July 2021. It’s the height of summer vacation with hitchhikers queuing at every junction in Northern Israel. Living in the Golan Heights, which offers prime hiking and water attractions gives us the opportunity to offer a ride to the travelers and help them advance towards their destinations.
One evening a few days ago, such an opportunity presented itself as my husband and I were returning home from a wedding late at night. A young couple who had missed the last bus to the Golan happily took us up on our offer to give them a ride to where they were heading, which was five minutes away from our home.
We engaged in some light chatter, which thankfully helped the driver stay alert. A few minutes before they disembarked they inquired if it was OK to ask us a question. We naturally thought it was to get recommendations from the ‘locals’ pertaining to the ‘hottest spots’ in the area and how to make the most of their time in the North.
That was not to be. They had something else in mind. They were indeed looking for recommendations, but related to a completely different issue. They explained that they were newly married for all of six months, and were wondering if we had any ‘tips’ for maintaining a good relationship and marriage. Well, that certainly got us awake and alert! Firstly, we concluded that we evidently didn’t look newly married (and are still trying to figure out if it’s good or bad…).
The first thought that comes to mind is that this is the million dollar question! What does that mean figuratively?
‘Google’ defines ‘million dollar question’ as follows:
“A question that is very important and/or difficult to answer.”
Indeed, this was an important question, but truth be told, not all that difficult to answer.
We replied unequivocally that there is one element, and it’s all encompassing. Quite remarkably, it’s also easily accessible; it’s in our homes, where we originate from. Very simply: Kibud Horim. Respecting and honoring parents.
That’s where it all begins. If the source is solid, what we build as an extension will thereby be reflected in its quality.
Revering your roots is setting yourself up for success. You are part of an entity deserving of appreciation and praise, and consequently perceived accordingly by others. The most significant ‘other’ of course, is your spouse.
Whereas, being at odds or critical of our roots is ultimately detrimental, mostly to ourselves. That is so even if we are 100% sure that we are right and that (only!) our stance is totally justified.
Kibud Horim is a wonderful practice for learning how to yield and for getting off the ‘high horse’ of being right. It teaches us to internalize the realization that there is someone else here with a legitimate viewpoint. That is the basis for good relationships with our spouse and our parents. Eventually it also affects our children as they learn to emulate the traits that are exemplified in the dynamics of the family.
Being proud of our roots as opposed to criticizing them, leads to confidence and a stable self-awareness. A healthy relationship is one where both partners have an innate confidence that thwarts feeling threatened or undermined if they sometimes don’t get their way.
Honoring parents no matter what or who they are teaches us to accept and not try to change one another. The most detrimental dynamic in a couple’s relationship is when one tries to change the other. It’s lose-lose all around…
Being that it was quite late and everyone just wanted to get to their respective destinations, we didn’t have time to go into detail. However, we did receive an instinctive reaction from them. They simply said, “Wow, we never heard of that…”.
Well, it’s time for something new; and amazingly, the treasure is so close to home, a lot closer than we think it to be.
**All of the above is based on the concepts of the Shefer Approach taught by Yael Elitzur and Ahuva Zuckerman.