22 Av 5781 / Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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A Dead End    

A Dead End

Perpetual dating leads nowhere. You’re caught up in a cycle of meet/infatuation/I think I’m in love/move in together/reality hits/break up. Then start all over again…


Let me tell you the story of Debbie Dater. Debbie was a beautiful, successful young woman living in trendy South Beach. She had a fabulous job at the hottest marketing firm in town.  Weekday evenings were spent having Mojitos at the hippest bars and restaurants. Weekends were spent lounging on the beach and dining in the fanciest restaurants. She had a luxurious apartment right on the ocean. She had tons of friends, the trendiest wardrobe, and every physical blessing and convenience one could imagine. But, there was one thing she didn’t have.
A husband.
“Okay, stop right there,” you’re telling me. (Especially the ladies.) Why does she need a man to make her life complete?? She is obviously an independent, successful woman- what does she need a husband for? So she can do his laundry? Make him dinner and slave over his every need? Who needs it?
So instead, Debbie opts for the single high life, changing boyfriends almost as quickly as she changes her nail polish. She’s a real modern woman, an icon that we women should look up to. Right?
If anyone out there insists that living single is great, you’re lying to yourselves. I know; I used to be single too. I went through my fair share of dates and boyfriends, and you know where I ended up? In Emptyville. Be honest with yourselves- perpetual dating leads nowhere. You’re caught up in a cycle of meet/infatuation/I think I’m in love/move in together/reality hits/break up. Then start all over again. How exhausting! How do I know you’re lying if you insist you don’t need a spouse? Let me ask you a simple question- why are you dating??
No one dates for no reason, unless of course you’re an 18 year old boy. Even then the reasons are questionable at best. No, we all date because we’re looking for our other half. Even those who insist they don’t need to get married still want to find their soulmate. So why are most people either not married or in unfulfilling relationships, or divorced? If people are looking for love, then why are so many not finding it?
I recently had a conversation with someone very dear to me. He informed me that a religious person we knew was getting married soon. I was surprised to hear, as I had spoken to that person not long ago.  My informant joked, “Well, he only met her 3 days ago!” Instead of laughing along, which is what I would have done several years ago, I pointed something out that made him think. “The religious way of shidduch, or matchmaking, is not as backwards as we think,” I explained.
Let me explain further. When two people are set up to meet, many factors have already been addressed and resolved. These people have the same lifestyle. They have the same belief system. They have similar ideas regarding having children and working. They have general expectations of each other in the role of marriage that each person is willing to fulfill. Are these not issues that can take couples years to figure out? Sometimes these issues aren’t even addressed until after marriage, and then the real trouble starts. “What do you mean you don’t want kids?!” an angry new wife might yell at her husband. And if a couple has different ideas regarding religious observance, they are fighting an uphill battle to stay together. Do you disagree? Really? Okay, think of a couple you know with two different religions that has children. What if suddenly one decides he wants to raise the kids a certain way? And suddenly the other one is surprised that the spouse has become so adamant about Sunday school. Is this not a potentially explosive situation?
I don’t even have to go that far, really. What if a couple meets and “falls in love”, but their “love” is really their physical attraction for each other? After that honeymoon period is over, what’s left? Only the reality that these two people are completely incompatible. By the way, it has been shown that people meeting in night clubs are almost certain to make poor choices regarding potential mates, based on the combination of the lighting, the music, and of course, the binge drinking. This is not a formula for a 50-year relationship.
But who thinks like that these days? Back to my religious couple- now that they have their general life issues resolved, they can meet and decide for themselves if they are compatible or not. Of course they must find each other physically appealing. No one wants to wake up sorry that they opened their eyes every morning, G-d forbid! So what’s the necessity in having a long, drawn out courtship? There is none. This is why shidduchim are quick. In other words, they’ve already been through the red tape.
Oh, and one more thing- you may wonder how two people can agree to get married if they’re not in love. Well, according to many wise people, love is something that must be nurtured for many years in order to blossom. It comes with years of hard work and sacrifice. A big misconception in our modern society is that we expect love to come to us without effort. Why in the world do we think this way? We’re not living a Hollywood love saga. This is reality! You want love, you have to work for it- just like everything else worth having in life.
How can we apply this to our “modern” world? To be honest, I don’t think it’s easy. It consists of an overhaul in our value system and expectations of each other. First of all, a spiritual path is vital to a successful relationship. When tension arises within a couple, they must have something and someone that can help them see beyond their current challenges and enable them to work through it. Otherwise, it’s Breakup City. Not only must they have a spiritual path, they must have the same spiritual path. It does them no good if one is Buddhist and the other is an Orthodox Jew. They will never see eye to eye on important issues.
Second, we must change our expectations of a potential mate. Looks are important, but they should not be the main factor. The same goes for career. Rabbi Brody always advises young women, “Go for the good heart.” Forget about the Harvard Law Degree. This will not ensure your husband will be good to you. If anything, he might have an ego so big, that eventually he may feel you’re not good enough for him! (Sorry, Harvard people. Just using it as an example!) As long as your potential mate is responsible, hard-working, and dedicated to supporting his future family, this should be enough. Let go of the sky-high expectations that he must be a millionaire-in-the-making. Do you want to be happy, or rich?
Third, DON’T MOVE IN TOGETHER! Ladies, you’re almost guaranteeing the guy you’re with will never marry you. The truth hurts, I know. Don’t cheapen yourselves. People want what they can’t have- especially men. Read between the lines. If your potential mate is serious about your future together, there’s no reason he can give you that will make you wait two, three, or five years. Move on if that’s the case.
And there you have it- unsolicited advice from the Iraqi Love Doctor, Racheli Reckles. If you want further, deeper advice from a person who genuinely knows a lot about marriage, read Rav Shalom Arush’s “The Garden of Peace” (for men) and “Women’s Wisdom” (for women).

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