Monday, January 17, 2011

How To Determine Whom To Marry

Heshy and I were discussing different ideas and philosophies last night and I mentioned that I felt very lucky that he found me. After all, he's the one who found me, who wrote to me and the one who courted me (at the beginning I couldn't get past the fact that he was a Hasid). It occurred to me that a problem that I found in my own personal life may be a problem that other young women have as well.

It's like so: I'm not naturally attracted to people who are good for me.

This directly stems from my personality. People with certain personalities are more prone to have certain good qualities and similarly, certain bad tendencies. As I've often mentioned, I'm an Enneagram Type 4. While this assures me certain special qualities that help me in many ways, such as my creativity, it also means that a major part of my life stems from how I feel. What this means is that I like to exist at very high or very low points because either of these means that I am at the height of my ability to feel and I feel most alive when I am emotionally invested. Obviously, I am attracted to feeling alive.

The problem is that invariably the people who make me feel the most alive are also those who switch from high points to low points quickly- people who are similar to me. There's lots of fireworks, excitement, passion and drama but little stability. Two people of my temperament in a marriage would doubtless lead to a rather explosive relationship with the good times being wonderful and the bad times reflecting nightmares. Yet even though I may have known this somewhere in the back of my mind, that doesn't mean I would have acted on the knowledge.

At some point during our friendship, Heshy lent me the book 'Awareness' by Miriam Adahan which focuses on the Enneagram through the prism of Orthodox Judaism. There was an interesting part there regarding my personality type:
    AVOID ROMANTIC RESCUE FANTASIES: All normal people want to love and be loved. But you have an especially intense hunger for love. You dream of the Grand Love- the person who can match the intensity of your passion and understand the depth of your poetic soul! However, if you look for excitement, you are likely to be drawn to someone who is volatile or abusive.

    It is better to seek an "average" marriage with someone who is stable and caring. Your challenge is not to chafe at your partner's lack of inspiration and profundity, not to see him or her as mediocre and boring, not to complain that, "She says the stupidest things"; "He can't possibly understand me"; "It's so unromantic to talk about mundane matters."

    After marriage, it is important not to blame your spouse when you are depressed. Your bad mood conveys the message to your spouse, "You've failed to make me happy! You've let me down." This attitude isolates you. Unless your spouse is truly abusive, withdraw until this mood passes. Afterwards, show constant appreciation to him/ her for the good traits which s/he does have.
I wouldn't say that Heshy is average, but he certainly is stable and caring. He's very different from me in many ways that are good and healthy for me. He's far more practical than I am, much more focused on goals and results. While I generally do things when the mood strikes me, he urges me to do them by certain deadlines instead. While I would push off making appointments for the doctor or dentist, my strategy being that everything will just resolve itself magically, Heshy takes these things seriously.

I was thinking that the yeshivish dating system lends itself to creating a trap for young women like me. If they must determine within two or three dates whether to proceed onward and they're not naturally attracted to the man because their personality craves fireworks, excitement and volatile explosions, they'll dismiss him. And that cycle could potentially continue for a long while. It's difficult to realize that what one naturally craves and the person who actually can be your helpmate and lover may be two different things.

I don't think that people should make wholly intellectual decisions regarding whom to marry, just "bite the bullet" as it were without there being any love or affection between them. I do think the key to determining whom to marry lies in self-knowledge. Knowing oneself, one's flaws, weaknesses, strengths, talents and that which you are naturally drawn to, may allow you to question certain assumptions you may have. If you know you have a predilection or preference for certain people who may not actually be ideal for you, it's something you can keep in mind when you date lest you dismiss the person too hastily. Maybe in your case friendship before marriage is an absolute necessity.

Let me also add a caveat. I don't think that people who are single at certain ages are single because they are too particular, picky or are otherwise flawed. I think that approach is largely condescending and unhelpful. Rather, embarking on a journey to know and find out who you are and your natural inclinations may make you aware of issues that you need to focus on carefully, both in your own life and during the dating process, which can only be to the good.

11 comments:

chaya said...

perfect post for me! thanks for sharing! seriously!

hope to hear good news

Ezzie said...

Heshy might kill me for this... :) (just kidding)

Great points at the end; I'd merely note that Enneagrams, while interesting and potentially useful (and in fact I would use something similar in hiring people for jobs), should not have too much stock placed in them on *long-term* portions of life (or Myers-Briggs), for one primary reason: They change.

People naturally grow and adapt as life continues - if I'd have taken one earlier in life I'd probably have been a 2, then a 5, then a 1, then a 9 (?). It's easy to (and I've seen people) get caught up in what type they believe they are, and what they need, and oftentimes they were wrong all along or more often, they've changed from what they began as. It's important to be honest with yourself at all times and like you said to recognize that what you enjoy may not match what makes someone the best spouse for you.

yitznewton said...

It is better to seek an "average" marriage with someone who is stable and caring. Your challenge is not to chafe at your partner's lack of inspiration and profundity, not to see him or her as mediocre and boring, not to complain that, "She says the stupidest things"; "He can't possibly understand me"; "It's so unromantic to talk about mundane matters."

That's the angle on my own marriage that I know intellectually but also have a hard time coming to terms with. Nice post - thank you for articulating this.

Malka said...

All normal people want to love and be loved. But you have an especially intense hunger for love. You dream of the Grand Love- the person who can match the intensity of your passion and understand the depth of your poetic soul! However, if you look for excitement, you are likely to be drawn to someone who is volatile or abusive.

It is better to seek an "average" marriage with someone who is stable and caring. Your challenge is not to chafe at your partner's lack of inspiration and profundity, not to see him or her as mediocre and boring, not to complain that, "She says the stupidest things"; "He can't possibly understand me"; "It's so unromantic to talk about mundane matters."


I wouldn't say that Heshy is average, but he certainly is stable and caring.

That's very interesting, especially since vis-a-vis you, I always picture Heshy as renting out a ballroom and presenting his princess with red roses: creating your ultimate fairytale, filled with romance and goodness.

Chana said...

Malka,

And that's true and Heshy IS super-romantic. But romance is a form of tenderness and what speaks to me (what I am naturally attracted to) is fireworks, extremes, a kind of wildness. It's a little different.

gelt said...

adahan's book is phenomenal. highly recommended.

Malka said...

Makes sense! (But it boggles my mind, a little, too, because renting out a room in the NYPL is mad wild in my book. Yoish, my ex-roommate really is human fireworks!)

badforshidduchim said...

Ezzie - how long have you been 9(?)? Because I pegged you as nine on first sight.

...it's a nice theory, but how is one to know what type of person balances them?

Irina Tsukerman said...

Bad4: You figure it out once you meet enough people and see what works and what doesn't in terms of different types of relationships (I don't mean just dating, but friendships, business/work relations, family, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Ezzie,

Obviously self-knowledge is important before marriage. And I disagree with you, I think that the CORE of a person's personality stays the same (though they definitely might change and/or grow in many aspects/ways).

One issue I have with the Enneagram is that some people just don't fit a certain number. Starting to combine different numbers can get complicated and convoluted. Chana fits perfectly into FOUR. I don't see this ever changing, despite her multifaceted persona and life. As for the many people who change their numbers, I believe that either
a) They are a combination of a few numbers, so it depends on their mood or what part of their personality happens to be most dominant at that time. Or
b) They don't know themselves well enough.

I don't know if the above was clear, but I have to run. Ciao.

-Heshy

FeistyFrummy said...

Wow. This post spoke to me! Big time! I can't thank you enough,

Just one question. I'm living in the yeshivish world and your following words really apply to me: "friendship before marriage for some of you might be a necessity" So, in your opinion, how exactly would one go about forming such a relationship? In my world, it does not seem to exist...