This was my first Grown Up Wedding. On a beautiful Sunday in a lovely courtyard, my two friends, both of whom had been married before, became husband and wife. They were well into adulthood when they found each other, at a time when each one needed a friend. And, friends they became, well before they were lovers. They had been through the curves of life cycles and faced this jump into marriage with serene anticipation.
Surrounded by friends and family, an extraordinary rabbi presided over the simple service. Rabbi Scheiner, is a contemporary orthodox rabbi, has a magical presence. Through both his simplicity and depth, he was able to affect every person in the room regardless of their religious beliefs. He was a mensch and a holy man.
Rabbi Scheiner described why God had chosen a garden as the birthplace for Adam and Eve. Since a garden is natural and organic but does need to be tended regularly, it is a metaphor for the way we must care for our love to keep it growing and flourishing. Tending love, he explained eloquently, involves the three A’s: affection, appreciation and attention – characteristics which I find to be simple truths.
Rabbi Scheiner also made mention that Adam and Eve wore no clothes, and in essence, they showed their true selves to each other. The beauty of a couple is the intimacy that happens from being emotionally naked in front of the other. We wear clothes to go out and we take off our clothes when we come home. That said, when we are naked emotionally, our partner has our back.
What makes this so meaningful to me is that as adults, we learn this through the school of hard knocks. What should come so simply and naturally becomes so difficult. Although helping people to find their connection with others is my work, it humbled and awed me that in minutes Rabbi Scheiner could so succinctly define the essence of a relationship within the context of hope and optimism.
Upon more reflection, what is even more striking to me is that couples in trouble echo the same refrain: “I do not feel appreciated.” The lack of simple, daily appreciation for the things we do for the other, creates the deepest fissure in a once-happy partnership. The very simple acknowledgement becomes the force with which we can often bear the banalities of everyday life.
Counter-intuitively, I am passionately appealing to couples to appreciate the other instead of complaining about what the other person is not. Too often, couples in trouble become caught up in their own success; striving to reach the next rung of the ladder so that they forget to appreciate that their partner is the one person they can be naked with. It is a wise idea to tend your garden instead of standing back to notice its imperfections. We cannot forget the grace that allows us the privilege and responsibility of caring for another. I’m sure Rabbi Scheiner would approve.