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December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Dear Gary’

Connect To Love

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Dear Gary, I’m very upset with the younger generation today and the way they treat their marriages. I’ve been married for 56 years and admit that it hasn’t always been easy. If I thought about getting divorced each time my husband upset or annoyed me, we wouldn’t have gotten past the week of sheva brachos. It seems to me that today’s newlyweds don’t want to make any sacrifices and think only of themselves. My grandson, the father of two beautiful young children, is getting divorced. He says its because he didn’t make his wife happy enough and spent too much time working at his new job. This is outrageous. Do you think this younger generation is too selfish?

Answer: First of all, congratulations on 56 years of marriage. As you note, it wasn’t easy – and it’s not supposed to be. It is always inspiring to hear stories of a life long commitment to marriage. I only wish you would share with us some of your secrets to marital longevity. Surely, your primary one was the expectations you had going into your marriage. There’s no doubt that marriages today begin differently than those of yesteryear. Whereas I’m not comfortable calling an entire generation “selfish,” I am comfortable discussing your sage point about sacrificing.

Successful marriages have some commonalities, one of them being the realistic expectation that each spouse will make sacrifices. Taking it a step further, it’s really about contentment. We live in a world where we are often taught not to be content. While we are expected to consistently strive for more, this doesn’t mean we should live in a perpetual state of unrest. The successful couple is one who is looking to expand their devotion for each other into something more, while at the same time, recalling the ongoing love that already exists. You can want to spend more time having fun with your spouse while simultaneously being grateful for the positive relationship you now have and the time you presently spend together.

Contentment lies at the heart of a happy marriage and life. However, some confuse contentment with a lackadaisical attitude; if I’m content, I won’t work hard to change. But contentment is about counting your blessings, knowing things could be worse and not taking for granted the positive in your marriage. The beauty of being content with your spouse is that it inspires you to make those sacrifices for each other and not feel that something has been taken away from you. Rather, you’ve added significantly to the marriage, the family and the love that is being nurtured. You have done this by thinking of each other and putting some of your wants on the back burner.

Naturally, this style of marital behavior works when both spouses are in sync in this concept. It becomes unhealthy if only one spouse is comfortable sacrificing and the other is quite happy being sacrificed for. (That is why no one from outside the marriage relationship can judge, because we can’t know the balance or lack thereof.) Relationships are built on a reciprocal give and take. It’s never an exact quid pro quo, but there has to be a feeling that each one wants to make the other happy and a desire to find that ongoing contentment together. Surely, there are those whose very “needs” are not being met. But again, the definition of “need” versus “want” is in the eyes of the beholder.

Try telling yourself you want to be content. Remove the word sacrifice for a while because it always sounds like something’s being taken away. When your spouse isn’t the way you’d like him or her to be, don’t tell yourself you have to accept it and make the sacrifice. Instead, use that moment to recall some of the wonderful things about your spouse, reminding yourself that no one has it all. Make that sacrifice gracefully, with love and the knowledge that this is part of what marriage is all about. Remember that you want your spouse to overlook some of your less than spectacular traits and find you wonderful. You don’t want him or her always thinking about all the sacrifices he/she needs to make living with you.

Connect To Love

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Dear Gary,

I have begun dating someone who I like very much. However, there is one issue that has raised a red flag. He talks about his mother a lot – in a good way. They have a very close relationship. However, some of my girlfriends (one who is married and does not get along with her mother-in-law) told me to beware of marrying a “Momma’s boy” because then you’re marrying his mother. Is this a real concern when dating?

Concerned

Dear Concerned,

Having a good relationship with Mom and being a Momma’s boy isn’t the same thing. First of all, I’d be wary of someone who does not like his mother. This doesn’t mean he can’t be a great husband, but in all likelihood it would be a greater challenge for him than for someone who gets along well with his mother. Remember that a young man’s primary female relationship is with his mother. His attitude and opinion of her will likely be brought into every other significant female relationship he experiences. If he is demeaning or makes dismissive jokes about his mother, he may be doing the same about his wife one day. However, even then with some focus and psychological work, anyone can overcome struggles and learn to create a genuinely loving relationship with his wife – even if he perceives that he’s had a troubled relationship with his mother.

So, how can you know when it’s more than just a nice relationship with his mother, something that you’d want and encourage in a husband? When you feel there is a controlling element handed down from mother to son. If you feel that he’s unable to make common personal decisions without the approval of his mother AND that his mother is very comfortable making these decisions for him (meaning she’s not so approving), be aware – it is likely Momma will be making decisions for you as well. It’s a stage that every person experiences, considering parents’ sage advice in making our own decision instead of having parents make the decision for us. It is a smooth transition for some but difficult for others.

As your dating progresses and you feel closer, simply bring the topic up and discuss it in a kind and respectful manner. It’s always to your advantage to get used to being communicative about these kinds of issues, so that both of you can develop your style of decision making together.

M. Gary Neuman is a psychotherapist, rabbi and New York Times best selling author. He is a frequent guest on the Oprah show as well as multiple appearances on Today, the View, NPR and others. He and his work have been featured in magazines including Time, People, Parents, Redbook, and newspapers including USA Today, the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. He consults with couples and families throughout the world and has a private practice in Miami Beach where he lives with his wife and five children. To contact him, visit:
www.mgaryneuman.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/connect-to-love-4/2010/09/01/

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