Marriage · Perspectives of Marriage

The Perfect Marriage

One thing I’ve learned by blogging about marriage stuff is that everyone’s marriage is different.  I mainly found this out through this post where I suggested what I thought were universal tips that would help with marriage.  Boy, was I wrong!   

One reason why different marriage advice works for different people is that we all have such different personalities.  I’m a laid-back non-confrontational kind of girl, and today’s guest poster, Chana is more direct and passionate.  She lives in Jerusalem with her toddler and husband, and loves to write (and read).  While she is a teacher by trade and earned a Bachelor’s in Education, she is currently working from home.  I’m so glad that she’s sharing her perspective on marriage.  Enjoy!

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There are people who spend inordinate numbers of hours and years of their lives dreaming about, and searching for, the perfect match. Unlike many people, however, I never thought my marriage would be perfect. In fact, I don’t know that it even occurred to me that a perfect marriage existed. I wanted someone who would work it out, was a nice, respectful and politically correct person (unlike me, who is usually respectful but almost never politically correct), and who wanted the lifestyle that I did. I wanted him to be someone that I could truly respect (pretty tough), and who wasn’t interested in just following everyone else. In other words, I wanted someone who didn’t fit in, but could be nice to people who did.

As a result of our long engagement and the obstacles we had to overcome before we finally made it to the chuppa (Jewish wedding canopy), we became closer together. I modeled this after what I had done when my parents separated, and later divorced: I told myself, at age 16, that I can either use this to build myself a better life, or I can allow it to completely ruin my life. That’s the approach that we took with the obstacles before our wedding.

My husband also has his own theory: Relationships are like airplanes, they can go up, down, faster or slower, but they must always move forward. We had to work together a great deal to bring our wedding to fruition, and given that amount of time investment, we became quite close. Between the two, we managed, and came out better for it.

It is of paramount importance to discuss important issues prior to engagement or marriage. By important issues I mean the day-to-day, nitty gritty of being married. Some of these issues seem, to dating couples, to be irrelevant. They’re not. The minute you are married, differences get bigger, and couples who have not discussed these issues before marriage may very well find themselves with a few unpleasant surprises, some of them quite large.  Once you’re married, big differences of opinion can matter a LOT.

So, we talked, a lot. We dealt with everything together, we argued, we fought, we got mad, we made up. And when we finally got married, we hardly had any unpleasant surprises at all, thank G-d.  It’s important to come into the marriage with the understanding, and acceptance, of the fact that your spouse was raised differently than you, and thinks differently than you. Because of this, marriage is one of the best venues for personal development.

Image courtesy of smarnad /
Image courtesy of smarnad / 

Case in point: Right after Pesach, less than a month after we were married, we were cleaning up, and a fork became chametz (could no longer be used for Passover). He threw it in the garbage, and a few minutes later, I asked where it was. “In the garbage,” he said. “It’s chametz, we can’t do anything about it.” I flipped. Completely.

“What?!?!?! You’ve never heard of koshering it? It’s not even treif (not kosher), it’s just chametz (not for Passover)! You take it, do hagala on it (to make it kosher), and it’s fine!!! Plus, even if we couldn’t, you think forks grow on trees? Two more mistakes like that and we’ll have to buy a new set. Not only that, but we can use it for the rest of the year, even if we could never use it for Pesach again! For goodness’ sake, do you have no issue with bal tashchis (wasting things)? What is wrong with you?!”

Oops. His response: “That’s how my mother avoids any kashrus (kosher) issues. Whenever something like that happens, she throws it out.” Notice: He didn’t react to me with anger. He didn’t start a screaming fight. He just said, calmly, that that’s what his mother had done. In other words, he defused the situation.

I apologized. We discussed this category of issues, and I apologized again. From then on, when he did something that I thought was wrong, I asked why he’d done it. Usually, there was a valid explanation.

Was I supposed to have discussed this before the wedding? Well, it would have been useful. But truthfully, there are infinite numbers of issues that can arise, and it is impossible to address them all. What’s important is to understand that what you see as obvious may not even occur to your spouse.

From there, it’s all about communication. But communication is made much easier if you are both willing to put in the effort, and are open about how you feel, while respecting the other’s thoughts and emotions. Each of you has to be willing to say that they were wrong, first. And, if you married a relatively decent person who cares about making the marriage work, you should both be able to manage.

Image courtesy of digitalart/
Image courtesy of digitalart/ 

15 thoughts on “The Perfect Marriage

  1. This is very good and certainly follows the philosophy that my wife and I have as you probably gathered from my posting on our 42 years together. I think Little Duckies’ comments are good advice for most people looking at getting into a long term relationship/commitment.

  2. I don’t know if you meant to be hysterical, but Little Duckies’ screaming sounds like me screaming — only with slightly less Hebrew. I wish hubby and I were calmer and cooler sometimes.

    And yet.

    Sometimes I’m glad we have our battles. It’s kind of good when fighting over forks leads to making up in the bedroom — with the same kind of passion. #amblushing

  3. One thing I remember our minister telling us in pre-marital counseling is that each member of a couple goes into marriage with what he called “hidden contracts”. He told us that 90% of issues in our marriage would arise from a contract “violation”.
    A couple of examples: My hub’s mother was a bit OCD about clutter. I swear she cruised the house every half hour putting things “in their right place”. I am way more laid back and at the end of the day everything is put away but the hours in between my getting out the scissors and putting them away made my Hubs fret. My father could fix anything and everything around the house from plumbing to electric and my Hub’s solution is to call a serviceman. We were each judging the other for situations we had never discussed prior to our wedding. Several years (40) down the road and many counseling sessions later we have learned to put everything on the table for discussion and have learned when to agree, when to concede, and, when to agree to disagree. Marriage is work but if you put in the time and the effort, it is as G_D intended it to be; a union between two souls.

    1. That’s a beautiful message, Diane. The idea of hidden contracts is very well put! I saw a worksheet once with a long list of household chores. The engaged coupel was supposed to go over the list and indicate which chore was a “husband” or “wife” chore. I’m sure many couples got some surprises when they realized that they had different expectations of work division!

  4. My husband and I never had any kind of a “contract” of which one of us would do which chores. We just seemed to fall into it and we never had a problem with it. Our problems have to do with differing ideas on cleanliness. I am not a neat freak, but I am pretty OCD about germs, etc. I admit that I wash my hands a million times a day.

    So, one day, I’m at the computer that’s near the kitchen and my husband (I could not make this up) was cleaning the bottom of his golf shoes in the sink. The sink – which I sanitize if a drop of chicken blood gets in it. He seemed surprised that I was so angry. I mean I prepare meals in that sink, I wash my dishes in that sink.

    We just have different ideas on “cleanliness”. I don’t mind a ‘mess’ as long as underneath it all, it’s CLEAN. He would just rather have everything LOOKING clean.

    1. Ah, yes. I can see how that could be frustrating! Hatzlacha in navigating this particular challenge! Thanks for stopping by. :) I also sanitize my counters/sink/what have you whenever any meat is at all involved. Heavy on the bleach spray, for sure!

  5. One Old Sage – Thank you!
    Renee – I did not mean to be hysterical, but I am glad it made you laugh. Sometimes I also wish I was calmer and cooler. :)
    Diane – I think your marriage counselor was 100% right. I like the idea of hidden contracts, it’s a really nice way of putting it.
    Tovah – That certainly can be tough, to have such different ideas of what “clean” is.

  6. My husband and I will be married 26 years this October, & have been together for 30 years. Marriage is work, plain and simple, there is no magic bullet either. My husband and I are complete opposites but we have made our relationship work and will continue on in the years to come.

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