How to Strive Beyond Solid Communication…
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Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Eikev – Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Have you had this experience? The other day I infuriated my wife. Then before I could apologize she did something amazingly big-hearted. I stood in awe of her. She was still mad at me. But despite her anger, she wanted to make my life easier.
It just didn't make sense to me. When I’m angry with her we have to talk the matter out to clear the air. Sometimes it doesn't take very long. But once in a while, the discussion will go on for hours. Everything you read about good relationships says to work conflict through. That way you can reconnect with your spouse.
How can Melanie, even temporarily, skip that step? And even though she does, wouldn't it be better to resolve the conflict first? Doesn't her overlooking it incentivize me to do other things that might enrage her?
The Nature of True Love
Here's the rub. She’s not trying to make me feel guilty. Her actions are genuinely kind. That’s what makes them so amazing. Sitting here writing this, the times Melanie has described how much she loves me come to mind. As wonderful as they are, when she acts in spite of her anger she SHOWS me the depth of her love.
At times I live the curse of being a rabbi/chaplain/guy people come to to fix their relationships. I default to rational steps. Identify the source of conflict. Use good communication skills. Talk it through. Reach for compromise and resolution. Reconnect.
Except, that’s not how G-d does it. Two verses from Parshas Eikev explain what I mean:
“…He fed you the manna that you did not know…” and “Now Israel, what does the Lord your G-d ask of you? Only to be in awe of the Lord your G-d…” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 8:3 and 10:12)
Moses reminded the Children of Israel that the Almighty fed them in the wilderness no matter what they did. Then he reminded them He asked for nothing in return. So, they should revere Him for such generosity.
Bookended by these two verses, Moses recounted the story of the Golden Calf. With subtlety, he showed them the nature of true love. G-d miraculously fed you. You sinned. No impact on your food supply. Such devotion is awesome.
The Israelites had to deal with their sin. But G-d did want to disconnect for even a nanosecond. So much for the rational process of working a dispute through in order to be able to reconnect.
Put Process in Its Rightful Place
My wife better understands the nature of true love. I don't know if it's intentional or intuitive. But I’m well advised to learn from her example.
It’s worthwhile knowing processes for working through conflict. Disputes left to fester will destroy your marriage. But in the end, they’re tools. The ability to deal with disagreements is an interim goal for your relationship.
Join me in striving to continue to do loving acts before a dispute is resolved. Imagine the quality of your marriage if you succeed only once in a while. Awesome.
How do you decide your response to an ethical challenge?
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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!