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“Are You Lying To Me?”

How important is honesty in a marriage? As a cantor who officiates weddings for Jewish brides and grooms, this question does come up often at meetings with couples before weddings. Why? Because I think we just assume - and by “we” I mean society at large, that you need honesty in a marriage for it to work. No lying. No cheating. But let’s dive deeper as I had a bride and groom meet me recently who wanted to explore honesty in a marriage.

All great marriages are built upon honesty. And I told the couple that I really hope they are asking this because they want a great marriage. It will require honesty - and not just with your wife but also with yourself. After several years of marriage, I’m realizing I need to look in the mirror first when there are issues in my marriage rather than point the finger at my wife. Here are 3 things to be honest about in marriage.

1. Selfishness is usually at the root of our conflict.

I hate to admit this, but if I’m being honest with myself, usually my pride, ego, or selfishness is at the root of most of my conflict with my wife. It’s easy to blame others, especially our wives, when we get into conflict. But if we’re honest, many times, we’re simply being selfish. Great marriages aren’t just built on honesty—they’re also built on sacrifice. I fear our culture has done us a great disservice by promulgating a “what’s in it for me” attitude. If we bring that into our marriages, we’re doomed. Let’s not only be honest about how we’re more selfish than we think but let’s embrace sacrifice.

2. We often take our wives for granted.

Remember how you acted while dating your wife? Chances are you worked hard to impress her. You took her out to eat, you asked her questions, and you got to know her on new levels. Hopefully, you dreamed together and thought about what the future could be if you were married. Then you got married and like for many couples, all of that suddenly stopped. We end up taking our wives for granted and just assuming everything is good. Don’t stop romancing your wife. Keep learning about her and dreaming with her.

3. We expect things to get easier.

I’ve realized recently that unrealistic expectations that aren’t met put tremendous pressure and strain on relationships. For some reason, couples think marriage would get easier the longer they are together. The reality is marriage is hard. Life gets more complicated as kids get older and other outside pressures mount. We sometimes have this unrealistic expectation that feelings of love should come easily and last forever. But the reality is far from that. Marriage takes work and just because it takes work doesn’t mean it’s bad. Most things we work hard for are worth it in the long run. It should be no surprise that great, lasting marriages work through difficult seasons of life.

My Jewish bride and groom loved having this conversation and told me that it really sets me apart - because I’m not just this Jewish wedding officiant that will show up and marry a couple and take off. I take the time to get to know each bride and groom and have a meaningful conversation with them about love and marriage. As a Cantor who officiates Jewish weddings, I want to do what I can to set up my brides and grooms for a successful, long and happy marriage.

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