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  BS"D

Talking Tachlis

A Singles Strategy for Marriage

This book is one of a collection of books donated
laaliyas nishmas

Sarah Rivkah Kessler

By her friends and classmates of
the graduating class of
Bais Yaakov H.S. of '66.
Brooklyn, NY

 

 

Talking Tachlis - A Singles Strategy for Marriage

By Rosie Einhorn and Sherry S. Zimmerman

TARGUM PRESS

First published 1998
Copyright 1998 by Rosie Einhorn and Sherry S Zimmerman
.
133 pages

 

Mrs Rosie Einhorn, an experienced therapist well known to me and Mrs Sheri Zimmerman an attorney with substantial experience in family matters, have combined to write Talking Tachlis a thoughtful and practical guide to an increasing pressing issue facing observant Jews today the problem of growing numbers of singles especially those in their late twenties and thirties.

It is said that Hakodosh Baruch Hu spends a substantial portion of His time kivayochel arranging matches We down here, however must also do our hishtadlus so that we are able to recognize when in fact Hakodosh Baruch Hu presents to us our intended zivug

These professionals have made it their goal to help people reach the decision on marriage with a deep concern for the future of the Jewish people. Talking Tachlis is in important work in that it seeks to assist singles in recognizing their zivug when he or she appears.

It is my bracha that Talking Tachlis will receive wide recognition and through it that the work of Hakodosh Baruch Hu will be facilitated, and that many many Jewishly committed homes will be built amongst Klal Yisrael.

Rabbi Tzvi Yitzchak Horowitz

THE BOSTONER REBBE

BROOKL1NE, MA

 

 

Rebbitzen Tziporah Heller

Jerusalem, Israel

Finding one's shidduch is a serious matter, and it takes proper preparation and self-awareness to be able to meet the opportunity Hakadosh Baruch Hu grants us.

I have had the opportunity to read a new book, Talking Tachlis, by Rosie Einhorn and Sherry Zimmerman. It is a book suited to help those seeking to do their hishtadlus so that they are emotionally and mentally prepared for that time when the bashert comes along.

I have known Rosie Einhorn for several years, and am very familiar with her work and successes with frum singles. I am happy that she has decided to share her expertise, experience, and knowledge with a wider audience, so that B'Ezras Hashem, many more will benefit from her professional and personal wisdom.

Rosie Einhorn and Sherry Zimmerman have performed agreat mitzvah in writing this book. In the zechus of their efforts in helping to build true Jewish homes for others, may they and their families be zocheh to participate in the building of such true Yiddishe homes for their own children and grandchildren as well.

Tziporah Heller Yerushalayim Cheshvan 5759

Contents

Acknowledgments.................. 9

Introduction....................13

What to Look For......■'............17

Romance, Chemistry, and Attraction.......32

Checking Out a Shidduch..............46

Head versus Heart................60

Reducing Baggage and Overcoming Obstacles .......69

Overcoming Fear of Emotional Intimacy.......83

Visualization Techniques.............105

When You Need a Therapist............116

Looking Forward.................131

Glossary.......................134

 

Acknowledgments

I his book is the product of a years-long desire to assist an unfortunately large group of men and women  Orthodox singles who want to get married but who are unable to find their matches for one reason or another. Rosie has worked with dozens of such singles throughout her professional life and understands that many of them have not gotten married, not because there is anything inherently wrong with them, but because of something that clouds their vision and holds them back from success. Rosie tries to help each client discover the specific "something" that affects him or her and remove it so that he or she can be free to find his or her zivug. After having the zechus of seeing dozens of her single clients marry and have children, Rosie was encouraged by many current and former clients to write a book that would, with the help of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, reach a wider audience than she is able to help in person. As a family lawyer, throughout her professional life Sherry has worked with individuals and couples who are at all stages of marriage  people who are planning their married life together, reconciling after a period of difficulty, or, unfortunately, ending their marriage

Providence brought the two of us together at Rosie's sheva berachos more than twenty-two years ago. Since then, we and our husbands have been close friends. We have shared our experiences as newlyweds, graduate students, parents, professionals dealing with family issues, working mothers, and new immigrants in Israel. Rosie had dreamed of writing this book for two years, with Sherry promising to collaborate once her family made aliyah. With Hashem's help, our planning has come to fruition.

We would like to acknowledge the many individuals who helped us along the way

Both of us want to express our gratitude to Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller for the inspiration and encouragement she provided to Rosie when this book was just a few pages of thoughts scribbled in a notebook, and for the guidance she provided to both of us during the writing of this book.

We thank Miriam Zakon and Rabbi Moshe Dombey of Targum Press for their enthusiasm, encouragement, and professional assistance.

We are also grateful for the valuable advice we received from Rabbi Hanoch Teller as we prepared to publish this book.

Each of us would like to add her own words of appreciation

Rosie  I want to thank Roberta Home, ACSW, who was my first supervisor some twenty years ago. Roberta taught me more than I could ever describe. I consider her the model for what every social worker should strive to be.

I would also like to thank Rabbi Avrohom Czapnik, who first suggested that I work with singles and inspired me to develop a professional niche concentrating on helping them achieve their goal of marriage.

I have been extremely fortunate to have been influenced all of my life by my beloved parents, Moshe and Rivka Loboda, whose miraculous survival from the Holocaust and their subsequent raising of me and my brothers, Howard and Michael, taught me how to persevere to reach my goals. I wish them nachas fun der kinder und emeklach and gezunt.

I have been zocheh for the past twenty-three years to have had the love and support of the most wonderful in-laws anyone could hope for, 'Sol and Rose Einhorn. May they be zocheh to arichas yamim and gezunt.

I want to thank my dear children, Dov, Penina, Elana, and Devora, for understanding when I had to be away to work on this book and for their continued enthusiasm.

Finally, I express my gratitude to my husband, Avery, who has always been supportive of all of my endeavors and whose encouragement and love I have grown to depend on.

Sherry  I could not find a better example of hashgachah peratis than the course of events that led me to enter the field of family law, an area of concentration I never considered when I was a student. The sensitivity, menshlichkeit, and practical insight I learned from my first mentor, the Honorable William A. Dreier, has guided and inspired me through the years I have been a family lawyer and mediator.

Words cannot express the hakaras hatov I feel for my parents, Syliva and Leonard Schemberg, who constantly amaze me as they pursue Torah knowledge, embark on new adventures, and continue their life-long commitment to gemilas chasadim and community activities well into their eightieth decade. May Hashem continue to bless them with good health and with nachas from all of their children and grandchildren biz hundred un tzvanzig.

Acharon acharon chaviv, my husband, Saul, has been my soul mate and bulwark of strength for more than half my life. Saul and our children, Avi, Benji, Debbie, Aliza, and Shulie, shared my enthusiasm about this project and provided me with encouragement, suggestions, and "technical support." My good fortune in being able to share my life with my zivug and our children has inspired me to help other Jewish couples find the realization of their own dreams.

 

Introduction

Perhaps you are twenty-six years old and have been dating for more than six years. You still have not met your bashert and wonder if you will ever be lucky enough to do so. Everyone telte you, "It's only a matter of time," or, "It would be easier if you weren't so picky." You feel a tinge of jealousy every time one of your friends becomes engaged. At every wedding you attend, you hear the well-intentioned, "Im yirtzeh Hashem by you."

You are emotionally drained by the cycle you go through each time you meet a new prospect. Naturally nervous about whether your date will have an agreeable personality and pleasing appearance, you psyche yourself into believing that this will be the right person and that the two of you will feel an instant kesher (connection). Then comes the disappointment that follows when your evening does not live up to your expectations and you know you must begin the cycle again with yet another shidduch.

You feel both happiness and regret each time you hear of a friend having a new baby, and you feel out of place when you spend Shabbos with your married sister's family. You wonder, When will I find my mate'' When can I stop pasting a smile on my face each time I hear another person wish me, "Im yirtzeh Hashem by you"?

Perhaps you are a thirty-one-year-old ba'alas teshuvah who has been religious for the past five years. You have finally convinced your family that you are committed to being observant and that your lifestyle will always be different from the one in which you grew up. Your problem is with dating. Your family is unable to introduce you to suitable prospects, and most of your long-time friends only know of men who are interested in relationships that are not appropriate for a frum person. Your circle of single friends keeps getting smaller as each young woman becomes a kallah (bride). You are glad to see your friends build happy homes, but you wish their husbands would introduce some of their single friends to you. Not knowing where else to turn, you have started to consult shadchamm. Although some matchmakers have arranged dates for you, you have not met your zivug (soul mate).

The rational side of you knows that no fairy godmother is hiding in the wings, ready to wave her magic wand and make Prince Charming appear at the right moment. The emotional side of you agonizes over which combination of prayers, shiurim, shadchanim, beauty makeovers, and personal enrichment courses will finally work. What if you could find a tried-and-true formula that would increase your likelihood of find ing your future spouse? Wouldn't it be great if you, with the help of Hashem, could be your own

The Talmud teaches that forty days before a baby is born, a voice from Heaven announces Hashem's choice for that baby's future husband or wife {Sanhedrin 22a). For many of us the knowledge that Hashem has selected our bashert is small consolation for the disappointment we feel over our single status. We wonder if we will ever be fortunate enough to cross paths with our zivug, or if we will be looking in the wrong direction when he or she walks by. How will we know when we have met our soul mate? Will we be able to share a stable, loving relationship with the person we marry?

This book is designed to help single, Orthodox men and women learn more about themselves, formulate long-lasting goals and ambitions based on their inner needs, and use this new understanding of themselves to determine what truly important qualities their future spouse should possess. We hope it will enable each reader to develop skills to make his or her own dating process easier and more likely to result in success. Writing this book has been a labor of love, drawn on our collective thirty-nine years of experience in psychotherapy and family law and mediation.

To make this book more readable, we have refrained from an excessive use of the expressions "he/she" and "him/her." In addition, if we had utilized too many gender-related words, this book would lose its personal style. For this reason, much of our discussion appears to be aimed at a female readership. With limited exceptions, however, this book is intended to be of benefit to both men and women.

All of the vignettes in this book are based on actual case histories, but parts of each of them have been fictionalized to protect the identities of those involved. No description on any vignette matches any actual person.

 

 

Chapter One

What to Look For

Looking at Yourself First

All of us have certain ideas about what we are looking for in a prospective spouse. The terms sensitive, understanding, and good sense of humor are on everyone's list. In addition, each of us expects to meet someone whose religious observance and lifestyle are compatible with our own level of religious commitment, be it "a full-time learner," "a businessman/professional who sets aside time for learning," or "a ba'al teshuvah who can be comfortable with my own growth in Yiddishkett."

If we made shidduchim by feeding the list into a machine that would produce a number of prospective suitors, such a list would be fine. However, relying on a list of general characteristics for a shidduth dooms most searches to failure. Before you outline the characteristics you seek in a spouse, you should spend time examining who you are. You have to understand yourself before you imagine what your future husband should be like.

Each of us is a composite of her life experiences  the. way we were brought up, our relationships with our parents and other family members, our education, events that have helped shape our personality and philosophy, and our hopes and dreams. Many times, we try to live up to others' expectations of the life we should lead, and we mold our relation ships on what looks good to others. Instead, each of us should examine what is the core of our self. This is more than a evaluation of our personal religious observance  it is a true cheshbon hanefesh which takes time and introspection.

The mussar sefer Cheshbon HaNefesh, by Rabbi Menndel of Satanov (New York: Feldheim Publishers, 1995), describes the methodology one can utilize to evaluate his or her personality and improve those characteristics that are not in keeping with good middos. The author sets forth thirteen personality traits each individual should strive to improve over a period of time. It is not our purpose to urge our readers to change their basic personalities in order to increase their likelihood of entering into an appropriate marriage. Nevertheless, the technique of personal introspection recommended by Rabbi Mendel is useful to anyone who wants to (a) better understand his or her personality and (b) work on improving those traits he or she feels merit improvement.

We recommend that over a number of days you set aside a quiet time to think about who you are and what you want out of life. It is imperative that you use a notebook to record your thoughts, because you will certainly forget some of them. A number of categories which you should review:

What is your level of religious observance and beliefs at the present time? Do you want to grow religiously, or are you content to stay at your current level of religious observance? What is your personal commitment to Torah study? Are you satisfied with your level of knowledge?

What are your talents and character strengths (creative, determined, intellectual, fun-loving, artistic, musical, literary, athletic, deep-thinking, easy to get along with, organized, reliable, loyal, compassionate, good with children, good with elderly people). How do you use your talents now? Do you underutilize talents you could or would like to use?

What are your dreams? Are they as traditional as mothering a large brood of children, supporting your husband while he learns in a kollel, or being active in community organizations? Is material comfort important to you, be it an attractive home, a stylish wardrobe, financial security, or an annual vacation in a distant place? Do you have career or educational objectives, such as obtaining a degree or certification, writing a book, working at a job you love even after you have children, becoming a partner in a law firm, selling your own artwork, or operating your own business? Do you like adventure or new experiences, such as traveling through Europe with a backpack, making aliyah, or taking adult-education classes in subjects like calligraphy, karate, or Japanese cooking?

After you have finished writing down your observations about yourself, it is advisable to compile an orderly list of these observations for easier reference.

What Is in Your Future?

Your self-evaluation does not end with the first exercise. In order to better understand yourself, you next step is to become aware of your short-term a well as long-term goals. Too many people who are looking for a mate simply focus on the goal of getting married in stead of looking at what they want to achieve in their own lives. In addition, very few people look beyond the present when they conduct a self-evaluation. Yet none of us lives static life; change is part of human nature. We must take into consideration the fact that our needs and ambitions, change continually.

This second step in searching within yourself involves going through each entry on the list you have made and trying to envision where you see yourself in a month, in a year, in five years. Will you grow religiously? How do you envision yourself utilizing your talents and strengths? Your projections about both of these categories are interrelated to the changes you will envision about your future dreams and goals. As a growing person, your dreams should not be static; throughout your life you will accomplish some of them, modify some of them, and eliminate others as you move beyond them. Now, too, you must evaluate your dreams and goals and decide which of them you have already accomplished and which of them you want to change or eliminate because they are no longer practical or because you have grown beyond them.

In addition, you should consider whether there are any dreams or goals you would be willing to change or eliminate if they would not be beneficial to your relationship with a future spouse. More important, do you have dreams and goals that you simply cannot abandon or change, because your emotional well-being is dependent on them? This is the time to evaluate and reevaluate your dreams and goals. You cannot wait to do so after you meet a promising shidduch.

You can view this as akin to what a baalas teshuvah experiences when she first decides to become religious.

Ruthie had always dreamed of becoming an actress and model. Tall, with dark, classic good looks, she modeled for department stores as a teenager and appeared in local dramatic productions When Ruthie first started to become observant in college, she had mixed emotions when she stopped appearing in plays that were performed on Shabbos. As Ruthie grew in observance, she realized that the laws of tznius precluded her modeling many modern fashions, and she no longer felt comfortable parading around in what American culture considered fashionable. But she could not give up her love of the theater, and after much soul-searching she figured out how she could pursue her passion without compromising her values. After graduating college with a major in English and drama, Ruthie became a high-school English and drama teacher who also staged and directed musicals and dramatic plays for girls' yeshivah high schools and women's organizations.

Admittedly, this soul-searching is a difficult exercise. Most people focus on the goal of getting married and forget that at the same time they are seeking a spouse they are also acquiring an education, establishing a career, and pursuing interests. Some of us are so focused on marriage that w limit our choices in these areas to those we think will be compatible with married life instead of those that make us feel fulfilled. We would be happier examining what we want to achieve in our lives and thinking about shortter versus long-term goals. Taking the time to think about long-term expectations will give many of us a much-needed opportunity to establish or understand priorities and to gain a better understanding of ourselves.

Karen decided that since she had not found "the one" by age twenty-one and was now approaching thirty it was even more important that she marry a man. whom she felt was sensational. She wanted someone who was fairly established in a profession, fun-loving, nice-looking, and from a balebatish family. Yichus would be an added bonus, of course, but not absolutely necessary. As Karen continued to date and get older, it appeared that her standards were getting tougher. Karen dated a number of nice men, but since none of them met all of her criteria, she did not take the time to get to know them in more than a few dates. Now the ideal mate had to earn a certain salary, live in one of a few clearly defined neighborhoods, and have a certain amount of tangible assets After all, she had waited this long. How would it look for her to "settle" for someone who did not match her criteria?

Karen's focus on material characteristics and outer appearance is misguided as well as unrealistic. First of all, Karen should examine what she really wants in a relationship. Is a man's address and job description more important than personality characteristics such as integrity, the ability to work toward a goal, and the ability to synthesize community involvement, career, and family life? Most important, where are Torah values in Karen's screenplay?

Karen needs to reassess what she needs, not what her neighbors or coworkers tell her is important to her happiness. If she were never to marry, how would she find emotional and personal fulfillment in a month, in a year, in five years? If she were to marry, after all the flurried activity of an engagement and wedding is over, what kind of home life would she want? In a year? In five years? How does she expect to utilize her creative talents and personal strengths  in her home, community, and career, and in what proportion? What personality traits would she like her children to exhibit? What would she be able to contribute to a close emotional relationship with her husband and with her children? What would she hope her husband could contribute? By making new priorities for herself, Karen will understand herself better and will be more realistic about envisioning a man with whom she can build a happy married life.

 

Clarifying Wants and Needs

It is a common exercise in basic sociology classes for students to chart a society's wants and needs. In analyzing ourselves, it is helpful to chart and to weigh them in order of priority. In a sociological sense, needs are the basic items a society needs to function: food, shelter, water, air, a system of government, and the like. On a personal level, all of us need shelter, food, water, air, and personal safety. Our other needs are more intangible. They are the physical and emotional qualities that must be satisfied for us to feel se cure, balanced, and content. For example, some of us would feel incomplete without a close relationship with our family, while others are satisfied with only casual contact with family members. Some people are not very secure about their own abilities and need a lot of reassurance from others. Others believe that they must draw, sculpt, write music, or play the piano every day in order to feel whole. Many people feel a strong need to give of their time and express compassion to others and constantly look for ways to involve themselves in chesed activities.

At the same time we recognize these needs within ourselves, we acknowledge that our future spouse must, either directly or indirectly, allow these needs to be met. For example, there would be constant marital friction if a ba'al chesed's spouse resented the fact that he focused some of: his physical and emotional energies outside the family.

Elizabeth has always described herself as an intellectual. Whether it is a subject she studies in school, a current political issue, or a commentator's discussion on a verse in the weekly parashah, Elizabeth thoroughly analyzes the issue at hand. She wants to fully understand the background of any subject she feels is significant, so she can formulate her own opinions. Elizabeth needs a spouse who will appreciate her thought processes even though he himself may not be a deep thinker. She, in turn, must be able to appreciate the manner in which her husband processes information without expecting him to share her own intellectual curiosity.

Wants are more superficial than needs, they generally consist of desires that are based more on societal pressures all of us are subject to rather than on items essential to our personal satisfaction. For example, in the arena of dating, wants could include an insistence that all shidduchim be taller than us or a rejection of a proposed suitor who, despite his intelligence and self-motivation, lacks a college degree or the requisite number of years in yeshivah. Too many of us focus on our wants rather than our needs. Granted, having wants is a normal and desirable part of one's personality. All of us are influenced by our environment, and that is not necessarily a negative circumstance. What we must do, however, is examine which of our wants reflect what truly makes us feel content and which of them satisfy our image about what our societal influences say our life should be like.

Serena is a mother of two and a partner in a small law firm She is happily married to Sam, who never had the desire to attend college and runs his own moderately successful carpentry business. When Serena was in law school, a friend suggested that she meet a "really great guy" whom she described as a "renaissance man"  knowledgeable about Jorah as well as subjects such as architecture and literature. Serena enjoyed her first date with Sam and felt that she could talk to him for hours. She was not concerned when he revealed that

had never gone to college. However, when her

law-school friends heard that Sam was a carpenter, the

were appalled. How could Serena demean herself by

dating someone they deemed socially inferior? Fortunately, Serena was impressed that Sam, who loved to

work with his hands, was doing a job he enjoyed and set

aside a few hours a day for learning. Within time, Sam'

wit and personality won over even her friends.

It is a good idea to make a list of wants for qualities in;

prospective spouse and then to prioritize them by number.

Such a list might include, for example, someone who is

taller than 5'8", likes music, is outgoing, has a career on the

"A track," and comes from a large, close-knit family. No list

should contain more than six or seven items; if it does, the

least important items should be taken off the list. No one

person could ever fulfill a large list of wants

Then, despite the difficulty involved, the short list of six or seven items should be pared down to the two or three! most important wants. Establishing priorities here may require brutal honesty. For example, do I feel extremely uncomfortable dating someone who is not taller than I, or have I been conditioned to picture myself looking up into the eyes of my husband? Will I identify myself by my husband's position on the social stratum, or can I define personal success by focusing on middos, learning, and acts of chesed?

By using this exercise to help us understand our needs and wants, we are able to eliminate the less important characteristics we'd like to see in a prospective spouse and are

able to evaluate which qualities are essential to meet our personal needs and which would satisfy our most important wants.

What to Look for in a Prospective Spouse

With the techniques mentioned above, you will become more aware of the person you really are and of the qualities that are both more important and less important in the shidduchim you will meet. This knowledge provides you with a beginning point of reference. It will leave you open to meet people whom you otherwise would not have considered and will also help you determine which qualities you previously believed were important are not essential to a fulfilling life.

Later chapters of this book will explore a number of other considerations that can help you decide which person is the right one for you. At this point, however, two critical ingredients should be present any time your relationship with a shidduch progresses beyond the first date. Every relationship must contain these ingredients in order to survive. These are admiration and mutual respect, and compatibility.

 

Admiration and Mutual Respect

From the very first meeting, each member of the couple should feel that he or she is being treated with proper derech eretz. There is no room in any relationship for a superior attitude or disrespectful treatment. Sometimes this behavior first becomes apparent later in the relationship, when the couple becomes more comfortable in each other's presence and feels less of a need to impress each other. If you feel that your date looks down on you, if you feel a sense of humiliation in the way he treats you. introduces you to others, the relationship should not progress further. There must be mutual respect throughout the dating process, just as in marriage. Each of you should treat the other with the same compassion and consideration that you would like to be treated, and you should feel that your prospective partner is doing the same.

As a relationship progresses, each member of a dating couple should begin to admire one or more qualities that the other person possesses. You might admire your suitor for his ability to learn, his perseverance, his ability to see the silver lining in an unpleasant situation, or the way he gets along with his family. He might admire the dignified manner which his date treats the senior citizens with whom she works, her enthusiasm for the community affairs in which she participates, or her ability to organize and complete her projects. Hopefully this mutual admiration will grow into a mutual belief that each member of the couple is cherished and important to the other's emotional well-being. If the feeling of admiration is absent, the relationship will not be built on anything solid and will eventually, whether before or after marriage, end.

Yosef and Chaya had been dating for three months and were ready to get engaged Since Chaya was newly religious, her seminary teacher realized that the relationship was progressing rapidly for a girl raised in a secular environment and suggested that Chaya and Yosef meet with a therapist to see if the time was right for them to become engaged. Yosef vocalized a number of criticisms about Chaya's mode of dress and her parents' lifestyle and had a number of ideas about how she should change The therapist understood that Yosef did not admire anything about Chaya and, moreover, that he did not respect her. After the therapist discussed her observation with the couple, Chaya realized that the therapist had vocalized her own hidden concerns Yosef wasn't the man for her She deserved someone who adored her and treated her with respect

Evenings out with your prospective spouse are an opportunity to observe characteristics about his behavior. For example, the manner in which a person treats a waiter, waitress, or anyone who provides a service to them can often foretell how he will behave once a married couple settles down to the everyday routine of fixing things around the house, cooking and serving dinner, and performing other household tasks. When we are out for the evening, we usually project our best behavior to our date. If our date treats the waitress or doorman shabbily, it is a good indicator of how he may treat someone he views as subservient and how he will treat his wife when she performs household tasks.

 

Compatibility

Each of us has idiosyncrasies which endear us to some people and drive other people crazy. In most marriages, we are willing to overlook some of our spouse's mannerisms or behaviors because we love him because the idiosyncratic activities do not irritate us on deep level. For example, many women are "neat freaks" whose husbands become accustomed to having their insist on, for example, a tidy bathroom; the wives, in accept as a fact their husbands' propensity to leave newspapers and empty dishes scattered around the den. Each partner learns that this is a fact of the other's personality and willing to live with it. One woman may not mind that her boyfriend cracks his knuckles when he is nervous; this habit may drive someone else up the wall.

Rebecca, a twenty-four-year-old bookkeeper dated a personable young man from a similar background. She was beginning to think seriously about him and he took her to his home to meet his parents When offering her a cup of coffee, the young man selected a cupcake from a plate of several cupcakes, cut it in halt and gave it to Rebecca. When Rebecca went home that evening, she decided not to see the young man again. She felt that he had given her a preview of "coming attractions " By splitting the cupcake in half, he indicated that he would not be generous with his possessions. She realized that on their dates he had given very small tips to the waiters and had not been willing to spend very much money. While Rebecca did not expect to be wined and dined, she knew he had a well-paying job, lived with his parents, and had few expenses She was surprised that her date was stingy and could not accept this characteristic in a prospective spouse.

If a date exhibits a character trait or idiosyncrasy that a particular person finds too irritating to accommodate, the choice is often to admit that the couple is simply not compatible.

 

Romance, Chemistry, and Attraction

What is one of the major obstacles to a successful 'shidduch? It is the pursuit of the American dream. This is not a dream of wealth and material success, is a dream that almost any Western Jew, be she modern  orthodox, traditional, or yeshivish, English, American, or South African, has absorbed from Western culture. She must be swept off her feet by her husband-to-be. If there are no fire works within the first few dates, she stops dating her suitor.. she becomes older, her expectations intensify because she rationalizes that since she has waited this long, her bashert should make her heart pound and her pulse race.

More realistic expectations for anyone seeking the right person are not based on such intense feelings. That is not to say that a relationship is doomed to failure if the fire works are there. It is just that most loving relationships do not require such strong emotions.

Chemistry

Let's look at some of the language used to describe the feeling a dating couple may experience at the start of their relationship. We may hear people use the phrases "head over heels in love" or "he's the man of my dreams" to describe their newest dating interest. Will that couple still be dating in two months' time? In six months? When the relationship is based solely on the strong chemistry between two people, it seldom endures longer than a few months.

Chaim thought Anetta was the woman of his dreams. She had a beautiful figure, long, thick auburn hair, and classic good looks A natural athlete, she came from a family of sports enthusiasts and loved to play tennis or go jogging with Chaim.  She had great taste in clothes and music, and she and Chaim enjoyed planning their dates together. Chaim fell for Anetta the first time they met and could not get over his good fortune in meeting such a fantastic young woman.

After dating for a few months, it was clear that Anetta was strongly attracted to him as well, and they started to talk about how they envisioned their future together. Anetta talked solely about the city in which they would live, the type of house she wanted, how she wanted it furnished, and where she wanted to go on their first trip together. Chaim began to realize that Anetta wanted very different things out of life, was disappointed that she was so shallow and wondered whether he would be happy being married to her. After a few more dates Chaim admitted to himself that, despite his strong initial feelings for Anietta he could not see her as his lifetime partner and as mother of his children.

The strong initial attraction which Chaim felt for Anetta
can best be described as "chemistry." Two people can instinctively feel a strong emotional or physical bond even before
they know very much about each other's interests, beliefs,
personalities. At the beginning, a relationship based solely
chemistry may burn with intense emotional and physical desire, but unless the couple develops and builds on a substantive foundation the chemical bond will dissolve within a short period of time. Too often, couples who rush into an engagement
and marriage at the beginning of an intense chemistry relationship later realize that they have few common interests
or goals. A strong, loving relationship, be it at the stage of serious dating, engagement, or marriage, develops gradually. The couple becomes more aware of and learns to appreciate each other's characters and personalities.

Attraction


Although a relationship based solely on chemistry cannot survive in the long run, a relationship in which both of the parties feel a mutual attraction for other has a greater likelihood of becoming a permanent one There is a big difference between a relationship in which the parties are attracted to each other and a relationship based solely on chemistry. A woman who is attracted to her suitor customarily likes one or more of his characteristics such as the way his dimples show when he smiles, the intelligent look of his eyes, the way he treats her like a princess on their dates, his easy way of talking on the telephone, his off-beat sense of humor, or a variety of other purely subjective mannerisms. Similarly, he may enjoy her ability to hold her own in a heated political discussion and the sound of her laughter, or he may think she has lovely features.

Unlike a relationship based on chemistry, which starts off very intense and cools as the parties become aware of each other's character flaws or unsuitability, the attraction a couple feels for each other frequently grows as the relationship develops. The man and woman begin to build feelings for each other as they continue to date and find out details about each other's personalities, backgrounds, and future expectations. As a relationship matures, the qualities which first attracted the partners to each other (many of which often have some physical element) take on less importance.

Some people may find it difficult to allow themselves to build on the attraction they initially feel for the person they are dating. There are a number of reasons for this difficulty. Once a person is able to understand the basis of her difficulties, she may be able to reassess her feelings about the suitor.

Leora, age thirty-two, and Yonatan, age thirty-four, had just begun dating, and things were going well. As older singles, each of them had been dating for a number of years and experienced a number of disappointments. They both enjoyed their dates and thought they shared similar goals for the future. Leora was attracted to the way Yonatan's face lit up when he smiled and she was intrigued by the way he was able to balance his full-time learning schedule with part-time computer programming. Leora went to counseling because she felt that Yonatan was the right zivug for her and could understand why she did not feel "in love" with him. Leora also wondered if there was something wrong with Yonatan because he had been single for so long.

With the therapist, Leora first explored her old background Leora had been raised in a yeshivish home but had a number of questions about her beliefs as young adult and spent much of her early twenties "finding herself" When Leora was in her later twenties, she dated a young man whom she thought was wonderful. The couple became very serious about each other and discussed their upcoming engagement Then, almost overnight, Leoras intended became very cool toward her and abruptly broke off their relationship. Leora was devastated and found it difficult to date anyone seriously for fear that she would be rejected by the next prospective suitor.

In therapy, Leora was able to admit her fear, at knowledge her anger toward the young man who rejected her (which she had never done in the past), speak about her disappointment, and realize that this was the reason she had been afraid to let herself he attracted to Yonatan and feel love for him After she realized that she had been unconsciously holding back from feeling more for Yonatan for fear of getting hurt, Leora began to view him differently. She realized she enjoyed more and more things about him and that she was beginning to fall in love with him The couple has now been married for ten years, and Leora says Yonatan is the husband she'd always dreamed about. In successful relationships, attraction is the starting point from which a couple builds affection for each other. Looking forward to the next date with a suitor, hoping he's at the other end of the line when the telephone rings, feeling intellectually stimulated during discussions together, and feeling proud to be seen with him in public are all indications that you are attracted to the person you are dating and that there is something on which to build a relationship Sometimes it takes a while for you to realize that you are attracted to a person, and sometimes it takes a while to realize that you are not

Evvie, a gifted and extremely attractive teacher, had no shortage of dates. At age twenty-four, she had been introduced to dozens of eligible men but had never wanted to go on more than two or three dates with any of them. That is, until Efraim came along Evvie actually went on a third date with him, and then a fourth Yet, she wondered, what was it that she saw in Efraim that made her agree to continue dating him? Am I so dead inside that I can't feel anything? she asked herself. Evvie would not allow herself to believe that, was incapable of feeling affection. She decided that must be unconsciously holding her emotions in check because she was afraid to make a wrong decision about Efraim. After promising herself that she would take relationship with Efraim one step at a time and would, rush into any commitments simply because they we expected of her, Evvie tried to focus on those aspects of Efraim's personality and appearance that she liked. His deep, warm voice was very comforting, and he had the most beautiful eyes. She liked the way his face seemed to light up when he saw her. Evvie admitted to herself that she did find Efraim attractive and that she would not be afraid to continue dating him. Evvie and Efraim have now been happily married for more than fifteen years.

Shoshie had all of the characteristics Yitzchak ha hoped his future wife would possess. She was a true ba'alas chesed. Her chosen career as a physical therapist for children was only a small indication of her commitment to helping others. In addition, Shoshie exlemplified extraordinary middos. She also loved working in the kitchen, and Yitzchak had tasted the delicious results of her baking skills. Convinced that Shoshie would be a perfect wife, Yitzchak began to talk with her about marriage. When they discussed their wedding plans, Shoshie talked about how their marriage would enable them to fulfill several mitzvos

Yitzchak realized that Shoshie and he were each looking at an impending marriage as the opportunity to fulfill halachic obligations, and that each of them saw the other as meeting all of the qualifications of an ideal spouse  except one. Yitzchak was not attracted to Shoshie. Yes, she was very nice and would help build a good Jewish home. However, Yitzchak never anticipated their dates with excitement, never daydreamed about their life together, never longed to see her when they were apart

Many people feel a subtle pressure to please parents or teachers by dating someone to whom they are not attracted simply because he or she meets the qualifications of a wonderful spouse on paper. However, we don't marry a character study; we marry a living person. Marrying a shidduch who possesses all the "right" qualifications may result in a workable marriage partnership, and in time the couple may develop an affection for each other. But, more often than not, one or both of the partners may feel that something is missing, and this may mar their long-term happiness. Other times, the couple may find it difficult to face a stressful situation or, chas v'shalomr a tragedy, because they lack a strong emotional connection to each other. Unfortunately, many such couples who, even several years after their marriage, are faced with these trials end up divorcing.I

When It's Almost the One

Perhaps the most difficult situation a person encounters occurs when a shidduch seems wonderful  eccept for one thing, whatever that criterion may be. Unfortunately, this thing may be of prime importance to each member of the couple, so much so that the difficulty cannot be reconciled. For example, a man may expect to learn in a kollel for many years, but the woman he is dating may not be willing to be a kollel wife after the couple had a certain number of children; at that time, she expects her husband to earn a living. Or a woman may be pursuing an advanced degree in a field that fascinates her and expects that she will combine this career with raising children.

The man she is dating, on the other hand, believes in his wife's working only until she has children and is adamant that the woman he marries be a stay-at-home mother. If neither of them is able to compromise his or goals without feeling resentful, the relationship is not meant to be.

Chaya and David met when she was a student at an Israeli seminary. They got along very together. They had a great time on their dates at shared a lot of common interests, and they were muttally attracted to each other. However, each of them was painfully aware that one aspect of their relationship could not be reconciled. David loved living in Israel ant wanted to spend the rest of his life there. While Chaya liked Israel, she could not imagine living there. She we very close to her parents and siblings, who were entrenched in American Jewish life. In addition, Chaya had great difficulty learning Hebrew and feared that it would be years before she gained proficiency in the language. She had been trained as an accountant and did not want to set aside her dreams of working in a field she loved because she could not master the language well enough to obtain a license. Chaya and David both realized that each of them felt so strongly about this subject that neither would be able to make the self-sacrifice needed to accommodate the other's expectations.

Dispelling the Myth of Mystery

Many modern romance novels intrigue their readers with a sense of mystery about the story's hero or heroine. Perhaps he has a deep, dark secret that, when revealed, allows the protagonist to understand him and love him all the more. Hashem does not script our lives like romance novels. Certainly, many dating couples feel a sense of romance as they learn endearing details about each other's childhood and teenage adventures, cheer for each other's accomplishments, and confide in each other about secret yearnings, lifelong dreams, and even disappointments they may have experienced. As the couple becomes more fond of each other, each of them eagerly anticipates the new discoveries they will make about each other the next time they are able to spend time together. The joy of discovering the essence of one's soul mate is the essence of romance.

In this day and age, when religious couples do not as long as secular couples and have limited experience in interpersonal relationships because they date solely for purpose of marriage, taking the time to get to know other is must. Above all, every dating couple needs to spend enough time together to learn about each other, to begin to develop affection and admiration for each other and (since none of us is perfect) to appreciate that the other may have a flaw or two.

This cannot be accomplished after just a few dates. (When they start seeing a new person, most people make effort to give a good first impression by putting their best foot forward. It is not until they feel comfortable with the person they are dating that they begin to reveal a little more about who they really are. As a couple learns more about each other's personalities, aspirations, life experience families, and friends, they may develop a foundation which they can strengthen their emotional attraction each other. On the other hand, they may find that each them is dating someone who may be very pleasant but with whom they do not feel enough attraction to want to marry. Some people are too quick to rely on their first impression of a new suitor. There are times that the first impression one senses about a new shidduch is correct. As she gets know the man with whom she had a wonderful first few dates, a woman may see that he is as well suited for her she first believed, and their feelings for each other grow stronger as they get to know each other better. Many times however, the couple only begin to feel affection for each other after they have dated for a long enough period of time to learn about each other through discussion, observation, and shared expectations.

On their first date, Faige felt that Mark was a little coarse in his manner and speech, and she was afraid that he would be too crude for her Midwestern sensibilities. Yet he told funny stories and was a great mimic, and Faige decided that since she had fun at their first meeting she would see Mark again As the second date led to a third and fourth evening together, Faige saw that once Mark become more comfortable with her, his brash behavior was more subdued. She realized that actually he was a ba'al chessed who used his outgoing personality to encourage others to become involved in a variety of chesed projects. Slowly, Faige realized that this boisterous, gregarious man was the person with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life

Another woman may slowly discover that the man who has taken her breath away has serious character flaws that she either did not see or overlooked in the beginning. Or perhaps he has a vision of the future that is very different from her expectations or dreams or has a lifestyle or personality that clashes with hers. There are also instances, which fortunately are rare, when a woman will learn that the beau with an engaging personality is actually cruel or manipulate, battles a personality disorder, or suffers from a mental illness.

Unfortunately, there are some troubled souls who make an extreme effort to hide their difficulties from their prospective spouse. Sometimes the difficulty is one that can be overcome and should be shared so the couple can their relationship around it. There are times, though,  we may encounter a troubled soul whose "deep, dark secret" is a severe personal problem that cannot be resolved by love and understanding. In either case, it is difficult for most severely troubled people to hide real personal difficulties for a prolonged period of time. If the couple dates following a sufficient period of time, one member of the pair may see little cues that make him or her uneasy about the person he or she is dating and which warrant some investigation.

Every person who is seeking a marriage partner whether from a yeshivish, chassidic, or modern background, must allow herself a sufficient amount of time to to know the person whom she considers a serious prospect. ( The length of time a couple needs may differ in relation to their religious outlook. A more modern couple may want to date for several months before they feel ready to become engaged. More traditional and yeshivish couples become engaged after a shorter dating period. Over the past  years, however, many rabbanim have begun to recommend, and some now insist, that every couple go on a minimum number of dates before becoming engaged.

The rabbanim are not simply responding to the sad fact that the Orthodox community is not immune to family tragedies such as divorce and abuse. They also realize that couples can no longer rely on common culture, goals, beliefs and lifestyles as a glue to cement their marriage and enable them to withstand the cultural, social, philosophical, ant material pressures of modern life. Our global Orthodox community is much more culturally, socially, and philosophically diverse than ever before, and most couples cannot innocently assume that they are well suited to each other simply because they share a religious background and are fond of each other. They must have enough opportunities to get to know each other well.

To Sleuth or Not to Sleuth

Knowledge is a critical factor for all couples, no what their level of religious observance. Most of can learn the critical information we need about prospective life partner by dating long enough to learn about his personality, observe his relationship with friends and family, talk about mutual hopes and dreams, and m< sure the enjoyment we experience when we are together. Sometimes, however, no matter how long a couple dates serious problem may not become obvious until the party have either married or become extremely serious about each other.

When Jews lived in small communities in which every one knew their neighbors, shidduchim were not accompanied by a background check. Today, few of us marry another person who grew up under the caring eyes of our neighbors or relatives. A yeshivah bachur may recommend to his wife's friend a chavrusa of whom he knows little outside the beis midrash.

A shadchan may believe the person he recommends is a lovely young woman without having first-hand knowledge of her middos or her past. A well-intentioned uncle may arrange a nephew's first date while deliberately hiding a serious condition such as emotional disturbance, believing that marriage is all a young man needs to calm him down and help him "get his head on straight."

This is one of the reasons why the families of most young people from traditional and yeshivish backgrounds investigate the background of a prospective shidduch or check into a suitor's background when a relationship begins to get serious. Far from being an antiquated practice, this is a procedure that can save a couple from years of heartache. We are both familiar with unfortunate situations such as serious mental illness, hidden drug addiction, alcoholism, severe indebtedness, a sociopath personality, and financial abandonment of a prior family, all of which could have been discovered with a few well-placed telephone calls to the right people. Often the shadchan is not aware of such problems and has no obligation to make such an inquiry himself. In fact, an individual who is anxious to get married, or whose family is anxious to see their child married, will purposely hide these blemishes from a shadchan or a rosh yeshivah as they pursue marriage prospects.

When either one or both members of a couple are ba'alei teshuvah, this becomes a very sensitive topic. Many newly religious people or people from a more modern background do not have the contacts to help with such an inquiry, nor do they know the correct procedure to follow. Others think it is too old-fashioned for the modern era. Unfortunately, there are a number of instances in which a or ba'alas teshuvah has been a victim of well-meaning friends, family, and, sometimes, teachers who have encouraged  marriage to a person who has one or more serious problems. In addition, even if a ba'al teshuvah has had a number of dating experiences in the past, he or she cannot rely on past experience as a barometer for measuring the verity of problems which may affect a prospective spouse. The shortened dating period for religious singles is reason enough for ba'alei teshuvah to make the appropriate inquiries about prospective shidduchim.

In addition, there are times when a ba'al teshuvah has become religious as an adult ......lifestyle differs significantly from the lifestyle of an observant. Sometimes an individual who is extremely uncomfortable with his or her former lifestyle will benefit from, or even require therapy in order to enable him or her to move forward. Other ba'alei teshuvah may not be uncomfortable with the lifestyle they left behind when they became religious, but many of these may be important enough to discussed with a prospective spouse.

There are halachic considerations concerning loshon hara and rechilus, of which one making inquiries about prospective shidduch should be aware. Guard Your Ton by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (Gross Brothers, 1975), provides an overview of the extent to which one may inquire about a prospective shidduch as well as the nature and amount information which may be disclosed. Because of the delicateness of this subject, we recommend that anyone seeking information about a prospective shidduch, as well as anyone reached about the subject, discuss this topic with their Rabbi, Rosh Yeshivah, or magid shiur to learn about the relevant halachic issues concerning the proper boundaries of inquiry and response. In addition, the authority who is consulted will, in all likelihood, be in a position to guide inquirers as to the types of questions that should be asked as well as to whom these inquiries should be directed.

There are certain categories that an inquiry concerning a prospective suitor should cover.

Significant Medical Conditions

A person should be aware of any significant medical condition that affects a person they date. Of course, we do not encourage anyone to reject a shidduch on the basis of his or her medical condition, or for fear that one's children may develop an affliction which afflicts a member of a prospective spouse's family. However, a person beginning a relationship which may become serious must be aware of medical problems that will affect the day-to-day living of a married couple. Some people cannot cope with the thought of a spouse who must, for example, regulate his diet because of diabetes or must be vigilant about medication for high blood pressure Although some people denigrate the importance of knowing about a significant medical condition during the dating process, using the rationale that all of us develop conditions as we age, there is no comparison between one person's ability to deal with the illness of a person with whom he or she is just developing a relationship and the ability to do so when a beloved spouse is diagnosed with a life-changing condition.

 

Mental or Emotional Illness

I here are different categories of mental and emotional illnesses and personality disorders. Many people with certain mental or emotional conditions are motivated to help themselves and respond well to treatment, w| usually includes therapy or a combination of medicine and therapy. These people are able to lead happy, productive, and emotionally stable lives and have successful marriages. However, there are certain categories of ment nesses and personality disorders which so severely affect patient that he or she is an unsuitable candidate for long-term relationship. Some of the conditions in this category include schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and some cases of manic depression. (For informational these conditions, we recommend you consult with a competent mental health professional.)

Often, a person suffering from a serious mental condition may be able to mask his or her condition for a while. He or she may be pleasant to get along with at first, but with time may display certain behaviors which indicate something is just not right. In many of these cases, those who are well acquainted with the individual are aware there is a serious problem. An inquiry might alert a prospective shidduch that the individual should be check out further through a mental-health professional.

A person with a serious mental or emotional condition may not have obtained treatment for his problem. More often, however, an individual who suffers from a serious condition has sought treatment because of his inability function properly. He may have abandoned treatment

or be engaged in a course of therapy. In either situation,

neither the patient nor his family has the objectivity

necessary to determine the severity or mildness of the

condition, whether or not it is responding to treatment, and

the prognosis for suitability for marriage. Only the treating or

diagnosing physician or therapist can make these

determinations.

Sharona had lived in Israel her whole life and was finishing her college degree in mathematics at an Israeli university when she was introduced to Elliot, a twenty-three-year-old American whom, she was told, had recently come to Israel to learn after he finished college. Sharona and Elliot dated for a few months, and Sharona even had an opportunity to meet Elliot's sister, who had made aiiyah a few years earlier Sharona's father had passed away just a year before she met Elliot, and her mother had died when Sharona was a child, so she lacked the guidance of her own family. Sharona and Elliot became engaged before she had an opportunity to meet other members of Elliot's family, his long-term friends, or even the rabbi of his shul in his family's American community.

Several months after their wedding, Elliot began staying home from yeshivah a few days at a time. Then he stopped going altogether. He lost his appetite and slept a great deal. Sharona believed she recognized some signs of depression and insisted that Elliot see a psychologist When Elliot refused, Sharona tried to enlist the help of his sister. It was then that Elliot's sister confessed that Elliot had been diagnosed as amanic-depressive six years earlier. He went through tended periods in which he refused to take the medication that could control his condition and gave up therapy when he came to Israel to learn in a yeshiva. Sharona also learned that Elliot had never been able to finish college because of his illness. His parents hid condition from Elliot's mashgiach as well as Sharona because they believed marriage was the s net Elliot needed to force him to take his medication, and resume therapy. By now, Sharona was several months' pregnant, and, since the couple loved other, they pledged to work together to monitor El medication and see that he resumed therapy

Unfortunately, Elliot's cooperation was short lived; again he refused to take his medication When the couple's daughter was born, Elliot tried to support his family but lost every job within a matter of weeks because he would begin behaving erratically. He would occasionally experience manic periods in which he 'an up large debts on items the family really didn't need. After years of emotional anguish, Sharona finally divorced Eliott, without hopes of receiving any financial support for herself or their child. Sharona learned a hard lesson which could have been avoided had she known to check the background of her suitor.

It is sad to say that there are some individuals who, because of the severity of their condition, are not suitable candidates for marriage. There are other individuals who require a commitment to intensive psychological or psychiatric treatment before they can build a successful, loving relationship and future home for their children. Again, we caution that only a mental-health professional is in a position to provide information about the severity of the condition which may affect someone and his or her prognosis. A rav who is knowledgeable about mental-health issues should be consulted about the suitability of such a shidduch only after this information is obtained. Family members, and the ill person himself, are never in a position to make any determinations in this regard.

The fact that an individual participates or has participated in therapy is, in itself, not an indication of a mental or emotional illness. Unfortunately, there is a tendency in the religious community, which is, baruch Hashem, changing, to stigmatize people who have been in mental-health counseling or therapy. Far from being a negative trait, participation in therapy or counseling shows the individual's capacity to understand that he or she has a problem that must be addressed, to approach it systematically, and to change and grow. These are traits that can contribute to the success of a marriage. In addition, there are times when a person contemplating marriage would greatly benefit from therapy or counseling to help him or her establish priorities, improve self-esteem, or learn now to evaluate who is a suitable partner. (Chapter 8 discusses how to determine those situations in which an individual would benefit from therapy or counseling.)

There is only one circumstance in which someon, a prior addiction to or very heavy use of alcohol or drugs can be considered as a prospective marriage partner. That individual must be active in and committed to remain in a twelve-step rehabilitation program (such as alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs) for the rest' of her life. Otherwise, the risk is too great that he or she will resume drug or alcohol use during times of stress or cause, in some instances, an addict's urges cannot be  controlled. No matter how strong a prospective suitor feel his or her resistance to be, overcoming addiction is a life-long struggle. Even a ba'al teshuvah who firmly believes that he left his drug addiction behind when he became observant must participate in a twelve-step program. Sadly, have seen numerous instances where an observant and sincere person, whether a ba'al or ba'alas teshuvah or "in from birth," has resumed the addictive behavior he or she thought could be controlled.

Needless to say, any person who is addicted to alcohol or drugs and does not participate in a twelve-step program must be avoided at all costs. Similarly, we advise against involvement with anyone who shows signs of significant alcohol consumption or who presently uses drugs. Such person may either be hiding a drug or alcohol addiction may be a potential addict. Moreover, because of the addictive nature of drugs, a casual drug user may be at risk for increasing his or her drug use in the future.

 

Controlling or Abusive Personalities

One negative character trait which is not easily discovered, particularly in cases where a suitor has not been married or has not previously been involved in a serious relationship, is a tendency toward spousal abuse, be it physical, emotional, or a combination of the two. It is somewhat easier to learn from a third party whether a prior marriage or engagement ended because of physical or emotional abuse. However, even when there is no history of abuse, people with abusive personalities share certain behaviors that can be warning signs of future trouble. These behaviors may not become apparent until the couple has dated for a while. (On rare occasions, these may not be apparent until the parties have married.) Other times, they may have been evident to people acquainted with the individual who has exhibited such behavior in the past.

Abusive or controlling behavior can be exhibited by both men and women. However, this type of personality is predominately found among men. For this reason, we have focused our discussion of this topic on patterns of abusive conduct which are commonly engaged in by controlling or abusive men.

Many times, a person who physically or emotionally abuses his spouse does so out of a need to control and in reaction to the feeling that he or she is unable to control another person or a given situation. For example, during the courtship a man who has a need to control may be very possessive about his date and may display extreme jealousy toward her friends (both male and female) and family. He may try to persuade her to break off certain friendships or familial relationships, claiming that he doesn't fell comfortable with her friends or family. In addition, he may, insist on having exclusive control of the couple's finances, their time together, or their activities, even those that take place when the two are apart from each other.

Other indications of a controlling personality include a man who refuses to give his future spouse information about his own finances, or who refuses to allow his future spouse to make joint decisions affecting the place where they live or the extent to which she will work after marriage, may denigrate his date's ability to make such decisions, or handle such information. He may be excessively cntid finding numerous flaws and expecting his date to change.

While controlling behavior does not always lead to domestic violence, there are few women or men who want to be completely dominated by another person. Unfortunately, the pattern of controlling behavior sometimes begins gradually and builds, so that an individual may not realize how subservient she has become until the relationship is serious.

There are a number of individuals who do not fit the description of a control freak, but who resort to physical orl verbal attacks simply because they have not learned any other way to respond to frustration Such people may have been raised in a home where verbal abuse or physical violence was the preferred response to disagreements or the method to release pent-up anger. Either the control freak or the frustrated individual may, in response to a situation which he feels either frustration or a loss of control, explode in anger over what may seem to others to be a trivial matter.

Initially, he may stop short of actually hitting or pushing, but may leave his date with a nagging fear that the smallest additional provocation might have sent him over the edge. Unfortunately, a future incident may have precisely this effect, resulting in a hit, push, slap, or humiliating onslaught of insults.

Few victims of domestic abuse experience such unpleasant incidents at the beginning of a dating relationship. Clearly, a woman would end the evening, or the relationship, if such an incident occurred when she was first getting to know someone. In most cases, the abuser does not begin to assert controlling and/or abusive behavior until both of the parties are emotionally involved with each other. He now has someone to whom he feels close and who feels close to him. A control freak feels he must take command of the relationship The man who cannot channel his frustration may feel that he is permitted to behave in such a manner with someone to whom ho feels an emotional connection.

Most men with abusive personalities do not project themselves as monsters. Many times, they are quite charming to their dates, as well as to others. After their outbursts, many of them are genuinely sorry and pledge to themselves as well as to their dates that they will not do it again. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, unless the individual becomes involved in therapy at an early stage, the behavior will repeat itself and escalate. In most cases, the abuse usually escalates from milder versions of the behaviors noted above, which are often exhibited during courtship, to more extreme behaviors after the controlling person realizes he is in a committed relationship. Physical abuse may start off as a shove or a slap, sometimes accompanied by a "was only joking." Unfortunately, over the course of time this behavior can escalate to extreme verbal abuse and dehumanization, and more severe physical mistreatment. A woman who experiences such an outburst from someone to whom she feels affection may tell herself that outburst is all her fault, that she must have provoked his behavior. Her suitor may tell her this as well. She may be afraid to voice her opinion or comment on something she disagrees with because she fears her suitor's reaction. Often the couple will experience a cyclical pattern. The woman becomes disgusted with the way she is being treated, and expresses a desire to leave the relationship or cool it down. Her date becomes very charming for a while, and she tells herself that she only imagined his earlier behavior. The cycle will begin again once the relationship becomes entrenched.

Most people who become victims of spousal abuse do not experience actual physical abuse, or psychological abuse, until after marriage. Few people realize that the warning signs noted above are in indications of a date's predisposition to potentially violent or emotionally abusive behavior. If you experience a number of the warning signs with your date, you must reevaluate your commitment to the relationship. If you wish to continue your involvement with this person, we strongly advise the the two of you pursue a course of counseling. Counseling can succeed in enabling an individual, and a couple, to recognize potentially abusive behavior and modify it before it escalates into a pattern that makes one or both of the partners miserable and is much more difficult to control. If you see these warning signs, and your dating partner is not willing to engage in a course of counseling, we recommend that you terminate your relationship no matter how much potential for marriage you believe it has.

Additional Areas of Concern

There are a number of other factors which must be disclosed to a potential shidduch. None of these factors necessarily taint anyone, nor are they an indication that an individual is an unsuitable candidate for marriage. Furthermore, many of these factors can be adequately addressed by the couple if their relationship becomes serious. However, under all circumstances, this information must be disclosed either before or during the dating process, so that both partners can address them when determining the couple's suitability for marriage. These factors include a prior criminal record, a prior marriage whether with or without children, children who may have been born out of wedlock, a financial commitment to assist in the support of parents or other family members, preexisting child support or alimony obligations, pending lawsuits, significant personal debt, or bankruptcy.

Beginning chapters of Talking Tachlis - A Singles' Strategy for Marriage

by Rosie Einhorn and Sherry S. Zimmerman

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