Dating for Success: Lessons From a Kallah

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah that warmth will become more important than appearances.

It goes without saying that people place an emphasis on their looks. In a marriage, this is a wonderfully positive facet. When a wife (and husband) are put together, even while in the house, she will look attractive to her husband, and the benefits this brings to the couple is nothing small.

However, that being said, a high-quality man does not want to be married to someone who is beautiful on the outside but wretched on the inside with poor character.

It is far more important that you respect your husband than put on makeup and jewelry. All the physical features will do no good when warmth and respect are not in place. Set your character and the way you treat your husband as priority, and your physical appearance will then be an invaluable plus to an already beautiful and elegant woman.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah that my husband’s appreciation would become far more important than the loudest applause the world could give me.

Undoubtably, it feels great to be recognized and acknowledged. In our world today, people yearn to be noticed and appreciated. However, all the outside world’s praise and applause does not add up to the satisfaction of knowing that someone deeply accepts and appreciates you unconditionally. Fans may claim to “love” you, but it is mere fanfare and fantasy. In practical terms, this translates into realizing where your priorities ought to be. Yes, it is wonderful to do things for other people, and we should, but your spouse comes first. Receiving heaps of praise from friends for baking a delicious cake, whose process involved condemning a husband for buying the wrong flour at first, comes nowhere close to where the opposite would be true – you appreciate your husband’s efforts and he appreciates your consideration and yet no one applauded your cake.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah that winning an argument would never be worth losing an opportunity to be kind.

Arguments almost inevitably erupt in marriages from time to time. However, the last objective and goal on your mind should be to win the argument. That is your ego speaking, which got in the way in the first place to argue. If you win, then your husband loses, and by virtue of him losing, you lose too. It is thus a lose-lose situation. Turn the tables around and find ways to be kind.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah how my confidence would not be able to teach me compassion.

Confidence is a supremely important trait to have.

However, if confidence becomes arrogance, then it is quite easy to overlook opportunities for compassion.

Arrogant people lead self-centered lives and have difficulty seeing outside of themselves. You may have a skill-set that your husband doesn’t, and you feel confident about your aptitude, but don’t let that get in the way of you being kind and compassionate to your husband because he knows less than you. Your confidence will not teach you to be compassionate.

Understanding will.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah that I would not be able to nurture and give if I could not learn to slow down and learn, listen and receive.

In order to give, you must be ripe to do so. You cannot educate and reach out to others if you are not educated and fully equipped to do so. As a wife and future mother, you will be hampered if you believe that your marriage and parenting is all about knowing what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Before that, you must be open to learning, listening and receiving. Slow down, humble yourself and be receptive to gaining wisdom from those who have it. Do not presume that you know everything or even anything about marriage. It requires education, which requires openness to be a student of knowledge.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah how important it is to become attuned to my own inner wisdom.

This advice dovetails the above. While being a student and open to learning is supremely beneficial, you must never allow other people to lead your lives. Too many individuals seek advice and guidance to make decisions, only to act on them, and later realize the mistake they made. Deep down, they felt that something was off all the time, yet sold themselves out by following the guidance they received. This is true before deciding to get married, if and when you choose to seek guidance, and certainly once you are married.

Seek wisdom from those who have it, and only act upon it if it fits with you. Seeking someone’s opinion does not mean that you must follow it. It merely lends you a perspective. But never forget to be in touch with yourself and your own wisdom. Trust your gut if it tells you something.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah that knowledge does not come close to understanding.

You may have heard various ideas about marriage over the years, but that does not mean you have understanding. Appreciate the difference between knowing something intellectually and living it. Learn what you don’t know and clarify what you do know.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah that my prayers would become more important than lectures.

As Jews, we are well aware of the potency of prayer.

While knowledge and understanding all help in gaining the tools for a successful marriage, ultimately, Hashem guides the outcome of our lives, and prayer leverages that Heavenly assistance we need.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah that crying in front of my Shabbos candles would become far more important than making a flawless meal.

In building a Jewish home, all the delicious food you make will certainly add to the special aura and ambiance. However, infusing Torah values and lessons into your home with your husband, and praying by the Shabbos candles, an especially auspicious practice, goes much further in creating the rich and vibrant home you’ve always wanted. Focus on what works in making your home special and spiritual, and realize that a perfect meal does not necessarily accomplish that.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah that my happiness would be my own responsibility. It would not be my husband’s job to do so.

Marriage is not about making your spouse happy. This may be a surprising reality, but allow it to resonate with you. It is not your responsibility, whether as the husband or wife, to put your spouse in a good mood.

Otherwise, you will live dependent on your husband’s state of being and his state of mind will determine yours. You can be happy even if he is not and need not feel guilty, and if you are feeling down, be understanding that he does not need to cheer you up.

Your life is your responsibility, not your husband’s.

His duty, obligation and responsibility is to take care of you the best he can, but you must own your own life and be your own person. Too much dependence does not lead to positive results.

I wish someone had told me before I became a kallah that my smile will be the greatest gift I can give my husband at the end of the day.

With the above being said, the intent of this piece of advice must be understood in context. Love from a wife to a husband means unconditional acceptance.

After a hard day at work, filled with competition, returning home to be welcomed unconditionally with an open smile sets a relaxed and warm environment.

This is a great gift to a husband, and only makes him feel better when he is met with this welcome at the end of a long day.