In July of 2018, Danielle Silverstein and her husband Adam were going through a rough patch in their marriage. The stress of raising three young children, along with other issues, had the couple contemplating divorce. But instead of heading to court, the couple decided to start a podcast to talk openly about their struggles with friends, family, and strangers. Two years later, Danielle and Adam’s marriage is back on track, and their podcast Marriage and Martinis has over two million downloads. Fans of the popular podcast (and hilarious Instagram account) include actors Jennifer Garner, Jamie Lynn Siegler, and Katherine Heigel.
Danielle, a stay at home mother and freelance writer, had been blogging about parenting for several years (including her website, Where the Eff is My Handbook?) when she came up with the idea for a podcast. She explains, “Adam and I were going through a hard time and I was looking for some guidance. But every podcast about marriage was either self-help based or had a religious slant. Most talked about being ‘on the other side’ of the struggle, but I wanted to hear from someone who was in the midst of it like we were.”
So Danielle suggested to Adam that they start a podcast together. She thought he might balk at the idea, but he was intrigued. Danielle says, “I knew if Adam and I did this, we would have to completely honest. It wasn’t going to work if we held back and so we didn’t.”
At first, Danielle thought that just their family and friends would be listening to their show. But soon their audience started to grow. Danielle thinks that people found their candor refreshing, although she readily admits that Marriage and Martinis isn’t for everybody. She says, “We want to show marriage and parenthood authentically, including the stuff people don’t often talk about. There are some people that think we take it too far, share too much, or curse too often. But for the most part, our listeners have soaked up our honesty. They have been supportive and judgment free.”
Danielle says, “When we are ‘on-air’ is the only time we are working together. Otherwise, we have very separate roles in the business. Adam is in charge of technology and editing, whereas I focus on researching topics and social media. I think that is why it works so well because we trust each other and we each have clearly defined responsibilities.”
Danielle says that with three kids and Adam running his own business, sometimes the podcast is the only time in a busy day that they get to sit down and chat. Danielle says, “If we are podcasting and we get into a fight, we get into it. It’s not ‘for the show,’ it’s our actual life and we are okay hashing it out in front of an audience. And sometimes, even when the podcast is over, the argument will continue.”
Overall, the podcast has been good for their relationship. Danielle says, “We have been together for twenty years and are closer now than we ever. Many of the issues we talked about when we started the podcast have been resolved. But there are always new crazy stories in our lives to share with our audience. And it is great to be on this cool adventure with my husband, building a brand and seeing where it goes together.”
Danielle says she has never been a reserved person. She was always comfortable admitting that she didn’t have it all together and was a master at self-deprecating humor. Still, she had no idea she would be willing to share so much of herself and after two years on-air, nothing embarrasses her.
But at the start, Danielle admits she felt very vulnerable. She says, “I worried what people would think of me once I revealed my secrets. But it turns out to be totally liberating to be the one telling your story. I am not hiding anything or worried that people are talking about me behind my back. It’s given me more confidence and made me less afraid to speak up on a host of issues.”
Danielle remembers being in college and looking at the women in her family, her mom, and aunts, who were in their 40’s and thinking that they were so settled. She says, “I thought in my 40’s, I would have my feet firmly on the ground. But I now realize that midlife isn’t about being finished evolving and knowing who you are. It’s just the midway point in your journey, at least for me. I’m still a work in progress. I’m constantly in motion, moving, and learning as I go along.
Conversations around divorce in midlife ordinarily focus on the couple and their shared concerns: Financial worries. Empty nest syndrome. Parent care. Sexual dysfunction. But what if the dissolution of long-term marriages were about something else entirely? One writer weighs in.