In America today there is a very large divorce rate. Some because of abuse, others because of accidental Vegas Marriages, most because couples simply lose their lust for one another. Even with an increasing divorce rate, couples are becoming engaged and even married as young as High School! In some cultures, this is because of an arranged Marriages, which should benefit both families economically. There is growing controversy all over the world about legalizing gay marriage. Some feel like marriage is more personal, and that it is a connection between the couple and God (or simply very personal if you don’t believe in that). So in light of Valentines Day, is Marriage for the Passionate or Prudent? As a romantic, I agree with the first.
Most people can remember Marilyn Monroe’s stunning performance in the 1953 hit,” Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. She plays a ritzy girl who likes the high collar end of life, even going as far to marry a boy with a big inheritance. His father sees this and tries to steer his son away from her in fear of her gold digging characteristic. When criticized up front by the father, Marilyn’s character defends herself with
Esmond Sr.: Have you got the nerve to tell me you don’t want to marry my son for his money?
Lorelei Lee: It’s true.
Esmond Sr.: Then what do you want to marry him for?
Lorelei Lee: I want to marry him for YOUR money.
Lorelei Lee: Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?
Putting the humor aside, Marilyn also says, “if you had a daughter, wouldn’t you want her to marry well- a man who can support her? Why shouldn’t I want that for myself?” And, low and behold, Lorelei had a point. But, in the end, she did fall in love with Esmond, without her intention. He loved her even though everyone else questioned her and he would love her forever, and that’s what made her want to marry him. Even if the relationship started arranged and by the size of his wallet, she got the ring when she realized her true feelings for the boy as well.
In the Orthodox Jewish tradition, there is a Shidduch. It is a system of matchmaking within the community for marriage purposes. It is one of the main focuses of another classic, “Fiddler on the Roof”. The eldest daughter voices concerns to her mother over matches as the matchmaker, Yenta, arrives. She complains about the ‘last one’ being“So old, and bald… he had no Hair! To which her mother responds
A husband is not to look at, A husband is to get!
Which reminds us that marriage was not always so lovey-dovey. Originally it was for a simple family arrangement. Of course most cultures had some sort of matchmaker who would at least try to find good men, for those who could afford it. It was more of how well you could live, rather than how much you liked them. And why? Maybe because emotions don’t last very long in most cases. As we change, our minds change with us. We always seem to regret the decisions we made as teenagers, and then, marriage was a permanent thing, not a simple divorce to be had. If you fell in love with a poor farm boy and married him, and found the next day that your “love” wasn’t that strong, you’re stuck. Even if “you have to look at your husband sometime”, an old man who can take care of you, who you never liked in the first place sounds reasonable.
So,why do we take the risk of making a huge mistake? Because the reward is priceless. You can’t understand the look elderly couples have in their eyes, remembering all of the years they’ve had together, the children they raised together; the memories and lives they shared, all sealed always after years in those eyes. They have this magical ability to not even say a word to each others, but just be happy in their own presence. They know each other better than anyone else on the earth. That’s the ultimate goal. Do we always achieve it, no. But isn’t it worth it to find that kind of happiness? Most definitely. It’s a rush, and a journey well worth taking.
Tzeitel and Motel from Fiddler on the Roof