Monday, November 3, 2008

The Same or Different?

I may be on hiatus from active shidduch making but that doesn't mean I'm not still interested in what is going on. I still regularly read what is being said about how to make a shidduch and on how to choose a spouse. One thing that I've read fairly regularly has me a bit puzzled.

Advice is given that you should be looking for someone who "matches" you. There should be ideas and ideals and hashkafa in common. There should be interests in common. There should be personalities in common. This all boils down to looking for someone who is just like you. All this is supposed to somehow "guarantee" that you will avoid heavy disagreements in marriage. Really? Why?

The first boy my oldest daughter ever went out with with was very quiet, so quiet that she wondered if she had not gone on the date by herself. Okay, their personalities didn't match as far as she could see so it was no to a second date. It happens that this boy was the son of a good friend of my sister's, which is how the date was set up, so she reported to me when this young man became a choson. She mentioned the kallah's name. When I mentioned the name to my daughters they totally cracked up. The kallah had been a classmate of one of my daughters and was known in the class for being the most "lively" and most talkative of all the girls, what we sometimes call in Yiddish a "bren." The personalities and approaches of the choson and kallah were exact opposites. And yet this shidduch worked then and is still working now. The kallah was honest enough to know that any boy that talked as much as she did was always going to be in "competition" with her, and the choson was wise enough to know that somebody in his married life would have to be a talker.

Instead of looking for a clone of themselves, this couple was looking for the qualities and characteristics that they didn't have but thought were important. They were looking for "completeness" and that requires puzzle pieces of different shapes and forms to come together to form a whole picture.

This doesn't mean that there should be nothing held in common between the boy and the girl. Obviously there are ideas and items of religious observance that can make a difference to the success or failure of a marriage. But then, having a 100% match on hashkafa doesn't mean the marriage is going to be successful either. There is more to marriage than hashkafah.

That first couple? He talks a lot more now and she listens a lot more now. How did that happen? It's called living together and it takes time.

A dear friend of my daughter's was a very bubbly personality. She also married a boy who seemed, at least on the outside, to be her exact opposite. A few of the girls spent a shabbos with this couple after their marriage. One brought up the husband's quietness. And this marvelously observant young married woman said: "It doesn't matter if he doesn't talk to you as long as he talks to me when it's important that we talk."

And before someone asks, yes my husband and I were very different when we got married--still are. But together we formed a stronger unit than either of us could have alone.


Anonymous said...

Sorry Prof K and I'm really not dissing all shadchanim but you try and tell a shadchan that you are looking for certain qualities in a girl because you don't have those qualities or don't have enough of those qualities but you want them in your wife. Next thing you know you are deep in a discussion of how you can improve. Or the shadchan gets a negative picture of you.

Most of these shadchanim don't want to deal with real personalities and requirements. They just want to have the usual spiel down on paper so they can match you up with someone just like that. No attempt to get personalities to match or to coordinate at all. They're real quick to ask what camps I went to as if that will give them real clues to who I am and what I need. But if I tell them who I am and what I need then they don't want to listen or they turn off.

SuperRaizy said...

I think that marrying someone who has the opposite qualities that you have is a bit of a crapshoot. Yes, sometimes they complement each other and get along fine, but often the different traits will cause friction and misunderstandings. You don't really know which one it will be until you've spent a significant amount of time together (another good reason not to rush into marriage!)

Lion of Zion said...

"Most of these shadchanim don't want to deal with real personalities and requirements"

i call it checklist matchmaking

concernedjewgirl said...

I feel that people have such a negative opinion of Shudhans because they have been burned by so many of them that do not care. Yet, there are so many of them that do. So many shudhan do want to do g-d’s work in a way that appeases both choson and kallah. Of course these shudhan’s get overshadowed by the ones that are less sensitive to everyone’s feelings.
I once told my rebbitzen that I did not want to meet with shudhan’s that I just wanted to find a boy. She wisely told me that I should meet with them. That these women/and men are working for me and for my cause and that I should give them a fair chance. She must have prayed for me because I had only positive experiences with Shudhan’s, and I listened to her by meeting some in my city and others in neighboring cities. All of them were very nice, kind, and sweet.

Anonymous said...

It's sort of like shopping for furniture from a catalog versus shopping in a showroom that has everything available on display including all the color and material swatches that pieces can come in. The catalog is like what the Lion called checklist shadchanus. You come in with what you think you want and order it sight unseen and then it may or may not be what you thought would be good in your house or may or may not appeal when you see it in person.

If you walk into a showroom with everything on display you may have in mind that you want a black leather couch because you are a black leather type of person and it appeals to you. But after sitting on that couch you may discover that it isn't all that comfortable. Or maybe you discover that velour, which you never considered before, is more comfortable. Or maybe you find that black comes in all kinds of shades and patterns. Or maybe you discover that the couch that is the most comfortable to sit in doesn't come in black so you order it in navy or green or yellow.

Exact fits usually don't exist in shopping so why should shopping for a husband or wife be any different?

Anonymous said...

It's so difficult to predict what traits should be the same and which should be different (or even opposite). Oftentimes, the person dating does not realize they have a certain trait or are lacking a certain trait.

This is why it is so important for the person dating to be introspective and to listen to good advice from others to learn who they really are and what they need from another person.

My wife and I have many fundamental traits in common. Some are good like we're both very hard-working and some are not so good like we're both very stubborn sometimes. We also have many differences, I'm very into the sciences and politics, my wife isn't as much, and she's very thoughtful and giving when I'm not as much.

I don't think it's just a puzzle-piece analogy as that seems to indicate one person can be deeply flawed as long as the other person is great. I think what's most important is that both people are not selfish (this is #1 in my book) and are willing to learn and grow from the other person and compromise when necessary.