Dating & Shalom Bayit – Tips and Tidbits
Your Future Lifestyle
One of the common fallacies made by those entering the shidduch scene soon after high school and seminary is that material matters in life are relatively unimportant. Spiritual growth, for themselves and their prospective spouse, is held in highest regard and the material side to their lives is devalued and diminished. While leading a Torah life is, without question, the purpose of our existence and is to be held in highest esteem, it is critical to accurately attend to your personal needs and character.
While a girl may come home from seminary prepared to live the rest of her life in a small apartment in Israel, it is important to ensure that this is an accurate assessment of what she wants and needs. Exploring as to whether that is a realistic way of life is an essential step before beginning to date.
Moreover, it is important to ascertain the boy’s future goals in life. What are his long-terms goals for learning, if that is what you are looking for. What does he plan to do after that? How does he anticipate earning a living and providing for a family? While your entire married life need not be figured out, it is not too early to discuss such matters. Be aware of where your life is headed. Many marriages suffer on account of financial issues. Aiming for lofty goals is wonderful, but ensure that you are ready for them, it matches your character, and there is some type of plan set in place.
Consider the following example.
After returning home from seminary, Dena seemed to have changed tremendously from the girl she had been a year earlier. She davened with greater fervor, her circle of friends were much more simplistic and spiritual and she dressed more modestly. When it came time to approach shadchanim, Dena said that she only wanted to date boys who planned on learning indefinitely and would be supported exclusively by her. While Dena’s parents were proud of her, they began wondering if she had thought these criteria out as carefully and closely as needed. She had in fact grown up with all the luxuries a girl living in American could ask for, and still enjoyed and relied on these comforts. She had never been exposed to the lifestyle she supposedly craved.
After four years of dating the type of boy she described, she met David. He was an extremely devoted learner, but intended to join his father’s accounting business in a few years. He had grown up in a home very similar to Dena’s, and after meeting for some time and finding compatibility, the two of them became engaged.
It is critically important to come to grips with who you are and be wary about fantasizing of a life that you realistically would not lead. Take the time to learn yourself, understand your true needs, and from there, work to determine who can partner with you on that journey.
Magnifying Problems, Not Solving
One of the biggest and most dangerous myths of marriage is that is solves problems. It is a fantasy that will in no way lead to positive results. The struggles and challenges experienced by a boy or girl before marriage will not simply dissolve after walking down to the chuppa. Marriage may seem like a tempting escape for one who is bored with their lives, unhappy at home or confronted with a myriad of other issues. But it won’t provide that haven; it will only magnify and aggravate the problems present.
Parents may also harbor this fantasy without even realizing it. It may seem alluring to deny any difficulties their child has and assume that marriage will simply make it all better. Emotional and mental
health issues are of particularly importance here. Problems don’t just magically disappear. The truth is exactly the opposite.
Here is a case in point.
Hadassah had experienced many problems through childhood and early adulthood. Her teachers recommended that she receive some counseling to address her social difficulties, but she dismissed any and all advice. Her defiant attitude, swingy moods and depressed comportment left her compromised and unsteady. When she headed off to seminary, the house felt much quieter and calmer without her. Her parents admitted that they were eager, as she was, to get married and move on with the rest of her life. Perhaps a strong husband would help her settle down and find happiness. But within two years of her marriage, she called her parents to say that she was coming home because her marriage was a failure and she was miserable.
It is a catastrophic mistake to view marriage as somewhere to dump your troubles. It is ever-important to resolve your personal problems beforehand instead of sending them into the marriage. It will serve you well and your future spouse.
Confident or Arrogant?
Confidence and arrogance may seem similar, though there is a thin line that lies between them and differentiates the person you should date and person you would be better without. Here are some signs to help you determine the difference:
Arrogant people tend to speak to others in a condescending tone. They look down at others and are not afraid to correct or embarrass others in public. On the other hand, confident people value the opinion of others and are open to embracing new ideas which allow them to learn and grow.
Over time, arrogant people push others away from themselves. They are dismissive and ridicule others, gaining mostly acquaintances and few very close friends. In contrast, confident people attract others to themselves. They are usually loved by people as they uplift others and feel happy when they succeed. They do not feel threatened when others are doing better than they are, financially or otherwise.
Arrogant people would work as hard as possible in order to give off the illusion that they are superior and know everything. Confident people, though, would work hard, but are not afraid to admit that they do not know something or cannot do something.
You will know when you are dating an arrogant person when his words speak louder than his actions. He will boast that he knows this CEO or that business manager, and promise to help you, when he is truly unable or simply does not bother to follow up. For a confident person, though, his actions speak louder than words. When he says something, he will see it through and ensure that it gets done, as best as possible.
All in all, be aware of the subtle character traits of the individual you are dating. But be patient too. Very often, such qualities are the result of the way they were raised or way in which they make up for their shortcomings. Marrying someone arrogant is not wise, but ensure that they are truly arrogant and will be unable to change. Do your due diligence while meeting them. It will only be to your benefit.
Is He For Me?
When Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski, known for his sagacious and psychological advice, was once asked by a young woman how she would know who the right person is for her to marry, he replied, “Look for the man who inspires you to be a better person because he inspires himself to be a better person.” If the person you are dating is actively growing as a person and is always striving to become bigger and better, you can be sure that with him, you will do the same. He will inspire you, uplift you and excite you to embrace life with passion and purpose. The satisfaction and contentment which will come from this will carry you both for a lifetime, and always keep your marriage fresh and thriving. And that in turn will keep your love for each other ever-increasing and flourishing.
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