All You Need is Love and a Model Airplane

Question:

How do I know when I’ve met the right person? My friends say the main thing is that you are in love, and everything else will fall into place. Should I believe them?

Answer:

All you need to know about finding a partner in life you can learn from making model airplanes.

A common mistake when building a model airplane is to start by putting glue all over the parts. That just creates a mess. The wrong bits get stuck together, wings get stuck to the floor, windows stuck on your fingers. It only complicates things when you introduce the glue too early.

If you start by putting glue all over the parts… that just creates a messThe way to build a model airplane is to first organize the parts. Make sure the pieces fit together and nothing is missing. Then gradually apply the glue, and join the various parts, piece by piece, until it starts to take shape.

The parts may not fit perfectly at first. You may have to shave off some rough edges, or bend some parts into shape before they click. Minor imperfections can be overlooked—a dollop of glue can fix them up. With a bit of work it all fits together.

But if you find that there are parts missing, or they don’t fit, then you don’t have what it takes to make an airplane. You can’t use glue to join mismatched pieces, and certainly not to replace missing parts. Don’t even try—take it back to the store and get a carton that has the right parts.

Your relationship is a model airplane. You and your partner are the pieces, and love is the glue that sticks you together. Without the binding power of love, two individuals could never become one. But that power, like glue, is indiscriminate. It must be applied carefully, because it could stick just about anything together; you can love someone who is simply not for you.By Aron MossAron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.Illustration by Dovid Taub. Dovid is the creator of the Itche Kadoozy Show.

You’re Madly in Love

Question

There is a woman whom I knew for a long time. I love her so much, but we’re not together anymore. It’s been more than a year since she broke off all contact with me. In two months she’s getting married. What should I do? I am still convinced that she is the only one in the world for me.

Answer

Your situation is obviously a very difficult one. It is also a dangerous one, because she is marrying another man and you certainly don’t want to destroy her marriage.

One thing I must explain to you about what we call “love”: The One who created us wishes us to marry and have children. This is His greatest gift to us, for this is how we become most like Himself — creators of life. But He knows that if we were all sane, controlled people we would never do these things. So, when we get into a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, He arranges for us to go insane and lose all trace of common sense.

This insanity is a very good thing. But the problem is that it has been made to be part of our natures, so it is indiscriminate. Meaning that it can work against us, too. We see, over and over, how destructive this wonderful insanity can sometimes become.

You are young. Like they say in America, there are plenty more fish in the sea. Especially wonderful Jewish girls. My advice: Save your beautiful insanity for another one. Let this woman marry and raise a family in peace. And you will merit to do the same.

By Tzvi FreemanTzvi Freeman is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth and, more recently, Wisdom to Heal the Earth. Subscribe to The Daily Dose of Wisdom and Freeman Files for regular updates.

What is Love? … and how will I find it?

Love makes two into one, and one into two.

—Moshe ibn Ezra, Medieval Jewish Poet

To quote a great Greek-American baseball coach, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you ain’t gonna find it.

If you don’t know what is love, you probably ain’t gonna find that either.

Now that’s a big problem. You see, all of us are looking for love. But not one of us can say what is love. No philosopher, no psychologist, no international committee of established authorities ever agreed upon any definition that tells us what love is.

You know how many books have been written on “What Is Love”? You think any of them answered the question?

So if we don’t know what is love, from where on earth is love going to jump out at us?

It’s not.

If it jumps out at you, it’s an impostor. Same thing if you fall into it.

I’ve got a little story for you:

Hannah was a young woman seeking a young man. Her rabbi was working hard for her to make the right connections.

“What do you think of David X?” he asked.

“Nice guy,” she replied. “Not my type.”

“How about Ari. Have you gone out with Ari?”

“Oh, many times. We had a pleasant evening. That’s about it. Not someone I could love. I don’t even know if he knows what love is.”

The rabbi gently chuckled. “You’ve been reading too many romance novels, Hannah. You’re the one who no longer knows what is love.”

“Sure I do!”

“You’re waiting for a knight on a white horse. You’re waiting for romance.”

“If romance isn’t love, then what is love?”

The rabbi sighed just so slightly. He sat back and let the atmosphere in the room clear a little. Then he spoke softly, like a father to a daughter.

“Let me tell you what is love,” he said. His eyes moistened and sparkled a little. You could see he was thinking through his own life.

“Love is not something you find. Love is not something that finds you. Or something you fall into. If you know what is love, you don’t fall for an easy romance.

“Love is when two people who care for one another make their lives together, build a home together, cry together, laugh together, weather the storms of life together, plow through their hardships and celebrate together . . .

“. . . and then, one day, discover that life is unimaginable without the other person at their side.”

A pause. Some quiet.

“Hannah,” the rabbi leaned forward to break the silence.

“What is love? Create some. Then you’ll know what is love.”


Inspired by a true-life story told in  Searching the Novels for Perfect Love?
By Tzvi FreemanTzvi Freeman is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth and, more recently, Wisdom to Heal the Earth. Subscribe to The Daily Dose of Wisdom and Freeman Files for regular updates.

Is he the right guy for me?

Question:

I am in a serious relationship with a great guy. We have been together for a while now and I have very strong feelings for him. He is ready to get married, and is getting a bit impatient with me. But I’m just not sure. Something is holding me back, and I can’t put my finger on it. Sometimes I think, if he’s my soul-mate, why do I have doubts? I don’t want to hurt him but I just don’t know what to do. Any advice?

Answer:

Finding your soul-mate is almost as hard as finding your soul. Seeking advice is vital, whether it be from a counselor, a rabbi or a mentor. Not that I can tell you if he is your soul-mate; I know of no magical test to find that out. But G‑d knows, and I suggest that you pray for guidance. All I can do is try to help you reach some clarity, so you can find an answer on your own.

Something is holding you back. The question you should be asking yourself is this: Is the problem in me, in him or in us (i.e.. the relationship)?

Maybe he is indeed your soul-mate, and there is something within you that is making you hesitate. Are you scared of commitment? Have you been scarred by past relationships? Did you grow up without good role models to know what a healthy marriage looks like? If so, what is holding you back is fear. It could be that he is the one for you, but you are paralyzed by fear which makes you unable to see it. But remember – fear never introduces itself by its own name. Fear disguises itself in all types of very reasonable statements – “I’m not ready to get married”, “He isn’t the type of guy I dreamed of”, “I want to establish my career first” – when the real issue is simple: you’re scared. If that’s the only issue, then you have to work on opening yourself up to a real commitment.

Maybe the problem is him. Nobody’s perfect, so there must be things about him that you don’t really like, but over time you have learnt to overlook them. What are they? Are they minor issues, like the way he cuts his toenails or that he can’t play tennis? Then you should forgive him. Or are they bigger ones, like his temper or the way he treats people? In marriage we come to overlook (and sometimes even love) the flaws in our spouse. But we will probably never change them. When married, turning a blind eye to imperfections is great. When dating, it’s dangerous. If you are overlooking parts of his personality that you will not be able to live with, then the problem is him and you should get out of there.

On the other hand, perhaps he is a great guy, and his flaws are minor. Perhaps the problem is not him, and not you, but “us” – the two of you together. You are two fantastic people, but the relationship is not so fantastic. Do you communicate well? Does he understand you when you share with him your feelings? Do you share similar values and beliefs? Do you respect him? Are you heading in similar directions in life? Is he willing to put your needs in front of his? Would you do that for him?

If you are not connecting, then maybe you are two lovely individuals that have some things in common, but are just not on the same page. Or maybe the relationship needs more work. This means not only learning how to communicate better, but also knowing what each other’s values and priorities are. I have seen couples that have been together for years but never actually discussed values. It may not be very romantic, but ask yourself: If I would ask my partner, “What are the five most important things in life?”, do I know what his answer would be? Am I comfortable with that answer?

Perhaps you need more time. Perhaps there are a combination of issues that are complicating things. But if you can ascertain where the main issue lies, you will have an answer.

If it’s him – there are things about him that won’t change and you can’t live with – move on.

If it’s us – you are not connecting – then the relationship needs some attention to see if it can flourish.

But if the problem is not in him, and not in your relationship, but in you – your fears and past experiences – then you need to liberate yourself from them. It may take a leap of faith, but you will feel light, you will be free to love, and most of all, you will find your soul-mate. And maybe your soul too. By Aron Moss

Where Is the Woman of My Dreams?

Question:

I am in my late thirties and still single. I have met dozens of women, but none are right for me. I know what you are going to say: I am too fussy. But I can’t just settle on something half good. Where is the woman of my dreams?

Answer:

It doesn’t make sense. You are a wonderful person with so much to offer. Why are you still alone?

There could be many reasons why someone may find it hard to find a partner. But I think in your case the answer is simple. You’re married already. You are not available, because you are involved in a longstanding intimate relationship with an imaginary Ms. Perfect. You have an exact picture in your mind of the perfect woman, and you are so in love with that picture that you are not open to anyone else. No matter how great the girl is, she can’t compare to your dream.

You have become stuck inside a bubble with your imaginary love, and are not really open to real people. So, you haven’t really met dozens of women—you never actually meet anyone. You see them not for who they are, but rather for who they are not—the imaginary Ms Perfect.

A relationship means connecting with an other, someone who is not you. You can’t have a relationship with a figment of your own imagination, or with your own assumed caricature of another person. You need to step out of your imagination, suspend your prejudices and really open yourself to someone else. Let yourself be surprised. Otherwise, the woman of your dreams will stay right where she is—in your dreams.

I apologize if my answer is harsh. I just want to burst your bubble, because there is a real person out there waiting for you to meet her. She deserves it. So do you.

By Aron Moss Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.

Finding Your Soul Mate

by Devorah Leah West

It’s a question every woman asks when she thinks about marriage. Seeing her mother and father interact, or spending time with close friends who have a strong marriage, she notices the way they look at each other, that special way their voices change at times when they speak to each other, and she wonders “How will I know when I’ve found the right one?”

Asking for advice doesn’t always yield helpful answers. A typical response is: “I can’t tell you, but you’ll know when you know—you know?”

Where did this insane will to attach to a mate come from?I recently read an article on the need for human beings to become attached to someone else in order to feel a sense of fulfillment and validation in this world. It’s most easily seen in children, who have such a strong sense of family and group identity and who at different stages experience levels of real emotional pain when separated (for a day of school, for example) from their families.

As children mature into adults, the way in which they yearn to attach becomes much deeper. They sense a loss— like somehow, somewhere, they’ve lost a part of themselves that now they are searching to rediscover. So they begin creating deeper relationships; it’s no longer “come to my house and play”- as we mature we want to discuss philosophical ideas, spirituality, emotions and everything that we hold dear with someone who will understand our thoughts and feelings and acknowledge the special people we are. But why? Where does this yearning come from?

In terms of the parent/child relationship, it is clear. In normal circumstances, parents love their children, their children love them—it’s easy to understand the need for children to attach to their parents and be able to relate to them, but where did this insane will to attach to a mate come from?

Articles and studies have shown that married people live longer, are healthier and enjoy a plethora of experiences that only married couples can. Quite simply, psychologists say, it’s another need to attach. They will explain that it’s the mature psyche of the child blossoming into an adult, or that it’s the natural order of the world, but there is something missing from their explanations. It doesn’t explain the quest, the intense desire, to find one’s soul mate.

The answer doesn’t lie in the psychology books; it lies in the foundation of the creation of the world. We want our soul mates because we want to experience a unique sense of comfort, we want to experience peace—that moment where we know, without needing to say a word, that our soul is attached to another person.

It comes from the soul’s yearning to feel completeThere is a teaching from the Talmud which says that forty days before a baby is conceived a voice cries out from Heaven and announces, “the son of so-and-so is destined for the daughter of so-and-so!” Before their souls were sent into the physical world they were united as one in the Heavenly realms and as they grow and mature, they begin to become aware of the part of their soul that is missing, their “other half”as the term has been coined. The intrinsic desire to attach and cleave to another comes not from the brain’s deep desire to feel validation, worthiness and importance but from the soul’s yearning to feel complete in this world. That is why the urge and need to become one with another is so powerful that it overcomes the senses. It is something that the soul cannot survive without.

So how will you know when you know? The truth is, it will vary from person to person. And sometimes, even if it is not clear to you as a physical body, your soul will know. Often this will result in a feeling of comfort, and strangely enough, a familiarity that you have never felt before.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I know we just met, but it feels like we’ve been friends for a long time”? The truth is- you have known this person for a long time, from before you were born, and it’s the thrill of finding that person and building a life together that gives those couples you see such joy and pleasure. They know what it was like to be without and they value what they have now found.

How do you go about finding your soul mate? OK, that part might not be so simple.

But the more you make space within yourself for another person, the more likely you are to draw the right one to yourself – because you will have prepared yourself. You make yourself available for another person within your life simply by getting to know yourself better. That is, after all, how you will know you’ve met the right one: simply because he or she is a part of you.

And getting to know and understand yourself takes work. Growth can’t be forced, but it does need to be enabled through providing the right circumstances for it to occur. Just like you can’t just sit and let your children grow by themselves and expect it to happen naturally, you also can’t just sit and expect yourself to grow and be prepared for your soul mate- and hope that he or she will come to you without any effort on your part. You have to make sure that you are taking steps to prepare yourself. Give yourself what you need, find out what you enjoy, create goals for yourself – nurture your own growth. Then, eventually, there will be this other person, who will share your goals in life, have similar ideas and with hard work and effort, you will be able to build a life together.

It’s not so much about how you are going to find your soul mate. The bigger question is: are you ready and is your soul mate ready for you? by Devorah Leah West

Devorah Leah West is twenty four years old and currently living in Denver, CO where she is working towards her degree in Education. She enjoys writing and is currently working on a book.

Kabbalistic Wives

Levi Brackman

Not long ago I decided to stop off at one of London’s major shopping malls to buy a gift for my wife. I was not looking for anything fancy, just something small but special. My search took me into a variety of shops with all types of novelty gifts for all types of relationships but I could not find a gift specially designed for wives. Now I may be reading too much into this, but I got the impression that while it may be cool to be someone’s girlfriend or partner, getting married and becoming a wife is no longer deemed respectable by popular culture.

Marriage is portrayed by our culture as boring and monotonousThis is underlined by the endless portrayal in television shows and movies of married women. They are either shown as bored, miserable and trapped or as enjoying life by committing adultery. Rarely are married women depicted, in popular culture, as happy, fulfilled and faithful. It seems that marriage for a woman is seen as anything but cool or exciting — tragically it is portrayed by our culture as boring and monotonous. Unsurprisingly, Judaism and the Kabbalah see this in the precise opposite manner.

The proverb reads, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband” (Proverbs 12:4). The traditional explanation of this proverb is that a virtuous woman enhances her husband’s standing with her good deeds. However, the Kabbalists give another explanation. They say that what the proverb means is that a virtuous woman is greater than her husband – and because she is greater, she enhances him. The Kabbalists see this in spiritual terms. They maintain that the female has a sublime, spiritual antecedent which is far greater than that of the male. This lofty spiritual forbear is not totally revealed until the female unites with her spouse; it is then that her true spiritual potential is unleashed.

Thus, because the man and woman are seen as two halves of one whole, both male and female need each other to reach the telos of their individual existence. So the male is like the key that unlocks the tremendously potent and lofty spiritual energy found within the female. When this energy is set free, the woman becomes perceptibly spiritually greater than her husband. This in turn, by mere association, enhances the spirituality of her spouse and makes him a better person.

The Kabbalists maintain that everything that is manifest in the physical world is a mirror image of what transpires in the higher spiritual realms. Thus, this concept of superior female spiritual energy parallels the greater sexual potential of the female versus that of the male.

The Kabbalists hold the wife in very high esteemIt is clear that wives have a very important role to play in a marriage, which is supposed to include inspiring her spouse. The Kabbalists hold the wife in very high esteem, revering her as the partner with the higher spiritual potential, which she harnesses to change the world bit by bit.

Even the law recognizes the positive impact a wife has on her husband. A court recently awarded a footballer’s wife more than a third of her ex-husband’s future income in recognition of the positive influence she had on his life and therefore on his earning capability. There is no doubt that a good woman – more so, dare I say, than a good man – immeasurably enhances the lives of all who come into contact with her, especially her husband and family.

Functional families are the building blocks of decent societies. In order for a family to remain functional, the women’s positive and calming influence is vital. Unfortunately it is not only the media that pokes fun at the idea of getting married; to my dismay, I recently read an article by a religious leader containing a joke that demeaned the institution of marriage. Among all this negativity, the voice of truth must be heard: getting married and bringing up a stable and functional family are not only respectable and praiseworthy but are vital for the future health of humanity as a whole. We must all do our bit to champion the positive and combat the negative in this area.

By Levi Brackman Rabbi Levi I. Brackman is director of Judaism in the Foothills and the author of numerous articles on issues of the day.

Friendship in Marriage

By Tzippora Price

Marriage is a balancing act. A marriage itself is a partnership, a friendship, and a romance. Yet between working, running a home, parenting, car-pooling, and squeezing in a quick workout at the gym, many people find themselves already stressed out to their maximum, with little energy left to dedicate to their marriages. As a result, many marriages, even good marriages, grow stale and lose some freshness and sparkle.Your letter describes the many fine qualities of your marriage, and yet you are still wondering if there could be something missing. It sounds to me like something is out of balance.The Jewish marriage model is described in Song of Songs by the expression “achoti, kallah” – my sister, my bride. The ideal marriage contains both these aspects – a level of platonic friendship as deeply intimate as the relationship between a brother and a sister, and a romantic aspect symbolized by the excitement of a bride on her wedding day.Although adolescent fantasies of romance need to be tempered with adult maturity and judgment, in a good marriage, there is passion as well as friendship. It seems like you have become so comfortable together that your relationship has taken on an overly platonic aspect. To regain a proper balance, you need to focus on rekindling the romantic component of your relationship.A good place to start is to schedule a date night once a week. Use this as an opportunity to break out of the rut of your daily conversation, and explore new topics together. Choose an activity conducive to stimulating conversation, such as trying a new restaurant for dinner, or going for a moonlight stroll.Planning a getaway just for the two of you is also valuable at this point. Even if actualizing your plans is still far off, begin to spend time planning and discussing together. These conversations will lay the groundwork for a successful holiday, and provide a framework for bringing your relationship into the foreground of your family agenda.Ultimately, it is up to you to create the marriage of your dreams. Just like a successful garden requires vision and planning, so too, a marriage that is carefully nurtured will be more successful and rewarding than one that is abandoned to the course of nature and the ravages of time.Any investment in your marriage is also an investment in the long-term inter-generational stability of your family.Good luck, and enjoy!

Would you rather be right or have the relationship?

 Getting off it

Unless it’s clearly and undeniably against the law, there is no such thing as right and wrong when it comes to an argument within a relationship.  What’s true is that each party has a position—a “stand” about what is right and what is wrong.  Think of it literally as a spot on the floor—like stage marking tape—from which you are unwilling to budge.

We like to use this illustration: suppose someone in your household spilled a pitcher of grape juice—sticky, staining grape juice—all over your white carpet.  Would you be more concerned about who did it, and how bad and wrong that person was for spilling it, or would you concentrate your energy more on cleaning up the mess?  

Put another way: are you more interested in “being right,” or are you more interested in solving the problem and enjoying a harmonious relationship?

If, like many of us, being right is more important to you than your relationship, then by all means, fight to the death (of the relationship) to be right.  But, if you cherish your relationship, we hope we can convince you to move off your position in order to keep it.  “Get off it.”  Don’t end up alone, in the prime of your life, because you insisted on being right.

Would you be willing to give up everything you have in exchange for everything you’ve ever wanted?

But what if she really IS wrong.  You’ve even discussed it with your buddies and they all agree with you.

Again, it depends on what you want.  Always ask yourself, “Would I rather be right, or would I rather have the relationship?”  

There’s no right or wrong answer.  Just be honest.  What do you want?  What are you committed to?  It’s all up to you.  

This isn’t a game. We’re talking about human life and feelings here.  We’re talking about family.  Choose.  Be right at the risk of the relationship, or have the relationship.

A wise man once said, “The truth shall set you free—but first it will really tick you off.”

Even though our intellect knows that our marriage is far more important than “being right,” there are plenty of people who will choose the latter.  You can usually find them hanging out with their “band of thieves”—others who enjoy being right.  You can find them playing poker with the guys, or at a whole slew of singles events, or they’re in bars, watching sports at home, in pet shops, eating dinner—alone—in a restaurant, joining health clubs, etc.  And all of them have a very convincing story about why their marriages ended and how bad and wrong their ex was. 

Now we’re going to give you a little test to see how well you grasped this concept.  Ready?  The test answers are below. *

  1. Let’s say you and your spouse are both “on a position” about something.  You say “yes,” and she says “no.”  What do you do?  (Hint: remember, it’s always up to you to produce the result.  It is NEVER up to the other person.)
  2. Let’s say you’re “on a position” about something, but miraculously, your spouse is not.  What do you do?
  3. Let’s say your spouse is “on a position,” and miraculously, you are not.  What do you do?

Struggle with this a little before checking the answers.  You may be surprised!

*Answers to quiz: 

  1. You have to get off it.
  2. You have to get off it.
  3. You have to get off it… more!!!  

A true story.

We were once discussing this topic during a lecture, and a volunteer came forward to help us illustrate our point.  The audience giggled as soon as they saw who the volunteer was, because everyone in the room knew that she and her husband had been arguing for a very long time about whether or not they should get a pet.  

This didn’t seem like such a big problem to us, until we found out that they already had three pets, and the husband had made huge concessions regarding them, since he hadn’t wanted any pets in the first place.  

We always speak to the “no” first, so we asked the husband if he understood the concept of choosing between being right and having the relationship.  He said he did.  We paused and asked him if he would rather be right or have the relationship.  To his credit, he thought about this for a very long time while the room sat silent.  Finally, he concluded that he would rather have the relationship. 

We waited for several seconds while his words settled in.  Then we asked if he was simply giving us the right answer or if he really did—down to his bone marrow—want to give up being right in favor of the relationship.

You could hear a pin drop.  As he stood considering our question, his body language and his facial expression demonstrated how deeply engaged he was in sorting out his answer.

Finally he confirmed that he wanted the relationship—that he would give up being right to save his relationship.  “OK, she can have her pet,” he declared.  

Everyone in the room gasped. This argument had been going on for five years.  Everyone in the neighborhood had weighed in or it, but so far, no one had successfully brought the couple to anything resembling an agreement.

We turned to the wife, “Congratulations!  What kind of pet are you going to get?”

Then the most magical thing happened.  She let in the magnitude of what her husband had just said.  She paused for about 60 seconds, deep in thought.

When she opened her mouth to speak, she surprised all of us.  “You’re not going to believe this,” she said, “but I just realized that I don’t really need another pet!”

What happened?

Here is how we explain it.  

  1. For the first time, she was “heard.”  Her husband “got her,” “re-created” her.
  2. Her husband “got off it.”  He realized it was up to him, NEVER the other person, and he stepped off his position.
  3. By getting off his position, he created space for her and her position.  She no longer felt the pressure from him to abandon her position.  She no longer felt defensive about winning or losing.  Now she had some breathing room in which to consider the pros and cons of her decision.
  4. Once “winning or losing” was removed from the equation, she saw more clearly what was at stake.  The “electrical charge” fell away from the argument, and the question became simply, “If he could be big enough to say ‘yes’ to a pet, can I be big enough to say ‘no?’”

Both were returned to the importance of the relationship.  After all, what difference did it really make if there was one more pet or not?

Wouldn’t it be all right to have another pet if it meant having her completely?

What did she need another pet for anyway when she now had her husband?

You see, it never really was about the pet.  IT WAS ALWAYS ABOUT “WINNING” and “BEING RIGHT!”

As soon as one got off it, so did the other.

Most people think arguments are bad.  It’s true that people can get lost in their arguments; they can allow the argument to interfere with their deeper desire to be in relationship with one another.  However, it’s also true that an argument can be an opportunity to get closer, to work through the issue and choose the relationship.

Even while we encourage you always to “get off it,” we realize that this is a lot harder than it sounds.  If you simply cannot get off it, yet you know that what you want most is the relationship, just communicate this to your spouse, and then PRETEND to get off it. 

“Fake it ‘til you make it.”  You will get there eventually.  It just takes time and practice.

Immersed in Love

Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?

By Yitzchok Schochet

Rodney Dangerfield once said: “My wife and I had 25 wonderful years—then we met.”

One of the greatest challenges of married life is the notion that familiarity breeds contempt. While things may be bliss at the outset, the routine engenders boredom, listlessness, and eventually indifference. And we all know where that leads, as demonstrated by national statistics.

The first of the seven marital blessings recited under the chuppah is “. . . all is created for His glory.” Purity should not be confused with cleanlinessNeither the bride nor groom is referenced in this blessing. What this suggests is that the very glue that maintains the vibrancy of every relationship is the awareness that G‑d is very much a partner in the marital home. It is precisely this spiritual dynamic which makes every union far greater than the sum of its parts.

Intimacy in marriage is among the most potent forces in life that can either lift us to the greatest heights of commitment or lower us into the depths of demoralization. Intimacy is a fire. When you think you will quench it by indulging it, you quickly realize that you are pouring gasoline, not water, on the fire. However, when experienced with discipline, within the context of a blessed union, it becomes a fire that warms both partners and illuminates their lives.

Thus we have the laws of family purity. Purity should not be confused with cleanliness, as it reflects a spiritual state. The laws of family purity bring that added spiritual dynamic into the marriage while also requiring a period of abstention each month, necessitating that the relationship be nurtured on other levels. It also then enables a rejuvenation of the intimacy each month as well.

While the mikvah was once perceived by leading therapists as anachronistic, over time many came to acknowledge the practical reality of how it sustains relationships. Today, couples in crisis are advised to “schedule time for romance.” But Judaism always promoted a divine plan of quality control in marriage, which takes proactive measures to prevent boredom from eating away at a good relationship.

The question is: is there anything more beautiful in life than a boy and a girl clasping clean hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love? The answer is yes. It is the spectacle of an old man and old woman finishing their journey together on that same path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their The term soulmate is not a clichéfaces seamed, but still radiant; their hearts tired, but still strong with love and devotion for one another. The one thing more beautiful than young love is old love.

That is achieved most rewardingly and gratifyingly in the quest to harmonize body and soul through the deeper connection engendered by the mikvah and its associated laws, as all those who experience it can readily attest.

The term soulmate is not a cliché. It is precisely what husband and wife strive to become as their love is infused with G‑dliness, whereby a mortal kiss is transformed into an immortal one, and they experience true joy and lasting fulfilment in their lives.

Originally published on Mikvah.org.uk by Yitzchok SchochetRabbi Yitzchok Schochet is the rabbi of Mill Hill Synagogue, London, UK; member of the chief rabbi’s cabinet; and chairman of the Rabbinical Council.