On Psychology

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review January 24, 2008 / 17 Shevat 5768

Understanding the dynamics of attraction

By Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn

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If you are second-guessing your marriage, consider this

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | She was plainly annoyed with me. "Why should I have to be assertive?" she complained. "Why should I have to 'get' him to behave properly with me when he should be doing it on his own? I'm not his mother. I don't have to teach him right from wrong. He shouldn't be rude in the first place. That's his responsibility, not mine. I don't feel like being assertive. I'm too tired, too tired of years of dealing with all this. If I were married to a nice person, I wouldn't have to."

And she was right. Except for the small detail — this is the man she married. This is the man she chose. She'd like to forget her "mistake," but at the time she made her choice, it was made in good faith, made with hope, dreams, happiness, and love. No one put a gun to her head to marry this person.

So why in the world did she make such a bad, bad choice? Why did she choose someone whose bad behavior would require her to either get a divorce — an option she did not want — or learn to be assertive, calm, centered, and happy while immersed in a negative, whiny, abusive, miserable environment? Why would G-d put her in a place of this awful dilemma and then make her too frustrated — too utterly exhausted — to have the strength to go through with it?

Murray Bowen, the esteemed theoretician behind the natural systems theory of family therapy, pointed out that we choose partners who are very much like us in what he called our level of differentiation. This concept, differentiation, has to do with the degree to which each member of a family can remain happy independent of what the other family members are doing. The fascinating finding of Bowen's thirty-plus years of research is that people tend to marry someone at the same level of differentiation as they are. At the risk of oversimplifying, this concept could be summed up to say that as much as any one person feels she or he is more "together" than the person that she or he married, that may actually not be true.

Underneath the poise, the responsible holding of a job, getting kids to do their homework, or taking proper care of elderly parents, may be the same insecurities, fears, and pain as one's spouse has. In spite of successes and accomplishments that only one of them may have on the outside, they share something deep and similar underneath.

That, in fact, may be part of the initial attraction between two people. As much as there is something opposite that one wishes one had that the other one does have, there is something deep and fundamental in common.

To test out this proposition, I suggested she talk to her husband and check out such things as similarity of personality between one of her parents and one of his, early abandonment or early years of being spoiled, her deepest fears or greatest areas of confidence, and so on. A penetrating look uncovers amazing parallels. While they may have nothing in common on a superficial level (she likes chick flicks; he likes action, for example), they will discover commonalities on a deeper, psychological level — where it really counts (their respective mothers were both emotionally unavailable, for example).

If this is true, then perhaps she should accept that her heart made the choice for her for the right reasons even if the journey together is difficult.

But darned if she didn't come back at me with the sharp retort: "Why should it be so difficult anyway? Okay, I agree, we did discover some incredible stories in our history that were almost identical. They were powerful forces in our lives, I agree, and I can see how those forces brought us together, but all that doesn't explain why I have to learn to be assertive. What about him?"

Which always brings me back to the flip side of the attraction: There's the commonality and then there's the difference. Lots of people think the French were wrong when they said, "Vive la difference!" They think those differences are just plain tiring. In fact, they're exhausted, like this lady was. But I think the French were right.

I think those differences were built in specifically to help us to grow to our full potential. When Eve was created, according to the Genesis narrative, she was told that she would be Adam's eizer k'negdo, which means "help as if against him." Sometimes it would feel as if she was against him, but that was only the feeling; it was only as if. In actuality, she was to be his help, and, by inference, he would be hers. Why did they need all this help from each other?

Our Sages teach that humans were created to help perfect the world, beginning, of course, with ourselves. And the job isn't easy, so we got a partner to help. The beautiful thing about this is that the precise area in which we need to grow — because we are weak in that area — is the very area in which our beloved is strong, and, just to make matters interesting, that is the exact source of the attraction.

Let me restate that: Not only are we attracted to our "opposite" but that attraction was built in on purpose because we need the assistance of the person with the strength where we are weak in order to become stronger ourselves in that area. In other words, maybe our Creator was having a big ol' joke when He programmed humans that way, but the end result is that there is something magnetic about someone who is opposite in the very areas where we need the most help.

Now if our purpose here on Earth is to make it a better place, starting with numero uno, how convenient that our partner is the exact right person to help us accomplish that.

With that in mind, I turned to my exhausted and annoyed friend and said, "Maybe G-d wants you to learn to be more assertive. Maybe that is the very reason for which you were born. And maybe being married to this particular guy is the exact thing you need to learn it. He's not shy, is he?"

"No," she said as she sighed again — and took the sheet I gave her called, "How to be more assertive."

"But why must it be so thorny to learn to be assertive, even if it is something I ought to learn?" she asked. It was a legitimate question, after all.

"Look," I explained. "Sometimes you learn because your teacher coaches and coaxes you, but sometimes you learn because your teacher challenges you. Depending on who you are, you may need the kick-in-the-pants-type coaching. I don't know. Ask G-d."

"I'll practice it," she agreed, holding her assertiveness guide a bit more firmly.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspirational material. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn is an Orthodox Marriage & Family Therapist. To comment, please click here. To visit her website, please click here.

Tell Your ‘Inner Child’ to Just Keep Out of This
‘Is’ is Dangerous
Are the High Holy Days About Guilt?
Confessions of a religious feminist
Kindliness and Blood: A Passover Thought
Arguing: It's a Jewish thing

© 2008, Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn