Nachum dated Leeba for about four months. When they started seeing eachother, Nachum told me that he had some doubts, but his rapport with Leeba was pretty good and she really was interested in him. She tried very hard to be nice. He wanted to give it a fair try. Yet, something was bothering him and Nachum couldn't quite put his finger on it.
He was on the "religious track" - enjoyed going to Torah classes and working on his spirituality. Although Leeba said that she also was interested in spirituality, he noticed after a month or two that she would talk about it, but did next to nothing. She didn't report that she was going to classes except very rarely. He started discerning that she wasn't showing signs of spiritual growth or sensitivity in real-life situations.
One time, they went for a day trip to the country. Leeba was in need of leaving the date at three o'clock in order to get to a special evening shift at work that needed her participation. While in the country, Nachum ran into an old friend, who he hadn't seen in several years. She agreed to let him speak to the friend alone, since she had to take a little time to get her stuff ready for the return trip, anyway. The plan had called for her meeting Nachum at the parking lot in several minutes, after he finished speaking a bit to the old friend.
When Nachum got back to the parking lot he found a brief, scribbled note in Leeba's handwriting which said that she met an acquaintance while waiting in the parking lot. The acquaintance was headed to the area where she worked so she grabbed a ride with the other person.
Nachum had done his best to cut short his conversation with his old friend and hurried to the parking lot to take Leeba to work. He arrived punctually at the agreed-upon time. He was very hurt and aggravated by Leeba's having left with another person. He considered it to be selfish and very rude.
It occurred to him that what he was bothered by in Leeba was a theme of "looking out for number one," an overall spiritual insensitivity, with a pattern of doing what it takes to take care of herself. She was nice to him and gave lip service about spirituality because that's what it would take to get Nachum. But in real-life, on-the-spot situations, she wasn't "delivering."
Nachum said to me, around the time he was working up the strength to break off with Leeba, "I'm moving spiritually 100 miles per hour, she's going 5 miles per hour. When we first started going out, it was harder to see the spiritual differences between us. In the few months I've known her, the gap has widened so what I couldn't notice several months ago, I see now."
Parenthetically, another fellow spoke to me (the same day I wrote the above) about a relationship that he was in. He also couldn't put his finger on it but the relationship that he was in also had an unclear disparity. He also was in "spiritual motion." The girl he described was more religious, personable and considerate than Leeba, but her religiosity was lackluster. There were no drive nor feeling in her spirituality. It was a variation on the above anecdote, except that this girl was on a higher spiritual plane to start with but she was stagnant. This second fellow had trouble seeing what didn't add up about their relationship. I told him that he was in motion, she was standing still. Over time, the difference had grown more pronounced. When I put it into perspective for him, he saw it clearly and saw why this girl offered him no shidduch. She was at zero miles per hour. He not only was in motion, he had clear-cut spiritual "destinations." He needs a wife who can move with him and share his goals.
[Like the item in "Frus-Dating, part three" about the workshops in which I speak about giving, this is an amalgam of several similar cases. I have heard many similar scenarios from several women, from matchmakers and from an organizer of singles get-togethers, who have all reported cases of men who are not going anywhere with their life and who are not equipped to be providers, yet who come to shadchanim or singles events ordering up a wife like something to be had from a menu.]
Berel came to a shadchan and asked for help in finding a shidduch. He is in his mid 30s. The matchmaker asked him about what he does. Berel said that he was out of work. Times are hard. The matchmaker gave benefit of the doubt. The matchmaker asked Berel what his profession is.
"A few things."
"What does that mean? Do you have several degrees? Did you change professions because of technological changes? What does 'a few things' mean?"
"Well. Um. I was a clerk for a while. The boss didn't like me so we didn't get along too good."
"What are you telling me? You left?"
"Well, he fired me."
"What was his reason? He must have had a reason."
"No. He just didn't like me."
"You mean you did your job OK and he arbitrarily fired you?"
"Well, he said I didn't do my work fast enough and I wasn't always accurate, so he let me go."
"Did you work more slowly and less accurately than what the job required."
"I don't see why he should think so. I really tried."
"Hmmmmmm. What about the 'few things.' You said you did other things."
"I worked doing stock in a warehouse. That was OK but the economy, ya know."
"You mean because of a drop in business they cut back?"
"Why were you let go? Were there no others who could have been dismissed? How come you?"
"Last hired. No seniority."
"Does that mean you weren't there for too long?"
"How long since you've been out of yeshiva?"
"Have you held a steady job in those fifteen years?"
"Lot's of 'em!"
"Eight, nine, maybe ten."
"How long were you on any given job at a time?"
"I was on one job for a year and a quarter."
"One job for a year and a quarter."
"How long were you on the others?"
"Jobs, Berel. Jobs."
"I don't remember exactly."
"On, average, Berel."
"What do you mean 'mostly?'"
"Some were shorter."
"You've had about eight or ten different jobs for a few months or weeks each, over fifteen years. Is that right?"
"This reminds me of the guy who said it's easy to quit smoking, he must have done it a thousand times."
"Never mind. Do you have any goals? Maybe I just haven't caught on yet. What do you do in your spare time?"
"I relax. I hang out."
"Berel, do you learn Torah, go to classes, are you working on any kind of projects, are you building anything with your life? Where are you headed? Are you working towards anything in particular, anything for the long run?"
"Well, I'm tryin' to get a job."
"Berel, let me ask you, how do you plan to support a wife a family? What do you expect a girl to respect you for? I would understand if you were working towards something: a career, a profession, a skill, kollel, a degree, an apprenticeship, a meaningful project, something. But how is a girl going to feel if I tell her that in fifteen years you've floated and drifted?"
"But I'm a real nice guy."
"I can see that. But a woman needs stability and security. She has to look up to a man. One of the things that helps a woman look up to her man is achievement, or at least steadiness, in his work. One of the things that helps a woman feel secure is a steady income. How is a girl going to feel if I tell her that you haven't shown that you can produce things that she would depend upon you for?"
"Um. From what you're saying, sounds pretty shaky, huh?"
"Well, does it make sense to you? I don't want to sound harsh, but I think this is something that's in your way, especially since you really want to get married."
"Berel, why don't you take some time and think about it."
[A "flip side" of the above scenario is the growing trend among women, as reported by people who do matchmaking. More and more women want accomplished professionals who are making a good parnossa "livelihood," basically demanding men who can take care of them "in style." Their focus is on taking, materialism and on externals. In Jewish values, this is sad. This goes against both the practical potential for a real or good relationship and the central Torah principle of emuna - faith that G-d runs the world and apportions materialism to each individual as He sees fit. The essence should be sharing a life of Torah and mitzvos, and the quality of the marriage bond in conjunction with a husband's reasonable and responsible hishtadluss (practical effort). The outcome produced by that effort is from G-d and the Jew believes that all that G-d does is for the best (Brachos 60b-61a) and that true wealth is being happy with what G-d gives (Pirkei Avos chapter four). One matchmaker, fed up with this repeated demand by women for guys with money, gave one woman who came for an interview more than she bargained for. Let's call him Rabbi Ganzfried and let's call the young woman Ruchama. She has just told Rabbi Ganzfried that she wants a professional who is making a very good living.]
"Ruchama, why is it that you say you want only a man who is making big money?"
"It costs a lot of money to live today. Yeshiva for the kids costs a fortune. I want to live in a nice house with nice furniture. If the house needs a new carpet, I want to be able to have it. I want a car of my own. When I need new clothes, I don't want to have to think twice. I want to be able to go away for Pesach. If I need help around the house, I want to be able to get it."
"Ruchama, I know a woman who spoke just like you before she was married. And you know what? She got a wealthy guy. She thought she was set for life. He gave her all the luxuries she wanted from the first day. You'd suppose it was a 'custom made life,' wouldn't you? She had it made! A year and a half or two years into the marriage she had a baby. The baby had Downs Syndrome. All of a sudden, the life of ease and fun was all over. You see, she left out of her thinking the Ribono Shel Oilam. She forgot all about Him. Look what He did to remind her that He figures in the picture and that He calls the shots. Look what it took to wake her up. It was a very humbling experience, and her life was never the same."
Rabbi Ganzfried's face and tone progressively grew more dramatic as he continued. "Another woman also came to me saying that she wants a guy who's going make a guaranteed good living. You hear this? She wants a guarantee! I set her up for a date with a doctor. She told the guy that she wants this guarantee! Thank G-d he had a backbone. Do you know what he told her? 'You want from me a guarantee!? Then you're going to have to give me a guarantee also! You guarantee me that you have inside connections with G-d that I always keep making a fortune. There are, believe it or not, doctors who don't make money. It's not in the mazel. They're good doctors. People are satisfied when they go to them. But there's no guarantee that a stream of people flow to them. You guarantee there'll never be a stock market crash. You guarantee that there will never be too many other doctors flooding the market so there's less business for me. You guarantee that there is never any change in technology that makes my practice obsolete. You guarantee me that you never wrinkle. You guarantee that you never get fat. You guarantee that you never lose any teeth. You guarantee that my first child is a son, that my second child is a daughter and that after that you guarantee to give me a son every eighteen months for the rest of your childbearing years. Guarantee me that you'll never get sick. What are you guaranteeing me? If you get one wrinkle, you broke your guarantee and you get out. Is it a deal? Guarantees work two ways. Let me hear your guarantee to me! I want to marry a girl because I like her, not because of what she can do for me, and I'd like her to marry me because she likes me, not because of what I can do for her. If I decide to learn half a day, would you leave me? Will you guarantee to like me unconditionally?'"
Ruchama was stunned. She had no answer.