First off, Mazel Tov to Ben for his engagement. Not sure if I mentioned that here or not. Second, Mazel Tov to both of us for 500+ blogs. That is impressive! And third, thanks to Ben for picking up the slack as of late as I navigate a new, full time job, some health issues and some Covid and world depression. As an empath, I take the news of the world personally and deeply and this has been one tough year on so many levels. It’s still tough… on so many levels.
But… Ben is getting married. And that is a cause for amazing celebration. Ben has been posting a series of marriage posts that have been very well received, and so he asked me to jump into the fray. Awkward. Why? Because I am no longer married.I was married for a long time… 18 years in fact. But I am not married now, so who I am to talk about marriage? Well… I’m a guy who has been there. I have been in the good and the literal honeymoon phase, the parenting phase and the ending phase. And I am sure I am not alone, even in this circle.
And while I would never look at my marriage as a failure, I came out of it knowing what I did right and what I did wrong, and owning 50% of that. Aside from therapy and counseling, what got me through this was Judaism.
In 2014 I went on my first and so far, only trip to Israel. It was transformative. One of the reasons for that transformation was meeting Jonah Light. His energy is infectious, his joy is real and he is one of the main reasons I started coming into the Chood, and spending more time at AISH, Community Shul and the Happy Minyan. Rabbi Az, Rabbi Markman and Rabbi Seidenfeld were the other main reasons, along with the guys from my trip.
In fact, if it had not been for Jonah and the graciousness of he and Stacy warmly inviting me into their home, I would not have met Ben… so Boom! G-d always has a plan. Ben wrote in our 500th post the phrase ללמוד וללמד which translates to learn for the sake of teaching. I find that powerful on its own, but it struck a chord with me for this particular post that I will now explain.
Jonah asked me if I wanted to do the Marriage Class… not even sure of the exact name now… I think I have it filed under FMEO (For Men’s Eyes Only). He said the caveat was that we had to do it in person, and I had to then teach it to someone else. AND, like Fight Club, I could not discuss it with others, especially a wife, GF, etc.
Again… awkward!!! My marriage was pretty much over at this point. There was no saving it… but I realized that moving forward and with the hopes of getting married again someday, this would be a wise move. Especially because Jonah and Stacy have this idyllic marriage… one I have gotten to see up close and personal. I truly love this family and so value the time I have spent with all of them. Who would not want that. And so… we learned. And I learned to learn, but to also teach, myself and others. In fact, if Ben has not already done the class, I’d say he needs to… and I would be honored to share. But Jonah is really good… LOL. So what is it I can share here in a public forum? Just this… and while it may not sound exclusively Jewish, it was reinforced in this class and it made me realize very clearly the things I did right, the things I did wrong and a whole lot of things I NEVER KNEW TO DO! I wish I had done this before and during my marriage. I am so glad I did it afterwards, and I highly recommend it to each and every person. Apparently there is also a version for the women.
Ben… Men… Boys…
To quote Rabbi Noah Weinberg (OBM)… listen with your ears. Listening is essential to a good relationship and we MUST listen with our ears and NOT with our position. Knowing how to do ACTIVE LISTENING is a really good skill to have under your belt. And while I thought it was so strange when a couple told me they went to counseling BEFORE they got married, just to learn how to communicate… I now think that was brilliant!!!
Make An Effort
This is not really from the class, but treat each and every day as if it is a first date. Ask questions, listen and learn. And put your partner’s happiness above your own. If they do the same thing, and they should, you will BOTH be protected and balanced. Say a prayer for your wife on Shabbat and recall all the amazing things she has done for you… that day… that week… that month and so forth… and YES… BRING HER FLOWERS FOR SHABBAT!!!
Know Before Whom You Stand
Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld drilled this one into me. And it goes for everything… every relationship… work… and of course, Hashem. When we know before whom we stand AND know what is going on with them at THAT PRECISE MOMENT, we will know how to act, respond and react.
Watch This Video
Seriously… not “Jewish” per se… but Men ARE from Mars… and Women ARE from Venus… and knowing what each person NEEDS can save a marriage. And this video is truly one of those things I REALLY WISH I HAD CREATED…
Do NOT Go To Sleep Angry
Communication is key… talk it out… Apologize sincerely… and remember to always have gratitude and humility and NEVER go to sleep angry. Resolve things as soon as you can. AND… if you need expertise (i.e. Rabbi or therapist) go for it. Knowledge and understanding are keys to life and relationships.
And so dear friends… just know that it was Judaism that enlightened me… taught me what I did that was right… what I did that was wrong… and how to be a better man moving forward. Now, I just need to find the right woman!
Mazel Tov my dear friend Ben. May this be the beginning of all that is good and right.