Okay, so we’re not going to make a fetish over how many years a couple has been together. Good! That would be like saying that the greatest athlete is the one who had the longest career.
Still, I think most of us do care about a certain something that will allow you as a couple to ride out the rough spots. That’s important, because there always are rough spots.
What is that certain something?
There are a lot of them, actually, but one of the most important is your sense of “us.” If you’re both, like, “I could have married anybody, and so could you,” then your “us” is as random and flimsy as who you happen to run into when you duck into a doorway during a sudden rainstorm.
And by the way. For you rom-com fans. Your “us” has nothing to do with how you met, however cute or romantic your meeting was. Stories like these are fun to tell, but they don’t have any legs to carry you out of even one rough spot.
Your “us” should have something to do with why the two of you—out of all the people in the world—are together.
In the Jewish world, there’s a notion called bashert. It’s often thought of as two people being soulmates, but it's different from and more than that. Soulmates just means that you’re not just connected at the level of the body and of your interests, but at the level of your soul, whatever that means.
But the word bashert—pronounced bahSHAIRT—doesn’t mean you’re soulmates. Bashert means destiny. And so if you are bashert, you are destined to be together. For a religious Jew, this means God has destined you for one another.
Here’s an analogy:
imagine you are sitting at your kitchen table with a bushel of apples, and you split them all in half. You mix all the halves up and then try to fit them back together, looking for the halves that fit so perfectly that you can’t even tell the apple was ever split. A true bashert marriage is not a union of two parts, but a reunion of two halves. Just like the first human was a composition of male and female, so too each soul has a counterpart. When we come into the physical world, we are separated, and now we look to reunite with our other half.
Now that’s an “us” story!
But you don’t have to be Jewish or even religious or even spiritual to believe that not only were you meant to be together but that there was a purpose to your being together, even if you don’t know what that purpose is. You just know that you stopping to be together would feel like a kind of kosmic krime.
It might just be a sense that “our love is special.” There is a strange kind of elitism among go-the-distance couples. It’s not that they think they’re better than other people. Not at all. It’s more like, “We feel we’ve been given a special task. Even if we don’t have words for what our ‘us’ is, it’s bigger than both of us, certainly bigger than any of the needs of either one of us at any moment.”
So what is your “us”? Think about it. See if you can come up with something. Something that says that your being together—staying together—has meaning. And something about what that meaning is.
That is, in an important sense, the story of your life. At least, the story of your life together.
And now perhaps you can glimpse how important to us Why Couples Fight is. It’s not just about helping couples get their needs met. It’s about helping couples whose lives together had real meaning but whose lives together were also being driven apart unnecessarily by conflicts over unmet needs.