A couple is called "rayim ahoovim (loving friends)." It is axiomatic that marriage is a loving relationship, consisting of best friends. Ahava (love) consists of the word "hav" (give) together with "alef" (the first Hebrew letter, which corresponds to the number one). A love relationship is giving-oriented relating to the reality and well-being of the other one.
Giving, in accordance with what another person needs, will be pleased by and will benefit from, produces in you the emotion of love. Such beneficent giving behavior achieves what love really means on a practical level.
Kavod (respect, honor) is from the same root word as kavaid (heavy, weighty). The Talmud (Yevamos 62b) says that a marriage requires kavod more than love. To give kavod to another person is to actively and devotedly attribute weight, substance to the reality, dignity and wants of another person - to who the other objectively is.
Love is an emotion and, as such, is subjective and can be limited in accordance with any limitations in your feelings. Emotions can come and go, wax and wane, change with mood or circumstances.
The other person is an objective reality, independent of your emotions, limitations or subjectivity. Kavod is objectively and steadily going beyond yourself to respond to the "weight," to the objective reality (situation, dignity, feelings, needs, etc.) of the other person, such that the other is CONSISTENTLY "HEAVIER" TO YOU THAN YOU ARE TO YOURSELF. True honor is offering honor to the other first (hamechabaid es habrios), fleeing from it for yourself (borayach min hakavod), cherishing the other person's honor (chaviv alaicha kishelcha), giving and doing what the other person wants (ritzono shel adam zehu kivodo), and giving more to your spouse than to yourself (yosair migufo). A peaceful marriage is necessarily preceded by each giving more kavod to the other than one gives to him or herself. Peace comes in accordance with the extent to which each gives kavod to the other which exceeds the kavod given to oneself. I have seen many, many loving relationships break down and end, generally in rocky and painful fashion, because one or both members of the couple had love without kavod.
When a man and woman
* love each other as him/herself,
* do so because the other is G-d's creation,
* do so on a basis of "on-target" benevolent giving,
* each gives more "kavod-weight (honor, respect)" to the other than to him/herself,
* each uncompromisingly treats peace as of highest priority,
* each approach marriage and each other in a state of holiness, and
* when both do all this mutually throughout the course of a lifetime consistently,
then they have and use the Torah's formula for shalom bayis (a peaceful home) and the couple achieves the kavod for G-d that marriage was created to achieve.
One of the blessings of the wedding ceremony says that all was created for G-d's kavod. This is stated as part of the procedure for creating the state of marriage of the marrying couple.
And all of this starts for the single today. By preparing from this moment on to approach relating and marriage the Torah's way, we can attack the alarmingly high divorce rate, the high percentage of ill-chosen or rocky marriages, the high potential for emotionally damaged children, and the inordinately high singles population's difficulties in finding or maintaining serious relationships.
The Torah unequivocally states that the normal and imperative state for an adult Jew is to be happily and peacefully married to another Jew for a lifetime. The Torah also gives us a wealth of teaching on how to turn this into a successful reality.
When I speak in front of audiences, I occasionally hear that this is great in theory, but when you look at the "reality" it doesn't work, because this is not the way people are. The answer is simple. It's a matter of learning and of each individual's free-will. If each person would
* use free-will to choose what is yashar vitov (good and correct in the eyes of G-d) and
* learn, assimilate and practice the Torah, as each is supposed to
the so-called theory is real.
You NEVER judge the Torah 1. by anything in it that you have not studied to the point of expertise or 2. by people who fail to come up to its requirements and standards. YOU CAN ONLY JUDGE THE TORAH ON ITS OWN MERITS, which are not subject to human criticism, disrespect or dissatisfaction. All the person who regrets the alleged abstraction can do is learn and observe the Torah. A non-engineer cannot criticize the construction of the George Washington Bridge. If he criticizes, he is neither qualified nor credible. If a person is critical or disheartened over the Torah, the only CONSTRUCTIVE thing to do is to learn and to observe. When you are an expert in both knowledge and practice, be a role model and inspiration to other Jews. Otherwise, the complaining is just noise, and externalization of personal inner bitterness. If people would learn and observe, the Torah would be "life," as contrasted with alleged "theory." As the midrash says, if one disparages Torah, the honor of the Torah remains in its place, uneffected by mortals. In disparaging the Torah, one only succeeds in disparaging oneself (Tanna DeBay Eliyahu Raba).
Succeeding in marriage starts with preparation, practice, habituation, and effective self-cultivation BEFORE BEING MARRIED. These can only come with constructive attitudes, values, midos (character traits), hashkafos (views) and behavior (particularly towards other people). When these are ingrained into one BEFORE MARRIAGE, so that these attributes are consistent and trustworthy, one can become
* a kailee, a vessel capable of having, and
* a bais keebul, an entity capable of receiving,
one's soulmate and for producing a marriage founded on love and honor, in a context of peace, happiness, stability and durability.