EmunaDating re-post: Stop looking for love

By Samantha Hulkower

What if I told you there is a rabbi who says you can get married just by picking a date on the calendar? It might sound crazy, but Rabbi Manis Friedman is known for saying things that most people would balk at. If you listen to him with an open mind, you might find the keys to success you've been searching for. Rabbi Friedman has been around for a while, and is most widely know in the New York tri-state area for his weekly radio show. He was brought to international fame with his book on marriage, "Doesn't Anyone Blush Anymore?" which was even endorsed by Bob Dylan (how often do rock stars hawk for Rabbis?). I've had the privilege of hearing the Rabbi speak in person at my Midrasha (seminary) last year, and it was a very inspiring experience. While his emphasis is on how to have a successful marriage, there is plenty that those of us not yet married can glean from his wisdom.

It might seem counter-intuitive to what you know about relationships, but Rabbi Friedman is unequivocal - just because two people love each other does not mean they should get married. That's right.  That math for I love you + you love me doesn't = marriage. Before you close out this blog and go look at a YouTube of a cat and dog cuddling, bear with me. Marriage needs to be taken very seriously, he explains. Waiting for 'love' means depending on your emotions for something to happen. His argument is that if you want to be married it's because you love marriage and the possibility it brings you to do for your spouse, to grow as a person and to fulfill all the mitzvahs that are opened up to you by being married. 

You still may be asking, "What about love?" - we'll get to that. In order to get married, Rabbi Friedman says you need to treat marriage the same way you treat other things in life that are important to you; you make room for them in your life by scheduling them. This he says, is the Jewish way of getting married (hence his suggestion of penciling in a date on the calendar). If you go out with someone and your visions of life match up, then that's the person you should be marrying. Now is when love enters the picture. It's only after the fact, when your life together unfolds in the way you'd both hoped, and together are actively working towards, well how could you not love the person that you are with? They are helping you to reach this goal you envisioned for yourself. Love will come because you will be working together towards the same goal.

For sure, Rabbi Friedman's view on marriage is not one espoused by most dating experts heard in the media today. But with such a high divorce rate, Jerusalem has more reported divorces last year than Tel Aviv, maybe it's worth listening to an approach as dramatic-sounding as this. Maybe we need something that's not focused on us and our fickle emotions. That forces us to think about what being married really means. If we are aware of the effort required of ourselves before we enter into this contract, heck, before we even go on a date, maybe there will be a few less divorces and a few more happy couples out there.

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