My grandparents are the perfect couple --- and not in a cliché “still in love after all these years” Hallmark card sort of way, but in a really solid, loving and tender sort of way.
Anyone who spends a little bit of time with them can see how much they admire each other. It’s in the way they look at each other and even more in the way they speak to and about each other.
Together they have survived war, hunger, exile to Siberia, anti-Semitism, a Communist regime, persecution, immigration and illnesses, and still through it all there is no bickering. If they harbor any irritations towards each other, they are overshadowed by their deep love and mutual respect.
They met 74 tears ago when they were only 14 years old. They have been married for 65 years. I asked them to share the secret sauce to their happy marriage. They are my roll models after all. After much convincing, they agreed to do a video interview with me to share their experience, wisdom and advice for a happy marriage.
My grandma once told me that that when they got married, they made a decision that there would be peace in their home and they have kept that promise to each other.
They lived most of their lives in what was then the Soviet Union, where religion was prohibited and Jews were persecuted. Little did they know that making promises to each other before marriage is actually a very Jewish thing to do.
In fact, a ketubah, or Jewish pre-marital contract, is an integral part of the Jewish wedding ceremony.
What does it say about Jewish beliefs that we hang our premarital contract up on our walls for all to see?
It’s a way of sharing the joy of starting our life together with others, but it’s also a way to hold ourselves accountable in front of the whole community. It’s like we are saying: this is what we promised to each other and we don’t take it lightly.
Patricio likes to say that our ketubah continues to inspire our marriage --- that our vows are something we renew every morning when we wake up and see them hanging in front of us. It’s a contract that we love admiring in happy times, but even more importantly it keeps us focused through hard times.
What an honor and a privilege it has been for me to work with so many couples at this pivotal point in their lives. I love getting to know my clients and hearing their stories. It is both exciting and humbling to me to know that my art will hang in their homes, adding a touch of inspiration to their relationship.
Five years ago, my grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary --- and, you guessed it, I made them a ketubah! Now it hangs proudly in their home, celebrating their life together and all that is still to come.
I hope that after 65 years of marriage Patricio and I will still be as supportive, loving, attentive and caring as my grandparents are towards each other --- and I wish the same for all couples starting out on their journey together. L’chaim!
If you want to learn more about their life in the Soviet Union, you can read my grandma's first-hand account of 61 years spent there.