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I Love You

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#1 LeahWine



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Posted 03 February 2013 - 12:44 AM

While I was dating I never told my now fiance "I love you" even once we both knew we were for each other. Once I got engaged we started saying "I love you" to each other. Recently a friend told me we weren't allowed to say that until we got married. They weren't sure whether it was a tzniyus issue or that love only comes after marriage. I'm not one to judge whether it's tzniyus, I'm curious what Rabbi Shapiro has to say about that, but the concept I keep hearing about that love only comes after marriage always bothered me. I agree that the love after mariage is much, much greater than the love before, but I feel there is love, albeit to a lesser extent before marriage. After all, we do find Ahava by numerous people throughout chazal, most famously Bereishis 29,18 "Vaye'ehav Yaakov Es Rachel" 7 years before they were married.

#2 emoticon



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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:05 PM

A few points:


"...a friend told me we weren't allowed to say that until we got married. They weren't sure whether it was a tzniyus issue or that love only comes after marriage."

There are three points to consider here. (1) What does it mean that you are allowed, or not allowed to? (2) A tzniyus issue. (3) The premise that love only comes after marriage.


'Engaged' is a funny state of being. You are neither here nor there. You are a couple and you have a relationship, but by all halachic standards, you are no more permitted to him than you were before the shidduch was even redt. So, while emotionally you are somewhere in between single and married, halachically you have not changed your status at all. That being said, the standards for what is 'allowed' between an engaged  couple is no different than what was 'allowed' while they were dating. It is a grave mistake to think that once you become engaged, the rules of the game shift. If anything, the engagement period requires stricter adherence to protocol and sensitivities, in order to maintain צניעות and appropriateness despite the familiarity and attraction between the couple.


I would venture that saying 'I love you' is definitely a breach of צניעות. Although I would assume it is said in a casual tone, it is still suggestive and immodest between two young people who are not yet married. Again - the engagement party and diamond ring do not impact at all on the boundaries between men and women. 


Regarding 'love before marriage' - you wrote: "I agree that the love after marriage is much, much greater than the love before, but I feel there is love, albeit to a lesser extent, before marriage." 

From a purely logical perspective, we can discuss this solely in terms of semantics. You say that there is love before marriage, and a different kind of love after marriage. Let's define the love before marriage as attraction, admiration, and warmth. Then let's attempt to define the love after marriage as the indescribable, divinely blessed bond that exists in the holy platform of marriage על טהרת הקודש. So yes, there is something that can be termed 'love' before marriage, and there is something that can be termed 'love' after marriage. The love before marriage is not, as you described it, a 'lesser' version of the love that comes after marriage. Because the love that comes after marriage exists only within marriage - it is born under the Chuppah, and not before. It is a creation - a unique relationship. By definition, this love exists only within a marriage. So, to begin with, realize that you are talking about two separate entities here, and you are confusing yourself by using a single term to encompass two distinct realities.


Now, before bringing any examples whatsoever from תנ"ך, we must establish the premise that the relationships in תנ"ך are completely beyond our realm of experience. "ויאהב יעקב את רחל" does not, חלילה, compare at all to the attraction that a couple feels after meeting several times in a lounge and over dinner. That being said, we can bring an example to the contrary:


בראשית כד:סז

ויבאיה יצחק האהלה שרה אמו ויקח את רבקה ותהי לו לאשה ויאהבה וינחם יצחק אחרי אמו.

Yitzchak brought her into the tent of Sarah, his mother. He married Rivka, she became his wife, and he loved her...


R' Shamshon Raphael Hirsch writes:

"This, too, is a characteristic that, thank God, has not vanished from among the descendants of Avraham and Sarah, Yitzchak and Rivkah. The more she became his wife, the more he loved her! Like this marriage of the first Jewish son, Jewish marriages, most Jewish marriages, are contracted not on the basis of passion, but on the strength of reason and judgment... The wedding is not the culmination, but only the beginning, of true love."


The bottom line is that what you term 'love before marriage' is unrelated to the true אהבה that exists within a marriage. So while there may be attraction, admiration, and warmth before the Chuppah, true אהבה exists only within marriage. May you be זוכה to experience a צניעותדי'ק engagement, and then the שפע ברכה of אהבה, אחוה, שלום, ורעות that comes with marriage. Mazel Tov! 

#3 taon



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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:11 PM

Very nice piece, emoticon!

#4 Bas-Levi



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Posted 14 February 2013 - 12:10 AM

I second what taon wrote. Beautiful points and very well-said!

#5 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:48 PM

Halachicly, an engaged couple are no different than a dating couple, who are no different than acquaintance. In fact, a Choson does not have any Halachos of a Choson until he puts the ring on the Kallah's finger (and the same obviously applies to the Kallah). We colloquially call an engaged person a "Choson" but that's a misnomer (the newfangled custom of people standing up for the Choson and Kallah as they march down to the Chupah is baseless, the idea of "choson domeh lemelch" being inapplicable until the couple is actually married).


Therefore, Halachicly, there is no difference in the laws of Tznius between two acquaintances and an engaged couple. In fact, once a couple is engaged, standards of Tznius should be stricter than when they were dating, because a dating couple at least has a Halachic permit to spend time together to see whether they are compatible for marriage, a permit which no longer applies after they are engaged.


All that notwithstanding, faced with the reality that certain proprieties are more difficult to enforce than others, in combination with the idea that we need to choose our battles, our community has adopted something akin to a "don't ask don't tell" attitude towards such things. (Not that this is the idea attitude to take, but more than that can not usually be enforced.) Many Roshei Yeshiva speak about this to their Talmidim in their mussar schmuezen, but as a whole, the official standards of our community's Poskim is not reflected in is behavioral norms.


So my bottom line response to your question is this: I am not allowed to tell you anything but the truth, that talking in such a way is not proper Tznius. However, neither is the general way Chasanim and Kallahs in our community usually interact, and neither is the way boys and girls date. It is something that is very difficult for us to change because it would involve a re-engineering of our entire dating/chosson-kallah interaction system. It is hardly fair to tell someone, after we've allowed them to go out on many long and fun dates (much more interaction, both qualitatively and quantitatively, than is needed - or permitted - to determine marriage compatibility), and then, after they are engaged, to allow them to spend so much time with each other on the phone and in person, that they should not talk in the way you described. It's unfair and inconsistent with how we've allowed them and maybe even encouraged them to interact since they started dating. 


I cannot fault you for such talk - or for any of the other parts of the dating-and-being-engaged process that takes place in our community. This is how we do it, and it is what it is. Like I said, we choose our battles. But neither can I tell you that any of it is proper.

#6 danceInTheRain



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Posted 27 February 2013 - 04:07 AM

as a very fresh kalla I would just like to add that maybe this can be looked at from a very different angle. 

Imagine this

you are engaged to a great guy and both of you are totally into each other. call it love, call it whatever you want. Both of you are sooo exited. every time you meet you have to control yourselves. there is no touching and no improper words(the way I understand it is that we don't use the I love you type of thing just because we are trying are best to make sure that things don't escalate). 

anyways- the feelings are just building up more and more. finally you reach your chupa. you both know standing under the sky together that you did everything to make sure that you engagment period was pure and tzanua! what an amazing feeling. what a connection. what a meaningful start. Hashem is surely right there.

but it does not end there. now all that built up tension can finally be defused in the proper way!!! and all the words you will say now will mean soo much more. why would you want to waste them before? imagine the exitement!!! 

I just see it as the smartest thing to do. 

and hey don't worry, if your scared that this will detract from you relationship then don't worry. first of all most guys will find ways to SHOW (and not say) that they love you, its soo cute.... like you'll suddenly realize that they are wearing a shirt that's you favorite color. or they will get everyone to sing the song u love. whatever. every guy is different. but you get the idea.

second of all you're conversations will be much much deaper and your relationship will really be one of deap connection. who doesn't want that?

#7 emoticon



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Posted 07 March 2013 - 05:11 PM



I was debating whether or not to post this... maybe I'll end up taking it down. But there is something niggling at me about your post. You see, there's something wrong with the starting point here. You describe an engagement period in which the couple "builds up feelings more and more," and "every time they meet they have to control themselves." And then, since they control themselves and reach the Chuppah without having touched or spoken inappropriately, "you know... that you did everything to make sure that your engagement period was pure and tzanua."


I beg to differ. A pure, tzniusdike engagement should not involve "every time they meet they have to control themselves..." There is something wrong, yet unfortunately prevalent, about that perspective. Would such interactions, that produce such intense, hard to control emotions, be appropriate between a girl and boy who are not engaged? Such interactions are no more appropriate between an engaged couple. Halachically, today's engagements have no impact. Guidelines don't change once you've gotten a ring. Standards don't change once he's wearing a watch. 


It is true that exerting control, and refraining from explicit language and touch is required and praiseworthy. But allowing young couples to engage in interactions where "every time they meet they have to control themselves" is definitely not the ideal level of a "pure and tzanua" engagement.