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Preserving Mystery

May 9, 2009 | by Emuna Braverman

A greater openness does not seem to have led to greater marital success.

Jewish law is full of subtlety and nuance. It is rife with psychological understanding and evidence of the Almighty's acute awareness of our every need. No aspect of our lives is untouched or treated cavalierly.

As a bride and groom prepare to marry, they review laws and philosophies that reflect this. No relationship in our lives requires deeper sensitivity and understanding than our marriages. In no other relationship are the subtleties and nuances so important, and so noticed!

Our lives shouldn't be conducted under a full, bright glare. Dim lights reflect the power and necessity of mystery.

There is more life and excitement to a marriage when some mystery remains. Not every flaw need be revealed. This has been Jewish wisdom for thousands of years, and it can be extrapolated to all aspects of our married lives.

You gained some weight? Keep it to yourself and he'll never notice. Talk about it and it's all he'll see. My teenagers are always asking if a particular pimple is too noticeable. Only now that you've pointed it out!

You lost your temper at work? Unless you really need advice, keep it to yourself. Your wife is probably aware of your character flaws but you don't need to highlight them. She is trying to focus on your strengths; don't distract her with tales of your weaknesses.

A little mystery goes a long way.

Between "reality TV", tabloids, and even advertisements, our society has lost all sense of mystery. We tend to pride ourselves on our openness. And we don't even recognize the cost. It's not about modesty or shame. It's about subtlety. It's about nuance. It's about keep that flame of passion and love burning as brightly as possible.

As with many aspects of Jewish life, the small details make a big difference. The Almighty's understanding is infinitely sensitive.

I'm not advocating a stilted relationship or keeping important details from your spouse. This isn't about hiding the bills (Although you may want to wait until he sees how beautiful you look in that new dress! And don't point out where your stomach sticks out!). It's just about thoughtful censorship of what comes out of our mouths.

We don't want to point out our flaws, physical or otherwise, because they're not the essence of who we are and we don't want to draw unnecessary attention to them. And we don't want to point out our spouse's flaws either.

Not only is it hurtful but it focuses our attention on the wrong places.

When a bride and groom get married, it's a particular mitzvah to praise them to each other. This shouldn't end after the first year of marriage. We should constantly be looking for positive things to say and ignoring the negative. This is easier to do when it is not repeatedly pointed out to us! In fact, we should go against type and point out our strengths, the good things we've done, how nice we look!!

A greater openness does not seem to have led to greater marital success. The Almighty knows of what and whom He speaks. A little mystery goes a long way.

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