One of the little perks of understanding what it means to live your destiny is knowing that you were not plopped down here to make a go at it alone. What does this mean for the soul?

For the answer, we must go back we go to the Garden:

So God created man in His image. In the image of God, He created him. Male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Adam was a hermaphrodite? Well, sort of. When God created Adam in his original form, He created Adam and Eve as one entity. They were one soul. At this point Adam and Eve (Chava in Hebrew) were getting along pretty well. Later God did something that made possible the first argument over a toothpaste cap. God split Adam, taking one of his sides, and formed Eve as a separate entity, or so it seems.

The mystical sources say that each one of us is but one half of a complete soul. Where's the other half? You guessed it, with your soulmate. Just like Adam and Eve, you and your soulmate were spiritually once united. When you finally find each other, it's going to be something of a reunion.

What all this means, among other things, is the following:

 

  1. According to the Torah marriage is not just a partnership, a friendship, or a great way to save long term on your tax returns, it's much more. Marriage is the bonding of two people into one entity. It's like two bodies sharing one soul.

     

     

  2. You can access your full potential in this world by bonding with the other half of your soul. Your destiny and your spouse's destiny are woven together. In fact, they are inseparable and so the two of you should be as well.

 

Which leads us to the next point. Why would God go through all the trouble of dividing this soul in half, so to speak, just so the two halves can reunite again?

The answer is that it is through the incredible growth that comes with a healthy marriage that you are able to accomplish much more than if you were never separated.

THE CHALLENGE OF MARRIAGE

Consider this: the challenge of marriage is to come to a constant recognition that you are actually one unit.

Standing squarely in the way of this recognition is a rather large serving of your ego. Your ego is hell bent of having you buy into the illusion that your goal in marriage is to have someone else fulfill every one of you individual needs. (And if for some reason, one of those needs isn't being met, then of course it means there's something wrong with your spouse.) Since the ego is by nature the what's-in-for-me part of your personality, there's only room for someone else if that person can be used to benefit its own self-centered world.

As you stretch out of your ego's little world into giving to and sacrificing for your spouse, you will grow into a level of soul living that would be impossible otherwise. To do so you need to stop "What are my needs?" and start asking "What are our needs?" You need to stop thinking about "me" and start living the reality of "we."

There are many famous stories about couples who lived this reality. Rabbi Aryeh Levin -- the subject of the famous book "A Tzaddik in Our Time" -- took his wife who had suffered a fall to the hospital, and when asked what the problem was replied, "Our leg is hurting us."

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, a great rabbi who passed away a few years ago, said at his wife's funeral that, although it is traditional to ask for forgiveness of the deceased at this time, they had never had a fight -– since they had always lived with the recognition they were one –- and he had nothing to ask forgiveness for!

The Talmud puts it very simply: When you hurt your spouse, it's like taking a knife in one hand and cutting the other.

The upshot of all this is that much of all that drippy romantic stuff out there actually has some truth to it. The essence of marriage is purely spiritual. It's about the bonding of two people into a greater entity.

The Hebrew word for man is iysh, for woman, ishah. The Talmud says that when iysh and ishah come together, the letters overlap except for two -- y and ah, which together spell one of the names of God. The greater entity formed though the bonding of husband and wife creates something so spiritual that God's presence dwells with them.

The royal "we" just got a little more impressive.

TIPS

Here are a few tips for making this understanding more real:

     

  1. If you are married, the next time you are fighting with your spouse, ask yourself in a calmer moment, "At this moment am I seeing my spouse as my other half or as my enemy?

     

  2. Remember that ultimately if you cause your spouse pain, that pain will be shared by both of you.

  3. Start to identify your spouse's needs as having equal if not more importance than your own. Ask yourself if you are taking these needs into consideration when thinking about big decisions.

  4. If you are single or dating, ask yourself, Am I looking for someone to fulfill my needs, who makes me feel good? Or am I looking for someone I who I can give to and grow with? Am I prepared to forgo my immediate needs for the long term needs of someone else?