Shabbat of Sanctity Dirshu’s 20th Anniversary International Convention
By: Mozelle Forman, Lcsw
Here are three pieces of widely shared marital advice that, while well intentioned, are not very practical or helpful.
“Never go to bed angry” –
This is one maxim I have never understood. What’s the alternative? Stay up all night and fight?! Anger is not an emotion we can turn on and off at will. Anger strikes when we feel misunderstood, taken advantage of or wrongly accused. It is a spontaneous reaction to a perceived injustice. The more logical advice would be to agree to revisit the issue when you
have both had a chance to
put the disagreement into perspective and can discuss it with the hope of resolution.
“Don’t fight in front of the children”– How might that one work? The next time you get angry because your wife has deleted the big game from the DVR, you send your children to Bermuda so that you can complain about her lack of technological skill? Not very convenient, is it? The more realisticadvice would be to create an environment where you and your spouse can disagree respectfully. And if your children do hear you, they’ll learn that conflict is part of a loving relationship – and so is respectful resolution.
“Be completely honest with your spouse”– Now here’s one that I vehemently warn couples against. While honesty is an admirable character trait, in marriage many people confuse mean, judgmental criticism with honesty. You may think your spouse is an absolute slob and you may even have data to back up your assertion. (His dirty socks and t-shirts strewn everywhere; the empty coffee cups and balled up tissues in her car), but it’s absolutely unnecessary to share your opinion! Imagine how that would play out: “Honestly Honey, you are the biggest slob I have ever met!” Yes, you may be telling the truth, but you’re certainly not endearing yourself to your spouse.
A certain amount of finesse and diplomacy is required when we communicate with each other. My advice in this domain, is to tell your partner what you need, not what is wrong with them. Ask your husband to pick up his socks because the mess bothers you. Ask your wife to clean up the garbage in her car because it makes you uncomfortable. Better yet, buy her a trash bag she can keep in her car and introduce him to the hamper! This way, you can get the space clean while still preserving the harmony and connection in your relationship.
Mozelle Forman is a clinical social worker in private practice for 20 years.
She welcomes your comments at