Isaac & Finding the Perfect Partner: Dating Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Isaac & Finding the Perfect Partner

I’m 30 years old and finding that most of my friends who have gotten married are soon after divorced. I would like to get married but am afraid of marrying the wrong person. Any guidelines to suggest?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Abraham sends his servant Eliezer with instructions to find a wife for Isaac. Eliezer asks God's help to find the right person. He travels through the desert to a well, and he prays that when he asks for water, the woman God wants to be Isaac's wife will respond by offering water not only to him but to his camels as well. (Genesis 24:10-14)

When the prince falls in love with Sleeping Beauty, he doesn't know anything about her goals or character – she's sleeping. All she knows about him is that he's charming. And then, the fairy tale says, they lived happily ever after.

People raised on fairy tales tend to believe them. But Eliezer knew marriage had to rest on something deeper. He was looking for a woman with character and goals. Here's what you should look for:

Kindness: Being kind is very different from being nice. Nice is a synonym for polite and inoffensive. Nice people don't do gross things like insult your mother or spit on your tie. Nice is an important attribute for a waiter or doorman. But kindness is a far rarer and more important trait. Someone kind cares about your good and your pleasure, not only for his own. You can't make a successful marriage with someone who isn't kind.

Loyalty: Without loyalty, marriage is impossible. Blending two people's lives into one is a frustrating challenge, and if you enter marriage leaving yourself a way out, you'll take it. Think of the commitment of marriage as being like the commitment to your hand. It isn't absolute – if you had gangrene you might amputate your hand – but it's certainly not a commitment you'd reconsider just because "the fun had gone out of your relationship" with your hand, or because you'd met someone whose hands you liked better.

Goals: Find someone whose goals in life match your own. Buying a house or winning a job promotion isn't a life goal. A life goal is something you'd like written on your tombstone.

Without shared life goals, marriage is impossible – because you can't go through life with someone if you don't know where you're going. And the goal of life can't be to get married. Marriage expands who we are, and permits us to pursue our life goals more effectively; but when depressed and aimless single people get married, they become depressed and aimless married people.

In real life, Sleeping Beauty and the prince don't live happily ever after. Their marriage lasts about three years.

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