How many people are still holding out for their "match-made-in-heaven"? Are you waiting for the proverbial "fireworks" or "swept off my feet" feeling? How about "the bells" or the "stars in your eyes" sensation that is the telltale sign of guaranteed marital bliss and happiness?

Would you consider that you've already met and rejected your "match-made-in-heaven" because you didn't recognize them? The Jewish tradition warns that we are capable of doing exactly this.

CASE IN POINT:
Joe is a wonderful guy with a lot of talent and drive. He works hard at developing his personal and business life. He has spent hours grappling with what he wants to achieve and how to get there. Having spent his 20s and early 30s executing the earlier stages of his life plan, he is now ready to settle down and marry. In spite of coming from a lower middle class family, Joe decides that he deserves better. Over the years, he has seen that he has what it takes to hobnob with the jet-setters. So, having worked hard to get to where he is today, he feels he's "paid his dues" and has earned something better. In other words, he wants to marry into money.
He meets a wonderful young woman at a party. They hit it off. They share many important things - values, life aspirations and marital expectations. And to top it off, they've got chemistry. But despite seven exciting and meaningful dates, Joe is still uneasy about the woman's financial standing. After more investigative dating, Joe discovers that she is not a woman of means, so he ends what seemed to be a promising relationship.

Imagine if at the critical moment of choice, God informs Joe: "She's for you, she's really your 'better half.'"

If you think you don't know yourself, you'll head towards a relationship for the "fake you."

What would Joe say? "But she doesn't have the money I'm looking for."

The Almighty would then press him. "Who said marrying into money is in your best self interest? The woman of your dreams is all wrong! You need exactly what I've sent you, no more, no less."

The problem is that Joe is shopping for a "made-in-heaven" match with inappropriate expectations. Unfortunately, many of us desperately cling to relationship aspirations that are not intrinsically good for us. They might be exciting, enticing and superficially desirable - but not healthy in the long run.

TAILORING THE PERFECT FIT

The key to finding and recognizing your "better half" is to have an accurate assessment about yourself. If you think you're someone other than you really are, you'll gravitate towards a relationship that fits the "fake you." If you can shelve your bias and search for your objective good, you'll see that a "perfect fit" may not be a fit at all! The man or woman of our dreams might seem right because of lust. Or perhaps we are drawn to a relationship that allows each partner to continue, unhindered in their bad habits. In the end, this is a relationship of convenience, not a relationship of love.

For most people the yardstick for the "made-in-heaven" component of their relationship is chemistry. How do we get along? Do we feel good together? Do we always have something to say to one another? If it's easy, and we're always in sync and conflict free, they must be the one! But, in truth, the standard should be categorically different.

Jewish tradition says that even if you hit the gold mine and date your bashert, expect to hit some snags. No matter who you date, there will always be some rocky spots in developing the relationship. "Match made in heaven" does not mean wrinkle-free. The perfect fit will never happen automatically and without effort, but rather with great investments of goodwill and energy.

Our primary concern should be: Is the relationship good for me? Does this relationship help me actualize, in its fullest expression, all the humanity that is imbedded within me? Ideally, it should empower me to transcend what I could never achieve on my own.

The best relationship operates in a heavenly way: soulful, thoughtful, wholesome, honest, other-centered, deep, meaningful, fun and nurturing. This type of living never comes easy, but it is the trademark of a couple who actually achieves a "match made in heaven."

WORK-OUT QUESTIONS

1. If you were to meet your "match made in heaven," how would you expect to feel at the end of the first date?

2. Ask three couples who are happily married: Did you experience "bells" or "fireworks" when you first dated, or was your affection something that grew over time?

3. Looking back over past relationships, do you think you have dated someone you could have married - but chose not to? If yes, was your course of action perhaps because you were expecting too much? Could the issues have been worked out over time?