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Two Stalled Cars

by Rabbi Eliezer Gurkow


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On a recent family visit to San Antonio I was called upon to demonstrate my mechanical prowess or, as it turned out, my lack thereof. It all began when my nephew discovered that both of the family cars had stalled. Hoping to make myself useful, I drove up in my rented car, grabbed a set of jumper cables and attempted to jump start both cars.

Which is when the troubles began. I ran the cables from my rented car to the first stalled car, but try as I might, the car's engine refused to come to life. As it happened, the trouble was not with the battery, but the starter and no amount of battery juice could resurrect a dead starter.

I abandoned the first car and approached the second car. I connected my trusty cables and confidently awaited results. When I noticed a shower of flying sparks I naively took it to mean that the cables were conducting power. To my utter dismay the sparks soon turned to flames and the cables melted before my eyes.

Infusing new energy into a stale relationship requires communication without recrimination
Yes, dear reader, I crossed my cables and suffered the consequences. I was now left with one smoldering set of cables, two dead cars and three powerful lessons for life.  

1. A stalled car cannot be brought to life if its own starter is not in working condition.  

2. A stalled car can only be brought to life by a car that is itself in working condition.  

3. A stalled car can only be brought to life if the cables are properly aligned.       

The Goodwill Bond

Healthy relationships thrive on, what psychologists call, the goodwill bond. This bond is effected when each partner trusts that the other's intentions are noble even when their actions imply differently. For example, a wife who accuses her husband of neglecting her birthday out of malice may expect an angry and defensive response.

This is true even when she doesn't actually suspect him of malice, but communicates with him in a manner that implies that she does. Infusing new energy into a stale relationship requires communication without recrimination. Like jump starting a car, all three components must be present.  

1. He must be of goodwill, perhaps forgetful or even neglectful, but not malicious. (The relationship cannot be jump started if his own disposition is not healthy and he is unable to accept her love or hear her pain.)  

2. She must believe in his goodwill, trusting that he meant no malice, but simply forgot. (A relationship can only be jump started by a spouse who is herself of healthy disposition .)  

3. Their lines of communication must be properly aligned. (She must not only trust his goodwill, but also communicate that trust effectively.)       


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