The term “domestic abuse” refers to a cycle of destructive thoughts, feelings and actions that often involve power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. The batterers believe they are entitled to control their partners through emotional, economic and sexual abuse. They often use children to manipulate their spouses. The three cycles of domestic abuse are as follows:
1. The Tension Stage in which the wife denies her anger and believes she can control the situation by withdrawing so not to get her husband angry — because anything can set him off (it’s like walking on eggshells).
2. The Explosion Stage. He doesn’t understand his anger. He knows his rage is out of control and yet does not want to hurt her.
3. The Honeymoon Stage. The husband is remorseful and fears she will leave him. He says he is sorry and that he loves her. He convinces her that he’s sincere and for that moment he really is — until the cycle starts again!
I was at a wedding many years ago when I noticed that the chassan’s rav, who was also the mesader kedushin, was holding on to his coat the entire time that he was under the chuppah. Except for the groom and myself, no one seemed to notice. After the chuppah was over, the crowd rushed the newlywed couple into a private room while singing and dancing. I knew the rav, so I stayed behind to ask him a few questions. In a joking, roundabout way, I said, the way you were holding on to your coat, it seemed as if you were ready to leave!”
But the rav wasn’t laughing. He seemed a little upset. He began to explain that he knew the boy for many years. He was a bright boy with many good midos (qualities), but when he didn’t get what he wanted, he got angry and could go into an uncontrollable rage, something that he witnessed himself first hand. “I don’t know the kallah very well, but she seems nice. But in a few days, her life will change, unfortunately, not for the better.”
The rav then went on to say, “I had to do something. As the chuppah began, the crowd turned to the kallah walking down the aisle and I turned to chassan and said, “If you don’t promise me right here and now that you will never raise your voice or your hand against this girl, I am taking my coat and walking out!” The chassan was in shock and began to plead with me not to leave. T11 do anything’ he said. But only when he promised, did I decide to stay.”
I’ll always remember that rav’s famous words that night. Now, that’s pre-marital counseling!
A year later, I met the very same rav again. He shared with me a follow up session that he had with that young man. The young man came to visit him in order to thank him. He said to him, You have no idea how many times I wanted to ‘teach my wife a lesson’ and really hurt her! But I stopped myself and remembered what you did and what I promised. Because I stopped myself, I was able to work on my anger and, Baruch Hashem, we have a much better marriage.”
In a private session I had with the rav, he advised me to always see the chassan and kallah together for pre-marital counseling, something I have been doing ever since.
Rabbi Shimshon Pincus, z”l, stated in his lectures on building your own bais hamikdash, When a person recognizes his yechidah (his own deep self) and knowingly stops himself from his own anger and remains silent so as not to hurt the other person, he will merit to see that wonderful light that no creation or angel can ever imagine.”
In Pre-Marital Counseling, prevention is what it’s all about. Old cognitive patterns are replaced with more effective ones. Communication, anger and problem solving are but a few of the 18 topics that are discussed at great length. •
Rabbi Pikus of C0J0 of Flatbush, and leading rabbonim and Torah authorities in the IVY community endorse CPC Center for Pre-Marital Counseling.