Why are so many marriages failures? And why do so many fail so soon after the
We read about the first shidduch (match) in history. Abraham sends
his trusted servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for his son Isaac. He returns with Rebecca and they live happily ever after. The verse tells us "And [Isaac] took
Rebecca, she became his wife, and he loved her." So, it would appear that in the
Biblical scenario, true love comes after marriage, not before. Before a marriage
can take place there has to be a commonality between two people, shared values,
mutual aspirations and, yes, certainly a degree of chemistry between them. But
true love has to be nurtured over time.
Without doubt, a primary cause of many marital breakdowns today is the
unrealistic expectations that people have going into marriage.Our generation has been fed a constant diet of romantic novels,
hit parade love songs, glossy magazine advice and Hollywood fiction novels, hit parade love songs, glossy magazine advice and Hollywood fiction -
all of which bear little resemblance to the real world. (Dare I suggest that
Shrek is the industry's first realistic love story?) "We fell in love!" "It was love at first sight." I confess to being a bit of
a romantic myself, but surely "love at first sight" has got to be a
contradiction in terms. 'Love' by definition takes years to develop. If you are
honest with yourself, the only thing you can feel at first sight is lust. "Love
at first sight" is a monumental bobba meise (old wives tale).
So we "fall in love" thinking it's real, hoping it will be true and lasting,
and then at the slightest disappointment we fall right out of love. Which only
proves that it wasn't true love in the first place. True love takes years, true
love is the mature conviction that our lives are intertwined and inseparable no
matter what -- even if my partner goes grey or flabby or loses his money. That
kind of love is measured not in romantics but in long-term commitment.
When I officiate at a wedding ceremony I make a point of observing not only
the bride and groom but also their parents. A single glance that passes between
father and mother under that chupah -- radiating nachas and
feelings of shared satisfaction -- tells me that they have had a good marriage.
That, to me, is more telling then the mushy swooning of the newlyweds. As
exciting as it is, their love may still be in the infatuation stage. Yet
untested, it's still early days.
So the first rule is patience. Love takes time. It needs nurturing. Sadly,
too many give up too soon.
Secondly, the Hollywood effect leaves us so naively impressionable that, at
first, we convince ourselves that our partner must be the proverbial Prince
Charming or Princess Grace. But then, at the first sign of imperfection, "Hey, I
bought a lemon! I'm outta here!" Remember, nobody is perfect. Not even you, my
dear. In the passage of time we do indeed discover the little imperfections of
our chosen partners. Some things can be unlearned, with gentle encouragement and
again, patience. Others, we may just have to learn to live with. Acceptance is
an art. Weigh up in your mind the relative.Some things can be unlearned, with gentle encouragement and,
again, patience significance of minor inadequacies against the greater good in the grand
scheme of things. You may very well realize that you can actually live with
those small, petty irritants. Admittedly, if it's something major then you may
need to go for some serious counseling.
And in making these calculations consider the following: Do I stop loving
myself just because I am imperfect? Do I stop loving my children because the
teacher told me they were really bad at school? Of course not. Why then do I
have difficulty loving my spouse because of a perceived fault?
Marriage is the beginning, not the end. If we can be realistic about our
relationships we can find true love. But it takes time, patience, and the wisdom
to overlook the little things that can annoy us. Then, please G-d, with true
commitment will come true love, togetherness, a lifetime of sharing and caring
and the greatest, most enduring contentment in our personal lives. Amen.