An interview with Rich and Char
How do men and women stay in the same room
together? We are blessed with not one - but two
answers. They're a couple! Rich and Char Tosi are a
married couple of 30 years - each a "personal work"
pioneer in their own right. And they often work as
Rich was one of the founding members of The
ManKind Project (along with Bill Kauth and Ron
Hering) and Char created the sister organization
Woman Within International. By the way, this is the
first interview with a female for A Man Overboard.
And men, you could not ask for a woman with more
understanding or empathy to the nature of men's
struggles. (Char also leads a workshop with her
partner Marlene Nappa, entitled Your Mother's
Pillow where women help men deal with their "mother
Our conversation did not start off in the
metaphysical realm. On the contrary, how could it?!
Char holds a BS in Nursing from Vanderbilt
University and an MS in Educational Psychology from
the University of Wisconsin. Rich has a BA in
Chemistry and Math from Vanderbilt University.
We're talking serious science, here.
So, how do men and women stay in the same room
without tearing each other apart?
"I think one of the most important things is to
understand the differences between the genders,"
Rich jumped in immediately, "... differences which
"One of the things men fear is the wrath of a
woman - in the sense of her tongue."
He went on to explain that in the gestation
period in the womb (approximately three months into
the pregnancy) the brains of baby boys are uniquely
"washed in testosterone" which differentiates them
from their female counterpart for the rest of their
"Male initiation needs to be sought after," he
continued. "Female initiation begins as an internal
process with menstruation, a natural state."
Being in the "natural state," however, offers
the "gentle sex" a powerful talent: her tongue.
Char said that women are better listeners but
can also be more verbally and emotionally abusive
"One of the things men fear is the wrath of a
woman - in the sense of her tongue," she said.
"Most men are terrified of women. I wish all women
could be a fly on the wall [at her seminars for
men] and see the pain that men go through."
Working like a tag team, the two often differed
to one another as they spoke.
"The verbal and emotional abuse ... I should
check that out ," Rich asked, hesitating. "Yes?
[pause] It's our belief that the abuse is
mutual. A man's way of acting out tends to be
physically abusive and less sophisticated. The
verbal and emotional abuse doesn't show up in a
"We don't feel that women have a moral high
ground in a relationship," Char chimed. "They're
[women] just as loving and just as hurtful
With all the hurting going on in the same room,
what is one to do with the other? The Tosi's say
"We do a daily ritual that takes about a
minute," Rich explained. "I say 'I'd like to do the
candle ceremony' and when we're both ready we sit
down at a certain place, light a candle, look in
each other's eyes, hold hands and I say 'I care
about you' and she says 'I heard you say I care
about you' then she says 'I appreciate you' and I
say' I heard you say I appreciate you.'"
They alternate initiating the ceremony.
"It's important to be consistent because on good
days it connects us in a good way and on days when
we're not doing well, when the relationship is
suffering, it's critical," he added. " We make a
commitment especially when we don't feel like it;
we do it anyway."
Char explained that the ritual was born out of a
time when they were not communicating well.
"We absolutely could not communicate," she
asserted. "We'd read all the books and took the
courses but we were up against a stone wall. We
needed to do something to reconnect. Talking was
The couple makes no attempts to do anything
therapeutic during the candle ceremony.
"It's not a time for discussion," Rich said,
"It's not an 'I've got a problem with you
The Tosi's were understandably reserved in the
beginning of our telephone interchange, but then
the dialogue started to heat up. In a brief
soliloqoy of passionate expression, Rich referred
to the years of successful connection with his
partner as "a little golden thread."
"The filaments start to add up after days, and
months, and years, and we begin operating at a
higher level," he said. "The best description is
It may take two people an entire weekend of
intensive help from the Tosi's to even begin to
scratch the surface, however. A Tosi seminar
normally starts off with an introduction of
acknowledging "how deeply they really do appreciate
each other," according to Rich.
"Or not," quipped Char.
"Or not," answered Rich, with a chuckle.
"Sometimes it's revealing how little they
appreciate each other," she added.
Most couples come to the workshop searching for
a deeper relationship. Some 20 percent of those are
"at the last stop before they're out the door."
Another process in their seminar allows for the
partners to see how much they "project their own
stuff they got from their parents" on each
"I project wounds I got from my mother onto
Char," he said.
"And I project wounds I got from my father onto
Rich," she said.
Many a partner will be in tears by the end of
this round after hearing the other talk about their
psychological wounds. Sometimes, for the first
time, a partner can hear about the other's pain
with genuine compassion.
This is a safe place where men and women can be
together in the same room and express what's
happening to them with their fear, sadness and even
"It took us a while to figure out how not to
make it blaming," said Char. "We discovered sounds,
not words, worked best in dealing with anger ...
like a growl."
Too much name calling, probably, isn't a great
"Anger is just one of the emotions that hangs
out," Rich joined in. "Men are afraid of women's
anger and women are afraid of men's anger. It's
just anger and when they're finished with it, the
individual couples will start hugging and crying
Women are usually surprised to find out how
afraid men are of women's anger, Char noted.
It appears that speaking one's truth is good,
but being heard is even more important.
"We have learned that this is the MOST IMPORTANT
thing a couple can do," Rich said emphatically with
some of the energy that he used as a Marine Corps
Captain in Vietnam. "I'll tell you how to get men
and women in a room together - we get them to
actively listen to each other without shaming or
What about those "buttons" that only a partner
knows how to push?
With the same fire in his belly, Rich continued.
"You have to ask yourself 'what do you want from
your partner?' Then flip it. It then turns into
another process where you take responsibility for
yourself. Initially you want something from a
partner, but you're not getting it because you're
putting a block in the way. So you have to ask what
you need to surrender - so you can get it!"
"Surrender doesn't mean giving up," Char
hurredly interjected. "We try and redefine
surrender, especially with women."
"When we first started doing couples weekends, I
wanted to believe that if you just talked to each
other right then that would create a loving
relationship," Rich said. "I believe that it's
important to do certain things in certain ways, but
there's a point at which - without the spiritual
connection - that love can't exist."
For an Industrial Engineer, Rich could wax
"True love is a transpersonal thing," he said.
"It's bigger than each of you. The pathway to love
and spiritual love is through vulnerability and the
path to vulnerability is surrendering those things
I use to defend myself against getting hurt as I
did as a child. We all learn many ways to defend
ourselves; love is opening up and one by one
surrendering those defenses that are blocks to
"We have men list what surrender means," Char
"The men's list has a military connotation with
a white flag, and for women ... "
"It means being a door mat," said Char,
finishing the statement.
Rich and Char are sure to change a few minds and
perspectives in the battle of the sexes.
Men are more likely to talk women into going to
the couples seminar, the Tosi's said.
"I think it's harder to get women's attention
than men," said Char. "My experience has been that
once men can get a bit of trust rebuilt, they will
spend time with the relationship. Women can be more
bullheaded, less trusting, more stubborn."
"It invokes the image of cats and dogs," said
Rich. "Dogs are like men, more innocent or
something ... there's something about men that
keeps trying where women ..."
" ... women who have been very wounded by men
don't forget the past stuff," insisted Char. "They
act from a different part of their brain."
Back to the scientific for a moment. According
to the Tosi's, in the brain there is a corpus
callosum that separates the left and right
hemisphere. It's nature is very different between
the genders. For women it's like there's many
"telephone lines" talking to each other. We are
told that this can lead to a woman's ability to
multi-task and/or be indecisive. A man's brain is
more cut off or departmentalized and when he makes
a jump from rational to emotional, he's totally
emotional. Without training, he doesn't have the
ease of going back and forth in the brain.
"It's my belief that men have been warriors
throughout history," said Rich, "because men can
more easily shut off their emotional side."
"A woman uses her entertwined 'telephone lines'
to protect her inner child from ever getting hurt
again," Char explained. "If she senses she's going
to get hurt, she digs in her heels and will be
tough and her bitch will come out full force. I use
the word 'bitch' in a positive way, like Warrior
So where does this wonderful feeling of LOVE fit
into all this work? According to the Tosi's, it
turns out there is a chemical the body produces
that gets us sort of high when we fall in love.
It's called phenylethylamine (PEA ) and lasts up to
3 years. Interestingly enough, there is an
increased rate of divorce 3-4 years after marriage.
Since chocolate contains PEA, should we eat more
chocolate? Char said she believes there are other
ways to get relationships to last past the
short-term chemical kick from PEA in the brain.
"We develop skills by practice," she said, "and
then we can get into a deeper more meaningful
And what about the "creative man" in a
relationship? Men, get ready to acknowledge your
"inner feminine." Char spoke readily of C.G. Jung's
"The poetic and the artistic are feminine
traits," she said. "It's the connection with your
own inner feminine that connects with the outer
Are you man enough to handle that?!
"There's a long road to get to that," Rich
concluded. "You have to be real comfortable with
your own masculinity to find that kind of
For more information about "A Couples Weekend"
contact Rich and Char Tosi, 7186 Driftwood Dr. S.,
Fenton, MI 48430or 810.750.7222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2005 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon
©1996-2017, Gordon Clay