By Dr. Zev Ballen
Growing up I seemed to be socially well-adjusted. my grades were decent, I played varsity basketball and was a popular kid.
I must have looked happy too - at least that's what my friends wrote in my yearbook.
The truth is that I felt far from true happiness and true friendship. - I put on a smiling 'face' - but the real me was hiding. That's what my therapist told me. She said that I was proficient at 'hiding' myself so that no one could know who I was - including her.
What causes one to live painfully in emotional isolation rather than to share oneself more completely with others? My therapist explained that I had a fear of being rejected by others. She told me that I had a pathological need to exaggerate my 'desirable' qualities so that others would not see the rest of me.
It's taken years for me to realize that instead of urging me find my hypothetical 'real self,' my therapist should have been telling me to get married already.
When I found my wife, I found myself.
It was only through marriage that Hashem took away my 'fears of rejection' and taught me how to feel loved and accepted for who I am. That's why the Torah prescribes early marriage - before twenty if possible.
What does the Torah mean when it says that 'Abraham was one?'
It means that he didn't have friends apart from those souls (the converts) that he and Sarah brought close to Hashem. Otherwise, Abraham was one with Hashem.
I wondered how Avraham could be close with Sarah if he was always with Hashem?
Aside for the commandment to have children, what is the purpose of getting married if one is supposed to be with Hashem? Doesn't the considerable time that I spend with my wife take away from fulfilling my main purpose of being close with Hashem?
The answer is no.
Our sages say that there is no better way to come close to Hashem in this world than through marriage. Our sages used to call their wives 'shechina' which is a reference to Hashem's Divine presence. For a man, Hashem dwells in his wife.
Sometime after his wife passed away, Reb Aryeh Levine got into a cab. The driver asked him where his home was. The tzaddik answered that since his wife passed away he no longer had a home - he just had a house.
Before I was married, I thought that there was something wrong with me because I didn't have a deep and meaningful relationship with someone. According to my therapist I was missing something. I lacked 'depth.' So we spent years searching for my 'depth' and my 'real self.'
But It was through marriage - not therapy - that I found my depth and my true completed self. It has been through marriage and not therapy that I have shed my emotional isolation, shyness and feelings of insecurity.
Hashem invests a special power to complete a person in the marital relationship that one cannot find anywhere else.
It's true that before I was married I was far from true happiness - that I put on a happy 'face' for the world to see.
But not for the reasons that my therapist pontificated.
I was not isolated due to some theoretical flaw in my personality. Continue here...
Blessings for a great week and a great month of Elul,
Dr. Zev Ballen