Marriage is a challenge. Two people from totally different backgrounds, mentalities, ideals share a house together. How can it work?
Torah sanctions responsibilities of each partner. It is upon each partner to make the marriage work.
Torah sanctions that people from same religion marry – Jews marry Jews. Thus people start off with similar mentalities. They have similar material and spiritual goals in life. Their family is guided by Torah.
Marrying for the right reasons – good character traits
In Torah we try to choose a mate with good middot – good character traits. This helps us to get someone with a personable personality. A person with a kind heart, a giving person, someone with Torah values. This prevents much marital stress. Choosing a mate from a good family also can help the long term of the marriage.
Torah says that a person should marry young – thus people are more flexible and less set in their ways. The Torah tells men of the the Mitzvah / commandment to get married.
Procreation & Children
Torah says people are to “be fruitful & multiply.” – thus people share a common goal of bringing up children in the path of the Torah. (Talmud: Yevamot 63b).
Torah as a Guide
As the Torah is a guide of the couples – the couple looks to fulfill it’s halachot / laws – thus reducing further stress. If there is a disagreement – they go ask a competant Orthodox rabbi.
The Torah tells us of the responsibility of the man to honor his wife. It tells how to act properly with all people.
Trust & Faithfulness
The Torah will tell it like it is. It sanctions the importance of trust, faithfulness, and respect of each mate.
Yielding to the Other
Torah instructs the individual of Yielding to the other party. Some things we hold firmly upon – like observing Torah laws – yet even that must be done in a tactful way.
Peace at Home / Shalom Bayit
Torah teaches lessons of importance of and how to have peace at home.
Torah sanctions respect for each individual – regardless of what they did. It sanctions for a person to refrain from speaking badly of others (Laws of Lashon Hara) even if that person actually did the bad deed.
Building a Family
The Torah gives individuals the Tools to build a beautiful family. The family is built through participating in Shabbat & festival meals together. In praying together. In learning Torah together. In sharing opinions and open-minded discussions together. In singing together. In vacationing together. A person’s life is intermingled with that of their family in positive interactions together.
I overheard Rabbi Benjamin Yochanan speaking with a young man at a Group Shiur / Learning session. The Rabbi talked of the beauty of a Torah lifestyle. The young man replied “You have to enjoy life. I want to enjoy life.” The rabbi asked “What do you like to do?” He said “I Like skydiving.” The rabbi said – “When you do skydiving – you are living only for yourself. When you practice Torah you live thousand’s of lives.” “How so?” he asked. “When you live a Torah life – you live the lives of others. You hear people’s chalenges. You rejoice in their joys. You help people with their problems. You support others emotionally. You are participating in all their lives.”
Building a Spiritual Fulfilling Existence
Marriage helps a person achieve their potential. A man is not complete without a wife. She helps him to become the best he can be. Together they build a beautiful home in this world and the next world. They live a spiritually fulfilling existence together through the Torah.
Prayer to Hash-m
Hash-m / G-d helps a person to have peace at home. We pray for all that we need spiritually and physically.
Answering to a Higher Authority – Pleasing G-d and Man
In Torah we answer to a higher authority – Hash-m. This fact helps us to have boundaries that limit our negative reaction and encourage positivism. Thus a person who is angry – remembers that their spouse may just be an agent of G-d responding to their past imperfection in action. Thus reactions are tempered.
Ideals of Society
Now let’s take the ideals of society.
Rights vs Responsibility
Society – talks of Rights – woman’s rights, minority rights, animal rights and so on. So people live with certain expectations – “I have my right to demand what I want – it is may right.”
Now each person is demanding that their rights be met. Not a good mentality for a marriage.
Marry Whoever You Meet
Nowadays – many marry without thought of compatibility in Torah values, personality, religion, mentalities. The closer one is in mentality to the mate – the less stress. Intermarriage – not sanctioned by Torah – causes great stress between mates. One wants to observe this holiday – the other another. This one believes in one G-d this one believes in idolatry. Each thing causing stress.
Hutzpa Yazge – Arrogance
The Torah says in time before Mashiach / Messiah – Arrogance will increase. It is very apparent – in the News media – of how people who trash others are more respected. They will stop at nothing to break another individual – if he or she has done good or bad. The US court – went against a Texas state court – that made a law to protect fetus rights. People regularly destroy each friends and family members in cafes and restaurants.
Single Life vs. Married Life
Society condones personal, fleeting pleasure.If it gives a person pleasure – society says it is good. They sanction living the “Life of Riley.” Big cars – beautiful houses – the pursuit of pleasure.Distracting them from getting married.
Pleasure without purpose vs Pleasure for Purpose
More people are saying single than ever before. Why? Because they are following pleasure without purpose. The Torah tells people to enjoy life – but the pleasures should have purpose. Pleasures for Purpose – build. Pleasures without purpose – destroy, waste time or at the least accomplish nothing for the betterment of the world.
The Torah sanctions pleasures for purpose.
Family Life is Put as Secondary Ideal
People want independence. Having a family introduces responsibility. Some people refrain from birthing children – because they want to enjoy life.
Homosexuality vs. Being Straight
Society accepts and condones homosexuality. The Torah says homosexuality is forbidden. Although the Torah says to respect all people – it forbids same gender marriage and homosexuality. Homosexuality leads to great reduction in population growth, goes against the commandment to procreate and causes a person to live a life devoid of children. A person who chooses their life as such – will end up alone at the end of their life. They will not have a legacy to continue their genes – for they will have chosen this lifestyle.
A person who chooses marriage to the opposite gender – brings life into the world. This helps them to keep the marriage going because they are involved in a great Mitzvah to build the world together.
Ideals of society as a Guide – You are What You Read
A rabbi I was learning with said – if a person reads newspapers – their mentality will be based upon that newspaper. Newspapers and media usually project ideals contrary to faithfulness and morality. Immorality sells newspapers. In marketing they use the term “appealing to the lowest common denominator” – meaning to values and feelings of even the most immoral portions of society. I don’t think that that is a preferable way to bring up a family or lead a married life.
Promiscuity vs. Faithfulness
The more you see a certain thing – the more you find it to be acceptable behavior. Promiscuity is sanctioned by society, movies, media. Yet it is a total marriage breaker.
I could go on on both lists of How Torah strengthens marriage and society has the opposite effect – but enough said.
Materialism vs. Spirituality
Materialism is a very important aspect of society’s values. Keep up with the Joness it says. Thus Having the latest gadgets puts stree on the marriage when one of the spouse doesn’t deliver materially. Material issues, I believe I read once is one of the Top reasons for marital discord.
Glamor vs. Reality
The world lives on glamor, entertainment, games and sports. If used sparingly – it is ok. But if a person bases their life on these ideals – it could cost them their marriage.
For instance a person may want to marry a glamorous woman or a rich man. Ok – he is rich or she is glamorous – but will she be so spoiled to beat the husband when angry? Or will the rich person be stingy? Will she teach Torah values to children or go shopping on Shabbat or sit and have a Shabbat party together with the kids. Will he watch sports all day or have a conduct a beautiful Shabbat meal with songs and words of Torah?
Will the mate be stuck to their telephone or be concerned about maintaining a healthy, fruitful relationship with others?
The Me Generation
It’s all about me.
Your Mentality Choice
You choose your lifestyle. I chose many years ago. It took effort, fortitude and persistence. It was a gradual, long-term process. In the end I am so happy for my choice.
How to Improve Your Marriage
A good starting point to following Torah as a guide is by reading Torah books on the subjects of your interest. When I was starting out I liked to read stories and aggadah. Going to Shiurim / Lectures of Orthodox rabbis or listening to them online is also a good starting or continuing point.
Listening to Torah Lectures
See our links section for more info. TorahAnytime.com is a great source to find out the Torah view or learn Torah lessons on any subject of interest – for instance marriage. I searched it – and they have over 640 lectures on the topic of marriage from a Torah perspective. Find the rabbi that speaks to you. If one does – listen to their lectures. If one does not try another rabbi on the same subject.