GOOD MORNING! I remember my grandfather, of blessed memory, joking about how he reached 50 years of marital bliss, "We always held hands ... it kept us from fighting." Not every marriage is blessed with longevity nor necessarily happiness. However, there are some things that we can do to minimize arguments and unnecessary hurt in a marriage.
Recently, a person spoke with me. "We argue all the time. There is so much anger. I can't take it." I shared the first rule of marital happiness, "It takes two to fight. If you don't argue back, if you answer in a soft voice ("A gentle answer turns away anger" -- Proverbs 15:1), then you won't have fights. "Impossible! One can't be on the receiving end of such invectives without responding!" So, I gave a few strategies to minimize fights and minimize the impact of the "slings of barbs and arrows."
THREE STRATEGIES TO AVOID ARGUMENTS
- AGREE! If the person insulting you is right, agree. You can't argue with someone who agrees with you.
- TAKE IT TO THE BANK! Why do we respond to negative remarks from a spouse (or from anyone)? We feel that the insult diminishes us, cuts us down, makes us less. Piece by piece we are reduced to a pile of rubble -- so we respond in defense of our existence, often with anger and our own accusations. What if someone would give you 10,000 dollars every time you were insulted? Imagine a thick stack of 100 dollar bills with a rubber band around them being placed into your safety deposit box with every insult. It certainly would take the sting out of the insults!
- INSANITY! We marry someone because we love them, because we want to stay married to them, because we want to build a life together. Who should be the last person you insult on this earth? Your spouse! To insult your spouse is insane. Don't be insane!
Now, let's take it to the next level. You are walking down the street past an Insane Asylum. Out walks a fellow in a patient's garb. He comes up to you and says, "You are the most inconsiderate, insensitive, self-centered human being God ever placed on this planet!" How do you feel? The normal reaction would be, "Gee. I hope he's not violent. Poor fellow. I wonder what he got committed for." If one's spouse lets loose a verbal barrage either s/he has a good point (then softly admit that you're wrong) or you are the recipient of an insane outburst. View your spouse as insane (but don't share this with your spouse!) and you won't feel the pain or be drawn into a verbal brawl that you will regret.
I know that there are those who will be incensed by the suggestion to view one's spouse as insane even if s/he goes off on a verbal tirade and even if it is to avoid a fight. I know that there are those who are getting ready to write me, fax me, email me or call me. No problem. If you have a good point that I haven't considered, I'll agree. If you are really abusive, I'll think of the money I'm stacking up in my safety deposit box. And ... as a last resort, I'll just tell myself, "Too bad, what can I do? There is so much insanity out there!"
Portion of the Week
Aharon is commanded in the lighting of the Menorah, the Levites purify themselves for service in the Tabernacle (they trained from age 25-30 and served from age 30-50), the first Pesach is celebrated since leaving Egypt. The Almighty instructs the Jewish people to journey into the desert whenever the ever-present cloud lifts from above the Tabernacle and to camp where it rests. Moshe is instructed to make two silver trumpets to be sounded before battle or to proclaim a Yom Tov.
The people journey to the wilderness of Paran during which time they rebel twice against the Almighty's leadership. The second time they complain about the boring taste of the maneh and the lack of meat in the desert. The Almighty sends a massive quantity of quail and those who had rebelled die.
Moshe asks his father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro) to travel with them in the desert, but Yitro returns to Midian. (It has been said that the difference between in-laws and outlaws, that at least out-laws are wanted ... Of course, in this case the father-in-law was wanted.)
Miriam, Moshe's sister, speaks lashon hora (defaming words) about Moshe. She is struck with Tzora'as (the mystical skin disease which indicated that a person spoke improperly about another person) and is exiled from the camp for one week.
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Miriam, Moshe's sister, heard from Moshe's wife, Tzipora that Moshe had separated himself from her (so that he, Moshe, could receive a prophecy from the Almighty at any time). Miriam felt that Moshe's behavior was improper, since both she and her brother, Aharon, carried on their respective married lives, yet received prophecy. Miriam related her feelings to her brother, Aharon.
The Torah states, "And Miriam and Aharon spoke against Moshe because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, 'Has God spoken only with Moshe? Has he not spoken also with us?' And the Lord heard. But the man Moshe was very humble, more than all the men that were upon the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:1-3).
The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, writes (Shmiras Haloshon 2:18) that from these verses we learn a number of principles concerning loshon hora, the laws regarding defamatory speech:
- The prohibition against speaking loshon hora applies even when the person spoken against is very humble and does not mind if others speak against him. For this reason, immediately after Moshe was spoken against, the Torah states that he was humble.
- Even if you have done many favors for another person, it does not give you the right to speak against him. Miriam helped save Moshe's life when he was an infant, but was still punished for her loshon hora.
- The prohibition against loshon hora applies even if you do not publicize the loshon hora, but only relate it to one person, and that person is a relative who will not repeat it to anyone else. Miriam told the loshon hora only to her brother Aharon who would not publicize it.
- If you say about a truly great man that his behavior would only be proper if he were on a higher level, but on his present level his behavior is improper, it is considered loshon hora. Miriam felt that Moshe was wrong for separating himself from his wife. She erred, however, since Moshe's level of prophecy was such that at any moment God could communicate with him and his abstention was proper.
CANDLE LIGHTING - June 23:
Jerusalem 7:10 Miami 7:58 New York 8:14
L.A. 7:50 Hong Kong 6:50 Singapore 6:54
Guatemala 6:16 Honolulu 6:58 J'Burg 5:05
Melbourne 4:50 Moscow 8:59 London 9:03
Atlanta 8:35 Toronto 8:47
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Anger is one letter short of danger!
on 35th Anniversary of
Ben and Ellen Befeler
May You Share Continued Happiness!