The objective of Pre-Marital Counseling is for couples to learn new skills on how to improve communication, and resolve conflicts creatively. It would seem logical that the parents of these couples have learned from being together and through a lot of tough times that good communication is the single most important aspect of a satisfying relationship.
Take the case of Yoni and Dina, ages 22 and 19. The couple was referred to me by a leading rav in the community. Both Chassan and Kallah came from exceptionally fine families and yeshiva backgrounds. Yoni was accepted to dental school and Dina was still in school. The wedding was only weeks away and the couple was getting a little nervous. As with all couples, I did a short intake and assessment in our first meeting.
Yoni’s personality is easy going — he likes quiet, uninterrupted time alone for reflecting, reading and studying new subjects.
Dina’s personality is outgoing — she likes people, she’s warm and friendly, and she likes organizing projects and events.
After the fifth session, I wished the happy couple Mazel Tov and off they went into the “sunset”!
It wasn’t until three months later, as I was rushing to get a haircut, that I met Dina standing outside the barbershop waiting for Yoni to finish his haircut. The timing was perfect. With every couple I do a three-month follow up. As we talked about married life, Dina explained that “Yoni is very busy in school and I knew how hard he was studying, but since he started school we never talked! It was just Yoni and that book! We didn’t go out anymore because that would be a waste of study time.” But, as time passed, Dina said “I started feeling lonely. Yoni noticed that I was getting moody but said nothing, and with time, I started getting angry at him. The loneliness scared me, all I wanted to do was to release this rage of anger. But if I did, Yoni could no longer study. As I was just about to breakdown and cry, Baruch Hashem, I noticed that refrigerator magnet you gave us in our last session. It stated that ‘It’s not what you say, but how you say it’ and with that, I remembered what we talked about. At that moment, with all my strength, I stopped myself. I needed to talk to Yoni, not yell or cry. I did the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life, I waited until the next day. At that point, I was calm and relaxed enough to talk to Yoni. We took turns talking and listening to each other, as you taught us. We discussed our preferences and what I was feeling, and for the first time I felt that he was listening, which made me feel so much better!”
In the spring of ’76, Rabbi Moish Chait, shlita, stated in one of his lecture series at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim that “Hashem held back a part of Himself in order to create the world. When a spouse holds back anger as a form of self control, that couple merits the Shechina to rest upon them.”
Moishe Herskowitz MS., CSW, is a marriage counselor and maintains his private practice in Brooklyn as founder of CPC. He is an educator, lecturer, consultant and adjunct professor at Touro College. He is the counseling coordinator for Career Services at Touro College and the At Risk Center in Brooklyn. Moishe is presently working as a licensed guidance counselor for the NYC Board of Ed. in Special Education.
For more information or to obtain a free brochure, please contact Moishe Herskowitz at 718-435-7388 or at Ladino23@aol.com.
CPC — Center for Pre-Marital Counseling, is endorsed by Rabbi Pikus of COJO of Flatbush, and leading rabbonim and Torah authorities in the NY community.