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Reflections on Kallah-hood

The glass slippers of sheva brachos have long been replaced by sensible clogs

My baby sister just got engaged, over a decade after I did. By now, I’ve long since relinquished my young-couple status. The way I see it, you’re no longer newlyweds once your kids outnumber you.

I wouldn’t want to go back to being a young couple, that’s for sure. I had my moment in the sun, my chance to bask in the carefree bliss of engagement and young-couplehood, and I far prefer the stability and predictability that comes with being married for a while.

But when I watched my dear little starry-eyed sister and her equally starry-eyed chassan, I felt a twinge. Was it jealousy? I don’t think so. It was more like the feeling of longing you experience when you recognize something precious that was once yours, but has long been forgotten.

The night after my sister’s vort, I lay awake trying to identify what my sister had that I no longer did. I could think of many things I had that she didn’t — at least not yet: the firm knowledge that my husband and I were truly compatible; a solid relationship that had proven its resilience through happy times and not-so-happy times; the trust that comes from having repeatedly experienced a spouse’s loyalty and devotion; and the invisible bond that allows a couple to share thoughts and feelings without saying a word.

So what was it that my sister had that I didn’t?

After much thought, I finally realized what it was. She had focus. Her entire being was focused on her chassan. No matter what else was going on around her, her mind and heart were singularly absorbed with the person who had just become the most significant being in her life. Everything else was peripheral.

Yes, there were phone calls to be made, errands to be taken care of, and annoying technicalities to sort out (“The flowers ended up where?”), but my sister seemed to be floating above all this, going through the motions of mundane living while transcending the world inhabited by us mortal beings. Her thoughts were on her chassan alone, and that preoccupation made everything else seem rose-colored.

I was once that kallah, too, although the glass slippers of sheva brachos have long been replaced by sensible clogs, and these days I often feel more like a pumpkin than a princess. There’s no question that my husband is the most important person in my life, but is he the object of my undying focus, to the exclusion of all else? I don’t think so.

My mind is a jumble of doctor appointments, work deadlines, clogged drains, bedtime stories, and shopping lists. Somewhere in the midst of that jumble is the knowledge that I am above all a wife, but that knowledge usually remains in the background, clouded over by the here-and-now demands of motherhood, work, and running a household, not to mention family, social, and neighborly obligations.

So while my sister has focus, I have distraction. Good distractions, healthy distractions, but distractions nonetheless. Does my husband mind? No. He has plenty of distractions himself, and it would clearly be out of place for us to spend hours whispering to one another over dinner and sending cute little notes all day long. But still …

Watching my sister, I realized that with all of the distractions of life — especially life with kids — I have to remember where my focus is supposed to be. A marriage is not just one of many aspects of living; it’s the pivotal relationship of a person’s life. And if the focus is gone, having disappeared somewhere between the chuppah and the unpaid bills, then I’ve lost something priceless.

Thankfully, I haven’t lost it completely. The focus is still there, even if it is competing with dishes and homework or buried under a pile of unpaired socks. I just have to make sure that my marriage is not relegated to one juggling ball among the many that I am trying desperately not to drop. For as long as I put my marriage first, I’ll always remain a kallah.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 253)

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