5 min read
Four reasons to help you clarify if you’re ready to get married.
Why do you want to get married? Take a moment and write down your reasons. How you answer this question reveals a lot about your emotional and mental readiness for marriage. Compare your answers to what I think are the four best reasons for getting married.
Many people get married for selfish reasons. They expect to be loved rather than to give love. Judaism emphasizes that a mature person wants to get married primarily to give and to promote the happiness of one’s partner.
Human beings are born takers. Unless one makes a conscious decision to become a giver, one will forever remain a taker and self-absorbed. It takes an act of will and hard work to overcome our natural inclination to take. One of the ultimate challenges of life is to become someone who gets more pleasure from helping others succeed than from one’s own success.
Marriage is the ultimate opportunity to grow as a giver. The more we give, the more expansive and responsible we become. To love and care about others is to emulate God’s essence.
The more we give, the more love we will experience.
Many marriages fail because people measure their marital satisfaction by how happy the other person makes them. How often do we hear people say, “He doesn’t meet my needs”? This is of course not to say that having our emotional needs met isn’t important. But if our primary goal in marriage is to get our needs met rather than meet the needs of our spouse, we will never truly be happy. Only givers are truly happy people. If two people’s primary motive is rooted in self-centeredness, they will never experience the true pleasure of loving each other. The more we give, the more love we will experience. The more we take, the less love we will experience.
A question to ponder: Do I want to get married primarily to be taken care of and be loved or to care about another person and give love?
I often ask singles who are contemplating marriage, “So after the honeymoon, what are you going to do for the next 50 years together?” When a couple gets married, there is a traditional blessing people give to newlyweds: “Together, you should build a solid home among the Jewish people.” Success in marriage requires two people building something meaningful together.
In marriage a couple either grows closer together over time or grows further apart. A study done at Brandeis University demonstrated that couples who share even one Jewish practice together have a lower rate of divorce than couples who don’t share that practice. For example, couples who are committed to having regular Shabbat dinners had a 25% less chance of divorce compared to couples who did not. Couples who share meaningful activities together create a stronger bond that brings them closer together.
One of the greatest building projects a man and woman can share is to be concerned about the next generation and the future of the world by raising children who will do more than take up space in the world. The ultimate goal of being a parent is not just “to have kids,” but to have a clear vision of what type of people you want them to become and how they will make the most positive impact possible on the next generation.
A question to ponder: What do you want to build with your future life partner?
The Medrash says that God made the first human being androgynous and then split this being into two halves, male and female. The definition of a complete human being is the union of a male and female through a metaphysical rite of passage called marriage.
Marriage fulfills many psychological needs such as our need for companionship, support, understanding, friendship, and safety. Marriage also addresses that inner sense of an incompleteness that goes beyond mere existential loneliness. It is our need to find our other half and become a complete and whole human being. As an individual male or female we are metaphysically incomplete. Marriage satisfies this deeper longing to become whole and complete. This is why marriage is much more than a type of social or business contract between a man and woman. It is a metaphysical bonding of two incomplete persons making them one whole person.
A question to ponder: Do I understand that marriage is necessary to make one whole?
Marriage is boot camp for becoming a responsible adult. Marriage is hard work. Taking on the commitment to confront challenges and not run away from them provides the opportunity for us to grow up and mature as human beings. The more responsibility we are able to handle, the more we grow as adults. Rabbi Noah Weinberg always said that the most important question to ask yourself before pursuing marriage is, “Am I ready for responsibility?”
A question to ponder: Am I ready to become a fully responsible adult?