My Grandparents "Trauma Bond"

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My grandparents were married in a DP camp following WW2. They both had just endured unspeakable losses including the murder of my grandfather's first wife and children and my grandmother's time with Mengele in Auschwitz. She was 17, he closer to 30. They married to survive. They married to fight off the loneliness and the pain of devastating loss and trauma. They married because that's what Jews…

You Make it All Mean Something

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In a couples counseling session, the husband was challenged by his wife to name something that he frequently does to show his love for her.   He said: "What do you mean, everyday, I wake up, I work my a-- off to provide, to try and give you a life that feels good to you!"   And she, the perfect response:   "Yeah, but you would do that anyway...even if we weren't…

Broken Glass to Heal a Broken Heart

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At the very end of the marriage ceremony, the last thing a Jewish bride and groom do before becoming husband and wife is shatter a glass. The common explanation of this custom is to bring to mind the exile and destruction of the Temple even at the very height of one's joy. And perhaps there is something deeper as well. Perhaps the last message the fledgling couple is being sent is: Your…

The Body and Soul of Love

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The only difference between the holy and the mundane is that the while the holy is united with and aware of the divine energy that brings it into existence at every moment, the mundane experiences THAT SAME divine energy as somehow SEPARATE from its existence. This body is thus devoted to the realm of the mundane while the soul to the realm of the holy. We are simultaneously trying…

Couples Break Up for the Same Reason they Get Together

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It all has to do with core fears and vulnerabilities. One of several variations: A young man, deeply fears that deep down he is really not important. He has learned to "get it right" and become worthy by focusing on pleasing those he cares about and catering to their needs. A young woman, deeply fears that in the end she will be neglected and alone. She has learned to draw attention…

KNOW YOUR STYLE - How You Handle Stress WILL Affect Your Relationship

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What is your reaction to (emotional) stress? What is your partner's reaction to (emotional) stress? If you tend to turn UP the Volume to connect, feel seen and supported, while your partner's tendency is to turn DOWN the volume to maintain a status of "OK" and focus on solutions, then.... One of you will regularly feel NEGLECTED One of you will regularly feel ATTACKED One of you…

Reflecting on My Parents' 50th Anniversary

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I spend many hours a week with loving, amazing, dedicated couples in pain. Why the heck did I choose this strange line of work? I used to think it was because of my own marriage. 18+ years of creating a relationship with my wife Rivkah that is so important to me that I want to help others experience the depth of meaning in that journey. I like to take credit for my accomplishments. Yesterday…

Marriage - Not 50 -50, More Like 80-20.

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Looking for "fairness" or "equality" in marriage will lead you right to a power struggle disaster. A much better recipe than the 50-50 myth is the 80-20 "got your back". The concept is straight forward: In any moment of stress or difficulty determine who's got 80 in the tank (feeling strong, confident, etc.) and who's got 20 (weak, sad, discouraged, etc.). BE HONEST. We all need support at one time…

Second Chances

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"If it weren't for second chances we would all be alone" - G.A. Isakov I think it's fair to say that a relationship really only begins when things go wrong and hurt happens. It is in that crucial moment that we get to reach for another from the vulnerability of our own pain and make space for theirs. The bond that then forms is the divine place where loneliness is redeemed and…

There was an Affair. Can We Heal?

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Yes. But. In my experience, at minimum it requires 4 things: Desire - You must BOTH want to. There is very good reason NOT to try and heal this breach of trust. Understanding - The affair was the unfortunate "solution" to a bigger problem - the ongoing, unconscious destructive pattern of disconnection and mutual pain that hijacked your relationship. This cycle deeply hurt both of you…