On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your relationship? Is it what you had imagined when you first got married? Years go by, and while couples are still technically married, they have unconsciously filed for an ‘invisible divorce’. How do couples rededicate themselves to their relationship and move towards the relationship they originally envisioned? The story of Chanukah provides us valuable insight into this challenge.
Chanukah commemorates the rededication of the Beis HaMikdash (the Holy Temple) after it was defiled by the Greeks. Our Rabbis (Middos 2:3) teach us that the Greeks made thirteen breaches in the Beis HaMikdash and that on Chanukah, the Jewish people closed up those breaches and rededicated the Temple. On a personal level, every Chanukah we must also seal the breaches and rededicate the Temple. As a Jewish home is likened to the Beis HaMikdash, as it also is a dwelling place for G-d’s presence, Chanukah is an ideal time to do our own Chanukas HaBais (rededication of our home).
In order to rededicate our homes, our relationships, we must first close our ‘exits’. Before a couple can refocus themselves on the energy between them, they must make sure that no energy is leaking outside. An exit is an energy leak. It is essentially any behavior we take when we don’t know how to talk about our uncomfortable feelings with our spouse. These behaviors are conscious or unconscious ways to avoid dealing with each other. We either withdraw inside ourselves or we go elsewhere looking to get our needs met. Whatever we choose, we drain the relationship of its energy until it becomes lifeless. We, in effect, have filed for an ‘invisible divorce’.
There are varying degrees of exits. Some are terminal such as divorce, which permanently ends the relationship. Others are catastrophic, exits which seriously damage a relationship to a degree which is often irreparable. The remaining exits are less severe but are so insidious and parasitical that they can do equal damage in the long run. These exits can be intentional, a feeling expressed as a behavior with the clear motivation to avoid involvement with your spouse, or they can be functional, a behavior you enjoy but your involvement in the activity clearly takes energy and time away from the relationship.