By Rabbi Shmuel Druin, LCSW
The questions are endless, the feelings of insecurity abound, and the fear of the unknown, overwhelming.
These and many others are the sentiments of dating and marriage. If we were to try and control all the variables we would render ourselves powerless to the overwhelming emotions.
I once heard Rabbi Manis Friedman say; men and women should never be together under the same roof unless they are married. This is due to the tremendous differences between them. The only reason they would come together to share a roof would be if they are married. This is because marriage adds one more partner to the equation, Hashem. So as long as Hashem is in our marriage then it is ok for a male and female to be under the same roof.
You see, marriage is an institution of G-d. When you are single, the most important person in your life is you. You look out for and protect your main interests. Once you are married, you are working to keep the institution of marriage whole. It is not solely about the individual anymore.
Marriage is not a 50/50 arrangement. In business you give something and get something in return. When you don’t give, usually, you don’t get. Yet, marriage is different; it is about 100/100. You give whether you get a return or not. (Of course, human nature is that if I receive, I will reciprocate).
Now you may say; why should I be the only one giving, or how can I give if I am so mad at the other person? However, that is the beauty of marriage; you are giving to keep the institution whole. You are doing it for ‘marriage’ not for the other person per se. if you think of it this way it makes it easier to keep on giving. (There is a lot more on this matter that can be elaborated, but it is not in the scope of this article.)
Now, when it comes to dating and engagement, we must start by putting Hashem in the picture from the onset of dating. This means we trust that he will help us in our process of dating and then marriage. If we have our minds set at the right goal, then Hashem helps. This is not to say that if you have Emunah you are guaranteed success right away. Each of us has our struggles and I would be the last to say that dating is an easy and short process for all. But having Emunah definitely helps.
The big question is always, “Are we ‘compatible’?” This is the hardest yet easiest question to answer. Simply, if you hold the same values, have views that each other can respect, enjoy spending time together, and are attracted both spiritually and physically (yes, I said physically,) then you are compatible. Once you start looking deeper, there can be no end.
In the secular world it has become commonplace for people to ‘move in’ while dating. This is intended to help the partners see what it’s like living together so they can make a better choice when deciding on a lifelong partner. I can go on explaining and proving how this idea is foolish. However, the bottom line is that spending more time with each other does not provide clarity. We tend to get stuck in the details and the technicalities which create doubt. Even if you have every point of compatibility, it is never fool-proof.
In conclusion, we will never be 100% certain and spending more and more time will not provide the clarity we are looking for. Follow these three steps and hopefully Hashem will do the rest.
1. Go into dating with Emunah, knowing that Hashem is your partner in this process.
2. Don’t get stuck on the in-depth details. You will have a lifetime of work to do even if you are perfect for each other. Marriage is a process not an end-game.
3. If you have the basic ‘compatibles,’ don’t hesitate.
May Hashem bless all those who are looking for shidduchim a speedy and joyous resolution.
Rabbi Shmuel Druin is a licensed psychotherapist and educator. He can be contacted through his website www.miami-counseling.com.