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March 12, 2018 | by  | in Arts Podcasts | [ssba]

Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel

Talking about relationships, particularly the romantic kind, is frequently understood to be a “feminine” activity; in other words, something only women do. And arguably because of this labelling as “feminine”, the discussion of emotions and relationships is  often framed as unimportant or self-indulgent. Esther Perel’s podcast Where Should We Begin is dedicated to breaking down this misconception and creating a non-judgemental space for emotions and relationships to be discussed.

Perel is a renowned psychotherapist who has written several novels on the topic of love, relationships and sexuality. However, her work extends far beyond this; she presents talks, creates informative videos, works as a therapist, and in 2017 launched her podcast with Audible. Each episode of Where Should We Begin? is a recorded couples therapy session conducted by Perel with a different anonymous couple each time. The recording of the session is mixed in with voice-over commentary by Perel which offers further insight into the workings of her mind as a therapist.

The couples who feature have (on the surface) vastly different experiences and difficulties. “Trauma Doesn’t Like To Be Touched” is about creating safe spaces in a relationship while acknowledging past trauma,“Motherless Women” dissects the relationship of two women who struggle to balance their roles as mothers and as partners, and “The Addict” explores how addiction has affected a relationship over 40 years. Although the content of each episode varies greatly, I am always able to find something to relate to.  Listeners are welcomed into the most private sphere of people’s lives, and by the end of the each session it’s hard not to feel a bond with the participants.

On her website Perel explains that through her work she seeks to “take relationship advice out of the exclusive female market” and encourage people to “question themselves, to speak the unspoken, and to be unafraid to challenge sexual and emotional correctness”. This is the power of Where Should We Begin?. It is unafraid of exploring the taboo, the ugly, and the complex facets of relationships. There is something refreshingly brave about hearing people speak on difficult matters so honestly and publicly. We are reminded that our emotions do matter, do need to be discussed, and that there is no shame in doing so. To quote Perel: “The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.”

Where Should We Begin? really does make you feel all the feels. Joy, sadness, anger, humour, all facets of human emotion are covered. It can be an intense podcast to listen to, but it has allowed me to feel a sense of unity with others that surpasses age, race, gender, sexuality, and culture. And that is a powerful, wonderful thing.


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