Look up and find your spouse

Monday, 11 August, 2014 - 3:08 am

In honor of the 15th of Av I would like to share two steps, leveraging Chabad’s special secret, to help find a spouse.

Step one: Do this test.

Take some time and do it honestly. Ask yourself the questions in the most realistic way. The questions below are a sample only; each person would need to adjust the scenarios with challenges that fit their specific character.

1)      You skimped for a few weeks to comfortably afford to treat yourself to a restaurant that everyone is talking about. You used the one afternoon off to get to the city and you feel great ordering an entrée that costs the same as your entire weekly student food budget (along with an appetizer, dessert and a glass of wine. As the meal is being served at the perfect temperature, you get a text message and promptly leave the restaurant leaving behind the savory food, and the one day off you had. What was in the text?

a.       Did your friend offer you home plate tickets to a game?

b.      …to a Broadway show?

c.       …to an exclusive art exhibit?

Whatever it is that would get you to leave something that you wanted so much is clearly more important to you. Playing around with different possible scenarios you can find a bit about your real priorities. Let’s keep the scenario as restaurant and answer that you left to see a game.

2)      You are now sitting at the game. Home plate tickets, Res Sox vs. Yankees. Score 7-7 9th inning, Dereck Jeter is at bat. You get a text and leave the game before the pitch. What was in the text?

a.       Is a family member visiting briefly on a short stopover?

b.      Is there an opportunity to meet the director of a program that you are hoping to apply to?

c.       Is there a lecture by a world renowned professor?

Think about it. Some people would leave a job opportunity to meet a family member in the airport and some would leave a family dinner for a job opportunity (please do not answer what you think is correct, answer what is true about yourself, what you deeply respect and what you would do and feel). Let’s assume you went to meet the director of a very competitive program.


3)      You got your dream job. The office is throwing you a welcome party and you get up to warmly accept the position and thank the team – and you get a text. You tell the gathered: “I’m sorry, I’ve worked my whole life for this and you are the best there is, but I will not be taking this job in the end.” Why?

a.       Perhaps a child was diagnosed with asthma and you will need to move with your family to another state?

b.      Did you discover a moral challenge to fulfilling the dream position?

c.       Is a family member not well and needs you by their side?

This test can have as many steps as you would like to pursue and as you ask the questions you get a better idea of who you are. In the oft quoted Mishnah in Taanis discussing the 15th of Av the first instruction given to the suitors is “sa noh einechah, lift up your eyes”. Don’t look at what you see, look inside, look higher.  Sadly many people these days meet based on the very lowest steps; an appreciation for the same team, restaurant or song. All the while each party would leave the game, meal or concert for a priority not shared with the person now set to build a life together.

Marriages are not made or broken by the stanzas of even the most romantic tunes. The bonds that build a family are tied by shared sacrifice, deeply respected by each other. If you will be out for nights to develop a career, your partner will be sacrificing as well – be sure that it is with you, not for you.

To truly complete this test, try to answer to ultimate question: what would you die for? Or rather, what would you live a completely foreign life for? To share this, what life really means to you, with a spouse is the essence of a marriage. [“Love” is not an acceptable answer. Love is what you have with the one you share the answer with].

This is Chabad’s secret. Revere the soul and spurn the mundane. Reach deeper. Discover the inner, the essence, the soul.

Step two:

Take a piece of paper (back of an envelope is fine :) and write down three names. Take your time with this as well. Start with three, not more. Each person is a friend or close acquaintance that knows you well. They probably would have answered all of the above questions about you more quickly than you did. Perhaps not perfectly, you can help then with that, the next criterion is much more important:

Each one is someone that you trust will be answering you, not saying what they want to say. You are calling them to ask a favor and you must be sure they will be thinking of your happiness and your future, not their success or wittiness. Before thinking that you don’t know anyone like this, remember this is not a test and no one needs to know who it is you are calling. This is between you and them and the answer may not be intuitive.

Remember Voltaire’s lesson: the perfect is the enemy of the good. No one will know you perfectly and no one will answer you truly honestly. Many will not return your call precisely when expected and some may be older or younger than you would like to admit. Write down three names.

Now call each one, take a deep breath and tell them: Hi x, we know each other for a long time and I’m not sure if you are updated on exactly where I am right now, but at the present I am not seeing anyone. I’m calling to tell you that I think that you know me pretty well but most of all that I really trust your opinion. I don’t mean to impose but rather just to let you know where I’m holding and that if you think of someone that you think would be the right person for me, I would take that very seriously.

Now, make a day of the week, say Wednesday, and each Wednesday call one of the three to briefly chat. This way the people that you feel would be likely, if they find a prospect, to get it right, will have you in their consciousness. Slowly you can add more people to the roster, but keep the same criteria in mind.

This is another secret of Chabad: We are our own worst judge. A quite person often feels they are extroverted and a person who is loud may criticize others, using their own assumed quietness as an example.  We must constantly ask others, even equals, for guidance, critique and advice.

This is especially so with a question as emotionally charged as choosing a spouse: We would never ask a Bubbe if her Bubbaleh was safe at base or out, so why would we trust ourselves – closer related to ourselves than our bubbe – for such a vital judgment? Yes, only we can judge our chemistry – but the character match is a much more technical judgment and one that must be made before any chemistry is at play.

I really hope that these thoughts help out and I would truly appreciate any follow up or feedback – and hopefully a mazal tov!

While working on this on a personal scale, let us also pray for the ultimate wedding – When G-d and us, G-d’s people will be fully united, in our homeland, eternally.


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