Olami Resources is happy to present a series of free installments of Tod Jacob’s and Peter Lynn’s (aka Rabbi Jacobs & Rabbi Lynn of Machon Yaakov) important new book, Not A Partnership: Why We Keep Getting Marriage Wrong & How We Can Get It Right. This week we are featuring the Prologue and Introduction. Over the next several weeks, we will publish additional chapters. Our sincere thanks to the authors for sharing their publication with the rabbis and educators subscribed to OlamiResources.com. Purchase a copy of Not A Partnership on Amazon.
THIS BOOK WAS BORN in 2016 in a cafe on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I was sitting with Yuval, an alumnus from the post-graduate program I co-founded, and where Peter and I have taught since 2005. Yuval — late 20s, talented, socially adept, heart of gold — was about mid-way through his second year of marriage. “Why is it,” Yuval asked, “that marriage is so hard? We love each other, we’re attracted to each other, we have similar values — but we often fight, and we always seem to be questioning the future of the relationship. Why can’t we get it right?!”
I thought about it for a moment. “It’s because you don’t understand what marriage is,” I answered. “You don’t know how to define it. And if you can’t define it, don’t know what a healthy one looks like, and don’t know your goal, how can you expect to get it right?”
The student pushed back: “What do you mean? What am I missing?”
I thought back to a sharp piece of wisdom I’d heard years earlier from a well-known South African rabbi (Dr. Akiva Tatz) and replied: “You think that marriage is a partnership. You have your rights and obligations, and I have my rights and obligations. So, like most partners, I spend my time convinced that I’m doing my job perfectly, but always disappointed in her for not holding up her end of the bargain. And of course she’s making the exact same set of assumptions from her end. My dear, marriage is not a partnership.”
Yuval sat stunned for a few moments. “You have to write a book on marriage, with exactly that title!” he exclaimed. He then thought for another moment and asked, “So… if it’s not a partnership, what is it?”
That question led to a fruitful discussion with Yuval about what marriage is, and how it works. That marriage, above all, is life’s greatest platform for constant giving. That a husband or wife can take full responsibility for making the relationship work and for making the other happy, irrespective of whether the spouse is giving in kind. That great marriages are made, not received. I tried to paint a picture in which a husband and wife view their ultimate role as acting the way that the spouse needs. And how, ultimately, when we approach marriage in this way, we can generate a lifetime of happiness and wellbeing, literally becoming one with our soulmate.