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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘LCSW’

Prisoners Of The Past

Friday, January 6th, 2006

As a child you had two basic needs. One was to be happy and loved, and the second was for your parents to be happy and loved. If you grew up and these emotional needs were not met, then your unconscious mind seeks a partner to help you meet those needs. The process will take place by recreating your childhood wounds in your present marriage. This way you can finish unfinished emotional business and move on with your life. By giving each other unconditional love, the two neshamos can provide the emotional energy that’s needed to heal each other. The process happens so discretely, that most couples are not aware of what is happening to them.

As one young couple said to me, “Something hurts but I don’t know what.” As in so many cases, one partner wants to get close and the other wants to be left alone. The one that wants to be left alone starts to get angry and critical. The one that wants to get close starts to feel alone and scared. They both want to be loved, but they don’t know how. It seems as if the closer they get the more they argue. In most cases the couple will find someone to say, “You’re just not compatible.”

This is not true; deep down they know that they are compatible, because they both need what the other one does not have. Inside, they are both very frightened and lost. As a result they will put up an emotional wall to protect themselves from any further pain. The emotional energy Hashem has provided for them to heal each other will be drained and used to hide their true feelings of anger, hurt and fear.

Love Principal #1

Hashem chooses the partner you’re with, so that you can heal each other and complete unfinished business from childhood. I recall a young newlywed telling me how careful she was not to marry anyone who drinks. She remembered what her father’s drinking did to her mother, and how it affected the family. She was in shock to find out that right after sheva brachos her new husband started drinking!

In T.E.A.M, a program I designed three years ago, we call this process P.O.P. — “Prisoners of the Past.” Most couples panic at this stage and file for divorce, in hopes of breaking free. There is an expression in the Gemara that states “A prisoner cannot free himself.” In marital relationships this is very true. The only way you can be free, is by giving love the way your partner wants to be loved, not the way you want to be loved.

During a Friday night shiur, my rav, Rabbi Wosner, shilta, shared an amazing story with me that took place in Israel recently. A young man wanting very much to have children came to a rav in Israel for a bracha. He started crying that he and his wife tried everything, and with all the testing and medication, they still have not been able to conceive. The rav responded that he was sorry but nothing he could do would help. As the young man was leaving in tears, the rav suddenly said “Wait! I have an idea. I can’t do anything, but perhaps you can! Listen carefully. I have a son and just as you, he has been trying to have a baby, and for many years nothing has helped. I want the both of you and your wives to team up as partners, and pray for the other, not for yourselves! I must tell you that this will be the most difficult challenge of your lifetime. This can work, because you each have the same need — what the other does not have. By nature, you will shift back and start to ask for yourself. If this should happen, and it will, just yell out ‘stop!’ and continue praying for the other one. Please keep in mind that by giving you will be getting.” They took the rav’s advice and within the year, both couples had babies.

The T.E.A.M approach teaches couples how to give love and feel loved, not by taking but by giving. If you’re willing to take on the challenge, as a team, any couple can build shalom bayis.

The Power Of Love (Part II)

Friday, September 16th, 2005

Going Home

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.”

The Power Of Love (Part I)

Friday, August 12th, 2005

Stop The Pain, Not The Marriage

Marriage is not like every other human relationship. It brings two incompatible people together for the purpose of healing and growth. The degree of healing and growth will depend on many factors. One such factor is the ability to give love. Love is the foundation of married life. Even though many people talk about it, there is a great deal of doubt as to whether they really know how to give love. Most couples take it for granted that when they get married, their partners will understand what it takes to care about the happiness and well-being of another. This is why, three years ago, I designed a Marriage Enrichment program called T.E.A.M. — Torah Education and Awareness for a Better Marriage. It was designed to complement the Chassan and Kallah classes after Sheva Brochos. This way, as a team, they could put into practice what they had just learned. Since then, I have used the same T.E.A.M. love principles in premarital, marital and remarital counseling. But my greatest success is with couples who were just about to get divorced, but then realized that it is not the marriage they wanted to end, it’s the pain. If a couple grew up in a home with limited “VP” (a term we use at T.E.A.M. for verbal expression and physical affection), how could they have known and understood the skills and dynamics that make up an intimate relationship?

Recently, one couple shared with me a method they used when they first got married. They made a strong commitment not to make the same mistakes their parents made. They stated that “we may not know what to do, but we certainly know what not to do!” Now, logically, this would make sense, if not for the fact that by the time a person turns eight years old, 80 percent of his/her emotional programming has been already recorded. It’s like having a video camera on in your home all the time, transporting images to your mind of what love is supposed to feel and look like.

Love Principle #1

“Through giving, Hashem chooses each couple on the basis of their potential to heal each other.”

When we give our partners what they need, we also heal our own wounds. Giving love is a healing process that can only be activated if the male gives first! If not for the Torah, we would think that the female gives first, since this midah is so much a part of her nature. The Zohar tells us that the giving is the responsibility of the male. It’s he who gives first, if the healing is to begin.

Love Principle #2

“Love means different things to different people.”

The way you want to be loved may not be the way your partner wants to be loved. It’s important to ask him/her how they want to be loved, so that you know how to give love.

Love Principle #3

We are not mind readers!

It’s not realistic or emotionally healthy to think, “If he/she really loves me, I would not have to ask for something I really need.”

Love Principle #4

“Stop the pain, not the marriage”

Most couples do not want to get divorced. What they want is for the pain to stop. Recently, I was a guest on a talk show, along with a representative for single mothers. She spoke for a short while about her experiences before she got divorced. After the show, as we were leaving, she articulated these exact words “we need to stop the pain, not the marriage” If you don’t heal the pain, you will take it into your next relationship.

Love Principle #5

“Break the cycle”

Any unhealthy emotional programming that your parent learned from the past has now become your emotional programming of the present, and possibly the future (of your children).

Love principal #6

“A relationship is equal the sum of all its parts”

You first have to change something about yourself before you can change something about your relationship. When we change our behavior in response to our partner, we heal our partner and ourselves.

Love Principal #7

“Without change there is no growth”

Self Awareness. ‘Who Am I?’ (Part II)

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

The Jewish community has never been as challenged as it is today. I believe that many of our problems could have been avoided if we took a more proactive approach. I recently met with a doctor who had just married off his first daughter. He wanted to know what exactly pre-Marital enrichment is. I responded by explaining the concept of self awareness, that it’s not possible to know someone else if you don’t know who you are! In pre-marital enrichment I discuss a topic I refer to as “Who Am I?” with couples before and during their first year of marriage. This way they can learn the communication skills needed to enhance understanding, appreciation and respect. Once this information has become available to the couple, they now have the awareness to give what the other partner needs. He then responded that his daughter and her husband communicate very nicely, ‘thank- you very much’. As I was leaving his office I could not help but laugh. He was not listening to a word I was saying, yet he was talking about communication skills. Communication between a husband and a wife is not the same as with a friend or even family. The relationship comes with enormous responsibility to attain self perfection and self fulfillment.

Let us now begin with the third set of preferences called Thinking Vs Feeling.

Some people prefer to think about things and others prefer to feel about them. If you are making a decision, which is more important- your head (Thinking Type) or your heart (Feeling Type)?

Every one uses both thinking and feeling at least some of the time, but the one that is used most automatically and naturally is the one preferred.

Thinking Types:

People who prefer to use Thinking in decision making tend to look at the logical consequences of a choice or action. They mentally remove themselves from a situation to examine it objectively and analyze cause and effect. Their goal is an objective standard of truth, even if that occasionally may hurt someone’s feelings. Their strengths include figuring out what’s wrong, so that they can apply their problem-solving abilities.

Thinking Types are:

Analytical

Logical problem-solvers

Use cause-and-effect reasoning

Tough -minded (can be blunt) some times they may come across as insensitive

Strive for impersonal, objective truth

Reasonable-Fair

Feeling Types:

People who prefer to use Feeling in decision making tend to consider what is important to them and to other people. They mentally place themselves in a situation and identify with the people involved so that they can make decisions based on person-centered values. Their goal is harmony, and their strengths include empathy, understanding and supporting others.

They are careful not to hurt others. If they themselves get hurt they will often remember these feelings for a very long time;

Feeling Types are:

1 – Sympathetic and empathic (can put themselves in the other person shoes)

2 – Assess impact on people, and how others are affected by their decisions

3 – Guided by personal values

4 – Tender-hearted

5 – Strive for harmony (want to be liked)

6 – Compassionate

7 – Accepting

A good example of Thinking and Feeling people is best described in the decision making process of children in crisis or other wise known as “Youth at Risk”.

Thinking Administration: Case A:

Problem: The child does not fit into the yeshiva system.

Solution: We have a responsibility to the school; it’s not fair to the other children.

The child should be removed from the school. It’s not logical to hire a separate Rebbe/teacher and start a new class for these children based on the possibility that things may work out. It’s war out there and in war you have to make sacrifices. Besides, we have no money. They need to be out of the mainstream and in to an alternative school. It stands to reason that they must leave so we can be the best that we can be.

Feeling Administration: Case A

Problem: The child does not fit into the yeshiva system.

Solution: Hire a Rebbe/teacher and start a new class for these children. We have a responsibility to the child, as much as we have to the school .Sorry, but every nashoma is special. If the child is removed from a mainstream school who will take them? As a result they will feel rejected and hurt and will most likely be candidates to meet the wrong people. What about the parents- how must they feel about what is happening to their son/daughter not being in school? If they are put in to alternative school who will be their roll models? No peers to even look up to! How is it that in the past we had money to fund a Rebbe/teacher and create such a class? These children should stay in the mainstream, so that they can be the best they can be.

Self Awareness. ‘Who Am I?’ (Part I)

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Almost every profession has what we call the tools of the trade, and with marriage it isn’t any different. If you’re single, engaged or a newlywed, you need to have the tools it takes to build a successful marriage. Yet for many of us even when the chosen and kallah classes are over, they still find it difficult to use the tools that they have just learned. This is because marriage can bring out the best in us, and it can also bring out the worst in us. A person’s self is a complicated energy source with great potential for interpersonal and emotional growth. But if you don’t know who you are, how can you know some one else? It stands to reason that the more tools you have to obtain self awareness the more possibilities you have for a better and more satisfying relationship.

How do you acquire the tools for self-awareness? Interestingly enough you don’t the tools acquire you! At birth, Hashem provides each and every one us with four sets of tools, which we call preferences and non-preferences. Preferences means the way we naturally prefer to do things. Non-preferences means the way we naturally prefer not to do things.

Noted psychologist, Carl Jung, explains that the four sets of tools are set up like a scale:

Extravert vs. Introvert

Sensing vs. Intuition

Thinking vs. Feeling

Judging vs. Perceiving

Everyone uses both sides of the scale from time to time. Yet the side of the scale you feel most comfortable with will determine an important aspect of your personality.

It’s interesting to note that when we choose a mate, we often have an unconscious attraction to our opposites. The chemistry or friction that happens between opposites is often a desire to complete the missing parts of ourselves.

Rav Shternbach, shlita, states that an ‘ezer k’negdo’ is the man’s opposite and that if the woman’s nature is different from that of her husband, then she complements him. She is his helper. If, however, their personalities are similar, if their character traits are alike, then they will end up maintaining the same weaknesses and, in all likelihood, their opportunities for individual growth will be stunted. In a marriage, the ideal is for two people with contrasting or differing characteristics to join together and build upon one another’s strengths, very much like a puzzle where each of the pieces fit into place to form a complete mosaic.

As a four part series, “Who Am I ?”, I will begin with Preferences 1. Extravert vs. Introvert.

Extravert: People who prefer extraversion tend to focus on the outer world of people and external events. They direct their energy and attention outward and receive energy from external events, experiences, and interactions.

Characteristics of most people who prefer extraversion:

Attuned to external environment

Prefer to communicate by talking

Learn best through doing or discussing

Breadth of interests

Tend to speak first, reflect later-(thinking out loud sometimes get them into trouble)

Sociable and expressive

Take initiative in work and relationships

Introvert: people who prefer introversion tend to focus on their own inner world of ideas and experiences. They direct their energy and attention inward and receive energy from their internal thoughts, feelings, and reflections.

Characteristics of most people who prefer introversion:

Drawn to their inner worlds

Prefer to communicate by writing

Learn best by reflection

Depth of interest

Tend to reflect before acting-they are often reserves, quiet and need time to think things over (they may get annoyed by the extravert need for verbal communication)

Private and contained

Focus readily

A good example is a past case study of mine regarding an extravert married to an introvert. 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.” 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 verbal communication to establish closeness and intimacy.

The Love Drug

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

The Dubna Magid in Safer Hamidos, states that “love is one of the most important midos in a person”. Hashem has given us a most powerful energy source with the potential to grow and heal unresolved issues of the past. But in order to activate this energy source we must first try to understand the levels of complexity love has to offer.

After the Holocaust the Agudah of America traveled to the displaced camps of war-torn Europe. One of the many services they provided for European Jews was to marry off as many Jewish singles as possible. My parents, A”H, were two of them and soon after they were married they came to America. I recall as a teenager asking my mother if they were in love when they got married. My mother stated clearly “no way, how could we have been in love? As with so many other girls in the B’nos d.p. camps, a rov made the shidduch and soon we were married!” At the time I could not fathom the idea! How could this be possible? How could marriage come before love? Yet I never saw a more giving, caring, and loving couple like my parents. What shocked me even more was the fact that less than 1% of this population got divorced.

It was not until I got married, learned more Torah and became a marriage counselor that I was able to understand the stages of love and what this gift from Hashem is all about. Love is a developmental stage of energy that needs to keep moving to a higher level of growth. It’s composed of energy divided into two stages – Stage 1 Romantic Love and Stage 2 Acquired Love. In Romantic Love, the couple may or may not be engaged, but in most cases they are. The couple will shower each other with acts of caring and understanding. They can’t wait to see each other and will do anything for each other. They see only positive traits. Any negative traits will be overlooked. Their infatuation tends to be an idealization accompanied by a disregard of reality. The couple, as the expression goes, is ‘high on cloud nine’ or ‘in seventh heaven’. They feel intense pleasure, exhilaration and excitement. They seem happier, playful and have more energy. In some cases if a person is on medication, they may even stop taking it because they feel they no longer need it. Psycho pharmacologists have learned that the person is high on natural hormones and chemicals that flood the body with a sense of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. You’ve heard the expression ‘love is blind’, well it’s true! The couple will have the illusion that they are in love. In the physical sense, the couple is in love. They are in love with themselves. That’s because romantic love is a master of disguises for something called self love, a love that’s based on ‘what’s in it for me’. In all honesty, people don’t get married to take care of their partner; they get married so that their partner can take care of them!

When the relationship is more taking than giving true love cannot take place. This is why Hashem designed this love drug not to last. When the wedding is over, and the couple begins to settle into married life, the infatuation may change suddenly and unpredictably. Hashem determines how long the love drug should remain in the person’s system. For some people it will begin to fade before the wedding, and for others it can last for weeks, months and years. But one thing is for certain, this energy source will move to a higher level of growth called acquired love.

I recall one case where a chosen called me up the very next morning after he became engaged. ‘What did I do, I’m not sure that I love this person!’ He was confused and scared and wanted help. He knew that his kallah was a great girl but something was happening and he didn’t know why. He wanted me to help him break off his engagement. As I reviewed the process with him, he started to calm down. When we met I reassured him that what he was feeling was perfectly normal. But he was caught between the stages of romantic and acquired love. Boruch Hashem, with a little coaching, a few months later, the couple was happily married.

‘Please Don’t Leave Me!’

Friday, August 13th, 2004

The Torah tells us that we are put onto this world to give, not just to take, as difficult as this may seem for some people. Married life provides a unique opportunity to give to another person. When husband and wife are willing to give whatever it takes to make each other happy, they will move onto the next stage called “love.” This is where the Shechina (Divine Presence) rests.

For some couples it may take months, for others, years, for this process to take place, if they are willing to work on their marriage. In many cases, Hashem challenges couples with “shock waves” they never anticipated, in order to prove to them that they truly do love each other and can be worthy of shalom bayis (marital harmony).

My last article presented a letter written by a client of mine who is currently serving a prison sentence. His wife wants to divorce him, but he is very remorseful for both his crime, and for his former neglectful, irresponsible treatment of his family. He begged her for another chance to prove himself.

The following is a response by a Jewish Press reader:

Dear Husband In Prison;

The following is my reply to your letter in the 7/30 issue:

I find myself in a similar situation. I too committed a serious crime and am waiting with baited breath for my sentencing (yet to be determined). You don’t indicate in your letter how long your sentence is, so I assume that it is less than one year.

I was an upstanding citizen, well known in my community for volunteering, giving interest free loans, and supporting worthy causes. My husband and I were known to all tzedaka collectors as ones who gave generously. So what went wrong? I too was taken in by greed, thinking I could give my family a better life. Never once did I think of the repercussions of what I was doing.

What I have done (should it be made public) will cause disgrace to my children, parents, and in-laws. We will have to move from the community. The damage I have caused is unfathomable. I will have to make restitution, pay penalties, legal fees, and face possible prison time. All the penalties far outweigh the amount I profited.

My husband had no idea of what I was doing. When I decided to confide in him (after I went to the FBI), he was very upset (to say the least), shocked, disappointed and hurt. Yet, he was supportive of me at the same time. The most important thing to him was keeping the family together, since we have young children at home.

I am now working with a therapist to find out why I caused such damage. I am also working on ensuring that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have become withdrawn, have lost a lot of weight, and am short tempered. I have no patience for my children or my friends’ chit-chat. I don’t wallow in self-pity, as I have caused this situation myself.

At times, I feel it is unfair to my husband to have to go through this with me. He is innocent and should go on with his life. He deserves a wife he can be proud of. My kids deserve a role model and mom they can look up to. But no, he has decided that we married for better or worse, that my behavior is not reflective of the person he married, and that through professional therapy, he will have the best wife possible once I am cured. I know he will have a wife who will be forever indebted to him for allowing me a second chance and believing in me. I know I won’t disappoint him.

To your wife… if you have children at home, please give him a second chance. Please believe that through therapy, he can be cured. It sounds as though he is on the right path. But, it takes two people. Speak to his therapist and try to work things out together. Was he forced to commit his crime to support your needs for luxuries? Were you unaware of his actions? Was he a good father and husband beside this? I hope you have the same strength my husband has, and that you see your husband for the man you fell in love with and married, not as the sick person he is today.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/please-dont-leave-me/2004/08/13/

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