Religious figures as marriage counselors.

August 6, 2008

The marriage of religious authorities and… marriage. Does it work? Does it help? Does it hurt?

Assuming you are a religious person, and adhere/subscribe to one way of life, then yes, why shouldn’t religious authorities help guide you in something as large and important and delicate as marriage? Assuming, again, that they have the proper training.

Whispered along the walls of the Jewish community, I’ve heard the horror stories of abused women and children who can’t get out of their homes because they have no support. In Judaism, there is a concept called “shalom bayit” – a peaceful house. It’s a clause used often to try and realize the greater good of your home: work towards shalom bayit, it’s the most important thing.

That is true, of course, until it is no longer true. Recently I’ve had to listen to the horror story of an old friend who is finding herself taking all kinds of crap from rabbinical authorities who are asking her to just keep quiet for shalom bayit. She is in a situation where the marriage is way past shalom bayit, and it is time for everyone, including the rabbis, to face reality.

In what seems to be a new turn, a course is now being offered by the Emunah Religious Women’s Organization to train Orthodox rabbis on giving professional advice and guidance on sexual health and marital relations. This is under the notion that “rabbis are catalysts for family change.”

And how true. Young couples, who never received a sex education beyond learning the difference between a woman’s purity and impurity, can finally get some healthy, sound advice from a figure they trust. Believe it or not, but there are plenty of people who will go to their rabbis before their doctors.

Here is a full article about the initiative, which I definitely agree with, as long as the rabbis use it for good – especially in the cases of the abused.

Rabbis offer professional sexual, marital advice
New course offered by Emunah Religious Women’s Organization trains rabbis to provide professional counseling in marriage, sexuality. ‘Rabbis are catalysts for family change,’ says Emunah deputy head Rina Wasserman

Bedroom affairs and marital problems are now open for discussion in the Orthodox sector. A newly launched course trains rabbis to engage in family and marital counseling and give advice on sex-related matters in order to help the religious sector deal with these rather sensitive issues.

“The course focuses on psychological aspects, family relationships and sexuality,” said Rina Wasserman, Vice Chairperson of Emunah (Religious Women’s Organization) Israel, which has initiated the course. (source)


On building a lifelong relationship.

May 31, 2008

I thought I would republish some words I wrote to a friend on the subject of lifelong relationship, i.e., marriage. I took out the personal bits and reworded a bit, but you’ll get the drift:

So many people go into these things (marriages) completely careless, and a lot of the time loveless, and if you have both care and love, you create so important a combination… And I’m confident that couples with those skills, over time, find that every day they feel stronger, after every fight or argument or event, after they’ve worked it out, it’s added a new brick to the relationship-building. I know I have that now, for the first time in my life… After I learned (and still learn) to let go of my own shit, to be a part of a ‘we’ and to be constantly focused on the building and investment, I really do love my partner more every day (and most fights make me realize how dumb I am at that moment). It’s still early on but I just hope we will be like this always, even as life gets more complicated and crazy…

You know your partner is right for you when s/he can serve as your mirror, and vice versa… I know if I’m being selfish or romantic or mean or clever by the way it shows in my partner’s face… and I’m pretty sure vice versa… S/he loves you, so you can trust that s/he is serving as a healthy mirror who reflects you… Sometimes, I hear myself in my partner and sometimes I hear elements of my partner coming out of my mouth… It’s such an intense thing to realize you are literally joining with another person…

It’s all a big learning experience; the trick is to love the person you’re along for the ride with – enough to lose yourself in him, let him lose yourself in you, not too much so that you don’t recognize your soul but enough that you’ve created something new between the two of you.

That’s how I see it anyway.

Signs that a marriage will end in divorce.

April 17, 2008

I just found this article and thought it was interesting enough to share. I don’t know much about the rest of the site or what it’s worth, but there is plenty of truth in the article by Shanel Yang, a lawyer and writer:

4 Signs That A Marriage Will End In Divorce

“Experts found that there are four quick and easy, but reliable, signs that a marriage won’t last…

When all four of these signs exist, chances are very high that your marriage won’t last. And, these clues can be found in even the briefest arguments between married couples…

We can all improve our communication skills, especially when it comes to arguments. We can’t avoid all arguments, and we shouldn’t try. Relationships grow the most from conflict and healthy conflict resolution…” (source)

There have been studies done on the topic, and this article features a fairly calm and collected newlywed couple that exhibit the kinds of habits in their arguing (however brief or trivial) that tend to lead to the breakdown of relationships. And they aren’t necessarily violent, loud and dramatic habits.

I don’t want to give away the whole thing here, so this is just a summary of the four signs:

1. Defensiveness

2. Stonewalling

3. Criticising

4. Showing Contempt

There is a brief list of counseling tips at the end. Communication is the ultimate key to a quality relationship, and this would be a great place to start to get enlightened.

Where are all the shoulder-advisors?

February 23, 2008

Exhausted from preaching communication for the past weeks. I’m watching, reflecting on and hearing about marriages, relationships and friendships falling apart.

I’m becoming more solidified in my thinking that no other qualities of a relationship, or a partner, matter unless you have good communication. What’s the point of all the other stuff if you can’t live on the same wavelength?

Of course, it’s one of the hardest things to achieve (seemingly) since it’s one of the biggest reasons for inter-gender game playing, slow get togethers, relationship maintenance failure, and drawn out break ups.

Sigh. I wish we all had the little angel-devil pair on our shoulders, advising us as we relation with our partners… Except just the angel, and even then, it’s a chilled-out angel with realistic expectations.