I always wondered when I would be ready to get married. When the day would come when I'd be swept off my feet, the fulfillment of every girl's romantic daydream. When I would advance from the singularity of adolescence, and take the stage as a whole, united being. I would find myself pondering. When would my time come?

I once heard from a wise man that in order to be half of a whole, you first must master the art of being a whole half. For as a prerequisite to being a deserving recipient of the bounty of a fulfilling relationship, you must bring your own sense of completion to the table. The concept of the "whole half" seems to me to connote a sense of healthy awareness, the creation of a shiny new key called "self-fulfillment," which at its culmination is ready to open the padlock to another heart, another life. A key formed by the labor of the self in the struggle against the "other" that exists inside, the inclination towards animalism and materialism, culminating in the union with our "other," our completing half.

We're dreaming if we set our sights on perfectionFor essentially, in the pursuit of unity with our other, we must vanquish the negative within us—in the term coined by the mystics, most appropriately, the sitra achara, the "other side." Manifesting itself in many forms, be it self-pity, stubbornness, or even a lack of resolve within ourselves to change, the otherness inside must be replaced with the righteousness and tranquility of the whole half; the expression of pure, unadulterated self, all beautifully, neatly contained within the key that I call "my half."

In a similar vein lies the incomplete half. We're dreaming if we set our sights on perfection. But by the same token, we're fooling ourselves if we fail to try. The incomplete half, an immature self-image, or perhaps a denial of what still needs to be done, may indeed claim its status as a half; and yet as a key—perhaps one with a bit of rust, or a groove slightly off-target—it must inevitably struggle, encounter some sort of resistance, striving to yet refine both itself and its union, to rattle and tremble before it finally settles. For in our arrival at the point in time at which we may fuse with the one who will provide completion to our soul, the proximity to completion and refinement of our own half is surely essential.

Consequently, it would appear as though the status of one's own "half" determines the status of a soul mate, and the union of marriage itself—for the fusion of two pieces of a puzzle, two souls can be focused on the pieces themselves, or the groove that binds them. I think a common problem in the world today is when a couple views themselves as the pieces of the puzzle, easy as it is to be deceived into attributing greater security to the whole, raised puzzle pieces. With the pieces themselves as the focal point, marriage becomes a work of two, as the pieces are united and left alone to discover which sides match up, which priorities work together, in which position they may garner a "best fit." Where otherwise marriage may rather be the work of one unity, the completion of the incomplete half—the individual pieces of the puzzle, the whole half—must pre-date the half of a whole present in a marriage.

However, to be a whole half at the outset grants one the foresight, confidence and security in oneself to realize that in diving head first into the groove between the pieces, in positioning one's self and outlook at the point of contact, the fusion is merely an inevitable consequence to the single journey of self-refinement, a painless and awaited union where comfort reigns, and the dream of reality begins: an unhindered journey as one. For to be a whole half, you realize that life is how it should and was always destined to be, and with such an awareness one views marriage not as a change, an adjustment, a compromise, but as the final step to the completion of the whole half.

With this ring I separate you, I liberate you from the work of your halfPerhaps one of the most soul-stirring lines is that which is uttered by the groom under the chupah, the marriage canopy: "Harei at mekudeshet li" ("You are sanctified to me"), the unifying point at which the bride and groom are cosmically, spiritually bound. To play with semantics, however, the alternate meaning to the word mekudeshet, derived from its root kadosh, is "to separate." And yet how could this focal point in one's life, the union of souls, most beloved in G‑d's eye, possess such connotations of division?

I believe that the answer lies in the status of one's whole half. For with the union of the halves, independently whole at the outset, the groom utters the most romantic, most beautiful of sentiments: With this ring I separate you, I liberate you from the work of your half, and sanctify our souls into one whole, to journey, to labor, to struggle for the completion of our whole and our world, together.

It is with the pursuit of becoming a whole half that we may find ourselves blessed with a destiny of combined completion, the achievement of G‑d's presence on this earth and the holy unity of the Jewish People and their Creator: the existence of one. A wholesome whole.