||THE GEMORA'S FORMULA FOR PEACEFUL MARRIAGE, PART NINE: MUTUAL COMMITMENT TO PEACE
- Thursday, November 29, '01 - Parshas Vayishlach 5762
Almost every time (whether in my professional experience or in people I know personally) that I see a married or "serious" couple going sour, after having had some form of amazing love, the breakdown to viciousness and hostile alienation is directly proportional to how much kavod WAS NOT there all along. People are stunned by how something that was once so nice and beautiful can degenerate to such a malevolent opposite extreme. As you will see later, the feeling that they had, maybe more, maybe less, was not love; it was self-love. The relationship stimulated some selfish emotion and/or gratified some selfish need. Without genuine love-of-other AND genuine kavod, the couple enter into the relationship WITH A "ROUND TRIP TICKET."
The Talmud, in its wisdom, stresses that kavod is necessary MORE THAN love. Genuine love (as we will see later) is an emotion spawned by giving to another person and an ensuing emotion of attachment to that person. So-called "love" that comes before long-term generous giving is a conditional (and therefore tenuous) self-directed inner emotion that comes from the mind relating to something in the other person that you want or need. The causality can be a midos (character) issue or a psychological issue. We'll look at this more later on. As to our present point, real love generally takes years to build.
Love (even in the best case, in which it is genuine) stems from self and fuels beneficence subjectively and only up to the limits of the love-feeling. That's great to get started. But a spouse and "real life" often require more from you than that which is generated by your feelings.
To continue beyond the romance and emotion, when your spouse or "real life" present demands beyond your subjective convenience or feelings, peace stands or falls on your attributing such "weight" to the other person's feelings, needs, happiness, inner security, reality, perceptions, sensibilities and dignity. If the kavod is strong enough, beyond yourself so as to deal with the objective reality that's "out there" in your partner, that's the formula for shalom in a marriage.
Shalom is related to the words shalaim (complete) and shlaimus (completeness). If the couple achieve love (as much as self) and kavod (more than for self) mutually, this indicates that:
1. each, as an individual, has completeness, and
2. this couple, as a marriage, has completeness.
For a marriage to be complete, its two "inhabitants," or "components" must be complete.
This state is one of the greatest blessings in life, and one of the most sublime goals to seek after in life. For a married couple to be complete, the two partners each have to have enough completeness within him/herself to contribute in order to make a complete marriage together. Incomplete partners cannot add up to a complete marriage.
The "Sheva Brachos (Seven Wedding Blessings)" contain a list of eight words: gila, rina, ditza, chedva, ahava, achva, shalom, rayuss (joy, singing, amusement, delight, love, brotherhood, peace and friendship). The first four are states that a person may have alone. The last four are states which require another individual. When the Anshay K'nessess Hagidola (the body of sages and prophets who composed our texts for prayers, blessings and liturgy) set up the text for the wedding blessings, they were telling us through this that one must have shlaimus within oneself before one can have shlaimus with another person. Only complete partners can make a complete marriage.
Completeness is measured substantially by the MATURITY IN EACH PARTNER, and maturity is substantially measured by the ACCEPTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY TO THE OTHER PARTNER AND TO THE MARRIAGE. Without commitment to full, voluntary and unselfish acceptance of responsibility, by definition, a marriage relationship IS A TRAGIC FIASCO OR IS A DIVORCE WAITING TO HAPPEN. With such uncompromisable commitment to responsibility and kavod, two reasonably complete partners are on the road to a complete, successful and happy marriage.