It’s just my second day in Israel, but already, I feel as if I’m unwrapping my façade and getting closer to the person I am inside, my spiritual core. And I don’t like everything I see. I’ve always thought of myself as a generous person, eager to volunteer, write cheques for charities, and do anything for my children, but I discovered, today, that I’m not actually giving enough to the person who needs it most—my husband.
In a powerful talk about marriage, Nili Couzens explained that “we need a partner who genuinely lacks what we have to give.” Husbands come first, because after we give so much to our children, they leave, while husbands stay. With two of my three children in university, and the last out the door in a couple of years, I am living the reality of watching my offspring go. Soon, my husband and I will be back to the way we started before children, together, and I want us to grow stronger, not apart. This means focusing on him, embracing what he has that I don’t—patience, a higher income, a good memory, and the ability to stick to a budget.
We headed up a winding, mountainous road to Tsfat, an ancient Galilean city( also a holy Israeli city), a spiritual centre since the 1600’s, and the former centre of Kabbala, with an artists’ quarter. It’s also the location of a spa-like mikvah, where I met a woman who made an enormous change after visiting the mikvah as a leader on a Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, four years ago. She never got on the plane to go home. In fact, she took the idea of letting go literally, and let go of her former life in order to transform her life. Fortunately, her husband and children soon followed.
“I reclaimed me so that I could be a giver,” she said.
Her story lodged in my head as I wandered the narrow, white-stone lanes of Tsfat, which recharged me with the people, the art, and the vivid blue sky that peeked through the rooftops. I bought a tallit for my nephew’s bar mitzvah, some candles, and a painting from an artist. As I set off to reconnect with my group, I decided that, in order to peel back the layers of my façade, I need to be more open with my husband, to praise him frequently, to tell him how much I appreciate his good qualities, especially his patience, before he gets the VISA bill.