Past Articles:

By: Mozelle Forman, Lcsw

Weddings make me feel overcome with happiness and hope. They remind me that, despite the 50% divorce rate, couples young and old are taking a leap of faith and joining together to form a family. In my work as a marriage counselor, I meet with couples after the blush of first love is gone and the power struggles have begun. I often wonder to myself, “How did they get from there to here? What will help them renew the excitement and love that propelled them to the hupah? I know they did not stand under the hupahsaying ‘I can’t wait to make this person standing next to me miserable’ – and yet here they are in my office – miserable!”

In order to understand what can go awry once a couple marries, we need to get a handle on what marriage is. Marriage is a legal institution, a commitment between a man and a woman who have chosen to spend their lives together. From a legal perspective, marriage is a contract between two people who intend to form a cohesive family unit and gain rights guaranteed by law. From a secular perspective, marriage is the ultimate, public exhibition of the love two people share. From a Jewish perspective, marriage is the union of two souls who, together, will create harmony and healing, becoming, as we say in every marriage ceremony, reiim ahuvim – beloved friends. Inherent in each perspective is the anticipation of mutual respect, love, happiness, and partnership.

The dating process that leads to marriage shows the promise of what a couple can create together. Remember when you dated your spouse? You were on your best behavior; you showed the best version of yourself. You were attentive and understanding and the quirky habits the other one had, like always being late or losing things, were tolerated and even laughed over. “You are so cute when you lose things,” you might have said affectionately. And if you made a mistake, you apologized profusely.

While you were dating, you each went out of your way for one another and you invested heaps of time and attention on the most important facets of your relationship. How much time did you spend thinking about and planning how to get engaged to her? Hours, I’m sure. And how many hours did you spend on his koracha, working your fingers to the bone to get it ready in time? To you, it was a labor of love. What kept you going was imagining how happy she would be when you proposed and how happy he would be when you gave him his prayer shawl.

Think back: The two of you had a common goal back then – to make each other happy! You did not seek out ways to critique each other No, your time and energy was spent on making one another feel loved and important.

Having a successful and gratifying marriage requires time and attention. The challenge is dealing with the day-to-day minutia while still retaining positive regard for each other. For most couples, the focus and energy they showered on each other is diverted into earning a living andraising children. This beautiful reality – because of course we are blessed to have jobs and children – distances and distracts us from the way were together before we got married. How do we
recreate the soulful connection, the feelings of love and acceptance that were so evident before the huppah? Below are a few suggestions:

Go on a date with your spouse. While there, don’t talk about the “business” of your family life.  Reminisce about when you dated instead.

Remind yourself of the things you appreciateabout your spouse and then share them with him  or her.

If you find yourself about to correct your spouse (“It was
7:30 - not 7:00!”) - don’t.

If you are bothered by something your spouse said or did, block out some time to discuss it together.  Use “I” messages to describe how you feel.*

If your spouse asks to discuss something they are upset about with you, simply “mirror” what they say and try to understand how they feel. *

Getting married was a decision you made in love and acceptance.  Staying married happily requires the same.

* The techniques for “I” messages and “mirroring” are in previous issues of this publication. Find them online at or email to receive the information.

Mozelle Forman is a clinical social worker in private practice for 20 years.
She welcomes your comments at