What I Didn’t Know When I Said ‘I Do’

O.k. I never actually said, “I do.” Those words are not part of the Jewish marriage ceremony. Still, there were so many unknowns on our wedding day.  Many of them are universal. How could I possibly have foreseen what the future would hold in terms of both delightful and disappointing revelations about my spouse? (To be fair, this is a two way street. He had his own positive and negative revelations to discover.) No amount of required reading would have begun to make clear how the arrival of children would affect our lives. Certainly, family, national and world events that would shake our lives weren’t evident on that day.

Every married person knows that a spouse sometimes sends you down paths you might not have chosen yourself. An anti-war liberal friend of mine found herself knee-deep organizing events for military wives after marrying a soldier. Another friend, while keeping her husband company while he studied for the LSATs needed for law school applications, ended up taking them herself (and outscoring her spouse).

I had no inkling of some personal experiences that would greet me. That my bridegroom was a sailor was obvious. Our first date was on a sailboat on a cloudy, windless day. I knew I was being tested. Yet, I did not envision crossing the Pacific Ocean six years later, three daughters in tow.

I knew that my husband was an inspiring and brilliant teacher with unusual oratorical skills. He was my rabbi before he was my beloved and I attended his classes. Neither of us knew that a then unknown future friend would turn those skills into a radio career. Even when that happened, I didn’t foresee that part of being a ‘helpmate opposite him’ would include hosting his show when he couldn’t.

The first time I did so I wanted to walk around the next day with a bag over my head, a response that was completely illogical since radio is not a visual medium. I parsed every word I could remember, cringing at my lack of eloquence. The next time was a little better, and while it is still easier to think of more elegant ways to phrase things after the microphone is off, I basically have a good time sitting in for my spouse.

When I have advance notice, as I do for this coming Sunday’s show (KSFO 560AM, 5-8am PT) I start spotting intriguing stories all week long. In addition to testing written phrases in my mind for my Musing, I find myself planning what questions I want to ask listeners about the Donald Sterling tempest, the infuriating “Obamacare is a great success” commercial I heard (paid for with our tax dollars), or an article bemoaning how many city workers can’t afford to live in San Francisco. Awareness of the upcoming three hours is ever-present through the week.

The written word allows time to ponder, tolerates refining and permits liberal usage of the delete button. A prepared talk can be vetted, edited and practiced.  Not so a radio show. On the radio, one can’t say, “Let me think about that,” and sit in silent contemplation for the next ten, five, or even one minute. The twists and turns the show takes as callers chime in is rather daunting.

Had I actually said, “I do,” would I still have said it knowing the pathways my life would follow? Or would a stark picture of reality full of experiences outside my comfort zone have led me to say “no thanks” missing the wonderful, if often disconcerting, times ahead? What a tremendous loss that would have been!

Listen this Sunday on your radio or at www.ksfo.com
and please call in. I’d love to talk to you!

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8 thoughts on “What I Didn’t Know When I Said ‘I Do’”

  1. Ah well, I humbly ask your forgiveness. Actually, I meant the classical Linnaean species (as your incipient physician son might advise): both male and female Homo sapiens are indeed Homo sapiens (i.e., not macaques or aardvarks or chimpanzees), so that means that (1) they can reproduce, and also (2) they share a common humanity. Therefore they have much more in common than differences, for they are both HUMAN. Not so? Also, I was considering the Rabbi’s brilliant lesson how Adam in the garden should have treated his wife more like a grown-up person and less like a child (or an inhabitant of Venus). Sorry ‘bout that.

  2. Lyna,
    I’m afraid that I have no idea why the preview would be narrow – above my pay grade as they say. One of the disadvantages of ‘instant communication’ via text and email is that we don’t put the same time into reviewing what we are writing as when it is a letter to be mailed.

  3. “The written word allows time to ponder, tolerates refining and permits liberal usage of the delete button.” Many thanks for the inventors of the eraser, whiteout, and the delete button!
    I prefer reading to listening for similar reasons. I can go at my own pace, stop to find a definition, reread a well-made sentence and so on. Reading is better for me especially if someone has a voice or manner of speech that distracts from their message. Some distractions are pretty packaging with great voices, but promoting of bad ideas or lies; some are plain squeaky wallflowers, but holding forth good ideas and truth.
    (when I clicked Preview I see my post very narrow with a scroll bar–why? how to use the full width?)

  4. I have to think about that one, James. Of course, men and women are people, but part of being married is understanding that in many ways men and women (this is a generality, of course) are different species.

  5. You are so right, Ms. Susan, that there is simply no way one can foresee the bumps and pitfalls in marriage down the road. Even following total disclosure at the outset, people can change and develop hidden facets of themselves that can challenge a marriage. But the commitment must be sacred, and both partners must work at it.
    Members of the opposite sex have one thing in common: their common humanity. Both men and women are PEOPLE. Therefore the one rule I have always tried to follow, and always advised others, is to treat your wife first as a PERSON, and as a woman only thereafter. The converse strategy should apply to wives. This strategy brings best results and I believe is in concert with Ancient Hebrew Wisdom.
    Thanks to the both of you for sharing all your wisdom. You two make a great team!

  6. Aww, That’s so sweet about you and Rabbi Daniel Lapin. I didn’t know Rabbis could be so young though. You wrote that he was a rabbi before you two got married.

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