Tag Archives: healthy relationships

How to Know When Your Spouse Isn’t Angry

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayishlach - Genesis 32:4-36:43

When Hannah and I have an argument the challenge is figuring out when to re-engage. If she is still angry, trying to reconcile is usually fruitless. Knowing when her anger has subsided is the key. Parshas Vayishlach gives the answer:

“Jacob became very frightened and distressed” (Bereshis/Genesis 32:8).

How to Know When Your Spouse Isn’t Angry

In this week’s parsha Jacob prepares to be attacked by Esau. He struggles with the Angel and is given the name Israel, then reconciles with Esau and settles in Shechem.

Next, in retaliation for Dina’s abduction, Simon and Levi deceive then massacre the Shechemites. Jacob travels to Bethel where G-d confirms Jacob’s new name and reaffirms that the land of Canaan will be given to his descendants. Benjamin is born and Rachel dies. After reuniting with Jacob, Isaac dies. The parsha ends with a listing of Ishmael’s family and his death, a listing of the lineage of Seir, and the chronology of the Edomite kings.

Was Esau Still Angry?

Why, in the verse quoted above, was Jacob scared as he approached Esau? During his sojourn in Laban’s household, G-d protected Jacob and made him prosperous. Though his life potentially was in danger, surely he had no reason to be both afraid and distressed.

Most commentators agree that Jacob was afraid that he would have to kill Esau and distressed that he might be killed. As righteous as he was, it is not surprising that he feared killing his brother more than being killed.

But, when his mother told him to leave home, Rebecca ordered him not return, “until your brother’s wrath subsides.” Jacob had to determine the right time. How was he to know Esau had had a change of heart when couldn’t see or hear him?

Your Heart is a Mirror

Proverbs 27:19 gives a clue: “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him by another.” Just as a pond mirrors your physical image, your heart, the seat of your emotions, mirrors another person’s emotions.

As Jacob headed toward home, he thought he was no longer angry with Esau. But on learning Esau was approaching, thoughts of killing Esau entered his mind, showing him he still harbored ill will in his heart. Jacob realized since he was not fully reconciled, Esau probably wasn’t either.

When you’ve had an argument with your spouse reconciliation begins with clarifying and resolving your own emotions. You must be sure you’re no longer angry otherwise your seemingly friendly overture will be rebuffed. Consider these questions:

  1. Do you feel compassion over your spouse being upset?
  2. Are you truly seeking repair and reunion or just a de-escalation of hostilities?
  3. Have you accepted you are at least partly responsible for the issue?
  4. Can you respond lovingly no matter how your spouse acts?

With your heart filled with love and understanding and no lingering anger, the opportunity to re-engage is at hand. And you have created the greatest chance your spouse’s heart, reflecting your own, will be open to reconciliation.

Question – How do you pave the way to resolving conflict with your spouse? Please leave a comment below.

 

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!

Can You Love Enough to Let Someone Hate You?

2 minutes to read

Love is easy when you’re on vacation or going out for a nice dinner. And I’m sure your hearts merge when watching your kid win the big game or give an amazing performance on stage! But when your spouse spews vitriol you need every ounce of patience to listen without retaliating. After all, if he loved you he wouldn’t treat you this way.

Can You Love Enough to Let Someone Hate You?

Love & Hate Aren’t Opposites

People automatically think the opposite of love is hate. But as I’ve written previously, the opposite of love is indifference. Rebuilding a marriage infected with apathy is much harder than when the “pots and pans are flying.” But long before divorce becomes a consideration a lot of bitter words can be exchanged. When this happens the tendency is for one or both partners to withdraw from the relationship. The seeds of permanent disinterest have been sown.

Ideally, such arguments won’t happen. But a conflict-free marriage is very rare and may not be desirable. Even if you are naturally inclined to an even temperament, the stresses of life can take their toll. Of course, it would be better if your partner didn’t let off steam in the marriage. Nonetheless, since it’s going to happen better be prepared.

Disengage to Preserve Love

Rather than battling it out, the best way to maintain lifelong love is to withdraw when you’re attacked. You don’t have to physically leave, although that might work. Instead of thinking about your next verbal volley, intensely focus on anything other than the person. Especially if your partner’s rant has no basis, engaging will only make it worse.

The ultimate test of love is your willingness to endure someone temporarily hating you. By being indifferent during the argument, you can minimize the long-term damage. When the episode has passed you won’t be wrapped up in negativity. You’ll be better prepared to repair whatever harm has been done.

By using such planned bouts of short-term apathy, you can prevent the more permanent kind from taking root. And, you’ll keep the bond of love in your relationship alive.

How do you minimize the negative effect of arguments on your marriage? Please comment below.

How Your Best Intentions are Harming People

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Chayei Sarah – Genesis 23:1-25:18

How many times have you spoken to your spouse with the best intentions only to have your words completely misinterpreted? Likewise, have you done a friend a favor only to find the adage “no good deed goes unpunished” seems to apply? I’ve written before about how G-d judges intentions. So why doesn’t He make things work out the way you intend? Parshas Chayei Sarah explains what’s going on:

“Let it be the maiden to whom I say. ‘Please tip over your jug so that I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will even water your camels,’ her you will have designated for Your servant, for Isaac…” (Bereshis/Genesis 24:14).

How Your Best Intentions are Harming People

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with the death of Sarah. Abraham purchases a burial site, inters her, and devotedly mourns. Then he orders Eliezer, his servant, to find a wife for Isaac. Next, Abraham remarries. The narrative concludes with his death and the death of Ishmael.

God Knows Your Intentions

The Midrash notes the impropriety of Eliezer’s above request. According to his plea any woman, no matter what her status, would fit the bill. Nonetheless, knowing that Eliezer acted with the best intentions the Almighty sent him the saintly Rebecca. Why did He treat him so kindly?

Until he received Abraham’s instructions for finding Isaac a wife, Eliezer had hoped his daughter would marry his master’s son. Finding this was not to be, he nonetheless faithfully carried out his duty. He lost no time preparing for and setting out on his journey. He fervently prayed for success, beseeching G-d to, “Do kindness with my master.”

Clarify Your Intentions Before Acting

Notice Eliezer’s clarity of intentions. From the outset, he sought a woman of character. He brought gifts to persuade her family to consent to the marriage. All his arrangements focused on a successful outcome for Isaac and Abraham.

By engaging in such preparation you can ensure your true intentions are sound:

  1. Whatever you are saying or doing, it should come from devotion to the other person.
  2. Resolve to have his or her best interest at heart.
  3. When you speak with your spouse, child, or friend, plan your words in advance. How could you be misinterpreted?
  4. Likewise with your actions. Could something you do be misconstrued? Explaining your behavior beforehand may make your intentions clear.

Assumptions Defeat Clarity

It’s easy to think your intentions are clear. After all, you know what you’re thinking. But the only way others can know is if you tell them. Now that you have to articulate your meaning you may find you’re not as certain. Taking the time to assure your heart, words, and actions are aligned with your intentions will help you build solid relationships based on mutual understanding.

Question – How do you make sure your speech and behavior match your intentions? Please leave a comment below.

 

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!

How to Form a Strong Friendship Despite a Busy Life

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayeira – Genesis 18:1-22:4

Maintaining friendships is a lot of work. With some people, you can speak to them once every year or two and pick up right where you left off. But most friends require greater effort. When your life is so busy, how and where do you find the time to nurture important connections? Parshas Vayeira makes clear what it takes:

“And Abraham journeyed from there…and he sojourned in Gerar.” (Genesis/Bereishis 20:1)

How to Form a Strong Friendship Despite a Busy Life

The Sabbath’s parsha begins with Abraham receiving three guests who reiterate the promise that he will have a son. Then he learns about the fate of Sodom, where his nephew Lot is living, and Gomorrah. G-d destroys the cities but saves Lot and his daughters, who then give birth to Moab and Ammon. Next, Abimelech abducts Sarah, Isaac is born, Hagar and Ishmael are sent away, and Abraham makes an alliance with Abimelech. The parsha ends with the binding and near sacrifice of Isaac.

Friendship Focuses on the Other

Life was nomadic during Biblical times. But there had to be a better place to go than Gerar. Once again Abraham faced mortal danger when a king coveted his wife. The benefit of moving there must have been tremendous.

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, people stopped traveling through Mamre. Abraham no longer had the opportunity to welcome guests into his encampment. He could have taken the attitude that since there was no one to invite he was exempt from having guests. And G-d wouldn’t have faulted him.

But the Creator prizes hospitality so Abraham made it his hallmark.

Adopt Your Friend’s Priority

Abraham left Mamre and moved to Gerar where he could resume being hospitable. It entailed risk. But he was confident that by embracing G-d’s priority he would receive His protection.

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Such is the nature of a true relationship. Each person looks after the interests of the other. Note that Abraham probably spent very little extra time entertaining guests. He and his family had to prepare meals and eat anyway. Hospitality may have meant serving better quality food or washing a few extra dishes, but Abraham still had plenty of time to tend to his flocks.

It’s the Action that Counts

For many years I assuaged my conscience by telling my Mom I thought about her often, even though I seldom picked up the telephone. When I did call her she would ask me why I didn’t call her, to which I responded, “I’m calling you now. Isn’t that good enough?”

It took me years to realize my Mother was telling me she desired regular communication to create a closer relationship. I always thought it would take too much time. But with telephone, email, and text messages I’m in daily contact without any burden on my time.

Every other consideration pales into insignificance when you base a friendship on the other person’s priority. Send him an article about his favorite sports team, make an effort to thank her, or just briefly touch base periodically. Small deeds make all the difference.

Question – In what little ways do you maintain a friendship?

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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!

You’re Responsible But It’s Not Your Fault

“Some people find fault like there is a reward for it” ∞ Zig Ziglar

Remember when you were a kid and broke your mom’s favorite vase or your dad’s golf club? Fear of discovery ate at you. When the deed was uncovered, the search for the culprit started and you had two choices: confess or lie. Usually, the second one only added to the guilt you felt and the punishment you received when the truth finally came to light. To this day I dread being told, “IT’S YOUR FAULT!” Don’t you?

You’re Responsible But It’s Not Your Fault

The Fear of Being Blamed

The shame of reproach negatively impacts children’s self-perception. And the humiliation they feel encourages them to lie or try to shift the blame to someone or something else. (How many guilt-evading children have wrongfully condemned the family dog?) The stigma remains when they get older. Often, they develop an aversion to any kind of criticism. They’re robbed of input that forms the basis for growth.

Parents have rightly stopped blaming their children for making mistakes. But many have also stopped holding their children accountable. Coupled with praising them for the most mundane acts, children grow into immature adults.

The Benefits of Being Responsible

Rather than blaming children when they make mistakes or act out, it’s better to hold them responsible for their behavior. The benefits are twofold:

  1. Being held responsible sounds a lot like being blamed. But children also can be told they’re responsible for the good things they do. In this way, they learn there is a positive side to exercising responsibility. Maturity comes in part from understanding this duality.
  2. There is no stigma to being responsible. The person responsible for good things, such as scoring a winning goal or discovering something that will benefit the world, receives acclaim. The person who accepts responsibility when things go wrong is respected for being honest. No matter how you feel about his policies, most people like the sign President Harry Truman had on his desk: “The Buck Stops Here!”
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Even Mature Adults Hate Being Blamed

Do you point your finger at your spouse? The blame game in a marriage causes permanent damage. But when spouses hold each other mutually responsible they incentivize themselves to work together to find solutions to the challenges they face.

Next time you’re tempted to find fault, consider the long-term effects. Will your children mature into responsible adults if they learn to loathe criticism and shift blame to avoid being stigmatized? Are you strengthening your bond with your spouse?

Forget finger pointing. Instead act responsibly and expect responsible behavior in return. Your family and friends will love you for it.

How do you hold your children or spouse responsible?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

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