All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten.
Well, maybe not.
Robert Fulghum made history with his best selling book by that name in the 80’s. In his title essay, he lists some of the skills typically learned in kindergarten, noting that the world would be a better place if adults followed them as well. A sampling:
1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
He does have a point there. But it got me thinking.
Because truly, a lot of the most foundational life skills are things we did NOT learn in kindergarten. Or elementary school. Or possibly even high school, seminary, or college.
Sure, you learned about homeostasis, polynomials, and the rise of the British Empire. You memorized the Periodic Table and conjugated irregular verbs.
But really – when was the last time you distilled a volatile mixture or dissected a fetal pig?
Graduation: when you go from a Life of Tests to the Tests of Life.
And suddenly, you realize that the Really Important Stuff is the things they DIDN’T teach you in school.
- Communication skills
- Emotional equilibrium
- Relationship skills
- Personal finance
Seriously. To drive a car, you need to pass a permit exam and a driving test. To become a social worker, you need a degree and supervision.
So why is it that to enter your most crucial relationship, which will affect and shape the rest of your life and your future family, all you need is a pretty ring?
Sure, some people slide into marriage, bypass a few minor bumps and misunderstandings, and sail away into the sunset of eternal marital bliss, flowers and chocolate truffles.
The Rest of Us
While the rest of us muddle along and wonder:
- Why do we keep having the same arguments over and over?
- What happened to the cheerful, attentive, charming guy I married?
- How can I get more desperately-needed help from my husband?
- I’m just overwhelmed and exhausted – when do the fun times start?
- Marriage is not what I imagined it would be – did I marry the wrong guy?
You probably read some shalom bayis books. Went to a few lectures. Got some inspiration… but after a few days it was back to the same old, same old.
What if things could be different?
What if you had the skills to not only cope with the stresses in your marriage, but to achieve true emotional intimacy and the connection you’re craving?
Here’s a start.
Zig Ziglar, famous motivational speaker, was once approached by a woman (we’ll call her Sandy) who complained that she hated her job. With a passion. The people were nasty, the work was tedious, the hours were oppressive.
Zig heard her out, then gave her an assignment:
Write down 20 things that you like about your job.
Sandy was flabbergasted. “But I just told you – I hate my job! There isn’t anything I like about it!”
“I see. So you it’s a volunteer position?”
“What??? No, of course I get paid! You think I would work at that horrible job for free??”
“Ah. So you don’t like getting paid?”
So salary went on to the list.
And step by step, item by painstaking item, Zig teased out the things that Sandy appreciated about her job. It was near her home, so she didn’t have a long commute. It was close to a park where she enjoyed taking her lunch break.
Before she knew it, she had her list of 20 items.
And then came part 2 of the assignment:
“Every morning, I want you to read this list. Out loud. In the mirror.”
That was it.
2 weeks later, Sandy met with Zig, looking a whole lot more cheerful than she did the first time. “My job? Funny you should ask. You wouldn’t believe how much better it’s gotten in the last 2 weeks!”
What bothers you the most about your husband?
No, never mind, don’t tell me. I’m sure you easily come up with a list of complaints, annoyances, disappointments, and wishes for improvement.
But here’s the thing:
What you notice, gets bigger.
So I’m not going to ask you to disregard the (very legitimate) failings of your husband or your marriage.
But I am going to give you an assignment.
Take out a pen and paper (you can do it on your computer if you want).
And make a list of 30 positive acts or qualities that your husband brings to you or your family. (Yup, 30. You have a lot more invested in your marriage than Sandy had in her job!)
(I know you might be tempted to make the list in your head. But writing it down makes it 10x more powerful).
On the top of your list, make 7 boxes.
For the next week, read this list every morning. Out loud if you can. Check off a box each day that you do it.
For best results, repeat for 4 weeks.
Will this solve all your problems?
No, of course not.
Will it give you a new perspective?
Will it start you on the journey to transforming yourself, your husband, and your marriage?
Why don’t you give it a try, and let me know how it goes?
To help you along on your journey, click HERE for your FREE mini-ebook on:
The Magic Words to get the help you need – and increase emotional intimacy at the same time!
Reignite the Spark in your marriage
Alisa Avruch helps frum women bring emotional intimacy and connection to their marriage, by teaching the practical tools and mindset skills that transform a relationship from uh-oh to amaaaaazing.
A veteran mechaneches and marriage instructor, Alisa has been teaching marriage and relationship skills for nearly 2 decades, first to her high school senior students, and then to over 200 women around the world with her Secret Spark workshop.
Inspired by Laura Doyle’s books The Surrendered Wife and The Empowered Wife, and grounded in a solid Torah foundation, The Secret Spark gives women powerful hands-on tools and “magic phrases” that are easy to implement and shockingly effective, bringing closeness, love and fun back into their marriage.
Follow @thesecretspark, or contact her at email@example.com.