Marriage – When two live unite as one

Marriage

When two live unite as one

 

Chapter 1 Why Get Married?

Practice and Theory

 

Why?

A wedding ceremony is indeed a joyous occasion.

 

We see family members and old friends, we eat and drink, we dance and rejoice!

 

We share in the happiness of the man and the woman who are committing their lives to each other. By why are they getting married in the first place?

 

Some might answer that a marriage is a contract that binds two people.

 

But we know that if two people don’t love each other, no contract is strong enough to hold them together.

 

Why Are Man and Woman Attracted

The real question comes one step before marriage: Why is there such a powerful attraction between man and woman?

 

Man and Woman are Really One

Because G-d create them as one being and then divided them into two.

 

As it is written in the Bible, “G-d created man in his image… male and female He created them,” as the sages explain, “a single individual with two faces.”

 

The Benefit of Union

 

As an independent individual, a person would be left without companionship, without challenge, and without the potential for growth.

 

Neither man nor woman would be able to transcend the individuality into which they were born.

 

So G-d created them as one and divided them into two, two whom can join with each other to become one again.

 

Man and woman are drawn to each other because individually we feel incomplete; we are searching for our other half, through which we reunite with G-d.

 

Appreciate The Sanctity Of This Union

So the key to a successful marriage is appreciating its sanctity.

 

Beyond just uniting a man and woman, marriage must introduce a third dimension – G-d.

 

The Hebrew words for man and woman both contain the word fire. They also each contain other letters that, when combined, make up G-d’s name.

 

Man and woman without G-d are like two fires that will consume each other.

 

When they rise above their own self-contained limitations and introduce the G-dly and holy into their lives, they then can become one, with an unseen hidden bond that makes their unity, their marriage, far greater than the sum of its parts.

 

Practice and Theory

 

How Can Two Limited Beings Unite Eternally

Two people may love and care for each other, but without a Divine force, what is to bond temporal human beings eternally?

 

Such a bond is necessary, for, besides being two strangers with different personalities and backgrounds, a man and woman differ, biologically, emotionally and psychologically and will undergo many transitions in their lives.

 

The single most important ingredient in creating this lifelong bond is the commitment of husband and wife to G-d and His timeless laws. When man and woman unite under a higher cause this brings their separateness into unity and harmony.

 

Just as a home needs to be built on a  foundation; Husband and wife need to invite G-d into their union by dedicating their lives to eternal values and connecting to a presence higher than their own. This is done by acknowledging G-d who created them as two halves of one soul.

 

This instills each spouse with a commitment to each other, to their families, to the world around them.

 

Practice and Theory

 

The Benefit Of Marriage

 

The unity created by marriage – the bond between man and woman and G-d – enhances the unity and love in a family’s home.

 

It will determine how each child grows up and continues to love.

 

And this unity is necessary for the well-being of each spouse, enabling them to grow both independently and together.

 

Above all, our marriage – the way a man and woman unite with each other – reflects the way we unite with G-d.

 

Chapter 2 What Makes A Marriage Work?

 

Wisdom

 

Love & Respect to Each Other – Reverence & Responsibility to G-d

Many raw materials go into building a healthy marriage. Love, of course is necessary and so is a sense of awe and respect – the respect that each spouse feels for the other and the awe that both husband and wife feel for G-d.

 

They must always acknowledge the Divine force that brings them together, and the great responsibility of building a life and home together.

 

Such awe will weave itself through every aspect of their lives, from the way they keep their home to the way they educate their children.

 

Vitality

 

A successful marriage must have vitality.

 

A union between two living people means that the union itself is alive, and must continually be nurtured and encouraged to grow.

 

Practice

 Trust

 

A marriage must also abound in trust.

 

Trust doesn’t come overnight – it takes years to build. But once it is in place it serves as a solid base that will support a marriage through crises.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Accountability = Trust

 

Trust does not come from perfect behavior; it comes from accountability. No one can be expected to be perfect, but a healthy person can be expected to be accountable, to acknowledge an error.

 

Trust means that your attitude and conduct over time have demonstrated that your spouse can depend on you, that you have the integrity to act properly even when no one but G-d is watching.

 

Otherwise, there will always be doubt: How can I know that my spouse is truly committed to this marriage?

 

Practice and Theory

Altruism

 

A healthy marriage also means building a healthy home together – a home that is not just for your personal comfort, but one that will be a light unto others.

 

From the outset, the priorities in a marriage must not be on the amount of money spent – for the wedding nor expensive furnishings in a house – but on the commitment to building a home that is guided by the Divine principles of morality and virtue.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Small Things Matter

 

Sometimes it is the small things that matter, that demonstrate to your spouse and to G-d that you are committed.

 

  • Going shopping.

 

  • Cleaning the house.

 

  • Asking if there is anything you can do to help if your spouse’s hands are full.

 

  • When one spouse travels, he or she should bring back a gift for the other.

 

  • Even when you are working on something independent of your home and marriage, you should try to involve your spouse as a constant partner in your life.

 

Practice and Theory

 

 Cultivate Peace – Communicate – Avoid Verbal Altercation

A crucial and central element in achieving a loving partner in marriage is learning to cultivate peace at home, learning to communicate and avoiding the verbal altercations that will arise in any marriage.

 

 Get Around An Argument – Reconcile – Learn How To Cope In Difficult Times

 

Learn how to get around an argument, how to reconcile, how to cope when things aren’t going well.

 

Your Spouse Is Your Other Half So Their Troubles Are Yours

 

Whenever one spouse is having trouble, the other should remember that they are two halves of the same soul.

 

Neglecting your spouse is the same as neglecting yourself, or neglecting G-d.

 

Practice and Theory

 

No Magic Formulas

 

There are no magic formulas in handling problems within a marriage, of course.

 

Mutual Effort

 

It depends on the mutual effort put in by both spouses, husband and wife.

 

Preserving the Marriage Is A Necessity

First of all, both spouses must understand that preserving the marriage, a sanctified union is an absolute necessity for which they carry equal responsibilities.

 

Mutual Space

 

We must also understand that a happy marriage cannot be built on one person’s terms.

 

Individuality is enhanced, not obliterated, by true love.

 

It may be tempting to always have things your way, but love and respect are nurtured by acknowledging the wants and needs of a spouse.

 

Acknowledging Your Responsibility to G-d = Respecting Your Spouse

 

Such selflessness can only come from recognizing G-d in your life. This enables you to consider your spouse’s space as sacred as your own.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Resolving Problems By Accepting Responsibility

A Husband and Wife must also have a mutual commitment to resolving problems by accepting their responsibility to make their sacred marriage work.

 

Communication And Acknowledgment

This can only occur when both spouses learn to communicate openly and acknowledge their role in a problem.

 

Your Spouses Concerns are Yours

 

Each spouse must respect the other’s concerns, no matter how minor they may seem.

 

Big Problems Come From Unresolved Small Ones

 

No problem should be allowed to linger unresolved too long.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Diffusing Anger

 

Sometimes a conflict can be avoided by not responding in kind to a spouse’s anger.

 

When one spouse gets angry, the other often reciprocates in kind without thinking, allowing a spark to flare into a raging fire.

 

It is best to address the other’s concerns patiently, or to avoid discussing them until the temporary state of anger dissipates.

 

Dealing With Abusive Temperaments

 

No one has the right to infringe in any way – psychologically, emotionally, or physically – on another person’s space.

 

Under no circumstance can such abuse be tolerated.

 

An abusive person must be responsible for getting help; If necessary, those subject to the abuse must insist on it, and enlist others to ensure that the problem is dealt with.

 

Practice and Theory

 

 Criticism doesn’t Work

Criticism doesn’t work in a marriage.

 

Invalidation of your spouse will only aggravate any problem.

 

Correcting Faults or Ignoring Them

When you see something in your spouse that you feel needs correction, broach it gently, with love and concern.

 

If your spouse has a blind spot in a certain area, you just might have to adjust and learn to smile at it.

 

None of us are without our faults.

 

It is not your job to determine what is best for your spouse; even though a husband and wife are constantly teaching each other, they are not each other’s teachers or authority figures.

 

They are each other’s closest friends – equal friends.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Be Careful Who Gets Involved In Your Marriage

If a dispute does arise between spouses, it is often better not to get family members involved.

 

Relatives may mean well, but because of their subjectivity they tend to take sides and exacerbate the problem.

 

A friend can often be more helpful, although it is sometimes a so-called friend who instigates a conflict whether by exaggeration or just plain gossip.

 

If this is the case, it might be best to distance yourself from the situation that incites such discord.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Consulting Someone Who Can Assist

If you cannot reconcile differences no matter how hard you try, it is best to consult confidentially a third party who you both trust.

 

Be sure that this person will not incite further bad feelings, that he is genuinely concerned with you and your marriage.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Compromise

When dealing with a disagreement it is important to compromise, to not allow your pride to stand in the way.

 

Many of us feel we will look weak if we take the initiative to reconcile, but doing so is a sign of true strength.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Your Marriage Affects The Entire Cosmos

 

Above all, a healthy marriage necessitates that the wife and husband must always remember their duty to their third partner, G-d.

 

Their marriage is not a private affair. It affects the entire cosmic destiny.

 

Both husband and wife must invite G-d into their marriage, not as a guest but as a constant partner.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Having Children

This includes the fulfillment of the Commandment and blessing that man was given upon his creation: “Be fruitful and multiply.”

 

This is a critical component in a successful marriage.

 

The ability to reproduce is part of our physiological and psychological makeup, and is necessary for our well-being!

 

We should not tamper with or second-guess G-d, who blesses us with the ability to bear children.

 

With every child to whom we give birth, G-d blesses us with the strength and resources to sustain, care for, and nurture this child.

 

There may indeed be the fears that result from living in a dysfunctional environment, in which there are many ways for a child to be hurt.

 

But one wrong doesn’t justify another – the wrong of not choosing to bear children.

 

Having children defines and crystallizes the priorities of a marriage – indeed, of life in general – and raising children is the most challenging, profound, and gratifying goal that a man and woman can hope to achieve together.

 

It eternally bonds them to each other, to their family and above all to G-d.

 

Chapter 3 How Should We Prepare For Marriage?

 

Wisdom

 

Understanding The Purpose Of Marriage Before Getting Married

 

Why have we recently been experiencing such unprecedented levels of troubled marriages and of divorce?

 

Because the G-dly dimension is missing from many marriages today.

 

As many short-term situations as there may be to keep a marriage together, it cannot be truly healthy unless its roots are solid.

 

Our Sages refer to marriage as mans second birth. First the soul enters into the body and assumes a physical existence; when a person marries, the soul moves even deeper into the physical state.

 

Although man’s mission in life includes the positive developments of the physical world, one must be equipped with the spiritual vision and fortitude to carry out such a mission with the proper perspective.

 

Wisdom

 

Spiritually Preparing For Marriage

 

In preparation for marriage, a person must devote special time to spiritual and G-dly pursuits, and to learning about the deeper significance of marriage.

 

This period before marriage is crucial, for marriage itself demands that we immerse ourselves in the most material aspects of our physical world – providing for our family, caring for a home, building a career.

 

By attuning ourselves spiritually before marriage, we lay a strong foundation for our home and marriage.

 

Wisdom

 

Getting To Know Your Soul

 

A successful marriage begins long before the ceremony; it begins with both the man and the woman individually recognizing G-d in their lives.

 

This means educating and preparing yourself in the formative years before marriage.

 

For a marriage to be successful we first need to recognize who we are – that we are a soul within a body.

 

When you are peace with yourself, when your body and soul are attuned to each other in fulfilling your life’s mission, you are then in a stronger position to find your proper soul mate.

 

When you don’t yet know who you are, how can you possibly know what sort of person will be best for you to marry?

 

Wisdom

 

Finding Your Mate

 

The soul feeling incomplete demands that we go out and search for its other half.

 

We may be confused and distracted by our physical and emotional attraction to the opposite sex.

 

But this focus should not be the sole focus of our search; it is only the soul’s yearning to be complete.

 

This attraction then becomes positive in cultivating a relationship.

 

G-d blesses you in the endeavor of finding your mate.

 

Still, as in all matters, you must take the initiative, it is your responsibility to seek out a person with whom you will be compatible in every way.

 

Wisdom

What To Seek

 

The emphasis on finding a mate cannot only be on the external, superficial elements, which well may conflict with the search for the deeper compatibility that is necessary in a serious relationship.

 

It is far more important to know how another person feels about G-d, to know how he or she feels about higher goals and objectives, things that will truly be important in your life and marriage.

 

Wisdom

 

Cold Feet

 

It is only natural to have doubts and confusion when considering whom to marry.

 

These doubts should not be seen as an obstacle, but as a healthy and open part of the process.

 

Being Worthy of The Blessing Of a Spouse

 

Often, G-d waits to send you the blessing of an appropriate mate until you are ready to receive it by sincerely devoting yourself to spiritual growth, rather than just to your career or social life.

 

Wisdom

 

Preparing Spiritually

 

Preparing for marriage should be seen as a great opportunity for spiritual and personal growth. For a new beginning.

 

It is a time to get to know your own soul and the soul of your future spouse, to build the proper spiritual foundation with which to go into marriage.

 

We spend so much time planning the details of the marriage ceremony itself that we often overlook the spiritual preparation, even though it is far more important.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Meeting the Future In Laws To See If Their Values are Kosher

 

Since marriage is such a comprehensive union, it is best that a man and woman get to know each other’s families before deciding to marry, since it is our families who help build and define our value systems.

 

Practice and Theory

 

The Wedding

 

There is no need for the wedding to be overly extravagant.

 

Yes, it should be beautiful, but the sight of a man and woman committing their lives to each other and to G-d is in itself more beautiful than the most expensive trappings.

 

It is also appropriate for the bride and groom to give some money to charity on their wedding day; And for the parents to do the same.

 

This sets the tone of a giving and gracious relationship, and directs G-d’s blessings to the new couple.

 

Chapter 4 What About Divorce?

 

Practice and Theory

 

The Last Resort

 

G-d created the institution of marriage to allow a man and woman to unite eternally.

 

Because of the demands of our physical world and because of the intricacies in any relationship between two people, there will surely be obstacles to overcome in any marriage.

 

We must address these with the most vigor, patience, and fortitude that we can muster, for a marriage is meant to be in the words of the sages “an eternal edifice!”

 

Divorce should only be considered an absolute last resort, if a couple has exhausted every possibility of reconciliation, and if they and those they trust have decided that it is the only remaining option.

 

Practice and Theory

Recommitting Ourselves To See The Underlying Factors That Build Relationships

 

We must see this time of rampant divorce as a signal from heaven to firmly address the root causes.

 

Let us decide to acknowledge the need for G-d in our marriages.

 

Let us commit to making our marriages Divine, to making our family’s home a place that helps fulfill our G-dly mission on earth.

 

Wisdom

 

Take your marriage seriously!

 

Remember how we marry and cultivate our marriage determines not just our personal welfare, but the welfare of our children our grandchildren and generations well beyond them.

 

Take your marriage seriously!

 

It is not just a commitment between you and your spouse rather between you, your spouse, and G-d.

 

Such a unity, done properly, gives off a radiance that lights up the entire cosmos.

 

A Story

 

A young woman was discussing with the Rebbe some prospective matches that had been suggested to her, and she explained why none of them appealed to her.

 

The Rebbe smiled, “You have read to many romance novels” he replied “love is not the overwhelming, blinding emotion we find in the world of fiction.

 

Real love is an emotion that intensifies throughout life.

 

It is the small everyday acts of being together that make love flourish.

 

It is sharing and caring and respecting each other.

 

It is building a life together, a family and a home.

 

As two lives unite to form one, over time, there is a point where each partner feels a part of the other, where each partner can no longer visualize life without the other at her or his side.”

 

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