There are fascinating places in the Torah where Hashem gives us an intimate look into a couple’s relationship.
When it comes to Yitzchak and Rivka, this happens numerous times in the few stories we have about them. We hear about the first time Rivka sees Yitzchak, her difficulty in pregnancy, their challenges in raising children and navigating differences in parenting.
And we also get an actual look into their bedroom window. We are told that Avimelech, the king of the Plishtim, looks into their house and sees them “m’tzachek” – literally translated as ‘playing.’
When Avimelech looked into their window he saw them acting in a way that was both playful and so intimate that it was clear that they were not brother and sister, as he had been told, but obviously husband and wife!
The week I was getting married, I watched a movie that had a scene of a husband and wife, who had grown apart, chasing each other around the house, laughing and playing until they feel together on the stairs and gazed happily into each other’s eyes.
That scene represented to me my vision for my marriage – one where we would have fun, laugh, play – and, in that space, create a connection and an intimacy that would keep us together.
That is not as easily done as I had hoped.
Life gets busy. It gets stressful.
There isn’t always the time, the money or the energy to ‘play.’
And yet, without it, what is left of the relationship?
Business partners paying the bills and managing the house and the children together?
That will not allow you to deal with life’s challenges with your intimacy still intact.
When we look back at Yitzchak and Rivka, though, we find an interesting answer as to how to manage to stay playful and close.
It is through their relationship that we learn the importance of respect – throughout the stories we see both Rivka’s deep respect for her husband, her own respect for what she believes and how she manages when they come in contradiction to each other.
Respect can seem like a heavy emotion to feel in relationships – it can seem like you are putting one of you above the other, or hard to experience when you see each other through the microscope called marriage.
And yet, that image of our great-grandparents engaged in that playful, intimate connection, tells me it is worth it to figure out how it is properly done.
In my research and experience I have seen in real time how respect, both for yourself and for your husband, can revitalize a woman, her marriage and her home.
Because respect is much more than the reverence we show an authority figure.
It is about seeing the worth and beauty of yourself and of your spouse.
It is about listening, trusting and understanding who we each are and how we experience the world.
It is about holding vulnerability and giving space for feelings and desires without judgement or dismissal.
And it is about walking together, in the footsteps of our fathers and mothers, growing and building towards a better and more inspired future – with love, connection and peace.