"My husband is always taking me for granted! I remember years ago, when we first married, how special he made me feel. He would look into my eyes and my heart would melt. He made me feel so loved, so wanted, so needed, like I was the center of his life. I felt treasured and important, as if I was his whole world.
"But nowadays…I feel more like a piece of old furniture, something that's functional and comfortable, but holds no special connection or affection. We're like two strangers living under the same roof. I feel like I've lost a part of myself, as I've become just an appendage of his..."
Adam stood in the middle of the garden, enveloped in exquisite beauty. The world was there to delight him—succulent fruit, majestic trees, green pastures, sparkling waters and striking animals of all species. He was the master of them all.
Yet as Adam stood gazing at this grandeur, he felt an intense loneliness. A powerful feeling of existential isolation overcame every fiber of his being. He had everything, yet he was missing something so essential and so integral to his very happiness and completion. He might be the master of his world, but deep inside himself, he knew he was deficient.
"And G‑d said, 'It is not good that man is alone. I shall make for him a compatible helper.'" (Genesis 2:18)
With the creation of all other species, both male and female sprang up at the same time. In the creation of humanity, however, Adam was created as a lone being.
Man needed to feel a sense of existential loneliness, a deep and unfulfilling lack, to impress upon him how important his partner is to his life and happiness.
"The Holy One willed that man should be without woman for a brief period, and then afterwards introduced her to him, so that she would be dearer to him after he had felt life so lacking without her." (Chizkuni on Genesis 2:18)
This feeling of intense loneliness was meant to impress upon Adam, and all future Adams, the centrality of their "other half." The message of his loneliness must guide him to action: appreciate her, value her and nurture her. To realize how special she is and what a predominant role she plays in his life.
"What so attracted me to my wife when we first met was not only her amazing qualities and charismatic personality, but it was also how she made me feel about myself. Intuitively, she knew how to build me up and make me feel so capable, so successful.
"When she was with me, the whole world sparkled and I felt like I could conquer anything. Together, there would be no barriers, nothing holding us back.
"But nowadays… She doesn't stop criticizing me! There's non-stop bickering and complaining. Whatever I do is always wrong and no matter how hard I try, it is never good enough."
She awoke from a deep slumber to gaze into his searching eyes. Immediately and intuitively Chava (Eve) sensed that they were deeply attached to one another. In fact, somehow she knew that they were actually parts of one another.
She would be an integral part of his life; its very foundation. He would need her to accomplish his mission in this world.
"But for Adam there was not found a helper who was compatible…and the rib which G‑d had taken from man, He built into a woman and brought her to the man. And Adam said, this is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh…Therefore a man shall leave his parents and cleave to his wife." (Genesis 2:20-24)
Woman is called an ezer kinegdo a compatible helper. As part of man's own flesh, she is closest to him, an actual part of his being.
What was man so lacking before her creation, that he was (in G‑d's own words) "not good"? And, what could she provide that was so integral to his mission and completion?
Man was missing a companion, someone who could understand his nature and his psyche. She was built from him, but it was she who he needed to build him up; without her he was not whole.
Woman, as an actual part of Adam, is the one best equipped to inspire in him a confidence in achieving his mission. Only together could they fulfill their dreams and hopes, their joint mission and purpose.
"In the animal kingdom, the male animals do not cleave to the female animals, but rather the males come to any female that they find to procreate. The Torah is underlining a distinction here between humanity and other creations. The first female was necessarily an actual part of man's own flesh, which makes him want to cleave to her and always be with her. This is instilled in the nature of men that a son leaves his father and mother to build a life with his wife, whom he regards as the closest one to him, as though he and she are one flesh." (Nachmanides on Genesis 2:24)
Isn't it amazing how the very things we most need from each other are also the most difficult for us to give?
The formula for a successful partnership between man and woman is hidden between the lines on the very first pages of Genesis. G‑d who is the designer of the human psyche, well understood the differences in nature between men and women and the possible points of conflict.
Ask most married women: What is your greatest complaint against your husband? You are sure to hear: "He fails to appreciate me," "He takes me for granted," "He doesn't spend time with me," "He fails to nurture our relationship." She feels that she has become merely an appendage of his being, taken for granted and not treated as the essential center of his life.
Ask a married man: What is your biggest issue with your wife? By and large, the responses will be: "She nags me," "She puts me down," "She's always criticizing," "She's never happy with me."
Women crave nurturance while men seek confidence. Interestingly, the very thing each seeks is often the other's weakest point.
Men tend to get distracted with the many pursuits of the world before them. They see their activities, accomplishments and conquests as things they do for the sake of their wives and families without actually spending the time to nurture that very relationship.
Women, on the other hand, have a tendency to be critical. They see their partner's potential, and what they can be as opposed to loving them for what they are, and point out these deficiencies.
In the very first moments of creation, G‑d reminds man and woman of the essential tools each carries, that are quintessential needs craved by their partner.
To man, G‑d says—look at your first moments before she entered your world. You had the entire world at your fingertips, but you were lacking. Not only were you lacking something peripheral, your very life was "not good"! Remember your feelings of utter loneliness without her, when your life held no meaning or completion. Treat her with the respect she deserves. Remind her just how much she means to you. Make her the center of your world. Value her relationship more than anything. She needs to feel like the treasure that she is.
To woman, G‑d says—you are his greatest helper, without whom he simply cannot succeed. Your smile, your approval, your words of praise, your words of encouragement are the very oxygen pumping life-giving energy into his veins. You hold the building blocks, essential to his life. He needs you to build him up. He seeks your approval.
Embedded within the first moments of creation lies the solution to navigating our relationship obstacles. Man and woman each carry the very tools that their soul mate so keenly yearns.
Access these tools and you will discover the keys to a successful and fulfilling partnership.