Torah Tidbits

2 September 2014 / 7 Elul 5774
Issue 1010
Parshat Va’etchanan - Nachamu
August 02, 2012

"From Machon Puah"

Say Thank You

Last week we spoke about how a happy couple has to be entwined, connected and tethered in each other’s lives, not to the point that they lost their own identity, but in order to develop a deep friendship. This connection should not be in place in order to control each other’s lives, but it is essential in order to become attached to each other’s lives.
Dr. Sara Barris, speaking at the recent joint Puah and OU Conference on Intimacy held in Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, Teaneck, explained that this connection will enable the couple to weather the storms that inevitably arise in any relationship.
A healthy couple needs to make time and space to keep catching up on each other’s lives since dynamics change and states alter but the couple remains a unit for the long term.
Another essential part of successful relationships is gratitude.
As a species we are wired for being negative and seeing what is wrong. While this may have enabled humanity to survive so many difficult periods in the past, it is disastrous for relationships. Instead we need to show gratitude and find the good in each other.
We cannot rely on spontaneity but must build into the fabric of the relationship opportunities to praise and thank. Even if this appears to be somewhat artificial to the observer, still it is important to repeat again and again the rituals of being grateful that is expressed in giving each other cards and verbalizing our thanks. In the same way as an Olympic athlete must repeat again and again boring routines in order to excel, so must the couple who want to succeed and grow together constantly repeat the rituals of praise.
One example that Dr. Barris gave was prayer itself. We pray three times a day and repeat our praise for God, we say Modeh Ani, Modim, blessings of praise. When faced with those who do not want to pray we often reply that while you may not feel it you still need to praise because going through the motions will bring one to a sense of the genuine nature of this need to thank and praise. So too with a married couple they need to follow the rote ritual of thanking and praise in order to become a strong and loving couple.
Even when the thing being appreciated is mundane and ordinary it reflects on the entire relationship and it is an important antidote to conflict.
More on this next week.

- Rabbi Gidon Weitzman

The Puah Institute is based in Jerusalem and helps couples from all over the world who are experiencing fertility problems. Puah offers free counseling in five languages, halachic supervision, and educational programs. Offices in Jerusalem, New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Contact: (02) 651-5050 (Isr).

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