Before marriage, the engaged couple has a tendency to emphasize similarities rather than their differences. It’s normal for the couple to idolize each other, and since both are on their best behavior, they fail to learn much about their differences in personality. After Sheva Brachos they are launched upon life as a married couple and true personality traits and value systems become more apparent. Gradually, the two may recognize that they are not in such close agreement on everything as they may have thought they were during the engagement period.
A rav in the community shared a case with me that he felt needed follow-up.
Breindy and Naftoli*, a young couple married for just over a year, tried to talk about their frustration, but their inability to reach each other only led to more frustration and misery. At 2:00 o’clock in the morning, they came banging at the door of their rav’s house. Breindy, in the heat of anger, insisted that he should prepare a Get (divorce) right there and then! When the rav finally calmed the couple down, Breindy stated, “I can’t live with someone who never says ‘I love you’!” Naftoli then responded, “Must I verbalize everything? It should be understood.” The rav then explained to Naftoli that women enjoy a maximum of explicit verbal communication. They want to be told how much they are loved!
In Pre-Marital Counseling, couples are alerted to the fact that their needs always have to be measured against the needs of others in a relationship. So, even though you might not need an “I love you,” someone close to you may.
After meeting with the young couple, it became apparent that they loved each other very much and were willing to adjust but didn’t know what they were adjusting to. Breindy did not know that Naftoli’s personality type tends to be reluctant to share inner thoughts and feelings. Naftoli did not know that Breindy’s personality type needs to hear “I love you” to establish closeness and intimacy. How they learn to give and receive affections becomes increasingly important in the marriage. Breindy and Naftoli wished they had gone to Pre-Marital Counseling sooner.
“Willing to adjust” is what Pre-Marital Counseling is all about. They realized that understanding, appreciation and acceptance of each other’s differences are the building blocks of a makom kodesh (holy place). As Rabbi Shmuel Dishon, shlita, states in his lectures to grooms: “If you prepare yourself before marriage in building a makom kodesh, then Hashem will grant you a makom kedusha (a holy and spiritual home) as part of the sanctity of your marriage.
*Names changed for privacy.
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.
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 435-7388 or at Ladino23@aol.com.