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YOU IN ME - In honor of Shalom Bayit Shabbat

12/16/2016 12:11:40 PM

Dec16

This Shabbat has been dedicated by the Jewish Community Services (JCS) of Miami as Shalom Bayit Shabbat.

Shalom Bayit means different things to different people. Literally translated, it means A Peaceful Home. Loosely translated, it is a term that refers to the foundational Jewish values of marital harmony and a safe, healthy and happy home.

Marriage is complicated. When two very different people join together in a binding relationship, they’re almost asking for trouble! Yes, they love each other. But we humans are volatile people, and we experience difficulties managing even our own moods and personalities. In marriage, this volatility becomes even more challenging when trying to managing our pledge “to love, comfort and honor him/her, for as long as I shall live, until death do us part”.

So how can two people, each with their own unique and distinct personas, join together in marriage with the assurance that they will succeed in being the best spouse they can be, at all times and forever?

There are two different paradigms that draw one person to another person:

  1. When I see how similar you are to me.
  2. When I see how similar I am to you.

 

Two people who share nothing in common are obviously discouraged from marrying each other. When looking for a spouse, we try to look for someone who possesses many things in common with us, and with who we can live a life of shared values, goals and expectations. But how does one judge this sense of ‘commonality’?

Some people look at the other and ask themselves, “are they similar to me?” In other words, they look to find a piece of themselves in the other person. Their underlying question, perhaps subconsciously, is “How much of myself can I find within you?”

Others look at the other and ask themselves, “am I similar to them?” In other words, they look to find a piece of the other in themselves. Their underlying question, perhaps subconsciously, is “How much of you can I find within myself?”

Both of these paradigms can work to sustain a relationship, yet there is a very sharp and essential difference between them.

The question is, who are you really marrying? When you try bond with another person by way of finding a piece of you within them, on a very subtle level you are really marrying yourself. True, you are technically marrying another person, but only because you found something within them that represents you. So the terms and foundation of the relationship will ultimately need to reflect you, your persona, your values and your lifestyle. And the moment something creeps out of the other person that isn’t reflective of ‘you’, your relationship will then become threatened and weak.

But when you try bond with another person by way of finding a piece of them within you, then you are truly marrying the other person. You have succeeded to fall in love with someone other than yourself, and you have learnt to appreciate a persona, values and lifestyle of another person. You have discovered that there is more to life than simply enjoying ‘more of you’. And the moment something creeps out of the other person that isn’t reflective of ‘you’, your relationship begins to thrive and be strengthened.

This discussion, though vitally important, is obviously very nuanced and somewhat abstract. How can we make it more practical?

Marriage is a lifelong exercise. Hopefully, one keeps getting better at it each day. One way to test the foundation of your relationship is how you instinctually react when your spouse says or does something that you could never imagine yourself saying or doing. Did you marry your spouse in order to create ‘more of you’ in this world, or did you marry your spouse in order to transcend outside of yourself, to discover another person, to love and cherish their otherness, and to build a strong family founded upon the two of you?

Bayit Shalom!

Sat, July 20 2019 17 Tammuz 5779