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This new year make your marriage a priority.

Rosh Hashanah – a new year, a time for reflection and self-awareness. To make these days meaningful, we need to take time to think about our lives. We can use these moments approaching the High Holidays to better our relationships. Quality relationships help us savor life. Loneliness and lack of peace bring us down.

Here are 4 factors that silently harm relationships:

1. Indifference

When you start ignoring your spouse because you just can’t care less, you know that there is work to be done. Couples should care about each other’s wants, needs, opinions and desires. When it makes no difference to you where your spouse is going or what they are experiencing, recognize that there is a blockage.

Part of love is showing concern and interest. Indifference brings aloofness and detachment. Relationships require feeling; to love is an action not simply an emotion.

In today’s society of selfies, self-care and self-help it’s so easy to become self-absorbed. We stop listening the way we used to. We stop looking at each other the way we used to. The relationship that should mean the most remains on the sidelines because we have grown apathetic.

Begin by listening more. Look at each other, not our phone. Work on actions that show that you care. Even little moments like giving your spouse their favorite chocolate, an encouraging word, and a warm smile make a difference. Use engaged body language and cultivate the patience to understand what your spouse is thinking. Ask about your spouse’s ideas and opinions, then care enough to hear their reply. Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. What is he/she going through right now? Can you feel his disappointment as if it is your own? Can you feel her frustration?

Empathy gives birth to connection. Be curious, be considerate, and be thoughtful.

2. Neglect

All living things require care. A plant will twist and bend towards the warmth of the sun. If neglected, it will simply die. How much more must we give warmth, nourish and feed our relationships if we want our bond to flourish.

A newlywed couple will go out, call or text each other throughout the day. The relationship is cherished. Time together is valued.

When we take our lives and relationships for granted thinking that we will always be here, we begin to overlook the goodness we have been granted. We stop appreciating moments together. We make time for everybody but the one whom we have pledged to take care of forever. Without realizing it, we cause our spouse to feel as if everyone else comes first.

Relationships need to be nurtured. Loving words and loving gestures warm your spouse’s soul. We hear about setting up ‘date night’ but how many take out the time to have a real conversation or do something enjoyable together? Take a walk-side by side, no devices allowed. Have a hot cappuccino together. Sit down, listen to a class and then talk about it. Even read this article and exchange ideas. Do something to signal that you are invested in your relationship.

When you are in the company of others be sure to give attention to your spouse. Don’t ignore him, don’t discount her. The more you put in the greater the joy, the greater the blessing.

3. Moodiness

Moodiness is a relationship killer. (I am not speaking about a chemical imbalance, trauma, or when medication is required). It is true that we are under stress and times of crises cause tensions to erupt. Certainly, it’s easy these days to be anxious. But it is in times of challenge that we discover who we are. What am I made of? How do I impact others?

We want to create calm within our homes when the world outside seems to be falling apart. Being temperamental, snapping at your spouse, brooding, all inflict harm instead of offering stability and peace. Somehow when we need to put on a smile for a boss or business meeting we manage. How hurtful it is to be greeted with a long face and one-word grunts as replies, only to hear laughter and long conversations when speaking with friends.

We place a mezuzah on our door and have the custom to stop and kiss the mezuzah. I suggest that we take that moment before entering our home, and think. Would I want to be greeted with the face I am presenting? How would I like my spouse to greet me? Leave your moodiness behind. Speak to your partner exactly as you would wish they would speak to you. Use your heart as your inner compass.

4. Disrespect

Small acts of scorn poison the atmosphere. Disdain for the way he drives, the way she tells a story, snowballs into disrespect. Qualities that you used to find quirky even endearing, are now annoyingly frustrating. Putdowns, rolling eyes, sarcastic barbs become the norm.

Reboot. Refresh. Reconnect. Don’t allow yourself to fall into this dark pit. Change will take work in both heart and mind. First, seek out the good qualities that you know your spouse possesses. You saw them and you will see them again. Time may bring us to suffer disappointment and pain. Life is not what we thought it would be. There is grief, there is sadness. People sometimes crumble. But what lies beneath? Remember the kindness, the sense of humor, the passion for life, the great story teller who loved to share?

We all want to feel cherished and loved.

Stay away from sharp words. Notice when you act with disrespect. This means tone, thought and deed. No one wins when hearts are hurting and shame becomes the language of conversation.

Do small acts of kindness. Give words of affirmation. Hold the criticism. Work on seeing the good.

This new year, make your marriage your priority. Catch yourself from making these mistakes. Live better. Love better.

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