Marriage is very sensitive to cycles. In good periods, a husband and wife get along harmoniously and overlook minor offences and insults. In bad periods, the couple experiences conflict and each spouse becomes hypercritical of the other; small issues balloon into major catastrophes. While it is easy to slip into a negative cycle, it can be excruciatingly difficult to get out of one. Gears lock. A bad eye is turned on everything. The relationship is soured.

During negative cycles, spouses often feel overwhelmed and hopeless. "I never should have married this person. I'm trapped in misery. I'll never experience true love." A person's mind becomes flooded with dark thoughts and his or her heart becomes heavy with grief. Usually, the sufferer waits for the spouse to somehow change the cycle, to lift the two of them out of the pit. However, the wait can be a long one – sometimes endless. It's best to take matters into one's own hands.

Change the Cycle Yourself!

Instead of waiting for your spouse to rescue you and your marriage, you have the option of doing it yourself. You – completely on your own – can transform a current negative cycle into a positive one. This is true whether your down cycle has lasted only a day or two or whether it has been on-going for the last decade. This is true whether your marital issues are relatively minor or whether they are seriously major. It is true whether you are currently seeking professional or rabbinic guidance or working things through on your own.

In other words, there are no impediments to your success. I am not saying here that you can, independent of your spouse, make a good marriage (for instance, if your spouse is routinely negligent, irresponsible, irritable, etc., your marriage will necessarily suffer). I'm not even saying that you can, totally on your own, save your marriage (for instance, there may be nothing you can do in the case of a truly abusive partner). All I am saying is that you can – totally on your own – change a negative cycle into a positive one. This is an important accomplishment even in troubled marriages or even when marriages must end. For average marriages, the skill is wonderful to possess because it helps keep you in the happy zone many more days of each year!


The first step to transforming the cycle is to empty your mind of negativity. Use the power of your imagination to see you and your spouse living harmoniously, in your best positive cycle. Keep your attention focused on this image day and night. Put up reminders around your house to help keep you focused on the image: a prayer for a peaceful home on a wall plaque in the hallway, a picture of your wedding day on the refrigerator, a love poem in the bedroom, a small note on your bookmark – anything that you can think of that will remind you to use your imagination positively.

Positive pictures create an opening for G‑d. We can close the gates to blessing by believing that G‑d can't help us. G‑d created the universe and life itself – He can also heal a marital cycle. Imagine the healed scene and ask Him to make it happen. Trust fully that G‑d can bring it about. Don't worry about your current reality. Don't use rationalization to explain to yourself why this can't work in your situation. Go beyond the rational into the realm of faith. It is here that you will find your true reward.

If you don't actively work on this, it is only natural that pessimism and negativity will fill your mind when your spouse isn't behaving in a way that pleases you. As Rabbi Yitzchok Ginsburgh writes: "Left to its own devices, the mind will by default tend to fill itself with negative thoughts that spring from its unrectified subconscious. It is therefore necessary to consciously occupy the mind with positive, wholesome thoughts." This won't happen on its own – you have to forcefully steer your mind in a positive direction when it wants to go the other way!

Negative thoughts and images are like a form of negative prayer, putting the problem "out there" all day long. Positive thoughts and images, on the other hand, are a constant call to G‑d to send positivity our way. Images, particularly, have the power of attraction, bringing into reality whatever it is that we hold in our minds. Holding a positive marital image in mind – for hours, days, weeks, months, or if necessary, years – can help bring the scene into your life. Accompanied by prayer, positive actions and patience, these images can help you break negative cycles and enter positive ones. You and your marriage will certainly prosper!