How do we tie this to practical, concrete relating?
For example, in a traditional Jewish family, a husband is responsible for earning a livelihood, learning Torah regularly, teaching the sons Torah, etc. A wife is obligated to keep the house, raise the children, cook, sew, clean, etc.
Regardless of whether you have any variations in your individual case (e.g. two-income family, whatever), there are other roles that go into your relationship, besides technical activities and prescribed arrangements.
For example, chapter one brings out fundamentals of making a marriage work, of making a marriage peaceful, and of giving it the capacity to endure. Among the things in which the partners have this obligation (to be unchangingly faithful) are practical exchange of:
* active and targeted giving
* active maintenance and pursuit of peace
* relating heart to heart
* providing happiness to each other at every possible moment
* keeping the "goodness flow" mutual ("even steven"),
at all times, and such that your partner can have unswerving faith in you and your nonstop provision of these to your partner. The test is passed when both partners steadily:
* can know and
* can be secure, trusting and reliant;
* has the other's love, respect, loyal devotion, support, alliance; and
* has fulfillment of all of the roles, emotions, needs and obligations, that the relationship requires from the other.
Faith and trust in marriage must be complete, or else there will be doubt, worry, suspicion, insecurity, tension, divisiveness, misery and degeneration of the marriage. I tell audiences that trust is like "kosher"...if a food is 99% kosher, it is 100% traif! ANYTHING less than 100% won't work. Same, too, in the marriage bond. A partner is not fulfilling his/her responsibility to the marriage until he/she gives the other the ability to have 100% faith, security, confidence, reliance and trust in him/her...without change or end.
There are also, for example, midos (character traits: both elimination of bad and abundance of good), communication, compromises, expressing appreciation and compliments, buying presents, acts of thoughtfulness, patience, self-control, keeping promises, punctuality, all forms of reliability and honesty, provision of emotional security and emotional support, accepting your partner's faults graciously and without destructive nagging or criticizing, stability and consistency, fidelity, helping each other to grow and to bring out each other's potential, constantly treating each other as important and as valuable, gentle and constructive criticism, halachic resolving of differences, working TOGETHER to raise and to train the children with a uniform and effective approach, creation and maintenance of a loving and respectful home atmosphere, allowing for male-female differences (e.g.needs, nature, temperaments, priorities, relating styles, etc.), spending "quality time" together regularly (and, enough of it! - quality without sufficient quantity won't work) for the development and enrichment of your relationship, paying attention to your spouse, ongoing courtesy, etc. We'll come back later in more detail to such topics on how to constitute a successful relationship.
Incidentally, it is also vital to spend sufficient, warm and nurturing quality time with each of your children individually.
View the Jewish marriage as having three partners: husband, wife and G-d. For a marriage to have blessing and success, each one must be true and devoted to the other two.