How do we connect when date night doesn’t feel like an option?
Keep the Connection Strong
Abby Delouya RMFT-CCC, CPTT
With everything going on in our lives, it’s hard to find time to connect with our spouse. One practical way to do so is with a weekly date night. Rabbi Shafier wrote about the importance of date night at length in his “Made in Heaven” column.
Often, however, I get raised eyebrows or rolled eyes the minute I get the words out. “How can we do date night? It’s impossible to find sitters, and when we can, it’s always for a simchah, or a school event — something non-negotiable” or “Between the sitter, and the restaurant, it’s just unaffordable. We need that money for more crucial things.”
I get all that, I really do. We have myriad responsibilities, and are pulled in a dozen directions. Yet if the foundation of our marriage feels shaky, and we don’t have the emotional connection we need, everything will be more difficult. Additionally, one day the roller coaster of life may slow down, and you’re going to want to recognize your seatmate.
So, how do we connect when date night doesn’t feel like an option? How else can we keep our marriage vibrant?
Schedule alone time with your spouse. Ideally it would be a real conversation — device-free and complete with eye contact. It can be over coffee and cake, discussing the day. However, it may also be while folding laundry at 11p.m., or packing lunches together while the rest of the house sleeps. It can be for 15 minutes, but it’s sacred. It has to happen, and it’s alone. “Sorry, kids, Mommy and Tatty are having special time.” “But you’re folding socks.” “Right, but it’s still grownup time. Bye!” During this time, don't discuss anything stressful.
Write each other notes or texts during the day. Not “Please bring home a bottle of milk.” Try “Thinking of you. Hope (meeting, class etc.) went well” or “I miss you — can’t wait to see you” or just a funny inside joke that reminds you of an easier, less stressful time.
Do errands together: Making a bar mitzvah and have a million odds and ends to pick up? Drive together. Do chores together: Whoever thought cleaning out the garage for Pesach could be fun? Put on some music, bring out some snacks, and aim to enjoy each other’s company.
Surprise your spouse by lightening their load of duties — being temporarily relieved of a chore or childcare task can be reenergizing.
Understand that when people are stressed, they can be more snappy, tired, and raw. Be quick to apologize and quick to forgive. Whatever you’re doing is just going to be more stressful if there’s an icy freeze between you and your spouse.
Show your appreciation. Maybe it’s impossible to connect face to face for whatever reason that day. Telling your spouse how much you appreciate their hard work can make the busyness feel more worthwhile.
If there is an expiration date on the hectic time (i.e.,when the chasunah/sheva brachos are over, after all the kids are back in school after the Nissan/Tishrei marathons), schedule a break — an intentional chunk of time where you connect in a relaxing way. If you can afford to take a night or weekend off together, amazing. But it can also be a morning off or an evening out. As you are going through the hectic days, mention this getaway as something you’re looking forward to.
There are always reasons to be tired, stressed, and disconnected. Connecting and turning toward each other is a choice and an investment that has a high payoff. Buy in together and reap the rewards.
Abby Delouya RMFT-CCC, CPTT is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice with a specialty in trauma and addiction. Abby lives in Monsey, New York and maintains her practice in Canada.
Wings to Soar
The mishnah in Pirkei Avos 5:23 encourages us to be “kal kanesher— light as an eagle.” But the eagle is, in fact, a very heavy bird. So why this specific imagery?
Rav Shlomo Wolbe ztz”l explains that although the eagle is heavy, it has powerful wings that enable it to soar despite its heaviness. People, too, may be heavy — there are things that weigh us down. But we were given wings to soar.
What are those wings? Simchah b’chelko and simchah b’mitzvos — being happy with that which we have, and finding joy in mitzvos.
Simchah b’chelko is the content feeling that’s achieved through realizing that anything I was given is a tool to fulfill my unique role in the world. If I don’t have it, it doesn’t belong in my toolbox. It’s also deriving a deep sense of pleasure from anything that was given to me, seeing it as a gift from Hashem who wants me to enjoy His gifts.
Simchah b’mitzvos is the feeling of elation that’s the result of the victory of the spiritual over the physical.
Happiness (like honor) shouldn't be pursued directly. Rather it’s a byproduct of stretching to become a bigger person, someone who is overcoming limitations and connecting to Hashem through mitzvos.
Dina Schoonmaker has been teaching in Michlalah Jerusalem College for over 30 years. She gives womens’ vaadim and lectures internationally on topics of personal development.
Doctors Aren’t Just for the Sick
Dr. Jennie Berkovich
Going to the pediatrician when a child is sick is usually a no-brainer. However, taking a healthy child to the doctor can sometimes feel cumbersome and is often only done if school or camp demands it. However, routine well visits are important.
These are opportunities to verify that growth and development are on track, even for older kids. It’s also a time for full physical exams, hearing and vision screening, and critical anticipatory guidance. This can include discussions about safe behaviors like car seats, seat belts, sleep, swimming, eating, exercise, and more. Staying current on well visits is an important part of raising healthy children and developing a trusting relationship with your pediatrician.
Dr. Jennie Berkovich is a board-certified pediatrician and serves as the Director of Education for the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association (JOWMA) Preventative Health Committee.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 792)
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