Why Should I Get Married? Pt 3

Dear Rabbi Fried,

My son has been living with his Jewish girlfriend for the last two years and is now talking about having a child. All my urging to get married first are falling on deaf ears, as they don’t see what they’ll gain by being married over how they’re living now. They don’t accept my argument that the baby would be considered illegitimate. I would much appreciate any insights you have for me to relate to them.

Sylvia

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Dear Sylvia,

In last week’s column we explored one aspect of the importance and beauty of marriage. Let us clarify yet another crucial point. In order to fully appreciate self-actualization through marriage we must view from the perspective of the purpose of creation in general. 

The Kabbalists explain that G-d created the world in order to give mankind great pleasure. They further explain that the greatest pleasure is having a relationship with G-d. We were put in this world to prepare ourselves for this relationship, in this world and the next. This is done through developing goals, priorities and character traits that make us G-d-like. Some of the character traits that make us like God are kindness, compassion, selflessness, dedication and sensitivity to others. It is within the framework of marriage that we are able to develop these traits to the fullest. However, a relationship that is not in the form of a committed marriage but rather two people living together out of convenience or even love, will not help achieve this purpose. The reason is when two people are living together, with the lack of a true lifetime commitment, one of two things often occurs. Either they become focused on their own needs and pleasures and not upon giving to their partner; or one is looking to please the other in order to get their partner to commit to a marriage. As a result, feelings are not so natural, and the couple can’t really put their guard down. 

All this prevents the relationship from elevating the couple to become G-d-like through their interrelation and they don’t achieve the total pleasure available to them through love. These two phenomena also explain why couples who live together outside of formal marriage have a statistically low rate of sustained relationships. Marriage is not merely one more option out of various forms of relationships. Rather it is G-d’s way of ensuring that we will prepare ourselves for the ultimate pleasure in a true relationship with our beloved.

It is very difficult to sum up these ideas in the space of a short column. But I hope they will help you in relating to your son (and future daughter-in-law) the beauty of marriage, and how ultimately it will add to the pleasure and quality of life for them and their baby. I would also recommend you have them meet in person with a rabbi or rebbetzin who will have the compassion and understanding to help them at this time.

Much nachas to you!

Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried

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