I met a very nice, sincere gentleman. From the time I was out with him, I could tell that he is a sincere, kind, thoughtful, growing person, who has his values straight and holds his own. He has a good job, a good learning situation, and friends, and I see that he is a person who, while not everything is always perfect, likes to look at everything with rose-colored glasses. I can see that as a positive trait, but I’m afraid that he might be a bit dull in personality. I know I might be jumping the gun, but I am a bit older than him and have been around. I am fun loving, a doer, and a bit more lively.
I can see that in reality, he will make a devoted husband and father, but shouldn’t I expect more? I will continue to go out and maybe even plan a date or two because maybe he is just a poor dater. I want so badly to get married at this point in my life, but I am afraid to settle. Please advise.
In reflecting upon the quandary that has been presented, I believe the first order of business is the proper framing of the inquiry. Namely, that it should be one of spousal compatibility and contentment, not one of settling, or expecting more. And although these are items which we have recently discussed, because the narrative of the question addresses these topics explicitly, it seems they bear review, even at the risk of repetition.
When it comes to shidduchim, settling does not mean mournfully acquiescing to wed someone who does not exquisitely personify a certain mailah held as desirable in a partner. Settling means marrying someone who lacks the essential qualities necessary for two unique individuals to complete and complement one another, so that they may have the opportunity to build a bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel together. Analogously, with respect to “expecting more,” one should not be expecting anything other than that which is needed to accomplish their tachlis hachaim.
Thus, when approaching the decision of whether or not to commit to marriage, what one must ask themselves, with complete and unfettered honesty, is, “If I marry this person, will I be happy, and will we be happy, living a life with one another? Do we have reasonably kindred ideologies and life goals? And will we be able to successfully build a family together?” If the answers to these questions are all a resounding yes, what more can one really ask for?
Just as is there no such thing as a perfect person, there is also no such thing as a perfect match. And congruently, the objective is not in discerning if there is some inveterate trait embodied by the person one is dating that is perhaps disappointing or trying – because there will always be at least one – but rather, the objective is in gauging how onerously one feels that feature will impact their impending relationship.
That is the reality we must all accept, and when one grasps that reality, the internal response should not be one of rueful concession, bemoaning having to “settle” for less despite anticipating being worthy of more. On the contrary, it should be one of understanding that we are but seeking to discover that which is best suited for our own singular needs, accompanied with the inevitable, inherent flaws and wrinkles which will need ironing out over a lifetime of the quotidian, happy, hard work that is marriage.
Such is the challenge HaKadosh Boruch Hu has placed before us, and expects of us to overcome. Marriage can be beatifically thrilling, triumphantly uplifting, and serenely gratifying, but it is certainly not meant to be easy.
Correspondingly, the assessment of any displeasing features noted in a potential spouse must be couched within the context of determining whether or not they will hinder the capacity of any two given people to be joyfully married, and effective in accomplishing their life and familial goals. Instead of a fear of “settling”, vis-à-vis missing out on theorized, yet prized attributes, one should be far more cautious of marrying someone with whom they cannot coexist, nor create and nurture a family.
With that in mind, I believe the more salient question becomes, how imperative is it to have a husband or wife who exemplifies any one particular mannerism?
Of course, someone who will be a good husband/wife and father/mother are of prime importance, but there are many men and women who will fit that bill. What must be ultimately ascertained, for each person, is whether or not they feel that the person they are dating will be a wonderful husband/wife for me, and an exemplary father/mother for our future children, that we will raise together, b’ezras Hashem.
Whether it is our career, our spouse, or the children we raise, we regularly create idealized pictures in our mind of what we hope to actualize. And though, at times, those visions prove accurate, its is equally common to conclude that what we had imagined as indispensable is, in fact, expendable – or even come to recognize that it is the polar opposite of what was envisioned which actually brings us the most fulfillment and elation.
As such, as far as practical advice, the best I feel I have to offer is to propose that you employ some genuine soul searching, and that the impulse to marry a dynamic man with great vitality be punctiliously considered. Conversations on the topic with parents, rabbonim, teachers, and trusted mentors will almost surely aid in confidently reaching a prudent determination – and I would strongly recommend retaining such counsel – but in the end, these are the kinds of the decisions we all must make on our own, based on what we earnestly feel our needs require of us.
Consequently, if an ebullient man with remarkable joie-de-vivre is deemed necessary for your nascent, functional married life, and its absence will disallow you the ability to maintain a rewarding marriage, cultivate a strong and healthy family, and fruitfully pursue lifelong ambitions, that must not be overlooked. And so, if after a few more dates this young man does not appear to satisfy that need, it may very well not be the right match. On the other hand, if after careful deliberation such an element is found to be regarded as nonessential, it may be time to acknowledge that such is the case, and that this deficiency will not likely obstruct an otherwise potentially beautiful marriage.
May the B’rah U’Schah, mah b’chashocha, grant us all the faculty to fully identify and appreciate that which we need to reify our aspirations – be them in marriage, in family, or life in general – and may the Melech Chaya, d’magein al am lihon mishacharin, bring you your zivug hagon b’karov, and protect you from any further distress as you proceed through shidduchim.