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Preserving Mystery
Mom with a View

Preserving Mystery

A greater openness does not seem to have led to greater marital success.


Jewish law is full of subtlety and nuance. It is rife with psychological understanding and evidence of the Almighty's acute awareness of our every need. No aspect of our lives is untouched or treated cavalierly.

As a bride and groom prepare to marry, they review laws and philosophies that reflect this. No relationship in our lives requires deeper sensitivity and understanding than our marriages. In no other relationship are the subtleties and nuances so important, and so noticed!

Our lives shouldn't be conducted under a full, bright glare. Dim lights reflect the power and necessity of mystery.

There is more life and excitement to a marriage when some mystery remains. Not every flaw need be revealed. This has been Jewish wisdom for thousands of years, and it can be extrapolated to all aspects of our married lives.

You gained some weight? Keep it to yourself and he'll never notice. Talk about it and it's all he'll see. My teenagers are always asking if a particular pimple is too noticeable. Only now that you've pointed it out!

You lost your temper at work? Unless you really need advice, keep it to yourself. Your wife is probably aware of your character flaws but you don't need to highlight them. She is trying to focus on your strengths; don't distract her with tales of your weaknesses.

A little mystery goes a long way.

Between "reality TV", tabloids, and even advertisements, our society has lost all sense of mystery. We tend to pride ourselves on our openness. And we don't even recognize the cost. It's not about modesty or shame. It's about subtlety. It's about nuance. It's about keep that flame of passion and love burning as brightly as possible.

As with many aspects of Jewish life, the small details make a big difference. The Almighty's understanding is infinitely sensitive.

I'm not advocating a stilted relationship or keeping important details from your spouse. This isn't about hiding the bills (Although you may want to wait until he sees how beautiful you look in that new dress! And don't point out where your stomach sticks out!). It's just about thoughtful censorship of what comes out of our mouths.

We don't want to point out our flaws, physical or otherwise, because they're not the essence of who we are and we don't want to draw unnecessary attention to them. And we don't want to point out our spouse's flaws either.

Not only is it hurtful but it focuses our attention on the wrong places.

When a bride and groom get married, it's a particular mitzvah to praise them to each other. This shouldn't end after the first year of marriage. We should constantly be looking for positive things to say and ignoring the negative. This is easier to do when it is not repeatedly pointed out to us! In fact, we should go against type and point out our strengths, the good things we've done, how nice we look!!

A greater openness does not seem to have led to greater marital success. The Almighty knows of what and whom He speaks. A little mystery goes a long way.

June 9, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Pinny, June 15, 2007 1:21 PM

It means don't "spotlight" the negative

The article does not suggest that negatives will not be seen if one doesn't mention them, rather it recommends not "spotlighting" them and causing them to be the main focus of one's spouse's attention.

Human nature is such that we notice things that are pointed out to us and sort of "gloss" over those things that are not. (Magicians use this type of misdirection all the time.)

One example is the idea that vertical stripes or dark clothes are slenderizing. No one ever suggested that they "hides" a person's girth or that they give the illusion of slimness, rather these two styles have the effect of taking away the focus from it, i.e, at first glance one doesn't notice the girth, unless one look for it.

(3) Daniela, June 13, 2007 8:32 PM

G-d willing I should marry...

...and do something I've always dreamed of, to keep the mystery in our marriage. I plan on never wearing just a t-shirt or plain pajamas to bed, only nice night gowns, and NEVER undressing or dressing casually in front of my husband. A closet big enough for a chair with enough room to dress in is my dream. :)

(2) Anonymous, June 12, 2007 3:52 PM

I agree with most of your article, and you make very good points... but the negative can't just be *ignored* all the time! I'm not saying that that's what should be the focus, or that whoever it is should be *attacked,* but there are times that it has to be pointed out. For example, in a marriage... Even if the husband doesn't "really need advice," if he wants to discuss it with his wife (not in a way that he puts himself down!), then... If either spouse sees a flaw in the other one, they shouldn't focus on that, or put the other one down, but part of a marriage is helping each other reach full potential - and that includes helping each other grow; conquer certain traits. Don't attack/put down/focus only on that - but do work on it!

(1) Yacov Rubin, June 12, 2007 3:03 PM

Nice thought but assumes people don't see for themselves

Wonderful article on how mystery plays a part in relationships. Not sure I believe that flaws of each partner can be hidden from view. The writer assumes if one hides something, a partner can't see observe or ever notice it. Then keeping it under the surface can be as damaging if not more than revealing it upfront.

Nice sentiment though.

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