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In which John discusses his secret for a happy marriage, what to share, and what to save.
The People story in question:

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Good morning, Hank.

It's Tuesday. "John Green And [His] Wife Sarah Have This Rule For Their 18-Year Marriage ('Exclusive)".

So today I want to talk about this article from People Magazine online edition, both the rule for a happy marriage part of it, and the how does an article like this come to exist part of it. So I just finished a long press tour for the Turtles All the Way Down movie, in which I got to speak to lots of nice reporters. And here's the basic exchange that occurs.

I am using a content machine that transforms the raw materials of my life and stories into compelling content that hopefully gets people to see the movie. And a reporter is writing a story that transforms the raw materials of life experiences and stories into compelling content that hopefully generates subscriptions and ad revenue. Now, of course, there is more to it than that.

Both the writer and the subject of any interview also hope that the interview will inspire readers or console them. But there's no getting around the existence of the content machine and our mutual awareness that we are feeding it. And this can sometimes make me feel like I'm selling off little parts of myself in exchange for good publicity.

And the thing about selling something of yourself is that you can’t buy it back. Like, for instance, I cannot return to a world where my relationship with my obsessive compulsive disorder is private because I've talked about it publicly so much in the context of Turtles All the Way Down. Now, hopefully, the benefit of talking about it publicly for me and also for other people, is higher than the cost.

But there is a cost. And this actually brings me to one of the rules for our marriage, by the way, which is that we do not talk about our marriage much in public, lest it cease to be ours. But Sarah and I did attend the premiere of Turtles All the Way Down together, which meant there was a great picture of us on the red carpet.

And then I met this reporter from People. And I want to be clear - she was great, super respectful, incredibly well prepared, even though she only had a few minutes. She asked great questions, and one of them was, “You've been married for 18 years.

What's the secret?” And I said, as the article correctly quotes me as saying, “We just care about each other a lot.” Which is the kind of like, totally innocuous, anti-juicy thing that I like to say in such situations, because, I don't know, our marriage is ours and we don't talk about it much in public. And so I said the least interesting thing I could think of. But then, and I don't even know if I was conscious of this - if I was thinking about feeding the content machine - but I did go on to tell a story that I've told before in public, so it didn't feel like I was selling something new of myself.

But I hadn't told before to like the public public. So I told this story about how before Sarah and I started dating, we had a two person book club, and one of the first books we read was The Human Stain by Philip Roth. And when we met to discuss the book, we discovered we had both highlighted the same passage, which goes, “The pleasure isn't in owning the person.

The pleasure is this - having another contender in the room with you.” Sarah has always been another contender in the room with me, and I guess that's the rule the article was citing - to take each other seriously, to respect each other, and to acknowledge one another's complexity. So why did I tell that story? Well, one, I've told that story before, so it didn't feel like I was sacrificing something new.

Two, I like the story. I think it's sweet and funny, and I'm sure I hoped people would find it resonant or helpful. But three, I had to have known that I was feeding a content machine, right?

Like, it wasn't like I was unaware that I was speaking to a reporter. I was standing on a red carpet at a movie premiere. So the article comes out with its inevitably clickbaity headline, and it does get a lot of readers, and I hope that it resonates with people, and those readers feel grateful for it.

And the reporter feels grateful that it got so many clicks. And I feel grateful that it got some attention for the Turtles All the Way Down movie, and nobody got hurt. Except I did give a tiny bit of myself, and not just myself, actually but ourselves, away in exchange for good press.

How much of that is healthy? How much of that is sustainable? I really don't know.

I'm not here to judge the way anyone else navigates their core relationships. Like, I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate them at the age of 46. But it's hard because I want, especially for our family, to have a private life that belongs to us.

But at the same time, I want to share my work, and I want to share it widely. And I know that the more you share of yourself, especially your pain and your secrets and whatnot, the easier it is to get people interested in the work you're trying to share. That's true for selling movie tickets or books or whatever, but it's also true for the other stuff we do.

Like Hank's cancer socks could never have been a success if Hank didn't talk about the fact that he had cancer. But as it is, those cancer socks raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support better cancer care in impoverished communities. That benefit is worth the cost.

But again, there is a cost. So where’s the line? What do we share and what do we save?

Those aren't just important questions for novelists and cancer surviving sock designers, by the way. They’re also important questions for all of us, because almost all of us feed the content machine one way or another. In fact, I would argue that these days we need rules for how much we share of ourselves, at least as much as we need rules for happy marriages.

Hank, I’ll see you on Friday.