"Finding Your Zivug (Mate)"
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- Thursday, September 7, '00 - Parshas Kee Saitsay 5760

F1. You want to love a partner as much as you love yourself (Kidushin 41a).

2. As much as you want marriage to give love to you, you want even MORE to give love to your partner. Note the difference between this point and #1 just above. There, we said that you want to love a partner as much as you love yourself. Here, we are saying that you want to give love more than you want to take or get love.

3. The Shulchan Aruch says to run from marrying anyone who is cruel, antagonistic, insolent, a fighter; anyone with whom marriage would be a disaster or non-permanent. Do you incline to be unattracted to, or at least run from, anyone who would be a destructive relating partner? E.g. do you avoid people with bad midos (anger, absence of self-control, hunger for honor and approval, arrogance, selfishness, jealousy, grudge-bearing) - any bad trait that would indicate that the person would be difficult, miserable and/ or destructive to live with?

4. If you see a pattern time after time, and you say that it is always the other's fault, do you see the contradiction between what you want and the fact that what you want doesn't work? or see that you are attracted to people who relationships don't work with? or see that you are not attracted to people who you intellectually know it really should work with? Such patterns and/or contradictions need objective exploration. It's important to want the same kind of people you get along with (and to be attracted to them) and have fulfilling, productive and peaceful times with them.

5. The Maharal says that the best and clearest indicator that we have as to who a person really is, among the various possible indicators, is speech. Speech can be more reliable an indicator as to who a person is, as compared with action or thought. Actions are the form of self-expression which is most likely to be phoney (to make an impression) and thoughts are too abstract and furnishes no commitment to the idea. Listen to what people say. True, some people may not be in touch with themselves, may not say what they really feel, or may not know how to articulate themselves perfectly. Some people don't put on acts, so that their "actions may speak louder than words." But of all the available indicators that we have, relatively speaking, speech is the one which most across-the-board reveals who a person really is. Listen to what a person emphasizes, criticizes or praises. Listen to how the person talks about other people, about noble or negative ideas; how the person exhibits responsiveness to you and others. I know one woman who rejected a man who treated her like gold but treated their waiter condescendingly. "He couldn't have really been a nice person if he could treat another human being badly." Listen to what a person says to define who they are. When one speaks, there is more of a commitment to the idea than a thought and you have to concretize an idea (and bring it "down" from the abstract) in order to verbalize it. Actions are more subject to change on behalf of what people will think of you, while speech is not quite as strongly guarded. Speech is the most reliable indicator of who a person is. Speech should mirror what is good and what is real. When you're dating someone, what does his/her speech tell you (s)he "is?"

6. You take commitment very seriously. You don't feel that "if it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce." Without commitment being axiomatic, one is not ready for marriage. Your policy is NOT: "marriage is very easy...I've done it lots of times!" You see marriage as "for keeps."

7. You are more afraid of losing someone else's commitment to you than you are afraid of giving your commitment to another. You are willing and prepared to "give up yourself" to give to a commitment seriously. You are attracted to someone who is serious and committed to you, also.

8. Do you really value what you get from a relationship? It is worth all that you have to give to have a wholesome and successful marriage, in order to have what marriage gives to you.

9. Relationships are essentially uncomplicated, calm and struggle-free.

10. Although getting along always requires work and giving, the work and the giving primarily make you happy. You want to be a source of good and a refuge from bad to a partner. You are willing to sacrifice, give-in, be bendable, be caring and be unselfish in the interest of peace in your relationship. You seek a partner who is the same way and for whom peace is likewise a top priority. In your value system, there is no better way to define "success" in relationship than "peace." Nothing is more important than getting along. You are attracted to people with whom you do. Your "policy" is: in my relationships, fighting is not an option.

11. A soulmate defines who you are. In looking for a marriage partner one has to know oneself and identify who one is before one has a chance of being able to elect and find someone to complete oneself. Does a person complete (and help to define and optimize vs. to contradict) who your best self is?

12. Matters of the heart (midos, virtues, human qualities, character, etc.) are the highest priority is choosing, solidifying and conducting the relationship.

13. You don't have to fight for relationship-basics (e.g. peace, respect, giving in, trust, responsibility, patience, communication, appreciation, thoughtfulness, attention, integrity, good-heartedness, orientation to growing, etc. [when "basics" aren't there, there is no relationship]). Other people don't have to fight for basics from you.

14. You treat all people with kavod and derech eretz (respect and courtesty) as a consistent matter of normal conduct.

15. You appreciate and value people and their qualities and all nice things that they do.

16. You are responsive to people and give to them based on their feelings, wants, needs and situations.

17. You are "have-able." You are there to give a full and committed relationship to another person. To the extent appropriate before married, you demonstrate unfaltering responsibility to people you relate to. You are equipped to give to another person and to fulfill the responsibilities of marriage such that another person can "have" you and have what marriage should offer to the other. You do not set up obstacles to relationships. You do not make yourself difficult to get along with. You do not set up unattainable demands or ideals (that no mortal can never meet). You are flexible (except in matters of halacha [law] and non-compromisable morals or principles - you will contact a rav when you have a question or when a matter contains conflicting morals or principles). You are stable, consistent and reliable. You are not concerned that you'll be one-sidedly "had" because your criteria for choosing a mate are mature, healthy and functional; so you will choose a mate who you will likewise "have." The relating partners to whom you are attracted are people who do not fight and do not provoke fights with you. You do not think of being on the defensive. You do not think in terms of taking protective measures, whether for the present or for the future. Relationships are essentially smooth, pleasant and consistently trustworthy; they essentially grow, blossom and deepen with time (as a basic pattern); they essentially have sweetness, integrity and momentum. Even if you have not found your "basherte (true soulmate)," when you break up with someone, there is a logical and rational cause, not an emotional or turbulent cause; and the break is done in a "mentshlach (human, dignified, thoughtful)" fashion. The person just wasn't the right one.

18. You accept things and people calmly when they are less than perfect, less than what you want or when not on your terms.

19. What are your expectations of a spouse? Are they realistic? Are they borne out by your practical experience and in what you've see in successfully married couples? How satisfied have you been by relating partners?

20. To what expectations of another (i.e. relating partners) can you live up? Is this realistic? Is this truly enough? Is this validated by your practical experience and in what you've seen in successfully married couples? How satisfied have relating partners been with you? Do matchmakers say, when a person doesn't want to date you again, that the person said of you, "(S)he was a phenominal person!...just wasn't the one for me."

21. How might you have to change what you expect to give to a relating partner or to receive from a relating partner (so that you are a more likely candidate for a stable, lasting, functional and fulfilling marriage relationship)?

22. One of the pitfalls I have seen from time to time in doing counseling or workshops is preoccupation with being and needing someone "special" or "above average." It can be true that someone who is brighter or more sensitive or more aesthetic or more religiously stringent, for example, than the majority of people, may need someone comperable in order to be compatible. But establishing certain criteria for a "special" mate, in reality terms, may not necessarily be realistic or healthy. Different criteria have different objective priority levels. I have often seen singles requiring someone "beyond average" or "special" as a defense or arising out of unhealthy psychological needs. Further, the emotional intensity and investment in the "special need" is, on varying levels, an indicator that the "requirement" is unhealthy and is not an intrinsic need in the person. If a need is an objective and authentic priority (e.g. religious compatibility, strength of character, mental stability, good-heartedness, etc.), by all means require it without compromise. However if the need is either a. less-than-priority or b. a "psychological trap," particularly if it is intense or something about which one is rigid or stubborn, watch out. It is either a. serious confusion about what should be a priority for a wholesome and lasting marriage or b. rooted in an unhealthy and dysfunctional source. In case a, one would do well to obtain mature guidance on how to seek and select a mate. In case b, the need for professional help is indicated.

23. When in relationships, you do not fear, inhibit, evade or damage the development of closeness. Sometimes, when relationships show "promise" (the capacity to grow seriously close), fears and insecurities unconsciously cause sabotage to the relationship. For example, one may fear that some imperfection will be discovered which "should" cause the other person to reject, ridicule or despise the single. The person may expect marriage to be combatitive or painful and want to avoid the risk of futility, hurt, rejection or failure. The person may have been abused or emotionally neglected as a child. The person may have seen trouble, coldness or break-up in his/her parents' marriage and may be psychologically "programmed" to expect the same or use the parents' dysfunctional marriage as a role model. It could be selfishness (not wanting to be tied-down, limited, responsible). There could be any number of reasons why singles put off closeness or marriage to a genuine candidate. In the case of a person who is ready, relationships will be reasonably well-chosen, with partners who show prospects for a compatible and healthy relationship. Relationships progress to their potential, during the course of which there is a discernable trend of developing a closeness (up to the relationship's maximum level of potential). Talking is basically comfortable and progressively becomes more detailed, secure and private. There is a growing sense of warmth, concern, connection, reliance and pleasantness. Communication is generally calm and respectful, even when you have differences or individual opinions. There is an atmosphere of trust, supportiveness and stability. You each keep gradually extending the bounds of trust and confidentiality. Together with growing interest in eachother, there is heightened quality of relationship, development of closeness and smooth intertwining of your lives. Even when this occurs gradually, it occurs steadily and consistently. There is a clear sense of strong, lasting, realistic and workable foundation. This foundations progressively grows stronger and warmer. Relationships feel like "this is what a marriage should be like" and look like the marriages of successful couples you have seen.

24. Marriage is a package of responsibilities, not entitlements. The word "nesuin (marriage)" comes from the same shoresh (root word) as "noso (carry, burden or responsibility)" and "nasee (leader)." A Jewish leader is, by definition, one who bears responsibility for klall Yisroel. Similarly, one who is married is, by definition, one who carries responsibility - for practical life duties as well as for mature relating.