To feel loved and nurtured, your spouses need to feel that you empathize with their emotions. The key is empathy. Empathy isn’t the same as sympathy or pity. It means being able to put yourself in another’s position, to feel what they feel and see what they see, without losing yourself in the process.
The pictures had been removed from the wall a while back. Carefully and methodically, they had been placed in the back of her desk drawer, a spot that could be reached only if one were looking for something intentionally. Other pictures were inconspicuously hanging in the corner, situated on a wall blocked by a large, mismatched piece of furniture. There were also loose photographs, neatly stacked in their original envelope, discreetly placed in an unmarked folder located in the back of her filing cabinet.
Mirroring is a good way to start actively listening to each other. To mirror, you simply paraphrase or repeat back to your spouses what they are saying to you.
David (name changed) and his wife had been married for 15 years and believed they knew what each other really wanted. While attending a marriage seminar on communication, David and his wife listened to the instructor declare, “It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other.”
With the economy heading south, we are all looking for ways to cut back on our expenses. I guess that's good news for Motel 6, pawnshops and "Dollar Stores," but it's a pretty lousy development for anyone running a nonprofit organization (like me) because practically everyone except bankruptcy attorneys earns less money in times like these. Less money means less charity giving. Gulp!
One of the most powerful dimensions of a successful marriage is a couple's ability to keep focused on each other's good points and unique personality traits. Too often, people become fixated on the negative. They "sweat over the small stuff," and forget about the positive points that brought them together in the first place.
"What do you mean, 'controlling'? This is called parenting! I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. I'm being responsible. I'm parenting my children the same way my parents parented me. If it worked then, there's nothing to question; it'll work now. Besides, look at me; I turned out okay!"
There is something to be said about hearing a story with a yiddishe ta'am (taste). However, when the context changes, and the cultural inflection and accent are omitted, the panache wanes. Such was my recent experience after having heard a well-known tale modified to suit the eclectic assemblage of the audience. For you, my dear readership, though, I offer the original version as I heard it many years ago (for a deeper experience, as you read the text imagine how these characters would sound and look).
Dear Rabbi Horowitz: Our family is recovering from the terrible, unexpected loss of a loved one who passed away far too young. My husband and I have differing views on seeking professional help to help our children cope with the tragedy. (Thankfully, at least on the surface, they all seem to be doing well.) I am strongly in favor of seeking this help, while my husband, who is an amazing father and has been our bedrock throughout this ordeal, thinks that we should leave well enough alone and not subject our children to the agony of pouring their hearts out to a stranger. We are regular readers of your columns and recently re-read your "Open Letter to Teens Who Lost a Parent," where you very clearly encourage them to seek help if they are having difficulty dealing with their grief. But what if they don't seem to be exhibiting any such signs? We would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this matter. Respectfully, Susan
Self-esteem is one of the most important factors influencing human behavior. Despite what some people believe, self-esteem can be a critical issue in marriage, where unresolved identity issues from childhood can place unwanted stress on a relationship.
I recently saw a sign that read: "There are a million reasons for abuse, but not a single excuse." Sharon* (name has been changed) came into my office last week after being a client for almost a year. Over the past few weeks, she has been working towards disclosing a "secret." Finally, through an established trusting relationship, Sharon was ready to tell me her "secret." She is 16 years old and has had a 19-year-old boyfriend for almost a year. She was finally able to disclose to me how abusive this young man has been to her. Having told me of various forms of abuse, she also stated how angry she is at him, while at the same time she says that she cares for him.
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.
Of all the various disorders and syndromes that affect children in our community, I wonder if any is as misunderstood or puzzling as "selective mutism." Until very recently, professionals and educators just assumed that children with selective mutism were actually being silent "on purpose." It is only within the last year or two that we have discovered that it's really not under the child's control.
I often share with my clients a simple yet powerful analogy: to think about their relationship as they do about their bank account. That's because investing in your relationship is similar to saving money; the more you put into your bank account or relationship, the more you can take out when necessary.
Mordechai, 36, and Chani, 35, were married for six years and came to ask me for advice on how to save their relationship. They seemed to have everything going for them. They were working professionals, successful and upwardly mobile; they shared many common factors including similar religious beliefs, intelligence levels, and were both pleasantly extroverted.