Keys to Relationship Success

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What are the keys to relationship success, especially in our modern world? Hear from three top experts who shared their perspective.

What are the keys to relationship success? A few years ago, the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City presented an inspirational talk on the challenges of marriage and relationships in contemporary society and the Jewish community. The topic resonated for many reasons – the obvious one is I’m a dating coach AND a Jewish woman who’s dating after divorce. I read, listen to, absorb, curate and teach what I feel is the best advice on how to understand and succeed at relationships. Here are my takeaways on the keys to relationship success in today’s world.

Keys to Relationship Success

There were three presenters:

Daniel Jones is the New York Times editor of “Modern Love” and the author of Love Illuminated.

Dr. Mona Fishbane is a clinical psychologist and director of Couple Therapy Training Program at the Chicago Center for Family Health.

Rabbi Aaron Brusso is the spiritual leader at Bet Torah Synagogue in Mount Kisco, NY.

All three spoke from the heart about the challenges of marriage and relationships today. They also shared the most important keys to overcoming those challenges.

  1. We live in a disposable society, one in which we expect instant gratification and have very little skill in resolving conflict. Dr. Fishbane shared about the first stage of love, the one where everything your beloved does is perfect. She met her husband when she was about twenty-years-old, and when she first walked into his apartment, she thought that his mess – the piles of books and papers strewn on his desk – were a delightful sign of a creative man. Guess what they’ve fought about for the past 40+ years of marriage?
  2. So, what do you do when the hormones of early love wear off and you notice your beloved’s imperfections? She spoke about the importance of “growing yourself up” before getting married. This means managing your emotions, and not resorting to blaming your partner for everything that goes wrong in your relationship.
  3. Several times, she quoted the work of John Gottman. I’m a huge fan of the Gottman Institute. You can read more about Dr. Gottman and his excellent work on understanding and healing relationships.
  4. Most importantly, be a mensch, a good person. Romantic love is NOT unconditional, she said. I wholeheartedly agree. Relationships require nurturing and tending. Our partner can’t read our mind. So learn how to express your emotions and listen to his or hers.
  5. Acceptance and appreciation: Rabbi Brusso spoke about an interfaith couple who were each devoutly practicing their individual religions but chose to raise their children in the Jewish faith. When they came to him on their tenth anniversary and asked to be blessed in the sanctuary during Saturday services, he wasn’t sure what to do. While he believes in the sanctity of a couple practicing the same faith, he saw this couple as a wonderful example for the community. They were good people doing good things, and contributed to the community in many ways. So, he made up a blessing that came from the heart. He thanked them for their contribution to the community, observed their deep love and commitment to one another, and held them up as an example to others.
  6. Gender roles. The consensus was that it’s important to delegate roles by communicating openly with one another. That doesn’t mean that men work and women stay home with the kids. It means that each couple has to discuss what works for them. These are ongoing conversations, because life changes and a healthy couple adapts to change.

What are your takeaways from this presentation on relationship success? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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