Friday, August 3, 2007

Warnings - what we do and don't want to see

A reader commented on a previous post about how she had a friend who saw something one way before she got married, "It's so nice he's so close with his mother" and another way after the marriage "his relationship with his mother is sick and unhealthy."

I remember being told many times, both before marriage, during my first marriage, and after it ended, that the one thing you admire most about a spouse is also the one thing that makes you crazy. Every maala has it's chesron. Or more quaintly put, every cloud has it's silver lining.

I'll give you an example. My husband, Sky, is probably one of the most reliable, responsible people I know. If he says he's going to do something, he does it. What's the flip side of that very positive trait? He can be G-d bless him, extremely rigid. If he doesn't think he can accomplish something, he won't commit to it. This is how he does things and he can't veer from them. It makes me crazy! But when I think about what the opposite would be - someone who is more flexible, but potentially more volatile in other parts of his life - I shudder and am grateful for what I have. I can work around his rigidity because I value the stability that comes with it more.

One of the best things my rebbetzin suggested I read when I was dating the second time around was
A Plate A Ring and the Time In Between because in the back of the book there is a chart that lists about four pages of attributes - and their flip side. For example (and this is not verbatim, because I'm doing it from memory)

assertive and aggressive or
happy go lucky and lackadaisical or
enamored and obsessed

Love (and lust) can easily blind us to our spouses' less than stellar traits. But that's where parents and Rabbonim and Rebbetzins come into play. Their job is to point these things out to us BEFORE ENGAGEMENT and MARRIAGE. Somethings a person can deal with. Somethings a person cannot deal with (mental illness, abuse, and drugs/alcohol are at the top of that list for me).

One of the best ways, in my opinion, to help us deal with our disappointment in our spouses not being perfect, is to look at ourselves and figure out what is our own personal biggest maala and what is the flip side of it? I know that one of my maalahs is that I have a very lively and dramatic personality. I can entertain many people and I can switch moods quickly. The flip side? I'm often moody and I feel my emotions very deeply. When I'm happy, the whole world sings. When I'm angry, watch out. I feel pity for Sky at times.

Can you identify the positive and negative sides of the traits of you and your spouse? Can you see how they fit together?

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Anonymous said...

I really love my husband and I came into the relationship w/open eyes so I can't complain.

One good thing about him is that he can be such a tzaddik when it comes to judging people. Its like its very natural for him to see the good side of things.

The flip side of that is sometimes people aren't so nice, etc and I have to be the "bad guy" and pull us away from bad ppl/places.


I do have one question. One teeny problem is that I grown to be more modest than he is and am not sure how to get him (a man) to understand tzeniut. For example if we eat at someone's house, i'll go wash with the women and all the men go to in a group to the 'men's washing place' but hubby -if he's not aware- will have no problem going into the women's place LOL Or, he may not have a problem watching me talking to my girlfriends even though I or both me and my friends feel uncomfortable (I think he does it because he wants to join in, but...)

Anyways, any solution girls?

imba said...

I think this post helped me a lot, and I'm going to try to think more along these lines, and speak about it with DH too.
To answer A's question - it sounds like a lot of trying to understand eachother is in order. Me and dh - we have the opposite problem. I know he would prefer I wear more skirts instead of pants, longer sleeves, etc. We talk about it a lot and try to understand that although we may disagree, there is a bottom line of how the other person feels, and its really important.