Some say the shidduch system doesn’t work because it’s backwards. In secular American society, couples meet each other first and get to know each other (I’ll refer to this as “the person”) and only then, after they’ve determined that they like each other, do they discuss their beliefs, outlooks, perspectives on the world (I’ll refer to this as “the paper”). In the shidduch world, we look at the paper first and then the person. Here’s my question: Let’s say you found someone and you were in love and you wanted to marry them- the person, but didn’t know so much about what they believe- the paper. What would you give up to be with that person?
I mean, isn’t marriage about giving and compromise? We ask all of these questions which seem to be perfectly reasonable, but when you think about them, if those one or two issues were the only thing standing in your way between a life of love, happiness and marriage, and a life of being alone, would you really let those issues stand in the way? Isn't the most important question, "Do I want to spend every day, every hour, every second of my life with this person? Do I want to build a life with this person?" If you found someone who you enjoyed spending time with and understood you, and who you admired etc, what would you be willing to give up to be with them? More specifically, would you give up on:
1. Place to live: What happened to the idea that as long as you’re with your true love then it doesn’t matter where you are? If you were in love, wouldn’t you move to the middle of nowhere (for those who claim to refuse to live outside of the
2. Family: Let’s say the person doesn’t have the best family for any number of reasons- you just don’t get along, different background then yours, whatever it is. Is that enough to deter you? You love someone, but have an issue their family so that’s the end of it?
3. TV: If you watch TV, would you give it up for true love? If you don’t watch TV, you wouldn’t be OK with your spouse doing so? “I love you, but we can’t spend the rest of our lives together happily ever after because I don’t want our kids to watch TV?”
4. Education: If they are the right one, does it really matter where they went to school? Of if they don’t have as high of a degree as you?
5. Working vs. learning/kollel. Girls: If you fell in love with someone who wanted to learn and you wanted someone with a job, or if you want someone who will learn and he wants to get a job, wouldn’t you try to make it work, - maybe he could agree to work for a few years or you could live a different lifestyle than you imagined. Wouldn’t you rather be happy? Guys- if you want to learn- you wouldn’t get a job for the woman you love? You wouldn’t sit and learn- maybe for a few years for the right girl?
These are just examples, I’m sure there are more things you can think of that you’d give up. Yet all these questions are commonly asked (or at least some people ask some of them). I understand that these questions are indicative of other things. Perhaps people assume that if it’s a bad family, it’s something in the genes and maybe their kids will end up that way. TV, earner vs. learner, education, location, these are all indicative of the type of life style you want to lead, how you envision your future and your life.
Compare and contrast with: If you were in love with someone, but they didn’t believe in Hashem or keep Halacha, would you marry them anyway? No. I don’t think you would, and I don’t think you should. It’s too big. You can’t marry someone on a completely different page than you.
You might say, “So now what? If we don’t ask these questions, why not just go out with anyone? How do we differentiate one potential date from the next?” My answer is: What if shadchanim tried to set people up more based on personalities and if two people would get along? Granted this is harder because it requires knowing the person and not the paper and that takes time, but what if we shifted the focus from the paper to the person? Which of those things (or others) would you give up?