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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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Part 5 – The Road Map To A Happy Marriage


Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

Finding direction in marriage is similar to going on a long journey. To get to where you want to go, you will need to have a plan that includes directions, supplies and someone to navigate along the way. You will also have to be prepared for many possible factors that may interfere with your trip, including wind, rain, unpredictable mechanical breakdown, and human error. Most importantly you will need a map to guide you on where to go and how to reorient yourself when you get off track.

Many couples seeking my advice are simply lacking the guidance of a relationship road map in their lives.

Take Shmuel, 25 and Rivky, 23, (names have been changed) who came to speak with me about the lack of excitement and enthusiasm in their marriage. They were only married for about six months, but were already feeling that after their smooth walk to the chuppah, they were now traveling down a bumpy road to an unknown destination.

From the outset they looked like the perfect couple, well dressed, articulate and extremely well-educated. All of the excitement surrounding their engagement period and wedding had just about ended. Now, in their sixth month of marriage, they began to feel they were unequipped to deal with each other’s emotional needs. They were constantly bickering about small things like garbage collection, cooking dinner and cleaning up around the house.

Marriage wasn’t supposed to be so hard. Unable to cope, they started to withdraw from one another, instead of working together to solve their problems. It’s important to note that these were two healthy individuals who had the potential to have a great marriage, but they were lacking a guidebook or emotional GPS that could guide them on how to communicate and gain greater understanding of one another.

This couple’s relationship was clearly going off course. They needed guidance to stay focused on their destination.

To make their job easier, I suggested they follow an emotional road map based upon what I call “The Four Cs of Relationship Theory”; Connection, Control, Communication, and Conflict Resolution. Together, the Four Cs of Relationship Theory provide a road map to help couples evaluate where the relationship is going, and where and how to make changes if necessary.

Imagine, for example, if Shmuel and Rivky could read each other’s minds and understand what makes them happy or sad; what they are scared about and ways they like to be cared about.

The Four Cs help couples see the bigger picture, and then make a distinction between the areas that demand attention, and those other matters that are superficial and should not be the focus of their relationship. For example, you may find yourself arguing over small things like cleaning the dishes or doing the laundry.  You may also start feeling as if your spouse is overly controlling and denies your feelings. Or, you may feel you are drifting apart and aren’t as connected as you used to be.  If so, the question becomes: should you try to be more assertive? Or should you learn more about you spouse’s inner world, increase the amount of quality time you spend together, and carefully work through their issues with them? A look at the Four Cs should provide an answer.

 

The First “C”: Connecting to Your Spouse’s Inner World

Learning about the total person you are married to is one of the main goals of marriage. As a therapist, I help couples explore both sides of their personalities; their external behavioral characteristics as well as their inner emotional worlds.

It’s important to note that as human beings, we live in two distinct emotional worlds: an outer world and an inner world. The outer world is merely a fa?ade, an outer layer that covers up our deeper and unseen emotions. The inner world, however, is the place that holds the key to understanding what makes people tick. Regrettably, many couples never learn about the complex and delicate issues in their spouse inner world; they relate only to their outer or external side of their personality.

How in touch are you with your spouse’s inner world? Listed below are common negative behaviors that are based upon underlying “inner” world emotions. Take a few moments to evaluate your awareness of these issues.

Negative behavior: threats, attacks, sarcasm, rudeness -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior?

What are their inner feelings?

 

Negative behavior: defensiveness, shyness, withdrawn, uncommunicative -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior?

What are their inner feelings?

 

Negative behavior: judging, criticizing, disapproving -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior?

What are their inner feelings?

 

Here are some possible answers

Negative behavior: threats, attacks, sarcasm, rudeness -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior? Obnoxious, hostile, aggressive

What are their inner feelings? Hurt, anxious, embarrassed, fearful

 

Negative behavior: defensiveness, shyness, withdrawn, uncommunicative -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior? Rejecting, suspicious, mistrustful, apprehensive

What are their inner feelings? Angry, resentful, insecure, disappointed

 

Negative behavior: judging, criticizing, disapproving -

How do you perceive your spouse’s behavior? Resentful, bitter, indignant

What are their inner feelings? Overly self-critical, insecure, angry

 

If you’re good at reading between the lines, you’ll notice that outer expressions of anger and sadness often emerge from inner feelings of insecurity or discontent. Think about the stresses in your life that cause you to be cranky, upset or just miserable to be around. Feelings of rejection are often scrambled in our inner world and then dished out at others who just happen to get in our way.  All of us have bad days when we get upset at the people closest in our lives, but we are really just hurt by other circumstances such as getting yelled at by an angry boss, receiving a parking ticket or missing the bus. For a marriage to succeed, you need to know when your wife or husband is just having a bad day or if other “inner world” need are not being met.

Let’s take a look at some of the issues that can guide you through your spouse’s inner world. They include: 1. Self Esteem, 2. Individuality, 3. Love and Friendship, 4. Control, 5. Spirituality.

In the following weeks we will explore these five levels and utilize a new test that can help you identify your level of “relationship” intelligence with your spouse and ways you can improve your marriage.

 

In Part 6, we’ll discuss Self Esteem.

 

Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force. For more information about Shalom Task Force, please visit www.shalomtaskforce.org. You can e-mail questions to him at rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com. To order “First Aid For Jewish Marriages” go to www.JewishMarriageSupport.com.

About the Author: Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, Marriage and Family Therapy, is an expert in marriage counseling, pre-marital education, and helping teens in crisis with offices in Flatbush, Cedarhurst, and Crown Heights. He is a certified PAIRS instructor, and trained as a Level 1, Emotionally Focused Therapist at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, and is a member of AASECT. He is the author of At Risk – Never Beyond Reach and First Aid For Jewish Marriages. To watch his free videos on marriage and parenting and for appointments visit: www.JewishMarriageSupport.com or call 646-428-4723


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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/first-aid-for-jewish-marriages-part-5/2009/02/25/

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