I was sifting through my box of photo albums (sifting, ha! Got lost in nostalgia, more like) when I came across a set of CDs we’d received as a wedding present. Rabbi Akiva Tatz on marriage. 

I had listened to the series eons prior to marriage, probably even before I started dating. Still, I appreciated the gift: it was a great way to get my husband to listen to the shiurim without seeming like a nagging wife. I wish I could have thanked whoever gave it to us, but I recall there being no note, just nice wrapping. 

Like all Rabbi Tatz’s shiurim, it was a fusion of incredible depth and practical application. Early in our marriage, the series was a good springboard for discussion. I welcomed the chance to revisit a memory of when things were simple and straightforward, so I set aside the shiurim and on Thursday night, I popped a CD into my computer and pressed play. 

“What you listening to?” Nachi asked by way of greeting. He’d just come home from work. 

“Three guesses.” 

It took only a second for him to identify the South African accent. “So it’s Rabbi Akiva Tatz on… what?” he asked as he peered into the pots on the stove. 

“Very good! Rabbi Akiva Tatz on marriage,” I said, laughing. 

Nachi scrunched his face. “Didn’t we listen to this years ago?” 

“Review is always good.” 

“So tell me what I should remember,” he said, humoring me. 

“I love how so much of it goes according to the natural cycle of life,” I started. 

Nachi looked at me blankly. 

“Y’know, how life is a pattern of these highs of inspiration, the fall, then working back to that high. But then it’s for real because you worked and earned it.” 

Nachi nodded, remembering. I continued, “So, like marriage starts on a high, and then life happens and you have to climb back to that original la-la land. This time, though, it stays, because you worked on it, and know it.” 

“Right, right,” Nachi agreed, 

“And you see it with Yetzias Mitzrayim and Matan Torah.” I was getting all excited. 

Nachi’s next words stopped me cold. “So where are you in the cycle?” 

I frowned, not comprehending. Then frowned deeper when I comprehended but didn’t have an answer. I shrugged. “I’ll get back to you on that.” 

A little while later I was up to the cleanup stage of Shabbos cooking. My sink loaded with dishes, I rolled up my sleeves to finish the job. I don’t particularly enjoy washing dishes, but I find that my mind surprises me between the suds. While my hands washed and my mind wandered, my subconscious did all the hard work. 

Life has been confusing, a bit rough, muddling along, figuring some things out, and reconfiguring others. Definitely the last few months have been a lower point in my life… So if I’m in the low part of the cycle, what came before it — and what comes after?