The key word in a successful marriage is humility. A husband and wife must be ready to admit that they’ve made a mistake, that they’ve acted selfishly, that they haven’t been considerate enough of the other’s feelings and needs. They have to be ready to listen to each other – really listen. If not, the alternative is to destroy one’s family and end up married to Facebook. While an old, popular bestseller and movie proclaimed that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” in real life, the very opposite is true.
Equally sad at this time of year, when our Holy Temple needs rebuilding, and when every new marriage could add another foundation stone in its construction, is that there are myriads of Jews who remain single for years and years on end. On Facebook, many of them report that they are “in a relationship.” Yalla! How long can you be in a relationship? I asked my wife to marry me after our fourth date. What’s everyone so afraid of?
One of the reasons, making things so difficult in our day and age, is that there are so many candidates to choose from, why should a person marry X when there are thousands of attractive Y’s on Facebook that he still hasn’t met? The options are overwhelming. So how does a person decide?
Well, if your potential spouse has yirat shamayim (the reverence of God), chances are that when problems arise in the marriage, he or she will have the faith and sense of holy commitment to work things out. And if you sense that you get along with the person whom you are dating, enjoy each other’s company, and look forward to your next meeting, that’s a trustworthy sign that you have a good base. And if, on top of these two basic foundations, the person expresses a sincere desire to raise up your children in the blessed pathways of Torah, then what are you waiting for? You’re not madly in love? Why should you be after four or five dates? Love, like good wine, develops with time. Lust can arise at first glance, but love takes time. True love occurs after the wedding – not before it. So don’t expect or demand that you feel fireworks before you get married. It’s nice if it happens, but most of the time, it’s not real. Love comes with waking up to diaper the children in the middle of the night, and with putting your ego aside to set your spouse’s wishes above yours own egotistical demands, and with keeping silent in humility when your spouse is feeling jittery and lets you have it over the head with a frying pan for something you think you didn’t do.
There are two more secrets about marriage which can save you a lot of needless pain and trouble. According to the Kabbalah, many divorces stem from the negative spiritual forces which are created in the home through improper sexual relations between husband and wife. These impure, negative forces cause the Shechinah (Divine Presence) to flee from the home, and form a barrier between the couple. This negative energy is very often the spiritual root of much of the anger, irritability, and unhappiness in the marriage, as well as problems with children.
One other thing which can turn the home into hell is when the husband watches immodest things on the Internet. This also creates negative spiritual forces (known as kelipot) which wreak havoc in the house. The husband’s positive loving energy and love, which should have naturally gone to the wife, goes instead to nourishing these negative spiritual forces when the husband lusts after other women. When the wife picks this up on her unique feminine radar, sensing that she is being denied the attention and pure, holy love she deserves, she goes wild. She may blame her husband for a thousand different things, not knowing the real source of her unrest and anger, and he strikes back, feeling unjustly accused, but the reason for the explosion is that he didn’t take care to guard his eyes from lusting after other women, and this can destroy the home as much as any physical fire. Thus, by engaging in proper, spiritually healthy, marital relations, a new joy and love will be discovered and the Shechinah will surely fill the home.