Accepting that Your Spouse is Different Than You Thought

Different Pixabay kiss-520054_1920Many of us struggle in marriage when we eventually “discover” negative things about our spouse we never knew before. How we wish we would have known these things before marrying! How could we have been so “blinded” by what we thought to be true love? It is difficult to accept that our spouse is different than we thought. This even leads some to consider the critical question. Should we remain married to them even though we now feel deceived?

“The following insightful article about marriage appeared on a Jewish email list. If you aren’t Jewish or a person who studies the Bible, there might be a few words you won’t understand. But trust me, this applies to all marriages, Jewish, Christian, or other!” (Azriela Jaffe)

Here is what was written:

It’s difficult not to sympathize with our patriarch, Jacob. He becomes the victim of a last minute switch by his father-in-law, who tricks him into marrying the wrong woman. The Torah relates that Laban had two daughters, Leah and Rachel. “Leah had weak eyes, while Rachel was shapely and beautiful.” Jacob loved Rachel and he offered to work seven years for her.

When the seven years were up, Laban substituted Leah for Rachel on the night of the wedding. Jacob discovered the deception only after he’d consummated the marriage with Leah. Jacob accepted his fate and remained with Leah. But he later also married Rachel, the bride of his choice. “And he loved Rachel more than Leah.”

Yet, at the end, it was Leah who became Jacob’s primary wife. Rachel died at a young age. So most of Jacob’s married life was actually spent with Leah. In addition to this, it was Leah who mothered most of Jacob’s children. These are the future tribes of Israel. It was she, not Rachel, who ultimately was buried with Jacob in the Machpelah cave in Hebron.

Why did this marriage—the marriage that formed the foundation of the Jewish nation, the marriage that produced every single Jew living since, come about in such an appalling manner? And why did Jacob have to go through this absurd experience?

The Secret Behind the Veil

There’s a custom practiced during Jewish weddings known as the “bedeken,” or the veiling. Before the wedding ceremony, the groom goes to the room where his bride is sitting on a throne. He covers her face with a veil. Her face remains covered during the entire chupah ceremony.

One of the traditional explanations for this custom is that it commemorates the event that occurred during Jacob’s wedding ceremony. Since Jacob’s bride was veiled, he didn’t realize that he was marrying the wrong woman. But if that’s the reason, shouldn’t the custom be that the groom uncovers his bride’s face? This way he can make sure that he’s marrying the bride of his choice. Why are we commemorating at our weddings this terrible episode that occurred to poor Jacob?

The War that Can Break or Make Us

In the writings of kabbalah, Leah and Rachel represent two dimensions existing in each of our spouses. I’m talking about women and men alike. Rachel, “the shapely and beautiful sister,” embodies the attractive, charming and romantic features of our spouse. In fact, in Hebrew Rachel means “ewe.” This is an animal characterized by its bright white color and its gentle and lovable nature.

Also, the numerology of the Hebrew name Rachel is the same as the numerology of the Hebrew words “and there was light.”

Leah, a name that literally means “one, who is weary,” represents those elements in our spouse that are more complicated and disturbing. Leah, the weak-eyed sister, weakened from tears and anxiety, embodies our continuous and exhausting struggle with the dark demons and ugly impulses in our lives.

Thus, in Chassidic writings Rachel is associated with the tzaddik-personality. Leah is associated with the baal-teshuvah (the penitent) figure. The tzaddik is the pure and sacred human being, reflecting the harmony and goodness of his creator. The baal-teshuvah, on the other hand, embodies the individual who must continuously battle the negative urges and destructive habits rooted in his or her psyche.

The Common Drama

The drama that occurred at the wedding of the father of the Jewish people occurs at almost every wedding. When you get married, you may think that you’re marrying Rachel: the comely, perfect and fictitious spouse that you chose in your dreams. But in reality, you’re bound to discover that you ended up with Leah, a human being possessing layers of unresolved wounds and tension.

Initially you may love and appreciate only the Rachel dimension of your marriage partner and despise the Leah part of that individual. Yet as life progresses you’ll come to discover that it’s precisely the Leah dimension of your spouse, more than anything else, that was always meant for your soul. It’s the shortcomings and imperfections of your spouse that can challenge you to transcend your ego and become the person you are capable of being.

Creating a Space for That Which Emerges

That’s the secret behind the veiling. When the groom veils his bride, he’s essentially stating that “I will love and respect not only the ‘you’ who is presently visible to me, but also the ‘you’ that is still concealed from me and might emerge only later. I’m committed not just to the ‘Rachel’ in you, but also to the ‘Leah’ in you.

“As I bond with you in marriage,” the groom is saying, “I’m creating a space within me to accept and nurture the totality of your being.”

Marriage Missions editor’s note:

You probably never thought when you entered into marriage with a simple “I do” that there would be hidden sides to your spouse that would bring into your lives together such conflict. Making the vow to “love, honor, and cherish” each other for the rest of your lives is a lot easier to say than to live out. Most of us eventually learn this to be true.

We pray that the article you read above will inspire you to ask the Lord to help you to reflect the love of God in holy matrimony. As author Gary Thomas (who wrote the book, Sacred Marriage) said:

“Knowing why we are married and should stay married is crucial. The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage. This is because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator. It allows your marriage relationship to stretch your love and to enlarge your capacity for love —to teach you to be a Christian.”

This shortened article, is written by Yosef Y. Jacobson on the Leah and Rachel Deception. It is from Azriel Jaffe’s a FREE e-newsletter “The Entrepreneurial Couples Success Letter.” To subscribe, mail with the following in the body of your email message: subscribe entcouples-list.

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9 responses to “Accepting that Your Spouse is Different Than You Thought

  1. (KENYA)  Ohhhh!!! I definitely now see and believe out of the experience what I am undergoing. This definitely proves that marriage is no joke at all.

  2. (NIGERIA)  Oh Lord, this is my situation, help me to stand… We are going through a lot at the moment and I’ll trust you Lord, always.

  3. (INDONESIA)  Nice article. Reading this article reminds me that Jacob lived with Leah but he never loved her. Even after Leah gave him 4 sons, Leah gave Ruben’s mandrakes to Rachel for the sake that she wants Jacob to sleep with her (Genesis 30:15-17). This kind of marriage produced a bitter son. Ruben saw his mother unloved and ignored by his father, Ruben didn’t have father’s love to him also. He was bitter and finally slept with his father’s concubies and lost his birthright as firstborn son (Genesis 49:3-4; 1 Chronicles 5:1). I pray the Lord restores my marriage so that I have a happy and loving family so I don’t need to have a bitter son. Amen.

  4. (USA) What happens when you are the one who was veiled? I made myself out to be someone that I’m not. I thought I was a lot stronger and better fit for marriage than I was. I’ve worked to own up to it with my spouse, but she is still understandably very bitter….

    1. (USA) I am in the same boat, Rick. And at this point my wife does not believe anything I say. I don’t know how to show that she is all that I want in life, that our marriage is all that I desire. I don’t know how to show that I have changed when I have been guilty of saying I have changed in the past but had not actually changed. She says she forgives me but she does not believe that I only want to be with her. I think she still loves me but I have hurt her self esteem and damaged all the trust she gave me before. She looks at our entire marriage as a lie. She is disillusioned and hurting. Lord, help us heal.

      1. Kevin, God indeed desires to heal you two and your marriage. He is a loving God who wants the best for His children. I can feel your distress, but please continue to look up in prayer for God to touch your spouse’s heart too. I have been married for thirty years. I am now seeing the ‘Leah’ in my husband. I thank God for the discovery, and I am trusting Him to work on my husband as He works on me too. He has done it for others and my sincere prayer is that He helps you through the challenges you are facing in your marriage. It shall be well.

    2. Rick, Please do not fret too much. Trust God for grace for Him to work on your spouse too. He can do exceedingly beyond what we imagine He can. He is the God of impossibilities. It shall be well.

  5. Amen… It’s 1 am in Brazil and this article has just changed my entire marriage. Absolutely life/marriage changing. I am alone right now as I asked my wife for a divorce. Nothing yet done, only (but a million) words. After reading this my heart celebrates new possibilities. I am so comforted Holy Spirit. Feel GREAT. Brand new! Hope it’s not too late. God’s grace and plans over us works every new blessed day. Life moments. ONE NEVER ENDING HUG…Fab

    1. Fab, I want to pray for you… Oh Father, I lift up Fab and his wife to You and set them at Your feet, for You are the Creator of all and the Creator of them and the Creator of their marriage relationship. You love them and care for both of them in immeasurable ways, beyond their greatest imagination. Reach out and touch them with Your hand of healing and restoration. Fill their hearts to overflowing with Your immeasurable love. Be in their lives in a very real way as their Loving Father. Hold both of them close and speak Your truth into their lives. Give them both soft hearts full of forgiveness for each other. Turn them back, face-to-face with each other, with a smile on their faces and twinkling love in their eyes, holding each others’ hands as You are in their midst between them. Bring Your healing and restoration to their marriage relationship and give them a life together that is beyond their greatest dreams. May their lives be a sacrifice that brings You glory! I ask these things in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus, Amen!!!