I’ve been having computer troubles the last few days, so I’m so glad my super husband was able to fix the problem and I can be back here with you!
Last night I was thinking about something a close friend said to me. She knows that I don’t come from a family that excelled in marital relationships, to say the least. To be more clear, no one in my family except one great aunt stayed married long term. There were other challenges for me growing up, but I’ve grown from them all and don’t regret a single one of them. But my friend commented that she thinks I’m a ‘magician’, to have been able to create the life I have with no background for it.
It didn’t happen by itself, though. A number of people have asked me over the years, knowing only that I come from a divorced home, how I have the kind of marriage that I do, how I did it. My quick answer is always, choose well. Being married to a good person makes having a good marriage much more achievable. And my husband is a wonderful person.
But the deeper answer goes further back, to before I even began dating, when I was seventeen years old. At that time, I decided I needed to create my own vision of what kind of marriage I wanted to have. I could clearly see what I didn’t want to have – what every single other family member had, of the immediate and extended family through my grandmother’s generation. I knew what life was like in a broken family, and didn’t want any of my future children to go through that. And I knew that no one else in my family wanted the results they got, so it wasn’t enough just to want something different. I needed to plan for something different and positive, because you can’t build a life based on what you don’t want.
I made a list of all the qualities I felt were important for me – it didn’t include looks or physical attributes, just the internal qualities that I felt would provide a good balance to my personality. When a teacher at seminary asked me what I was looking for and I shared my list with her, she told me it was unrealistic. When a well known author who happened to be one of my teachers and is heavily involved in matchmaking spoke to me, he told me that my description didn’t match anything he thought was suitable for me. A married woman I spent a number of Shabbosim/Sabbaths with asked me about what I was looking for, and when I said I wanted someone warm, she told me I had to be a warm person to attract a warm person, and she didn’t think I had the quality of warmth (she didn’t realize that what she was seeing was being reserved, not cold, but that’s another story for another day). And others along the way discouraged me, too. But I stuck to my vision – I didn’t create it quickly or without significant amount of ongoing thought, and I believed in it even when those who seemingly had more experience than me discouraged me. I knew that I knew myself better than any of them, and my picture was more accurate. And when I met my husband, I knew by the second date that he was the right one, because he had everyone of the characteristics I felt were important. And we’ve had a wonderful life together, through good times and very, very challenging times.