Sunday, April 03, 2011

Book Review: I Only Want to Get Married Once by Chana Levitan

Cross-posted on Shiloh Musings
I had debated on which blog to post this book review.  Finally, I decided that it suits the readers of both blogs.

This Shabbat I finally sat down to read another of the books I had received as review copies, I Only Want to Get Married Once by Chana Levitan, Gefen Publishing House.  I read the entire book this afternoon.  I wish they had books like that over forty years ago, before my 1970 wedding.  My generation got less and worse advice.  Just a few days ago, a peer confided why her first marriage was such a disaster.  If they had gotten the type of advice in Chana Levitan's book, either they never would have married or they could have had made a lasting and good marriage.

Nu, so what do Levitan say?

I Only Want to Get Married Once by Chana Levitan is based on ten important questions to ask yourself.  The first is:
Do you share the same basic goals and values?
Levitan explains what the terms are and how crucial they are in a relationship.  A couple must ask tough questions before they get to the pre-engagement stage. Why waste valuable years on a relationship that can never work well?  That's why even couples who had dated or even lived together happily for years find everything falling apart after the wedding and end up divorcing.  When it comes to "what values they want to teach their children" they suddenly discover that they have nothing in common.

Levitan also explains the importance of "trust," "setting boundaries," healthy versus abusive relationships and the importance of listening to that nagging suspicion and caring friends.  Unfortunately, "infatuation" sometimes gets the better of our common sense.

I Only Want to Get Married Once by Chana Levitan book is must-read, and it should be read more than once and not just when people get to marriageable age.  I'd recommend it to teens just starting to date.  Once someone is about to get married it's much harder to fix a relationship or break it off.  But if people are raised to be aware of these principles, also in just choosing friends, it will be easier for them to establish healthy relationships and improve themselves.  The material in the book should be part of whatever "Health Education" or "Marriage Preparation" in the school curriculum.  Also, parents should read it with their kids.

Returning to Levitan's first point about shared goals and values, IMHO that explains the success of the shidduch system among the very religious Jews.  Parents choose partners for their children from the same sorts of families with the same value systems and expectations.  One learns to love afterwards; in the majority of families it is successful.

I definitely recommend I Only Want to Get Married Once by Chana Levitan.  It's an excellent, clearly written book.

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