A Man




An interview with Rich and Char Tosi

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 a team.

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 issues."

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 are substantial."

"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 lives.

"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 with words.

"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 court record."

"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 as men."

With all the hurting going on in the same room, what is one to do with the other? The Tosi's say ... listen.

"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 not working."

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 time."

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 spiritual."

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 other.

"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 anger.

"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 idea.

"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 together."

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 blaming. "

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 pretty poetic.

"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 intimacy."

"We have men list what surrender means," Char explained.

"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 energy."

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 relationship."

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 "anima."

"The poetic and the artistic are feminine traits," she said. "It's the connection with your own inner feminine that connects with the outer feminine."

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 balance."

For more information about "A Couples Weekend" contact Rich and Char Tosi, 7186 Driftwood Dr. S., Fenton, MI 48430or 810.750.7222 or richtosi@att.net

© 2005 Reid Baer

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The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria Vanderbilt

Reid Baer, an award-winning playwright for “A Lyon’s 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.

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