Do you believe in miracles?

Marriage is a real way to open up a miracle. Two strangers decide forge a life-long partnership in which they share every respect of their lives together under the same roof for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for the rest of their lives, no other voluntarily made commitment is anywhere close to such magnitude.

Having seen and been through many “‘no’” signs, I can tell you that just getting to married is miraculous enough. Considering that we bring into this partnership our own individual backgrounds, values, perspectives, weaknesses, infirmities, personal history, minds, bodies, skills, imperfections, yearnings and disappointments, expectations fears, timidities, dreams and nightmares; all these are brought into a union to be forged together under the chuppah united into one permanent bond of commonality called marriage. It can only be a miracle that this mix actually works for millions of people, and is taken as our due. Whether we admit or acknowledge it or not, G-d is part of this relationship and natural and prudent that G-d be invited into the home created under the wedding canopy.
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Marriage habits

According to Dr Mark Goulson these are the ten habits of happy couples, I tend to agree. (republished from Psychology today whose website is not easily accessible)
What does it take to be happy in a relationship?

  1. Go to bed at the same time
    Remember the beginning of your relationship, when you couldn’t wait to go to bed with each other to make love? Happy couples resist the temptation to go to bed at different times. They go to bed at the same time, even if one partner wakes up later to do things while their partner sleeps. And when their skins touch it still causes each of them to tingle and unless one or both are completely exhausted to feel sexually excited.
  2. Cultivate common interests
    After the passion settles down, it’s common to realize that you have few interests in common. But don’t minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy. If common interests are not present, happy couples develop them. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own; this will make you more interesting to your mate and prevent you from appearing too dependent.
  3. Walk hand in hand or side by side
    Rather than one partner lagging or dragging behind the other, happy couples walk comfortably hand in hand or side by side. They know it’s more important to be with their partner than to see the sights along the way.
  4. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode
    If and when they have a disagreement or argument, and if they can’t resolve it, happy couples default to trusting and forgiving rather than distrusting and begrudging.
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Divorce and the Character Disordered

Stumbling accross this article I realised it was worth sharing. Dr. George Simon explains to the Huffington Post that some divorces may be exceptionally toxic because one party suffers from what he terms a “character disorder” (CD). Divorcing a disordered person is its own particular kind of hell, distinct from the usual miseries of divorce.

Simon explains: “Top CD attitude red flags: Entitlement, possessiveness, indifference to others, arrogance, disdain for obligation. The more of these attitudes they possess and the more intense these attributes are, the more character impaired the person is… Money matters always tell the story the best. The CD will clean out bank accounts. Or they play financial games. The reckless gambling and spending will all get discovered right around the time the aggrieved party has begun seriously contemplating the divorce. This makes it even harder to think about throwing in the towel because of how disadvantaged the victim will be walking out.
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Hey Rabbi’s – be there before it gets to the Beth Din

I am writing to appeal to you to please speak to your Rabbis about the issue of adultery. Since adultery is legal in many countries – as opposed to murder – our entire society tends to sweep it under the carpet. There is an attitude amongst many Rabbis that since one must judge favourably one must assume that every Jew would consider murder and adultery on the same level, you know that this is surely not the case.

If one was suspected of murder (and not convicted) I am certain that not only a Rabbi would pay special attention to the case and ensure that there is clear separation of the suspect from any other directly concerned parties, so why is this not considered with adultery. All my interactions with Rabbis have simply pointed any question of adultery towards the Beth Din. I feel that it is essential for community Rabbis (especially young ones with no personal experience of divorce) to be MUCH MORE sensitive to concerns of adultery and to take more accountability and responsibility. I am sure that should they try to place themselves in the position of a spouse that was aware of their partner committing adultery that they would be more considerate, but this seems outside of their realm of consideration.
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Love is… very healthy!

It’s not the freshest news.. although there is really nothing new under the sun. I like what Barbara Fredrickson (the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and… author of the book on love, and student of positive psychology) – “Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become,”. She discusses the lessons she learned while writing the book:

It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it.
The vision of love that emerges from the latest science requires a radical shift. I learned that I need to ask people to step back from their current views of love long enough to consider it from a different perspective: their body’s perspective. Love is not romance. It’s not sexual desire. It’s not even that special bond you feel with family or significant others. And perhaps most challenging of all, love is neither lasting nor unconditional. The radical shift we need to make is this: Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another.

Love is not exclusive.

We tend to think of love in the same breath as loved ones. When you take these to be only your innermost circle of family and friends, you inadvertently and severely constrain your opportunities for health, growth and well-being.
In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone — whether your soul mate or a stranger. So long as you feel safe and can forge the right kind of connection, the conditions for experiencing the emotion of love are in place.
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Divorcees and Widows – share the same pain

I’m a divorced man and I’ve been engaged to a widow (of 6 years), so when I read David Wolpe publish his ex-wifes notes on divorce, I felt a desperate need to share it. Most touching indeed and in case the WP site loses it I needed to reproduce it here… with great respect and thanks to Eileen Ansel Wolpe whom agreed to allow this to be published openly. This letter was motivated by a friend who was contemplating divorce and when asked for advice her first, quick answer was simple: Don’t.

Divorce is a hard path, a long, circuitous journey that is not something you can control. You open the door and walk through it, thinking you will go to destination ‘x’ only to find out that it was just an illusion, that destination ‘x’ is only visible from inside the marriage and that once you leave, you not only cannot find it, but you start to realize, it probably never existed at all.

I lived alone for 10 years (17-27) before getting married. I thought, OK, I can do this. I’d rather be alone than be in a marriage that isn’t working, that’s irrevocably broken (and I have no regrets over that, for me, it was not a choice). Continue reading

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That tingly feeling – hormoans

“What causes that initial hormonal explosion? Falling in love is actually one of the most thoroughly investigated and well-understood phenomena in the relationship field. When we meet a person of the opposite sex, we are mentally sizing them up to see if we want to mix our genes with theirs. We then put the object of our affection to certain tests. First, we check for symmetrical facial features (evenness is a reflection of healthy genes) ─ men scrutinize women for curves (which represent fertility) and women generally go for a tall mate and will often choose kinder, more nurturing (feminine) features, over harder, more classically-masculine faces. In other words, women will more often choose Matt Damon over George Clooney, if they are looking for long-term love.”

Hormones set the volume of the tingly feeling. It’s well documented and if you’re not getting it – I suspect whatever age you are – you’re probably not on the right track. Stop and change… otherwise enjoy the ride.

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Modern Jewish Marriage

For a modern Jewish husband the idea of a woman and a man in a lifelong commitment of partnership – what we call marriage – is as old as the beginnings of humanity as we know it. After God created Adam, and before Eve, God says “Lo Tov heyot he-adam levado” – it’s not good for man to be alone. “I will make for him a fitting helpmeet opponent“.

The Torah means more than not alone, it is an anti-dote to self involvement. Mainstream psychology acknolwedges self-control and interpersonal stability leads to a long life. When Adam marries Eve, there is now someone else to account for, with whom he has to reckon to whom he has to give whose being he must adore, with whom he must share. It’s not good for man to be alone is to presume he is independent, someone who has noone to answer to, but himself. Like Adam, in Adams’ world. Only someone opposite to Adam, his equal and yet different, can make him into a proper human.

There is a paradox as Adam moves from being free to being obligated, yet through this obligation he is made whole. Marriage is moving from a status of being free (not good and not fully human) … to being obligated (good and human). For to be good, is not to do as one pleases, and not to be concerned with ones personal comfort and pleasure. To be human means to give, to be obligated, to be responsible for, and to be accountable to. As is how Adam transformed.

The profound lesson that can be learned from those who find their beshert or not, to be a taker does not guarantee happiness or satisfaction. It is ultimately the reverse, happiness is for the givers, they can reach for joy. Partly because the more one lives in Gods image, He is the ultimate giver. Similarly the more ones gives, the more joy one can experience.
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Dealing with a spouses ex

Spotted a funny page called “The underground guide to Shidduch dating“, but the main gist of this post is for – B”esras Hashem – my future wife. Ann Mazzaferro writes about how to deal with ones husbands (vindictive) ex. I have no doubt this applies to many or most women marrying a divorced guy. Married life can be complicated, and the negative energy inflicted on your relationship by a spouse’s vindictive ex can be exhausting. Ranging from constant demands for money in addition to child and spouse support, angry insults directed at you and your spouse, refusing to let your spouse see his children or actions that sabotage your plans and relationships. Dealing with a spouse’s vindictive ex requires more diplomacy than a United Nations summit, the patience of a saint and the firm belief that your new marriage is worth fighting for.

She offers the following advice:
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Words from the Rebbe – who qualifies

My (frum) friend in NY advised me to look beyond the step (madrega) that one is on, “you need not be on the same step as your beshert”. It was during a discussion on my challenge to find a frum woman in my geography, although my overall sense of the discussion was that he was definitely not advising me to compromise, nor to constrain my search. The Rebbe appears more firm and tends to agree with other Rabbi’s I’ve spoken to.

His words suggest that one must not assume that someone else will change for them. He explains “It is understandable that when a person promises to commit himself fully to Torah and mitzvos in his daily life at some future date, this promise can be valid only if he knows from experience what such a promise entails. Since such a commitment may entail a radical change in his way of life, coming after years of living according to a fixed pattern, he cannot – however well-meaning he may be – have a realistic idea as to whether or not he would be able to carry it out. Only after he actually puts himself to the test for a substantial period of time will he be qualified to decide whether or not he can accept upon himself such a commitment for the rest of his life. Clearly, when it comes to marriage, this should not be tied in with any expectation to educate, or re-educate, the would-be partner – especially where such education would be required at almost every step.”

I feel sufficiently observant (and educated) to meet the needs of any frum woman, although I have a great deal to learn I would love to learn from my wife.

Either way I recommend the web version of the Rebbes “Eternal Joy – Volume 1, A Guide To Shidduchim & Marriage” – this page in Chapter Twelve: Whom to Decide Upon – Whom Not to Decide Upon

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