How should one react if they find that they don’t love their partner anymore like they did in the beginning?
And the answer is that love is not the criterion of behavior in marriage. Love should be a result, but the criterion is loyalty.
We say in Yiddish, azoi vi men bet zich ois, azoi shluft men. It means “the way you make your bed, that’s the way you should sleep.” Look before you leap. Once you leap, hold onto it. That’s it forever. Because if you’re going to regret and maybe there’s somebody better yet, then you’ll never remain married. Every day you’ll change.
So the attitude of Torah – not only Torah; lehavdil decent gentiles once upon a time in their wedding ceremony used to say, “Do you take this person for better or for worse?” and they said, “I do.” And we, lehavdil, surelydo that!
Like I said, ודבק – loyalty has to be the criteria. And forget about love. Of course it’s a duty; ואהבת לרעך כמוך – you have to love every fellow Jew. And those people with whom you are frequently in contact, certainly! And there are very many reasons why a woman and a husband should love each other more than strangers do. Of course, you can never forget the fundamental duty to love a fellow Jew. You must love a fellow Jew! We just don’t have time to think about everybody, to bestow love on every Jew. We don’t have big enough hearts for that. You need to be Avrohom Avinu or a big chossid. But for one’s own spouse, it’s not that difficult. So from time to time, it’s possible to generate some love.
But no matter what, even if romance long ago flew out of the window – and it does fly out immediately; of course, because it’s a false concept – nevertheless loyalty takes its place through thick and thin.
Here I see in the street a fat husband waddling down the street and a fat wife next to him. They’re middle aged. Nothing romantic. But they’re loyal to each other. They’re married and they’re going to stick together. They’ll be buried side by side. Nothing lovable anymore. I look at them – I couldn’t imagine any romance between them. It’s long past that age. And still they’re intensely loyal to each other. If he would have a nervous breakdown, she would nurse him. She wouldn’t send him away to the insane asylum. If she’d be old and decrepit, he’d push her in a wheelchair.
Don’t you see an old man pushing an old woman in a wheelchair loyally? He doesn’t say, “I’m going to get rid of her. She’s too much of a bother.”
Here’s an old husband; he’s in diapers. He’s senile. But his wife is loyal to him till the end. She changes his diapers every day five or six times. Because she married him and she’s going to remain with him til the last minute and she’s going to the next world and be side by side with him in Olam Haboh.
And that’s the ideal of a marriage. It’s not built on romance. It’s not built on any ideas of a Prince Charming or a princess. It’s built on the idea of ודבק, loyalty. You’re together forever. It’s like part of your body. You’re not going to say goodbye to part of your body because it’s not as good as it used to be. You may have an old hand or even an old heart. You’ll hold onto it as long as you can.
TAPE # 574 (November 1985)