A truly successful relationship has more than love and compatibility; it has Couples Awareness, an approach used in T.E.A.M. Couples Counseling, when we feel understood by our partner. This heightened awareness provides the positive energy for connecting and detecting miscommunication early on. When my nephew Chaim was three-years old, he used to have nose bleeds quite often – so often, that he had a procedure done in the doctor’s office to stop the constant nosebleeds. It worked, but he walked around the house saying, “Something hurts and I don’t know! Something hurts and I don’t know!” My brother Sol said at that moment, “Chaim your nose hurts! – Oh yes, my nose hurts!” Now that he was aware of what was bothering him, he felt so much better.
It’s often the same thing in relationships. A partner may not be aware of something he/she said or did that hurt the other partner. As a result, the other partner may start to feel distant, and the “offending” partner does not know why. When that person asks the question, “Honey is there something wrong?” he/she may respond with… “Oh, not really; I just had a hard day.”
Having this dialogue is okay if it’s forgotten, and it is something that hardly ever happens. But if this happens too often, the emotional tension will not be forgotten. In fact it will turn to negative energy, a process we term “Tanking.” Every person has his/her own “Emotional Storage Tank,” where it stores positive or negative energy. If you push down and suppress all negative energy in to your own emotional storage tank, the pressure it contains will start to move the tension into your partner. This is because energy is never lost; it just changes form.
The fact remains that the emotions you suppress, your partner will eventually feel and express. Let me explain. When a couple gets married, Hashem sets up a two-part cable system. In this process the cable that Hashem connects to the married couple splits, so that the couples are not only connected to each other but also to their emotional storage tanks. The two of them now have the ability to become one and feel what the other one feels. This way the relationship can move to a higher level for healing and growth.
Please be aware that what we want in marriage is to have this positive energy moving within us. If each of our partner’s tank overflows with positive energy, this energy will flow through your connecting emotional cable into your partner’s tank and produce powerful LSP; Love Safety and Passion. Then again, if one partner (or both) is filled up with suppressed negative energy it will flow through the cable into the other partner. As a result both partners will start to feel irritable and tired; something will be wrong, but they won’t know why. This is because holding onto negative energy is very draining. If a couple continues to “tank” each other with negative energy, four things may occur: Distance, Anger, Rage and – in time, Depression. Your emotional storage tank needs positive energy to function.
The walls of the cable then become too thick with pain and unresolved issues of the past. The negative energy being pumped into your partner takes up all the space so that no positive energy can pass through the cable, making you feel tired and depressed. The negative energy will cause the tanks to become unbalanced and shut down, which will prevent us from feeling. This is because anger and passion do not mix, and if you stop feeling, you stop loving. Every marriage has some sort of healing that takes place and as long as you have more positive energy than negative passing through those cables, these tanks can still operate.
I find that when couples become aware of what is really hurting them, and learn to use the tools that Hashem has given them to keep the cable free-flowing with positive energy, their marriage moves to a level of Shalom Bayit that they never knew was possible.
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 clinical 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. T.E.A.M. is endorsed by many prominent Rabbanim, including Rav Pam zt”l, Rav Belsky, Rav Dovid Goldwasser, Rav Herbst, Rav Lehrfield, Rabbi Pikus,and Rav Ralbag.Moishe Herskowitz