April 14, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 14, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Marital Harmony: A Matter of Communication

Every marriage has its arrangements. Couples have their own way of dividing responsibilities based on strengths, interests, and factors that make the most sense for their lives and families.

When Chaim was asked by his wife Rifka if he could carpool on Tuesday his first thought was how his schedule for the day would be ruined. “Fine,” he grumbled. Upon hearing his response Rifka insisted, “Never mind, I can do it.” She would just do it herself.

Over the next few days Chaim began to feel the cold shoulder. When he would ask Rifka questions she would answer abruptly; Chaim sensed that something was wrong. He asked Rivka what was bothering her, but she consistently responded “Nothing.” Rifka was perturbed that Chaim could even ask that question. “Did he forget what happened when I asked him to carpool? Did he not realize that when he asks me to do things for him I never say no?”

As the tension continued to build over the next few hours Chaim asked to talk to Rivka in a private room away from the kids. He said to Rivka, “I know that I have done something to make you really upset at me, but I just don’t know what it is. Please tell me so that I can apologize and that we don’t have to continue this fight?”

Rivka began to cry, “My friend from Israel was in for two days and the only time that she was able to get together with me was on Tuesday when I normally drive carpool. When I asked you to drive carpool and you responded with a grunt, I knew that you would be upset about it later, so I decided to give up that opportunity to see her and drive myself.”

Chaim responded with shock. “When you asked me to pick up carpool on Tuesday I never knew that the reason was so that you could see your friend who came in. I don’t even remember answering with a grunt; I said ‘fine’, that I would do it.” Chaim insisted, “I am sorry; I should have asked you why you needed me to do it.”

“What difference would the reason have made?” asked Rivka. “If I asked you to do something it was obviously for a reason that was important!”

“Well,” Chaim said, “If I understood how important it was to you, I would have been more careful about the tone of voice that I used when I answered you.”

Chaim apologized and agreed that he needed to work harder at responding to Rivka’s requests in a positive way. Rivka for her part also took responsibility. She acknowledged that she should have prefaced her request of Chaim by telling him that her friend was coming in for a short period of time and that if he could help her, she would be able to spend some time with her. The fact that the context was left out of the original request created more fuel for the fire.

At the same time, it is obvious that this was not the first time this couple had such issues. Rivka’s response to Chaim’s comment should have invoked a sense of awareness upon Chaim that she felt he had responded the same way in the past, and that she would rather drive carpool herself than go through the hassle of asking her husband. Chaim, in his defense, may not have been cognizant of how his reaction had irked his wife. Many times we react in a given situation in a way that bothers our spouse, but instead of telling us they just move and assume that we are the way we are.

Open and effective communication is a prerequisite for marital harmony. We are human beings who were created by Hashem with many imperfections. We have moods that change quite often and we need to constantly be aware of our responses to others and of the impact and implications of our moods. As we are in the midst of the Yamim Noraim, a time of deep self-introspection, it is incumbent upon us to analyze, acknowledge, and accept responsibility for the roles that we play when it comes to the shalom bayis in our homes.

Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler is Rabbi of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, NJ. He is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of New Jersey with a private practice specializing in couples as well as individual therapy. Rabbi Zwickler can be reached at [email protected].

By Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles