Rabbi Edwin Friedman: “The reason why most couples separate is because they were unable to separate.”

Oneness Means Having No Boundaries, No Separation, No Individuality.

Perhaps my favorite quote about marriage comes from Rabbi Edwin Friedman: “The reason why most couples separate is because they were unable to separate.” Edgy, playful, and right on the money, this quote sums up perfectly the self-centered, ScreamFree approach we’ve been discussing so far. The most successful couples are those who continually see themselves as two separate individuals, continually choosing to commingle, overlap, and join their lives. But Rabbi Friedman understood quite well the controversy of talking about healthy separation in marriage. As a rabbi, he hailed from a Jewish tradition that, perhaps more than any other religion, touts the idea that “The two shall become one.”

I also understand that notion, as a former church minister of, and still active follower in, the Judeo-Christian tradition. So I can tell you that neither Friedman nor I take it lightly when we challenge ideas of oneness. Let me first say that I still tout oneness as the ideal model for marriage. I really do. But as you can tell by now, I teach and try to live a oneness that is carefully defined. This is not a oneness built upon absolute sameness; it’s a oneness built upon a balance of separateness and togetherness. This is not a oneness built on two halves coming together to form one whole; it’s a oneness built on two self-centered wholes coming together to form something larger, something that paradoxically makes both wholes stronger as individuals. I will, indeed, be talking about and illustrating this model of oneness throughout the rest of this book. I will also lay out for you exactly what this looks like in real relationships, and teach you a step-by-step formula for making it happen in yours.

Runkel, Hal Edward. The Self-Centered Marriage (pp. 48-49). Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale. Kindle Edition.

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