The transition from single to married living necessitates many changes and adjustments. The success of the couple depends upon what each brings to the marriage. What may seem positive to one partner may be perceived as negative to the other partner. This failure in perception is one of the primary causes of marital friction and breakdown.
A few weeks ago, a mother of a newlywed couple called me for help. She stated that her son Shimon, who recently got married, became ill. With all the blood tests that were done, they still didn’t know what was wrong. He had always been healthy. He married a wonderful girl from a fine family. She had the feeling that something was bothering him, but he wouldn’t speak to anyone. When I asked her, “What makes you think he will speak to me?” she answered that, “He doesn’t have a choice.” His rav called him and explained that he now recommends pre-marital counseling to all chassans and kallahs, something that he did not do in the past. Since a couple in their first year of marriage (shanah rishona) is still considered chassan and kallah, it would be to their benefit to attend.
Three days later the young couple (Esti and Shimon) were sitting in my office. Although Shimon did not look interested, I explained that the five sessions of pre-marital counseling would be an opportunity to gain valuable insights about one’s self and one’s partner. When I stated in session three that, “How you learn to give and receive is a determining factor in a growing meaningful marriage,” Esti seemed confused. She stated that someone in her family instructed her not to give at all because if you give a man too much, he will grow indefinitely dependent on you. You will be locked in that role of giving and your turn will never come. Men must be trained and broken in from the very start. Shimon could not believe what he was hearing! He thought Esti was not giving or doing anything for him because she was just not capable and that he married the wrong person. At this point, Esti started crying and said, “How was I to know? I just did as I was told.”
Rebbetzin Fink states in her lecture series to kallahs that, “Marriage is not a training ground. Husbands do not get trained. Marriage is about growth and you grow best in an environment of unconditional acceptance.”
Thanks to a very resourceful mother and a smart rav, by the time the fifth session was over, the couple was well on their way to restoring shalom bayis.
When I met with Rav Pam, zt”l, regarding pre- marital counseling at CPC, he stated that this program should be an extension of every chassan and kallah class.
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 (718) 4357388 or at Ladino23@aol.com.