Whom Should I Marry?

Needless to say, the qualities one would be looking for in a potential spouse will vary greatly depending on every individual and their personal priorities and preferences. An ultra-organized neat-freak who goes into spasms when his home isn't squeaky clean shouldn't consider marrying the absentminded professor type who is perpetually late and whose work area has been declared an official disaster area. The big spender should probably steer clear of the penny pinching crowd. It is almost certain that these drastically clashing lifestyles will cause much friction in the course of a long term relationship. While strong physical attraction may temporarily cause these differences to seem "cute," in the long run the cuteness wears off and the stark differences emerge as major obstacles to marital harmony.

There are however certain general pointers which apply equally to all. Here are a few of the most important ones:

Marry Jewish

Much has been written on this sensitive topic and the links below will lead you to many thought provoking articles explaining the assortment of problems caused by intermarriage. The crux of the matter is actually quite simple: marriage is the union of two souls; a feat which is only possible with two compatible souls.

Marriage in its truest sense is about two souls which unite for the purpose of accomplishing a holy mission. Both Jew and Gentile possess souls. Each was given a unique soul which is congruent with their distinctive mission. Strong feelings and physical attraction may well exist between a Jew and Gentile, but marriage — i.e. a perfect union of souls — cannot occur between two non-compatible souls.

Marriage is the union of two souls; a feat which is only possible with two compatible soulsOn a practical level, one who intermarries is turning his/her back on hundreds of generations of ancestors whose commitment to Judaism led them to live in ghettoes and endure pogroms and unspeakable persecution rather than assimilate into their non-Jewish surroundings. So many of our parents died in order to preserve Judaism; we respect their sacrifices by marrying a Jew and perpetuating their legacy.


When Abraham's servant Eliezer was dispatched to the city Charan to find a wife for Isaac, he arrived in a foreign land with the difficult task of finding a local girl who would be a suitable wife for his master's son. He devised an interesting plan. No, it wasn't a beauty pageant, nor did he check the colleges for the girl with the highest SAT scores. Instead, he opted to look for the one girl who would demonstrate unqualified kindness. The young woman who would volunteer to draw water for his thirsty camels would be the right one for Isaac; the right one to be a Matriarch of the Jewish nation.

Undoubtedly, one of the best dating tips ever given is to watch how your date treats the restaurant wait staff. If the person is a sweetheart when talking to you but is nasty to the waiter – it's time to resume your search for a mate with another prospective candidate.

Matching Values

Selection of a spouse must be based on who the person is at the present, not on the person's potential Hopefully your marriage will last long after the initial attraction and excitement has worn off. At that point, the glue that keeps the marriage together and the love alive is shared interests, and more importantly, shared values. This is a frightening thought, considering that many people have never given serious thought to determine what their values are.

Before entering the dating pool is the appropriate time to reflect on one's priorities. Is having a "Jewish" home high on your list of priorities? How about raising children with Jewish values? Community participation?

A Jewish home is called an "everlasting edifice." The husband and wife are the architects and builders of this potentially magnificent structure. It is vital that the partners in this project agree on the basic dimensions and objectives of this edifice.

Don't Marry the Person Who Will Be

The selection of a spouse must be based on who the person is at the present, not on the person's potential, the person you envision him/her becoming in the future — especially with the assistance of some gentle prodding on your part...

True, there is always the possibility that he will change. There is always the possibility that she will tap into her potential and bring it to fruition. But if at this point your potential mate is not exhibiting those signs, it is not fair to either one of you to marry the person who will be when you are not happy with the person who is. You want your spouse to love you for who you are now, not for who you can be if and only if you change. Your feelings towards your spouse should be the same.

Family and Background

While no candidate should be embraced or written off simply on account of family background – many, many wonderful individuals have emerged unscathed from completely dysfunctional families, and many insensitive and hurtful people have kind and loving parents – a loving family is certainly a consideration when searching for a spouse. A child who was raised in a harmonious and loving home, with parents who respected themselves, each other, and their children, is likely to establish a household governed by the same ethics.

However, when faced with a choice between a person of impeccable lineage but with questionable values, and a person with obvious integrity who lacks august pedigree, the latter is the obvious choice. The quality of the chef is certainly a consideration when choosing an eating establishment, but "the proof is in the pudding!"

Don't Be Overly Idealistic

One should not rule out dating people because they have a certain build, hair or eye color, or profession. Too many people remain single simply because they are waiting to meet Mr. or Ms. Perfect. While certain qualities must remain non-negotiable – such as the ones mentioned above – one should be willing to compromise concerning other non-essential preferences. Some examples of "negotiable" qualities are: appearances, career choices, political views, and nationality.

In simple words, one should not rule out dating certain people simply because they have a certain physical build, hair or eye color, or profession. Oftentimes people are surprised to find that they can be intensely attracted to, and deeply love, someone who doesn't exactly fit their original vision of a perfect spouse.

When looking to purchase a home, the most important factor to be taken in consideration is its structural soundness. After ascertaining that the house will not collapse as a result of a shaky foundation or shoddy construction, then the décor and layout are considered. And unless building from scratch – an option which is not yet available with regards to a spouse – no one ever finds a home which exactly matches their stylistic wish list.

No one is perfect. A person who meets all the major criteria and most of your minor preferences is someone you should seriously consider.

Mutual Attraction

When searching for the right health insurance plan, it is prudent to have a list of services you expect to receive from your provider. The search ends as soon as you find a provider which satisfies your requirements, and whose price is within your range.

A spouse isn't a health insurance plan.

An individual can be perfect on paper – kind, sweet, pious, and of impeccable integrity – but if there is no attraction, if the proverbial spark is lacking, then that person will be a loving spouse – for someone else.

Occasionally it takes some time for the chemistry to appear. If the person is otherwise highly compatible, don't give up quickly. Perhaps another date or two will lead to mutual attraction. But don't spend too much effort on a potential disappointment. If no spark is present after a reasonable amount of meetings, it's time to move on.

Occasionally it takes some time for the chemistry to appearThis does not mean that full-blown shivers-down-the-spine love is a necessary prerequisite to making your decision. This simply means that the two must enjoy being in each other's company. There must be excitement at the prospect of sharing a conversation. True love can and will develop after marriage.

Technical Considerations

There are also certain technical halachic (Jewish law) matters to be taken into consideration when choosing a spouse. Chief among these considerations is the Kohain's (priest) prohibition against marrying certain women, such as a divorcee, and the importance of ensuring that your potential spouse has received a valid get (Jewish bill of divorce) from any previous marriages.