I have been reading your book Buried Treaure and one of the things you said was that if either partner in marriage feels like a martyr then its very bad.Can you explain further why and what that portends?
You are referring to the chapter in our book, Buried Treasure, on the Hebrew word, KoRBaN, sacrifice. In that chapter, we say that giving is vital for a marriage, but that the giving is of a joyful, not resentful nature. (Speaking overall – obviously, there are times we need to push ourselves to give when we just want to focus on ourselves. Or when there is only one Godiva chocolate left. At those times, our hearts may not be overflowing with good cheer.)
If one spouse is constantly feeling resentment and martyrdom, then things are out of balance. Perhaps one side is truly giving disproportionately or perhaps there are outside forces encouraging dissatisfaction. Maybe a re-focus on gratitude is all that is necessary or maybe the marriage needs serious recalibration.
For instance, is it possible that feelings of resentment and martyrdom in one partner could be a symptom of inadequate communication?
Remember that men tend to bottle up feelings. Many a husband is silently seething with resentment about something, (often an absence of physical affection) while saying nothing; meanwhile he withholds his heart and his help from the marriage provoking resentment in his wife.
God gave us marriage as a gift. It is the structure in which the greatest joy can be available to men and women. If, barring tragic circumstances such as a spouse with Alzheimers or a similar extenuating event, either husband or wife feels doomed to suffering, that marriage is not one where God’s presence happily resides.
Wishing you joy,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin