How Respect can Buy You Shalom Bayit (peace in the home)

This post is dedicated in merit that Hershel ben Etya Sarah have a yeshuah.

Elisheva Maline
A Jewish wedding (Jozef Israëls, 1903)
Respect is to love as threads are to clothing; the latter can't hold it together without the former. 

When G-d created the world, initially, it was with din (strict justice). However, humanity didn't stand a chance against such guidelines of behavior ("One wrong move and the girl gets zapped."), so Hashem (G-d) tempered the justice with compassion. In other words, He set up the world with borders and limitations. People, too, are comprised of their own unique sets of positive and negative attributes. 

By trespassing the laws of The Torah i.e. G-d's boundaries, we not only disrespect the Creator, we cut ourselves off from Him. In the same vein, when we cross another person's personal boundaries, we strip them of the respect they are due, and sometimes, in the process, we end up distancing them from ourselves.

A major component of marriage, and indeed relationships, is respecting the other: not for who he or she is but for who he or she is not. Manis Freedman, author of Why Doesn't Anyone Blush Anymore, touches upon this issue in his book on marital harmony. He describes, for instance, how one may have an issue he feels uncomfortable discussing while, at the same time, his spouse may feel that it is important for him to air out his feelings. Or, classic case scenario, an extroverted personality may want her spouse to "shine" so she may try foisting social events, like dinner parties and young couples' get togethers, on him even though he's made it clear that he prefers being a homebody; s/he may not recognize that she could be hurting him. 

In order to create closeness with another person, you must recognize that even when you want to fix what you perceive as a limitation, you need to back off and give the other one space. "Happily ever after means sticking to the same side of the fence as your spouse (or whoever it may be...)."

Also, it helps to remember that it's not you running the show, it's G-d. If your spouse comes home with a story about some failure or another at work, or s/he makes a mess out of disciplining the kids - things that would usually get your goat - let them go. Instead of taking an accusatory or disparaging tone, and essentially crossing to the other side of the fence, let matters lie. "The sacred whole, that unique and wondrous unity can, and will, sort out the issues." The concept of trusting one's husband to make financial and child raising decisions etc. may be a difficult one for many of us women to bear. However, a spouse, especially a male one, accomplishes a lot more when the wife gives him the breathing space to make good choices. Additionally, when a parent respects a child's individuality (after offering whatever direction is available), s/he gives the child room to soar. 
Essentially, when you surrender control, and you take risks, opportunities are limitless.

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The majesty of the Western Wall

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