| Family First Feature |

10 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage

Shalom bayis is precious enough to put on top of the priorities’ list


  1. Express yourself with “his” and “her” notebooks to write down issues that might be difficult to state in spoken words.
  2. Keep a Getaway Fund in a pretty jar and make a habit of adding small change. When it gets full, use the money for an outing or a vacation.
  3. Schedule “no-matter-how-busy-we-are” fifteen-minute daily appointments for having coffee together, schmoozing, or learning from a sefer.
  4. Give the gift of understanding. If your spouse has had a hard day, react with patience and by giving “space” rather than becoming sullen and annoyed.
  5. Become an expert — on your own marriage. Read books, listen to tapes, and attend shiurim. Seek guidance from a Rav or counselor when you need it. Shalom bayis is precious enough to put on top of the priorities’ list.
  6. Do a project together. Refinish that dresser, paint a bedroom, or do a 1,000-piece puzzle.
  7. Keep a running list of the beautiful characteristics you see in your spouse, including specific incidents where you have been particularly impressed or appreciative.
  8. Stage a surprise — from a birthday party to fixing that leaky faucet after several months of reminders, or cooking a favorite supper.
  9. Daven for Divine assistance in making your marriage all it can be. Take the opportunity to daven during the chuppah ceremony at weddings, and say special tefillos for couples you know whose relationship may be suffering.
  10. Consciously offer at least one encouraging, genuine, and uplifting remark to your spouse each and every day.


Think Twice

The Claim: vinegar and baking soda are just as good as commercial cleaning products

Who can resist the pull of a product claiming to transform your life completely in just three seconds of spraying? When it comes to housework, we all want the products that will make us come out ahead. But are they attainable on store shelves or hiding right in our own pantries? Here, we give the dirt on coming clean with what really works.

There’s something about those rows upon rows of brightly packaged spray bottles that overpowers even the most frugal of shoppers, making them want to reach out and embrace yet another container of soap scum remover. But is it the terrific cleaning properties that do the overpowering, or the fumes and the slick advertising campaigns? “Wake up and smell the salad dressing,” insist the eco-friendly and the economical. Instead of investing in ten products to wash your floors, they instruct us to saturate our sponges with vinegar and scrub our stoves with baking soda.

A peek behind the cleaning products scene reveals much more than a few dustballs; indeed, the true scoop on commercial cleansers may be the reason why Mr. Clean has been bald for nearly a century. According to GAIAM, an eco-conscious online community, the products lining your shelves may actually be imperiling your health. Try these facts on for size: Toilet bowl cleaners may contain chlorinated phenols which are toxic to your respiratory and circulatory systems. That delicious vanilla air freshener likely contains formaldehyde, a respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen. And while nothing beats Windex, butyl cellosolve, a common ingredient in all-purpose, window, and other kinds of cleaners, can damage bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys, and the liver. Never mind the environmental damage that results from chemical vapors and toxic waste!

If these sobering facts are a grimy streak on the future of your sparkling home, just turn a new leaf. Vinegar, long-time associate of coleslaw and sweet-and-sour meatballs, is your best friend. Diluted, it does the work of ten commercial products, flexing its pungent muscles to cut grease, remove soap scum and hard water deposits, clean windows and floors, and make toilet bowls shine. Baking soda, another valuable tool in the Balabusta Arsenal, will deodorize carpets and act as an abrasive cleaner anywhere you need it.

The Verdict: A healthy home is a happy home — make your home green and clean. With the amount of money you’ll save on new-fangled products, you can even afford extra cleaning help!


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 84)

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