Hurricane Sandy and 9-11 were both devastating catastrophes that demonstrated how much our loved ones and homes really mean to us.
In the Old Testament, Avraham and Sarah also weathered shattering storms. They faced famine, war and infertility into their old age. They were commanded by G-d to sacrifice their only child. Yet Avraham and Sarah never wavered in their love for one another. They had a partnership founded on mutual trust, respect, and devotion.
In his bestselling book “Emotional Intelligence,” Daniel Goleman writes that the most important trait of emotional intelligence is the ability to be empathetic. And this empathy leads to altruism. Avraham and Sarah shared a very high level of emotional intelligence.
Goleman goes on to say:
Men who are high in emotional intelligence are socially poised, outgoing and cheerful, not prone to fearfulness or worried rumination. They have a notable capacity for commitment to people or causes, for taking responsibility, and for having an ethical outlook; they are sympathetic and caring in their relationships. Their emotional life is rich, but appropriate; they are comfortable with themselves, others, and the social universe they live in.
Emotionally intelligent women tend likewise to be assertive and express their feelings directly, and to feel positive about themselves; life holds meaning for them; they are comfortable enough with themselves to be playful, spontaneous and open to sensual experience. Unlike women purely high in IQ, they rarely feel anxious or guilty, or sink into rumination.
Goleman devotes a number of chapters to exploring how emotional intelligence impacts marital harmony, and shows how engaging one another to solve differences can bring emotional intelligence to a marriage.
In his international bestseller “Men Are from Mars, and Women Are from Venus,” John Gray states:
Most of our complex emotional needs can be summarized as the need for love. Men and women each have six unique love needs that are all equally important.
The primary love needs of women and men, as written by Gray, are as follows:
|WOMEN NEED TO RECEIVE||MEN NEED TO RECEIVE|
|1. Caring||1. Trust|
|2. Understanding||2. Acceptance|
|3. Respect||3. Appreciation|
|4. Devotion||4. Admiration|
|5. Validation||5. Approval|
|6. Reassurance||6. Encouragement|
Returning to Avraham and Sarah, there is no doubt that both internalized the importance of John Gray’s gender differences. They also characterized the action-oriented ways to strengthen bonds, as written by popular talk show host Dr. Phil in his book “Love Smart”:
- Work on your relationship regularly
- Don’t take each other for granted
- Show each other you care
- Don’t forget about sex
- Do your own thing
- Quit comparing
- Make life fun.
I believe that Sarah and Avraham each had a keen sense of self-awareness. As Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski points out in his book “The First Year of Marriage”, developing healthy self-esteem is a critical component of marital success.
Repeated stories tell how the last words uttered by the victims of 9-11 to their loved ones were simply “I love you.” I am certain that Hurricane Sandy precipitated its own frantic exchanges of devotion and dedication.
Avraham and Sarah have my vote hands-down as the candidates of choice for the “model couple” emerging from Bereshit (Genesis). Let us hope that it does not take catastrophic events to make us appreciate our loved ones and how much our lives are enriched by their presence. Have you told your significant other “I love you” today?