I’ve heard the above sentence now so many times. But, in my experience, when at least one of the partners doesn’t love the other, the marriage will not be sustainable.
He told me, ‘She’s a good woman and mother and I should not complain but I don’t love her. It’s not that I can’t love a woman. I’ve loved many already. But we have four kids. Should I divorce and marry someone I can love now I’m still beautiful or wait?’ I suggested, ‘There is no way you could love her if you tried?’ No, he couldn’t. He will not stay with her.
A woman once told me, ‘Before I married him, I never saw his hump. It sounds strange but I didn’t notice. Once I noticed, I couldn’t love him.’ I knew her husband. The sweetest, most giving, soft-spoken, loving man so many women would die for. They had many children. They were still married, putting my ‘rule’ to the test. But there are always exceptions that confirm the rule, I reasoned. After a couple of years, I met him at a bus stop. ‘I just returned my kids to my ex,’ he explained. How sad.
I must admit that I don’t really understand it. I’m like any excellent therapist or teacher, I easily love. But apparently, most people don’t. For most people, it’s a miracle when they love a spouse and an even greater miracle if they’d love all their children. Sadly.
In the olden days, people got married because the family said so, for shelter (women) and being taken care of (men), not necessarily with love. But those were the days that people would not divorce anyway. That doesn’t exist anymore. Not even in the frumest circles.
You don’t want to hurt yourselves and your kids with divorce, don’t marry unless there is a deep love on both sides from the start.
‘Well, I can always divorce,’ is bad reasoning. First of all, it’s a betrayal of what marriage is for. Secondly, you’ll be older and more scared and so not be able to marry the same quality partner once you divorced. Especially not if the divorce was not amicable — and normally it isn’t. Thirdly, many new partners for the world cannot love the children of others — only ‘their own.’ And fourthly, if you are a man and need to pay for your preexisting kids, from which money will you maintain your second household?
‘Love Will Come’
As a Baal Teshuvah, I learned that the Torah Tradition holds that love comes with the years. It’s not my professional experience.
Surely, there is something deeper than being in love but I never heard of people who eventually didn’t love their partner came to love her or him eventually. If you don’t love your fiancé or s/he doesn’t love you, don’t tie the knot.
I once saw a young chreidi couple on the bus. They must have been all of 17 years old. They looked at each other, while they were talking, truly star-struck. I’m sure that they weren’t dating like crazy before, let alone touched each other before the choppe. But they clearly first had made sure they loved each other. That must be the Jewish way.
Marriage With the Wrong Gender
Another hopeless marriage is when one (or two) partners married the wrong gender. Most frequently, that is a Gay man with a woman. But there are three other possibilities in this category too.
In my professional experience, Gay and Straight do not refer to what one can but to what one needs.
Most psychology is not there yet. They would call a Gay man married to a woman bisexual or even straight. They go by ‘what you do is what you are.’ Not true.
Sexual Identity refers to what gender you need to become ‘one flesh’ as the Bible calls it. There are many (but by far not all) people who could have sex, children, friendship, closeness, and love with someone of the wrong gender. But they can’t become ‘one flesh.’ Their existential loneliness is not resolved, no matter how deep and good the relationship. Even when the other partner is married to the right gender. They don’t always eventually leave because of sexual urges. They leave because they don’t have that unison with a partner that almost all people need.
The rabbi who started marrying Lesbians with Gay men got lots of publicity. He didn’t get further than a dozen couples. He still had dozens of men on his waiting list but no more women. That never made the papers. Women are harder to fool psychologically.
There seem to me to exist true rare Bi men and even more true Bi women. They are not defined by that they can or want or feel a need to have sex with both genders. They are Bi because they can unite with either gender.
In summary, one needs love and a partner of the right gender to have a sustainable marriage. Young people, beware.