Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet

Ask the Rabbi

Why love takes years to create

Dear Rabbi,

I’m 28 and fell in love five years ago. It was love at first sight and I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world.ASK THE RABBI 2

We were married two years ago and now I don’t feel the same. I question my relationship and let my misgivings show.

It’s affecting my marriage and leaving me perplexed

. How does a dream fade so quickly?

I’m an avid reader of your column, so hope you can offer advice.

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Without doubt, a primary cause of many marital breakdowns today is the unrealistic expectations people have when going into marriage. Recent generations have been fed a constant diet of romantic novels, Top 40 love songs, glossy magazine advice and Hollywood fiction – all of which bears little resemblance to the real world. “We fell in love… it was love at first sight!” You can be romantic, don’t get me wrong.

But the notion of love at first sight has to be a contradiction in terms. Love, by definition, takes years to develop. If you are honest with yourself, the only thing you can feel at first sight is lust. “Love at first sight” is a monumental bubbe meise. So we “fall in love” thinking it’s real, hoping it will be true and lasting, and then at the slightest disappointment we fall right out of love – which only proves that it wasn’t true love in the first place.

True love takes years; true love is the mature conviction that our lives are intertwined and inseparable no matter what, even if one’s partner goes grey or flabby or loses his or her money. That kind of love is measured not in romantics but in long-term commitment. When I officiate at a wedding ceremony, I make a point of observing not only the bride and groom, but also their parents. A single glance that passes between father and mother under that chuppah – radiating nachas and feelings of shared satisfaction – tells me that they have had a good marriage. That, to me, is more telling than the mushy swooning of the newlyweds.

As exciting as it is, their love may still be in the infatuation stage. Yet untested, it’s still early days. So the first rule is patience. Love takes time. It needs nurturing. Sadly, too many give up too soon. Second, the Hollywood effect leaves us so naively impressionable that, at first, we convince ourselves that our partner must be the proverbial Prince Charming or Princess Grace. But then, at the first sign of imperfection: “Hey, I bought a lemon! I’m outta here!” Remember, nobody is perfect.

In the passage of time we do indeed discover the little imperfections in our chosen partners. Some things can be unlearned, with gentle encouragement and, again, patience. Others we may just have to learn to live with.

Acceptance is an art. Admittedly, if it’s something major then that has to be addressed separately. Weigh up in your mind the relative significance of minor inadequacies against the greater good in the grand scheme of things.

You may very well realise that you can actually live with those small, petty irritants. Above all else, in making these calculations consider the following: Do I stop loving myself just because I am imperfect? Do I stop loving my children because the teacher told me they were really bad at school? Of course not.

Why then do I have difficulty loving my spouse because of a perceived fault?

Marriage is the beginning, not the end. If we can be realistic about our relationships we can find true love. But it takes time, patience and wisdom to overlook the little things that can annoy us. Then, please God, with true commitment will come true love, togetherness, a lifetime of sharing and caring and the greatest, most enduring contentment in our personal lives.

Pass this on… ignore them!

Dear Rabbi,

I receive regular emails telling me to forward the message to 10 other people or be the recipient of bad luck. The emails quote a kabbalah rabbi who promises great financial reward for passing the email on and financial loss or worse if I don’t. Is this something I should worry about? Is this like the evil eye?

Trevor

Dear Trevor,

I saw a cartoon once with a tombstone inscription that read: “Died because he didn’t pass the email on to 10 other people.”

I received an email similar to yours once and noticed that it had been circulating for five years. Work it out. That means that by now we should have a whole load of millionaires – or a whole bunch of destitute or dead people. It’s funny, is it not, that people pay particular attention to this sort of thing when it talks about finances? It seems we’ll believe anything and take no chances when it comes to our money.

I wonder what that says about people. Bottom line: It is sheer superstition. There is no luck attached. If you delete it, it’s OK.

Disclaimer: If lightning does strike after you delete, then neither the author nor the editor of this column shall be held liable for the consequences [I bet that has you worried].