A wedding marks anticipation and excitement. Every marriage represents newness, joy, and the bliss of two separate individuals coming together to forge a new life.

And yet, the statistics for marriage don’t bode well, with too many ending in ugly discord.

How can the meshing of two disparate souls, two unique people create instead a beautiful harmony? Perhaps we can get some pointers from the laws of kilayim.

“Keep my statutes; do not crossbreed your animals with different species. Do not sow your field with a mixture of different seeds. A garment that contains shaatnez (a forbidden mixture of wool and linen) you shall not wear.” (Leviticus 19:19)

The Torah’s kilayim laws are a series of prohibitions against the intermixing of certain animal species, plant seeds, and cloth materials. While the Torah is in favor of unity, it also respects boundaries.

Beneath the diversity of our world lies the unified purpose of every existence: to reveal the singular truth of G‑d, Who created us all. But our world is also defined by distinct categories. Each of us is meant to use our unique characteristics to make our world a better place. We do so not by blurring borders or obliterating identities, but by determining how each of our talents has a place in accomplishing our joint goal.

That is why the crossbreeding of animals or seeds in not permitted. In the process, each ultimately would lose its distinct character and quality. The underlying difference between the two species—how each is meant to serve its creator—has been violated.

However, not all of the kilayim prohibitions apply in all circumstances. The forbidden mixture of wool and linen is permitted—indeed, prescribed—in certain instances, such as in the making of tzitzit, or in the clothes worn by the priests when serving in the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple).

Unlike the other combinations of species or seeds, the combination of two materials in a cloth does not violate the integrity of either ingredient—the wool remains wool and the linen remains linen. What has happened is that these two elements have combined to create a new thing of beauty and utility, while preserving the initial qualities.

Still, such a combination is forbidden if the goal is self-serving. Only in the service of a mitzvah, their Creator’s will and the ultimate realization of their purpose, can these distinct forces converge in harmony.

Similarly, the meshing of two species of souls, of man and woman, can occur only when their goal is not a self-serving, narcissistic one.

Husband and wife are individuals possessing unique characteristics, often coming from different backgrounds, cultures, or environments. Each has his or her own habits, wants, and needs.

How can an enduring union occur between such different “planets”? How can these two individuals come to “love each other as oneself,” and live in affectionate unity?

Only when each preserves his or her characteristics within the marriage, in the service of a higher goal.

A couple’s true love expresses the oneness of their quintessential unity. When they draw together in love, they discover how to use their individuality in the realization of their joint Divine purpose.