As a little girl, I always loved going in and out of my great-grandmother’s Upper West Side of New York apartment. She was an observant Orthodox Jew, and every time she crossed the threshold of her home, she touched the Mezuzah on her door frame. She touched it out of habit, she touched it because it is an Orthodox rule she followed, she touched it because in doing so she made holy the arrival and departure from her home.
Honestly, I don’t know why she did it or what her motivation was, because I never asked. It just felt as normal as the coming and going of winter during the 25 years of my life she was alive.
What I do know is that, regardless of motivation, in touching the Mezuzah each time she left and entered her home, at a bare minimum, she honored the transition as she made it.
She honored the transition from being in her own space, where activities like eating, sleeping, meaningful connection and a range of emotions were expressed, to being present in the world with others, in grocery stores, places of business, her synagogue, and all the other venues she spent time in. It created an acknowledgment of what was happening through honoring the difference for her in being at home and being in the world outside.
In the early years of our marriage, when we had first one and then two young children, my husband would arrive home at the end of the day, and I had been home with children all afternoon. He would come in and call “hello” and then do whatever he did to transition to being home—usually changing from his professional clothing to a t-shirt and sweatpants. I might have been changing a diaper, or cooking dinner, or reading a book, or focused on something not that important. I noted he was home, and kept doing what I was doing.
One day, my husband found the courage to tell me how hurt he was that I didn’t acknowledge his arrival home. He wasn’t wishing I was a 1950’s housewife with freshly coiffed hair and dinner ready as he walked in the door—not at all. But he did yearn to be acknowledged, greeted upon his arrival home. He yearned for it to matter to me that he was home after being away all day, and the way he knew it mattered was because I did something to show it.
I had no idea how important this was to my husband, until he told me.
Over years of coaching couples, I have learned that he is really not alone in this. Many men and women feel the yearning for their partner to greet them when they arrive home, or to say goodbye as they head out.
Honoring the transitions as they happen, in the most simple ways, can go really far in having your relationship feel intentional and strong.
All that’s needed is a little attention in a way that feels good to both of you!
Try it. I would love to know how it goes… leave a comment below!
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