Fanning the Spark
By Shea Hecht
A recent study corroborates the ancient Talmudic concept that a life-long relationship can be forged in one meeting. Though arranged marriages were a custom in time of Talmud, the Talmud states that a man may not marry without first seeing his fiancee`. This was done to insure that there was some level of attraction between the two parties. Being that the Talmud is discussing an arranged marriage, surely these meetings were short formal introductions. How could a relationship be established in such a short time?
Although establishing the possibility of a permanent relationship in a short period of time may seem unlikely, the groundwork for many successful relationships has been established after the couple met on a three-minute-round-table. This system allows prospective couples to meet for three minutes, then move around the table to meet someone else. According to a study done by Robert Kurzban, assistant psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the average person can assess a potential mate within those first three minutes. Those who found mates based their decision on the excitement they felt from mutual attraction. All subsequent dating merely validates the initial decision. Marriage obligates us to keep that initial spark of attraction alive.
The three-minute-round-table study shows us that a short initial meeting can be a good indicator of potential in a relationship. However, there is something more that we must do to give our relationships a greater chance to succeed - be sure that the two mates have common goals. Marriage is difficult enough because of our male-female differences. We must have a common sense of purpose. In general, a sense of purpose eases a burden; working toward a goal always makes work much easier. How much more so when two people have a common sense of purpose in building a home and raising children. It makes dealing with the hurdles, difficulties and intricacies of marriage much more manageable.
In our society, someone purchasing a car researches its track record so that they know it will serve them well; those who buy a horse inquire about a proper pedigree so it can win races. Yet many marry their spouse - the future parent of their children - without proper inquiry or research. Though there were arranged marriages in Talmudic times, the families did a lot of research into the prospective lifetime partner and the family that they wanted their child to marry into, inquiring about common future goals.
Once a home is established, what can be done to keep the initial three-minute excitement alive? One seemingly small thing can help - remembering that the focus in a relationship is the spouse.
A few real life stories can illustrate that point.
A man went to work and found little love notes in many different places. On the steering wheel of the car there was a note that said I love you, in his pants pocket a note that said I love you, a note in his suit jacket that said I love you . . .
A wife came home from work and found a rose by the front door, dinner prepared on the table with a rose in the center, and a rose in the bedroom . . .
A man went away on business trip for week, he bought his wife a few cards, and left them in little hiding places all over the house, in the drawer of her dresser, in the linen closet, in her pocket book . . .
A wife went away on a business for a week, her husband gave her one card to open each day that she was gone . . .
A man walked into the bedroom, and found candles lit setting the mood in the room . . .
A woman I know occasionally calls her husband's secretary and asks her to set up a lunch appointment for him without saying whom it is with, when he comes to the designated restaurant his wife is waiting for him . . .
A plant that is fed and watered properly will flourish. A marriage, like a plant, also needs to be nourished and receive constant care to grow and develop properly.
from the April 1999 Edition of the Jewish Magazine