December is to birthdays.
Or September, at least in our family.
D#1 (and spouse’s) 11th anniversary is this coming Saturday, our double-Chai (36!!) is Sunday, and what would have been my parents’ 60th is the 20th.
So that’s the main reason I started thinking I should write about marriage. “Tis the season, is all. Plus the fact that ISHI has been spending an inordinate amount of time (what an amazing phrase, come to think of it) lately dealing with other people’s troubles in marriage.
I am wary of a lot of people who put themselves out there as experts. I have a natural or nurtured disdain of charisma, and I avoid such people like the the clichéd plague. There is great wisdom out there about the value of a sustained marriage, but I have not found any books written on marriage from an Orthodox Jewish angle that satisfy my needs. John Gottman is identifiably Jewishly observant and is of course, an expert, but he does not (maybe thankfully?) approach his science from a Torah point of view. Perhaps that is for us in the Orthodox world to take the information and apply it with Torah principles.
Sure, I can do that.
I am, at the moment, reading a book called The secret lives of wives : women share what it really takes to stay married by Iris Krasnow.
I will take a moment to report on one of the comments to the book before I reveal my take. Here’s Carol’s take, from a comment on Amazon:
I heard about this book on The Talk. Sounded good. They all raved about it. It was very boring and I could not wait to be done with it. I like mysteries. Also the author told about the people interviewed and then quoted what they said. Then the author talked about it again. Very boring. Don’t waste your money.
Or should that be 😦 ?
So anyway, I’m finding it more intriguing than I thought I would, since it is, as Carol said, just what other people said. But of course, it’s how she puts it together and the messages that do come across, quite loud and sincere. I was reading the book last night as I served as the shomeret for the mikveh. One woman, who I really only have a relationship with in this capacity these days (I wrote about her here), said to me as she was leaving the mikveh, “Teach me something. I always love your wisdom.”
Um, thanks. Shouldn’t you be in (more of) a hurry to get home? (Not out loud, don’t worry.)
So why not? I quoted the last thing that I had read in this book.
The fantasy is that I could leave and be happier. The truth is that I could leave and still be unhappy. (p. 72)
Why not that one?
I gulped to myself, because really? Was that the best one just because it was the last one?
I added quickly that loyalty was probably the most important ingredient, but that depended on what modeling you had as a child just as much as what you do.
So she said, “Yes, I love that quote. I often say about marriage you need three things–commitment, communication, and…”
Okay, I’m being all Rick Perry right now, because I really don’t remember the last thing she said of the three, but then she added in another statement. And that’s what I really remembered.
“You might be surprised that I didn’t say respect. But that’s because every human being deserves that from everyone.”
I didn’t counter her. I wanted her to go home and let her think I agreed with her. But I disagree heartily.
That cannot go without saying.
I’ve had some women say to me that if they don’t feel their husbands respect them, or visa-versa, can there be any hope?
Yes, there must be respect. If that has withered or faded or if it never existed, then that’s a big sign of trouble.
With marriage, nothing should be assumed.