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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 2, 2009 / 8 Nisan 5769

Reflections after 30 years of marriage

By Jonathan Rosenblum

If marriage is so great, why do so many fail? And why do so many married people experience it as a burden rather than as the necessary condition for everything they have achieved in life?


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Tolstoy famously divided the world into unhappy families ("each unhappy in its own way") and happy ones ("each happy in the same way"). I divide the world into the unhappily married (the ones who tell all the jokes about marriage) and the happily married (who don't even get the jokes).

Marriage often gets a bad press today. On a recent Valentine's Day, The New York Times ran not one but two op-eds singing the praises of the single life. In a pleasure-obsessed culture, marriage is not sexy (though, interestingly, that is one area in which every study shows that married couples have it all over their single counterparts, and the differential grows with age.) All Western societies report higher percentages who never marry, higher divorce rates, and skyrocketing illegitimacy (one of the best predictors of later criminality).

The Torah, of course, is ardently pro-marriage. "It is not good for man to be alone," is one of its first lessons. According to one Midrash, Adam and Eve were created joined together at the back, and thereafter separated so that they could face one another and give to each other. Accordingly, our Sages describe a man's search for a wife as looking for his missing piece, for a return to that primordial unity.

With our thirtieth anniversary, I'm happy to report that my own experience confirms our Sages' pro-marriage bias. I cannot imagine life without a wife with whom to share everything. I would have no interest, for instance, in an all-expense paid trip to any of the ever dwindling number of places on the globe where identifiably Jewish tourists are still welcome without Judith. Any pleasure would be too diminished by the awareness that she was not there. I would feel like the Reform rabbi who hits a hole-in-one on Yom Kippur, and has nobody to tell.

One of the few things I miss about the practice of law is the collegiality of working with others on a big project. But in a law firm one has as great a chance of working with a partner one loathes. In marriage, you get to pick your partner, and your joint project -- building a family -- is infinitely more important than writing a brief or trying a case could ever be.

The spouse of our youth is often the only one, besides our mothers, who remembers us when our hair was still black and we were thin, and may even see us that way today. Even more important, our spouses know all our faults and foibles -- and still love us. There is no need, or point, in putting on a show with one's spouse; they won't be fooled. But, at the same time, there are none of the performance anxieties that go with perpetually trying to sell oneself.

In Jewish thought, the purpose of life is to subject one's screaming id ("I want") to a higher command ("I should"). Marriage, in that view, is the best school for self-improvement, for it cannot work unless one is prepared to take account of another's needs and desires. The Torah describes one's spouse as an "ezer k'negdo" -- both as a helpmate and in opposition. Sometimes the greatest help is that oppositional element.

Marriage cannot work unless there is a commitment to work at it and to reconcile the inevitable differences between any two people. But neither can one grow in any aspect of life without work. The only difference is that in marriage the need to make an effort cannot be ignored without disastrous consequences.

The glue to marriage is trust. At the most basic level that requires fidelity, the carving out of a private realm shared only the two of you, unseen by anyone else in the world. (That is why religious couples avoid public displays of affection -- to heighten the power of what is theirs alone.) But trust is more broadly a function of each spouse knowing that their needs and desires are important to the other. Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler used to say to young couples under the chuppah, "The incredible happiness you are experiencing at this moment is a result of your great desire to give to one another. If that departs, so will your happiness."


IF MARRIAGE is so great, why do so many fail? And why do so many married people experience it as a burden rather than as the necessary condition for everything they have achieved in life? ( I once heard it said that the single greatest predictor of long-term success in Torah learning is not innate talents or early promise, but one's marital harmony.)

For one thing, many people choose stupidly. They confuse the qualities that make for a fun date with those that make for a good marriage. Attraction is undoubtedly an important element in marriage, and the momentum it provides a good start for the long haul ahead. But respect for one's spouse is even more essential. My wife earned mine on our first date, when she slowly ate her meal without taking note of my hungry looks after I had typically gobbled down my portion.

Few of us receive a neon sign from Heaven: This is the one. Actually, I did. I had returned to Chicago to start practicing law after a year in Israel, and despaired of finding anyone who shared my interest in living here. On our first date, Judith told me she had spent the year after high school in Israel. (The next day I told my father that I had met the girl I was going to marry; she told her roommate that I talked so much she wondered whether I had ever been out before.) On our third date, we discovered that her mother and my father grew up in the same small town in Western Pennsylvania, and my grandfather had greeted her grandmother at the local train station when she arrived from Hungary.

But the truth is that neon signs are unnecessary. Generally, if both parties are committed to making the marriage work, it will, and if they are not, it won't. If one's choice of spouse is based on impressing one's friends or the fulfillment of some fantasy rather than on the desire to give to another and share with her, the future is bleak.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to successful marriage today is the romantic fantasy that whatever we were heretofore lacking will be automatically cured by marriage, and all our multiple failures disappear. We look to our spouses to fix all our problems, and blame them when they do not. About twenty years ago, I missed an easy overhead in a tennis match, and instinctively shouted out, "Judith!" Judith was at least five miles away at the time. That act of public lunacy was an eye-opener for me. Unfortunately, such lunatic expectations of our spouses are widespread.

Anyone who was tempted to send us April Fools jokes on our anniversary, need not have bothered: We were not deterred thirty years ago, and found them even less intelligible today.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is founder of Jewish Media Resources and a widely-read columnist for the Jerusalem Post's domestic and international editions and for the Hebrew daily Maariv. He is also a respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the United States, Europe, and Israel. His articles appear regularly in numerous Jewish periodicals in the United States and Israel. Rosenblum is the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School. Rosenblum lives in Jerusalem with his wife and eight children.






© 2007, Jonathan Rosenblum