“In time of crisis we turn to our spouses and think about how important they are, and certainly Tu B’Av is a time to think in a more joyous way of making our relationships and marriages and love a priority.”

This was the message conveyed by internationally acclaimed marriage expert Professor Howard Markman in a past Tu B’Av Date Night lecture.

In fact, he continued, “We all dream of a lifetime love and a lifetime successful marriage and for good reason as people live longer when they are in a healthy stable relationship, we earn more money, our kids do better, the companies we work for make more money, so it is good for the community and country that we do all we can to have strong and healthy marriages.[1]

When we think about Tu B’Av and its theme of LOVE, it’s interesting to note that according to the Talmud “the daughters of Jerusalem would dance in the vineyard and whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride. (Talmud Taanit 31a)

One does have to wonder what was the criteria for selection of a mate for life -Was it love at first sight?

And what is love? According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, “Love is not that which is portrayed in romantic novels. It isn’t that overwhelming blinding emotion that is portrayed in a romance. Love is an emotion that increases in strength throughout life. It is sharing and caring, and respecting one another. The love that you feel as a young bride is only the beginning of real love. It is through the small, everyday acts of living together that love flourishes and grows.[2]

Extensive scholarly research conducted by Professor Markman and his colleagues at the University of Denver on couples just starting out shows that no matter how we measure love,  love does not predict the future of the relationship. This empirically means that “love is NOT enough.” It is necessary, but NOT sufficient for a happy relationship.

In fact, interestingly enough the factor that does predict how couples will do over time is not ROMANTIC at all. Research shows that how couples manage conflict and how they manage negative emotions is the biggest predictor.

The good news is that proper pre-marital education can give the foundation for a LOVE that Will Always Win. Many couples just assume that they will know what to do once they get married, but most of what goes wrong inside a marriage comes down to never having learned the skills and principles associated with successful relationships.

How can a couple or individual learn these skills and principles to help make a marriage work? Taking a pre-marriage education course should be the most important part of wedding preparations.

Courses are based on the concept that couples can learn skills to make their marriages work. A couple can learn communication and conflict management skills that will strengthen their relationship and prevent negative behaviors that may cause problems and breakdown.

For example, a couple will learn

  • How to talk to each other more effectively in a structured way, and to listen to each other better.
  • Discover and discuss potential issues, how to protect your friendship, show respect for one another, problem solve

One such course offered by the B’Yachad B’Osher/Together in Happiness organization in Israel, is I-PREP, based on the scientifically and empirically proven marriage education program Prevention Relationship Education Program (PREP).  Long-term studies show that couples that have participated in PREP courses are much less likely to get divorced and more likely to live happier lives.

Couples who invest in their marriage by completing a pre-marriage education course have described it as the best wedding gift that they can give to each other.

Tu B’Av has been declared by our sages as the greatest festival of the year, with Yom Kippur a close second – and the theme of marriage and matchmaking goes back to the days of the maidens in Jerusalem dancing. With pre- marriage education even those couples who matched at the time of the Talmud would have increased their chances for a long LOVE filled marriage.

Don’t you think that our modern day maidens and their “soul mates” deserve the same loving start to their marriages – so that LOVE WILL ALWAYS WIN and so will generations who will be the beneficiaries of loving Jewish marriages!

Amuta Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher is co-hosting with the OU Center a pre-marital and newly married I -PREP workshop in English Thursday Sept 7 at the OU Center in Jerusalem. For details write info@togetherinhappiness.com

[1]

Tu B’Av lecture by Professor Howard Markman, Tmol Shilshom, Jerusalem

[2] A Happy Home, The Lubavitcher Rebbe On Marital Harmony Chapter 1 p. 15 ISBN -978-965-91478-2-3