Latest update: June 26th, 2012
Marriage, by contrast, is an institution of close, complementary cooperation. Its success or failure depends upon the the couples, ability to work together as a TEAM. However, in order to accomplish this, we first have to understand that in marriage we carry our own emotional baggage along with us — some good and some, not so good. The not-so-good seems to stand out a lot more.
In fact, our unconscious minds guide us to relationships that replicate childhood experiences, but most couples are unaware of this. Couples often tell me that the closer they get, the more they argue. Keep in mind, this is not a bad thing; this is emotional healing trying to take place. Hashem is giving you a second chance to heal unresolved issues and childhood pain. With a little “detective” work, perhaps if we can find the place where the person’s childhood pain came from, then perhaps we can heal it.
Let me explain how this process begins. Your childhood experiences of “home” — regardless of whether those experiences were positive or negative — will not surface until you get into a relationship. This is because, as a child, you have a mental association that love = home. Unconsciously, your mind will equate what associations you have with home, with what love is “supposed to feel like.”
For example if Home = fear and danger, Love = fear and danger; Home = tension and criticism, Love = tension and criticism; Home = abandonment and anger, Love = abandonment and anger.
If you remember your high school math, if A = B and B = C then A=C.
It is the same thing in relationships, as the two of you start to get closer with each other. You will begin to love each other, and therefore you may start to fight with each other. Childhood pain and old baggage from home will begin to surface, seeking a partner to heal them, with new love.
Many couples break up at this stage and tell everyone they were not compatible. They are just not aware of what is happening to them. They think if they fight harder, the pain will go away. They are not aware of just how close they were to finding emotional healing and safety. Love also provides the emotional safety so that the walls you put up to protect yourself from being hurt start to come down, and pain you placed in your baggage will start to open up. This is because your heart wants to love someone and have someone to share this pain with, and thus complete childhood unfinished business.
In order to understand this fully I will use a metaphor of a fictitious, young newlywed couple — Yossi and Brindy. They are on their honeymoon, ready to check into a state-of-the-art, Love Fitness Resort. The first-floor honeymoon suite offers new love and a Jacuzzi in every room. Each floor has something special to offer. However, on the second and third floors they will find a love that will make them feel safer than they have ever felt before. The manager of the resort greets them as they enter: “Mazel Tov! Welcome Home.” They both look at each other, and wonder, “Is he nuts? Welcome home? We just rented an apartment in Flatbush!”
When all is said and done, the manager escorts the young couple to their room. “I hope you have a pleasant stay and, oh, by the way, don’t go up to the second or third floor, and take care!”
Once again they look at each other, “What’s on the second and third floor? I’m going up to the second floor”, Brindy says. Our instructions were not to go,” Yossi argues. “Then he shouldn’t have told us not to go. Besides, now that were married we can do stuff like this.” As the couple ascends to the second floor, something begins to happen. Brindy says, “Check out the wall paper, it’s so warm and inviting.” Yossi then says, “You’re right! There is something about this love floor that makes me feel safe and secure.” Once again, love provides the emotional safety, so that the wall you put up to protect your heart from pain can now feel safe to come out. What Yossi and Brindy may not be aware of, is that new love will bring to the surface old pain. At this stage Yossi and Brindy may become critical of each other and even get angry. The flashbacks of their pasts are necessary if emotional healing is to take place. Brindy then says, “This is so cool, let’s go up to the third floor.”
As the couple ascends to the third floor, Brindy says “Wow! This place is incredible, feel this carpet.” Just then, the bellhop taps Yossi on the shoulder: “Buddy I have been looking all over for you. You left your baggage in the lobby, in fact I am sorry to inform you that your bags have opened up. You now have clothes on the first, second and third floors.
“This is all your fault!” Yossi says, “This would never have happened if you had listened to me. You’re just like my father, he also never listened to me.” “Well, you are just like my mother!” Brindy says, “Never talking, just yelling at me! Nothing I ever did was good enough for her, I thought it would be fun to explore new things, but you’re as rigid as my father, always critical, angry and blaming everyone except himself!”
As they both are having an emotional flashback from their childhood Brindy at this point starts to cry, “I want to go home!” Yossi stops and reflects then says, “What’s happening to us? Just a few minutes ago, we were so happy! You know Brindy, the manager was right, we are home!” As you start to feel love and begin to start your ‘new home,’ you may encounter an emotional flashback. This is emotional baggage that you thought you left in your parents’ home, but it followed you to your new home. Couples may start fighting and not know why. Using the T.E.A.M. approach, couples begin to understand why they are fighting and that it may not be their fault. If each understands the other’s emotional baggage, only then can they feel safe to give each other the love that they need.
T.E.A.M. is endorsed by many prominent Rabbanim, including Rav Pam, zt”l, Rav Belsky, Rav Dovid Goldwasser, Rav Herbst, Rav Mordechi Tendler, Rav Lehrfield, Rabbi Pikus and Rav Ralbag.
If there are any topics you would like me to discuss in my articles, or have any questions, please feel free to contact me at CPCMoishe@aol.com or at 718-435-7388. You can also log on to CPCTEAM.org to download past articles and for more information about the T.E.A.M. approach.
MOISHE HERSKOWITZ, MS, LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples — helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed and highly certified social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz holds a certificate from the Brooklyn Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in couples and marriage therapy. He is an active member of the New York Counseling Association for marriage and family counseling.
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