Meeting Your Mate
By A. Reader
The other night my wife's cousin came to visit us. She was much older than she was when we first married and I had first met her. I never get to know her well since she ran off with her boyfriend shortly after our marriage. She lived with him but it did not last long; they split, and then other fellows and we lost track. We had not seen each other for tens of years and suddenly she came to visit Israel and called us.
Her eyes had bags under them and the make up did not hide the wrinkles in her face. She was more mature, I thought, but I realized later that age and maturity are two separate traits. She looked like a tired lady, one who had slept with too many men, gone to too many bars, been disappointed too much and now looked generally burnt out. She had a grown daughter now who lived at her house with her boyfriend; she explained what a nice fellow he was.
At the time of her visit, my daughter had just become engaged to a nice yeshiva bocher. I should explain that my wife and I were observant and moved to Israel so that I could study in a Yeshiva and to raise our family in a purer environment than our original place of residence could offer.
So here was our cousin gloating over her daughter's most recent boyfriend and telling us about the others just as my daughter came in the door. My daughter was radiant; finding one's mate even in the religious world is not always easy. She said hello and joined in meeting her long lost cousin.
Our cousin was interested on the religious method of mating. To my cousin, getting picked up at a bar was a way of meeting men. She wondered how do religious men and women meet each other? She hadn't a clue.
My daughter lives in a closed world; a world of innocence from sexual deviation and excess. She went to the local religious girls schools and graduated with honors. She does not know from the loose and immoral life styles that are so acceptable in today's Western cultures.
"So tell me," my cousin asked my daughter, "how did you and your new groom come to meet?"
My daughter, totally innocent and naïve, replied simply and straight forwardly, "We go to a hotel to meet. That is the best way to see if the boy is for you."
"Really?" my cousin's eyebrows raised quite a distance.
"Yes," my daughter continued in innocent bliss, "we met there several times before we decided that we were a good match!"
"Well, I suppose that going to a hotel several times is a good way to know if you are compatible."
My wife and I explained that they met in the hotel lobby; they did not go upstairs to the rooms. I could see her eyebrows drop a bit when she realized they did not strive for intimate compatibility at the hotel.
I could see that she understood things differently. Her life was a shambles, for her my life was too strict. Fortunately, she had the sense not to debate the case. How many lovers had she? How many 'boy-friends' had come and gone? How many one night encounters that ended up zero came her way? If I could read the sadness on her face, if I could add up the dead end life style that brought her to old age with out a partner to share her life.
How could she not understand? How free sex adds up to zero? What had she to show for her life style that brought her no true personal intimacy, but in its place substituted instant sexual pleasures and took away a wholesome family life? Her daughter, too, followed her mother into sexual freedom. It is one boyfriend after the next, none bringing her closer to having a real bond. A relationship based on pleasure never lasts; eventually there are problems and with out a marriage bond, without a desire to grow together, with no commitment to be one, to create a family, a relationship breaks up.
I don't blame her; she never really had a chance at life any more than her daughter. Her mother was a liberated woman who did not care much what her daughter did. She believed in 'living' for the moment and what will come, will come. When she left home to live with her first live-in boyfriend, her mother did not exhibit any concern or pain. I now believe that she enjoyed the concept of her daughter living out on her own, of being modern, of breaking the bond of traditional Jewish life. Her mother was a somewhat radical person.
Her mother had much pain towards the end of her life, and now what I saw in our cousin's eyes reflect the sadness of not having a solid partner to share her life with. She will probably never admit it, but her face betrays those thoughts that she never shared her life and intimacy with one man. Each man who came into her life was a hope, each man who left her life took a portion of her happiness from her until now, she realizes that the next man she meets will only be around for a short while, maybe one night and perhaps a year, but she knows that he will find some one else and then pack up and out. Had her mother given her some criterion for finding a man, perhaps her life would have been lighter, happier, instead of a hope's up and then hope's crushed type of life.
I would like to give several criterions for selecting a mate and for eliminating the duds from your life.
Nothing that I state here will be is one hundred percent perfect, but if you read the next few lines and take them to heart, you may avoid several bitter disappointments. Although I am observant and I realize that the non religious world has life style criterion different than mine, never the less, the following can help you in avoiding mistakes.
(I have written the following in the masculine form, but it applies to the feminine as well)
Guides for meeting:
Check up on the prospective date before meeting. Make phone calls to his friends, employers and neighbors. You may feel that this is sleuthing, but you may find out what the person is really like and it may not be what you want. You can not change a person, so better avoid it at an early stage.
Evaluate him by his friends what are they like. Look for steady serious people; stay away from good timers who like to have fun, fun, fun. Marriage is serious, and there is plenty of time to enjoy life together.
Make certain that he does not have any mental, emotional or physical problems. Don't start up with some one who hides his problems they will come out and at the worst time. Ask his friends, neighbors and employers about this.
Ascertain that the person has a good kind nature. Is he a spendthrift or extremely frugal, avoid extremes, they do not point to a balanced personality. Is he giving? Is he honest? Is he reliable? If the answer to any of these three is 'no' look somewhere else.
What is his cultural and family background like? The more close to yours, the easier is communicating and relating. This is not a hundred percent, but a very good general rule. If his sisters or brothers are like you, then it is a good sign that the relationship will start out easily. Are his parents divorced? If so, he may be carrying some hidden bundles, but realize that not every marriage is ideal, and that some children from non divorced parents are screwed up too.
Do the person's long term goals match yours? Where do you envision yourself in twenty years; where does he envision himself? If they are close, it is a good sign.
What are his views on traditions? Do they match yours? If not, this could be a point of conflict later down the road.
Avoid sex; it corrupts the ability to make an honest value judgment on this fellow. I recommending avoiding touching too. Sex come with marriage and most people share it with their mate. Avoid the pitfall of getting emotionally involved before your mind can make a clear logical decision.
I would like to conclude by saying that at one time the observant home was home that was solid. I would like to say that, but today things have changed. There are many divorces in the religious world, no where near as many in the non religious, but yet there are still values that can be taken from it and applied to all life styles.
Living a life together is very rewarding. There are always going to be difficulties and problems, but if there is a basic foundation between the husband and wife difficulties can be overcome. I want to wish all who have read this article, and also to my cousin, the greatest happiness possible, the happiness in meeting and marrying your true mate.
from the May 2009 Edition of the Jewish Magazine