Dear Readers,

Have you heard of the new trend called “self-marriage”? Basically, it means marrying yourself.

Wikipedia defines it as “marriage by a person to oneself. It is known as a commitment that values self-love, and self-compassion. Supporters of the practice argue that it leads to a happier life . . . ”

Self-wedding planners are popping up to instruct how to create self-marriage sacred vows, self-marriage wedding rings and more.

The idea has also caused a flurry of discussions on related topics, like whether one can marry one’s pet. Proponents say: “Self-marriage is a commitment to valuing and prioritizing self-love and self-care within a culture that has neglected it.”

Perhaps this trend has arisen because our society feels that self-love is so essential. Torah agrees about the value of self-love—to some extent.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is a cardinal principle in the Torah. You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself first.

Similarly, it’s essential to take care of yourself, value yourself—to seek your needs, goals and wants. A healthy self-esteem is what makes us whole and helps us function as human beings.

But perhaps here’s the crux of the difference.

Loving yourself is not an end in and of itself. We love ourselves because we are created with a Divine G‑dly spark, which means that G‑d loves us unconditionally even when we fail. But G‑d also has expectations of us. He knows what we can achieve and believes in us to do so, or at least to keep on trying.

Marriage is all about love, but it is anything but self-love. Marriage means finding enough love to love another. Marriage means relinquishing yourself. Ironically, it also means discovering more about yourself than you ever could alone.

Marriage is not all about sparks flying. Yes, of course, that should be part of it. The right chemistry and compatible personalities are important ingredients in deciding who to marry. But it is not the reason why you marry.

Maybe that’s why marriage has become somewhat unpopular nowadays. We like to feel good. We want quick fixes. We want pleasure. We want self-love. And at times, marriage can be the exact opposite. Nothing about marriage is a quick fix.

Marriage is about climbing a very steep mountain, whose peak is forever beyond your reach. You will fall and stumble too many times to count, only to haul yourself up again. You will scrape your heart until it sometimes feels like it’s gushing.

So why marry? (And I mean another person, not yourself!)

Because marriage is about partnering with another to negate yourself, only to become your greatest self. It is about stretching yourself to see beyond just “you.” It is about building something far greater than you could ever imagine. It is about creating a permanent, everlasting, Divine edifice in this world. It is about merging with another G‑dly being to create holiness in our world.

Marriage isn’t about feeling great. It is about becoming greater.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW