Had a convo with my rabbi on the subject of marriage. He went to Israel because he heard there was this great girl for him there. He got to know her over the span of 1.5 months, and then married her. Here is the 3-step method by which my rabbi found his wife:
- Values. He already shared a lot of values with his wife because he was looking for her in the orthodox community.
- Checklist. Even though the prospective pair were both orthodox, some of their ideas still could be different and cause tension in the relationship. So my rabbi went through a mental checklist with her to get her views on certain issues. For instance, how much work would my rabbi’s wife expect him to put into rearing the kids? My rabbi came from a very traditional family where his mom did 100% of the work with the kids and his dad never changed a diaper. He wanted to pitch in more than his dad, but still thought his wife should do a majority of the work. My rabbi discussed these issues with his future wife to make sure she more or less agreed.
- Emotion. Only after making sure that 1 and 2 were compatible, did he put his emotional chips on the table. They had chemistry, and so they got married!
In secular culture, people do this process backwards. They first get into emotional relationships based on physical attraction. Then later on they talk about values. If they realize that they have different values from their significant other, it can be hard to call-off the relationship, because they are already emotionally involved. So people with major incompatibilities sometimes get married, and this leads to problems down the line.
Some more points from the conversation:
- Both people in a marriage should be ready to compromise. He talked about a couple where the girl grew up in a family where the mom and dad had separate bank accounts. The couple got into an argument about a purchase, and the girl said: “You think this is a waste of money, but I don’t. I will work to make the money I need to buy it.” In effect, the girl doesn’t want to compromise. According to my rabbi, this is a problem.
- Personality differences are OK. My rabbi is a homebody, his wife likes to go out. These differences are less important if all this other stuff is there. She can compromise and he can too.
- Love should grow over time in a relationship. A couple should have chemistry initially, but love grows from the work the pair put in together, day in and day out.