Let’s Talk Relationships: TorahCycle Chayei Sarah

Chayei Sarah 2013

When people kvetch or dream, the topic of their soul mate, true love, partner, or the absence of same is often high on their list of joys or laments. There are people who are well-loved and happy in their romantic life. Mazel tov. Other folks who are single and looking, hoping, and praying for love. Yet others partnered, but feel uncertain, taking  inventory and weighing possibilities.

There’s a great Hebrew song, Dodi Li, with the refrain, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. It’s sung about a relationship with the Divine, but it’s also about earthly love. Ditto the Song of Songs, evocative prose about passion, for one’s beloved and God.

Being loved matters. It’s embedded in our psyches. We yearn for its bountiful blessings. It’s about sensuality (where it often begins). It’s also about creating friendship, family, and ultimately about caring and support. A depth and duration of witnessing.

That’s the basis of this week’s reading: the death of a mother and the finding of a bride. In both cases the women are wise, compassionate, enduring, and loving. Not the first four words in most match.com ads.

Some folks genuinely prefer to be single. Others can’t endure a month alone before coupling again. And a rare few met their life love early and stayed together. Most of us, however, have bounced unevenly through dating and relationships, and have a history of base hits, maybe even a home run, but also lots of swings and misses.

Is it because we’re looking for the wrong things?

The complex algorithms of cyber-dating notwithstanding, creating a good, strong, long-lasting relationship is work. Fact: I also write an advice column. Most people’s relationship questions boil down to two: How do I find and keep a good one? How do I dump or change a bad one?

My answer: look within. Look within yourself and look within your partner, prospective or actual. Look for a depth of heart and soul that makes you want to share your deepest truths. That makes you feel seen, accepted, and loved, as well as passionately alive.

Most folks go partner shopping with “lists.” Requirements and deal breakers. Everything from financial security to table manners, looks to profession. But nothing substitutes for chemistry. That sense of recognition you feel when you realize someone’s gong to be important in your life, whether it’s a teacher or a colleague, let alone someone to date.

Because we’re here to do that for one another. To inspire, to help, to teach, to excite, to listen, to share, to share laughter and adventures, and to say what needs to be said. To witness one another’s highest aspirations and deepest pain. To be there in triumph and in despair. As needed, without being asked. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

This week think about what you most value in your relationships. I’m talking family of choice and of origin. What do you care about most in the people you love? What do those who love you love most about you?

Try to be more of all those qualities, towards yourself and others. The practice will change you, in good and lasting ways.