April 10, 2024
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The Best Marital Advice I Ever Received

In the mid-1960s a baby was born in Texas named Greg. Greg was never the biggest or strongest kid, but he mastered his craft using finesse and accuracy. He eventually became one of the world’s greatest pitchers. Greg Maddux would legendarily pitch to blindfolded catchers during practice; his elite accuracy led to trustworthy catchers and induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

At the same time, a young man named Roger was being groomed to pitch on the mounds of Texas sandlots. This future pitcher did not have the slender build of Maddux, instead Roger Clemens was a barrel-chested, overpowering force. Clemens, too, excelled in professional baseball. Both men won multiple annual awards as baseball’s best pitcher and both would be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame were it not for Congressional investigations into Clemens’ extracurricular activities over the last decade.

Ultimately, both men had the same goal: win baseball games by preventing opposing teams from recording hits and scoring runs. Each used his divergent talents and skills to realize this objective.

I was recently asked to give advice to a newly married couple—a message to propel the newlyweds to a life of marital bliss. I immediately thought of the weeks prior to my wedding when countless rabbis, married friends and “scholars” offered well-meaning but utterly muddled marital wisdom. Whether it was this legendary theory or that golden nugget, the words became an endless stream of noise.

I recall one particular gentleman who accidentally taught the greatest piece of pre-marital advice I ever received. He told me that a wonderful marriage can be achieved using two guiding principles. First, spend countless hours together as a couple; simply look each other in the eye and enjoy the subtleties of life together. Second, and just as critical, give each other space; allow for time alone and with other friends. I nodded and smiled but was utterly perplexed by the paradoxical advice.

After contemplating the incompatibility of the two guiding principles of wedded bliss, it finally occurred to me that the greatest marital advice one can give is to insist that newlyweds find their own path. The intricacies and minutia of a strong marital bond are deeply personal and develop through many years of shared experiences. All couples desire their own version of wedded bliss, the winding path to that end cannot be paved with the personal adventure of a different couple. Ultimately, the great irony is that the best advice I could provide to the young couple is to ignore the advice of everyone else.

On its most basic level, the goal of a pitcher is simple—get a batter out. Even at the pinnacle of sport, many routes to accomplishing this most basic goal are available. The recognition that a happy marriage primarily requires the wisdom and energy of the participants alone is a giant leap towards success. No two journeys to a wonderful life together will ever be identical.

Shlomo Yaros is a husband and dad who grew up in Teaneck and resides in Teaneck today with his family.

By Shlomo Yaros

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