you would probably say to, you know, yourself later on like, oh my God, I can't believe I said that. Or I can't believe I was acting like that. And so people can get very, you know, judgemental.
So it was for the most part really awesome, but it was also hard because. You know, you're putting a micro scope up to the way you act when you're fighting and it's not pretty right.
Margaret: Have there been times when you're doing it, where you hit those pieces of new information or really high [00:06:00] conflict times where you thought I got to stop doing that?
I got it. We've got to turn off the mix now. Like this is too far for me.
Danielle Silverstein: We've turned off the mic. Before, during episodes to cry or, you know, just to recompose ourselves because there was no point in, you know, just there was nothing constructive was going to come out of the episode, right? Oh, we've always put the headphones back on whether it's 45 minutes later or the next day, or, you know, whatever and finished it.
And if you listened to the progression of the episodes, it's very much, you can see. The way our communication has changed. Yes. It's a complete 180.
Amy: That's what I was going to ask you that the podcast, the sort of structure of the podcast has that in itself been useful in healing, your relationship and bringing you closer
Danielle Silverstein: together a hundred percent.
It saved our.
Margaret: Wow. How like walk us through that for people who haven't listened to the package.
Danielle Silverstein: First of all, we were married [00:07:00] very, very young. We've been together since we were 21. We got married at 24, you know, always really loved each other, but there was always a lot of conflict, a lot of chaos. And we are both people who sort of thrive on chaos.
We enjoy chaos in a way that. Not, you know, you probably w well, you need a lot of therapy for, and I think that we got lost in that chaos, and we sort of, we masked everything with fun. We would go out, you know, and on the weekends and party and spend a lot of money. And we lived a very lifestyle and it wound up ultimately, just that we, you know, we were.
Ignoring what was actually happening. So anyway, so we very much were living a lifestyle that was very unhealthy. And then what happened was that once we started talking about it, like really talking about it, not just little arguments here and there. [00:08:00] We realized that we really had never communicated before in a real way, because we had just been avoiding it going out and, you know, just pretending that nothing was happening.
So once we sat down to have these real conversations, we realized, oh my God, there is so much here to unpack that we never have the, when we started doing the work, we also went to therapy individually and together, and that was huge. But the podcast really made us focus on every, you know, how many couples sit down and really talk for an hour, an hour and a half every week, not just, oh, who's driving the kids,
Not just the business of running the daycare.
Danielle Silverstein: Yeah, where are we going for Thanksgiving, but really talk. And what we also learned is that we thought we knew each other because we knew each other when we were 21 and we were first dating and we were finding out everything about each other, but we didn't know each other.
Margaret: Now, [00:09:00] friends who got married met when they were in college and went to a therapist at some point and said, The therapist said to them and it was so eye-opening for them. They're now in their thirties, they met in their early twenties, maybe even in their teens. And the therapist said, your problem is that you're still communicating like two 19 year old kids, but now you're 35 years old and you have a house and you've had right.
This. 15 and 16 years of life in between then, and it hadn't really occurred to me. I got married much later and I still think this is going to be an issue for us in 10 years, that you do kind of freeze in time with your person at that time when you meet and your operating systems are the operating systems of very young people, because that's how you've always connected.
So it's interesting to
Danielle Silverstein: me. No, definitely. We didn't even realize it. And I think we both wound up feeling like. Thank [00:10:00] goodness we did this because we really liked the people we were now. It's interesting, despite everything that had gone on,
Amy: we're talking to Danielle Silverstein, she's the co-host of the podcast, marriage and Martinez.
And we'll be right back. So Danielle, we have a saying on this podcast, a thing and a thing. When there's one thing wrong, there's four things wrong, right? It's the law of something. There's never just one problem. You have three things to worry about the boiler broke and the dog sick and, you know, in the rent's overdue, whatever.
you were just saying in your own life, The case at this moment, this crucible of crisis and your own relationship with there, actually several different crises going on. Tell us a little bit about the different struggles you're going through at the same time in your relationship and how they intensified one another.
Danielle Silverstein: basically going through so many different things, you know, I call what Adam was going through. There were just all these different branches of him. Were these extensions of what he was feeling and not dealing with. And I don't want to blame him completely.
Trust me. I [00:11:00] was very much to blame too, you know, and I realize that now I didn't realize that three years ago when we started the podcast, I was very much blaming everything on him, fix
Margaret: your stuff. Right. You fix yourself and everything will be better. Right? Yeah.
Danielle Silverstein: And I think, you know, three years ago, uh, he was doing all the out.
Obvious things. I think that a lot of the things that I had done were much less obvious and you know, and much easier to just sweep under the rug. Whereas his were like these big, you know, like elephants in the middle of the room and, you know, it was everything from, he was struggling with what we call Adam and I have referred to with our therapist as escapist.
Which was basically like any time there was any instance of reality, he would just bail, you know, it was just, he would go to Atlantic city for the weekend or, you know, go out to dinner by himself after [00:12:00] work and just spend two and a half hours at a restaurant by himself. And it was just that he was not present.
And when he was present, Yeah. It was almost like those times that he would leave. I would breathe, you know, a breath of fresh air because it was almost easier not to have him there. Yeah. So, you know, that affects everything. It affects you as a person and your confidence. It affects your kids. It affects, you know, your ability to run a household.
So it just, everything fell apart, everything, our, you know, our relationship with each other, you know, just everything,
Margaret: I think when you start from that place, because I really identify with this of like, we're fun. We're a couple who has fun. We're fun people. We do fun things. And sometimes we get a little edgy with it and then.
I'm always amazed. The how little relationship there is between dating and being married to someone like dating is like, let's go to dinner, [00:13:00] let's go to the bar. Let's get bombed. Let's go to Halloween and dressing, funny outfits and being married is like, let's figure out how to deal with our kid who has.
A learning problem that we know nothing about and support that kid through fourth grade. And like those two things like the person you fell in love with who's like the funniest person at the bar is suddenly a person you're trying to navigate this very complex situation with a child. And I think it's hard to stay on the same team because sometimes you.
Hey, fun time, Charlie, over there, like you're now just getting in my way of solving this problem. Have you found that to be true?
Danielle Silverstein: Well, yeah, you know, we struggle very much with, I think what you're referring to as like the mental load of motherhood and yes, I would say that has been our biggest issue has been what.
That we never talked about when we got married was I [00:14:00] wanted to be a stay at home mom, but we never talked about it. I never really said to Adam, like, are you cool with this? You know, w how do you think we sh they should work? And what should our budget be? And how are we going to, I just basically told him I want to be a stay-at-home mom.
There was no communication about it. And I think that led to a lot of problems, because there was this division of. I'm a stay-at-home mom. So I do all the household things and he's the worker. So he goes out and does the work and then comes home. And it really, I think it works for a lot of couples because a lot of couples, it's a mutual thing that they've decided this was not mutual.
This was something that I basically just kind of forced on him. And I think being a stay-at-home mom is absolutely wonderful, but I also think that without the communication. You know, it becomes very hard because what are the boundaries? And, you know, there's no clock in clock out. And so without that communication, I think it just really becomes that you're [00:15:00] just living these dichotomous lifestyles, you know, of, of separation of like home life and work life.
And we weren't meshing in the middle. There was no middle grounds, you know, And we really have struggled a lot with that and we've come a long way. But yeah, I think for a long time he was not present as you know, but he was also working his butt off. So it's very hard because I was working my butt off too.
So, you know, it's very hard. And that was one of the conversations that I knew that. We really needed to have, if we were going to go forward and the marriage was going to work, that was really more than anything. The biggest thing that
Margaret: needed to be addressed. Yeah. I think that's what I'm getting at is the same thing.
It's like, you spend all your time in the sphere of fun and then you get married and you kind of go into these two different spheres where it's like, you do hard things. And I do hard things and occasionally we fight about what the other person like you left.
Amy: Right. And the primary problem. When the going gets [00:16:00] rough, I feel like your primary thing that you're frustrated about is your partner's either disengagement with the current crisis or that they're engaged with it and doing it all wrong.
And I think it's like, it's the anxiety about like, will my kid ever, you know, meet their developmental milestones? Or how are we gonna afford this? Whatever it is you're really worrying about you sublimated into, like, if you weren't doing everything all wrong. Fine. I think it's probably natural, but I think we make things worse by turning on the other person that we, maybe we ran the job search wrong.
As you like to say, Margaret, like you're looking at the wrong things. When you're picking who you're going to marry, you ran the wrong job search here with this partner, but blaming the partner is more interesting than really addressing the fear and anxiety of what you're
Danielle Silverstein: facing. I think part of what doing the podcast did for us was that.
We really, from the beginning in a way that we weren't doing in our marriage, we're really good at dividing up what we're good at and concentrating on that and [00:17:00] appreciating each other for that and not stepping on each other's toes with that. And that wound up sort of transferring into our regular life like, oh, you know, it's okay if he does it like that, he just that's his, you know, he's just good at that.
And my way is different, but I'm going to let him. Do it that way it's working. And I think that that's, you know, also we had gone out all these nights together all the times. We went out and had these fun nights, you know, out to dinner, out with friends. And, and what I found was we had spent all these hours together.
We were lucky. We got babysitters. We had parents who live nearby. We had date night. But we hadn't grown an ounce from any of it. So we were going out and doing the same thing over and over again at a different restaurant. That's all. It was, it was the same conversation. It was the same dynamic. It was, you know, coming home and, you know, the same schedule, everything was the same.
And that's why we kind of [00:18:00] put out the date night. Ebook experiences because you know what happened was, as we started to learn how to communicate with each other, her just our conversations, that everything like it blows my mind now, how we talk to each other and how we treat each other. And not to say we don't fight, we will fight until the day we are no longer on this earth, because that is just who we are as who you are.
But it's different. It feels different. The energy is different and you know, and the transference of that energy
Margaret: is just, that's great. We're talking to Danielle Silverstein and we're going to come back and talk more about her book, the date night questions, experience. So Danielle, I like this idea. We have talked about it on the podcast, but I think you're putting a really fine point on it, which is like this thing that we skip all the time.
I have so many friends who like, married, like the hottest drummer in the band. And then they're like, he doesn't seem that into making lunches. I'm like, yeah, you're not knocking my socks off that he's not the best lunch maker [00:19:00] at, you know, eight o'clock in the morning,
so talk about your book, how it came about and what is the value of having these questions that go a little deeper than as you said, oh my God, we're having a great time.
Danielle Silverstein: it started because people were saying to us after, you know, the episodes people would say, do you have the questions you asked each other?
I really like to ask those with my partner. And we started putting out a few here and there and emails and stuff. And I mean, it was like, you know, people were just flocking to get this. But what we really wanted to do was break it down. What we did was we broke it down into 12 of the most popular topics we've had on podcasts.
You know, everything from, like I said, the mental load to, you know, intimacy to what you want for your future. Just everything that we've talked about. And what we've learned to do is number one, the ebook has for each section, it has an anecdote from Adam and may something that we've gone through with it.
Which is going to be hard to top [00:20:00] for anybody. So, you know, so there's that breaking of the ice of, oh, okay. They really messed up. So now it's okay if we tell our version of the mess up together, because whatever we did, it's not worse than what they do. So there's that. And then there's the questions, you know, which we really, really tried to make gentle, but yet people are having really deep conversations from them and they're not accusatory and all the stuff that in the moment when you decide to bring something up at the dinner table and you get flustered and it comes out wrong, that doesn't happen.
Because you're asking a question that somebody else has prepared and somebody who's had, these conversations has prepared. And you know, I'm not going to say that it might not lead to some passionate discussions. It might, you know, I mean, certainly, you know, if things need to be discussed in a certain way, then that might be what ends up happening when we don't like give any [00:21:00] kind of guarantee that you're not going to fight.
Margaret: I think that would be dangerous to give any couple of guarantee that they're not going to fight
Amy: you say in the introduction to the book that you have learned over 20 years with Adam to communicate without there being a winner or loser. In the conversation. And so these questions are, I guess, open-ended enough that there is no right or wrong answer on where we should go for Thanksgiving.
Cause that's not what you're talking
Danielle Silverstein: about. Oh, definitely. And it's the reminder of, you know, you're not team a and team B you know, your team us. Like I know that sounds really cheesy, easy to. Yeah. At the end of the day, you both are literally trying to make your lives better. That is ultimately the goal.
You might be doing it differently, but, you know, I mean, except in rare occasions, there's I think that people are just trying to, you know, make life the best it can possibly be for their family. So, you know, so we
Margaret: forget. Give us an example from the book of a question that sparked a [00:22:00] really interesting conversation.
Danielle Silverstein: I would say, you know, something that really sparked an interesting conversation was we have a nostalgia and upbringing section of the book and Adam and I were raised very, very differently as much as we're, you know, we come from similar backgrounds and everything. Just the way we were raised is really different.
And one question. We asked in the ebook that I think is going to take us the rest of our lives to really talk about. And we've talked about it quite a bit sometimes, you know, when we're talking about how we want to deal with something with the kids, a punishment, or, you know, just anything, what is something from your childhood that you really feel like you need to unlearn?
Hmm, something from growing up, you know, because that sort of like, rather than being like, well, your parents did it this way and that's wrong. And you know, maybe like from the sense of wait a minute, just because they did it like, this does not mean I have to. And we forget that a lot of times too. Like I [00:23:00] sometimes feel like it's a competition of like, Ooh, who's parenting.
Are we going to use more of my parents? Are your parents. Who's going to get the bigger slice of the pie when it comes to raising, are we going to raise them religiously the way that your family did, or are we going to raise them religiously? The, my, well, no, we should raise them religiously or, you know, academically or socially, you know, or whatever.
Margaret: want to, and I like the framing of the question, because it keeps you out of what I think often happens, which is like your mother, this, and you're a blah, blah, this and your crazy family that, and it takes it to like, what are we going to do? What's best for us versus like, Can I fling from like, what I've observed about your life is wrong.
Amy: What's the structure around. So I'm imagining the answering this question, your partner saying something like, I guess I need to unlearn that, you know, that my dad was kind of disengaged that I'm supposed to be disengaged. I'm supposed to be like out in the garage, working on the car. Well, you know, the mom is doing.
What are their sort of structures around [00:24:00] response so that you don't seize that opportunity to be like, yes, I know. And now I'm going to explain to you why you're right. And unpack all the reasons that, that, you know, has all the ways that it has manifested itself to my displeasure.
Danielle Silverstein: Yeah. I think that in the book, we try to put some strategies that we've used and, you know, what are the biggest ones is to come from a place of empathy that if you sort of, you know, put yourself in those shoes of wow, what that must have been like for you.
Growing up like that, then you're coming from a place of understanding rather than a place of, you know, how you react in the moment when someone tells you something like that. Just the way, like, I always think about the way Adam reacted in the moment when I told him I wanted to do the podcast, had he laughed in my face and then be like, no, no, no, no, no, wait a minute.
No, I didn't mean to do that. I actually think it's a good idea. Then the entire dynamic of it would be so different. Right. But because he reacted in that moment with like such unconditional, [00:25:00] just acceptance of what I was saying and trust that one moment changed our whole relationship. So I think that how you react in the moment and just take a step back and be like, wait a minute.
My lived experience is completely different from this other person's lived experience. I need to
Margaret: remember. I think the other thing that we talk a lot about in general, but it is very well captured in this book is that you're having conversations outside of the time that this stuff is happening, which is a lot easier, like in the moment where my husband has.
Promise to do breakfast, woken up too late. Everybody's screaming like that is not the time that we're going to have a productive conversation. I'm going to be screaming. Like you always do this, you promise you're going to do it. And that you don't do a good job, but now look at it. And then the kids are like watching us fight.
And it's a whole thing as opposed to Amy and I are both Catholic. And we've talked on the podcast before about [00:26:00] having to do pre-K now, which is something that you do before you get married. Totally with the attitude of like, this is the dumbest thing ever. I can't blame it out, her going to church and answer your questions, but I found it.
So we sat down and it's literally like, how did your family of origin handle money? Is that how you want to handle money? And like the ability to have these are conversations that my husband and I would never have sat down and had together. And it's so easy. I
Amy: want to give a shout out to my parents.
Cause my parents were a long time led those like intensive weekend retreats, those pre Canas. And they would, I mean, they got a lot out of it, but how many couples would never say so how are we going to handle money? They're not going to talk, what religion are we going to raise the kids? There are many people who get married without having those discussions.
And once in a while, somebody would go on one of their weekend retreats and decide not to get married based on what they talked about in that weekend. And my parents saw that as a, unfortunately a huge win, right? Like good thing. Bomb themselves together for life,
Margaret: but we're in it.
We can't really be like, you know what? I real, I bought the book and I realized I'm out. I can't do this. But talk a [00:27:00] little bit about that. Like a non-emotional way of talking about these
Danielle Silverstein: conversations. There's also, there is a time for also just laughter you know, and.
Having to go deep, like there's times when you're just exhausted at the end of the week or midweek, and you want to sit together, but you don't want to like, come on. I don't want to talk about, you know, why you're upset set that I, you know, didn't do this or whatever. And not that those, the book is supposed to lead to those conversations, but sometimes it can, if that's the mode of thinking that you're in.
So there are places and topics in the book that are literally just fun and, you know, just to laugh together. And that's so important too. I think that's something that we forget about also like to just have conversations that are not rooted in. I have to do this with my kids too. You know, sometimes I'm in the middle of a conversation and something will come to me like, oh, did you do that assignment?
And like, if I say it, I'm screwing up the whole moment, you know, and I have to like really [00:28:00] remind myself, this is not the time for that. And you know, so I think if you're following these questions, Then, you're less likely to throw in, uh, oh, don't forget. We got to get a gift for the birthday party this weekend, or, uh, it's just, you know, what it leads to hopefully is really just a back and forth between you two that.
Is really just intimate because it's a conversation that is just about you. And we don't really do that usually.
Amy: It's using that muscle, right? Some of these questions are just to connect. It doesn't have to be, let's get to the bottom of what's bothering us. It's just about genuine connection. Definitely love it. Where can we find your, a date night questions book
Danielle Silverstein: I usually keep the link.
First of all, in my bio of our Instagram, which is at marriage and Martinez. And you can also find it. If you go to marriage and martinez.com and you'll see a link or marriage and martinez.com/d. Yeah. So it's, you know, it's just been a really awesome adventure since we put this out because it's, the feedback has been amazing.
And I [00:29:00] think it, it's leading to stuff that is new and fresh and gives a different perspective on your relationship.
Margaret: And then we will also of course, linked to it in the show notes for this episode. Danielle, thanks so much for talking
Amy: to us today.
Danielle Silverstein: Thanks. Thank you guys so much. .