This week we celebrate a special Kabbalistic holiday. Tu B’av is also referred to as the day of love. As we come into this time of appreciation and love, I wanted to share some of the questions I have received lately in regards to relationships and marriage. Relationships offer some the greatest opportunities for us to realize our greatest potential and do so by teaching us, everyday, about ourselves. My wish is to create relationships that are supportive, nurturing, and loving, and Tu B’av is the perfect day to plant those seeds.
1. Does romance have to die in a long term marriage? If not, how do we rekindle it?
Romance in a marriage doesn’t need die, however, the idea and expectation of what romance means, does. Webster’s dictionary defines romance as “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life”. By this definition alone we can understand why we want romance and also why it becomes elusive in long-term marriages. Responsibilities, routine, and everyday stressors are inevitable. It is very easy, when entering a marriage, to expect love and romance and for those intoxicating early-relationship hormones to keep raging. The hormones eventually wear off and the perspective usually changes shortly after the wedding. In the beginning of relationships, it is very easy to overemphasize the positive and deemphasize the negative. Therefore, we must choose to focus on the good. This enables us to appreciate our spouse and appreciation is what keeps love alive.
Romance alone cannot sustain even the most passionate of lovers through those inevitable challenges. When we are dealing with real-life, we don’t want a spouse that is mysterious. When we are seeking vulnerability and, its byproduct, genuine connection we aren’t looking for excitement. Choosing to take a break from your everyday routine with a date night or vacation is a wonderful way to infuse excitement and mystery, but if the foundation is shaky, romance is not the answer. Look, instead, to fostering appreciation for all the reasons your relationship is already wonderful and build upon these.
2. Is it necessary to reach an agreement in every argument?
No, there are many successful couples that will never reach an agreement on certain issues and they still maintain very successful relationships. What it comes down to is respect and an appreciation of the relationship as a whole. Your marriage is so much greater than reaching an agreement or “being right”. Conversation and communication are necessary but not sharing the same point of view is okay. What you need to be sure of is that the difference in opinions is acknowledged and you hear one another. Consistently reverting every argument back to the same disagreement doesn’t get anyone anywhere.
If this sounds impossible, think of a close friend. Are you only friends with people who share ALL your views on religion, philosophy, politics and child rearing? Because strong marriages are built on friendship, there is no reason why partners cannot disagree on certain topics yet still have a loving, thriving marriage.
3. I don’t feel that there is equal power in my relationship/marriage, how can I level the ground?
In proportion and in comparison, notice that there is no distinction between the power of the supernal male and female, they are equal. One does not need to make oneself smaller to create great Light. So often in our relationships, we try to fix dysfunction by attempting to please the other person, but this always has a price and does nothing to affect and improve the health and unity of the relationship.
Putting energy into the relationship means setting aside our agenda and really opening ourselves to hearing our partner and respecting their path – while still retaining and honoring our own desires. When we stop trying to make ourselves smaller, we can create a powerful connection by communicating our wants, needs and desires.
Over time, communication breakdown can occur leaving us feeling misunderstood and disconnected from our partner.
4. My spouse and I are a great team in so many ways but when it comes to raising our kids, we are always at odds. How can we align?
Raising children is the most important work that a couple can do together, and also the most challenging. First, make sure that it truly is a philosophical difference and not a problem of a different nature that is manifesting onto how you’re raising your kids. Children are not a battleground for hashing out your relational issues. Once you get clear that the conflict is coming from differing beliefs, check in to see if there are ways that you can effectively blend them. Even if you have different opinions, if you are open to one another, you can see each other’s perspective and join together to make the best decision for children and your family. If there is no ego involved we can learn so much from one another and parenting is such a great opportunity for that, because both parents are coming together from a place No matter the answer, always remember that these discussions should never take place in front of your kids, no matter their age. Any child-rearing philosophy encourages the nurture and support of each parent’s relationship with the children and these types of arguments can be extremely detrimental in that way. Save your conversations for a time that you can freely speak to each other when you are the only audience.
For those of you yet to bring children into your marriage, having a conversation about their spiritual upbringing beforehand is imperative. It is important that you and your spouse agree on what type of upbringing you envision for your children and that those ideals align. You want to create the safest, most loving environment for your children and your family.
Thought to Action
Appreciation is paramount. Tell your mate something that you love and appreciate about them every day for a week. After a week, you won’t want to stop.