Dear Mrs. Bluth,
A number of weeks ago you featured a letter from a young man who was afraid to get married. He wrote about his friends who have married and found life to be very different from what they expected.
Many people in the chassidish and yeshivish communities feel it is important to marry early. Our own children married two to three years after their friends, and it was clear that they had matured during that time and were able to make better choices.
I would like to share with your readers what we learned during the years our children dated.
First and foremost, it is important to have a solid idea of the kind of person one wishes to marry (not your parents’ idea of what they want for a son or daughter in law, but what YOU are looking for). What are your most desired qualities in a date? If you have trouble figuring this out, reverse the order by thinking of all the adverse traits a person could have which would upset you. It helps give clarity to what you want and need in a life partner and what traits are deal-breakers. When making calls to references, these are the things that should be focused on. If the person does not have those specific qualities, then there is probably no reason for a date. None of this means there is anything wrong with the person; it simply indicates that he or she is not a good fit for you.
Another thing we did was check social media and, occasionally, found things that made it clear the person was not a good match for our child – contrary to what we had been told.
Before going out with anyone, its important to formulate your view for the future, what aspects are open for compromise or negotiation and which life aspects are non-negotiable, so that you can convey those issues with the young man or young lady you go out with. This discussion should take place after two dates – have discussions about family, children, where to live and what lifestyle of choice to implement. It is crucial to ensure that you have the same values and vision to start with so that you and your partner can look forward to a loving, peaceful and successful marriage.
It is also important to keep in mind that although we do everything we can to make informed decisions, there are no guarantees. At some point, we have to operate on faith.
Best of luck and besurot tovot.
Thank you for sharing your thought and validating that, sometimes, waiting a few years can make the difference between a happy and loving marriage and one that is indeed lifeless, intolerable or worse. Maturity comes at different ages for different people and it is the wise parent who puts his or her children’s happiness ahead of the expectations of society.
There are may variables to consider when seeking a mate – some of which are almost impossible to achieve. Those that chase the impossible may date well into their middle ages and even longer. Some will go on to date forever, because the person they are looking to meet their expectations just doesn’t exist.
I am a firm believer in pre-marital counseling and guidance for young people who enter the shidduch parsha. It helps them understand their expectations and the limits of reality v. fantasy. I have seen it be a blessing for many who think they know what they want, but don’t recognize that they are seeking someone whose personality or character is not really what they need.
I am a firm believer in the state of marriage. A relationship in which we focus on the we and not the I is the most rewarding.