The Torah explains that a relationship between a man and a woman is like a fire. There are fires that burn, with the flames destroying everything in their midst and there are the fires that warm, that glow, that illuminate. Sometimes relationships start out very exciting, very intense, and then they taper off. Whereas, when we meet someone that’s actually nice, kind and warm, we find them to be boring and unexciting. Perhaps part of our dilemma is that we are searching for an intense flame and not recognizing that often the intensity is not coming from the right place.
A fire burns its highest when there is a conflict, something working against it. When the wind blows, the fire grows, but only until it is extinguished. In order for the flame to remain constant and not die out, there can’t be wind, or water or anything working against it. This stability may appear to be “boring,” but it is exactly what is seemingly “unexciting” that makes for a long-term relationship. And when the flame is lower, it is that much less likely to be blown out by some wind if wind comes its way.
It is not just symbolic that the relationship of a man and woman is compared to that of fire. More so, in the words in Hebrew for man and woman, both contain the two letters of an aleph and a shin, which make the word esh, which means, “fire.” Yet each word also contains an additional letter, and that is a yud in the word for “man” and a hei in the word for “woman.” These two letters comprise one of the names for Hashem, meaning that fire alone is not enough for a relationship to flourish. It is when there is a Higher Power involved in the relationship that ensures that the fire is one that warms and not burn.
That means that when both partners realize that the relationship is not just about them, but about the other, and with a holy purpose, then it has the ingredients necessary to last. Before we become involved in any relationship, we should take the time to figure out if the person who stands before us is someone we you can see a future with. The here and now is temporary. What is essential is that we look for the component that will attract us to this person in 50 years from now. And while “nice” may not be the most exciting quality, it is certainly one that we want in the person we are looking to spend our life with.
Note: It is however very important to feel an attraction to our mate, and if we do not, if there is anything about them that deters us, we should NOT take the plunge. When partners are not genuinely attracted to one another it affects many other areas of the marriage. Both the man, and the woman, deserve partners who will be happy to look into their eyes, share an intimate moment with, and appreciate them even in the worst of times. If that ingredient is missing, if almost everything our partner does “bothers” us, this is already not a good sign.