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Relationships & Shalom Bayit
Most of these articles first appeared in our Women's monthly email newsletter. Subscribe
Tips for daughters-in-law
If there’s ever a time to look at another with the ‘good eye’, it’s when you consider your mother-in-law. After all, you have an extremely important thing in common: a love for the person you married. It is worthwhile making the effort to bond, to truly listen to each other and to learn from one another. Naomi and Ruth, about whom we read in Megillat Rut, shared an extraordinary mom/daughter-in-law relationship built on loving-kindness. This Shavuot take a moment to think about some of the ways you can foster a positive relationship with your mom-in-law:
1) Ask yourself: “Do I feel secure in the way I’m living my values?” You’ll notice that the more confident you are about the way you do things, the less offence you will take when mom-in-law criticizes or offers unsolicited advice. For example: You may notice that mom-in-law is unimpressed with your work schedule and amount of time you spend away from the kids. If you’ve thought about this carefully and have already told yourself: “Working until mid-day each day is important time-out for me and provides a framework for quality time with the kids in the afternoon,” then when mom-in-law says something about this, you’ll more likely let it go.
2) Act calm - even if you’re faking it. The way you act will very likely have an effect on the way you feel. Try to put yourself in positive, light-hearted frame of mind when you see your mom-in-law, and you’re more likely to invoke that same emotion in her.
3) Respond respectfully. Remember that as difficult as things may be, the way you respond to the situation is entirely in your control. If mom-in-law says something about the way you’re raising the kids, try to listen and learn. If you disagree, politely say: “Thank you” or “I hear you” and then move onto talking about other things.
4 Remedies for Marriage - By Lara Noik
What exactly distinguishes a good marriage from a dwindling one?
Dr. John Gottman speaks of 4 important things. His rigorous scientific research with couples found that 4 communication styles - “The 4 Horsemen” - can predict the end of a marriage. Want your marriage to work? Here’s how:
A Relationship with Me - By Janet Goldblatt
Time and again it has struck me: the importance of a good relationship with the self. Through my experience over the past ten years in working with people in groups, schools and community centres and mostly on myself, I have come to realise that if you do not have a decent loving relationship with yourself you cannot expect to have one with someone else. Often the very thing we resist in others is a deep routed part of ourselves. But when we are able to forgive ourselves and others, take responsibility for who we are and ultimately find a connection to ourselves, we may quicker be able to move forward with our relationships. How we see ourselves colours how we see the world and ultimately how we take our place within the world. How can a person best form this relationship with the self and others? I believe that one way is to begin with your relationship with your mother. In my work I have met many women who struggle to hold successful relationships; it is clear every time that as they work on their personal relationships with Mom, they are better able to heal themselves and move forward with other relationships as well. Janet is a Life Skills Facilitator/Trainer. She is currently a director of Nowhere-ecl SA offering training to teachers and facilitators in systemic practice and principles. She can be contacted on 082-771-3164;firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Shalom Bayit? - By Etta Goldman
Shalom Bayit occurs when a couple enjoys a relationship based on kindness, gentleness, mutual respect, compassion, and understanding – all of which contribute to a loving relationship. “OK that’s the theory, but how do you get there?” is a question couples often ask. First and foremost, you need to accept the fact that marriage is not about ME. It is about WE. It is not just about having MY needs met, it is about what is good for US. Each partner needs to take responsibility for co-creating a “safe space” between them. A space in which each can openly share their innermost feelings - hopes and aspirations, fears and vulnerabilities. A space without fear of judgment or harsh criticism. A space where true emotional intimacy exists. It is not always easy to do. Our lives are pressurised, so we need to schedule time that is conducive to sitting down together and really connecting with each other. It requires listening to and really hearing what your partner is telling you. Active listening is a skill: no interrupting at the time, despite disagreeing with what your partner is saying; no “yes but......”; no multi-tasking (including tweets, WhatsApp, bbm). You need to be attentive to, and focused only on your partner, and be able to put aside your own feelings and thoughts at this time. When a person feels that their partner really sees them as they are, and still accepts and loves them, they feel heard, connected, validated and truly understood. That is Shalom Bayit. Etta Goldman is a social worker and Imago therapist in private practice.
Is Your Relationship STRICT? By Darrin Wolberg
A healthy relationship requires equal quantities of these key ingredients:
Have these elements in your relationship and you have the basis of fulfilling, nurturing and supportive partnerships. The absence of any of these increases the risk of relationships becoming unhealthy or in the worst case scenario, abusive. We all have a right to feel safe, trusted and respected and deserve to feel special, recognized, appreciated and validated in our interactions with others, particularly our partners.
Recognizing when relationships are becoming unhealthy and have the potential for becoming abusive is an important step to taking action to create and maintain the type of fulfilling and supportive relationships that we all deserve. We need to remember to be STRICT about healthy relationships.
(Adapted from “Love Shouldn’t Hurt: Building Healthy Relationships for Jewish Youth”, 2007. A project of the TIDES Center, California)
If you feel that you or someone you know is being abused, speak up! Remember abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating. People who are abused are often depressed, drained, scared, ashamed and may be confused. They are often isolated from friends and family. By picking up on the warning signs and speaking up you can help yourself or others begin healing.