Answer: It is absolutely preferable to begin the conversation with an explanation about the nature of men and the nature of women, for this provides a certain foundation. But it is worthwhile to open the explanation about their nature from a distance. This is a very serious topic.
First of all, one must explain that a family is not built on love, but on mutual respect, completion of each other, friendship, and mutual help, yearning to understand the other, and the main and most important thing upon which the family is built is mutual concession.
A true connection between a man and a woman is built on mutual concession. In no way or manner do we correct the partner; we don’t try to talk about his faults; rather, we accept him as he is and try to become someone who completes him.
A person is an egoistic entity who is directed towards self-benefit within himself. When someone else is next to him and he cannot exploit him at every moment for his own benefit, it is as if he accumulates electrical charges and then sparks begin to “fly” between them, for the other is also an egoist.
Can we exist together in peace in a situation like this? For a particular period, when love dazzles us, we are full of happiness and ready for anything. Yet when this passes and the veil of love falls from our eyes, I notice that I am living next to an egoist like me, even though I thought that everything would be for me and for my sake and things would be good and pleasant with my other half. Yet suddenly everything is the opposite. So it is necessary to arrange everything differently, not under the influence of the insanity of love that stupefies us, but with the sanity of knowledge.
How can we co-exist peacefully? So gradually we bring people to begin to discuss the complicated relationship between them neutrally, discussing them only as physiology.
They must not look at a particular family, but generally clarify what a family is, what a human being is, and this will take them away from themselves, will take them outside, since if there is a problem like this for everyone, they are talking about a general problem. They lower the internal tension between them and move to philosophy, where they talk generally and discover the nature of a man and woman.
They are similar in some ways and different in some ways. They are similar in that they are both egoists, and they are different in that the ego is expressed in a different way in each of them according to each of their hormonal and psychological systems.
After that we can go on to the next problem, the problem of marriage. Marriage is a covenant; it is a complementary covenant: I need her and she needs me.
When we understand this, it will be clear to us that the essence of our nature is reception: I always want to receive from the partner. That is how we begin to teach people the fundamentals of the wisdom of Kabbalah.
There is no provocation here! I want clean clothes, dinner to be ready, a tidy dwelling. And my partner wants to see a man in the house, a husband, and a father with everything that is involved with that. Is it possible to satisfy the demands of the partner? Do we want to do that?
Since in general both of us are working, we have children, particular obligations after work (the bank, shopping, and so forth), is it objectively possible to demand from our partner the fulfillment of all of our demands?
If we see the list of mutual demands, then we understand that, in fact, we never knew each other. I didn’t understand what she wanted from me; after all, this is not my nature. She never told me anything; rather, she expected that I would guess it by myself.
That is how we show people that the problem in a family is that we are egoists—each one of us sits and waits for the other to fulfill him, even when he doesn’t say anything to him about this. So he is constantly hurt in anticipation of when his partner will finally understand him.
This way is completely wrong. Let’s not begin from approaching each other from a distance according to the list of demands: I concede – she concedes, I do something for her – she does something for me. Even if we see each other’s lists, we cannot hold onto them.
Let’s do this more simply: We begin to concede and to please each other, we transform into friends who help each other. I think about what to do for her, she thinks about what to do for me; we begin to play a game called, “the method of mutual concessions.” This is a game, but we enter it. Each one thinks about how to give to the partner what he would now want to get from me.
If we communicate in a format like this, then we begin to educate and to internalize within us this habit of mutual connection, and as a result of this something called “mutual love” is created between us. This is not the same love where we kissed by starlight, but love that appears on a basis of mutual concessions. We build it in ourselves and then we create something shared, not “he” and “she,” but something called a “family” or a “couple.”
The main thing here is to show the partner that even though I am boiling with anger and disagreement with him, I make an effort to turn to him calmly, as if nothing happened.
The concessions are carried out through rising above my ego. And I don’t hide this in order to teach the other, to provide him with an example. And if one of the partners is not ready to rise above himself, the other must help him.
The person must transform into someone who includes within him at least two images. One image is that at the present time I am hating my other half. Yet on the other hand, in spite of that, I relate to her correctly, well, nicely, and then she sees that I am rising above myself.
We must play with this. We have no other choice for saving the family. The ego has grown. If not now, then in a few more years people will not be able to live with each other. They must enter into this image and experience it so that an impression from it will remain in them.
After that we give them homework: until tomorrow don’t say a bad word to the other, rather smile and get pleasure from the inner ascent and the struggle with oneself.
After all they get pleasure, first of all from subduing themselves; and second, through this they connect with others, which gives them additional pleasure that they didn’t experience before. In other words, they get a spiritual component here.
A family is a mass that is created following mutual concessions, and as a result of them they produce a connection that is called “love.” Love is created only when we understand how it is up to us to complete each other and try to do that.
What does “And you shall love your friend as yourself” mean? I take her desires and try to fulfill them. She takes my desires and tries to fulfill me.
But we don’t talk to them about this; rather, we simply bring them to mutual concessions, to actions according to the wisdom of Kabbalah in the framework of the family.
Gradually our former nature disappears somewhere inside and on it is built a layer of a new mutual relationship with each other, which becomes our common achievement, a possession, a family treasure. After that, from it love is born. This is called true love: “And you shall love your friend as yourself.”
From A Talk on “Family” 5/28/14