I remember there was a fellow who was coming to my classes. He had been living with a girl for five years. And I asked him, “So, do you want to marry her?”
He said, “I’m not really sure yet. I still need some more time to get to know her.”
I said, “What? A little time to get to know her? How much time do you need?”
“Well, I’m just not prepared to make a commitment.”
Now that I understood. His feeling that he didn’t know her was accurate, because a woman (or man for that matter) will not show all of herself to her partner until she knows that she is safe, that her partner won’t run out on her.
True love doesn’t come along until after there is a commitment because that is when each really shows the other the stuff that makes them the most vulnerable and the stuff that makes them the most different, the most other.
This guy had it backwards, he wanted to know everything first and then he was maybe willing to make the commitment that is necessary in the first place.
There is no way of learning everything about the another person up front. And the truth is that you will never really know everything about the other person. Every day, you will find out something new.
There is a very interesting custom in a Jewish wedding ceremony that acknowledges the role of choice and the role of fate in a marriage.
Just before giving the ring, the groom is accompanied to a place where his bride is sitting and covers her with a veil. He then turns around and is escorted to the place where the actual wedding ceremony is performed. The traditional explanation for this is that he checks to make sure he has got the right bride.
This tradition is related to the story of Jacob who was deceived by his father-in-law to be, who switched his oldest daughter Leah for Rachel the youngest who Jacob intended to marry. Jacob discovered the switch only after he consummated the marriage with Leah in the dark. Not at all happy with being cheated, however he accepted his fate and later also married Rachel. So as the tradition goes, today the groom checks his bride apparently so that he too does not have to deal with the fate of Jacob ending up with someone other than the bride of his choice.
However when you think about it, it would make more sense that the groom uncover his bride and walk backwards keeping his eyes on the bride until they get to the wedding canopy and complete the wedding. If he covers her and turns around who knows what could happen in the interim while he isn’t looking.
Here’s the secret to this peculiar ceremony. The groom is actually accepting fate within his choice. The Kabbalah teaches that Leah represents fate — she is the woman who Jacob happened to marry. However Rachel represents choice. She is the woman Jacob chose to marry. When you get married the truth is that although you think you are marrying just Rachel the person of your choice, there is always a surprise and you later discover that you also ended up with Leah, who is the side of your spouse you never knew you were getting.
When you get married you have to make the choice and make space also for the hidden and unexpected side of your spouse. Although Leah was not Jacob’s choice bride she was actually a great source of blessing to him and in the end the one who he was buried with.
Therefore the groom covers his bride as if to say I acknowledge and accept your hidden side, I chose to accept that part of our relationship which was fated.
Love is a choice, not a conclusion. You can only get to know the other person so much before you have to take the leap and make the choice. Sooner or later, you have to say I know enough to go forward, commit and choose love.