The Strange Secret to a Happy Relationship: Trash Cans

I bet you’ve never thought about relationships the way I’m about to show you.

The secret I give in this video isn’t one you’ll find in every book out there…

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What are the “Trash Cans” you want in your dream relationship? The day-to-day details and acts of support?


Matthew:

This isn’t fantasy. This isn’t building a castle in the sky. The idea of love. The idea of what we could be. The one day wager – I call it the one day wager. I’m making a wager that one day you’ll be what I want you to be. One day you’ll invest in me the way I want you to. One day you’ll change. The one day wager is the most dangerous wager you can possibly make in your love life. The real shit is what’s going on now. Is someone trying? Do they want to be here? Are they focused on the little shit? Not just the big shit, because anyone can go and have a… People say, “But when it’s great, it’s great.”

Lewis:

“It’s amazing.” Yeah.

Matthew:

“When we go out, we’ve been on some amazing dates.”

Lewis:

“We’re on vacation.”

Matthew:

Or “We did that vacation, we had the best time and it was amazing.” Of course, you were on fucking vacation. Anyone can go to Disney World and have a great time. It’s Disney World! That’s the job of the place, is to make sure you have a great time no matter who you’re with.

Lewis:

Right.

Matthew:

Right? You know what? When I was, I think I was 12 or 13, my parents took me to America for the first time and we came to Florida, and where do you think we went? We went to –

Lewis:

Disney World.

Matthew:

… Disney World and I was massively excited. I was so –

Lewis:

Pumped.

Matthew:

… excited. It was exciting to be in America. I was excited to see the things I’d seen on TV. Excited to see the references to movies I’d seen. Excited for the rides. We go into Disney World and I learned something very interesting about myself there. Because of course, I go in there, it’s magical. It’s, “Oh my God, this is crazy. It’s huge.”

Lewis:

And your photo with Mickey.

Matthew:

You go on Space Mountain.

Lewis:

Yeah.

Matthew:

Yeah, there’s Mickey there, there’s all these dazzling attractions. But it was something that stood out to me even more than Space Mountain, even more than the big ride. It was the trash cans.

Lewis:

Oh, yeah?

Matthew:

On some level that maybe I couldn’t fully articulate at that age, I saw the trash cans and I was moved by it. I said, “Someone cared enough about this place to theme the trash cans.” The trash can in Tomorrow Land is a futuristic trash can, the trash can in Indiana Jones Land or whatever it’s called is a Tiki bamboo trash can. The trash cans were different depending on where you were.

Lewis:

It’s amazing.

Matthew:

Someone cared so much about the detail of that world that they styled and themed the trash cans. It moved me. I’ve never forgotten that. The trash cans in life. And I’ve thought about that endlessly in my business. When I do a retreat – I just got back from my retreat, and I told this story on the retreat  – someone came to me at the end of the retreat – because of all the little details we put on the retreat, you know, it’s not just a seminar, an event, we hold parties and inside there are –

Lewis:

It’s an experience, yeah.

Matthew:

It’s an immersive world. We like to think we’ve created the immersive theater of the self-development world. And someone came up to me at the end of this retreat and said, “You achieved trash can status.” And it –

Lewis:

That’s big.

Matthew:

The 13-year-old in me wanted to cry.

Lewis:

Wow, that’s amazing.

Matthew:

Right? And it moved me again and I thought, “That’s what I want.” And I thought about this even today as I was coming here and I was like, “You know what? This absolutely applies to relationships too.” Often in a breakup, often when people are going through difficult times with their partner or whatever, the thing they go back to is, “But we had that amazing trip, but we had those amazing times.” They go to these highlights, they go to the Space Mountain of their relationship and they go, “But remember when we met Mickey?” It’s that, right?

Lewis:

Yeah.

Matthew:

The meeting Mickey moment of their relationship. But relationships are about the trash cans, man. It’s the trash cans.

Lewis:

Yeah.

Matthew:

Because guess what? In a day at Disney, you ride Space Mountain once, maybe twice.

Lewis:

It’s a moment.

Matthew:

How many times do you use the trash cans?

Lewis:

Every day, all the time.

Matthew:

Every 20 minutes, every 30 minutes.

Lewis:

Yeah.

Matthew:

It’s the trash cans. What will define your relationship is the trash cans, not Space Mountain.

Lewis:

The lower moments, the messy moments.

Matthew:

The micro attractions. The moment where we do something sweet, where we think of our partner when we didn’t need to and we worry about the day they had or support them, or even just support them silently or in private, or support them by what we don’t bring to them. It’s that. It’s the detail. It’s the detail, and that’s what’s going to determine how great your life is. My concern is, and we’ve all been there, my concern is the number of people out there who are staying in the wrong thing because of the Space Mountain of the relationship.

Lewis:

The few moments that were magical.

Matthew:

Or they’re spending too much grieving the loss of the wrong thing because all they remember is Space Mountain.

Lewis:

Interesting.

Matthew:

But they don’t think of how shitty the trash cans were and the trash cans, that’s the stuff, that’s the day-to-day. How good was it day-to-day? There’s a difference between being in love and being happy.

Lewis:

What is the difference between love and happiness?

Matthew:

You can be in love and be really unhappy.

Lewis:

Be suffering inside and be in love.

Matthew:

You can be in love and be having a relationship that’s causing you constant anxiety, constant heartache, constant pain, feeling overlooked, not feeling important. You can be in love and all of those things still be true, how crazy is that? We think that love is this thing where it’s rational, like, “I’m going to be in love with this person who brings me joy.” Not true. We need to start worrying more about happiness because if someone isn’t building with you, if someone isn’t committing to actually building the castle with you, that’s the quality of your life, not how in love you are.

Lewis:

You might love certain things about them. You might’ve loved the date you went on, you might have loved the Space Mountain or –

Matthew:

Certain characteristics they had.

Lewis:

The sex was incredible.

Matthew:

How charming they were, how charismatic, how whatever. It doesn’t mean that you’re happy day-to-day, there’s a big difference.

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51 Replies to “The Strange Secret to a Happy Relationship: Trash Cans”

  1. With laser-focused accuracy, you described my 3rd marriage. I was so in love with him, but in so much emotional pain knowing that l was not enough for him. He had “grown” to the point that he “needed” to be able to have multiple relationships in order to be happy…you’ve heard the term polyamorous. We had discussed it and he knew where l stood on that. I couldn’t do it. He pressed because he’d found someone that he wanted in addition to me. To add insult to this already injurious thing, he wanted to put me, his wife, in 2nd place to this new “love”. Well,duh?! Why wouldn’t he? She’s “the new toy”. Well, that was it. I told him that I’m nobody’s second place. We divorced, she moved in within days of my daughter and me leaving,got engaged to her 3 months after our divorce was final,and married her last year. I am doing so much better. Walking away from him was the best thing for not just me, but for my daughter,too. I took 3 years to focus on me, my family, and my PhD. Am currently close to the end of my doctoral program, my daughter has been in a sweet relationship with her boyfriend for over a year now, and, the cherry on top, is that l recently met someone. I am now able to actually practice what I’ve been reading about in your blogs, seeing/hearing on your videos, etc. I AM that high value woman and nobody’s 2nd place.
    Thank you, Matthew, for all you do!

  2. You’re an absolute genius, Matthew! I would be so interested to know how you built this fascinating knowledge and how you reach these remarkable insights that everyone seems to miss, although they are so crystal clear once you point them out for us. I have so much genuine respect and admiration for you.

  3. So much truth here. I had to make the toughest decision to leave a 18yr marriage because I couldn’t live for the two times a year things were great anymore. Living with being overlooked, not valued, not a partner, feeling like a single parent already. It was the hardest thing I had to do and nobody understood it. It took a long time for me to figure who I was without that life but I’m in such a better place now. Thank you for your insight and the great work that you do!!

  4. This hit me like a tsunami!!! What an eye opener.
    I know for sure that this is so true. I stayed too long in unhappy relationships for the few special moments.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    Much love xx

  5. This hit me like a tsunami!!! What an eye opener.
    I know for sure that this is so true. I stayed too long in unhappy relationships for the few special moments.

    Thank you!!!
    Much love xx

  6. Thank you!
    You just clarify my relationship..,
    I wanted to go to your retreat but couldn’t it was out of my budget but thank you got this video.

  7. Hi Matthew,

    I totally agree with what you say in this video. And actually, what makes me think that my current boyfriend could be a good partner for me is not the fantastic time we had on our first date. Yes, as you say, everything was amazing, from the cocktail bar to the dinner and afterwards in the salsa dancing place where he took me. What matters to me much more than that, is the fact that he takes care of me in every possible way when I am sick. He cooks for me, cuddles me while I fall asleep, sends me a message during his busy working day to see if I am OK. Those things are precious to me because they mean he really cares.

  8. WOW!! that is so deep, that ‘deep’ doesn’t define it well enough. THANK you Matt. You bring a level of insight that NO ONE else does. You are a HUGE GIFT to the world. Thank you again.

  9. I want the little hugs, sharing gratitude practice, making breakfast together. Folding laundry together. Laughing about the grumpy bus driver. Making in jokes. Coming back to those moments.

  10. The hand placed lightly in the small of my back when we are moving through a crowd or walking through a door speaks VOLUMES. It says you’re mine, I care, you matter, I love you, with one small, simple gesture. The first time he did it my heart sang – I knew I’d found the right guy.

  11. Oh, man, you just described every relationship in my life! This is why I’d always stayed way, way too long with men that could be “romantic” when they wanted to be–but in the day-to-day treated me like *I* belonged in a trash can (and not a nice one).

    After the last one, I’d avoided relationships altogether, and was celibate for *20 years*. Then I met Steve. We started out as friends, but when I found how perceptive, thoughtful, supportive and caring he was (and still is), my heart just melted. When I discovered he felt the same way about me…!! We’re married now; I tell him, “many people say their wedding was the best day of their lives; but while it was a special & joyful day, *being* married to you is even better!” Our ‘trash cans’ are beautiful and we keep them well-polished, day by day.

  12. I just wish that I could see my boyfriend more than once per week. We go out to dinner every Saturday, so I see him 2 or 3 hours. Today we are going to an auto show in addition to dinner. I am always home by 8 p.m, missing him. We have been dating for 14 years.

  13. thanks matthew, thats a good one. My fav “trash cans” are making the bed and washing the dishes. Specially if you are “just dating” and not living together.
    Without asking, without me watching. Just silently so that I do notice it sometimes later on the evening when I get home from work or come back from my morning walk with the dog. Sometimes I dont even notice it at all.
    But This is for me the cutest way to say: Id do care about you. I care about your/our freshly with love made bed, I care about your/our nice an tidy home.
    If I think about it, Id say guys that care for my well-being and my health make me happy.

  14. In my relationship the trash cans where very detailed and decorative, but 1 important trash can was not, accepting the idea I am divorced with a daughter. Having a daughter was the trash can that he could never accept. So for 1 single but highly important trash can… i had to end an amazing relationship. At the end of the day, its not any trash can which needs to be special, but the most important one!

  15. Matthew, you hit it out of the park with those metaphors. Growing up with the old fairy tales that tell us true love is something to be cherished is embedded in our psyche. So I couldn’t reconcile being in love but being utterly miserable, made worse by him telling me he loved me, even though the “trash cans” told a different story. You explained it so so well. A million thanks.

  16. Trash cans = everything life “can” and DOES throw at us. It is interesting and insightful that a 13 year old’s observation could offer a common sense reflection of true LOVE in action in REAL LIFE. How very true. I have been listening and appreciating your relationship expertise for a few years Matthew. You comfortably wear your heart on your sleeve – and genuinely CARE. Trash Cans – may end up being one of your most meaningful offerings embraced by the masses in your thoughtful career — because it’s VERY real, VERY true and a relatable reflection of what day-to-day love in life is all about Thank you. ♥️ You give people road maps of HOPE with clarity – Cheers!

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