The Marriage Gamble

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


  "Hare Ad Mikudeshis Lee"


Marriage can be a blessing, marriage can be a curse.  It is meant to be two people whose love is great, or it can become a misery with one partner dominating and controlling the other because the marriage license protects them from public criticism.  On the surface, when the partner has found his/her love, he/she is considered desirable, appreciated, and worthy.  A human of the opposite gender has found him/her to be special, worthy of love.  Both have bonded and have achieved a very important goal in their lives.  They have found each other, mates for life.  The spouse is one who cherishes, loves, respects, understands, assists, and protects from harm.  They have met and “fallen” in love. Marriage is something that little girls used to dream about at a very early age and their feelings were reinforced by their parents, especially their mothers.  Both parents talked about the “Chuppe” that the girl and their loved one would stand under. He would be a “good Jewish” man who would adore her forever, they would produce wonderful religious Jewish children, “Talmud chochems,” learned “Menschen,” a pride to their family. The women would be chochems also and in addition they would be able to cook and bake and make their beloved a happy man.  They would love their Mischpoche and be accepted!

Reality in our modern world frequently shows a different picture, a modern view.  Coming under the canopy with the man or woman is an accomplishment.  They have found their mate.  They “fell in love” because their “significant other” looked good.  They met through friends, perhaps at a social occasion, or possibly found each other on an internet, or perhaps the discovery came after a ten minute meeting through a dating service.  He looked good enough, had an acceptable job and occupation, was mannerly, and appeared to be “a good bet.”  She was friendly, had a pretty face and had  a fairly “normal” figure, and seemed interested in him.  When they had their first encounter, they found each other acceptable to some extent and eventually bonded, and after many months or years “tied” the proverbial knot.

In today's world marriage is a gamble.  Jewish marriage used to be considered a blessing.  Parents were delighted that they had succeeded in having kept their beliefs, their religion.  They had something in common with their Jewish in laws; they believed that the union of their children would last.  Reality is different.  Men and women are considered equal.  Each gender wants to be the important one.  Each one “knows” what is best.  Women are in the work world, as are men.  Women are expected to cook, clean, and be responsible for keeping their spouses fed and happy in addition to be good sex partners and have a sweet loving demeanor at all times.  Men are expected to respect and satisfy their wives, bring flowers, be thoughtful, assist their wives, and even cook at times, be satisfied with their “love” life, their sexuality, and be “men,” whatever that concept means.  The reality is that divorce even among our Jewish brethren is not unusual. Children are not very often totally raised by their mothers and fathers but are sent to nurseries where paid personnel feeds and watches over them while both parents are at work.  Women no longer are dependent on men’s incomes, since they have similar jobs, professions, and opportunities that were the male's prerogative and opportunity.  Divorce is an everyday occurrence, and if either the male or female can no longer be bonded, they divorce, creating a new “experience” for themselves.

There is a story which demonstrates that which once was and that which we see in today's world.  Two older Jewish women sit on a bus next to one another:  Mrs. Genendel and Mrs. Hochnase.  Mrs. Genendel is wearing a necklace with a large shimmering diamond.  Mrs. Hochnase admires this jewel and says, "Where did you get this beautiful jewel and what do you call it?"  It reminds me of the Hope Diamond in Washington.  The response:  "My diamond is the Genendel diamond. It comes with a curse."  What is the curse?  It is Mr. Genendel!


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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