Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paper Does Not a Marriage Make

I've often maintained that if my husband and I had had to date under the rules in place today, there is no way that we would have been fixed up, never mind actually be married to each other. My friends agree with me, but one said there was no way to prove the truth of this statement with the kind of proof that would be needed to make a dent in the shidduch problems we see today.

Well, I sort of found a way to prove my statement. I decided to fill out one of those convoluted shidduch questionnaires, giving the info that was applicable when I was dating. I also filled one out for my husband, again giving the info that was applicable when he was dating. Then I spoke to three people I know who are active in shidduchim, giving them the info without the names attached, and asking them what kind of a person I should be looking out for for the man and the woman of the questionnaires, or could I redt the two to each other?

In all three cases, none of the shadchanim would even consider the "man" and the "woman" of the questionnaires as being a good match. They admitted that there were some points that were congruent, but not enough of them and not in the areas where it counts today. They pointed out that there were too many gray areas in the hashkafic sector, where the man and the woman wrote that they would be amenable to whatever their spouse wanted but had no definite immutable preferences for themselves. The man and woman did not agree on paper as to where their ideal place to live would be. Personality traits were quite markedly different, as were most of the items listed under favorite activities for leisure time. The shadchanim admitted that there were a few points that meshed well, but not enough of them for the shadchanim to waste their time in trying to redt these two to each other.

I should point out that on none of the questionnaires I viewed were people asked to fill out how well they did at compromising, when, where and under what circumstances. None of the questionnaires asked about the commitment of the person or about their work ethic in achieving a goal. None of them asked the people filling them out to define what the important traits for a spouse are.

So there I had it in black and white--hubby and I were not, under today's "guidelines," a good match for marriage, and shadchanim thought it would be a waste of their time to redt us to each other. Fortunately, we met in other times and without having to fill out a single piece of paper other than our marriage licence. Fortunate, because next month we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. And doubly fortunate that we believed that the Riboneh Shel Olam was mezaveg zevugim, and He didn't require us to fill out a questionnaire.


tesyaa said...

And doubly fortunate that we believed that the Riboneh Shel Olam was mezaveg zevugim, and He didn't require us to fill out a questionnaire.

But assuming Hashem is still making shidduchim, the marriages being made today are all meant to be, questionnaire and all.

Listen, in the old days people usually married people who lived within a few miles radius of their hometown; now frum people from Australia marry people from Belgium, and so on. With the advent of air travel & skype, Hashem, who knows what he is doing, can now place people's beshert spouses thousands of miles away from each other, knowing they will find each other and live happily every after.

JS said...

Mazal tov on your upcoming 40th anniversary. Quite a milestone. I think you're way past the "paper" anniversary.

I really wonder how many people actually date and get married solely from these ridiculous shidduch resumes. I don't really travel in those circles, but everyone I know (even those who fill them out as a "backup") meets through mutual friends or some other conventional means.

abba's rantings said...

mazal tov
great post
i loved the undercover experiment
you should really write this up for one of the jewish newspapers. much more important than all the drivel that appears in the shidduch columns.

Anonymous said...

People get married today 'in spite of' their shidduch resumes, not 'because of' them.
A shidduch resume to be successful must be:
1)bland-just the facts but including
2)the 'right' buzz words, such as; thin, koveah ittim, does chessed at__, Seminary, Yeshiva, simchas ha'chaim, Israel, support, no t.v., no movies, tzinus but not dowdy, very frum but 'with it, and also include
3)References from specific Roshei Yeshiva, and Bais Yaakov principals.
If the boy or girl does include something of a personal nature, it will be picked apart so much until the shidduch is rejected or ignored until something more 'suitable' comes along.
Of course, and your shidduch resumes prove this as well, no 'resume' can really give you the truth about a shidduch. Boys and girls have lots of the right words on their resumes because they would not get past the first stage with a shadchan if they didn't. As in 'real life' it is ultimately up to the individuals to go out and see if they are compatible.
Having said that, unless a shadchan knows the boy or girl in question personally, it's very difficult to take a leap of faith and set people up that don't 'look good' on paper.
The boy and girl also need to forgo their own list of requirements and be more open to what real people are like. Non negotiables like hashkofoh are important, but things like hair color or height are not. What's wrong with a red headed girl or boy, or a guy who's 5'8" if the girl is 5'4". Just silly. He wants to live in California because that's where his Parnussah is and you refuse to leave Flatbush. Silly. None of us knows where we will end up in life at any given time for any reason. The kids today AND their parent's need to be more flexible.

frum single female said...

mazal tov on your upcoming anniversary. cool experiment

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

Mazal tov!

People all said that my Rebbetzin and I were a terrible match. Maybe we were, but we now have nearly 15 years' evidence to the contrary, thank Gd.

I believe that shadchanim are important for some people, for whom the looser format just won't work. But no, it's not a system for everyone, and shouldn't be the default.

mlevin said...

First of all Mazel Tov!

Second, I am currently doing research on Jews in Russia/Poland in the 1800s. Surprisingly, they did have the same ridiculous standards as we have now. The girls and boys were taught that their parents and shadchanim knew better as to whom they should marry. Yet, there were still divorces in those days. But these divorce numbers were not high because many were spared the embarrassment of a divorce due to the untimely death of one of the spouses.

Unfortunately, in this day and age with superb medicine and exceptional doctors young people have very little hope of being married till-death-do-us-part and shadchanim cannot claim a flawless record of perfect marriages.

Avi said...

Not so sure Tesya that all those marriages made from the questionaires Hashem meant to be. Look at the higher divorce rate today and how early in the marriage those divorces come. They may be marriages but they aren't necessarily the ones that Hashem had in mind.