It's Easier Than You Think

Marriage can be easy if you are willing to follow the 95-5 Rule. It goes like this: give your spouse 9.5 good-feeling communications for every .5 not-so-good feeling communications. Well, let's make that a little easier and say that you can give 9 good-feeling communications for every 1 not-so-good feeling one (just to keep the math simple!). When you do this, you will feel more in love with your spouse and your spouse will feel more in love with you. Easy.

Good-feeling communications consist of words, body language and actions that people LIKE to receive. Here are some examples:

  • Smiles
  • Jokes
  • Compliments
  • Encouragement
  • Listening
  • Sympathy, empathy
  • Gifts
  • Assistance
  • Food & drinks
  • Interesting conversation
  • Greetings
  • Words of affection

A sample morning dialogue involving only these kinds of communications could be as follows: "Good morning Darling. Did you sleep well? It looks like a beautiful day out there! I've got some coffee ready for you. You look so beautiful/handsome this morning."

Words of kindness, support and love are all considered to be acts of kindness in Judaism. Like charity, they are seen as an aspect of correct generosity. However, kind words are viewed as even more powerful than gifts of money in that they strengthen the soul of the recipient, enhancing his or her well-being on every level. There is no more precious gift that you can bestow upon your spouse than positive communication.

Not-so-good feeling communications consist of words, body language and actions that people DON'T LIKE to receive. Here are some examples:

  • A "look"
  • Criticisms
  • Complaints
  • Any sign of anger (raised voice, body language, words)
  • Lack of attention
  • Sarcasm
  • Insults, name-calling, put-downs
  • Negativity & bad mood
  • Instructions and requests

A sample morning dialogue involving only these kinds of communications could be as follows: "Why can I never find a clean towel in here? Is it really so hard to just drop your towel in the laundry basket and put a fresh one on the rack? I've got other things to do in the morning besides look for clean towels! By the way, I need you to stop by the cleaner's on the way home today to pick up some stuff."

The trick to success with the 95-5 Rule is to put YOURSELF in charge of this ratio – not your spouse. Your spouse doesn't have to earn your 95% positive communication; you just give it. Even if your spouse is irritating, nasty, miserable and mean, you just give your 95% positive communications. Keep in mind that all requests ("Can you please move that pile of paper off the table?") count as not-so-good feeling. By keeping to your 95% good-feeling communications, you will almost always witness "miracles." It's hard for others to consistently resist kindness and love. Although this may happen on extremely rare occasions, it is usually because the positive spouse hasn't persisted long enough with his or her strategy. Sometimes just a few hours of kindness and positive attention can turn things around. However, sometimes weeks or months may be required to fully heal a painful marriage cycle. But stick with it no matter how long it seems to be taking because the pay-off is greater than any other earthly reward. A happy marriage feels fantastic, is great for the kids and even protects your physical health! Our sages teach that a happy marriage does even more than all that – it promotes peace and healing on a universal, even cosmic level. Your home makes a difference. Your behavior can elevate yourself, your marriage, the world and beyond! Go for it.