Shalom Bayis is such an important mitzvah and Rabbi Avraham Nissanian, well-known inspirational speaker, shared an eye-opening shiur on Monday evening, November 9, via Zoom with advice that could change the atmosphere in the home and the world and really bring Mashiach right now. Rabbi Nissanian shared that the angry feelings we might have on the highway if someone does something we don’t like can also crop up in our home. What happens after a disagreement in our home? Does each spouse try to prove that he or she is right? He pointed out something that his mother taught him when he got married: “Never go to sleep with the anger of the day with you.” Even when one spouse wins an argument, he is still the loser because he lost the respect of his spouse.
He added that there is no way that a couple never has a disagreement. He prefers using the word disagreement as opposed to the word argument. When a person is in the throes of anger, he doesn’t think right, and the more he tries to prove his point of view, the angrier he becomes. He could even, G-d forbid, become physical.
On the other hand, those who want to reconcile a disagreement will do it sometimes the same day or within the same hour, while those who want to win a fight can continue the battle for days, weeks, or even years. Our chachamim teach us that a person can see the blemish of everyone in the world except himself. Rabbi Nissanian repeated a teaching he has quoted before, which is so valuable it is worthwhile repeating over and over again. Hashem gave us two eyes. One is to look for the good and the better in friends or your spouse, and the other is to find blemishes that you have to correct. “The wrong attitude is to assume I am perfect and the other person needs to correct himself. This is the wrong attitude to have with friends and absolutely the wrong attitude to have with one’s spouse.”
“After every disagreement, it is imperative that the couple find a way, that day, to stop the anger and find a way to make peace.” Sometimes you are very hurt and you don’t want to make peace. “It doesn’t matter who started the fight; try to make peace as soon as possible and at the latest before you go to sleep at night.”
Rabbi Nissanian shared a mashal of a storeowner who complained that the store across the street kept his showcase dirty and never cleaned it. He told everyone about this. He was advised to clean his own window; when he did, he saw that his competitor had a clean window. So, he saw the dirt of his competitor through the dirty glass of his own showcase. “Often, we neglect to see what we did wrong and blame the other person.
After a disagreement fades out and everyone calms down, then everyone should think about what happened. At this point, we might find that we were wrong to say what we said. He added that sometimes we try to reconcile but in a negative way. We make a statement like: “It’s because you said such and such…” We have to find ways not to fall into disagreements.”
Rabbi Nissanian acknowledged that spouses are not identical. Each person has his own pros and cons, and we complete each other because of that. After time, we can find that we don’t agree about certain points. We need to work on being patient, really listening to the other person, and controlling ourselves. “It is very important to extinguish any disagreement that could explode the whole home. Speak in a calm tone of voice.”
When you think that you have to be the winner, then you start being out of control. At this point, the person is not thinking with his brain but with his heart, and it is very difficult to control emotion. We can’t compromise when we are reacting on emotions.
It can be difficult for someone to learn this type of control as an adult. Our mission is to give respect to others. Let them finish speaking and try to understand their point of view before offering your opinion.
Self-training to control one’s anger can’t be done right in the moment of anger. He offered the analogy that you can’t train soldiers in the midst of a war. So, when you are by yourself, try to analyze the last disagreement you had with your spouse. See if there is a different way to handle it. If you prepare yourself ahead, you will have fewer strong disagreements. He noted that even a patient person can lose control. Sometimes if a spouse or child doesn’t want to hear you, you feel humiliated and then you can’t control your angry response.
Rabbi Nissanian stressed that the way to change is to stop trying to prove that you are right and the other person is wrong. Remember that we have the ability to end the disagreement in a second. Why don’t we use this tactic before a disagreement starts? This is because we need to change our priority from wanting to be right to wanting peace. “If someone says that he can’t do this, it means he doesn’t want to.”
The chachamim teach that a man reconciles faster than a woman for a number of reasons. Adam came from dust and the ground is soft, while the woman came from a rib which is hard and sturdy. This is why, when a man sees a woman crying, he right away forgives her. When water goes onto the ground, the ground becomes soft. If a woman is hurt by what her husband says, she can’t let it go as easily as a man would. It will generally take a woman longer to accept her husband’s apology. She feels she lost the support of her husband. All she wants is appreciation and approval. It is so important to recognize and appreciate, as Rabbi Nissanian taught in a previous lecture on compliments.
He then urged spouses not to bring street language into their holy home. “Respect the power of speech. Use it for compliments. Use it to explain. Use it to make peace.” He added, “When you apologize, be sincere, and don’t let the anger go on forever.” If you sincerely apologize, your spouse will appreciate you much more. “An apology can extinguish any bad feelings.” He shared the well-known teaching that the three most important words in the English language are “I am sorry.”
By Susie Garber