The concept of “falling” in and out of love is interesting. The very word “falling” implies something hard, fast and inevitable. Unfortunately, so much of how we perceive love is what we have seen in the movies. We’ve all read about romantic tales with exciting characters and we’ve all heard the emotional background music. But, we often forget that these are fairy tales and have nothing to do with what love really is.
In Hebrew the word for love is “Ahavah.” Hebrew is a holy language and therefore, the structure of each word, down to each letter serves to define its essence.
The root of Ahavah is Hav, which literally means to offer or to give. It also shares a root with the word, Ahav, which means to nurture, or to devote completely to another. So the essence of the Hebrew word Ahavah (love) is not an emotion, it’s an action. Love in its purest form is not something that happens to us, it is a condition that we create when we give of ourselves.
In order to nurture a sense of love in a marriage we need to work at it. And while the work very well may lay with both the wife and the husband, as women, we must begin with ourselves.
A young boy once asked his Rabbi why man was created with two eyes. His Rabbi replied, “with the left eye you should look within yourself and see where you need to improve. And with the right eye, you should look at others lovingly, favorably, and always seeking out their best qualities.”
We have to be willing to take a good and honest look at ourselves and see where our work lies in the relationship. If we feel “out of love” we should attempt to reignite the flame. We should perform more loving acts towards our husbands and see what happens. Sometimes, doing something just for him, without any thinking about what you may or may not gain in return is helpful. After all, Hashem commanded us to “love others as we love ourselves.” It’s difficult to understand how it is possible to love something more than yourself. But, if our spouse becomes the one person in the world who’s important and sacred to us, there is nothing we wouldn’t do or give for him.
True love is selfless. That’s why we are able to love others as ourselves, because, true love originates from the soul, not the body. When we approach loving another from a deeper place, a place beyond our physical wants and needs, we are able to tap into the very essence of what loving is. But when we look at love as just another of our bodily needs; a need to be cared for and nurtured and a need for intimacy, we may find achieving love difficult and obscure.
There are women who say, “I love my husband as a person because he is good and kind.” That is a wonderful beginning and a fertile place to grow from. This kind of feeling is what our Rabbis call a “watery or calm-love,” like the kind of love we share with a brother or sister or with a child; it comes easy because it is innate and predictable and solid. But the love that characterizes the relationship between husband and wife is meant to be a “fiery-love.” It’s a love that is acquired; it is not meant to be casual or calm. This is the level that some women lack in their marriage and they want to achieve it.
In many cases it’s very much achievable and in other cases, a Rabbi or marriage counselor should be consulted. But in a healthy, and normal situation, we must towards love. Instead of focusing on “falling” in love we should concentrate on “giving” love and it may just follow.