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Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

All You Need is Love – is that True?

For those of us old enough to remember the sensational English rock band known as the Beatles, one of their songs “All You Need is Love” topped the sales chart at the time of its release in 1967 and according to Wikipedia “became an anthem for the counterculture’s embrace of flower power philosophy. The lyrics at that time were intended to capture an international message of love.

The message of “love” likewise surfaced in this week’s Torah portion of Vayetze in regard to the actions of our patriarch Jacob. In the portion, Jacob’s search for a wife culminated in his meeting our matriarch Rachel, and to a degree it was love at first sight. In fact, we read that “Jacob loved Rachel” and was even willing to wait for seven years and work for his father in law as a shepherd for her hand in marriage.

WHAT is LOVE?

The question of What is Love has been a subject of considerable exploration and subjectivity.

Certainly when it comes to our patriarchs and matriarchs whose relationships comprise chapters of the Book of Bereshit, we are introduced to contrasting personifications of “love” and its sequence in the ultimate marriages of both patriarch and matriarch Isaac and Rivka and Jacob and Rachel. In the case of Isaac and Rivka, the text states that first came the marriage and love followed; whereas with Jacob and Rachel – it appears that the emotion of “Love” due to extenuating circumstances had to survive years before it could be actualized into marriage.

In previous blog entitled “Love is Not Enough – Love Always Wins,” I cite a definition of love as conveyed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l. The essence of his definition is that “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.”

Another Take on the Definition of Love

According to Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein z”l: “What does it mean to love someone – it is simple. If that person’s happiness makes you happy that is a marriage – that means you love someone. So a lot of people have a marriage and they sacrifice – if I take you shopping, then you have to go with me to the ball game. If I do this then you have to do this and they feel like they are sacrificing something for the other person. Wrong! If you want to do this and that is what makes you happy, guess what? It makes me happy also. And if I want to do something and it makes me happy, that should make you happy. That is a marriage and that is loving somebody. So it is not a deal and it is not a sacrifice.

Marriage is: My wife wants to go shopping and I hate shopping, but I love my wife so she is having a good time and although we did not buy anything and we spent 5 hours together and I am dead tired, but she said she had a great day, then I had a great day. And if I am doing something that she does not even understand and watching sports and whatever I am doing and she does not understand, or I am going to learn and will be learning a long time, but I come home and say, “Wow I learned the daf and we had such good arguments and questions” and she said, Wow, I see you are really happy.” So it took an extra hour to learn, but that made him happy, that is what makes her happy, and that is my message

That when a husband looks at his wife and even though he is not enjoying where they are going or what they are doing, or she does not enjoy going to her mother in law, or he loves to see his mother, so it is not a sacrifice that she went to see her mother in law. She is happy because, “Look, he is my husband and when he is with his mother he is happy, so I am happy.” And if she wants to do something that he does not understand and it is not a guy thing but she is happy, that makes him happy. That is love and that is marriage.”[1]

Another variation

In the book The Five Love Languages (Jewish Marriage Initiative Special Edition), the author Gary Chapman makes a distinction between “in-love” and “real love.”

According to Gary Chapman, real love “involves an act of the will and requires discipline, and it recognizes the need for personal growth. Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love, but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct.

That kind of love requires effort and discipline.”[2]

The Operative Word – It Takes Work

The above examples share a common denominator in demonstrating that the emotion of Love to last requires a commitment on the part of couples. However, unfortunately there is a growing sentiment that the kind of love exhibited by engaged couples will last a lifetime without having to exert oneself. And this is the greatest fallacy which has led to the increasing incidence of divorces in the first years of marriage.

I wrote this blog to address myself especially to engaged and newly married couples and their support network of parents and other stakeholders who interact with the engaged and newly married couples. To counter the expression espoused by the Beatles – that all you need is love, I want to share 5 things I think every engaged couple should know:

  1. How to communicate in a loving way – The key to a successful marriage is honest and loving communication. When a couple ends up in a marriage counselor’s office and describes an incident which upset one or both of them, they often tell totally different stories. This is because emotions weren’t communicated properly and neither party can see the other’s side. Communication is a skill and it can be learned. Even if you think you’re pretty good at it, it’s a good idea to learn tried and tested ways to improve communication and create a more loving environment.
  2. How to be a team – A long-lasting marriage is one in which both spouses are committed to work together to deal with all the challenges life throws at them. The happily-ever-after dream is just a dream; there will be many challenges big and small throughout life, and they can make or break a relationship. If you go into marriage with the attitude that it’s forever and that you are each other’s greatest cheerleaders, difficulties will serve to strengthen your marriage instead of weaken it.
  3. How to reduce money stresses – Money is one of the biggest stressors in a marriage. In addition to positive communication, open honesty and teamwork, it also helps to get professional advice about finances. Financial management is not taught in school, but it’s one of the most crucial life skills. Before marriage and whenever your financial situation changes, meet with a financial consultant to manage your money better and reduce the stress that comes with financial setbacks.
  4. What to do when you disagree – Unfortunately, most couples react to disagreement by arguing with each other, each spouse trying to prove that he or she is right, and one side unhappily conceding defeat at some point. A much more productive way to approach disagreement is with problem-solving tools. When you work together (you’re a team, remember?) to solve the problem, everyone wins.
  5. What each partner expects – Each partner in a marriage grew up in a different household, with different divisions of labor and expectations of roles. One partner may have witnessed a traditional role division, with the wife spending more time on domestic tasks while the husband focused primarily on his career. Or he may have grown up in a house where the wife made all the major decisions and the husband was a follower. Each spouse brings preconceived notions about roles, responsibilities and customs into the marriage. Many conflicts can be avoided simply by talking about these expectations and examining how they will be met or not met in the current relationship.

In my experience, success in marriage is like everything else; if you learn the tools and skills necessary, you have a much greater chance at making it work. Every engaged couple should seek out services which provide them with the tools they are missing and lead them toward a better marriage.

I am devoted to providing marriage education to dating, engaged and newly married couples, because I see what a huge difference it makes. Even a short workshop can change the direction of a relationship and enrich it. It’s easy to get carried away by the fairy tale in the days before a wedding, but once real life intrudes, the right skills become a necessity.

Towards that end, our amuta Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher is conducting a Chanukah campaign to share our exclusive online marriage education course named ePREP to engaged and newly married couples for FREE. All it takes is 6 hours to share as a couple and gain insights into how Love can find expression in the daily married life.

The links to gain more information and register are two fold – if you are an engaged or newly married couple then please click onto the link below:

http://yes.shemesh.co.il/newlywedscourse/

And if you are a parent or someone who has a connection with an engaged or newly married couple and desires to give the best wedding present – here is your link:

https://yes.shemesh.co.il/thebestgift/

Our heavily subsidized course is being offered due to our profound belief that Love is the gateway to our future and especially essential in the context of gaining confidence with being the best partner you can be. What was intriguing in our Torah portion was how certain our patriarch was that he had found the perfect “love” and his “love” knew no bounds in terms of the work that he had to endure to gain a marriage partner. The message for our young couples is that yes, an investment of time and commitment is required to experience “real love;” however, whatever you learn in courses such as ePREP – you have a toolkit to ensure that your “love” actualizes and reverberates for the benefit of your home and the community of Am Yisrael.

Please register for the course if you are engaged or newlyweds – the price is right and the knowledge is extremely helpful. And if you are someone who a supporter of such a couple in any manner of speaking – then please access the Gift package.

As the upcoming holiday of Chanukah demonstrates, we can find light in the darkness and with the subject of marriage – the stakes of increasing light in the form of solid healthy marriages is a present not to taken for granted – let me hear from you at the following email address:

marriageconf@gmail.com

if you need assistance accessing the registration form or if you have any questions about the course. In the meantime, keep spreading LOVE to all.

And together we can be the lamplighters spreading the message that LOVE MATTERS and it requires nurturing – but in the end we all benefit.

[1] The Ultimate Marriage Tip from Rabbi Wallerstein z”l

[2] Gary D. Chapman, The Five Love Languages (Chicago:Northfield Publishers,2010), 36

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education
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