Tag Archives: healthy relationships

Do You Have This in Your Marriage?

How to Strive Beyond Solid Communication…

2 minutes to read

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.

Do You Have This in Your Marriage-

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.

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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!

How to Take Advantage of Not Fitting in

Employers Value What Makes You Feel Uncomfortable

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Pinchas Mattos-Masei – Numbers 30:2-36:13

Transitioning to civilian life can seem like walking in a barren wilderness. Few of the familiar touch-points of daily life exist. Nobody asks you to verify your identity to access your workplace or computer. You don’t hear the recording of the Star Spangled Banner each morning. Lack of a muster might even make you feel nostalgic. At least it seemed like someone cared if you showed up for work.

How to Take Advantage of Not Fitting in

How You Benefitted from Rootlessness

When I first left active duty, I found civilian life devoid of meaning. Part of it stemmed from my working from home and being alone much of my workday. In the military, you're never by yourself. There’s always someone to meet with or check on. Counterintuitively, the nomadic nature of military life builds roots. They aren’t place-based. They’re deeper, in the people and mission that require constant attention.

At 2.1 million active and reserve duty personnel, we’re similar in size to another famous, nomadic group. During their wanderings, summarized in parshas Mattos-Masei, the Israelites found meaning amidst upheaval:

“…and these were their journeys, according to their goings forth.” (Numbers/Bamidbar 33:2)

Events, at each location the Children of Israel visited, had meaning. In the Wilderness of Sinai, they learned G-d would fill their needs when He gave them manna from heaven. But most of the gifts they received were spiritual.

Kivros Hataavah is a case in point. There, many Israelites died because they gave into their craving for meat. Kivros refers to the word kever, a grave. Hataavah means desires. A person who gives into his desires gets rewarded with an early burial.

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The sum total of their wanderings was an enduring set of values. These would see them through their transition to a settled life in the Land of Israel.

Tweak Your Presentation to Be More Effective

While in the military you moved every two or three years. But each new duty station reinforced the values you learned in basic training. On time is late and ten minutes early is on time. Stand at attention no matter where you are when the National Anthem plays. Address superiors respectfully.

Rarely do you see these values in a civilian workplace. That we continue to hold them post-military is part of what makes us feel out of place. Yet private sector companies prize our punctuality, dedication to duty, and respectful treatment of others.

Learn to convey your work ethic and mission commitment in a way that engages civilians. Show up ten minutes early. But rather than waiting for latecomers, help the meeting organizer get set up. Don’t criticize millennials’ lack of commitment. Be the employee who helps them learn the value of mission. Speak with respect to every colleague. Leave off the sir and ma’am. It’s not too different from what you did in the military, is it?

The Israelites had to adapt from a nomadic to a settled life. Many faced culture shock. They had to give up longstanding practices, like bringing sacrifices on private altars. But their values remained steadfast. Only the way they expressed them changed.

The same plan will work for you. Alter your behavior a little. Learn to express your values in a way that doesn't shame your civilian colleagues. You’ll always feel a little uncomfortable. But that tension is your greatest asset. Use it to build a successful civilian life.

What makes you feel like you don't fit in?

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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!

How to Improve Your Marriage When You’re Strapped for Time

The Wine Drinker’s Guide to Marital Harmony

3 minutes to read

Have you noticed how harmonious your marriage is after being away for awhile? When I got back from deployment Chana and I had a virtual second honeymoon. We looked at each other lovingly. We ate dinners together alone. We took care to be gentle and understanding with each other. Of course, things had to get back to normal, right?

How to Improve Your Marriage When You’re Strapped for Time

The Two Modes of Marriage

Marriage falls into two modes, everyday and unusual. You know what the daily grind is like. Reunion or health crisis times look different:

  • You’re glad just to be with your spouse.
  • You focus on connecting.
  • Affection and lovemaking happen more often.
  • You avoid conflict or creating bad feelings, if only because they disrupt the first three.

But then life gets busy or the crisis passes, you go back to everyday reality. Your focus turns back to work and kids. Who has time for a weekly dinner date? When your attention peters out, arguments begin to happen. The hours spent dealing with conflict crowd out any time for positive interaction.

Yet if you think about handling conflict during unusual mode, you’d have said, “Let’s not waste time arguing honey.”

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But, is conflict during everyday mode somehow less wasteful?

Your Spouse Is Like a Bottle of Fine Wine

Amidst the time pressures of daily life, allowing your marriage to move out of unusual mode actually consumes more time.

As friction and bad feeling accumulate, they damage communication. You or your spouse may withdraw. Conversations that don’t take place allow problems to fester. Often what could have been solved quickly now takes much more time and resources to resolve.

Lax communication can also lead to fights. You have to take even more time and emotional energy to work out the problem. Rather than permitting your marital mode to shift from unusual to everyday, create the habit of treating your spouse like a bottle of fine wine:

  • Carefully monitor its storage temperature. I have a special refrigerator for storing my best wine. When our power went out a few months ago, I fretted about what would happen if my wine got to warm.

Likewise, take a little time each day to keep an eye on the temperature of your marriage. Check out my post on how to do this in a minute per day.

  • When you shake it up you disturb the sediment. Often great wines have dregs. It’s nasty to drink if it hasn’t settled. So when you pour it you’re careful not to shake it up. Or you use a strainer to keep the sediment out.

In your marriage, treat old arguments like sediment. Be careful not to stir them up. Strain them out of any communication with your spouse.

  • Embrace the bottle so it doesn’t slip out of your hands and break. I pick up a $100 bottle of wine with care. The thought of dropping it distresses me. So I cradle it. My focus never wavers from it.

Treat your spouse with such gentleness. A hundred dollars, even thousands, pales in comparison to the value of your marriage. You wouldn’t risk swinging an expensive bottle of wine over your head lest it slip out of your hands and break. Your marriage is as fragile.

  • Savor it. Every sip of a fine wine is its own experience. One glass can last an entire meal. You examine the color. You breathe in the aroma. You relish the taste. Sometimes it doesn’t measure up. You get angry with disappointment. But then you realize that once in a while it’s bound to happen. You don’t stop drinking wine because of a few unfortunate experiences. You don’t attack or insult the next bottle because the one before it was bad.

Sometimes you or your spouse will slip into everyday mode. Communication becomes strained. You may argue. Are you going to give up on marriage because sometimes your expectations aren’t met? It’s bound to happen.

Now’s the time to merge your spouse and a bottle of fine wine. As you savor the bouquet, color, and flavor, move back into unusual mode and connect. So you can’t have an extraordinary bottle of wine daily. Who says your marriage can’t thrive in unusual mode every day?

How do you build the habit of treating your spouse like fine wine?

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You Can Use This Simple Job-Hunting Secret

Proven Effective for 3600 Years

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayigash – Genesis 44:18-47:27

Finding your next job in the military was so simple. You got in touch with your branch manager or detailer. You negotiated based on available billets. Done. Private sector job hunting seems so complicated. You have to deal with resumes, job boards, applications, and interviews. But Parshas Vayigash shows the crucial job-hunting tactic is 3600 years old:

“…make them livestock officers over what is mine.’” (Bereshis/Genesis 47:6)

You Can Use This Simple Job-Hunting Secret

In this Sabbath’s parsha, Joseph’s brothers showed they had learned their lesson. Judah stepped forward to take Benjamin’s place as a slave. Overcome with emotion, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. He convinced them to bring Jacob and their households to Egypt where he would take care of them. At first, Jacob did not believe Joseph was still alive. But the brothers finally convinced him. They loaded up the wagons and moved to Egypt where they settled in Goshen.

The famine came. It was harsh. The Egyptians spent all their money buying food. Then they sold their animals, land, and finally themselves so that they would live. Only the priests were exempt.

The Power of Connections

Joseph’s brothers found work quickly. They got to Egypt and Pharaoh immediately wanted to meet them. He asked them their occupation. They told him they were shepherds. He directed Joseph to make them overseers of his flocks. Wouldn’t it be nice if your job-hunting worked that way?

Think about it. They didn’t agonize over their resumes. They didn’t worry about what questions Pharaoh would ask or how they would answer them. They received expert preparation from Joseph.

That’s the power of an inside connection. When someone who trusts you introduces you to someone who trusts him that person will trust you. The whole job-hunting process becomes a formality.

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Why People Don’t Use This Job-Hunting Secret

Many veterans reject using inside connections. They don’t like favoritism. They think it’s mercenary. But I suspect it actually stems from their not knowing how to create them. If you related to any of these, I have three responses for you:

  1. Choosing a known quantity is not favoritism. It makes sense to work with reliable, honest people. Another person may be dependable and trustworthy. But why take a chance?
  2. It’s only mercenary if you intend to use the person just to get a job then sever the connection. Instead, create connections as part of your long-term professional development. To be at the top of your field, you need to be exchanging ideas with the leaders in it. Your contacts need to do the same thing. Make relationships mutually beneficial.
  3. Most people in the military are impressed with expert marksmen. Even if you didn’t have that level of skill, you appreciated someone else’s achievement. Likewise, you should admire people adept at forming strategic connections. Think about it this way. Marksmanship and relationship development are both skills for dealing with people. The first for elimination. The second for cooperation. Like shooting, you can learn to develop relationships. The commanders you respect in the military are talented at connecting with people. It’s one of the qualities that makes them superior leaders. Rather than refusing to use connections to get a job, become an expert at it

Perhaps you think Joseph shouldn’t have helped his brothers. Or maybe it was okay because they were family. Whether for these reasons or because you don’t know how it’s time to change your attitude.

Be strategic when making connections. See to it that when establishing professional friendships you:

  • Can add value to the person’s career
  • The person can help you

Focus on the myriad of ways for each of you to benefit the other. Then you can become part of the 3600-year-old history of outstanding job-hunters.

Question – What keeps you from making inside connections?

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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. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2017

2-1/2 minutes to read

You may know I read at least 50 books a year. With so many goods ones even at one per week it seems to make hardly a dent. My reading focuses on personal development, history & biography, business, and literature. My guilty pleasures are detective and historical fiction. It all unites to help my family and me live the life we’ve charted.

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2017

I keep abreast of current works But I also look back to see what older books and classics I have missed. Here are the best. Why not treat yourself to one for a Christmas or Chanukah gift?

Personal Development:

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

We live amidst great abundance yet don’t seem to be happier. Is it nostalgic yearning? Barry Schwartz makes the case that too many choices bring about unhappiness as surely as no choice. He also gives you actionable steps to relieve yourself of this burden.

The Miracles in You: Recognizing G-d's Amazing Works in You and Through You by Mark Victor Hansen

If you sit around hoping for a miracle it’ll be a long wait. Mark Victor Hansen (the Chicken Soup Book Series) challenges you to become a miracle maker. He explains how to see them in your life and make them happen.

Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love by David Sturt

In many ways, David Sturt’s book is a companion to Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated. No matter your IQ, talent, educational level, gender, or the circumstances of your birth, you can create a difference the world loves. The ability to innovate comes through the five skills that Sturt reveals. His illustrative stories prove you can execute them.

The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster by Steve Dalton

Steve Dalton fills in a crucial piece of the job-hunting puzzle. His book will teach you how to connect with people who can help you get the position you want. I used his system. It works.

The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard

This 34-year-old classic details more than a sound strategy for managing people. Kenneth Blanchard gives you the formula to boost the quality of all your relationships. His simple steps yield clear communication leading to mutually agreeable outcomes.

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History and Biography:

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Orville and Wilbur Wright were not extraordinary mechanics, businessmen, or thinkers. David McCullough shows their success came through sheer tenacity. This story will inspire you to redouble your commitment to your life’s mission.

Bull Halsey by E.B. Potter

Arguably the navy’s most beloved admiral, William Halsey’s life testifies to the power of personal connections. E.B. Potter reveals how relationships with his sailors, peers, and family propelled Halsey’s legendary success.

Business and Entrepreneurship:

The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki

I’m not a Guy Kawasaki groupie. I checked out his work from the audio books section of the library so I wouldn’t run out of things to listen to on a car trip. His step-by-step breakdown of entrepreneurship converts a daunting process into manageable pieces. For veteran entrepreneurs and rookies, this book will accelerate your success.

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz & Joanne Gordon

I am a Howard Schultz fan. I loved his first book, Pour Your Heart Into It. In Onward, he emphasizes the bond between business success and foundational values. You don’t need to like Starbucks coffee to get inspired by this story of its rescue.

Guilty Pleasure:

The Road to Samarcand: An Adventure by Patrick O’Brien

If you saw the movie Master & Commander you got a taste of Patrick O’Brien’s rollicking adventure tales. A group of hardy sailors treks across 1930’s China to exotic Samarcand. This is old-fashioned excitement, breakneck horseback rides and hand to hand combat.

If you want to succeed you must read. If you have a specific challenge that none of these books address let me know. Happy to recommend material to help you.

What books did you read this year that you recommend?

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