Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Four cups of marriage

Last night's wedding was part one of three pre-Pesach nuptials. Standing in front of the chupa, I noticed that the wedding and Pesach have a few things in common. A Jewish wedding ceremony is an orderly, step-by-step process, much like the 15-step programme of the Pesach Seder (seder means "order"). Both ceremonies are punctuated with wine. On Pesach night, you must drink four cups of wine and the bride and groom each sip wine twice under the wedding canopy, essentially making "four cups" in that process too.

It made me think that the Four Cups offer a good template for successful marriage.

Cup 1: Dedicate
The first cup of the Seder is used to say Kiddush, the traditional prayer that blesses the holiday. Kadesh means "sanctify". Before we start the Pesach process, we declare that will be a holy or spiritual experience.

Marriage also begins with sanctity. The ritual where the groom places a ring on his bride's finger is called "kiddushin", meaning that he consecrates her as his bride.

Step one of a successful marriage is to start off on a holy-footing. A new couple should appreciate that a life built on a sense of higher purpose and solid values has the greatest chance for success.

Cup 2: Communicate
Pesach is all about telling the Exodus story. It's no good to sit quietly and read the history on your own, Pesach is an interactive experience of question and answer, a parent sharing the past with his child. According to the famed kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, Pesach is comprised of two words: Peh sach, the mouth tells. Seder night is all about conversation and communication.

Marriage thrives on intra-couple communication. When you tell our spouse what's on your heart and mind or even when you simply share what happened during your day, you enhance you relationship. Talk to each other and your marriage will blossom.

Cup 3: Appreciate
After reading the Exodus story and enjoying a sumptuous meal, we thank G-d for the food He provides and the miracles He performs.

As a couple settles into the steady rhythm of marriage, they run the risk of taking each other for granted. She cooks each night and he brings home a salary; she gets the kids ready and he maintains the garden. When you notice your spouse's input and show appreciation, you add tremendous value to your relationship. Thank you's go a long way in enhancing marriage, especially when you offer them for those "ordinary" things that "all couples do". Remember also to thank G-d each day that you have someone significant at your side.

Cup 4: Anticipate
We end our Seder and drain the final cup with a wish for a better tomorrow. "Next year in Jerusalem" is the fervent hope of every Jew as our Seder draws to a close.

No matter how wonderful your marriage is, as they say in Yiddish "if good is good, surely better must be better".

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