The back of the bottle of Shiraz says “Marries well with beef, lamb, and rich stews.” But how can we measure the matrimonial success of a peppery, oaky red wine? Will the Shiraz be willing to take the lamb out occasionally to keep the romance alive? Will the Shiraz listen with sensitivity when the lamb has had an upsetting day? Perhaps the bottle only meant that the Shiraz pairs well with the lamb, that their flavors complement each other.
Many people think that even the best relationships are the same as the merger of Shiraz and lamb, or that of two lucrative corporations: they work because everyone comes out a winner. Yet, something is lacking. Shiraz is not married to the lamb for the sake of the lamb. It is married to the lamb so that its own grapey flavors will be accentuated. Really, Shiraz is selfish.
It is interesting to note that the word for marriage in Hebrew, “nesuin,” surprisingly also means “carrying.” As the Hebrew definition of the word implies, a meaningful relationship is a state in which we are committed to supporting, or “carrying,” our partners throughout their lives. This is because, in Jewish thought, while a relationship is a vehicle for us to attain happiness, security, and closeness, those are the extra benefits. At its core, a relationship is the construct in which we perfect ourselves. Relationships give us a chance to prove our ability to be dedicated to a cause, care about others, and respect and love another person in a profound way. Ironically, though, when both partners have this attitude, instead of feeling that they are each doing the “heavy lifting,” they will both feel as though they are the one being supported by the other.