On Sunday night, June 4, Let’s Get Real with Coach Menachem featured a virtual shiur with Rabbi Reuven Epstein, head of The Dating Project.

Rabbi Epstein shared that he has met with many couples over the past 12 years, and certain key factors have helped couples to strengthen themselves. He shared the famous midrash that says that it’s as hard as splitting the Red Sea to make shidduchim. The natural state of water is to flow. When you crack a rock, you don’t have to do it again. If you split water, it’s easy, as you can just take a cup and scoop some out. However, to keep water separated is difficult, because everything flows back into one unit. When Hashem split the Red Sea, the water remained separated. Rabbi Epstein drew an analogy. Getting married is the easiest part. The hardest part is maintaining a daily connection to each other. The natural state of two people is not to be together. If you are not willing to put in the effort to keep that strong daily bond, then it will naturally fall away.

He said that most people come into marriage counseling trying to change the other spouse. He shared that there are three levels. Step One or Level One is the loving, caring bond between a couple. If the couple has a real kesher and each feels prioritized and respected by the other, then they will find that they have a voice in their marriage.

Level Two is when people want to have a heavy conversation to change something, and Level Three is transformation.

Many couples start at Level Two or Level Three. They have heavy conversations to try to change things and it isn’t working. If there is a gap between people and one spouse feels neglected, then they can’t listen to the other spouse.

He taught that marriage is about looking out for each other’s best interest. If a couple is unified, then they can engage in real honest dialogue in a respectful, calm way. This can transform a relationship, and it’s one of the greatest things you can instill in your children and in yourself.

If you find that others get angry when you communicate, then go back to Level One. Build a kesher and take away the heavy conversation. In this way you will be able to be heard. So, you need to work on Level One first.

He pointed out that spouses crave understanding. Also, there are both external and internal differences. You need a unified front in how you tackle an issue so you can deal with it successfully. You may need guidance to make sure the external struggle stays external.

The complaint he hears most from women is that they feel disconnected in their marriage. The complaint he hears most from men is they want their spouse to stop complaining.

He said that there isn’t enough Level One of enjoying each other’s company and feeling like a friend. Date each other. Have a set time for emotional intimacy. Make time to sit down and schmooze with each other. If you are just having heavy conversations, then that is not good. Make sure heavy conversations aren’t overwhelming your relationship. Set aside the negative emotions or the heavy conversation and, after an amazing month of Level One, then talk about the issue. It will work much better then. Level One allows the marriage to be strong. First build your marriage, then later you can have those heavy conversations about an issue.

Switch to a mindset of acceptance, love, and real respect for your spouse.

Also, it’s important to understand that every relationship is different. “Every person has to know what works for their marriage.”

It’s a journey together, and two people need to be side by side, one foot next to the other, and they need to see eye to eye. You believe in the other person, and he will believe in you.

 By Susie Garber