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Table For Two by Rabbi Avraham Peretz Freidman

Making A Good Marriage Better

A book review by David Bendory, Spring 2003

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It fundamentally changed and completely remade my marriage — which was already a good marriage — and turned it into the Holy Union described in rabbinic literature. I have given copies of this book to a dozen married couples and everyone has loved it. To understand the power of this book, I offer the following story, as told by a friend (names changed to protect the guilty).

Jacob and his wife Rachel have a happy marriage. They have two daughters, Dina (3), and Malke (2). One day, this family decided to go out for ice cream.

Now Rachel has a habit of putting her car keys on top of the car and Jacob has a habit of getting angry when she does it. For starters, it scratches the car. In addition, he asserts it is unsafe as anyone could grab the keys while Rachel leans into the car to fasten the kids' seat belts. Rachel insists it is an easy and convenient place to put the keys after she unlocks the car.

Well, on this particular day, when the family went out to the driveway to get into the car, Jacob locked up the house and came out last to find Rachel had put the keys on the top of the car while she belted the children in. He was furious.

A typical marital tiff erupted between Jacob and Rachel as they argued over the placement of the keys. Tempers escalated. Just as things began to boil over, Malke shouted out from the back seat, "I want ice cream!" with such seriousness and intent that the parents were stunned into silence. At that point, Dina said, "Why are you two fighting? Don't you know we're going to get ice cream!" Jacob and Rachel both burst into laughter, shrugged their shoulders over their argument, and got into the car together for a loving family excursion to the ice cream parlor.

That's my metaphor for a good marriage as described by Rabbi Friedman: stop arguing and enjoy the ice cream. There's plenty of it, and it's there whenever we want it, but most of the time we are too preoccupied with insignificant matters to appreciate it.

Marriage doesn't come with an instruction manual and modern American culture offers few (or no) good role models for a proper marriage. This is the best marital instruction book I've seen. It's simple, concise, and straightforward, easily consumed in a few brief sittings. Friedman ignores all the modern psychobabble of "communication skills" and instead offers easy and obvious guidelines. It's so simple you just can't help but improve your marriage by reading it.

If you only read one book in the next year, make it this one. It will change your marriage forever. I suggest enjoying it with two scoops and all the toppings.

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