Today: A valuable secret to a happy marriage.
“Welcome to our home,” said the 92-year-old Rabbi, as he smiled and escorted the young couple into his study. With piercing blues eyes, thick silver hair, standing 6 feet tall and trim as a distance runner the Rabbi made a striking impression on his visitors.
It was an honor to meet this Rabbi, the former head of the city’s biggest Congregation and who advised U.S. Presidents and captains of industry. Now, in semi-retirement, he oversees a small temple in a modest area of the community.
“I’m Rabbi Maurice Rosen,” he said beaming with heartfelt warmth as he shook their hands and sat down on a plush brown leather chair behind an over-sized cherry wood desk. Sitting across from him the young couple was mesmerized; their eyes scanning the oak paneled walls and the shelves packed with books and the many pictures, diplomas and awards on display.
But one picture in a polished silver frame held their attention. It was of the Rabbi and his wife and their daughter surrounded by their granddaughter, her husband and their two daughters, 5 and 7 years old and everyone beaming with joy. It was the only picture he kept on his desk.
Rabbi Rosen sat quietly watching this young couple and then as their eyes turned to him, he said, “For 60-years, I’ve had the pleasure of conducting marriage ceremonies for couples very much in love as the two of you are today. How may I help you my children?”
“Rabbi,” said Susan, a young bride to be at 23, and a recent nursing school graduate, “Next week you’ll be performing our wedding ceremony and Josh and I asked for this session so we can learn how you and Mrs. Rosen have been happily married for 65-years. Thank you for your time.”
“Yes,” said Josh, who at 27 just started his career as a pharmacist. “Thank you.” And then as the couple held hands, Susan said, “Many of our friends are in unhappy relationships and our parents have been divorced and are having problems in their current marriages.
“What dear Rabbi,” she asked, “is the secret to a happy marriage?” There was a sparkle in Rabbi Rosen’s eyes as he listened to the question and then he smiled broadly. “Rachel,” he called to his wife, would you please join us?”
An instant later, a small gracious lady of 86 walked into the room. Her eyes were bright green; her cheeks had a rosy glow and her shoulder length gray hair was professionally styled.
“This young couple,” the Rabbi said, “Would like to know our secret for a happy marriage.” Rachel turned to the newly weds to be and laughed heartily as her heart joyfully danced. She then leaned over and hugged each of them.
“Heaven knows it’s not to avoid fights as many people think,” she said with a chuckle. “The Rabbi and I just had a spat this morning, as we often do. That’s human nature. When we disagree and it gets too loud I’ll say, ‘Oh Morrie, shush.’ And I’ll smile and wave my fist at him.
“We disagree but do it respectfully: no yelling, no name calling and no words so hurtful, we can never take them back,” she added as she turned to the Rabbi and looked lovingly at him. “Later we apologize and hug each other and we set our differences aside, for there are no differences worth hurting each other and threatening our marriage.”
“It’s easy right now, for you are very much in love,” stated the Rabbi as he smiled at Rachel. “And these are the best of times. But there will be times of great heartache.
“This is life,” proclaimed the Rabbi raising his voice. “You must rise to the occasion each time and recall you promised to love and cherish one another in good times and bad. Be a rock of support when it’s required and be forgiving when it’s needed, and it will be needed often.
“What do you mean,” asked Susan. “Have you and Mrs. Rosen faced great heartache?”
“Oh, I can’t even start to tell you,” replied Rachel. “There was a time I left the Rabbi for two weeks and moved in with my sister. He was so caught-up in his career, he forgot I existed and I felt like the world’s loneliest person.
“I thought it was time for me to build a new life, one that would reaffirm my value,” Rachel said as her face hardened and her eyes flashed in anger at the memory. “But my sister talked me out of it by saying, ‘What about your daughter? Doesn’t she need two loving parents in one home?’
“And I knew she was right. So the Rabbi and I sat down and we spoke for hours until we resolved how our lives were going to be. He would be free to pursue his career but he would set aside two afternoons a week and Sundays to give our daughter his undivided attention.
“During that time I would be free to enjoy activities that fulfill me. I took college classes, attended plays and luncheons with my friends and began to paint portraits and landscapes. I loved being a mother but without that freedom I would have suffocated as a woman.
“Today, family life is different and you both have careers. But some day you may be blessed with children and if so, you’ll need to resolve parenting issues and personal freedoms,” Rachel added as her eyes welled up in tears. “I cried many times before leaving the Rabbi and all these years later I hurt inside when I think of how close we came to ending our marriage.”
Reaching for a tissue, Rachel began to dab her eyes and soon her familiar smile returned. “The key to a happy marriage,” she stated, “Is to be loving and forgiving, as the Rabbi and I were with each other.”
“And that,” said a choked up Rabbi Rosen lowering his voice to just above a whisper and smiling gently, “Is a valuable secret to a happy marriage and it will serve you well all of your days.”
“Yes dear children,” said Rachel. “And a smile and a reassuring hug or handshake fits in nicely as well.” She then wrapped her arms around each person in the room giving hugs to all.
Success Tip of the Week:
Is there someone who could use your love and forgiveness? If so there is no better time than now to offer it from your heart.
This story and its advice was adapted from observation of the lives of Ed and Fay Ward, 96 and 94 years of age respectively. They have been married for 73 years.
In the next KazanToday:
The key to successful relationships.