Having given you an earful about the importance of using dating to create the permanent relationship of marriage, I now address what you should be looking for in marriage. In particular, I want to focus on the erroneous modern search for partners rather than soulmates. What’s the difference, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
According to Talmudic legend, the almighty did quite a bit of “dating” before He settled down into a loving relationship with Jews. He offered the Ten Commandments to other nations, but was upset when each of them decided that the requirements were not to their liking. For example, the Chaldeans were interested at first, but when they were told that the Torah forbids stealing, they changed their minds. The Egyptians were put off by that pesky prohibition on adultery, and the Syrians were amazed that they were expected not to covet.
But the Jews were not so fickle. When Moses told them that G-d wanted to give them the commandments, they asked Moses how much they would cost. When he responded that they were free, he said, “Okay, we’ll take ten.” But humor aside, when Moses asked the Jews if they would accept the Ten Commandments, they responded affirmatively with “We will do and we will try to understand,” signifying the need for every relationship to embody the right actions and the right motivations. No petty quibbles from these folks. They were committed to the relationship and they did not care about the conditions.
Okay, on the surface the Jews may not have been the best pick of nations. They’d been slaves for two hundred years, and even after liberation, they griped continually about going back to the fleshpots of Egypt. And there were so few of them! Only six hundred thousand males of military-service age.
But none of that mattered. G-d did not choose to love the Jews for their attributes or skills. He chose to love them because they chose to love Him unconditionally. This is why they said, “We will do” before “we will try to understand”. The Jews reassured G-d that even if they didn’t understand why He wanted certain things, they would still always accommodate Him.
The difference between a soulmate and a partner
Today, far too few people date in order to find their soulmate. Instead, they search for a “partner.” Because of a fundamental confusion of priorities, these men and women want to find a person who will provide them with many different and superficial things, rather than a companion who will connect with them on the deepest level.
Of course, there is some logic to their thinking. It’s very sensible and businesslike. Imagine, for example, that a man named Stanley wishes to open a clothing store. Seeing the benefits of not undertaking this mammoth project alone, he seeks first to find a partner. He expects the partner to match his contribution in money, toil, creativity, and enterprise. For this, the partner will receive an equal share in the business.
So Stanley puts twenty thousand dollars into the business, and asks his new partner, Harry to invest the same amount. Stanley spends fifty hours per week driving around representing the business to clients, and he expects Harry to do the same. This is why they are partners – because they each contribute an equal share to the business.
What if Harry is not as articulate as Stanley? What if his going out and speaking to clients will prove disastrous to the business? No problem, says Stanley to Harry. I’m good at some things, while you’re good at others. So I’ll put forty hours per week into sales, and I expect you to put an equal amount of time into accounts. Now we have a complementary partnership and that works out fine.
This is how most people go about dating. The first thing they do is determine that marriage is an enterprise that requires two people. Since you are only one person, you require a partner. And what kind of partner should you find? Someone who can either match or at least complement your contribution. Hence, all that men and women today aspire in a marriage is simply finding a partner. Not only do these people not find their soulmate; they’re not even looking. They have settled for something far, far less.
To find the perfect soulmate, you should focus not on what you have, but what you lack
Here you have one of the biggest mistakes of all. The way people today look for a marriage partner is by sitting down and making a list of everything they have to contribute to the relationship. So the man sits down and he says to himself, “Well, I’m good-looking, well educated, come from a good family, have a good sense of humor, and have a great job. Therefore, what I’m looking for is someone who at least brings the same contribution to the party. I need a woman who is very pretty, highly educated, from a great family,” etc. Although this is the most common form of modern dating, it is also the stupidest. Dating should never begin with a list of what we have. Rather, it must begin with making a mental list of what we lack. You don’t go into a relationship because you have something. Rather, you go into a relationship because you are missing something. And only by identifying that one big thing that we are missing are we guaranteed to find someone who actually makes us feel whole.
In other words, a partner in marriage can give you many things. They can bring with them physical beauty, an income, some decent relatives who aren’t all inbred, and an occasional laugh. (Forget about sex once you’re married.) But although the partner brings many things, these things are superficial. A soulmate, on the other hand, brings you only one thing. But it is the most vital thing of all, namely, an end to your loneliness and a feeling that you are the most special person in the entire world.