One of the most common requests for advice asked of Jewish sages is how to save a marriage. To which, the most frequent reply is : “learn how to compromise.” Rabbi Benjamin Blech, who has been happily married for over 50 years, says “You know what you call someone who believes they’re always right? Divorced.” Being able to meet your spouse halfway is an important component in maintaining shalom in the home.
If anyone knows how to save a marriage, it’s Rabbi Blech, and he’s had a happy Jewish marriage for 54 years to prove it. Blech uses the mezuzah as an example. He explains that there is a reason the mezuzah is placed as it is at the entrance to the home. Experts in Jewish law had debated whether it should be positioned horizontally or vertically, and could not come to an agreement. So both sides finally compromised and agreed that it should be placed on a slant. “There’s no source for the view of a mezuzah on a slant”, Blech says. “But it fulfills a higher truth. The truth on which a Jewish home must be built if marriages are to survive and prosper. Compromise is the key.”
No matter how well two people’s personalities mesh, there are always going to be times when you disagree. Rebekah likes going out and visiting friends, and her husband Ephraim prefers to stay home. She likes to listen to classical music, whereas he likes jazz, which Rebekah can’t stand. These are things that are easy to find compromise with. In order to save the marriage, Rebekah and Ephraim agreed that one night a week Rebekah could enjoy a women’s night out with friends while Ephraim stays home and listens to his extensive jazz collection.
There are also bad forms of compromise, however. Compromise that keeps you from living up to your potential and does not allow you to be your true self is not advised as a way of saving a marriage. It will only cause resentment in the end and is in fact harmful to the long term health of a happy Jewish marriage. If one partner uses emotional blackmail to get the other to agree with them, it will cause harm to the relationship.
A strong Jewish marriage is one in which both partners encourage one another to reach their greatest potential, and sometimes compromise is needed to allow your partner to grow. Every little thing you can compromise on serves to strengthen your relationship. As long as your partner is willing to meet you halfway most of the time, compromise is the solution on how to save a marriage.