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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Learning to Say That You’re Sorry

Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

It’s inevitable that sometimes couples will step on each other’s toes; especially during the first year of marriage, where newlyweds find themselves tip-toeing around their spouse’s emotional roadblocks. Don’t forget that it takes time to learn about your spouse’s idiosyncrasies and how to respond in a way that makes him or her feel at ease.

Here are some of the common mistakes people make in marriage:

1. You forget about for an important appointment and your spouse is furious.
2. You make up a time they will call you and you forget to turn on the phone.
3. You invite your in-laws for dinner and forget to tell your spouse.
4. You forget to bring her flowers for Shabbos or Yom Tov.
5. You leave the dishes pilled up in the sink.

Despite your mistakes, you can still undo your past actions by learning how to say, “I’m sorry.”

Saying that you are sorry is so powerful that many couples have told me it’s the secret to having a long-lasting marriage, as the following story that appeared in a British newspaper points out.

A British couple who had been married for 80 years said that their success was down to a glass of whisky, a glass of sherry and the word, “Sorry.”

“I think we’re very blessed,” said Florence Arrowsmith, 100 years old. “We still love one another, that’s the most important part.”

Asked for their secret, Florence said you must never be afraid to say, “Sorry.”

“You must never go to sleep bad friends,” she said, while Percy, 105, said his secret to marital bliss was just two words: “yes dear.”

The couple had three children, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

How to say that you’re sorry

There are many ways to tell your significant other that you are sorry. To begin with, start by expressing that you genuinely feel sorry for your behavior, actions, or words.

“Please forgive my outburst, I do love and respect you and didn’t mean to speak to you like that.”

“I do love you and I can’t stand fighting with you. Please forgive my part in all this. I want us to speak calmly and with respect for each other.”

”I am very sorry; please forgive my tone of voice. I love you and don’t want us to continue speaking to each other this way.”

“I’m sorry. I love you and I am overreacting. Let’s take a break right now so we can both calm down.”

Second, it is very important to state that you are taking responsibility for your actions and not trying to justify or make excuses. If you don’t take responsibility your apology will have little value. You should also try to convey that your sincerely regret what you did. Many times, someone may simply say they are sorry to try to keep the peace and end an argument, and they are not generally feeling remorse for their behavior. A genuine expression of sorrow for your behavior can mean a lot to the other person.

Michael, 32, and Rivkah, 29 learned about the need to say, “I’m sorry,” the hard way. Michael was a well-respected accountant who worked in a high-pressure job. He usually worked late hours, and looked forward to unwinding at home — not to be greeted by a loud choir of children when he entered the door.

A common scenario unfolded each night when Michael would return home from work and be greeted by his ready-for-bed children and a very exhausted wife. At home, his wife Rivkah was finding raising their children to be a challenging task, especially since their young baby had colic and she faced many sleepless nights alone without Michael’s help. Usually, by the time Michael came home, Rivkah was worn out and needed assistance. However, when Michael would open the door, his children would crowd around him, start jumping up and down and beg for him to play with them. But Michael, who usually felt overwhelmed, would get upset and start lashing out at his kids and yelling at his wife.

To make the situation worse, Rivkah would hand the kids to Michael and run to the bedroom to relax. In response, Michael would turn on the video machine for the children and try to escape to his computer in the living room. Left alone, the children would feel abandoned and start crying for attention, which would cause Michael to lose his temper.

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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More Articles from Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch
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Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a child becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one – usually a parent or other caregiver – to whom the child is attached.

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I try to focus on the parents in a way that is not often addressed. As soon as the child gets anxious, the parent gets anxious;

Most people are not aware that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).

Parental conflict affects children in varying ways, depending on their age. For example, teenagers around the age of fifteen or sixteen are most likely to involve themselves in their parents’ battles. Younger children may keep their feelings hidden inside and may only show signs of depression in late childhood or early adolescence.

When parents come to talk to me about a troubled child or teenager, I often find it helpful to explore whether or not their marriage is causing their teenager to be at risk.

Active listening is only one part of the marriage equation; learning what to say and what not to say is the other half. And, it’s not just about expressing your feelings, but doing it in a way that avoids hurting the other person.

Control may be the most destructive force influencing a marriage. Let me illustrate this point with the following story. About two years ago a woman named Bracha, 47, came to speak to me about her husband’s controlling behavior. This is how she described her precarious situation:

Controlling behavior may be the number one reason that your marriage needs first aid.

If you are unfamiliar with the topic of control, it’s no surprise. Most people are unaware that control is a major issue for counselors, therapists and psychologists-at-large.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/learning-to-say-that-youre-sorry/2013/03/15/

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