When my wife and I were newlyweds, we took up an informal study of marriages. At the time, my parents had a close circle of friends, 8 couples, who got together regularly. After carefully looking at each couple, we both reached the same conclusion: every one of them was mismatched! Had we been the shadchanim, we would not have put any of them together. She was too smart ... He was too religious... She was too sophisticated... He was too loud...They just didn't fit together.
Marriage is not a match of two like individuals
Our little study brought home one point: a good marriage isn't necessarily a match of two similar individuals. It is a union of a man and woman, vastly different in temperament, emotions, frame of reference, and priorities, each one with different strengths and weaknesses. In a successful marriage, the couple completes one another, so that his deficiencies are compensated for by her strong points, her shortcomings filled in by his positive attributes, and the whole is much greater than the parts.
So tell me what are you looking for?
This highlights one of the common errors made in today's dating game. When the shadchan says in that sing-song voice, "So tell me, what are you looking for?" out comes the laundry list.
"I need someone who is extroverted, funny, and outgoing."
"I need a woman who is very frum, good, kind, tolerant, and funny."
"I need a guy who is tall, a take-charge type, strong but not headstrong."
And unwittingly, many people make the first mistake of the dating game - they aren't looking for their Bashert - they have already formed him in their minds, and now are out to find the one that comes the closest to that image.
It is almost like the children's toy Mr. Potato Head. You get to design the doll, choose red lips, big ears, small eyes, short legs... Before going out many people go through a sort of personal inventory: "Let's see. Since I am ..., I need..." Unconsciously, they put together a wish list of qualities to take out into the market place. Then amazingly, they find themselves frustrated. "I just can't find Mr. Right."
The wisdom of Shlomo Ha'Melech (King Solomon)
Not only isn't this a Torah approach to dating, it comes from a lack of understanding of the complexity of the human being. For a person to accurately choose the person that is right for them, they would need the wisdom of Shlomo Ha'Melech.
Before anything, I need the self-understanding to answer: "Who am I? What really makes me tick? What are my true strengths and real weaknesses? How will I react in different life situations? What will I be like in twenty years?"
The reality is that many people can't answer those questions even when they are eighty years old, let alone when they are first starting out in life.
But even more difficult is the next step: defining what I need in a spouse. Based on who I am and what my nature is, which qualities will augment my own, and which will clash? Based on where I will be in life, do I need someone who is emotionally supporting, or will I only flourish if I have someone that I support?
Rosh Ha'Yeshiva - we finally found him a Shidduch
I remember once, before giving shiur, the Rosh HaYeshiva of Chofetz Chaim (Rav Henoch Lebowitz z'tl) remarked, "Boruch Hashem, we finally found a shidduch for that guy. What a temper that fellow has! I didn't know who we could possibly marry him off to, but, Boruch Hashem, we found the perfect shidduch for him."
Needless to say, everyone was curious as to who the perfect shidduch was for this guy with the fierce temper.
The Rosh HaYeshiva continued, "We found him a woman with a temper bigger than his. Now when he opens his mouth, she'll scream back even louder, and he'll be quiet as a lamb - the perfect shidduch."
Now, everyone knows that the worst match for a guy with a temper is a girl with a temper. It is asking for World War Three. Only the Creator, who put them together understands their inner nature and recognizes how they will interact. Only the Creator knows that this guy talks a big game, but his inner being is really docile, that he won't explode when confronted but, on the contrary, becomes placid. Only Hashem knows that what he needs for his growth is a strong woman who will put him in his place.
Some jobs are better off left to Hashem
When a person spends some time thinking about the complexity of a human being, he'll understand the difficulty of finding the right match for a person and quickly realize that some jobs are better off left to Hashem. Then it starts to crystallize, "I really don't know that much about this thing called marriage. I don't really understand why some couples flourish while others disintegrate. In truth, I haven't been on this planet long enough to really know myself, and surely not what I need in the opposite gender to perfectly balance me."
Once a person reaches this understanding, then he is ready to use the Bashert system of going out. This system resembles the way that many people approach shidduchim. But don't be fooled - it is vastly different.
The Bashert System
The Bashert System involves two parts. The first is rather similar to the way most people go out. Before the date, before there are any emotional investments, you take a "paper test." On paper, do the two match? Are they looking for the same things in life? Are they looking to lead the same lifestyle?
Once that is established, then you meet - and here is where things work very differently. The reason that you meet isn't because you are looking for the person who is best suited for you, nor because you are searching for the person who you would most like to spend the rest of your life with. You are looking for the person who was chosen for you.
Forty days before I was born, a certain individual was hand-chosen for me as the perfect mate, my life partner. Now I am going out to find her. Not to find the one who comes closest to my image of what I want. Not to find the person that I think will best suit my needs. I am looking for my Bashert - and to do that, I take the Bashert test.
The Bashert Test
The Bashert Test is to meet this person and see how I feel. Do I feel comfortable? Do I enjoy her company? Does it just sort of feel right? Not deep, mad passionate love. Not rockets on the fourth of July. Not even "Wow!!!" Just does it feel natural? Did you enjoy the date? Do you look forward to seeing her again? Does it sort of seem to click? If it does, then she passes. That is the sign that she is the one destined for me.
The Bashert Test is based on the perspective that Hashem runs this world, and my job is to go out and do my hishtadlus (effort), relying on Hashem to bring me what I need. Hashem gave me the intuition to know certain things, one of which is to know who the right one is for me.
Too smart for the system
One of the reasons that people get stuck is because they become too "smart" for the system. A young man will say something like, "The dates are great, I really look forward but she's not worldly enough for me," or not intelligent enough, not outgoing enough, or "I'm just not sure that she's the right one."
Many times it isn't that he doesn't have an intuitive sense about her. He does. It's just that he doesn't like what his intuition is telling him. Sometimes it is because "What will the guys think?" or "Can't I do better?" These "needs" are ideas he adopted from the outside world's understanding of marriage.
But all of these blockages can be bypassed if a person focuses on the viewpoint that Hashem created this world and runs it. Hashem has chosen for me the perfect life's partner, and Hashem wants me to find that person. That person might not fit my very detailed, preconceived idea of what it is that I think I need, or what it is that I want, but that person is the one that's best for me.
When a person trusts in Hashem and uses the tools given to him, Hashem helps him succeed in finding the one predestined for him - his Bashert.
Rabbi Shafier, the director of Tiferes Bnei Torah, gives "The Shmuz", a motivating, inspirational mussar Shmuz, addressing many of today's issues. All of the Shmuzin are available to download or podcast for FREE at www.theshmuz.com. This piece is adopted from Shmuz # 10 - Finding and Keeping Your Bashert