In Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Shidduchim, Rabbi Naftali Weinberger relates that Rav Chaim zt”l said, and I quote, “There is no way to know for sure that this is one’s intended shidduch other than to marry the person.” Furthermore, Rav Chaim said, “Though a Heavenly voice decrees whom one will marry, it is possible for a person to lose his Heavenly intended shidduch by being overly selective.”
In your experience, do you find that people are too selective when it comes to shidduchim, and what eitzah is there to get those people to be more open-minded?
In short, from what I have observed over the years, yes, there are large numbers of individuals who appear to make their journey in shidduchim harder and more protracted than it needs to be, and among the handful of commonly found self-destructive behaviors, being intransigent and/or overly demanding is rather high up there on the chart. Fortunately, however, it is no insuperable hurdle, and with patience and earnest work, it can be overcome.
To elaborate a bit, many years ago, I heard a wonderfully wise and insightful dating coach offer the following succinct piece of advice to a room full of daters; “Make a list of the top 10 things you are looking for in a spouse, and then cross out eight of them.” And while it may perhaps sound trite, or akin to a throwaway line that was designed purely for the sake of comedic relief in an otherwise lengthy presentation, I would strongly posit that there is a great deal to draw from this simple sentence of instruction.
First, the notion of ever securing all that one desires to acquire in a mate is falsehood, and thus, it is an effort in futility. We are not perfect people, our spouse will not be a perfect person, and our marriage will not perfect. It is neither possible, nor is it in keeping with Yiddishe values. Indeed, in the very book which has initiated our question du jour, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”lis quoted as saying, that one should not be too clever for their own good, seeking out ways to determine that they have found the “perfect match.” If we were perfect and our marriages were perfect, both from day one, our lives would be horribly stagnant, and opportunities for growth and maturation would be scant and unappealing. On the contrary, one must identify the aptly imperfect person who properly complements and completes their own imperfections. And when that achievement is made, together, as husband and wife, they will be able to elevate one another, aiding each other in the enhancement of their respective middos in need of restoration and repair, and, as they become better and more refined people, elevate their home to higher levels of avodas Hashem.
Second, for many of us, the concept of “compromise” is conceived as crude and untoward. The mere thought of conceding an inch has become malodorous and offensive, as if it implies that one is being unfairly judged as unworthy of receiving the infinitely vast beneficence which they expect out of life. In large measure, I would assert that this attitude stems from our surrounding Western culture of utter entitlement and fierce competition – poor attributes which have seeped and steeped into frum society, and which have become so firmly entrenched that they are now often mistakenly interpreted as Jewish tenets – leaving us to profoundly believe that we must have everything we want, and to deeply yearn to have and to be “the best” among our peers (whatever that means). Furthermore, I imagine that there is also a notable degree of underlying fear, resulting in our feeling apprehensive about setting certain objectives aside, especially those which strike us important. Consequently, many worry that their future matrimony will be a failure or a sham, chas v’shalom, if they are not wholly compatible and in-sync with their betrothed.
Accordingly, while the backdrop of the issue may be readily comprehensible, what we are charged with reminding ourselves is that: a) perfection is not a Jewish goal; we strive, instead, for constant improvement, b) no one gets everything they crave out of life and matrimony, and nor would it be gainful if one did, c) we are not actually in competition with anyone, and as such, we need only to pursue that which will allow each one of us to succeed in being the most eminent version of ourselves, and d) while a lifetime commitment can undeniably be a scary thing, it is fundamental that marriage entails happy, hard work, and regardless of how optimal a proposed idea seems on paper or at the outset, it is only a matter of time before the divergences appear and inevitably require meaningful exertion and attention if the relationship is to truly thrive.
In a word, then, I would suggest that each person be as leicht as they can be, and endeavor not to be excessively serious or exceedingly obstinate. For some, this is accomplishable internally and on their own. For others, though, if they just cannot shake their rigid and unyielding nature, it is imperative that they find a skilled and expert dating coach or mentor who can help them address their struggles and find their way to a more equable, easygoing, and flexible outlook and approach.
May the Yodeia Pesher Dovor grant us all a surfeit of confidence and esteem, so that we may recognize when and where we can safely relent, and may our novel openness to venture into the unknown be rewarded with shalom, shalva, and nachas.