How well do you know the other person

Getting to Know each otherWhen meeting someone for shiduchim purposes, it is important to know what you ought to know about each other and the relationship before you commit to marriage and a life time together.  

‘Research’ does not tell you enough. The way you feel about who each other is and in each other’s company is also very important.  Trust your feelings. They they tell you so much, much more than your thoughts. And certainly more than ‘everything we checked out is wonderful’.

Here are just some things to consider.  There may be others that are specific to your unique self.

It is important to really be honest with yourself, and not delude yourself, or be hopeful, make assumptions, infer, ‘I just know’.  It is worthwhile to confirm. Meet again, if necessary.  It is also quite valuable to discuss with an objective third party who can help you think clearly.

Caveat: This is not a checklist, and should not be used as such. You might use this a a rough guide of areas to discuss together. And what to look out for during the dating period.  Ideally, you’d be clear in these areas before committing to marriage.
Note this is written about ‘what a woman should know about the man she is dating’;  these are equally applicable to both men and women.

His values

His values should be compatible with yours. They do not have to be identical.

  • How does he envision his family life to be? His role? His wife’s role?
  • What drives him? What does he see as his purpose in life?
  • How does his Yiddishkeit affect who he is?
  • What are his priorities? How important is materialism to him? Is it compatible with your hopes for your life?

His goals and aspirations

  • What are his goals and aspirations? How do you fit into those? What would be your role?

His personality

  • What are his strengths? What are his limitations? Can you live with those?
  • How does he interact with others? (How do you know that – from your own observations? From your experience with him? From research? From what he says?)
  • Is he controlling in any way? (What is evidence of his controlling behavior or attitude?) How do you feel about that?
  • How does he act when he does not agree with another’s opinions or actions? (How do you know that – from your own observations? From your experience with him? From research? From what he says?)

His health

  • Do you know about any health issues? Do you know how they will affect his future life?

His family and influences

  • How does he get along with his family? His mother? His father?
  • Does he spend a healthy amount of time with his family – not overly dependent, or too independent?
  • Who does he spend most of his time with? Who are his friends? How do they influence him?
  • Where does he get his inspiration and understanding of the world – family, friends, media, working with mashpia, learning? (How do you know that – from your own observations? From your experience with him? From research? From what he says?)

Is he good marriage material for you?

  • Is there anything about him that you thought ’you’d never marry’? How do you feel about that now?
  • What are his ‘human flaws’ (we are all human; nobody is perfect)? How do you feel about them?
  • What baggage (past experiences, attitudes, etc.) is he bringing into the marriage?
  • What does he bring into the marriage that can really make a marriage and a life with him be successful?  Is there anything that concerns you?

Friendship

  • Are you sure he is a good friend to you? What are examples?
  • Do you deeply care about him? Are you ready to give to him? What are examples?

Emotional Safety

  • Do you feel emotionally safe (safe to be and express who you really are) with him? What are some examples?
  • Do you feel comfortable to make requests of him, or to share your perspective?  How has he responded to your requests/ perspective?
  • Are you sure he feels emotionally safe with you? What are some examples?

Admiration & respect

  • What about him do you admire and respect? What are some examples.
  • What about you does he admire and respect? (How do you know that – from your own observations? From your experience with him? From research? From what he says?)
  • Is he making any concessions just to make this work? Have you discussed it? Does he really think he can maintain it? Do you really think he can?
  • Are you making any concessions just to make this work? Have you discussed it? Do you really think you can maintain it? Does he really think you can?
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Perspectives about Benny’s day off

day off

by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute

What to do on Benny’s day off?

The background:

Benny has long days.  He awakes at 6:30 to fit in some exercise and then davens before his long commute to work.  At work, he is swamped, with no time for a proper lunch. He is often on his feet or hopping from meeting to job site to next meeting. It is stressful.  He usually comes home around 6:30 and spends some time with the kids and participates in bedtime before he goes out for maariv.

Shira works part time. Her day starts at 6:30 too, when the youngest child wakes up.  And then it is dressing the kids, making lunches, serving breakfast, checking backpacks, bus stops, carpooling and dropping off the baby at the babysitter.  She works until 2. Then, she picks up the baby, does errands, and comes home to make dinner, feed the kids, homework and bedtime.

Benny will be having a day off next Monday (let’s say it’s a legal holiday).

Benny: I finally have a day off. That means I can wake up a bit later to join a later minyan and then have a day to relax. I‘ll be able to catch up on some emails, learn a little, meet up with some friends for lunch, and then relax some more.

Shira: Benny finally has a day off. That means that he can finally be around one morning to help me with the morning rush, so my day is not as frazzled as it usually is. If he goes to the supermarket and picks up the baby from the babysitter, then I can finally have 90 minutes to relax today and just do whatever it is I want.

A perspective: 48 hours in a couple’s day.

2 people x 24 hours = 48 hours in a couple’s day to accomplish everything to run a family and keep healthy and sane.

For him:  8 hours – bedtime & sleep. 1 ½  hour – morning routine & davening. 9 hours – work. 1 ½ hours –  commute (45 minutes each way). 1 hour – decompressing after work & maariv.  1 hour – family and household chores.  That’s 22 hours of the day. That leaves 2 hours for wiggle room and random tasks like paying bills, exercise, catching up on emails.

For her: 8 hours – bedtime & sleep. ½ hour – her own morning routine. 1 hour – frantic morning rush. 5 hours – work. 1 hour – commute. ¾ hour – drop off & pick up baby from babysitter. 2 hours – housework and errands. 4 hours – evening rush (dinner, homework, family time, bedtime). That leaves less than 2 hours for wiggle room and random tasks like catching up with family and friends, exercise, fixing the inevitable mishap.

With such busy schedules, they are both exhausted. Of course, both look forward to those hours of Benny’s day off.

A possible discussion:

Shira: “I’m so happy – for both of us – that you have this day off. You so need the rest.  I am hoping that some of those hours can be used to make my day a little easier too.   What might be a reasonable schedule for that day so we can both have much deserved rest?”

Another possible discussion:

Benny: “I’m so happy – for both of us – that I have this day off.  I want to start my day a little later and sleep in a little. After that I want to give you a few hours for yourself.  What can I take off your daily load to make your day a bit easier?”

The outcome:

Both Benny and Shira get some time to recharge on that day. Perhaps, even more important, they approached the day off from a mindset of partnership, which deepened their relationship.

 

 

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

by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute

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 this 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.JPG

by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute

There 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 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 you’.


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

by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute

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 changes. 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. There is probably nothing wrong if you find yourself struggling. You may need some tools, but don’t give up just because you’re having a rough time.

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 and 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 his 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.  

 

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A Vocabulary of Emotions

Emoticons

by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute

 

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

by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute

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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