Tu B’Av, the 15th day of Av, is often referred to as the Jewish Day of Love. The Mishnah describes the happiness of the day, as women sought out spouses with a sense of sisterhood and hope. Seeking a spouse and finding love is certainly to be celebrated, but it is through continued strengthening and investing that the relationship will continue to thrive. On this Tu B’av lets focus not just on finding love, but keeping it vibrant.
The perpetual juggle of life responsibilities can be a tremendous source of stress for many. There are only so many hours in the day, and it can feel like there is never enough time to take care of all the items on your to-do list.
And it’s so easy for your relationship to fall to the bottom of the list- or not be on the list at all- as other things feel more pressing. Kids. Job. Finances. School. Community. Caregiving. The list goes on.
Kim Clark, former Dean of Harvard Business School, gave a poignant speech to the school’s 2005 graduating class. Here is a moving excerpt:
“..There will be no more secure foundation in your life than a home that is full of life and love. Conversely…you will find no success in business that can compensate for failure in the home. Let me say that one more time. Take these words to heart, listen to me, because these are true words, this is a true principle. There is no success in business that can compensate for failure at home…But there is no success without investment. That’s another lesson I’m sure you learned. If you are going to be successful, you have to invest. So I encourage you to invest first at home and to think of this as by far your most important investment. Indeed, I believe that the most important work that you do in your lives will be within the walls of your own home.”
Investing in your home doesn’t just mean putting energy into raising your children with your heart and soul. It means investing in your relationship with your spouse; keeping the connection important and being open to adapting to ways to stay close. When a relationship becomes more securely connected, fulfilling all those other responsibilities in your life may feel less stressful; not just because your brain will be spending less energy worrying about your relationship, but because you won’t feel as alone in taking care of the other issues.
At Sheva Brachot celebrations there are often speeches in which the bride and groom are blessed to continue feeling the same level of happiness they feel on that day. That now that the search is over, the work is over. But when you look at a relationship from an investment perspective, getting married is just the beginning of the investment; the return will not be at its peak then. It takes time, foresight, and wise decisions along the way for the investment to continue maturing in value.
Investing in your relationship doesn’t require grand gestures or fancy vacations. It’s the small day-to-day interactions that keep a relationship growing. Putting the phone down and making eye contact during a conversation. Setting an intention to greet one another at the end of the day, even if things are hectic around the house. Send a text during the day with an inside joke that makes you smile. Give compliments not just because they took care of something, but just because.
If your relationship feels rocky in any area- emotional, psychological, religious, financial, sexual—invest in getting the help you need to make it better. As Mr. Clark shared, “If you are going to be successful, you have to invest”. Yes, sometimes, investing can feel daunting and the familiar feels more comfortable, but if you don’t invest, you don’t get to enjoy the dividends.
Rachel Hercman, LCSW is a psychotherapist specializing in dating and relationship issues, sexual health, and trauma. She is in private practice on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and lectures across the US. Rachel lives with her family in Riverdale, New York and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .