There is an idea that thinking positive is the absence of reality, ignoring what is wrong in the world. This idea views thinking optimistically as either a lie or foolish; as if there is always something wrong and always something missing in life. This perspective suggests that an honest person is always in touch with negative information about what needs to be changed and/or improved.
There is another perspective that whatever is focused on grows stronger. This idea is used in educating children. When a child’s strengths are magnified, the child grows stronger. When the child’s weaknesses are magnified they become deviant.
In marriage we have an opportunity to grow in a new way. Instead of the viewpoint “that a person marries with all the baggage of their past”, we can focus on the present! Marriage can be about the present and two adults learning to support each other and practice respect and express encouragement. Marriage can create an opportunity to begin a new identity. This new identity is not related to baggage. By setting aside the notion of baggage or the ideas of unfinished business, we are focusing instead on creating a relationship with support , positivity and respect. What might happen when two adults marry and they speak a language of encouragement and respect from the beginning?
Is it possible that rather than baggage getting in the way, baggage will become obsolete. It will become outdated and forgotten just like bell bottom pants were forgotten. By focusing on their language and their respect for each other tow new adults will emerge, stronger adults whom believe in themselves.
Perhaps it is time to abandon truths that feed hopelessness in marriage and begin new ideas of marriage which can cause growth, newness, freedom from history and a positive life.
Making Your Marriage Better
Great relationships aren’t great because they have no problems,
they’re great because both people care enough
to find a rich way to share their lives
marital and individual counseling
Chanarachel Frumin MS CNT
Rabbi Chaim Tabasky
Rabbi Yosef Cornfeld MSW CNT
Ellen Cornfeld CNT
Living closely with others creates a fertile ground for seeing what we consider the dark side of another person. We also feel invited into thinking of “What we are putting up with in this relationship!” We sometimes feel sorry for our-self or angry at the other for having weaknesses at all! Many times we create a feeling of resentment and silent complaint about our predicament.
Sometimes we complain loudly, forcefully and even fight about the situation. Our complaints,whether silent or voiced, pervade and create a flavor our environment. Can you imagine having dinner with a person who is thinking throughout the meal “I wish you would lose all that weight.” or “Why do you leave your clothes around?” or “I think you are the laziest person I have ever met.”
They did an experiment in a doctor’s office where they placed an actor in the waiting room with other patients and his job was to sit and judge everyone in the room without them knowing. They filmed the results and saw that people began to act impatient and uncomfortable and even the babies cried. Then the actor was sent in to think loving thoughts about the others in the room. The result was that people began laughing with the children and asking each other’s name!
There is however another approach to the living with weaknesses or differences of our spouse. Hashem in his great love and mercy gave us the spouse we have. These trials and challenges are really for our well being and provide an opportunity to find ways to spiritually respond maturely and compassionately. When we approach their weaknesses by seeing the possibility of our own spiritual growth then resentment does not have to be the result. Instead we can ask ourselves what midah could I strengthen in response to what is annoying me? Maybe I could offer to help? Perhaps I could practice Caf Zechut, giving them the benefit of the doubt.
First we have the possibility of praying daily for our spouse as a way of saying I am with you. Even if our spouse never knows that we are praying for them the taste of these prayers pervade the house.
Secondly as in the experiment we can focus our thoughts on the kindness and the positive attributes of our spouse again whether or not this is voiced it creates a feeling of appreciation. We also are in a wonderful position to offer encouragement to our partner, helping them grow in their courage and feelings of confidence.
Finding the strengths in our partner can offer a high point in someone’s day and make them feel noticed and cared for. This form of kindness is specific for creating Shalom Bayit, a feeling of wholeness in the home.
Next time we want to look DOWN on our spouse we can take a moment to realize they are the perfect person tpo help us become everything we were created to be in a spiritual world.