Dear Stefan,

I hope this mail reaches you well! I'm a 36 year old man and I have been together with my 34 year old wife for over 4 years. We got married 1,5 years ago and have been living together for a bit longer than that. Since we met our lives have been completely designed to start a family, as soon as possible. This has been the biggest wish for both of us for a long time. Every decision in the last couple of years was made with this in the back of our minds.

In the months after our marriage we noticed that we were having trouble conceiving. Since we didn't want to waste any time we went to a fertility clinic as soon as possible to see where the issues lie. After almost a year of testing and uncertainty we recently found out that I am suffering from a case of premature male infertility. The reason for this is still a mystery and it seems like we are nearing the end of possible tests and treatments that medicine can provide.

We are both having a very hard time accepting this fact and don't know how to move on from this point. We have differing opinions on possibilities for the future (or lack thereof) and how to move on from this point. I personally feel responsible for this burden and have lost my positive outlook on life. I'm struggling to find meaning in life without the possibility of starting our own family. I am very worried about my thought patterns of late, where it feels like life itself has suddenly lost all value. I frequently have suicidal thoughts and, even though I know better than to act on them, they scare me intensely. Everything I used to enjoy seems irrelevant and meaningless now, and I'm just going through the motions of everyday life. To make matters worse, it feels like this verdict is tearing us apart as a couple, since we can't seem to agree on how to move forward.

I hope you can help us on the path of resolving our issues and finding a positive way forward, or at least how to be able to carry this burden. Thank you for all your great work!


[0:00] Hello.

Introductions and Setting the Stage

[0:01] Hey, how's it going?

[0:03] Very good. Thank you very much.

[0:05] All right. I'm all ears. Do you want to read me what you wrote?
Do you want to just chat? What's your preference?

[0:13] Yeah, I can read the initial email. I think that would work best.

[0:19] Excellent.

[0:20] Is the audio quality okay?

[0:23] Yeah, not bad at all. I really appreciate that. Thanks.

[0:26] Perfect. Perfect. Thank you so much. Let me quickly get the mail here.
I'm going to be honest, I'm a bit nervous about this, but I'll try my best to talk my way through it.
All right. So, dear Stefan, I hope this mail reaches you well.
I'm a 36-year-old man, and I have been together with my 34-year-old wife for over four years.
We got married one and a half year ago, and I've been living together for a bit longer than that. that.
Since we met, our lives have been completely designed to start a family as soon as possible.
This has been the biggest wish for both of us for a long time.
Every decision in the last couple of years was made with this in the back of our minds.
In the months after our marriage, we noticed that we were having trouble conceiving.
Since we didn't want to waste any time, we went to a fertility clinic as soon as possible to see where the issues lie.
After almost a year of testing and and uncertainty, we recently found out that I'm suffering from a case of premature male infertility.
The reason for this is still a mystery, and it seems like we are nearing the end of possible tests and treatments that medicine can provide.

[1:34] We are both having a very hard time accepting this fact and don't know how to move on from this point.
We have differing opinions on possibilities for the future or lack thereof, and how to move on from this point.
I personally feel responsible for this burden and have lost my positive outlook on life.
I'm struggling to find meaning in life without the possibility of starting our own family.
I'm very worried about my thought patterns of late, where it feels like life itself has lost all value.
I frequently have suicidal thoughts, and even though I know better than to act on them, they scare me intensely.
Everything I used to enjoy seems irrelevant and meaningless now, and I'm just going through the emotions of everyday life.
To make matters worse, it feels like this verdict is tearing us apart as a couple, since we can't seem to agree on how to move forward.
I hope you can help us on the path of resolving our issues and finding a positive way forward, or at least how to be able to carry this burden.
Thank you for all the great work.

[2:32] Well, obviously, that's very tough. I'm sorry to hear that.
And I mean, not that the explanation would do a huge amount of good, but it is even more frustrating to not even know why, right?
Like, I mean, oh, just premature sperm failure. Is it like you don't produce sperm? Or is it lack of motility?
Or what are the symptoms?

[2:55] Yeah so um the symptoms are there is some medical stuff going on there without going in too much detail there is like a bodily defect like a visible bodily defect let's put it that way that like cuts uh production in half um and um even yeah the the 50 that should be there it's just not viable so there is no uh moving sperm cells in there and the ones that might have some Some signs of life in there are deformed or not moving.
Or, yeah, there is just, it seems like there's just a bunch of things together that caused this.

[3:33] Wow, I'm really sorry. And, of course, you had no reason to suspect this. No history.
Obviously, there's no history of infertility in your family, by definition, I suppose. So that's tough.

[3:44] Well, I wish that was the case, but there were warning signs.
Well, not technically, I would say, because all the tests now point out that there is no correlation between the two things.
But yeah, in my family, my sister, my only sister, she went through also a medical disaster very early in her life when she was in her mid-teens, where she was more or less already in like, how do you say it, like a premature menopause.
Menopause i would think you would say it so she was aware already when she was about 18 years old that she wasn't producing eggs of her own so uh in all the testing that we did um she also of course we are in very close contact and she was very open to help and to also get her dna checked just as i did and um there is no correlation between the two things in my eyes it's still a bit too coincidental to have no uh yeah that there's no correlation between the two facts but yeah they can't prove it they can't uh figure it out by the dna results and there's no.

[4:55] Environmental cause that you're aware of like you guys didn't grow up in the shadow of a nuclear power plant or that was leaking or like there's no environmental cause that that you guys know of or that anyone has talked about no not at all we had a we had a very cushy comfortable uh life i I would say, up to this point in general.
So no, there's nothing otherwise, no.

[5:19] And it's also, you said premature. Is there any indication that, say, in your early 20s, things would have been any different?
Has anyone talked to you about the history of this, or was this from the very beginning?

[5:30] Um, it, it, it could be that, let's say 10 years ago or something.
So 36 now that 10 years ago, there would still be some viable sperm cells there, but there is no way to prove it.
But, um, uh, let me put it this way.
Um, that there were some warning signs that I just didn't take seriously myself, at least not serious enough, uh, where in previous relationships where, um, after like, uh, a a couple of years, you wouldn't take the protection as seriously as you would in the beginning of a relationship, and we never, I never had a pregnancy scare or anything like that, so there were signs that I could have looked at, but it just didn't occur to me at all.

[6:13] Wow, so are you saying, so in your past relationships, how many times would you estimate that you had unprotected sex and didn't have any pregnancy scares?

[6:27] Um well i think i think in um in all of my previous relationship it was either me or an ex-girlfriend that was on some sort of birth control luckily my wife at the moment uh was never on the pill or anything like that because after years and and listening to a lot of conversations and reading up about it i know how yeah damaging that can be um but yeah there was was always some form of birth control there, but there were moments where it technically could have happened, let's put it that way, where someone forgot to take a pill or we didn't use a condom.
But I would say in total, it can't have been more than like 10 times.
I would guess that it could have technically happened.

[7:14] Okay. And when did you first start thinking about having kids or is this something that you've wanted since you were in your teens, or was it your wife that brought this desire about within you, or sort of give me the history, if you could, of wanting kids?

[7:31] Yeah, of course. So I think for me and my wife, we had kind of a similar experience in this where we went through most of our 20s kind of just going along with the flow without really thinking too seriously about starting a family and the future and everything like that.
And I think after my past relationship, before I met my wife, so that must have been like, I guess it's seven years ago or something like that.
That was a moment where also my sister, I told you a bit about already, but they did find a way to have a child and not fully of their own, but with an egg donor. So she did carry the baby herself.
So it's, yeah, practically in that sense, it is her child and he's never been treated anything else.

A Game-Changing Moment: The Birth of a Baby

[8:29] But that kind of coalesced and the moment her baby was born was for me like a huge game changer.
That was the moment where I was like, this is so incredible, so special, especially in this situation where it seemed impossible for them to ever start a family.
Yeah, that was a real game changer for me. So I think it was about seven years ago.
And when me and my wife met, we both on the very first date had some questions that we needed answering because we were done wasting time with relationships that didn't go anywhere.
And for both of us, we came there with the intent to ask the question, do you want to have kids?
And if either of us would have said no, I think both of us wouldn't have gone on with the relationship.

[9:19] And when did you first meet your wife?

[9:23] It's about five years ago by now. Oh, yeah.

[9:28] And when you talked about having kids early on, it took you four years to start trying. Is that right?

[9:38] Not really. The first year was more or less dating. She lived a bit further away.
So we saw each other like every week for a day, maybe two or something like that.
And we knew for a fact that we were going to get married, but everything co-aligned in a way that it was just more logical for us to first move in together, buy a house, had something to do with finances and a previous job I had. that.
And after that, we got married within the next year of that.
We were already engaged and we got married, yeah, the year after that.

[10:20] Sorry, I'm just trying to understand because the year after that gets a little confusing for me, sorry.
But so you bet you dated for a year and then you moved in together, is that right?

[10:31] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the year after, so in the second, let's say, of the relationship, we got married.

[10:37] So in the second year of the relationship, you got married?

[10:40] Yeah, and practically, but at the moment, we, so my wife is pretty traditional, maybe in a bit of a different way than I am for her.
It's more of a religious traditionality.
And I'm definitely pretty conservative in my mindset in that way.
But yeah, we both were of the understanding that we need to get married before we want to start a family, which didn't stop us from already trying a bit before getting married.
But the real trying started after we got married.

[11:17] And how long did you live together before you got married? Sorry to ask you again.

[11:23] Um it's about a year about a year so we're already engaged no you're right you're right and that's not a criticism i mean i generally think that it's better to get married before living together but and the data seems to back me up so i mean you're somewhat traditional but not super traditional can you help me understand again it's not criticism from my point i just want to understand the thinking what was the decision process around living together before you got got married um it was purely from a practical standpoint so i had a job that i had for for years and i wanted to uh to get out of this uh this branch i was completely fed up it was in the middle of covid uh it was in the in the in the service industry let's put it that way in retail i was completely fed up with it and um i really wanted to get out but um with the current situation of the housing market in my country.
It just was too much of a risk to quit my job and start looking for a house after that because in my country, you need an undetermined contract to get a mortgage.
So it was just from a practical standpoint, better to do it so I can quit that job earlier, but still get a house.

[12:41] And why would that not have been possible if you had been married?

[12:46] Oh, no, no, no. It didn't have anything to do with being married.
It's just, yeah, we technically could have gotten married earlier, but also my wife is originally from a different country, so from a couple of hundred kilometers away.
So it just took a bit longer to get everything planned and sorted out.

[13:09] Oh, you mean there were legal barriers to her getting married?

[13:14] Yeah, yeah.

[13:15] Okay, got it. But I thought generally, I'm no expert, and you don't have to tell me where you live, of course, but isn't it the case that if you get married, her legal status is improved?

[13:25] Yeah, yeah, that's absolutely true. That's absolutely true, yeah.

[13:28] So I'm still trying to understand. You said there was something to do with your career and a mortgage, and then you said that didn't have anything to do with getting married, and then you said there were legal things, and now it doesn't...
I'm just trying to figure out why you lived together before getting married, because that did delay, to some degree, your child planning, right?

[13:46] Yeah, you're absolutely right. We could have gotten married before, but the process from making the decision that, okay, we want to get married, we're going to live together, get engaged, get married, the whole process of uh moving in together and buying the house uh yeah just it aligned in this way we could have done it the other way around but then i had to stay in my in my previous job for a longer time before we could get the house and that wasn't helping anybody i i think because i think it would have been more in alignment with your values and certainly her religious values to to get married before living together, right? That's absolutely true, yes.

[14:34] And did you have to take the COVID vaccine?

[14:39] Oh, no, no. Not even for a second did we even think about getting that, both of us.

[14:47] Okay, got it, got it. All right.
And can you tell me a little bit about your dating in your 20s?
Because it sounds like, was it your late 20s or so where your sister had her kid and you began to really think about it?
Or was that your early 30s? I'm trying to sort of get the time arc here.

[15:06] Yeah, late 20s, late 20s when that happened. Yeah, exactly.

[15:10] And you're now in your mid-30s, right?

[15:12] Yeah, exactly.

[15:14] So what happened, I guess, in the decade plus since you became an adult with your dating life that the baby stuff, the parenting stuff, the child stuff never came up before?

[15:25] Yeah, so this is something I've asked myself, this question, a lot in the last couple of years.
And I think I have a theory worked out. And, of course, jump in if you with any thoughts about this.
But so I've always been in pretty long term relationships.
I had three serious relationships that started when I was the first one when I was 18 for three or four years and then a year in between and then another one of three years.
And then another year in between and and so on and so on so three long-term relationships um and the reason why i never really went into like planning anything of this i think has to do with um i i come from a family where my parents uh even to this day they they met each other when they were i think 17 and 18 years old uh they never spend the day apart from each other they They are still crazy in love.
They still are the happiest couple I've ever met in my life.
And I think for me, and I know that my sister also kind of had this feeling that gave us the idea, the image that a relationship just will come on your path and you follow it and you will be happy and that's what you get.
And I was absolutely wrong in thinking that the example that my parents set.

[16:50] All right. Right. So hang on. Sorry to interrupt you. So you're giving me the theory prior to giving me any facts, right?

[16:57] Yes.

[16:57] And I appreciate that. So, I mean, but for me, the theory doesn't mean much if I don't have any facts, if that makes sense. Yeah.
So if you could just tell me a little bit about your dating history, then we can get to the theory. But I just, I don't know what it is that you're describing as yet. So the theory doesn't mean much to me.

[17:12] Yeah. Yeah. No, you're absolutely right. So I've always had a feeling like a girl would show any interest in me.
I would just go into the relationship without even giving it much thought.

The Mystery of Past Relationships Unveiled

[17:25] Drag it on for three years or something like that and then realize like wait a second maybe this isn't the relationship i should be in okay so you're actually now giving me another theory, so i still don't know who you dated i still don't know what the relationships were like this is the this is like inception this is like the second layer of theory it's like just give me some facts brother and then we'll get to the theory i promise you all right all right all right um, So what kind of facts would you like to hear specifically? Well, okay, so what did you like about the women, and why did the relationships end?
Who ended them? You know, just that kind of stuff.
How long were they unhappy before they ended? I just want to get a general sense of how you spent your 20s. There's a reason I'm asking this, so be patient.

[18:16] Yeah, of course, of course. Yeah, no, of course. Of course. So I think in most of the situations, what I liked about the girls is that they showed interest in me.
So that means like someone would be interested in me, we would hang out for a bit, get into a relationship, and that's it.
Of course, the girls, I think all of them were quite attractive and nice and friendly. And who made the first move?

[18:43] Who made the approach?

[18:47] And I would say in almost all of the cases, the girls.

[18:52] And what do you think they were most interested, like the top three things they were most interested in you about?

The Physical Aspect and Musical Background

[19:04] That's a good question. I think, of course, let's start with the physical aspect.
I think I'm especially in my 20s. I was a pretty attractive guy.
So I think that absolutely helped. um i also was um a bit let's say unique in a sense that i'm a musician so i played in bands and stuff like that so that's uh of course yeah you know how it goes right it's uh and your height if you're on stage and uh i'm 183 meters so sorry i don't know inches i think it's about 510 something like that are you average height or taller than your peers more or less average in my country but this will give away where i live probably but i live in the tallest country in the world so ah okay okay so for for for women as a whole you would be taller certainly than the average uh man in the world so you're you're a fairly tall or tallish uh a great looking musician guy right yeah and did you play an instrument did you sing or both.

[20:13] Um both so uh i uh i played uh violin since i was five years old uh i played some some flutes i did vocals so yeah a bit of everything oh so uh violin sorry violin and flute it's not exactly heavy metal we're talking here like you mean more of like a chamber orchestra i mean what are we talking It's not the kind of thing you set fire to on stage and bite the head off a bat, right?
Well, you would be surprised. Actually, it was. Yeah, quite heavy stuff.
But we combined European traditional folk music with pretty heavy rock metal stuff.

[20:49] God, why do European musicians just kind of do normal stuff? It's beyond me.
Well, we've got a ukulele, and then we beat a midget to death at the end of the conference. I don't know. It's just odd to me. But okay.
It's a cultural thing. And so you toured with the band and you had groupies and all that kind of stuff?

[21:08] Yeah, not to a huge extent. We never blew up like crazy.
We played, let's say, maybe 30, 40 shows a year for 10 years, something like that.
And we had one tour through Europe with some bigger bands and we played a couple of festivals. But we never really, really blew up like crazy.
And that's also why we didn't continue it after a certain point.

[21:38] And is that because, sorry, do you think that's because, I mean, were you writing original material or were you doing covers or?

[21:46] Yeah, all original material. But it's a niche within a niche.
So it was absolutely more for fun. If we could make a living out of it, it would be great.
But I don't think anybody of us ever expected that to happen.

[21:59] Okay. Yeah, it's like I saw a banjo group before Christmas, and they were all like, yeah, this was our big hit, netted us each about 12 bucks.
Okay, so you would get into these relationships with the girls who liked you, you and you wouldn't necessarily evaluate them or would you you would you you wouldn't necessarily ask yourself what do they see in me because if they see you know tall good-looking musician guy and that comes with some swag or some confidence some riz i guess as the kids are saying these days and so you'd get into these relationships but am i right in assuming now that you have a really quality woman that there wasn't anything particularly noteworthy or quality based in the the relationships is that right absolutely and what the hell were your parents doing over this process i mean why weren't they saying well hang on hang on we've got the secret magic bean sauce to the perfect relationships oh because you say they've you know fell in love in their teens and have remained madly in love ever since so why are they letting you pursue all of this gray gray, whitewashed cloud nonsense when you don't have the basis for the kind of happiness they have?

[23:14] Yeah, well, this isn't the first time this comes up, but my parents were extremely involved in our younger years.
So let's say until 15, 16, I think they were extremely hands-on with us in the best manner you can imagine.
But after that, after we really started our own lives, They were like, okay, it's your life now and we don't want to interfere with your life and it's your choices.
And I had discussed with my parents about this before, yeah.

[23:47] And what's their theory about how parenting ends when you're 15?
What's their theory about this?

[23:56] Well, I think I can... Is it okay if I take an example? It's your story.

[24:00] You don't have to ask me for permission for anything, but it's your story. Just go for it.

[24:04] Okay, okay, okay. Yeah, so I had a relationship.
I think it was the second long-term relationship where I was with a girl for about three years.
And there were definitely some issues in her life with her parents and her upbringing.
And my parents, from the first moment, they were very welcoming and involved.
And she would be invited to everything and never, never a bad word.
And the moment I went to my parents after a couple of years to tell them that the relationship ended, one of them...

[24:40] Told me, yeah, you know, actually, we didn't like it that much to begin with.
And we just, but we didn't want to say anything because it's your decision.
And we didn't want to, yeah, involve, yeah, be involved in this.
And I told him, but I respect your opinion way more than anybody else in the world.
And I would have appreciated if you would have told me like, hey, maybe, yeah, keep keep an eye out for this one because there's some stuff that doesn't yeah seem uh great to us, okay now that's that's all sort of i guess lucky the barn door after the horses left but what about when you became you know pre-adult sort of 15 or 16 and you start dating or whatever it is did they give you you know here's here's what to look out for here's the good here's the bad hear the red flags did they give you any training or or thoughts or wisdom or perspective on, what to look for and what to avoid um i definitely had that i definitely had like i said we're very involved and they definitely informed us about um yeah the the things to look out for and but i think in the moment um when i would start a relationship i I just didn't look into those things close enough.

[26:02] Well, but hang on, hang on. It doesn't sound like you started relationships but kind of got scooped up like a piece of corn by the harvester of the women, right?
Because they would choose you, they would ask you out, and you just kind of went along. Is that right?

The Conversation on Looks and Relationships

[26:16] Um yeah yeah yeah okay so wouldn't that be something that they would talk to you about like i mean if you have a good-looking kid particularly he's a musician or whatever i guess you did music from an early age so you got a good-looking kid you have to have the conversation right the conversation being that some people will like you for your looks but that's not really liking you and your looks are not unimportant and they're not bad or anything like that and but they're not you and you know they're going to fade and you've got to make sure that the relationship is based on you know genuine virtues and values and and love of the person not not just, right?
Because everybody, and it doesn't even matter if you have a pretty, like a handsome kid or a pretty kid, you have to talk about looks, the problem with looks, right?
I mean, looks are great, but they're no foundation for a relationship, right?
So, even if you have like a kid who's average looking, you're going to say, look, there are going to be all these pretty boys, pretty girls around, and there's nothing wrong with the prettiness, but you can't just base that on the looks, right?
You can't just base the relationship on looks, You know, there needs to be real virtues and values involved.
And the looks can be a bonus, but they can't be the foundation, right? It's like, you can't live on dessert.
Dessert can be a nice addition to a meal, and looks are kind of like dessert, right?
They're okay, but you can't live on them. and so that conversation about looks both in terms of your desire for an attractive girlfriend and a woman's desire for an attractive boyfriend did they have that conversation about.

[27:40] Looks i mean that's to me i don't mean to say anything negative about your parents but to me that's just parenting 101 which is don't base your pair bonding on looks because it's a And this is as old as humanity, right?
This is not a new problem that looks can make people a little crazy and looks can get you to waste a lot of time.
Did they have that conversation with you about your looks and the looks of others and so on?

[28:07] No, not that specifically. No.

[28:11] And do you think if they had... Also, sorry, did they know that the genesis of your relationships was you being pursued and asked out?

[28:22] I'm not entirely sure, actually.
I can't really answer that, because I'm not sure if they are.
I'm not sure if they are, actually.

[28:34] Well, wouldn't they ask? You say, I bet this girl. Say, oh, tell us about it.
What happened? How did it come about?
I mean, wouldn't they be curious about I mean, this is the potential daughter-in-law, this is the potential mother of their grandchildren or whatever, right?
I mean, wouldn't they ask about the relationship and how you met and what happened and all that?

[28:53] Yeah, they did, but I think more on a more superficial level as, okay, so where did you meet and how did you meet?
What did you do? And stuff like that, but not really into the...
I'm not absolutely sure if they even think about this stuff this deeply because of the situation that they are in, to be very honest.
I don't know if that's an explanation or— Oh, so they get dominoes.

[29:22] Oh, I can't believe people still try this domino theory with me. It's pretty wild.
Well, my parents just didn't ask me who asked who out. That's not a deep question.
It's not a deep question to say how did the relationship come about.
That's not a particularly deep question, but what you're saying is that they are deterministic, right?
Because they met young and fell in love and so on early, that they can't ask these questions about your relationships.
They're incapable of, because of their history, I'm sure they're trying to, like they don't have free will, they don't, I'm just trying to follow your thinking here.

[30:01] Yeah, you might be poking a hole in my thinking here, which that's why I'm calling, right?

[30:08] Well i assume that some of the self-destructive thoughts you have have to do with culpability right this is why i'm sort of asking all these questions uh and we'll we'll get into sort of break that out in a little bit but again i'm i'm more fact i'm facts before theory as a whole so of course okay so you had one relationship for three years did i have that right you had one relationship for four years and you said you had three major relationships yeah yeah before my wife And so, what, 18 to 21, 22 to 26, and then something in your mid to late 20s?

[30:40] Yeah, exactly.

[30:40] And what was the one in your mid to late 20s?

[30:44] That was my last relationship. That was...

[30:52] Comparable to the others uh well kind of passive right like someone just scooped you yeah yeah, absolutely yeah absolutely and so and why did these who ended these relationships and what in your view it's always tough to know especially if somebody else ended it but what in your view was the cause of the ending um in let me see so in let's take the the three one by one so in the earliest one it was her ending it with me in the second one it was me ending it with her because she cheated on me and then on the third one it was kind of mutual, and why did the first girl leave you, she wanted she didn't want to be bound up with a guy that early in life that was her reasoning, oh so she didn't want to be in an argument she wanted to date around yeah yeah yeah okay yeah yeah exactly got it got it and but of course after three years was there any shape or progress to these relationships or were you just kind of hanging out like was it like well you know next year we should get married or we should get engaged like was there any kind of shape to these relationships oh no that was never no no no never just dating and hanging out yeah yeah okay so you understand after a couple of years her eggs are like move on move on right oh of course of Of course.

[32:19] Yeah. Yeah.

[32:20] Okay. And then with the second one, you dated for four years and then she cheated.
And again, not to give her the dominoes, but her ex are like, okay, it's been a couple of years. We don't have a kid yet. Move on. Right.
Yeah. Okay. And then.

[32:35] Well, but the interesting thing about that one, I think I actually, the second one was three years. The first one was four years.
The second one, actually, she was very much of the mindset like, nah, I don't like kids. I don't want kids.

[32:47] It so i don't know if that was a big uh well but that's the head and the the gut right that's the head and the mind of the body right the body is just there to make another body the body's like fine i'll send blood to the brain but only so the brain can find me someone to make a baby with right the whole purpose of the body is to make another body so even if she's like well i don't want kids this and that and the other it's like yeah yeah okay that's fine we're still here to make another body like that that whole impulse that whole uh life force that's that that does not get reprogrammed by the mere i mean the brain is an afterthought to the body right the body's been around for billions of years the brain is just like 150 000 years old we're like yeah we're we're a total afterthought so the idea that we can dominate this thing you know we're like a fly on the back of a of a car thinking we could steer it sometimes right so i hear what you're saying but but it doesn't really alter, I think, the biological imperatives.

[33:42] Yeah, exactly. True.

Lack of Parental Involvement in Relationship Patterns

[33:44] Okay. So...
Did your parents, I guess not, right? They didn't help you out or try and figure out any patterns or what might be going wrong?
Or did they ever say, I mean, I assume they got married pretty quickly.
So when you had this four-year relationship, from your late teens to your early to mid-20s, did they say, well, are you getting married?
What's happening with, like, we were already married and having kids by this point in four years or whatever.

[34:12] Ever like did did they give you any feedback or any prompting or any ask any questions about this kind of stuff um no no no no even even to this day like the question um it's of course that i talked to him about the situation that we're having but i think if it if this this situation wouldn't have been playing the question okay when are we going to have some grandkids wouldn't even come up because they really don't want to it feels like they don't want to like um, involved in or make decisions or have any say in our relationships.

[34:48] Well, isn't that interesting? Are your parents fans of all of the giant social programs in your country?

[34:59] They, in a way, I think they are, over the conversations that we've been having lately, maybe...

[35:08] When you were younger. oh yeah absolutely yeah so they're like free health care they like the free pensions they like the unemployment insurance they like the welfare state so it's kind of funny that well we're non-interventionist parents it's like not when it comes to the economy my taxes and the future you're not so it's just kind of funny that way we don't want to interfere but we'll take you know we'll support a system that takes 60 percent of your income in taxes it's like no no no the question of whether you interfere or not that's already water under the bridge that's done and and dust it.
The idea that we don't want to interfere when they're supporting a system that's taking more than half your money, that's not an option.
The non-interventionist parents, if they're total laissez-faire, anarcho-capitalist, whatever, whatever, right? That's one thing.
But if they're heavily social programming interference, massive government redistributionist state, but we don't want to interfere, it's like, no, no, that's already in the rear view. Now the the question is what kind of interference.
So they support a system that takes 60% of your taxes, but they don't want to interfere at all in anything to do with your love life. Is that right?

[36:13] Yeah, it sounds like that. It's not even just that they were supporting it in that way.
But my father was in the healthcare industry and my mom in the education sector. So yeah.

[36:24] Oh, so they're actually profiting from all the taxes that you pay?

[36:28] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[36:28] All right, right, okay. Right, so if you were to say we want a non-interventionist economy, they'd completely hit the roof.
But then they're totally non-interventionist in the thing that they actually can control and help with, which is your actual life and your happiness. Yeah.
Right. And of course, they knew that your sister, Young, had this, I mean, extraordinarily young premature ovarian failure, if that's what it was, right? She said 18 or 19.
So that would be even more of a reason to not have you waste time, right?
I mean, from your parents' standpoint, right? Well, we have a kid and, you know, we have genetics where one kid has fertility issues.
We should not let you waste your 20s, right?
I'm sorry, I feel like we just completely disconnected emotionally here.
No no no i'm i'm actually you know i'm i'm thinking out loud about this but this is something that i don't know if uh yeah resentment is the right word no he works in the health care industry yeah right he knows it's like if you it'd be like if i have one kid who's got a congenital heart defect and i never say to the other kid you should get tested yeah isn't that crazy yeah Isn't that weird?

[37:41] Yeah, and I have to say, when I first brought this up to my parents, especially my father, he was very, very emotional about this.
And he literally told me in tears that he really did something wrong with both of us, with both his kids, so me and my sister.

[38:06] And what did he do that was wrong that he said no he he felt responsible for both of us having no fertility issues well no he's not he's not responsible for you guys having fertility issues in terms of the biology right but what would what did he feel regret over, yeah he didn't say it in the way that i feel regret over the fact that we didn't do anything about it.

[38:37] It really felt like he meant it in a way that I did something wrong.
Like, yeah, biologically, we created you wrong. It's almost like, that's how it felt like.

[38:47] No, no. And that's absolutely not true. Like, I don't mean to sort of stomp all over your memories, but unless your father is like seriously got mental problems, the idea that he would feel guilty over genetics, that's not what he was crying over.
I guarantee you. so what was he crying over.

Parents' deception and lack of feedback in relationships with partners

[39:08] Do you think it was a regret of not acting on it while there were signs?

[39:14] Well, it's this non-interventionist approach.
Right? It's, you guys do what you want. We're not going to interfere.
We're not going to give you any feedback.
Only four years after the relationship starts and you break up do we say, oh, we didn't really like her.
Even though he's lying about it and covering it up.
Right? Right, because if your father had said, or both your parents had said, we don't like her, we're not sure why, let's talk about it, then you would have had a great conversation.
But not only did they lie to you by hiding their feelings, but they also produced the opposite feelings, isn't that right?
Like they said, oh, yes, bring her over, she's great, and they would laugh and chat with her, like they lied about everything, didn't they?

[40:02] Yeah, in a way, in a way, yeah. Yeah.

[40:04] All right. In a way, I'd like to hear how pretending you like someone you don't like, who's got your son's heart by her hand, right?

[40:15] I think what they meant in that instance was like, okay, we are fine with her just doing stuff, having dinners, having conversations.
But I don't think they liked her in a way of long-term as a wife, potential mother. I think that's what they meant.

[40:33] Okay, so did they tell you we don't think she's a suitable person, like long-term relationship at all? No, not at all. Okay.
So as you continue year after year to date this woman they don't think is a good long-term partner, the idea that they wouldn't say anything?
You know, like if my daughter gets a job at a coffee shop or something, and we assume that's just a teenage job, but then at 25 she's still working at the coffee shop the idea that I wouldn't say anything over that whole period is incomprehensible.

[41:08] And it even, and I really don't want to throw them under the bus, but we're here to get all the facts on the table, right?
It even went as far at one point, I guess, after like a couple of years in the relationship, my sister did go to my parents and she told them something like, okay, there are some signs in this girl that I really don't like and I want to have a chat with him.

[41:34] Your girlfriend?

[41:36] Yeah my my sister had that feeling about my girlfriend my ag my so my ex-girlfriend she went to my parents to ask them for advice like what should i do should i talk to him about it i would actually prefer that we all talk about it and just have a conversation and they they told her like no no it's his life let's uh let's not intervene let's not talk about it and she She, yeah, still to this day, she regrets listening to that advice.

[42:03] So your parents treat you like you're a stranger.
Like a friend would say to you, you know, what's going on with this relationship?
A friend would say, it's just got a long-term future, and here's the things that I think are a problem.
That's what a friend would do, right? Friends don't just let other friends wander into traffic or make big mistakes or whatever it is, right?
And now, an acquaintance would be less likely to do that, but an acquaintance also might be likely to do it because they have less risk and stake in the relationship.
But a complete stranger would have no requirement to give you any kind of feedback, right?
So your parents went from involved parents to having the ethics of responsibility towards you that a total stranger would have.

[42:58] Yeah, I guess I can deny that, yeah.

[43:02] And yet they still maintain that, you know, family dinners and like they have all the trappings of family.
But as far as responsibility goes, they're just treating you like, I mean, worse than someone you'd pass on the street or with more indifference.

Parents' love without practical support

[43:22] Yeah in in this regard uh i think you're spot on um which which doesn't mean because i still i i have i have a good relationship with my parents and they they they they would do everything for me and my sister uh so i don't know no no no no no no come on come on come on man i mean i appreciate I appreciate the propaganda fountain here, but it's just pretty, but without substance.

[43:52] So you say, my parents would do anything for me, right? Well, except parents.

[43:57] Well, if it comes to, I mean, like practical stuff, they would get up in the night.

[44:02] I'm sorry, practical stuff?

[44:03] Hundreds.

[44:04] Do you not think that figuring out whether the woman your son claims to love is good for him or not?
Figuring out ways that your son can actually choose women based on virtues rather than just get scooped up waste a couple of years of his life and get his heart broken how about protecting your son from a woman who's a cheater, how about you find out one of your kids has fertility issues that are age related and you never mention to your other kid you should get tested it, or at the very least, you shouldn't waste your time.

[44:43] Yeah.

[44:44] So, are these not practical things?

[44:48] Yeah, they are. You're right.

[44:51] So, let's not go down this rabbit hole if my parents would do anything for me.
They won't parent. They won't give you feedback. They won't help you out.
They won't give you the value of their experience.

[45:10] Yeah.

[45:11] And then you also present to me another paradox.

[45:15] Mm-hmm.

[45:17] The other paradox you have is you say your parents are the most in-love people.
They're the happiest people. Is that right?

[45:24] Yeah, yeah. At least, yeah.

[45:27] Okay. Okay, so listen, we'll talk about, you know, becoming a dad and all that kind of stuff.
But listen, if you could picture becoming a father, how happy can you be as a parent if your children are miserable?

[45:41] Yeah.

[45:44] I mean, that's a real question. How happy can you be if your children are miserable?

[45:49] Yeah.

[45:53] Sorry, you're not answering the question.

[45:54] No, I'm really thinking very deeply about this. There's a lot of stuff coming my way.

[46:02] Let me ask you another question. How happy can you be if your children are miserable largely as a result of you not parenting?

[46:10] Oh, yeah, not at all.

[46:12] No, no, but you see, they're happy.
You also present to be the paradox of government workers full of joy.
That's a whole other thing, which we don't really have to get into in much detail.
We keep it at a personal level.
But you and your sister have gone through pretty substantial misery to the point where you have self-destructive thoughts to a large degree as a result of their lack of parenting.
But they're just happy, don't you know? That's also completely bizarre to me.

Parents' involvement after years of neglect

[46:44] Well, I'm going to try to back up something here, not that I want to reject this.

[46:51] No, no. My thesis is totally open to being rejected.
I'm open to being completely wrong. It turns out I was kind of wrong about teeth crowding last night.
So I'm in a humble position of being schooled by you. So go ahead, make the case.

[47:05] Um so i know that uh that my parents now every time i see them which is still quite frequently they ask about okay how is everything going and did you have more answers and is there anything that can be done is there anything that's still and they are they they seem at least very involved in this and they really really see that it's a bad situation but even worse though, because it means that they're fully capable of parenting yeah they just chose not to do it for 17 goddamn years so they're fully capable of asking questions and giving feedback and checking in and and and being deep and and being involved and being parents they're fully capable of it just for about 17 years they said screw that.

[47:55] So you think that that's a better thing? I mean, I've used the analogy before, but that's like you and I crossing the Sahara Desert and you're dying at first and you're just about to expire and I bring out a big bottle of water and take a big drink.
Wouldn't you be even more enraged? What, you had this bottle of water the whole time?
Why am I dying?
Oh, you guys could be involved parents the whole time? What?
Why now? that it's too late.

[48:27] And not before.

[48:28] Are you doing this? Since you could do it at any time. Because if they have this big philosophy of don't get involved, why are they getting involved?
If they have this big philosophy of don't intervene, don't ask deep questions, don't connect at that level, why are they doing it now?

[48:43] Yeah.

[48:44] So, sorry, I mean, this case that you're making that maybe exonerates them in your mind, to me, it's far worse.

[48:52] Mm-hmm.

[48:54] You know it's like you and i go into japan for a month and then at the end of it after we've struggled with translation issues the whole time at the end of it i'm fluent in japanese at the airport and you'd be like what if you're fluent in japanese why didn't you speak it for the last month that we were struggling trying to get our needs met yeah yeah i don't know it feels like like they they they pick and choose or something that the stuff that is reactionary they uh they do get involved in and the stuff that is proactive they just push it aside or let, someone else us handle it i don't know i'm thinking out loud now well i mean it probably has a lot to do with the softness of government service that there's never any particular conflict, there's never any particular confrontation, and you never have to do anything particularly uncomfortable because you work for the government.

The cushy life of the boomer-based generation

[49:54] And on top of that, I think that, yeah, they definitely had some difficult years.
But overall, I think we could say that, yeah, they led a pretty cushy, nice life.

[50:08] I mean, they're a boomer-based generation. So, yeah, we know how soft that makes people and how gooey and all of that.
But now they've come up against something that they can't borrow or will or vote away, right?

[50:22] Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

[50:26] Yeah and so uh you know when somebody's really unhappy and look there's practical aspects of your unhappiness like the the infertility and and i'm not trying to brush past that obviously that's not a philosophical issue that's a medical issue so i'm trying to sort of figure out, um in my humble opinion this is just a theory so if it doesn't match your experience obviously toss it aside but in my humble opinion humble opinion the most self-destructive thoughts come from other people's unspoken regrets and your parents have two children, with fairly crippling medical issues that could have been prevented, Now, your sister's not so much, right, because nobody thinks premature ovarian failure at 18, but she's managed to get a kid, right?
But for you, and this is probably why your father burst into tears, is deep down in his unconscious, the wiring was put together, but he couldn't admit it, right? He couldn't be honest.
And he couldn't say, my policy of non-intervention has significantly contributed to your infertility.

[51:47] I just let you faff away your 20s, I didn't insist that you get tested, I didn't, I just let it ride, I just let it go.
Now, he's going to have massive regrets for that, and an honorable man would tell you those regrets, so that you wouldn't be burdened with his regret.

The Unspoken Regrets That Lead to Self-Destruction

[52:11] Other people's unspoken regrets well why do people not speak their regrets because, they feel self-destructive if they do if the if the regret is too big, and so if your father has self-destructive unconscious impulses because of his level of regret and your mother, but he doesn't say it, they'll transfer to you.
In my opinion, again, if this doesn't match your thoughts or your experience, but that's what I've seen the most common is self-destruction comes from unexpressed regret, usually on the part of the parents.

The Regret of Missed Opportunities

[52:56] That's a lot to dig in, but I think, yeah.

[52:58] It would be something like this.

[52:59] I think you might be right.

[53:00] If there's a man, sorry to interrupt, but if there's a man whose daughter is working at some, I don't know, radiation facility, right?
And he's read things over the years, and then some other kid succumbs to some sort of radiation sickness or whatever, and he keeps meaning to bring it up.
He just never quite gets around to it, or maybe he likes the prestige of her working there, or maybe she's making a lot of money, or I don't know, whatever, right? something that serves his ego or his vanity or something like that.
And then it turns out that all of the occasional articles he read over the years, all of the thousands and thousands of thoughts he had about talking to her about the dangers of working in this radioactive environment, let's say she then gets really sick or is infertile or something like that, I mean, the amount of regret of a thousand missed opportunities to save someone, I can't even imagine.
I mean, it's one of the reasons I do what I do, is that I know I do have a sort of fairly unique capacity to help people in these areas.
And if I didn't, the amount of regret that I would feel would be terrible, be awful.
It'd be like if you could touch people and cure their illness and you just didn't want to, or you didn't do it, then you'd feel all of that accumulated regret.
So the non-intervention, the avoidance of your parents has led to this to a large degree.

[54:20] And that regret is a very a very powerful thing i mean as a whole the boomers have all of this regret at the countries they did so much harm to but this is obviously more direct and more, more personal they can't say that they're non-interventionists because they're socialists they can't say that they don't they just want to let you live your own life and not intervene or interfere or talk about anything deeper important because they're doing that now Now, there's no principles involved here.
You know, if you asked your dad to come rob a bank with you, he'd say no, right? He's got some principles about that.
He's probably still a fan of central banking, but that's a different matter, right? So, it's not, there's no principles here.

[55:07] So, what is going on?
Why did your parents not intervene or give you any feedback in this most obvious sphere and in particular because of your sister why did they not say anything, and that's a real question it's not a rhetorical question, because I think a failure to answer that or a failure to know that is contributing significantly to the unhappiness you're feeling, yeah I think you might be right, so why didn't they intervene, why didn't they claim to be parents and yet not parent.

Confusion about parents' sudden abandonment

[55:59] I really have no clue. The only thing I can imagine is that, yeah, in their mind, it was like, okay, after a certain age, we're done with our job. That's how it always felt like to me.

[56:14] Okay, so they're like frogs. They don't raise their kids, right?
Wolves raise their kids. Frogs don't.
So then why are they still parents? Why would they still have you around?
Why would you still be around if they're just frogs?
Like if they just went, well, after 15, they're on their own.
Kick them out of the nest.
Okay, then why are you all having dinners? Why are you all hanging out?
If they're done parenting, that's all they are as parents.
If they're done parenting, it'd be like you go to your wife and you say, well, I'm done being a husband.
I'm done. I'm not your husband anymore. Well, what do you have to do? Move out, right?
You can't say, well, I'm done being your husband, but I still want to live together.
I still want to claim each other's dependence on taxes. is i still want sex i still want you to run the household or whatever she's doing and i still want to stay married but i'm done being your husband what would she say, she would say that's insane that's insane that's crazy of course right it'd be like me telling you i'm done with this conversation but we should really keep talking, so if they're done being parents what are they yeah i'm really thinking now about them but But then why were they...
But also, hang on, sorry, but also, at 15, you're still 10 years away from brain maturity.

[57:39] Yeah, of course.

[57:40] So they are stopping parenting 10 years before you're finished being a kid.

[57:47] Yeah.

[57:49] Now, legally, most people become adults at 18. So this would be the equivalent of some parents saying to their kid at the age of 8, well, I did the 8 years, you're on your own. and moving out.
So, that's the question we need to answer. That would be helpful if they were on the call, and of course they're certainly welcome to call me anytime.
We can sort this out, but we probably have to do a bit of a reach around here.
So, why did they abandon you and your sister in your mid-teens?

The Perception of Parental Involvement

[58:31] I couldn't answer that.

[58:34] Well, tell me a little bit about how they were involved when you were younger.
And I don't mean this from a skeptical standpoint, but you said they were very involved when they were younger.
And then they stopped being involved or stopped giving you feedback.
So what happened when you were younger that you have the perception that they were involved or very involved?

[58:54] So to give a bit of background on the situation. So for a pretty long time, my dad used to work in another neighboring country.
So he would be away for four days per week.
My mom would be home for those four days and she would just be there fully with the kids.
And the three days that my dad would be home, he would be there to fully spend the weekends with us.
And we would do anything with the family. We would go out. There wasn't a weekend or anything that we didn't do anything with the family.
There was always quality time and always fun stuff, but also informative stuff and lessons and talking and everything.

[59:40] And for how long of your childhood was your father gone? More than half the week?

[59:46] Until I was about, let's say, 11 years old, 11, 12.

[59:51] You mean from when you were a baby to 11?

[59:54] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[59:56] Why was your father choosing a job where he was gone more than half the time?

[1:00:04] To make it possible for my mom to stay home with the kids, financially.

[1:00:08] Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope.
Sorry to be annoying, but that's just not true.
Are you saying there was only one job in the world...

[1:00:20] Well, I know that the sector that he works in, like the specific niche where he works in there, the pay in the neighboring country was like double what it was here. I don't care!

[1:00:37] Oh my god, who gives a rat's ass about that? I don't care!
Why on earth would that matter? Let's say that he could only make half the money.
Yeah right did he did he ever say to you well you'll have less nice things maybe we'll live in a smaller place but dad will be home every day what would you have said as a kid, oh i would have enjoyed that immensely i always enjoyed all the time i spent with my dad and my so you're saying that your father worked for the family but that's not what you you and your sister and wanted.
I also assume that's not what your mother wanted. Your mother obviously would prefer your father being home as would you and your sister, right?
So why was he, I mean, honestly, I'm just saying from a father myself, and I'm sorry to bring up as a father myself, because I know that's what you're struggling with, but if somebody said to me, well, you could make twice the income, but you have to spend more than half your life away from your family, what would I say?

[1:01:43] No like not gonna happen yeah like that's almost like a demonic offer yeah half of like more than half abandoned your family but here's some money, why would you choose money over family to be fair that money did allow us to like do all the things that we did as a family in the weekends and on the days so we would be together, and so it's still not what you wanted it, Oh, I wouldn't have traded that for anything in the world, but well...

[1:02:17] Sorry, wouldn't have traded what?

[1:02:18] No, the fun times we had as a family.

[1:02:21] I'm sorry, are you saying that fun times as a family necessarily involve distance and money?
That no families had any fun if they had less income?

[1:02:34] No, no, I'm just talking about our situation specifically, specifically uh where yeah that made it possible to uh to do the things we did to have the things we had and sorry i'm a little confused i thought you said you would prefer your father to be home, and now you're saying you preferred him to be away because then he could spend more money on no no no no no no no no no no no no i'm just trying to follow no i get i get where the confusion is because i'm i might be a bit confused about this myself uh as well um because i never looked at it this way but so i i think i think the thing is that um so the days that my father would be away were the days that we were mostly in school then my mom would be there to to take care of us and um yeah it would be uh you know how the schools are in this uh this part of the world it would be a couple of hours with the parents in this case the mom and the real quality of his time would anyway be in the weekend my dad would always be there but yeah sorry you're just basically repeating what you said before i'm not sure how that adds to the conversation in particular so your father was gone for more than half of the week for 11 years if you counted yeah and nobody asked you right like your parents made the decision we want more money and less dad.

[1:03:55] Did anyone ask you, would you rather have more dad and less money?
No. And if someone had asked you more dad and less money, what would you have said?

[1:04:06] Yeah, I would have said more of my dad, yeah, definitely.

[1:04:10] Okay. Your mother didn't say to your father, there's no way on God's green earth that you get to be away more than half of our marriage.

[1:04:23] Yeah.

[1:04:23] Because I love you. You said your parents are crazy in love, right?

[1:04:28] Mm-hmm.

[1:04:28] But your mother chose more money and less husband.

[1:04:33] Yeah.

[1:04:34] Now, if someone were to say to me, Steph, you can have double your money, but you can't see your wife more than half the time, what would I say?

[1:04:43] Not going to happen.

[1:04:44] Oh, God, no. Yeah. Like, you've got to be like, that's insane.
More money? Now, listen, if he was drafted, or, I don't know, like something that was completely outside of his will, we'd have nothing but sympathy, right? But this is a total choice.

[1:05:00] Yeah.

[1:05:01] More money, less husband. More money, less dad.
So he traded his marriage, well, he traded more than half of his marriage and more than half of his parenting for money.
That's contemptible in my view.

[1:05:18] Yeah. Yeah.

[1:05:23] If it's Russia after the collapse of communism and he just can't find work and it's the only way the family can survive that's heroic, I get that and I have nothing but sympathy for that but this isn't that, right?
No, it's not and also because he was making his money elsewhere he didn't have to work to develop contacts to get job experience locally to work his way up to the place where you don't know, I mean if after 11 years he might have had tripled the income locally, locally well that did actually happen after the experience he built up there but yeah but well no because he could have built that experience he could have built up that experience locally also he could have started the company, yeah so which he did when he came back okay so he so he has the capacity to be an entrepreneur but he just yeah so this is a weird thing to me i don't understand this, which is and look if it's a year or two that's bad enough but this is 11 years from when you were born right so your father did only a couple of years of full time parenting before he's like peace I'm tapping out I'm done.

[1:06:34] Because, listen, fun stuff as a parent is, to a large degree, nonsense.
Parenting is not Disney World. Parenting is not running up a slide.
Parenting is not going to a museum. Parenting is not having fun.
These things are all involved.
But parenting is the transfer of wisdom to help your children avoid disaster so the fact that you had a lot of fun with dad but he didn't teach you any foundational, lessons of value and wisdom to help guide you in the path of life but you played volleyball or whatever you did that's not parenting that's barely babysitting, listen I don't expect babysitters when my daughter was young I don't expect babysitters to give her big deep lessons on life I expect babysitters to pay attention to her to keep her safe and to play with her, yeah but they don't parent her.

Parents' teachings on virtues and values

[1:07:50] So tell me, over the course of your first 15 years, what did your parents teach you about virtues and values that was of lasting value?

[1:08:08] So I'm going to push back a bit against this because I think… Please, go ahead.

[1:08:12] I'm feeling my way forward here, so if I hit something wrong, just tell me and I'll have to go the other way.

[1:08:16] They definitely taught us about values and how to become successful in life.
I just think that when it comes down to romantic relationships, they just didn't want to get involved.
I think that's the only part. And I don't know where that's coming from.
It might be that for them, they just struck the life partner first time they tried, more or less.

[1:08:45] I'm sorry. Sorry, I just want to make sure I understood. So your father gave you sort of practical business or career advice?

[1:08:53] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[1:08:54] And for how long did he do that? Or when did that start and for how long did it last?

[1:09:02] I think that was always like, there were always lessons and teaching throughout everything we did.
So it wasn't that they didn't. But I think there is just a disconnect when it comes down to...
Um um, Yeah, I would say I lived at my parents' place until I was 20, 21-ish, but there was definitely a decline or more a freedom in doing whatever you would like to do.

[1:09:59] No, no, no, I get that. Sorry, I understand that. I mean, there should be, right? But your father gave you career or business advice well into your 20s, into your 30s?
Um advice yes but did i do much with it or did it no no no it doesn't matter what you did with it no that doesn't that so he did parent so so this idea that you can't lose at the age of 15 in some lord of the flies scenario is false because your father did he didn't say with regards to your career well it's your life i don't want to interfere i don't want to intervene right With your career, he gave you a lot of feedback and advice.

[1:10:40] Yeah, that's true. That's true. Yeah, absolutely. And finances and stuff like that, buying the birth certificate.

[1:10:45] I'm not saying that you're lying, but what you told me wasn't even remotely true.
That your parents have this general philosophy of non-intervention and that you were basically on your own since your mid-teens.

[1:10:57] No i um but but i think and this is absolutely my fault for not stating this stating this correctly is that um i when it comes down to romantic relationships they always were like yeah you do whatever you feel is correct whatever you feel like doing because in any other sense yeah i definitely got the guidance that i i needed at least i think i did well what about about medical issues such as fertility issues.

Lack of parental involvement in medical and health issues

[1:11:27] Yeah, you're right. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

[1:11:29] So health issues, medical issues, romantic issues. What about problems that you had with friends or conflicts you had with friends?

[1:11:40] I can't recall many, to be very honest. So that didn't really come up.

[1:11:45] Okay, got it, got it. So your parents did continue to parent, which is even more confusing.

[1:11:53] Yeah. Right?

[1:11:54] So they did continue to parent with regards to your work issues, but just not with sort of medical or health stuff, particularly with regards to fertility, and not with anything romantic or anything like that, right?

[1:12:05] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, that's correct.
That's correct. So it seems like there is specific issues where the involvement gets disrupted.

[1:12:14] Okay, so let me ask you this.
Your parents were fully aware that you needed specific guidance in your career, right?
Or with regards to education or whatever it was, right?

[1:12:28] Yes.

[1:12:29] Did your parents, were your parents at all involved in your desire or your decision to stop being a part-time musician?

[1:12:40] No.

[1:12:40] Okay. So your parents were aware that you needed significant amounts of feedback in order to succeed in your career.

[1:12:49] Mm-hmm.

[1:12:49] Now, do you think that more people have an easier time succeeding in their career or an easier time succeeding in their romantic relationships?

[1:13:05] I would guess career?

[1:13:07] Yeah, I think in general it's career.

[1:13:09] Yeah.

[1:13:11] So, they knew that you needed deep and intense feedback with regards to your career, but not with regards to anything romantic.
Now, so they weren't non-interventionists. They were just non-interventionists in the most difficult area of life.
Are your parents religious?

[1:13:39] Used to be, but... Well, when you were young. Yeah.
More or less like, oh, it's in the family. We have to do it for grandpa and grandma.
So we're going to be married in church. But I would say that especially my dad now, he's fully non-religious. No, no, but back then.
They went to church, but more or less because what was expected.

[1:14:02] And did they bring you to church?

[1:14:05] Yeah, I was even an altar boy and in choirs and everything. Oh, okay.

[1:14:09] So as far as you knew, your parents took religion very seriously, right?

[1:14:12] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Even as a kid, I think I already had a feeling that it was something that was taken most seriously by the grandparents, and my parents still just went along with it.

[1:14:28] But did your parents say to you, we go to church because of faith, or did they say, well, we don't really believe, but we just go to church because it's what your grandparents want?

[1:14:38] It's a very interesting thing. thing my my uh so my dad even uh a bit later in life when i was in my teens he went on a path to to to study uh the bible to um to to to help people in the medical field um, from a religious perspective and actually in that whole process of studying the bible he He completely lost his faith.

[1:15:05] And it's interesting that your father will do what his father wants out of conformity, right?

[1:15:17] Yeah, yeah.

[1:15:18] Right. But he won't ask you what he should do, whether he should stay home or not.

[1:15:24] Yeah.

[1:15:24] Okay.

[1:15:25] And actually, now that I'm thinking about it, that also co-aligned with the time that his father, or so my grandpa, passed away the moment that he I think a bit after that, actually, that he went into the full-on Bible studies and then rejected his faith.

[1:15:43] Now, I'm not obviously, I don't know this for sure, but the rather cynical side of me, my friend, says that your father conformed to his father's, religious preferences, so that he could get an inheritance.
Now, once he got that inheritance, he really didn't need the religion as much anymore.

[1:16:06] I don't think that's the case. There was not much talk of any inheritance there. Okay.

[1:16:12] That's perfectly fine to be corrected on. I appreciate that.

[1:16:15] No, there were eight children, and he had a job that was not really like, he weren't very wealthy. No, I don't think that's the case.

[1:16:26] Well, I guess fertility wasn't much of an issue in that generation.

[1:16:29] Yeah, no, that's true.

[1:16:33] And your parents, they had you and your sister when they were young, right? In their 20s, early 20s?

[1:16:41] My dad was 30, my mom 28, I think. So a bit on the later side for that.

[1:16:48] Wait, sorry, they were together for a decade?

[1:16:51] Yeah.

[1:16:52] Before they had any kids?

[1:16:53] More than a decade.

[1:16:54] More than a decade, right? 17 to 13 years for your dad, right?
Yeah. Okay. Did you ever ask them why?

Lack of Sports Interest and Solo Sports

[1:17:03] Um school career get a house and then get married and get kids wow okay well which is not what his father did of course but okay okay not at all not at all okay so if you're a coach right let's say tell me sports that you've played i was never really into sports so i think we're in the wrong category for me yeah well you must have played something i mean even if it's oh no i i i played it all i just didn't like any of it okay did you ever play tennis no no no any other racket sports, no i did uh i did some uh mountain climbing uh for a long time so more solo sports i would say okay all right uh mountain climbing i did some research on that for my last novel so And I've done some myself, though nothing particularly spectacular, although ridiculously dangerous in hindsight, but that's, you know, there.

[1:18:04] Okay, so if you are a coach, I'm going to have to go with tennis here just because I think we can understand it.
Okay, so in tennis, you know, there's two areas that most people need work on, the backhand and the serve, right?
Serves are tricky, and backhands are not as strong as forehands for obvious reasons, right?
So if you're a coach and you coach a very talented player and you coach very hard on network, lobbying, soft shots, but you completely neglect to train that athlete on the backhand and the serve, why would you fail to coach a talented player on the most difficult aspects of the sport? what would be your motivation?
I mean, do you want that player to win?

[1:19:02] Well, if you describe it like that, it doesn't sound like you do.
It sounds like you're sabotaging the person.
If you know that that's the issue and you're purposely not teaching it. Right.

[1:19:13] So you are a coach, but you're only teaching to the strengths.
The guy's got a wicked forehand, so you just keep working him on his forehand.
And then he keeps losing on his backhand, right? People serve to his backhand and he flubs the shot and he loses, right?
And then you say, we've really got to work on your forehand.
You understand as a coach you'd be sabotaging that player right yeah exactly do you understand the analogy yeah yeah so if your parents see you completely like failing over and over again in life but they're still willing to coach you on everything but that, that's because for some reason i don't know why but for some reason, they want you to fail especially because they know how to succeed because as you say their their relationship is good, right?
Although if their relationship was really good, there's no way they'd be separated for more than half their marriage for 11 years, right?

[1:20:09] Yeah.

[1:20:10] So then the question is, and then maybe this is why your dad was crying, sort of an unconscious level of why he felt sort of very sad and full of regret.
Why? See, I thought earlier for the first like three quarters of the conversation, I just thought, well, they're just non-interventionists. They don't give you any feedback.
And then it's like, no, no, no, they give me tons of feedback just not in the areas that are most that are most difficult that i'm failing in the most yeah no that was on me for not no no i'm not i'm not blaming you i'm just sort of pointing it out right so yeah this is sort of a radical realignment of the convo for me because they're not laissez-faire and of course i did point out the hypocrisy i mean that would have been an opening right i said well they're socialists so they're not laissez-faire it's like and they're also not laissez-faire in my in my career because they gave me tons of advice on on that okay yeah that's true that's true so then the question is why would they withhold coaching from the area that's the most difficult that you're failing in the most when they are already successful in this area.

[1:21:12] Is it the classic thing where parents feel kind of humiliated if their kids overtake them in a certain regard, or is that the complete wrong direction?

[1:21:29] Well, I mean, there is a little bit of that aspect, but any decent parent knows that that's the deal, right?

[1:21:34] Yeah, of course.

[1:21:35] I mean, as a coach, aren't you happier if your student does even better than you? I mean, I know that it's a little bitter at times, but, you know, I don't think that's the fundamental issue.

[1:21:46] Yeah, yeah.

[1:21:47] All right, so tell me a little bit about their marriage. How do they resolve conflicts? How do they negotiate with each other? How do they maintain this happiness?

Conflict Resolution: Dropping and Pushing Aside

[1:22:00] That's a very good question. If there's any conflict, which absolutely did happen, there was like a bit of bickering, but not yelling or screaming or anything like that.
But I think it would just be dropped and pushed aside a lot of times.
We're just like, yeah, yeah, whatever.
Let's drop it and let's move on with life. I think that would be, in a lot of the cases, the way to, yeah, that's not resolving, but to handle it.
And what would you say uh your parents major attraction to each other is what is it the virtues and values that they find celebrate and and revel in in each other or they are completely aligned in most things in at least in in in like um let's say the um the the fun parts of life they They travel the world with each other.
They cook, they eat, they watch the same shows, like they go to theater, stuff like that.
So it's, yeah, they are pretty well aligned in that regard.

[1:23:09] Yeah, I mean, none of those in particular are virtues and values, right?

[1:23:12] Yeah, you're right, you're right.

The question of similarities between parents' and son's relationships

[1:23:20] Yeah, good question.
And I don't really know how to answer that, to be very honest.
I think that they absolutely have virtues in common.
The only question is, now that I'm thinking about it like this, to specifically call them out, that's a bit hard.
Um i always had the feeling that uh that my mom also kind of like goes with the flow if my dad says that's the right thing to do she's like yeah okay then that's what we do which doesn't mean that i'm sorry if your dad says they have some what to do anything like if oh whatever to do that he wants to go to prague you go to prague okay yeah okay which doesn't mean that she doesn't sometimes also push back at it it's not like she's uh uh completely uh uh like my dad is completely in charge of everything but i think in general it's yeah maybe in the sense of like he's the the head of the household so that's that's what we do okay now are they aware that i mean I mean, a fair number of standards have changed in the past 40 years.
They must be.

[1:24:46] Yeah, they must be. They watch shows. They watch the news. They're probably on social media.
So they know that that more traditional type of relationship is not really a thing anymore, right?

[1:25:00] Yeah. Yeah. so you know if i'm a coach and the rules of the game change isn't it incumbent upon me to learn the new rules so that i can continue to coach people to play the game that actually exists, yeah of course yeah right so so of course uh if they think that things are just going to work out for you and your girlfriends the way it worked out for them that would be false right yeah yeah, so yeah but that that is that is exactly where so there was an a moment that i talked about already with with like an ex-girlfriend that i found out afterwards that they they weren't completely crazy about her that i more or less confronted them with it and told them like but why wouldn't you speak up about it and what is the reason to just yeah be silent about it just go Go along with it and don't really call it out.
And even worse, tell my sister not to talk to me about it. So we had that conversation.
And there was a lot of vagueness, but not really a direct answer.
I don't think they are aware of why they are doing it. Or they are and they are trying to do it.

[1:26:09] Oh, no, they'd be aware of it because otherwise they'd be open to exploring it, right?

[1:26:14] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[1:26:18] So, one of the reasons that you're in the situation that you're in is your parents' passivity and potential, in my view, sabotage. Now, it may be unconscious, but that doesn't really matter because you're still responsible for what you do, right?
The magic word unconscious doesn't erase responsibility from people.
And that may be something that you have to wrestle with. And I think what it could do, of course, is it could get you to a place of more directness and honesty with your parents, because generally we feel overwhelmed when problems multiply, right?
The sorrows come not in single spies, but in battalions, as I think that's from Macbeth, right?
So, if you are dealing with infertility and also frustration and anger at your parents' passivity or lack of feedback regarding your relationships, which, you know, somewhat likely, mildly likely might have solved this problem if your sperm was better when you were younger, then you have two problems.
And then you also have the problem of supporting your wife and also dealing with your own unhappiness.
And like, it's multidimensional, if that makes sense.

[1:27:32] Yeah. Yeah, it does. It does.

The multi-dimensional nature of problems and avoidance of them

[1:27:34] It's never just one problem, right? So, I mean, I don't want to make this about me, but just sort of give you the example that when I broke up with my fiancé in my 20s, it wasn't just my breakup with my fiancé.
The haunting question of why everyone was just applauding me getting married to the wrong person.
Not a bad person, just the wrong person.
Either they didn't know me enough to know who was right for me, in which case they've known me for decades but don't have a clue about me, or they know she's not right for me and are just letting me have it, in which case they're just sabotaging, right?
So these problems, they uncork a lot of other problems.
And it sounds like your parents avoid problems.
But this is a problem you can't avoid.

[1:28:20] Yeah, no, I think that's correct.

[1:28:22] And so not only do your parents avoid problems, but they've also taught you problem avoidance as a coping mechanism, but this is a problem you can't avoid, so it brings the whole weakness of the history and family structure to light, if that makes sense.

[1:28:36] Yeah oh and this this this this is absolutely a direct hit because i notice in myself that i try to avoid even thinking about this as much as possible just focusing on something like uh whatever uh reading or playing a game or uh hobbying or whatever just to take my mind out of of this to just try to push it aside so that absolutely yeah well and listen i i can understand that to some degree, which is if you spend a certain amount of time thinking about it and you need a break.

[1:29:10] But if you're doing that to avoid thinking about it, that may not be the wisest approach, in my opinion.

[1:29:15] No, and I know it isn't. I know it isn't. This is not something I can push aside.
This is something that needs to be tackled, and it's going to decide the rest of my and my wife's future. So, yeah.

[1:29:26] All right. So, with your permission, of course, we can get to the, current issue and I can do my best to clarify the choices not, obviously can't solve anything but I can at least give you what I see as the choices and then you can tell me if this makes sense, alright.
Yes, of course So, of course, choice is sperm donor and your wife's egg, right?

[1:29:49] Yeah, which so this is what I said in the email where we have some differing visions, so from a religious perspective that is for my wife some something that is very hard to accept yeah it's a kind of cheating right exactly yeah and the same with with ivf and everything like that she's very like yeah this is not natural not the way that it should be and um yeah she views it in a way as playing for god if we uh go that route right i'm i understand that i you know if people have taken antibiotics and have heating in the winter that's That's not natural either, so the whole natural argument is a little specious to me, but okay, so that's a challenge.

[1:30:34] Now on a scale of one to ten, how much does she want to become a mother?

[1:30:42] I would say an eight.

[1:30:45] An eight, okay. And what's your number for wanting to become a father?

[1:30:50] I think mine is a bit higher, might be a nine, maybe even a 10.

[1:30:54] Okay. And how old is she?

[1:30:57] She's 34.

[1:30:59] Right. So if she is to become a mother and you can't make her a mother and she won't accept a sperm donor, then would you would she be happier if you let her go to become a mother with another man or would she be too unhappy because uh love of her life and i don't mean to sound cynical and again i don't know what you should or shouldn't do but i'm sure that's crossed your mind no we had this conversation we had this conversation very openly where i told her like if the reason that you can't be a mother is only because of me, then I need you to be honest with me and tell me that this is a deal breaker.

[1:31:40] Because like I said, when we went on a first date, this was a question we had to each other.
And if any of us would have said, no, we don't want kids, we wouldn't have gone on a second date. So that's how...

[1:31:52] No, but this is still passive.

Considering motherhood with another man or staying childless.

[1:31:54] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[1:31:55] This is still passive. In your heart of hearts, will she be happier happier if she becomes a mother with another man or will she be happier if she stays with you without children and now you don't have to answer this i don't know what the answer is and you know you may need to mull this over and so on but don't go rubber bones in major decisions right, you know don't put it all on her, Because you know her well enough to know these options. Now, I understand it's pretty dicey for her.
That's why I asked how old she was, because at 34, if she separates from you in order to have kids with another man, I mean, she's got some seriously loaded dice in her hands, right?

[1:32:38] Yeah, of course.

[1:32:39] And not loaded towards a bunch of kids, right? Because, you know, she might not meet a man until she's 35, 36.
They've got a date. Like, she's really starting to push the envelope there, right?

[1:32:49] Well the answer she's giving me pretty clear out is that no it's not an option to separate over this of course you've talked about adoption and what's the thoughts there, well that's where my thoughts come in negatively towards it because I with the stats on adoption and like the time it takes especially in where we live it's just it's going to take up to 10 years or something to be, uh be in line for adoption at least if you want the kid young enough that you won't have any of the issues that you have with older kids and so that's what i am pretty yeah uh okay got it so adoptions on the table for you um sperm donors is off the table for her now she understands i i i sorry i wouldn't say that it's fully off the table uh for both of us but i think we are um, So, again, to put it on a scale of 1 to 10, I would say, for me, adoption is a 2 out of 10, and for her, egg donor, IVF is a 2 out of 10.

[1:33:54] Well, it's not an egg donor, is it?

[1:33:57] Sorry, sorry, sperm donor.

[1:33:58] Sperm donor, yeah, so a whole lot less complicated than an egg donor.

[1:34:02] Oh, yeah, of course.

[1:34:04] Sorry, it's a 4 out of 10 for her?

[1:34:06] 2. I would say 2 out of 10, and for me, adoption, 2 out of 10.

[1:34:10] Oh, okay, so you have a very negative view of adoption and she has a very negative view of a sperm donor, right?
Now, I mean, I don't want to disrespect her religious views, of course, right?
But even with my theological understanding, which is not massive, but I don't understand how it's playing God to introduce a sperm to an egg.
I don't quite understand how that's not natural. I mean, that's exactly how God has constructed human beings to make more human beings.
Now, she can say, well, it's not my husband's sperm. I get that for sure.
But you're still creating a life a soul a whole series of lives and souls and you are, bringing children into an environment where there's good values good virtues peaceful parenting and all i assume and all that kind of good stuff so uh i mean if we were talking about genetic engineering in a fish tank i get it right but yeah this is uh this is sperm and egg stuff This is like God 101, isn't it?

[1:35:12] Yeah, but the thing is that the way they're looking at it here with our medical system is that with the age and everything, they would probably also extract an egg, then fertilize it in a lab, and then replant the egg.

[1:35:25] So, just to be sure that it has the… Sorry, I mean, wouldn't you just try it the normal way first? Sure.

[1:35:34] Um, I don't think so. I don't think that's, uh, that that's an option that they gave to us.
I think just, uh, uh, the success rate of doing it the other way is way higher and it's a very expensive procedure.

[1:35:48] Procedure and of course they're going to try and sell you the more expensive procedure oh my god, i mean i know it's socialized health care but they still get to build a government a lot more exactly so um you know i i you know i can't give anybody any medical advice but i can certainly give you some consumer advice that if the only car that the dealership is showing you is the most expensive car it's probably not the best dealership around right yeah true and even if you have to go overseas i mean whatever it is right like this there's ways that you can make this happen it's just a matter of, decisiveness and willpower right yeah well we are in the middle of that also going to her home country to uh look at the options there because we do feel that here there are some limitations in the options they're giving us right yeah i mean as you and i both know just about every health care system has been compromised by fairly obscene government-based profit motives so uh just you know i'm more skeptical to this here here's a handful of pills you don't need any lifestyle changes so yeah exactly okay so so you're going to stay together and you are looking into the sperm donor thing which will solve the problem and the uh the the other of course the possible outcome or the possible result is you can't have kids right like you don't adopt and you for whatever reason this doesn't work or you choose not to go forward so then you don't have kids, right?

[1:37:08] Yeah, and I don't even think that that is my main concern.
Well, of course, it's a huge deal. But even the step before that, if we do have a child and it's from a sperm donor or even adoption, I'm really, really afraid of my feelings towards a child that I know in my heart of hearts is not mine.

[1:37:32] Well, I mean, that's a little bit of semantics with regards to what what the question of mine is.

[1:37:37] Yeah.

[1:37:38] I mean, if you, if you actually are an involved parent, that kid is more yours than you are your father's.
Because he was gone for more than half your childhood, and then he was not giving you advice in the most challenging and important areas of life from the age of 15.
Well, he never gave you advice at that, because he never gave you advice on dating, really.
So, as far as yours, if you're an involved parent, then that kid will be more yours than you are your father's in terms of parental involvement, if that makes sense.

[1:38:10] Yeah, but it's not like we can disregard the genetic part, right?
Well that's a false dichotomy though because i didn't say you can disregard the genetic no no of course yeah yeah yeah the genetic part no but i i mean that is also something like if you um so so to yeah take it to a personal situation again um so the situation with my sister that managed to do have a they did have a kid um she told me um that even to this day So she sees that he has some traits that the dad has, but there was nothing in there that reminds her of her even like genetically, like in that sense.
Um but just the fact that she was able to carry him for nine months makes it feel for her like so natural that this is his kid her kid even if she doesn't see any specific like genetic uh genetic traits or anything like that for me i can never have that feeling because yeah as a man you just you you don't have that part where you literally carry the child of course yeah i mean you wouldn't get that under any circumstances, right? No, no, no, true, true, true.

[1:39:28] So, yeah, as far as that goes, it's the question of will you be happy raising a beautiful child or children with your wife, right?
That's sort of the, you know, and you say, oh, well, of course you would rather the child be genetically or biologically your own, And I guess the question then is, if it's only half of you, as opposed to all of you, will that be enough?
Do you want a child that's half your wife's, or do you want a child, or do you not want a child?
I mean, obviously, that's the sort of bold and basic question.

Bonding and enhancing the parent-child relationship

[1:40:02] Yeah.

[1:40:03] As to whether or not, like, how much you bond and so on, obviously I can't really answer that in any particular way.
I understand that it's a concern. I also assume that it's a concern that has been thoroughly explored by all of the countless people who've raised children that are not genetically theirs.
I mean, there's literally billions of people around the world throughout human history, or at least hundreds of billions, who've raised children who aren't biologically theirs.
Right? I mean, so that's something where I'm sure there's a lot of expertise and ways to try and enhance or ensure the bond as much as possible over that course.

[1:40:47] And I would certainly, you know, there may be fertility specialists that help with that.
So I wouldn't obviously, I'm not saying you would be, but I wouldn't be passive with regards to that.
And I would look into the kind of expertise that has been developed over the entirety of human evolution, where the challenge of raising a kid who's not yours biologically has been explored.
And I'm sure that there's, I don't know if you've looked into that kind of stuff, but I'm sure that there's lots of tips, tricks, solutions, approaches that can help improve the pair bonding.
I mean, the joy that you see, the joy that you experience as a father seeing your children with their mother is not to be underestimated.
And that happiness, it's not not just you and the baby it's you and the baby and the mother or you and the babies and the mother and that happiness you know i i love seeing my wife with our daughter and uh that's something that happens um regardless of your genetic involvement so if if if her happiness is your happiness then that will certainly be enough if that makes sense yeah right if her having a baby or babies, if her happiness is your happiness, I think almost tautologically that will be enough if that makes sense.

[1:41:59] Yeah, I know it does. It does.

[1:42:01] Okay. Now, I guess the last, question, is if you don't have children, because everything has to be weighed against that, right?
The cost, the expense, the challenge, the potential dice roll of bonding and all of that. If you don't have children, then is it enough that you're an uncle? I mean, you obviously will have an influence on your sister's children. Does she have one or more than one?
Or is she aiming for more than one?

[1:42:31] One, they did try for more, but it was unfortunately not in the cards for them anymore.

[1:42:38] And have they stopped with that attempt?

[1:42:41] Yeah, they tried. I think they tried three or four times after that, which every single attempt is multiple attempts in one.

[1:42:49] Oh, yeah, no, it's expensive and painful and hormones months and difficult and moodiness and oh yeah no it's a yeah it's a big deal it's a big deal so they they gave up on it and they just counted the blessings that they uh uh even yeah they were so lucky to even have get one under the wire yeah exactly exactly so if you don't have children, then the first thing as a man the first thing you're going to do is say who's responsible right right?

[1:43:17] Yeah.

Responsibility and blame in the situation

[1:43:17] I mean, when there's a mess, a disaster, we could say, then the question is, who's responsible?
And that's why I was sort of focusing on your parents. Now, of course, I'm not saying your parents are responsible, like 100%, because you're an adult and all of that.
But it's pretty tough when you're dating for almost 10 years before you reach brain maturity without any guidance.
It's kind of tough to take full responsibility yourself, if that makes sense.

[1:43:46] Yeah, it does.

[1:43:47] Now, so I think that your parents have some level of responsibility.
As does, is your sister older?

[1:43:53] No, younger.

[1:43:54] Younger, okay. So your sister's younger, and she went to your parents saying, should I talk to my brother? And they said no, and that was bad advice.
She was an adult, I assume, when she did that. So she has some culpability, but it's kind of tough when you go to your parents, and they give you bad advice, and you're younger than your sibling.
It's tough to say 100% there, in my view.

[1:44:14] Yeah, yeah. Well, to her credit, after that happened, she was very clear and open to me and she said, from now on, I'm never going to take an advice like that again.
If there's anything that I don't like, I'm going to call you.
We're going to talk about it. And this is never going to happen again.

[1:44:29] Okay good good yeah yeah so if you can i want to say assign blame assigned responsibility, because a disaster where no responsibility is assigned is a giant mess in particular because how do you prevent repetition if that makes sense yeah yeah how do you prevent repetition, And that's why I've sort of been talking about the causality of all of this, right?

[1:45:00] Yeah, yeah.

[1:45:03] So how are you going to prevent repetition of this kind of disaster?
You say, oh, well, it's about the kids.
It's like, no, it's not really about the kids. It's going to involve a lot of things, right? You've still got a half century or more to go in this world.
So it's going to involve a lot of other things. So if you were to give me sort of, I guess, a brief speech about how you ended up here, what would you say?

[1:45:25] Ended up where well in the situation where you have to face childlessness or adoption or sperm donors or something like that oh i that's very very clear i didn't take relationships as serious as i should i went with the flow i just went with what came along and i didn't take it serious enough uh until uh yeah until my current relationship with my wife so i'm definitely partly to blame myself for not um taking yeah taking it as seriously as i should have definitely, okay so that's partly and what else, um I'm not sure, actually, if there's another part that made us end up in this position.
I'm trying to think here, but do you have any ideas in which direction we could be looking for an answer for this?

Self-reflection and parental culpability

[1:46:36] This is one of the strangest conversations I've ever had, this part. Like, ever.

[1:46:41] Okay, okay, okay.
Oh, sorry. I thought it was understood because we talked so long about it that, yeah, the part of my parents not talking about it.

[1:47:17] Well, what I asked for, and again, I mean, right, what I asked for was a speech about who or what was responsible.
And, you know, after this, if you don't mention your parents, it's kind of bewildering, right?

[1:47:31] Yeah.

[1:47:33] Because part of that speech would be your parents' culpability.
So give me some understanding of what you think of with regards to your parents' culpability in this.

[1:47:45] Yeah, I think you're absolutely right when you said that my parents should be more involved in my relationships, in my path through life, in starting a family, and not letting me waste more than a decade in relationships that were never going to end up in a place of true happiness. Yeah, absolutely.

[1:48:15] And what are your thoughts about that?
In other words, how is that going to change? I mean, when we have insights or understandings, it should have something to do with how we change our behavior going forward.
Otherwise, those insights and understandings don't add up to much other than wasted time in gathering them.
So how is that going to change?

[1:48:37] If your parents have some culpability in this situation, then how are your what is your choices or decisions or actions how are they going to change going forward i think the first thing is that uh i'm gonna have to sit down uh with my parents and talk about all this and my feelings about this how um uh yeah i i didn't realize it but i do feel that there is partly uh yeah partly on them that uh i ended up where i am right now now.
Yeah, that's going to be a tough conversation, but I think they would be absolutely open for it.
There would definitely be some defensiveness. It's definitely something that runs in the family when we're confronted with something that there is some defensiveness in the beginning, but they wouldn't storm out or anything.
They would listen and have the conversation.
I'm just not absolutely sure where it would end up, to be honest.

[1:49:36] Yeah, well, that's how you know it's a new conversation, right?

[1:49:38] Yeah, of course.

Wife's concerns about lack of information and testing

[1:49:39] But does your wife, does she have any concerns or frustrations?
I mean, it's tough because, of course, if you'd gotten better advice from your parents younger or any advice regarding dating, then you might not have ended up with your wife. So it's a little tough for her.
But particularly with regards to getting your sperm tested and so on, might she have some concerns or frustrations or annoyances with your parents about sort of the lack of information about the medical side of things?

[1:50:08] Well i think after she listens to uh to this call which he absolutely absolutely will do then she will uh and for good reason uh to be honest but i don't think it actually crossed our minds in the way that we are talking about it uh now uh thus far yeah and i would i would certainly if i were in your shoes i would certainly explore my father like your father's sadness about this Like that moment where he was just like with his tears or half tears and just a real sense of sorrow.

[1:50:38] And, you know, if it's happened to two kids, again, you know, your sister's medical issues and, you know, sympathy about that.
But you could have maybe frozen some sperm or had some tests or like something like that, right?

[1:50:52] Yeah.

[1:50:52] If you had been more, I mean, how old were you when you became aware of your sister's premature ovarian failure? Yeah.

[1:50:59] It started when she was around 15, and it was concluded at 18.
At 18, she already knew, like, this is, from a biological standpoint, never going to happen for me anymore.
So that means I was 20 years old at the latest. So it started at like 17, and then at 20, it was done.

[1:51:18] And there was never any suggestion that you know of from the doctors to get you tested?

[1:51:23] No, no, not at all. Not at all. The doctors just said, oh, it's just a random thing. They didn't even check her DNA on this.
Um, so the reason why we did her DNA was checked now because I requested it because I was like, but this is a bit weird.
It's, this can be coincidence that there's two instances, uh, of infertility.
And, um, so can we check it? And, um, the, the only thing they said about that is that, uh, in my DNA, there is like a writing error on one half of a DNA strain or something like that, but that doesn't necessarily, uh, lead to infertility.

[1:51:56] But my sister didn't have any um anything in her dna that would uh point to this okay all right so so it didn't correlate yeah i'd certainly think that conversation is is important uh and try and figure out because uh the the lack of of feedback lack of parenting that you got with regards to dating was was not great and even if it had nothing to do with the infertility maybe the the infertility from when you were born or whatever, I don't know.
But nonetheless, it's a problem whether or not it had influence on the infertility.
So the last thing that I'll say is, well, first of all, huge sympathies.
It's a tough situation, a really tough situation, and you're certainly not alone.
Like 10% of married couples struggle with fertility.
It's a strangely complicated thing because, you know, it's kind of bizarre.
Like there are people everywhere, but sometimes they're pretty hard to make.
So I really sympathize with all of this, for sure.
But from a philosophical standpoint, the purpose of life is not the creation of life.
The purpose of life is the pursuit of virtue.

[1:53:06] If you have children and you raise them to be virtuous people, then that's kind of baked into parenting, right?
The purpose of life is to pursue virtue and to increase the size, spread, and scope of virtue, right?
Of honesty, of courage, of integrity, of these kinds of things.
And now, of course, that gives you happiness, and the end result of all of that is happiness, but it's not fundamentally driven by happiness because sometimes that happiness seems like a pretty long way off.
So philosophically speaking, if the purpose of life is to pursue and enhance and spread virtue, if you have a bunch of kids and you raise them to be virtuous people, then you've done that, right?
I mean, but now, if you don't have kids, though, you can still do that.
And in fact, in some ways, you can do it even better, right?
So, I mean, if I had kids or didn't have kids, I would still be doing what I'm doing.

[1:53:59] And hopefully you know of course what i'm doing is promoting and spreading virtue as much as possible and i do that with or without kids now of course if i didn't have a daughter.

[1:54:12] Then i would have written more books i would have done more shows i like would have spread virtue some more right now maybe of course uh i've spread virtue even more by having a kid and being a good parents is that people can hear when she jumps on the show and stuff so yeah so you and your wife can absolutely promote virtue in the world without having children and that will give you happiness now of course the people who have children and don't promote virtue in the world.

[1:54:42] Aren't particularly happy and in fact can be very unhappy people who don't have children and don't promote virtue in the world are the unhappiest.
Oh, actually, no, I should say, because the people who actually harm children are the unhappiest.
But everybody who doesn't promote virtue never ends up happy.
They may end up with a shallow kind of okay experience.
Sounds a little bit like your parents, but, you know, that's maybe a bit too harsh.
But, so the people who don't promote virtue don't end up very happy.
The people who do promote virtue, who have kids, often do it through their kids, but the people who don't have kids can can still do a lot to promote virtue and it can be a wonderful and exciting and wild ride and adventure in your life that gives you deep happiness and joy over the course of your life.
Intermittently sometimes it feels like, but it definitely is the most real thing and the most real happiness that you can achieve.
So obviously I can't offer you kids, I can't offer you a medical solution, but I can certainly offer you the potential for happiness if you don't let the misery of not having children take you away from the promotion of virtue.

Finding ways to promote virtue in life

[1:55:50] How you choose to do that, how you and your wife choose to do that, it could be through raising a kid through a sperm donor or kids through sperm donors.
It could be through being a great uncle and aunt.
It could be through creating a company where the employees are treated really well.
It could be any number of things that you do to promote goodness and virtue.
It could be through your very example in life.
Maybe you'll set up a training program for how to date for young men and women so they can learn from your losses and so on.
There's so many things that you can do to promote virtue in the world.
And I think if you take that approach and say, well, the purpose of life is not the having of children, but the promotion of virtue.
And sometimes you can promote more virtue if you don't have children.
And for your wife, it would be almost like it's God's plan that we are so intelligent and philosophical that we'll promote more virtue without having kids than if we did.
And that would be part of God's plan to spread virtue in the world.
I mean, Jesus didn't have any kids and look at all the good he did, right?
So that would be sort of my fundamental thing, that if you have locked into the purpose of life and my only chance for happiness is to have and give children, then that's not true.
That's not true. The purpose of life and the greatest happiness is the promotion of virtue.
And without kids, you're not barred from that arena. And in fact, you can serve it even better.

[1:57:12] It's just that I completely understand what you're saying. It's just that I am living through this phase now where I'm really afraid that it will always be like a painful point, like seeing kids, seeing families.
I haven't even now in my job when there's families coming in with small kids and they're very polite and nice.
And I'm really happy for those people. But there's also a certain like jealousy and pain that rises up in me like, damn.

[1:57:43] Okay, but when exactly did you get the diagnosis of the sperm issues?

[1:57:51] It's been like half a year ago.

[1:57:53] Half a year ago. And has anything changed with regards to your feelings?
Obviously, there's a shock to begin with.
How have things occurred as a whole?
In terms of, have there been any changes in your... Is it still as tough now as it was three months ago or six months ago?

[1:58:11] Um, yeah, because it's still like we are still not fully at the end of looking at all the possibilities.
So it's, of course, the case that with our socialized healthcare system that everything takes 10 times as long as it should take.
So we're in long waiting lists before we get the next treatment.
And there's still an operation that can be done to see if there's anything to be salvaged down there. Yeah.
So it's taking a really, really long time. And everything that we're doing from now on, like every time we do anything else, the chances of getting a positive result out of it is getting slimmer and slimmer and slimmer.

[1:58:48] But it's still, I don't think we completely gave up hope yet and are still looking at maybe there is a very, very, very slight chance that there is still something something possible there well no i mean as far as the i mean even if you were to go overseas.

[1:59:06] You can you could get a sperm donor like that of all of the issues again i'm no expert but my understanding is that of all of the issues sperm problems are the easiest to solve.

[1:59:18] In terms of actually getting it right i mean biologically i don't know about met like medically or or like in terms of your health care system but you know sperm are everywhere where right so uh eggs egg problems are a huge challenge but sperm donors is is is easy relative to that right yeah so so if you can find a way through to the sperm donor thing you can have kids i mean biologically right whatever other hoops you have to jump through if you guys can find your way through so the choice to have children comes down to will you accept a sperm donor if i understand this correctly um well there is still like a one in let's say maybe 10 000 chance that there is still something possible uh biologically but the chance is getting so well but you're uh because she's in her mid-30s you don't have time to wait so exactly so in my view again if i were in your shoes in in my view it's like find some place in the world.

[2:00:20] Fly there if you have to go into debt borrow from your parents whatever like just go there and get the answers whatever you have to do however you have to do it i mean medical tourism is a huge thing these days so again i'm not telling you what to do but i'm saying in my if i were in your shoes i'd be just like okay like the sun isn't going to go down today before i booked a flight to someplace that's going to give me answers yeah because it's just torture to wait and you don't have time to wait.

[2:00:48] Yeah, that's true.

[2:00:49] Because her eggs are aging out too, right? I mean, next year, she's a geriatric pregnancy, right?

[2:00:57] So i would uh just i know that socialist health care can kind of hypnotize you into waiting, yeah that's absolutely true yeah like oh something's coming and i've already paid for it and it's like no no no you just gotta you just gotta go to wherever you can get what you need and pay whatever you have to pay to get the answers and and actually my my wife has been pushing for this and i have kind of been uh pushing it aside like no but we have a tragic here let's first see what is happening with this and let's see wait for those results but we've been waiting for so long now that it just doesn't make any sense i i hear you and i've i've also been hypnotized by socialized health care to my detriment yeah so um yeah but then i just flew and got done what i needed to get done so um yeah whenever i need things i go go to another country it's just sad but true so yeah i mean as far as getting the answers going um time is absolutely of the essence as far as i understand it so i would just make that your priority and maybe that's why it's continuing to be agony for you because uh you're just not being as decisive as you need to be and i i think you just have to again in your in in your shoes i would just be doing whatever it took to get the answers as quickly as humanly possible and i would look at those in weeks not months or years yeah yeah no you're absolutely right i um i think that will That'll definitely be the first step now.

[2:02:25] Okay. And so, yeah, I mean, recognize you can still have a great, happy, and wonderful life without children.
But the price is you have to promote virtue in the world. That's true whether you have kids or not. It's just a bit easier with kids because it's kind of baked into the whole family structure.
And i would say definitely have talks with your parents uh about what what happened uh in the past that they may have not been as active as they should have been to help you avoid this kind of situation and yeah i would say work to get as answers as quickly as possible in like how whatever it takes in a sense to to to get that and uh that that's i mean that's the only sort of philosophical advice and and of course i wish you guys the absolute best i hope you get this one in 10 000 I hope that you get the answers on Monday, right, from your quack mind of the socialist system.
But you can have a great life. This is not doom.
This is not cancer. This is childlessness. And it's crazy common these days, especially because we're trying to have children later and later.
So you're not alone and it's not all your fault.

Finding Strength in Love and Gratitude

[2:03:32] And you have a woman who loves you to the point where she's willing to stay with you even if you can't have kids that's a great blessing and to appreciate you know when there's a giant crater our eyes are drawn to the crater rather than to all of the land that wasn't disturbed and so remember all the great things that you have going for you in your life and you have a woman who loves you and you have your health and you have resources that you can solve this problem so there's a lot to be to be said for where you are but and and you know what everyone gets something like this everyone gets something like this which is just like feels like an insolvable problem and you're not alone in that either and your parents way of solving the problem by just kind of running away from it is not much of a solution and you can see the pain i think that that's caused your father deep down and there may be more of that to explore so yeah i mean that's That's most of what I wanted to get across. Is there anything that you wanted to mention?

[2:04:28] That's especially the last bit, this very, very powerful stuff.
And thank you so much for your time and attention and thoughts.
It's really, really appreciated.

[2:04:37] You're welcome. And listen, big hug to your wife as well. I know it's tough when you're in the valley of suffering to know that you'll come out better and stronger.
But at my annoyingly advanced age of 57, I'm telling you that that is the case almost always.
So a big hug to you both and please keep me posted about how it's going thank you so much we will absolutely all right brother take care bye have a good one thank you.

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