Thursday, November 8, 2012

Can We Schedule an Argument?

Question of the Week:


I have a problem. My fiancée and I never fight. I have heard that relationships can only grow through tension, that only when we have a disagreement and then work through it can we get closer. But what can I do? We simply agree on everything. Now I'm nervous. Should we be arranging some arguments? Maybe a weekly roster with a list of topics to fight about, and then make up afterwards?



Pre-arranged fights only work if you are a professional wrestler. Not so in a marriage. To get the desired effect, the argument needs to be real. I am afraid you will have to wait for an authentic argument to be able to truly reconcile.

This is based on some Talmudic logic. The Talmud teaches that one who has sinned but then asks for forgiveness comes closer to G-d than someone who never sinned. This means that a person who was wicked but left their evil ways reaches higher than a person who has always done the right thing.

If so, the Talmud asks, should a righteous person intentionally sin, in order to have the opportunity to change his ways? After all, he can't reach the level of a reformed sinner if he never sins.

The answer is no, he shouldn't sin. One reason is, he might enjoy it and never repent. But more than that, if he sins just to repent, his repentance will not be sincere because his sin was not sincere. If you sin just to get closer to G-d, you never rebelled properly. And if you didn't rebel, you can't truly regret. If you didn't actually go off the path you can't get back on.

The same applies in our relationships with our fellow humans. Just like you can't plan to sin in order to repent, you can't plan an argument in order to make up. It isn't sincere. Just as making up has to be genuine, arguing has to be genuine too. If the rift is not real, the resolution that comes later won't be either. You have to feel that moment of despair, when you think things have fallen apart and all is lost. From that moment of darkness comes a glimmer of hope, and you rebuild.

It is wonderful that you and your fiancée see eye to eye. But don't worry, times of tension will come. Two individuals sharing intimate space is recipe enough for some friction to eventually develop. And when it does, embrace it as an opportunity to learn something about your partner. If she never upsets you, she can't know who you are. If you don't know what her boundaries are, you don't know her. And you can only know those boundaries by accidently crossing them.

Every sin is a chance to uncover a more profound level of connection with G-d, and every argument is an opportunity to dig deeper in your relationship with your partner. To argue is human. To make peace is divine.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss


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