On Sunday evening, October 30, Let’s Get Real With Coach Menachem featured Rabbi Mordechai (Gary) Neuman, New York Times bestselling author. Rabbi Neuman began by citing a study with 430 women and 200 men. They were interviewed about what happily married couples are doing versus failed couples. All successful couples have their marriage as their priority. Failed couples kind of forget about their marriage. Successful couples continue to work on their marriage. They are always learning. He noted that he doesn’t say “happy couples.” Being successful doesn’t mean you will always be happy.

He shared that Judaism teaches us that we should lead a meaningful life. That tends to make us feel good. No one ever promised steady happiness. Success doesn’t mean people won’t have difficulties in life. “Feeling that you have one person who cares about you – that’s success.”

He pointed out that the question asked most is what the most important thing in a marriage is. He answered that the most important thing in a marriage is appreciation. “People in failed marriages feel under-appreciated.” He said to focus on appreciation. Also be aware of what you are giving and what you are getting. The way to improve your marriage is, starting tomorrow, make two appreciative gestures every day through Shabbos. See what happens. He noted that this is so easily corrected and so underdone.

In his office, he asks people to write an appreciation list about their spouse. We need to appreciate everyday things that our spouse does. In our frum lifestyle, we do so much that should be appreciated. He taught that “the more you appreciate the good in someone, the more good comes out.”

It’s important to spend uninterrupted time with your spouse. Successful couples spend more than 30 minutes of uninterrupted time daily together. He explained that you can’t talk about loving someone if you are not spending the minimal amount of time daily talking to them. For the next week, institute 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to catch up on your day with your spouse. This is not a time to express anger about something.

 “The heart of marriage is to say I am committed to this.” Hashem brought you together. Your job is to make this situation the best you can. “Successful couples maximize the positive and minimize the negative. “He added that this is something you have to do for yourself, as well.

Someone asked what amount of time a person should spend with friends in relation to time spent with her spouse. Rabbi Neuman responded that 50-60 percent of free time should be with your spouse. You have to keep a balance. “Always make sure that you are putting in time and energy into your marriage.”

Someone else asked about a second marriage. Rabbi Neuman acknowledged that a second marriage is difficult, and there are higher divorce rates with second marriages. This can happen if a person doesn’t learn enough from errors that he or she made in the first marriage. A person has to think about what makes him or her happy in a relationship. They should feel this is adding something to his or her life. In a second marriage, you need to feel that this person wants to make your life brighter.

After a failed marriage, it is critical to get healthier before going into another relationship. He shared a communication tip: that you should learn what it feels like to be the other person at this moment. This will help you say the right thing.

 By Susie Garber