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The Mystery of Marriage

The Mystery of Marriage: Mirror Psychology

The surest way to gauge one's success in the process of self-refinement is to observe his spouse's behavior toward him. Both consciously and unconsciously, she senses the purity of his motives and responds accordingly, both intentionally and instinctively.

In a larger sense, this is true of all inter-personal relationships. "As [when looking in] water, face reflects face, so does one's heart find reflection in another's" (Proverbs 27:19)." Thus, in accordance with the nature and extent of one's involvement with other people, one may gauge one's self-refinement by the way one is treated.

Since marriage is the most intense form of inter-personal relationship, this principle applies first and foremost to married life. It is here that one will confront most strikingly his successes and failures in self-refinement, mirrored in his spouse's behavior toward him.

In general, this reciprocal attitude between spouses is on one of three levels, in accord with the stages of rectification of the imagination.

If the husband is still laboring under false, self-centered notions of love and romance, his behavior will certainly reflect this, and his wife will naturally resent his egocentricity and pit herself against him. Their relationship–that of two unrelating individuals occupying separate, colliding "spaces"–will be characterized by frequent and painful friction. Alienated from a husband whom she senses does not have her best interests at heart, she will disconnect from him as well and shirk her wifely obligations.

Once the husband extricates himself from his unrectified imagination, he can begin to work on himself. He gradually begins to redirect his intentions toward fulfilling G-d's will in all avenues of life (and in particular in his marriage), sense his and his wife's common soul-root, and refine his character. Even though he has not yet completed this process, his wife will sense his genuine effort and respond by striving to help and support him.

Nonetheless, until the process is complete, she will maintain a separate sense of self. The two will view their marriage as a mutually beneficial relationship wherein each is happy and ready to give, yet expects to receive in return.

If the husband succeeds in all the above areas–purifying his intentions so that his sole motivation is to do G-d's will, attuning himself to his and his wife's common soul-root, and refining his character, always placing the needs of others before his own–the couple's consciousnesses will merge. His absolute devotion to her will inspire her to devote herself commensurately to him: "as [when looking in] water, face reflects face, so does one's heart find reflection in another's" (Proverbs 27:19). She will feel an indivisible part of him, and all her deeds will reflect total devotion to him.

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