Intellectual Emotional Physical Attraction Religious/Spiritual
My wise friend told me that all four types of connection should be present when considering marriage, but if you were rating each of them on a scale of one to ten, each does not have to be a ten. In fact, they probably won’t be. But they all must be present in measures that are reasonable and relevant to you personally.
(It’s also nice if you connect culturally and can relate to each other’s lives before marriage.)
My Two Cents
A BreslovMatch participant and I were discussing this recently. Nobody she’s been meeting has been “too exciting” she said, and she asked me if she’s looking for the “right” things in a prospective husband.
So I gave her my personal opinion (though it is based on Torah, it is subjective.) It’s also based on my observations of happy and satisfying marriage relationships and sadly, some quite unhappy relationships, too. Still, there are a lot of other possible answers so take these suggestions only if you feel they have value for you.
Here are a few things I think are helpful to look for in a husband, in no particular order:
1. Exhibits an abundance of good middos, character traits. These include sincerity, faith and belief in Hashem, honesty, kindness, humility, respectful of others, sense of humor, joyful, and so on. Good character traits will probably not be present absolutely all of the time, but they should at least be present much of the time.
It may seem obvious, but if you’re husband and you each work on developing good character traits, you’ll treat each other well. At that same time, everyone’s a work in progress, and we can learn to be tolerant, forgiving, and look for the good points.
2. Has a connection to a rebbi/mashpia (mentor-teacher-guide). Having a mashpia, someone you go to for spiritual and practical guidance can be vital to a successful marriage.
The very act of seeking advice from someone indicates humility. Only a character that is not stubborn and more flexible will seek and take advice. The advice your husband and you get will have a huge impact on your home life, how you raise children, and many aspects of your relationship.
I wouldn’t say it’s a deal-breaker if this isn’t present, and everything else seems in place, as long as the person is davening for and actively looking for a rebbi. Sometimes people are in flux and finding one may be difficult. But I believe that wanting a rebbi/mashpia and davening for one is key.
Having a connection to the Tzaddik, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and his teachings is also important (and to me, vital.) Someone who learns Breslov is learning the deep Torah of connection, faith, and joy.
3. Is interested in committing to a mutually-agreed upon lifestyle (for the most part). Yesterday I was talking with someone about camping. I remembered that when we were first married, I was pretty surprised (and a bit disappointed) when I found out my husband didn’t like camping because he didn’t like “dirt.”
Fortunately, camping isn’t essential to my well being (although I enjoy it, and occasionally miss it.) And my husband does enjoy spending time outdoors together (as long as dirt isn’t involved) and this is important to me.
If you want to live in a city like New York or London, and your prospective partner envisions living in a caravan in Shomron, one of you is going to have to give up their preference in order for the marriage to work. But lifestyle is a twenty-four-hour-a-day affair, so be certain the one who sacrifices is not going to feel like a martyr.
If you feel you cannot raise children without the benefits and support of a large Jewish community, then living on a farm in a small community may offer challenges that will make it difficult for you to parent. And vice versa.
4. Is someone you can respect and be proud of. My caveat is: This is regardless of what anyone else thinks. For example, if you’re okay with your husband working as a mechanic as long as he’s an eved Hashem, but your friends and family expect you to marry a rabbi, a professor, or a rock star, then you have to internally commit to not caring what they think. I believe that ultimately, you must value and respect your husband for what kind of person he is, (see item number 1) and not care what kind of person other people think he should be. Be proud of his good points!
5. Is someone who prays and learns Torah. Breslov Chassidus teaches us what I think of as a prayer sandwich: Pray, learn some Torah, and pray some more. Regular prayers with a minyan plus daily hisbodedus are important to a man’s personal growth and the development of good middos (see item number 1.) Wherever you are on the spectrum of spiritual practice, from beginner on up, a willingness and commitment to Torah learning and a belief in the value of prayer are so important because they are the starting place for a life-long conversation with God.
Bonus: Just remember—people CHANGE. Circumstances and situations CHANGE. You
might will find yourself married to someone who surprises you and is not quite what you expected and you might end up living a very different life than you hoped to. Understand: Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, and whomever you’re married to ultimately comes from Hashem.
May Hashem bless everyone who’s looking for their soul mate to find him speedily.
For Chaya bas Tzipporah.