They had been married for just over seven years, and had two children: a boy and a girl. Ilana recalled their courtship, their wedding, their honeymoon….how much in love they had been! She tried to figure out what exactly went wrong and when, but couldn't put her finger on it. She certainly hadn't changed, and to be honest with herself, neither had Yossi. He was actually a dutiful husband and a responsible father. But she felt that the love she had once felt for him had simply evaporated into thin air. Was she destined to live the rest of her life without love? Why not put an end to this marriage, this dreary life, and find a romantic partner who would excite her?

 

It started with a stupid quarrel about who should wash the dishes. Ruthie felt strongly that since she and Shmulik both worked full time outside the house, they should share the household chores equally. Shmulik was willing to help, but believed that the main burden of the housework should be on her shoulders. Just the word "help" annoyed Ruthie no end. "So don't 'help' me," she told him, and he took her at her word. Not only did he stop doing housework, but he even stopped clearing up after himself. Ruthie decided that she would get back at him, and started doing little things that she knew would rile him. And so it went on, a vicious circle, until one day Shmulik suggested that maybe they would be better off separating. "You don't scare me," was Ruthie's answer. "Let's see how you manage without me!"

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And the divorce rates keep going higher and higher. Why? There are so many books these days on how to have a successful marriage. The more divorces, the more books…..or maybe the other way round? How is it that with our parents and grandparents, married life seemed so easy? Did they really have it as easy as it seemed to us, or perhaps they valued the sanctity of marriage more than they did their own individual caprices? Perhaps they realized intuitively that meeting the needs and desires of their spouse was not a sacrifice on their part; quite the contrary, it encouraged similar behavior on the part of their spouse, and thus, slowly and gradually, the bond between them was deepened and strengthened.  In brief, they knew that the one who gives is the one who gains.

Fortunately, there is the option of divorce – when there is absolutely no way to sustain a marriage. But it must be the last option, when nothing else works. We must teach our children – and more importantly, set an example for them – that the wedding day is by no means "the happiest day of our lives" – since that would imply that from then on, the marriage is inevitably downhill – but rather, the wedding day is only the first stair of the long, difficult, challenging, but infinitely rewarding upward staircase of living, learning and growing together, day by day, year by year. 


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