How Much Truth to Share If Someone Calls You about a Shiduch?

 

lashon hara.jpg.png

(based on Chofetz Chaim and Be’er Mayim Chayim)

You get that shiduch research phone call. This time they are asking about your co-worker Shimon* who you know has a temper. Should you share about his anger management issue?  Another call might be about your neighbor Leah* who you think had a nervous breakdown in 12th grade. Again, what can you say?  Does sharing about these details violate some halachot of lashon hara?  Or do they fall under the commandment of giving useful advice and  לא תעמד על דם רעך  lo taamod al dam reacha, Do not stand by idly when your neighbor is endangered  (Vayikra 19:16)?

What information should not be shared?

First and foremost, anything that will not directly help someone determine if the potential shiduch is worth pursuing should not be shared.  Ask yourself: “Am I supplying information that they will use to decide whether to pursue this shiduch, or am I supplying negative information that has no purpose?”

If you know that the family is looking for a young man who will be a very hands-on spouse and father, and the potential young man has a business that includes frequent travel – then it is not a good match upfront, and they would never consider such a shiduch. There is no need to share about his dishonest dealings in business; that would be lashon hora with no purpose.

Regarding medical conditions, the Rabbis distinguish between two types: illness and weakness. The former should be shared, and the latter should not. See more about this aspect in article.

How to get around saying lashon hara

As stated above, if you know that the shiduch is not suitable for whatever reason, you should not share any details that would fall under the category of lashon hara. Instead, you might be vague and say “I don’t think the shiduch will work”; you do not have to expound.

If the question is asked directly .  “I heard that this past summer that you spent together, he did [x], is that true?”, you should not lie.  Answer the question as it has been asked; you can also offer context or talk about how he has genuinely worked on himself since then.

In certain circumstances, it is best to evade a question by feigning ignorance. Sometimes, a person is asked a question where most people deem the answer to be insignificant for a prospective shiduch. For instance, the prospect’s mother wants to know if the girl is very thin or demands to know if the girl is under 27, where she is actually just three months over, and you know that a full answer may be a deal-breaker.  You can say “I don’t know.”  Yet, a claim to ignorance can only be effective when it is credible; if the person calling thinks you would know the answer and you say that you don’t know, the impression that you are hiding something can be worse than just telling the truth.

What should be shared

Details that would concern most people must be revealed, including bad middos, violent behaviors, anger issues, mental illness, inability to have children, and certain medical conditions. Additionally, if someone is not living a life as they show the public (ex: apikorsus and pritzus), this too must be disclosed. If you are unsure about what must be shared, ask your rav.

That said, it is important that the source of your information must be first-hand, not hearsay.   Ideally, you’d verify any secondhand information on your own. Where this is not possible (and this is often the case), and the conditions that permit relaying the information are otherwise met (see below), you should convey it but with a clearly expressed warning that it is based on hearsay, and that you do not know personally whether it is true. This is permitted in order to save the other party from potential damage, but only provided the other party will check the matter out, and not just assume it to be true.

How to share the negative details

First, determine that the information is totally accurate.   If it is the result of an interpretation, is this the only possible interpretation of the person’s actions?  Is it second-hand information?  Is it a suspicion or ‘connecting of the dots’?

Second, the sole intention must be only to help them determine if it is a suitable shiduch. Not as revenge, or venting about an annoying neighbor.  (Caveat: Even if your intentions are not pure, you must still tell this important information as this is a case where it is in order to help others from being harmed; however, you should try as much as possible to focus on doing it for positive purposes.)

It is very important to know who you are talking to. If you do not know that the caller will be discreet about the information, you should not reveal it. Let them find out some other way.

Say only what must be said to explain the situation. Be careful not to exaggerate.   Choose your words carefully, an extra ‘very’ can change the way your statement is understood.

In addition, you should only say the negatives if there is no other way to accomplish what you need to.   There is no reason to ‘volunteer’ information that has not been directly asked about.

Try to ascertain if this information is an important consideration for that potential shiduch.  What is very bothersome to one family, may not matter at all to another family.   If someone asks “Is she tznius?”, it is important to find out what they consider tznius before answering the question.   Only once you clearly understand the question should you answer fully and correctly.  It is best to describe objective examples rather than your subjective opinion.  “I have seen her wearing x and y” rather than “I think her standards are not the highest.”

Similarly, if you are asked “Does he know how to learn?”, you should answer affirmatively. The rule here is: does he have enough learning background that someone would say that he “knows how to learn”? As long as he meets this minimal standard, you should answer affirmatively, until you know what the caller’s definition and frame of reference is.

If something is ‘public knowledge’, then you can share it, as long as your intention is to help the caller ascertain if this is indeed a possible shiduch. If someone does not wear a hat and jacket in the street, that is considered public knowledge. If someone frequently talks about their family background, then that is considered public knowledge.  If certain aspects of the family background are not public knowledge, then use your judgment if it needs to be shared if it not directly asked.

In summary, there are some details that must be disclosed. When doing so, it is important to:

  1. Know that the person you are talking to will not disclose the information indiscriminately.
  2. Ascertain that the information is accurate.
  3. Not exaggerate.
  4. Be honest with yourself that your intent in transmitting negative information is for the constructive purpose of aiding a shiduch inquiry.
  5. Ensure that the information is transmitted in the least harmful way possible.

 

As the Chofetz Chaim writes  in the conclusion of his sefer: the main idea is to think before you speak!!

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Letting your Spouse Know you Feel Enriched by Them

lovedby you.JPGThere are words of compliments, appreciation and gratitude. And then there is showing the other person how much your own life is enriched by having them in your life.  This really makes the other person feel good to be doing for you.

An expression of gratitude such as “Thank you for taking care of dinner”  is nice.  Yet, it reveals little of what’s going on for you.

A much richer statement is: “Thank you for taking care of dinner. Just knowing that I have warm food waiting for me when I come home made this long day seem so much more bearable.”

Another example: “I am so appreciate your time and your insights. I feel much more hopeful now.”

And one more: “I love watching how you interact with the kids. Just knowing that they are with you when I’m out makes me feel relaxed that they are in good hands.”

One last one: “I know you really didn’t want to do it, and you did it anyway. So firstly, thank you for taking care of that. And more importantly, I feel loved that you did it just because I requested.”

Often, we are indeed grateful and appreciative, but we don’t express it. Or, we say a simple Thank You.  Sometimes it is hard to articulate exactly how your life was enriched by the other person’s actions or words.  Take the time to really think how that action makes you feel.  And share that with them.

Some emotions that you might be feeling: Relaxed. Happy. Taken care of. Secure. Moved. Energized. Uplifted my mood.  Made things easier. You really ‘get who I am’. Cared for.  ‘I really matter to the other person’.


Caveat: This should not be used as a form of manipulation or an attempt to get something from the other person.  Be assured, they will sense that very quickly.

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Some ways to improve your marriage — with little help from your spouse

gears

Good news! It is entirely possible to improve and enhance your marriage – by working on it yourself.

Systems Theory 101 states that a change in one part of the system leads to changes in other parts of the system.  In other words, change is like a chain reaction. One spouse tips over the first domino, then the other one mostly likely will change too.

When a spouse who is dissatisfied in the relationship decides to change their method of getting through to their partner, they aren’t doing “all the work.” Assuming responsibility for creating positive change in life isn’t working harder, it’s working smarter.

You don’t have to mention to your spouse that you are working on yourself.  But the difference will be noticed and appreciated. Be patient, the process can take a while.

 

Accept that successful marriage takes work.

Anything worthwhile takes work. Even if you find yourself struggling in the marriage, there is probably nothing really wrong.  (Unless, there is.) You may need some tools and mindset shifts. Don’t give up just because you’re having a rough time.

You might benefit from talking to a knowledgeable mashpia or professional marriage counselor.

Notice what you are contributing to the problem.

Notice your patterns.  Too often, we are fixated on what the other is doing wrong or not doing, that we forget about what we might be doing.   Maybe, just maybe, it is you who starts many of the fights.  Or you have unusually high expectations.

By becoming aware of these patterns, you will realize how much power you really do hold in the relationship’s well-being.  This will get you out of that feeling of discouragement that it won’t get any better until the other changes. It’s actually very empowering.

Fully accept your partner.

Let go.  Make peace with those traits that annoy you in your partner; it will reduce frictions and boost your overall happiness. Not everything will be perfect or go the way you think is best.

Sometimes, you have to put aside your pride. Or maybe even laugh about it, “that’s just who s/he is.”

Start by addressing one area.

A small one; so you can see improvements quickly.  And then another small one. The more small shifts you can appreciate and notice, the more encouraged you will feel. This alone will bring new energy and vitality to your relationship!

You fly off the handle too quickly? When you catch yourself getting angry, count until ten.  Do you tend to interrupt your spouse midsentence? Hone your listening skills.

Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.  

Reflect about what is working well. What is it that you are doing when your spouse is acting  loving and considerate? Do more of that.

What are you doing that pushes their buttons. Or, what is it that you nag about? Just stop doing that. Either let it go, or experiment with other ways to address it.

Get vulnerable. Be the first to open up about the state of your marriage.

One of you has to go first. Apologize first. Be vulnerable first. Yield first. Forgive first. Why not let that person be you? It also shows your commitment to really improving the relationship.

“There’s been something on my mind for a while now.  I don’t want to live with all this fighting.   I’ve been thinking about what I have been contributing to the issue. Can we discuss this together?”

Have patience.

Trust the process. When you change, people notice. It may take a while for them to learn new responses. They might be used to always distrusting your words, it might take a while to see that you are genuine.  


 Related:

Recording of Rabbi Shais Taub on “How to Enhance a marriage even without the Help of the Spouse”

http://i41631.wixsite.com/adai-ad/taub-takesone

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A Vocabulary of Emotions

Emoticons

In expressing feelings, it is helpful to use words that refer to the specific emotions rather than words that are vague or general. The following lists have been compiled to help you increase your power to articulate feelings and clearly describe a whole range of emotional states (adapted from NVC, by Marshall Rosenberg).

How we are likely to feel when our needs are being met.

  • absorbed
  • adventurous
  • affectionate
  • alert
  • alive
  • amazed
  • amused
  • animated
  • appreciative
  • ardent
  • aroused
  • astonished
  • blissful
  • breathless
  • buoyant
  • calm
  • carefree
  • cheerful
  • comfortable
  • complacent
  • composed
  • concerned
  • confident
  • contented
  • cool
  • curious
  • dazzled
  • delighted
  • eager
  • ebullient
  • ecstatic
  • effervescent
  • elated
  • enchanted
  • encouraged
  • energetic
  • engrossed
  • enlivened
  • enthusiastic
  • excited
  • exhilarated
  • expansive
  • expectant
  • exultant
  • fascinated
  • free
  • friendly
  • fulfilled
  • glad
  • gleeful
  • glorious
  • glowing
  • good-humored
  • grateful
  • gratified
  • happy
  • helpful
  • hopeful
  • inquisitive
  • inspired
  • intense
  • interested
  • invigorated
  • involved
  • joyous
  • joyful
  • jubilant
  • keyed-up
  • loving
  • mellow
  • merry
  • mirthful
  • moved
  • optimistic
  • overjoyed
  • overwhelmed
  • peaceful
  • perky
  • pleasant
  • pleased
  • proud
  • quiet
  • radiant
  • rapturous
  • refreshed
  • relaxed
  • relieved
  • satisfied
  • secure
  • sensitive
  • serene
  • spellbound
  • splendid
  • stimulated
  • surprised
  • tender
  • thankful
  • thrilled
  • touched
  • tranquil
  • trusting
  • upbeat
  • warm
  • wide-awake
  • wonderful
  • zestful

How we’re likely to feel when our needs are not being met

  • afraid
  • aggravated
  • agitated
  • alarmed
  • aloof
  • angry
  • anguished
  • annoyed
  • anxious
  • apathetic
  • apprehensive
  • aroused
  • ashamed
  • beat
  • bewildered
  • bitter
  • blah
  • blue
  • bored
  • brokenhearted
  • chagrined
  • cold
  • concerned
  • confused
  • cool
  • cross
  • dejected
  • depressed
  • despairing
  • despondent
  • detached
  • disaffected
  • disappointed
  • discouraged
  • disenchanted
  • disgruntled
  • disgusted
  • disheartened
  • dismayed
  • displeased
  • disquieted
  • distressed
  • disturbed
  • downcast
  • downhearted
  • dull
  • edgy
  • embarrassed
  • embittered
  • exasperated
  • exhausted
  • fatigued
  • fearful
  • fidgety
  • forlorn
  • frightened
  • frustrated.
  • furious
  • guilty
  • harried
  • heavy
  • helpless
  • hesitant
  • horrible
  • horrified
  • hostile
  • hot
  • humdrum
  • hurt
  • impatient
  • indifferent
  • intense
  • irate
  • irked
  • irritated
  • jealous
  • jittery
  • keyed-up
  • lazy
  • leery
  • lethargic
  • listless
  • lonely
  • mad
  • mean
  • miserable
  • mopey
  • morose
  • mournful
  • nervous
  • nettled
  • numb
  • overwhelmed
  • panicky
  • passive
  • perplexed
  • pessimistic
  • puzzled
  • rancorous
  • reluctant
  • repelled
  • resentful
  • restless
  • sad
  • scared
  • sensitive
  • shaky
  • shocked
  • skeptical
  • sleepy
  • sorrowful
  • sorry
  • spiritless
  • startled
  • surprised
  • suspicious
  • tepid
  • terrified
  • tired
  • troubled
  • uncomfortable
  • unconcerned
  • uneasy
  • unglued
  • unhappy
  • unnerved
  • unsteady
  • upset
  • uptight
  • vexed
  • weary
  • wistful
  • withdrawn
  • were
  • woeful
  • worried
  • wretched
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Expressing your Real Feelings

whatdoyoufeel

The difficulty in identifying and expressing feelings is common. For couples and families, the toll is severe when members are unable to communicate emotions.

It is important to distinguish feelings from thoughts.

A common confusion, generated by the English language, is our use of the word feel without actually expressing a feeling. For example, in the sentence, “I feel I didn’t get a fair chance,” the words “I feel” could be more accurately replaced with “I think”.

Often times, we use the word feel when we are actually expressing an opinion. In general, it is not actual feelings, but rather opinions,  are being expressed when the word ‘feel’ is followed by:

1. Words such as that, like, as if:

“I feel that he should know better.”
“I feel like a failure.”
“I feel as if I’m talking to a wall.”

2. The pronouns I, you, he, she, they, it:

“I feel I am constantly on call.”
“I feel it is useless.”

3.  Names or pronouns referring to people:

“I feel Sammy has been very irresponsible.”
“I feel my spouse is being manipulative.”

Actually, in the English language, it is not necessary to use the word feel at all when you’re actually expressing a feeling. We can say “I’m feeling relieved”  or simply “I’m relieved”.

Distinguish between what we feel and what we think we are.

It’s important to distinguish between the words that express actual feelings and those that describe what we think we are.

1.  Description of what we think we are:

“I feel inadequate as a mother.”
In this statement she is assessing her ability as a wife rather than clearly expressing her feelings.

2. Expressions of the actual feelings:

“I feel disappointed in myself as a mother.”

“I feel frustrated with myself as a mother.”
The actual feeling behind the assessment of herself as inadequate could therefore be disappointment or frustration or some other emotion.

Distinguish between words that describe what we think others are doing around us and words that describe actual feelings

Similarly, it is helpful to differentiate between words that describe what we think others are doing around us and words that describe actual feelings.

1. “I feel unimportant to the people in my family”
The word unimportant describes how I think others are evaluating me rather than an actual feeling which in this situation might be I feel sad or I feel discouraged.

2. “I feel misunderstood.”
Here, the word misunderstood indicates an assessment of the other person’s level of understanding me rather than an actual feeling. In this situation, she may be feeling anxious or annoyed or some other emotion.

3.  “I feel ignored.”
This is more of an interpretation of the actions of the other than a clear statement of how we’re feeling. No doubt there have been times we thought we were being ignored and our feeling was relief was released because he wanted to be left to ourselves. No doubt there were other times  when we felt hurt when we thought we were being ignored because he wanted to be more involved.

It is actually important to share your feelings rather than statements such as “I feel like I’m talking to a wall.” Those are unlikely to bring your feelings and desires to your spouse. The spouse  would most likely be hear those words as criticism rather than invitation or request to connect. Furthermore, such statements often lead to self fulfilling prophecies. The spouse just heard him/herself criticized for behaving like a wall; s/he is hurt and discouraged and doesn’t respond, thereby confirming the image of him/herself as a wall.

These small nuances make a huge difference in communication and relationships.

See a full range of emotions here.

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Rabbi Lipskier responds

Recently, Rabbi Mendel Lipskier of Sherman Oaks, CA spoke via conference call to newly married men about the first years of marriage.  You can access the recording here.  

Several questions came in anonymously after the call. Rabbi Lipskier has graciously agreed to answer them. Here are his brief answers; these should all be explored more in depth with appropriate parties.


Q: Once life gets a bit busy with children, Shlichus or work, is it right to set times to be together? Or does that make it systematic rather than emotional?

A: Make time. Schedule time. It may not be spontaneous, but it turns into something greater. The Rebbe stressed that the husband-wife unit must be retained in order to have a healthy family.  The Rebbe suggested to his secretary, Rabbi Klein, that he take a walk with his wife once a week.

Q: What brings an emotional connection before intimacy?  Is it long conversations etc? How do you speed the process and do it right?

A: Connect and show your care throughout the whole day. It begins with a sweet good morning. And genuine compliments during the day.  A tea (or something that you both enjoy) in the evening. After a day of connection and care, the emotional flows faster.

Q: What if wife does not feel the pleasure of intimacy, and does not request/enjoy being intimate. We are intimate only when I request, and only once in a while.

A: Something seems off here and needs to be examined with a professional.  It may be physical, mental or emotional shut down.  Be compassionate through the process.

Q: All Sholom Bayis books are about listening to your wife, what if your wife is not so talkative?

A: Gemara says women talk. Either she has some previous issues. Or you may have shut her down or out. Don’t ignore it.

Q: My wife never talks to me, never has anything to share with me. Is there a way to get her to open up more? What can be the problem? It’s not like I try to solve problems, so I’m not sure why she would ever think I don’t listen or in tune to what she’s saying.

A: This needs some intervention, to learn skills and mindsets to really be present.

Q: If your wife is not responsible, how do you not show frustration?

A: Would you be frustrated at your child?  If you love someone, you must learn patience.  Help her learn by modeling good behavior.

Q: Is it appropriate to try to influence your wife in a positive direction in learning avodah, middos etc. Or does this compromise her personal and emotional space? How to find a healthy mashpia relationship?

A: Yes, this can be done.  In the proper way.  When you hold her high on a silver platter, then are gentle and supportive, she may be willing to see if she is really happy with who she is or wants to improve.

Q: What would you tell a husband that’s going through an unconsummated marriage for over a year due to vaginismus. They are going to therapy but the husband feels sexually frustrated?

A: This is URGENT.  Find a real professional who specializes in this field. It could be one of  a variety of things. Too often, it is misdiagnosed.  There is some halachik advice, call a good rov.

Q: How to balance technology use, phone,  etc. I work all day and don’t have opportunity to use my phone or technology then. I know that when I come home, it is important to spend time with my wife. So when do I get to check my email, whatsapps, and the rest?

A: Oy vay this one can really be a bad one on both spouses. Many women are also addicted to phone… First hour or two at home, Phone AWAY!!!

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Shalom Bayis Week – June 18-23, 2017

SHALOM BAYIS WEEK (1)

Onthe holiday of Shavuos, the yiden ‘married’ Hashem at Matan Torah. The whole month of Sivan is infused with this spirit of marriage and shalom bayis.  In that spirit, CHJCC and Adai Ad instituted a “Shalom Bayis Week”.

During this week, they will present a series of valuable discussions about shalom bayis via conference calls. There is a great lineup of important topics with top presenters to inspire you to deepen your marriage to the next level of connectedness and strength.  Or to help your friends and family enrich their marriage.

Devora Krasnianski of Adai Ad, organizer of this week and of the many conference calls and workshops in the recent past, shares,  “The timing of this Shalom Bayis Week – right before the summer –  works out really well. For some couples, their children will be away during the summer and they might be more relaxed, and have some time and head space to try out new tools.   Additionally, in the warm weather people are outside more and have the opportunity to talk to friends and neighbors, and can share ideas to enhance shalom bayis.”

This week’s schedule:

  • Sunday. Rabbi Pinney & Rebetzin Helana Herman will present about “Turning Conflict into Connection”, including mindsets and tools to build stronger relationships.  Based on the Imago principles integrated with chasidus.

 

  • Monday. Rabbi Mendel Lipskier from Sherman Oaks, California will talk to newly married men (and anyone else who wants to listen in) about the first years of marriage. He will be answeringquestions that newly married men have or didn’t even know to ask, and what young wives wish someone would tell their husbands.

 

  • Wednesday.   Dr. Elka Jacobs-Pinson will share about “How children impactedby their parent’s marriage” What the child hears and sees in the home affects them for life- both positively and negatively.  She will discuss what parents should and should not do in their own marriage for the sake of their child’s mental health.

 

  • Thursday. Rabbi Shais Taub will present “How to enhance a marriage singlehandedly, even without the help of the spouse.” In some marriages, this is the best possible way to improve the marriage.

 

All calls begin at 8:45 PM eastern PROMPT. Call in number is 641-552-9123 Access # 256965.   Questions can be sent in advance or during the call to info@adaiad.org or anonymously using the form at www.adaiad.org/ask-anonymous-question.

This series, as well as many of the other recent calls and workshops provided by Crown heights Jewish Community Council and Adai Ad were made possible by a grant from the New York City Council Domestic Violence Initiative awarded by our Council Member Matthieu Eugene.

Check Adai Ad’s website for upcoming calls and events at http://www.adaiad.org/events or recordings of past events at www.adaiad.org/past-events.

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