Ep 26: Husband, Father, Poet, Priest, Public Defender, Dave Klaus
I’m interviewing Dave Klaus, who participated in our Relationship Mastery Program with his wife, and whom I originally met through the men’s organization, The ManKind Project. (See Dave’s full bio and website at the bottom).
Dave is a very interesting person, a Renaissance Man from San Francisco. He’s a devoted husband, a father of two amazing young adults. He’s been a Public Defender for twenty years in Oakland, he’s a musician and a poet, as well as a martial artist and ordained Zen priest, to name a few of his many skills and talents.
Like many others, what inspired Dave to seek out men’s work and relationship work was being miserable, to put it very briefly. Suffering inside himself and in his marriage eventually brought him to reach out for support, first in the form of men’s circles.
He discovered along the path that evolution is not a steady climb, more like a painful rollercoaster, where change and openings are preceded by contractions, and then finally integration.
One of his biggest learnings is being able to relax even when he or someone around him gets triggered.
A simple, everyday example: He’s working in the kitchen, his wife comes to join to help him. But she’s not doing it in the way he’s used to doing it, so he feels the tension building, the triggered reaction happening.
One of the best tools he and his wife learned at LoveWorks is the Do-Over, where you literally re-do a situation that didn’t turn out the way you wanted it turn out. It’s a conceptually simple method, but not always so simple to pull off on the spot.
As Dave says about the kitchen example, it’s about who’s willing to soften first, to deescalate first. As Sonika & I sometimes say, either person in a relationship can be the first one to soften and open and break the stalemate, and we have this game where we say, “First person to open wins”.
Dave shares how at the first workshop he and Alycia did with us, Give Yourself To Love, they experienced a big “melting”. He said, “we had developed a certain iciness and coldness between us”.
This is a good way to describe what often happens to couples when over time. You often turn into business partners who just talk about logistics, child calendars, who-does-what’s and so on. And you can probably relate from your own experience what he means by, “a certain iciness and coldness had developed between us”.
Even in his as a Public Defender, dealing with defendants, prosecutors, and judges, he says, “it’s all about relationships”. Even in a legal business environment, relationship tools like the Do-Over are highly useful.
Dave talks about how being a man of accountability has been a crucial piece in his development as a man, husband, and father. Especially being a father of two teenagers, who, in his words, have a huge “hypocrisy meter”. They sniff out when we parents are not walking our talk.
On the flip side, when we as parents do act with accountability, when we demonstrate listening and honoring others, when we do Do-Overs after mess-up’s, it’s like a “virtuous virus”, it gets passed on to our kids.
Listen to the whole podcast for more great conversation, incl. Dave’s final wisdom about the two biggest things that make a marriage lasting and alive. Powerful wisdom.
You can find Dave’s poetry and writings on his website at daveklaus.net
DAVE’S LONG BIO:
Dave Klaus, Flow Coach
I have always been a seeker, eager to try new adventures in a quest to figure things out, but it wasn’t until I stopped looking outside of myself for answers that I discovered my life’s purpose.
After an All-American high school swimming career, I attended Dartmouth College and Michigan Law School, and then devoted my career to serving the underdog as a Public Defender in Oakland where I have been representing poor people accused of serious crimes since 1996.
Along the way, I earned a 2nd degree black belt in jujutsu, learned to lead in partner dance, climbed mountains, and have spent many years at Burning Man, where I discovered that I was an artist and a community leader.
As I turned forty, it seemed like I had everything, a career, a wonderful wife, two awesome kids, a house in San Francisco, and a loving community, but when my body suddenly began to fall apart, so did my self-identity. At the same time I started having disabling back issues, I learned that I also have a degenerative lung condition due to a rare genetic disorder.
I felt a huge sense of grief and loss and unfairness,, and dove right into a mid-life crisis. I wallowed in distraction, substance abuse, and depression, and nearly lost everything, until in desperation I began doing Men’s Work with the ManKind Project.
By looking deep inside at my shadow beliefs and my unconscious patterns and habits, I turned it around and committed to living a life of integrity, accountability, emotional vulnerability, and radical authenticity.
Simply put, I learned how to show up in the present moment and share my gold and serve my mission: to serve wonder by resting in presence, unconditional acceptance, and loving attention. This led me to become a Zen priest-in-training, with a daily meditation and qi gung practice.
As a Coach I empower my clients to find their way to a path of clarity, flexibility, open-hearted connection, and flow in every moment. In partnership, we set visionary goals, and then tackle the resistance that arises with compassion and skillful means. Together, we chart a new path into the present moment, where all the magic of life happens.
I am also a writer and poet and you can read my stuff at www.daveklaus.net.