shalom bayit - Staying Commited (a continuation on Judging Favorably)

      This post is dedicated in merit that Hershel ben Etya Sarah have a yeshuah.

By Shoshana Rosa

I don't want to offend anyone with the following topic; however (keeping in mind the minimal research I've done), I do think it is important to draw a line between the standards of staying committed in a Jewish marriage and a secular one. What does it take to keep a marriage? What does it take to break one?

According to an article in Huffington Post, commitment is doing whatever it takes to avoid divorce. "It [commitment] isn’t declaring, 'I like this relationship and I’m committed to it. A deeper... level of commitment is needed. It’s a commitment to be willing to do whatever it takes to make the marriage work, and that means there are going to be many times when you’re just not going to get your way. And you’re going to have to be OK with it.'" The writer then segues into describing how far couples should allow themselves to be pushed on the subject of infidelity. "If we’re really talking about-honest-to-goodness... I’m-committed-to-doing-whatever-it-takes-to-make-this-relationship-work commitment, then shouldn’t a couple that takes commitment seriously be able to work through infidelity — in whatever incarnation it comes to them — and keep their marriage intact? Or, does commitment always have an asterisk for infidelity?"

In recent years, adulterer stopped being the byword for disgusting-rotten-piece-of-sea-foam it used to be. Over time, room has grown for today's world to lower the societal plateau of human decency. But what about halachic standards/ rulings? Torah law should have a say in the matter of marriage. Also, don't the Noahide laws apply to anyone and everyone? Both state that adultery is forbidden and should not be tolerated under any circumstances (for further details on individual instances, speak to your local Orthodox Rabbi. Throwing some money at a marriage counselor wouldn't go amiss either). Yes, there should be an asterisk on adultery. There should be an asterisk on a lot of things people don't put asterisks on. We have standards, people.

Yet, as a single, I am still fairly clueless as to what commitment in a marriage means so I turned to a Jewish friend, a married mother of four, and asked. I figured I'd get gentle expostulations on the external activities one can learn in order to please her husband, "Dress nicely. Make three course meals. Don a sweet smile. Oh, and pearls. Wear lots of pearls." Instead, her advice, all grit and honesty, was about controlling one's perspective.

According to this friend, let's call her Chana, being committed is about training one's mind to stay focused on his or her spouse. "Even though I may notice people who are better looking, smarter, holding down higher paying jobs or have more hip personalities I disregard them because the person I married is mine." Also, she used the phrase "being committed" as opposed to "staying committed." The word "being" connotes being present and available while staying invites the notion of preexisting issues. Perhaps the problem with society is that because it has brought an influx of ostentatious behavior, and inevitably, envy, couples are struggling with spousal satisfaction. "If your mind is elsewhere you may miss the boat and trick yourself out of enjoying marriage."

She continued by adding that she found keeping a daily journal helpful in terms of maintaining a positive outlook. "I write in this notebook regularly, reviewing, usually before bed, all my husband's positive traits, the positive moments we shared in the past week, month etc. and the little kindnesses he did." It sounds a bit bit tedious but when it comes to living a loving relationship, aren't we all willing to go the extra mile?

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