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Successful marriage is a work in progress

  • ParshaKievemanShemos
My dear friends Herby and Sandra Rosenberg celebrated their 58th anniversary last week. I asked them for the basis of the success of their enduring and endearing relationship.
by Rabbi Ari Kievman, Sandton Central Shul | Aug 23, 2018

Unanimously, they responded that it was, “always a work in progress, and it still very much is”.

Indeed, marriage is a process, and it requires continuous maintenance. To maintain a successful relationship, people must reinvest, and approach every day as the wedding day.

In our parsha we are introduced to the mitzvah of kiddushin. “When a man takes a woman for a wife”, the Torah states. From that verse, we learn the detailed process whereby a couple are legally bound in marriage.

The creation narrative in Genesis describes Adam and Eve as originally formed as a single entity until separated by Dr G-d. The natural state of men and women is of attraction to one another.

As they say, though, men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Masculine and feminine personalities are different. For many, just to get along requires a lifetime of effort. Opposites attract, but it may take some work to sustain the magic of the wedding day.

Kabbalistically too, men and women stem from different divine attributes. That’s why we tend to wish a fresh bride and groom “mazal tov, mazal tov!” two times, for they have different “mazals”.

In the Torah’s view, marriage happens every day. Getting married does not consist of a one-time exciting event that produces nice family photos, followed by an endless grind of bills, school lifts, and the eternal quest to find the perfectly ripe avocado.

There is a fascinating halacha that if one forgot to recite a bracha (blessing) when doing a mitzvah, then one generally cannot make it up later. However if one is still engaged with the deed, then the bracha can be said for as long one is still involved with it.

So if we realise long after our wedding that we have forgotten to recite the appropriate blessings on our special day, can we still do so? Seemingly, if marriage is a one-time action that has already happened then, although we may still be reaping the benefits or paying the consequences, we have missed the opportunity to say the bracha.

The law, however, is that marriage is considered peulah nimsheches, a continuous action. As long as the result still exists, it’s as if it’s still being done.

To keep a marriage going, we must constantly invest in it, to make it continuously “new”. We must seek to re-energise our original love, and constantly reintroduce it into our relationships.

The magic of the wedding day is always present, but constant maintenance is required to keep it going. That’s why my wish to young couples is they should merit an eternal honeymoon.

With Rosh Hashanah swiftly approaching, we must also give thought to our connection with G-d and our fellow human beings. Every relationship necessitates strengthening and development.

Wishing you much success in all your committed relationships that every day be like your wedding day. Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!

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