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  KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted on: December 27, 2005 -
יום שלישי, כ"ו בכסלו, תשס"ו
 
 

CPR for Laymen
Part III of three articles on the topic of marriage

Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

Last week I wrote about the importance of CPR - Commitment, Purpose, and Respect - in a marriage. 

I’ve told many couples of the importance of CPR in their marriage, and quite a few responded by asking me, “What if our marriage doesn’t have those three key ingredients? How can we attain them?” 

Believe it or not, the key to gaining CPR in a marriage is simple and methodical. 

Firstly, we must understand what commitment means. Other than in cases where abuse exists, a couple must be committed to reignite their original attraction and work out all their marital snags. If it’s fight or flight, then a couple should stay and fight to work out their marriage. 

One good way to strengthen commitment is by taking an inventory of the investment, success and blessings within a marriage. A person has to recognize how important their investment is in their children, their home, and their business. 

Conversely a person must recognize that if they don’t work on their marriage the strain will drain their energy, money, and time in all areas - such as family, social life and business. A person who has a house but no home is lacking in important areas of life. He is lacking in things as important as strong family bonds and support and in things as mundane as a lack of home made meals. This diminishes self esteem and could lead to failure in all areas of life. 

If things go from bad to worse and end in divorce, the picture isn’t necessarily much better. Statistically, second marriages are a lot more strained. Aside from the pressure from ex-spouses and children from different families, there is greater financial strain due to increased financial obligations. Due to the greater strain, there is a higher rate of divorce in second marriages. 

A couple I know (actually quite a few couples I know) got into an argument shortly after their marriage. For a few days they gave each other the silent treatment. Though they soon forgot what the argument was about, they found no way out of their deadlock. Finally the husband went into the bathroom and wrote on the mirror, with lipstick “I’m sorry! I love you!” 

This smart husband took a stalemate in the start of his marriage that has led to divorce in other fledgling marriages, and instead of allowing it to lead down the road of divorce, he used his commitment to his marriage to find a way to make peace in his home. 

The second way to bring CPR into a marriage is to highlight your common purpose. When a couple meets and gets married there’s an attraction and love and they share common goals. Couples should communicate that purpose to each other at intervals so they stay on track. 

People understand that in business it’s important to communicate purpose and goals. Marriage is the most important business we are in. If a marriage is faltering, it’s important to go back to drawing board and see what physical, emotional and spiritual things attracted us originally and to work to strengthen those ties. 

There are times that a crisis reminds a couple of common purpose. There was a couple that was on the verge of divorce. When they learnt that their child was seriously ill they once again found the glue that kept them together and stopped the divorce proceedings. Though stress from sickness can break a marriage apart, many times a stressful event can pull a marriage together. 

The way to create the R of CPR is by actively looking for things in our spouse that deserve our respect. The Talmud tells a husband, he should love his wife as he loves himself, but regarding respect, he should respect her more than himself. 

Most people envision what the perfect spouse and perfect marriage are like. Unfortunately many of those dreams don’t include the normal ups and downs of marriage or a flesh-and-blood spouse with human foibles. When a real life spouse in a very normal marriage doesn’t measure up to the dreams, it can be difficult to find something positive to say. However, even if your spouse doesn’t fit your dream of what you thought they would be like there must be something to respect. 

One can think, “My wife cares about our finances,” or “my husband cares about his mother,” or “my wife cares about my health,” or “my husband cares about my enjoyment,” or “my wife takes care of our children,” or “my husband brings in money for our family.” 

There are times that we may see other couples doing bigger and more glamorous things for one another and think that’s because they respect each other more. However, one shouldn’t confuse those who go overboard because they are overdrawn in their marriage accounts with those couples who do small everyday things for and with each other. 

One man told me, “Whenever I come home and my wife cooked a special supper I know it’s because she’s overdrawn in the marriage bank.” An outsider who walks into this man’s house and sees the glamorous meal might think that this woman respects her husband so much and she went all out for him, when in truth this woman has taught her husband that he’s not worth that special supper unless she’s done something to displease him. 

Those that recognize the size of the investment in their marriage and what is at stake should it fail, understand that it shouldn’t be wasted. Despite the effort needed to perform CPR it’s worth the time and effort.

MARRIAGE - BY RABBI SHEA HECHT

  1. Why Marry? 
  2. CPR 
  3. CPR for Laymen 

Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht

 

 
     
 
 
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