Dear Dating Coach,
Growing up, we always had an open home, with family, friends, and strangers always welcome. I want to replicate a house where everyone feels comfortable with my future wife. This really matters to me and I feel like I would be unhappy with a spouse who was not on the same page. Even now, I love having my friends over for barbecues, Shabbos lunches, or just to relax. My house has always been the “hang out” house where my siblings and I brought old friends, new friends, and “I just met you at shul” friends. But I’m just not sure how I would know this before we actually created a home together. I would love a tip or maybe a secret code to figure this out in advance.
We had an intense hide and seek game here last week. Those that have played here before lined up their fellow troops, set up their charts and mapped and plotted their course. Alliances were formed and then broken. Treaties were signed, and then annulled, and the air was thick with anticipation. Faux trash-talk flowed while a peace envoy valiantly brokered a tentative truce between parties. Just as the counting was about to begin, a sweet newcomer asked, “Why the preparation? Don’t we just hide after you count to 10?” Oh, the innocence. So sweet and pure. The new recruit was quickly reminded about the power of preparation. And then the bloody battle ensued, leaving no one safe, and war-torn captives secured, unsure of their fate…until dinnertime. Then everyone high-fived and went home. Until next time. (Hahahahahaha. Please do this laugh in a scary voice. Thank you.)
Thank you for this question. You envision a home that is welcoming and warm. A house that has guests on Shabbos, others sleeping over, and your future children’s friends running around outside. You want to have an open home where family and strangers feel at ease and wanted. You need a spouse that has this same vision of course, or there will forever be tension over the efforts that an open home requires. It’s true that is can be difficult to predict how anyone will behave in the future. You are concerned that even if a girl you are dating offers her assurances now that she wants a house full of guests all the time, she may not be fully committed.
You want to prepare for the future you want and you can do so in the following ways:
When your family, the shadchan, or a friend, offers you information about a potential match – inquire about her home life and the type of house she grew up in. It is likely that a girl who was raised in an open home would be open to continuing the tradition just like you are. (It is also possible that she may not want to replicate the open house she had. Her experience then will allow her to fully understand the type of home you want even if it is not for her. This will quickly tell you that she may not be the girl for you.)
When you are dating, take notice of her generosity and openness. Do her stories relay her love of sharing, of giving, and of hosting friends that she has made over time. Her personality and character will reassure you that this is someone who likes to be surrounded by friends and family.
We can’t predict the future, but we can lay the foundation for our goals and dreams. We can share our hope for an open home and see if she shares that same vision. Bearing in mind of course that life is fluid, and there may be times that even the most generous host must take the time to focus on their family alone. Perhaps when their children are babies and they are exhausted from sleepless nights, perhaps during financial difficulty where they simply cannot incur any more expense, or maybe at the request of children who require more focused and quiet attention. Clearly communicate your desire to create a house where all are welcome and listen carefully to her response. Remember however, that while you can most definitely prepare for a life where guests fill your home, ultimately a solid partnership with your spouse will matter most.