Partnership Or Merger?

Marriage isn't a 50-50 proposition.

Comments (28)

(28) Yvonne Michele Anderson, April 12, 2008 2:24 PM

But just because you are not contributing the same things at the same time, does not mean that one should not be working always to contribute their best...!

Good marriages do not just happen...they take much effort. Be wary of taking a good marriage for granted...Love is not something to be taken for granted...

(27) Yvonne Michele Anderson, April 12, 2008 2:15 PM

What a wonderful analogy...I completely agree...the "mine" and "yours" of partnership is very different from "ours" of merger...

Merger in marriage is definitely what you want! Each spouse works to make ends meet, not necessarily contributing the exact same things in the exact amounts, but contributing their best towards the common good...

(26) malka, April 10, 2008 8:48 PM


Good point, marriage is not about the couple giving 50/50 all the time. One might give more than the other sometimes, depending on the situation. Each one should just do what they need to do and not worry about how much the other has done. Of course if it really bothers them, they could talk to their spouse about it.

(25) Yisroel Pollack, April 10, 2008 8:46 PM

A Modest Reply

If I be permitted to do so, I would like to reply to my critics, Ronni and Elana. To Ronni I say (I'm glad you think I'm funny and…) when I speak of subordination I'm speaking of an ideal situation. Actual situations, however wonderful they may seem to be, are only approximations of the ideal. Superficially they may seem to work and provide valuable benefits, but of the ideal they still fall short. I'm with you entirely on the importance of the respect a husband should show his wife. That's what I meant when I spoke of the honor and decency with which he must treat her. As for love, it really truly is highly desirable. Moving on to another detail, I didn't speak of domination. I spoke of subordination (and submerging), which is a kind of submissive subservience (which I favor). The opposite of subordination is superordination; and that's something quite different from domination. Someone might dominate no one at all and yet be superordinate relative to a great many. On your point about the kesuba, I fail to see its (your point's) force. It should come as no surprise at all that if a man is acquiring something as precious as a Jewish wife he should indeed have to pay dearly for the privilege and undertake full financial responsibility....And to Elana I say this: If what I say sounds a bit anachronistic, that's a good thing! It counts in its favor! All the worse for twentieth-century American values and attitudes! May the A-lmighty have mercy on us all. A Chag Kasher Vesameach!

(24) Melinda, April 10, 2008 5:02 PM

Expect 40 and give 60

A wise teacher of mine gave this word of advice in a class he was teaching. I never forgot his words. They have helped me have so much patience with all of my relationships.

(23) Aryeh, April 10, 2008 2:17 PM

even mergers can end

sounds good and I agree... but if one of the "partners" decides that he or she doesn't want to be "merged" anymore for whatever reason ... then it's over, no matter what you call it ... in an age of no fault divorce, it doesn't matter how bad one may want to save the marriage, if the other wants to walk, they ain't nothing to stop 'em... sadly ... spoken from first hand and painful experience

(22) Yaakov, April 10, 2008 12:07 PM

Thank you Lori

Lori, this was an excellent presentation.

To Mr. Pollak,

You wrote "But after all is said and done, it remains uncontestable that she is subordinate to him and is there to make his life more pleasant and productive". Not in the Yeshivos I attended, and not from the perspective of my esteemed mainstream Orthodox Rabbis. I honestly think you need to learn about marriage more in depth.

Jewish marriage is perhaps diametrically opposed to the version you suggest. Please research the concept of Ezer Kinegdo, marriage obligations of each spouse to the other, and other related Jewish concepts that will help clarify for you where you are going wrong. You seem to be mixing up the legal sanctification concept of Kinyan with "submersion of identity", which is exactly what is NOT supposed to happen. There are many wonderful Roshei Yeshiva who can help with this learning, and to straighten out the concepts.

All the best.

(21) Susan, April 10, 2008 12:01 PM

We Enter a Marriage Contract - We Aren't Less

Consider this World called Earth after Centuries and Millennia of men being at the head and having the power. Millions of women and children have died around the world, and millions more are suffering in a way that no human here should have to endure.
Look at us in the United States. How have the men protected their women and their children? We have been beaten and neglected by our men and our governments. They build special houses just for the thousands of raped and beaten women. There are hundreds of agencies in the United States to feed and comfort neglected, abused and hungry children.
Men have torn our families apart by continuous wars and killing and crime and immorality. Women have to work because they alone must feed their families. Something is very wrong.

Adam the masculine didn't even protect Eve the feminine from a known danger in the garden. How coud he have let that happen?

If indeed Adam was the masculine, look at how weak and cowardly he was. He didn't take responsibility for his actions. He hid, and he lied. He failed to protect the Eve or the feminine.
Women have been trying to repair that horrible instance for ever. We are not lesser. We are held in a subordinate way by men and not just with a marriage contract.. Even if many of us women have wealth, privilege, and have no immediate needs, we are enslaved here ....

(20) CohenRusk, April 10, 2008 9:52 AM

Marriage is 100/100

Hey, Lori,

What a remah! I love to listen to you talk... I could do it for hours.

My wife and I married over 20 years ago on this principle: marriage is not 50/50; it is 100/100. If each of us isn't striving to give 100%, then no one takes up the slack! But if each of us is giving our all, then no one is found lacking.

But we have basically received the same gem from the All Mighty that you did: All true wisdom comes from his domain; and, the bottom line for marriage, if both aren't willing to give 100% and both aren't willing to let the other have a "bad day," then the covenant becomes a contractual obligation.

Your husband is a lucky man; If I weren't giving 100% to my bubele, I would consider diversifying my interests!


(19) Elana, April 9, 2008 6:19 PM

Merger doesn't mean Subordination

Mr. Pollack:

What century are you living in? Women here in America are not subordinate to anyone, least of all their husbands. This is not what a merger in marriage means and no woman feels fulfilled being a subordinate to anyone, except G-d! I don't think that this is what Lori was talking about when she was discussing "mergers".

(18) Ronni, April 9, 2008 12:29 PM


To Yisroel Pollack, you are so funny! I am a happily married woman for twelve years now and my husband is a happily married man and it is definitely contestable that there is a subordinate at all. You can quote whatever you want but reality is that although G-d gave man more physical strength everyone knows that in any happy marriage the man is very respectful of his woman's wishes or that will be one unloving miserable marriage; no one likes to be dominated and it just creates resentment at the very least. I find it so interesting that you think it's only ideally that they should love one another and not a necessity. With the kind of mindset you apparently have one would definitely have to give up any hope of having a loving wife. Also I recommend that you carefully read the Kesubah contract (a contract between the two of them not her owner and the owner-to-be). If it is simply an acquirement or a purchase why is he the one with all the obligations to her and not vice versa? In particular the word Onah refers to puchasing jewelery and things that other women in her circles are accustomed to and speaking and treating her with affection not to mention all the shelter and clothing etc. he must provide for her.

(17) Leah, April 9, 2008 12:04 PM


I am not married yet, but looking at my parents I can say that in my humble opinion marriage is not a 50/50 situation, since just as Lori said it may vary in its relativness. Sometimes it may be a 60/40 and sometimes a 40/60 and so on. Marriage shouldn´t be a constant tracking on who did what, but more a kind of team performance; after all people who get married are pursuing common goals.
However, I do disagree with Mr Pollack. I really don´t think women should submerge her identity to her husband, it will be like erasing her; rather they both blend their beings and form a more complete and valuable unit.

(16) aspacia, April 8, 2008 8:19 PM


It is now 50/50 because women have demanded help if working full-time. My ex was a 90/10 now he is an ex. My current "partner" is egalitarian, similar to what Lori describes, if a job needs doing it doesn't matter who does it. Lori, just remember, that for numerous years women have been expected to work, clean house, raise children, with zero help from hubby in the past. Happily, this has changed.

(15) Yisroel Pollack, April 8, 2008 5:41 PM

An Amicable Merger

I agree with Mrs. Palatnik tch"y. Marriage is more like a merger than a partnership. I would even take it a step further. Marriage is like an amicable takeover, where one entity becomes submerged in the other. The ideal marriage is one in which the woman's identity becomes submerged into the man's. This can be easily demonstrated: To bring a marriage off, a (Jewish) man must acquire the woman--that's right, acquire! (Kidushin is a kinyan.) Once acquired, the woman becomes designated (or sanctified) for him. Yes, he must honor her and treat her decently. And ideally they should really truly love each other. But after all is said and done, it remains uncontestable that she is subordinate to him and is there to make his life more pleasant and productive. This is how her own sense of being becomes actualized. So yes: a merger with one entity incorporating the identity of the other into its own. A chag kasher vesameach!

(14) Steph Miller, April 8, 2008 4:50 PM

You're all right

I hope that one day, when I am married (hopefully it's in the plan), it will be to a spouse who is okay with the idea that no one person is 100% all of the time. Whether you call it a partnership or a merger, I think the underlying premise is the same-the newly formed unit (in this case the husband and the wife) form something new, something whole.

While I think you should give everything your all, especially when it comes to family, friends, and community, the fact is that sometimes your all isn't 100%. With a partnership/merger, the idea is that now you're in it together. Sometimes the partnership might be 50/50, sometimes it might be 60/40, and that's okay. Like we do when we're investing, I think we need to keep in mind that it's the long haul we should be thinking of and not the short-term.

(13) Dina, April 8, 2008 1:48 PM

Marriage = Partners

I agree with Mordechai. I think marriage is a partnership,which doesnt necesserily mean that its split down the middle 50/50 ALL the time, but rather that the husband and wife are partners with common goals and are both giving what they have to contibute (as business partners do) to make it work..

(12) elizabeth, April 8, 2008 11:49 AM

One flesh

Thankyou for this perspective. I just lost my husband of 26 years. We became "one flesh" in marriage as written in Genesis. At the same time, we did not have to sacrifice our individual and unique identities. They just merged and complemented each other.

(11) Steve M, April 8, 2008 10:41 AM

Try 90/90

I understand the frustration in the comments here, based on having to choose between a merger in which the partners lose their separate identities (that doesn't feel like marriage to me) and a 50-50 partnership which feels like a business deal in which contributions and benefits must be carefully measured and monitored so that neither party gains an unfair advantage.

The ketubah talks about "sharing equally," but it doesn't say 50-50. This is a marriage. Let's think in terms of 75-75, and strive for 90/90. This is a marriage. Let's visualize an arrangement in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. If we start with that vision in mind, we just might get there.

(10) Anonymous, April 8, 2008 10:39 AM

To Mordechai: merger, indeed

In response to the excellent points brought up by Mordechai: It seems clear that each partner of a marriage absolutely needs to have and maintain an unambiguous identity. In fact, the quality of the entire marriage is in jeopardy, in my experience, when either partner does not bring that with them into the marriage. How can you be truly useful in any intimate way to another person without knowing and being yourself? In my own case, 20+ years of marriage has made my own identity even more clear - it has helped me discover more of who I am. I see how much easier those early years would have been had I known me as well as I do now...
I agree with you in this and see self identity as a precious and essential element in a marriage partnership.
Nevertheless, there is another element of marriage, and in that aspect, Lori is right. This aspect of marriage is often only tapped into when there is conflict, be it minor or major. That's when the sum of the parts suddenly needs to be greater than the whole. A Jewish wedding produces a new organism, (it is called "Adam" in the Torah). It is a merger and there is no place for individualty in it. I believe that truly healthy marriages have both aspects, like "programs", running all the time. Sadly, many of us only turn on the merger aspect when there is conflict. After all, if ALL a marriage has is the partnership aspect, why work so hard on fixing a faltering marriage? If one hurts the other terribly, as often occurs, is it usually best to just chuckle and say, "well, obviously this relationship is unfair..." and just quit? I think not. I think there is a living entity called "a marriage" that is worth struggling to right when it falters. The individuals each have a part in it and a responsibility to maintain it in their own individual way. In this respect, we are not giving to the spouse, but rather to "the Marriage". That is the "Name of Hashem", referred to in the Talmud, that is present in a marriage when there is "peace" between the partners. Certainly peace doesn't mean the lack of strife, here. This is all about Lori's "merger" portion and it is not alluded to in the Kesubah at all because the function of the Kesubah is strictly to protect the "individuality" of the partners in case of dissolution. That is when the merger is lost and all we have left is the partnership aspect. Maybe the Kesubah could be a reminder to us that if a partnership is all we have, then that is all we will get. Thanks for the video and comments. May Hashem help us all learn and accept who we really are and maintain that awareness and also help those in marriage give 100% to the marriages we create together.

(9) Meira Lerman, April 8, 2008 10:13 AM

A small and realistical wish

Bless you and your family to be as you are, and to serve us as a role models as long as all of us will become great grandparents!

(8) Anonymous, April 8, 2008 9:15 AM

intermarriage kvetching again

My parents are of different faith. Father agreed to raise kids Jewish. They are on the same wavelength about things. Dad takes care of disabled wife and does all the chores and makes more income.

The above categorizing of interfaith couples is not fair and reeks of desperation..this kind of hostility is going to turn good Jews away.

(7) chava, April 8, 2008 9:12 AM

Marriage may be a merger in that each person must give 100 percent of what's needed and what they're able to give at any time. But it's important to not lost those special and unique traits that make each one an individual. Sometimes one has to pay more attention to himself in order to nurture himself and then have what to give later. If two people merge too completely, or if one merges into the other's personality, the couple loses those special things that each individual has. So yes, a merger (a "we") but also a you and a me.

(6) Joey, April 8, 2008 9:00 AM

I agree

Over the long haul, a husband and wife should be "even," but that does not mean that everything has to be perfectly divided, especially since contribution can be measured in different ways. Marriage and parenthood shouldn't be 50/50; it should be 100/100.

Thank you and God bless.

(5) Hannah, April 8, 2008 7:28 AM


In Britain the word 'partner' is used when refering to a the second person in a relationship. In Britain there are no longer husbands and wives but partners, there are no boyfriends and girlfriends, but partners, and people living together are partners.

I agree with Lori, its about time couples realised their committment to one another and used other terms to describe their relationship status and responsibilities. Having partners and 50/50 agreements or understandings lacks the wonder of a merger of two in a relationship.

(4) Susan, April 6, 2008 11:42 PM

You Don't Keep Track for Marriage or Children

Marriage deserves 100%. Give it.

Children deserve 100%. Give it.

It's not a numbers game you can tally up at the end of the year. It's your family. You and your spouse must give all. Anything less is cheating your marriage and your children.

(3) Mordechai, April 6, 2008 5:58 PM

Partner(ship) for Life

I beg to differ with Lori this time. From a different perspective, one can look at marriage as more of a partnership than a merger. A merger is defined as combining two separate elements so that they lose their separate identity. (Websters Dictionary). In a partnership such as marriage, the partners unite together, but retain their individual differences. The Ketubah document read during the marriage ceremony reminds us that marriage is a 50/50 partnership, as it says: "They (bride and groom) shall equally share their possessions." The idiom 50/50 graphically shows how the wife is the equal of her husband, and how both share equally in the responsibility for making their marriage and home a 100% success.

(2) Rosen, April 6, 2008 10:44 AM

opposites don't attract in a merger

It's best to find a lifetime partner who shares common ground with your interests. It doesn't make sense for someone who has an inactive lifestyle to be with someone who has a very physically fit and active lifestyle, because the other one will be too lazy to catch up on working for the marriage, unless the inactive partner receives positive motivation from their active spouse. Another way that opposites don't attract in a merger is by marrying someone who is the diametrical opposite as the other, such as a devout Christian and a Chasidic Jew, a Chasidic Jew and a fundamentalist Muslim, or a devout Christian and a fundamentalist Muslim.

Love doesn't always conquer all because it is a two-way streak, and it is almost impossible to be in lock-step with one's lifetime partner, even if its their bashert, because it would involve reasonable compromise and working out each other's differences for similar ground.

Long story short, Jews need to marry Jewish in order for a relationship and/or marriage to mature and saturate. Otherwise, an intermarriage will lead to potential conflicts on what holidays throughout the year each one prefers to celebrate, among other unmatching aspects.

(1) Anonymous, April 6, 2008 7:11 AM

What if the merger is 80/20 ALL the time???

I hear you about the merger thing...but what if one spouse is doing most of the contributing 80% of the time...even the work and finances? The husband is a wonderful guy..kind and caring...but the wife does'nt feel taken care of...she feels the stress of making a living AND dealing with 80% or the household and kids??? Also, the husband doesnt step up to the plate religously....It's a challenge because he is a wonderful man...not an alcoholic, abuser, etc.


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