Category Archives: Relationships

How to Handle Relationship Problems Lovingly

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Terumah – Exodus 25:1-27:19

You can express unlimited passion when loving your spouse. The challenge comes when you need to deal with relationship problems. The temptation is to let the matter slide in order to avoid an argument. But allowing resentment to build up can cause you to fly off the handle. The passion that should be reserved for positive emotions spills out in a flood of negative energy. Permanent damage to your marriage can be the result. In the interaction between G-d and Moses in Parshas Terumah you’ll find a better way:

“…And I will speak with you from atop the ark cover from between the cherubim that are on the Ark of Testimony…” (Shemos/Exodus 25:22)

How to Handle Relationship Problems Lovingly

This Sabbath’s parsha details the plans for the Mishkan or portable Sanctuary in which G-d rested His Presence during the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness. Such ordinary materials as copper, linen, and goatskins are turned into a holy abode.

G-d Doesn’t Just Talk to Moses

G-d could have spoken to Moses anywhere and at anytime. But the Almighty knew this would overwhelm Moses. Instead He established a comfortable mode for communicating.

The ark was located in the Holy of Holies, a place of unsurpassed tranquility. The wings of the two cherubim provided a shield over the ark, in essence protecting it from harm. The distance between the cherubim was about a cubit, approximately 18 inches. G-d revealed Himself only in this safe environment and to this limited extent. By regulating His awesome presence, the Almighty created a pleasant connection with Moses. When G-d delivered difficult messages, Moses felt His love because the Almighty restrained Himself. Intimacy and endurance were the hallmarks of their relationship.

Intentionality Is Key in Relationship Problems

Rarely does trouble in a relationship get better with age. So ignoring problems is not a viable way to keep your marriage on track. If you follow the model G-d used with Moses, you can avoid a potentially explosive situation with your spouse.

  1. Chose a place of serenity. Send the kids to a friend’s house, turn off phones, and get rid of any other potential distractions.
  2. Surround you and your spouse with symbols and love and security. Light a fire in the fireplace or light some candles. Sit on the floor amidst pillows.
  3. Begin by affirming your desire for maintaining intimacy and a lifelong marriage.
  4. Talk about enough of the problem that the issues are clear, but don’t belabor your points. Limit expressions of hurt. Strive for understanding by your spouse. Don’t punish him.

Taking the time to create the proper setting and retaining self-control will show your good intentions. Such a demonstration of caring will turn a problem into a path for deeper respect and love.

How do you prepare your spouse to hear about problems? Please 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 here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Have a Supportive Spouse When Stress Skyrockets

2 minutes to read

Transitions, hard times in general, really test a marriage. Changing jobs, moving, and dealing with health issues cause stress levels to skyrocket. Leaving military life means you’re dealing with at least one and perhaps all three of these. Even the most mundane interaction can lead to an argument. What could be an exciting time of growth morphs into an exercise in preventing a divorce.

If you do two things you’ll decrease tension, make a smoother transition, and improve your marriage.

How to Have a Supportive Spouse When Stress Skyrockets

Give Up the Mind Reading Act

While you may have loved guessing games as a kid, they have no place in a marriage. Especially during transitions and other times of high stress they only make matters worse.

There is no amount of love that enables your spouse to read your mind. So she does really love you despite being clueless about how you need to be supported. Perhaps at some point during your relationships your wife told you, “If you really cared you’d know what was wrong!” Well she was wrong about that. And the midst of a high stress transition is no time for payback.

Tell your spouse how she can support you.

If you’re not sure, talk to her about what’s bothering you. Be open about your anxiety and fears. Acknowledge you don’t know what you need. Decide together how she’ll be supportive. Plan another time when the two of you will sit down and assess how it going.

Accept Your Spouse’s Support

If you want a supportive spouse be open to the help your partner offers you. Remember, it’s what you asked for or agreed to try. Still, it may not feel right at first. Give it time. Don’t let the desire for immediate release from stress ruin what may work.

Trust your spouse’s intentions, insight, and love. Your acceptance of support is a key component in its effectiveness. If after trying it for a few days you don’t feel supported, thank your partner for the good intentions behind the attempt. Then figure out a new plan together.

John Florio said, “A good husband makes a good wife.” It’s equally true that an open and trusting spouse makes a supportive spouse.

How do you get the support you want from your spouse? Please comment below.

Preventing Others’ Failure Doesn’t Make You a Success

2-½ minutes to read

Last month I finished a master of library and information science degree. One of the notable aspects of the program is the grading scale:

  • 97-100      A
  • 94-96       A-
  • 91-93       B+
  • 88-90       B
  • 85-87       B-
  • 82-84       C+
  • 79-81       C
  • 76-78       C-
  • 73-75       D+
  • 70-72       D
  • 67-69       D-
  • Below 67 F

When I was a high school student and an undergraduate in college, you only had to get a 90 for an A- and a 70 would get you a C-. At first I thought the grading scale indicated a more rigorous evaluation of a student’s work. Later I found it was a response to professors grading too leniently. Whether because they were buying good student ratings or were overwhelmed by compassion, the result was students who didn’t write well and often lacked the resilience to deal with the workload.

Preventing Others’ Failure Doesn’t Make You a Success

Lower Expectations Leads to Less Quality

Academia isn’t the only place where failure essentially has been eradicated. Command Master Chiefs and Career Counselors, among others in the navy, ensure sailors succeed. This policy is justified by the cost to train a sailor, as high as $1 million for one who will work on a nuclear reactor. From leading petty officers (foremen in civilian life) to the officers in command, sailor retention and advancement is a key indicator of performance.

But there’s no free lunch. The price has to be paid somewhere.

Stress on chief petty officers (supervisors in civilian life) burns them out more quickly and reduces their quality of life. Job satisfaction at all levels is lower. Instead of failing and self-selecting to follow another path, sailors advance despite not liking their work. But the real cost is borne when they finally leave the navy.

Preventing Failure as an Indicator of Success

Chief petty officers and commanding officer take pride in saying none of their sailors failed. But like college professors, their success comes at a price someone else pays. Once out in the civilian job market, where being told no, you don’t qualify, and receiving rejection can be a daily experience, sailors are baffled by their lack of success. Studies show that a veteran who does not build up resilience to such treatment in the first six months after leaving the military is far less likely to ever transition successfully.

Reintegration is made more difficult by having spent longer in the military. They are more set in the military mindset. Making the changes necessary to succeed in civilian life can be hopeless.

People have to be allowed to fail. Denying them this opportunity means taking from them the chance to grow. Rather than basing success on preventing failure, you’re better off showing people, whether your children or employees, how to bounce back from defeat.

While the short-term benefits may be high, in the long term preventing others from failing will lead to their downfall. In the end, if your children and colleagues don’t succeed have you?

Where do you see preventing failure is necessary? Please comment below.

How to Make a Powerful First Impression

3 minutes to read

First impressions. Everyone forms them and is subject to them. No relationship begins without a first impression. In some cases, you can overcome a situation that starts off on the wrong foot. If you’ve recovered from such an experience, you know how difficult it is getting back on track. In most cases the old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” rules.

How to Make a Powerful First Impression

The Dominance of a First Impression

Harvard Psychologist Nalini Ambady and her colleague Robert Rosenthal examined the power of first impressions. In the 1990s, they did a series of experiments comparing the ratings given to college professors by students at the end of the semester with ratings that another group of students gave the same professors based only on three ten-second silent video clips shown prior to any actual lectures.

Ambady and Rosenthal found both groups essentially agreed on how good or bad the professors were. As far as their performance ratings were concerned, the first impression from ten seconds of silent video counted for almost as much as a whole semester’s worth of interaction.

Think about that in the context of an HR person reviewing 100 or more applications for a job. While you may get more than 10 seconds, in this first screening he’s looking for any reason to weed you out.

Controlling How People Perceive You

As a chaplain, I faced this issue every day. At stake was whether people would come to me when they needed help. Fortunately, the two decades I spent in business prepared me to quickly establish rapport with people.

These days, with so much of business happening online, someone’s first impression of you is likely to be based on something you write. Especially if you’re looking for a job, your resume and a cover letter is a company’s introduction to you. That being the case, you’re being assessed on your writing skills. It’s a good idea to know what to do. Here are some guidelines:

  1. Customize everything – You’re communicating with individuals. Even if they don’t treat you that way, get in the habit of customizing cover letters, resumes, and everything else.
  2. Spelling counts – While it’s true that some people don’t care about spelling, how will you know if that’s the case with the person you’re writing to? You cannot rely on spell checkers since they don’t detect the wrong word. Stick with the standard spelling of words unless you prize creative spelling over your finances.
  3. Grammar counts too. Do you know the difference between the homonyms there, their, and they’re? I can’t tell you what percentage of HR people do but I bet it’s high. Yet countless times I receive correspondence using the wrong one. There are numerous grammar traps to trip you up. Check out the Grammarly Blog. You’ll get great information in an easy to understand and fun format.
  4. Double and triple check before sending – Proofread everything, whether it’s a casual email or a formal letter. While Microsoft Word purports to check syntax, it is not infallible. Have someone else read what you write, especially if it’s important.

Your high school English teacher was right. Your ability to clearly express your thoughts in writing is a crucial skill. Your access to the marketplace where you plan to turn all your other skills into a high-income career rests on the first impression you give, in writing.

What resources do you use to improve your writing skill? Please comment below.

Do You Want to Communicate or Be Poor?

3 minutes to read

Doesn’t it seem that sometimes life would be easier if you didn’t have to deal with other people? Whether it’s someone you know well or a stranger, miscommunication happens so often. The most innocent comment to your spouse can spin out of control. The next thing you know you’re sleeping on the couch. It’s no better at work. If your colleagues don’t understand you, kiss the promotion goodbye or worse. Whether you seek wealth or rich relationships, you have to be able to communicate clearly.

Do You Want to Communicate or Be Poor?

Why It’s So Hard to Communicate

On its face, communication seems simple. You speak, the other person hears, DONE! But breaking down the process reveals surprising complexity.

First, there are at least two people involved. Each has a different background and perspective. Then there’s the message itself. Use one wrong word or a word the other person doesn’t know and communication fails. These three parts leave ample room for lack of clarity.

People communicate on many levels. Your words can be perfectly clear and your message may still be garbled. Body language, tone of voice, and the other person’s mood or health may change how she perceives what you say. When you take into account how many factors impede clear communication it’s a wonder anybody understands anything.

How to Ensure Clearer Communication

You can’t take everybody’s temperature. Nor can you give people a vocabulary test. So how do you pave the way for to clear communication?

These five steps take seconds, at most, to use but will improve how you communicate with family and colleagues:

  1. Accept responsibility for being clear about what you say. If you have a message to convey, it’s your job to make sure others understand you. Blaming another for misinterpreting what you said is like insisting that someone who doesn’t speak English is at fault for not knowing the language.
  2. Assess people’s state before beginning or responding. Is the person paying attention? Is she feeling well? You can’t read minds, but you can take a few seconds to decide whether you’re likely to be understood under current conditions.
  3. Have a conversation. Especially in situations when clear communication is crucial, take a moment to absorb what someone is telling you. Repeat it back in your own words to confirm understanding. Give the other person a chance to do the same.
  4. Be clear about what you want to say before saying it. If you lack clarity, you cannot communicate effectively. Don’t be afraid to stop speaking if you realize you’re unsure about what you mean. Let the other person know you need time to think through what you meant to say. Re-engaged at another time.
  5. Tailor your vocabulary. I once had a doctor tell me there was foreign matter in my umbilicus. Seeing the stricken look on my face he let me in on the joke – I had lint in my belly button. (Okay, I made this up but you get the point.) Jargon and slang prevent communication outside of their arenas. Often that’s the point of using them, to exclude the uninitiated. If you want to communicate well, use language the other person is sure to understand.

Think about the people you like the most. Most likely it’s because they communicate in a way that you find compelling. Taking the time to do the same for others dramatically increases the chance you create solid relationships. And relationships are the key to a rich life.

How to you ensure you communicate clearly? Please comment below.

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