Husband: My wife is always angry with me. She criticizes and berates me constantly. Nothing I do for her is ever good enough. She has no respect for me and no gratitude for all that I provide for her. Where is the trust and loyalty she pledged when we married?

Wife: My husband is insensitive and uncaring, caught up in his own self-centered orbit. He pays no attention to my feelings. Why can't he be more in tune with my emotions and more sympathetic to what I'm going through?

He always talks about the "important" things, the "big" picture of his long-term plans... Husband: I do care for her. But she just wants to talk about her problems and issues whenever I'm working on something important. Take this morning. I was just about to head out the door for an important meeting, and she begins to rant and rave. Why can't she realize that all my work, all my meetings, all my goals and plans are ultimately for her and for her benefit?

Wife: What he did this morning was akin to slamming the door on my feelings. He always talks about the "important" things, the "big" picture of his goals or long-term plans. Doesn't he realize the importance of my "little" concerns? That ignoring these immediate needs is so hurtful?

Therapist: You each have a valid complaint. Each of you rightfully points to a need or a goal that is not being met, a perspective that is not shared. But let us try, for a moment, to take a different approach. Let us try to rise above your particular issues. Your love for each other is readily evident to me—in the expressions on your faces, in the tenderness with which you look at each other, even in the way you complain about each other. The respect and loyalty that you, the husband, want so desperately, she really feels. The care and sensitivity that you, the wife, need so keenly, he already feels. The reciprocal love is there—it's just hidden, dormant, unexpressed....

Husband: But if she loves me, why does she complain all the time?

Therapist: Let's look at the pattern here. It's a pattern that is profoundly amiss and that neither of you really wants to continue.

Here's how it works: Rightly or wrongly, the wife feels that the husband has done her a wrong and berates him for an insensitivity. Husband becomes angry with wife for the criticism and what he perceives as ungratefulness and disloyalty. He becomes even more detached and acts even more insensitive. Wife responds by rejecting husband even more. And the cycle continues...

It's time to put a stop to this destructive pattern and go back to the initial love that attracted you both to each other.

Remember the dignity of his extraordinary soul. Remember the sensitivity of her generous heart. Recognize the beauty of your spouse's unique personality—those things that you once loved and experienced so deeply in each other.

Wife (doubtfully): But should I open up my heart to trust him again? What if he hurts me yet again with his detachment?

Husband (muttering under his breath): Again with the criticism...!

Therapist: Look, you are married to each other. Is this a real marriage or not?

Yes, he might trample on your feelings again, and yes, she will criticize you again. But you are married, bound together for eternity. Mistakes will indeed happen. But part of the special union of marriage means sharing with each other, trusting one another and allowing yourself to forgive. Opening yourself up to the vulnerability of what forgiveness entails.

Will you both stumble at times? Of course! But the point to focus on is that you find the courage to stand up again, and try again.

Because, ultimately, you both know that love and harmony between you is so much more pleasurable than any personal victory. It's not who is right or wrong that counts, but learning to become sensitive to one another. And being big enough to forgo your little personal victories for the altruistic objective of joint harmony and peace.

G‑d: The Jewish people, the bride I took as My wife at Sinai, is rebelling against Me. They are a stubborn people, ungrateful for all the good that I provide them. They neglect My commands, they don't act with the proper respect due to Me.

Jewish People: Our Divine Husband is insensitive to the hardships that He is inflicting upon us. He is indifferent to our needs. He coldly ignores our tears, our pain, our suffering...

G‑d: The Jewish People are simply not seeing My bigger picture—that everything that I do is for a reason, for a purpose. There is a grand plan, a goal. Eventually, they will realize that everything that I have done, both the good and the bad, was all for them, for their own good and for their own benefit.

Jewish People: He speaks of a "grand plan" that will be for our advantage, but He ignores that, in the here and now, we are suffering! He is inflicting horrible pain on us, turning a deaf ear on the hardships of the moment. He disregards our needs.

The Tzaddik: Let us take a look at what is happening here. Let's change modes for a moment to rise above the particulars. There is a pattern in this relationship that is profoundly amiss, a pattern that neither of you wants to continue.

G‑d is angered by the actions of the Jewish people. He destroys the Temple and thrusts them into a long exile filled with persecutions and pogroms, lasting for over 2,500 years. The Jewish people feel rejected by G‑d. They feel that He is detached from them and inaccessible to them. They never totally give up on the relationship, but they retreat. The relationship lacks its original enthusiasm, its magic.

And thus the cycle of a damaged relationship continues…. It's time to put a stop to this destructive pattern and go back to the initial love that attracted you both to each other. Remember the awe and majesty of His splendor. Remember the sensitivity, generosity and exquisiteness of her heart and soul. Recognize the beauty of those things that you once loved and experienced so deeply in each other.

Jewish People: But after G‑d has put us through all these exiles, all this untold misery and persecutions, how can we open ourselves up fully to place our trust in Him?

G‑d: Again the ingratitude…!

Tzaddik: Look, you are married to each other, for all times, for eternity.

True, Your nation has inadequacies; they may have been disloyal. But you are married to each other, for all times, for eternity. True, Your nation has inadequacies. True, they have been disloyal. And it is also true that your G‑d has put you through far too much hardships for the sake of His hidden agenda. An agenda which only He can fathom, and which you will only be able to appreciate in the future, in retrospect.

But it's time to say: enough of this pattern! The details of who "wins" this argument, of who "gives in" to the other, are no longer important.

It's time for your relationship to regain the full openness and grandeur of its love and devotion. It's time for your love to be expressed uninhibitedly and openly...

Author's Note: The above debate between G‑d and the Jewish People is a personal rendition based on the following sources:

R. Chaim Vital in his introduction to Shaar Hahakdomot (printed as a supplement to Kuntres Eitz Hachaim from the Rebbe Rashab) where it is explained that the length of the Galut is because G‑d says that the Jewish people are praying for the redemption for their own needs, rather than G‑d's "needs"--the exile of the Shechinah.

Maamar Veata Tetzava 5741, from the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

A famous saying of the great Chassidic master Rabbi Leib, "the Grandfather of Shpole," who cited the Midrash regarding the two conflicting verses, Eicha 5:21 "G‑d, bring us back to you and we will return" and Malachi 3:7 "You return to Me, and then I will return." These two verses reflect the dispute between G‑d and the Jewish people where each says to the other: you be the first to return to me and then I will reciprocate. "Master of the Universe!" cried Rabbi Leib to G‑d, "Because of this petty dispute You have with Your people, You're withholding the Redemption??"