Happiness in Jewish marriage - an understanding of the Jewish marital relationships


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Happiness in Marriage

By Lester Roth

Marital: that which pertains to marriage.

Martial: that which is disposed to warfare.

  No doubt, in today's hectic burly and busy world, personal happiness and gratification is a rare commodity. As the family environmental influence wanes, and the lures and thrills of the outside world gain not just a foothold, but actual prominence in providing the enjoyment that mankind seeks to satisfy that inborn desire to live a full and rich life. True, the exhilaration of modern life can lift up one's soul to an exalted high, giving one a feeling of real enjoyment.

  A person who is worried may go to an amusement park to divert his mind from his problems. A ride on a roller coaster, certainly will avert his mind's direction from his immediate worries and grant him relief from his anxieties. But would you prescribe this as a long lasting medication for a deep seated depression? Certainly not! We all realize the importance of seeking in depth help to reap long term benefits.

  The same is true today, perhaps, especially today, in the achievement of marital happiness. Rarely does a couple wed without the idea that this action will bring them happiness. Have you ever seen a bride or groom that is not radiating happiness? Have you ever been to a wedding that was a somber tear-filled event? Marriages are amongst the most joyous events that mankind celebrates. Seeing the handsome groom together with his joyful bride on the day of their wedding is seeing a reflection of inner joy and happiness radiating outward.

  Let's now focus our view several years down the road. How many divorces have taken place? Percentage wise, we know that half of the marriages are doomed to failure. Let us look at the faces of those still married couples. How many still reflect happiness and joy. Certainly we can not expect every one to carry on that initial marital happiness that was experienced on the day of the wedding, but still, we certainly should not expect to see unhappy faces. How many faces are embedded with wrinkles and frowns, which have transformed a joyous face into a permanently unhappy looking face. Yet, we are so used to seeing faces in the street and at work of unhappy countenance, that we accept it without seeking the reason behind the somber and joyless facade.

  Many times the answer is found in these two words: marital and martial. They are two similar words. There is the marital art and there is the martial art. There is the art of marriage and it's embellishments and appurtenances, the increasing of intimacy, closeness and warmth between two people. Then there is the martial art, the state of person defense such as judo and karate. The art of attacking and maiming, reducing your opponent to a defenseless heap. Opposite words in meaning, yet similar in spelling.

  Yet, interestingly enough, the difference in the spelling of these two words, can illuminate for us the true differences in the two concepts, the marital art and the martial art. The difference is in the location of the "I'. Something small and unnoticed. Definitely significant is the location and emphasis of the "i". That's all, small enough, perhaps, yet, enough to make quite a difference.

  Know this well, that this certainly makes the difference between the two states of being in life and marriage. The "i", or the emphasis on the "I", makes all the difference.

  To explain this fully, realize: that to many people, marriage is a state of receiving bliss from that loved person. Two people meet, fall in love (meaning receive a tremendous elation and pleasure from the other) and decide that this is so good it should be always like this. Why not! The problem with this is simply not that it is not realistic, but rather, the concept of marriage as an institution utilizing the other to provide personal enjoyment is a mistaken concept. Who told you that this is marriage? This is merely a state of mutual pleasure seeking and gratification, wherein each person is expecting the other to provide his (or her) enjoyment.

  Obviously, a relationship based on such a concept is doomed and slated for the failure basket from the start. Marriages which are based on simply giving to the other person, rather that receiving, where each partner does not give merely in order to receive. Where the giving is a giving because the essence of goodness is in giving and never in taking, then this is not just a marriage that was ordained in heaven, but is a marriage that is heavenly here on earth.

  The concept of the "I" is a concept which not only makes or breaks marriages, but makes or breaks lives. Are people who are striving to get for themselves high on your list of friends? Most likely, those who are sharing individuals are on you list of friends. Rarely does one chose for a friend a self serving, demanding and egoistic person. As the adage states, "a friend in need is a friend indeed." The same is true, and even more so, with ones spouse. No one really wants a spouse who is demanding and egoistic, yet, that is many times the very essence of whom many choose. People to whom the "I" is misplaced, to whom the "I" is not just the most important part of the relationship, but rather the only part of the relationship that is worthy of consideration, are people to whom matrimonial ties are soon to be untied.

  There are two other words that are similar, unite and untie. Both are spelt using the same letters but with a small difference. They possess opposite meanings. Unite: that is what we strive for in marriage, being together. Untie: that is the undesired outcome of many marriages, separation. The chief difference here is also the placing of the "i". That small letter which at times can become too big that it obscures the person's view and good judgment, can even ruin one's life.

  To have a truly rewarding and fulfilled life means making sure that the "I" stays small and in it's proper place. For a truly close marriage, and a good life, you are required to keep the "I" small and to put it in it's proper place. And if you think that I'm repeating myself - you are correct!

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