I’ve been to at least a few dozen weddings and I tear up almost every time. Besides a birth, few events match the love and hope that a wedding does. With all of my heart, I hope and pray for the best for the new couple. I hope they last forever. I wish them shalom bayit (peace in the home).
But sometimes it doesn’t work out. At certain times marriage is like riding a bucking bronco. You just have to hold on for dear life otherwise you might end up with brain damage. No other relationship comes close to the depth of marriage.
Sometimes people need or want to call it quits. Sometimes a spouse almost or does kill the other.
If a couple divorces, I think some of their family members and close friends who attended the wedding should be invited to part of the proceedings. And those guests should take sides. After all, most of us take sides anyway. We listen to hour after hour about how horrible the spouse is so we should get some reward for time served.
Divorce proceedings tend to be much more dramatic and interesting than weddings. There’s yelling, screaming and crying — and that’s just lawyers trying to get paid. Often, spouses don’t hide how much money the divorce is costing them. “This SOB is costing me close to 2 million.” That becomes the mantra: “2 million.” Every few minutes, the spouse mumbles, “2 million.”
For many couples, instead of marital bliss, they have marital blisters.
Perhaps at their final court appearance, their mothers, if they’re still alive, should again break a plate — over each other’s head. If not that, then maybe the couple should consider stepping on each other’s wedding ring finger. If they divorce within six months after the wedding, all of the gifts they received should be posted online where wedding guests can pick something nice for themselves. Also, friends and family should be privy to what went wrong in the marriage so the “I told you not to marry him/her” group gets some satisfaction.
At almost every wedding I’ve attended, the clergy will talk about what an incredible person the bride or groom is and how lucky the other person is to have found this Eighth Wonder of the World. If this turns out to be a crock, the clergy should be fined from $28,000 to $41,000 to cover the cost of therapy.
For many couples, instead of marital bliss, they have marital blisters but they can learn to maneuver. A person in my community gives private talks to men who are about to take the plunge. The talk lasts six hours over a two-day period. It explains to the husband-to-be that he probably is marrying a person who occasionally might go insane but that eventually marital bliss will return (hopefully).
Women don’t need a six-hour talk. They intuitively understand that they are marrying someone who’s been screwed up by his parents and her job is to take apart this person and then patiently reassemble him. But like anytime you assemble something, you might find that there is a missing piece or two and you’ll have to live with that.
One thing that helps a marriage is common goals, a moral system you both agree on. If both are dedicated to becoming better people and living some sort of a holy life, this could help. The rabbis are clear that if you want a good marriage, you need to incorporate God into the mix. After all, he put you two together so he just might know how to keep you together.
Marriage is so tough that the rabbis tell us God actually comes down and is under the chuppah with you. Any time God personally shows up, it’s a big deal. So, you’d better get cracking. Living with a person is like living in a foxhole. So, like in a foxhole, keep praying, keep your head down, do the necessary hard work and, God willing, it will work out for both of you. You know what they say, “There are no atheists in a foxhole.”
Mark Schiff is a comedian, actor and writer.