It’s All Fun and Games Until… 

By Rabbi Eric Goldman

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Remember when you were dating your future spouse and you felt as if you were going to conquer the world together? There was so much you were going to accomplish. Your home was going to be a warm and loving environment where children beamed with happiness and excitement for life. Guests were present at every Shabbos meal, always leaving wanting to come back again. You were going to be pillars of the community, being honored at shul and school dinners. You were going to be that couple and that family that everyone emulated. 

And then…life happened. Stress took over from all directions. Money became a real issue to settle and not just a fun game to play, and sleep became such a precious commodity that it seems to overpower all other pursuits. Somehow, we seem to manage and find ways to make it through the day. But we tend to just be getting by.  What happened to those dreams and aspirations? Where are all the accomplishments we yearned for? 

One of the most widely asked questions throughout the Jewish calendar is why we count up to Shavuos as opposed to counting down. Seemingly, counting down towards a celebration would be more appropriate. Two more weeks until the wedding. Ten days left until vacation. 

The seforim explain that really, we aren’t counting towards a celebration at all. Rather, we are preparing and building ourselves up towards the ultimate goal of receiving the Torah. Each day that we count is not merely one day closer to the momentous occasion, it is another step forward in our growth. It is just one of 49 small accomplishments that we need to be worthy to accept this precious gift from Hashem. We are striving to accomplish a goal and every day counts. That is why we must count in the first place- to mark off each day and remind ourselves that we have something we are aiming for and building towards.   

Marriage is supposed to fun. We are supposed to have exciting times and new experiences throughout our lives together. But studies show that one of the most important indicators for marital satisfaction is whether the couple feels that they are building something together. Are they working towards similar life goals and supporting each other in that pursuit? Do they see themselves and their children in a better place in five or ten years and is their spouse a crucial partner in getting there? Having something to live for, goals to be accomplished, adds a special meaning to everything else the couple does together.  

Experts even suggest that this is a topic that must be discussed periodically. Every once in a while, a couple should set aside time to talk about how they are coming along in their pursuits, both as individuals and as a family. The goals that we discuss do not have to be the long term, life altering type. It can simply be what it is I want to accomplish during Sefiras Ha’Omer or what do we want this summer experience to be for our family. Having the discussion and making sure to constantly keep our minds on those goals, regardless of the stress and pressures that life throws at us, is crucial in a couple feeling that they are truly united in life and building towards something meaningful. 

I was involved with a couple recently who conveyed that they were having this very same struggle. They began their marriage with the belief that they were reaching for the stars. As is so common, it only took a short time before those bright stars were blacked out by all of the distractions and challenges of life. Over the course of our conversation, it became clear to the couple that the very fact they were having the conversation at all was more important than any possible solution. Because it showed that they were in it together. That they had dreams for their family and they saw the other person as an integral part of those dreams. Whether or not they will get there remains to be seen and in reality, lies only in Hashem’s hands. But in the meantime, they, as well as hopefully all of us, have been reminded that we are on a journey together. And together we must work to make each day meaningful and each day count.