Finding Your Zivug (Mate)
What is True Readiness for Marriage?












[Note 1: Rabbi Forsythe is sometimes asked about personal matchmaking. However, for the last few years, he has restricted matchmaking to people who he knows personally and knows well for a considerable period of time. He no longer does matchmaking for the public at-large. His current work with singles is primarily compatibility-profiling interviews, private counseling, public lecturing, shabatones, workshops and the like.]

[Note 2: In halacha, there is NO kibud av ve'aim in shidduchim. A single should marry the person who he gets along with and who is good for him/her. There is a world of difference in halacha between a parent giving mature advice or sharing life experience vs. making or killing a shidduch. The ultimate criteria for suitability of a shidduch is: what is good for the couple.]




Gemora Baitza tells how Raba, one of the Talmudic sages, was the rebbe of Rova and Abayay (who grew up to also be Talmudic sages) when they were little children. Raba asked Rova, "Where is Hashem?" Rova pointed upwards. Raba then asked little Abayay, "Where is Hashem?" Abayay ran out the front door, thrust his finger upwards towards the sky and pointed it in every direction. Raba said, with his ruach hakodesh (holy insight), "I see you two are going to grow up to be great Rabonim." Notice that Raba, one of "Chazal," did not say that Rova and Abayay were going to be great rabbis because they had terrific yichus or were masmidim in Lakewood who knew loads of masechtas. He knew they would be great rabbis because they had DUE RECOGNITION OF HASHEM. King David says, "I place Hashem before me always" (Tehilim 16:8). The Brisker Rov said to his son Reb Berel that always concentrating on this verse, keeping G-d with you and considering Him your master is a segula for protection. King Solomon says, "In everything that you do, know G-d" (Proverbs 3:6). The first step to being a happy and successful person is ALWAYS recognizing that Hashem is EVERYWHERE and that nice, proper behavior is defined - and evaluated - entirely BY HIM.

In the book of Numbers (the fourth of the five books of the Torah), the first portion (Bamidbar) tells of how each of the twelve tribes received its own banner, to give each its own unique identity. This story takes place on the first day of the SECOND MONTH of the second year after the departure from Egypt. The second portion (Naso) tells how each of the twelve tribal leaders brought generous sacrifices to inaugurate the service of the sanctuary (which was the forerunner to the Holy Temple). This story takes place on the first day of the FIRST MONTH of the second year after the departure from Egypt.

Notice that the first portion, chronologically, takes place second (a month later) and the second portion takes place first. We have a principle that the Torah is not required to be chronological. Its writings often are positioned so that adjacency, context or sequence of the writings give us instructive lessons. By the same token, when there is no reason to veer from chronology, the Torah maintains it. For example, the story of Creation IS INDEED right at the beginning of the Torah! So what is the lesson when the above two stories in the Torah are placed in reverse chronological order?

The story of the 12 tribal leaders bringing sacrifices represents (in Midrash and Kabala) STARTING A MARRIAGE! Each of the 12 leaders brought the exact same sacrifices (flour, incense, animals, etc.) and the Torah repeats the list (of about 70 words) 12 times with each leader's name (for a total of about 800 words). The Torah is concerned about brevity, and we have here the most extensive case of "non-brevity" in the entire Torah! The Torah could have said that all 12 leaders brought the list of gifts, and saved about 700 words! Ramban explains the repetition. The 12 leaders had utmost honor for Heaven. Their intention was pure. None was looking to out-do the other. THEY WERE ALL UNIFIED AND AT PEACE. Each was only concerned with giving respectfully and wholeheartedly for a cause greater than self. THIS IS WHAT MAKES A MARRIAGE!

Every couple wants a happy marriage. The gemora says, "The happiness of a man's heart is his wife (Shabos 152a)" and "Her husband makes a woman happy (Rosh HaShana 6b)." At a bris (circumcision) we say that the boy should grow up to achieve "Torah, marriage and good deeds." Note the order! First, he must incorporate Torah into himself; then, only when he has genuinely embodied Torah, he can be fit for marriage; and, last, marriage is the most significant context for a life devoted to good deeds! "A woman's wisdom builds her house" (Proverbs 14:1). She uses her wisdom to protect her husband from downfall and to make him be successful. But, not all couples get along well and, sometimes, troubles escalate. Each partner must catch and stop his unworkable behaviors and patterns. All that they do and say to, and regarding, each other must be always accomplished as nicely, cooperatively and considerately as possible.

In the story of the banners, each tribe had its own identity, its unique and separate individuality. When a person looks at the Torah superficially, his flesh and blood eyes see the story of separate identities first, and see, as last, the story of what makes a marriage. Yet, chronologically, the story of the sacrifices actually comes first. Because the 12 leaders' giving was so complete and perfect, and was so beloved in G-d's eyes, the Torah included, in full, every detail of each leader's identical set of gifts. The Torah is instructing us NOT TO FALL INTO THE TRAP OF SEEING SEPARATE IDENTITY AND INDIVIDUALITY FIRST. The "G-dly perspective" is to see that THE PEACE, UNITY, SACRIFICE, GIVING, RESPECT, UNSELFISHNESS, RESPONSIBILITY AND FREEDOM FROM EGO - WHICH ARE CENTRAL TO MARRIAGE - COME FIRST. Do not say, "I got to be me! I have to fulfill myself! You must do more for me! I have to do my own thing!" IN G-D'S EYES, the couple comes before the self! Your unique "self" is never an exemption from giving; it is the DEFINITION OF HOW YOUR UNIQUE PERSONALITY, IDENTITY, INDIVIDUALITY, TALENTS, STRENGTHS AND ABILITIES CONTRIBUTE TO THE "TEAM;" it is HOW YOU GIVE AND SUBORDINATE YOUR UNIQUE "SELF" TO THE MARRIAGE!



Chazal say in several gemoras and midrashim that, "It is as difficult to find one's true mate as the miraculous opening of the Reed Sea [Yam Suf]." Our sages understood the limits and nature of analogy, so whenever they make one, it stands up perfectly to analysis from every angle. There are many miracles recorded in the Torah (Sara giving birth at age 90, the 10 plagues, the giving of the Torah with thunder and lightening, manna coming from Heaven and water from a rock for 40 years, the earth opening under evil Korach and swallowing him alive, etc.). If Chazal wanted to say that finding one's zivug requires miraculous aid from G-d, why was the opening of the sea the analogy they used?

The place on land from which the Jews entered the Sea, when it opened, was "Pi HaChirus," which translates, appropriately enough (since they were escaping the Egyptians), "the beginning of freedom." Pirkei Avos (ch. 6) tells us "There is no one free except he who engages himself in the Torah." One thinks he is free when he can do what he wants, but the gemora (Gitten 13a) says, "A slave likes to be unrestrained." When a person likes to do whatever he wants or to be selfish, he is a slave - to himself! Submission to control, to rules and ethics, is to be truly free, free to do what is right in the eyes of G-d. When the Jews left Pi HaChirus, where were they headed? To Sinai, to receive G-d's Torah. The beginning of freedom was setting off on the path to accepting and submitting completely to G-d's law. The giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai was analogous to a wedding in which G-d was the groom and Knesses Yisroel (the Jewish nation) was the bride (Midrash). It was a marriage, with an exchange of commitment and love, acceptance of roles in relation one to the other, the inauguration of permanent devotion and responsibility between G-d and Israel. This is where the Jewish people were headed to, from Pi HaChirus.

Targum Yonasan tells us that Pi Hachirus was not an ordinary desert. In an ordinary desert, there is nothing but sand on the ground. At Pi HaChirus, the ground was not covered by sand. What covered the ground at Pi HaChirus? Gold, jewels, diamonds, pearls, precious stones. The Jewish people became wealthy. There was plenty for everyone. Not only did G-d, in His kindness, just save them from slavery, He prepared wealth for each and every Jew so that they each could proceed to their new life generously provided for.

Let's go back to our initial point: the analogy of finding one's zivug to the specific miracle of the Yam Suf opening. Finding a mate is like finding a valuable jewel. One is only ready when one is able to view a mate as "human wealth," a jewel, when one is mature and unselfish enough to view finding a mate as finding someone whom he or she must care for and act responsibly with.

If you had a huge and beautiful diamond, the size of a watermelon, worth a vast fortune, you would take superb care of it! You would polish it, hire an armed guard, put it in a vault. There is no question that you would take care and assume responsibility with diligence, with discipline and with drive!

Finding a mate requires being ready to care for, be devoted to and accept responsibility for that mate; the way one would if he found priceless jewels that had to be protected and properly treated. Finding a mate requires viewing oneself as headed towards "the Sinai of his/her life;" with the exchange of commitment, inauguration of devotion, acceptance of roles and obligations, submission to daas Torah and unselfishness, giving nonstop love and respect.

It is very intentional, very precise, very meaningful that Chazal used the opening of the Reed Sea as the analogy for the miracle of finding one's mate. Much of today's marriage trouble and fighting would disappear if couples were truly mature enough and ready to start and maintain their marriage this way and concerned for each other's happiness. When is one ready for G-d to work the miracle of bringing one's "basherte/destined mate?" Only when he or she is ready and mature enough to see the other person as a priceless jewel who must be cherished and cared for, to give of oneself for, to live with according to Torah rules every moment and for whom one must accept lasting responsibility.



Sefer Alay Shor (analyzing Proverbs 5:15-16) writes that a baby is born with all of his attributes in the form of potential. The baby entirely needs others to give to him and to take responsibility for him. As the child grows, there are progressive stages during which he increasingly learns that he is not alone, that the world does not center around him, and the ratio of others giving to him and taking responsibility for him gradually diminishes in relation to his gradually giving and his assuming responsibility for himself and others more and more. He gradually becomes socialized and tamed. He can't put his finger in the wall socket. He can't grab the next child's toys. He can't stay up to any hour. He has to clean his room. He has to say "please" and "thank you."

At one point in a normal, healthy person's maturation and development, the amount of giving and of taking responsibility for others for this youth (by others) and the amount of giving and of taking responsibility for others (by the youth) grows to be equal. Then, more and more, the youth thereafter progressively gives more than he takes and accepts more responsibility for others than he requires from others. At one point, his giving on behalf of others is equal to how much he needs to be given to, and his exhibiting responsibility on behalf of others is equal with the amount he needs responsibility taken on his behalf.

After the point of "crossover" to giving more to others (than taking from others) and to accepting more responsibility on behalf of others (than needing from others), the person is defined as ready for marriage! This is when the person achieves adulthood and can begin to bring his abilities and virtues from potential to actual, in the world.

The difference between something that is called gadol [big] and something that is called koton [small] is that a thing which is big gives to others and a thing which is small takes from others. The moon is called the "small light" because it takes light from the sun. A child is called "koton" because he depends on the table of others. A "gadol hador [biggest of a generation]" is a leader and guide in Torah who the generation needs. The heart is called a "big organ" because it supplies nourishment to the entire body [Rabainu Yerucham]. In order to be ready to marry, one must be ready to be a gadol: one who gives to and dependably supplies the needs of others; and not to be a koton: one who takes from or depends upon others.

Where one genuinely stands in relation to

1. giving on behalf of the good of others and

2. accepting and fulfilling responsibility

are prime measure of readiness for a lasting marriage.

The gemora (Kesubos 17a) says, "One's temperament must always be sweet with other people." We know the rule that all Torah sources are required to be as concise as possible. Whenever a wording from Chazal or TaNaCH is longer than the bare minimum with which to convey the message, there is something extra being taught. I would understand what the gemora here is saying without "always." I would understand that without qualification, one must be pleasant with other people. Why add "always?"

Some people are very easy to be sweet with. They are lovely, generous and adorable; have manners and a good heart. One would find it natural, even delightful, to be sweet to such a person. Some people are not so pleasant. Some are even a trial not to be violent against! Nevertheless, the Torah obligates us to always be pleasant - even with the downright rotten, nasty, cheating, offensive, aggravating, trying person. Unless you are at the point, in making yourself sweet, that you are ALWAYS sweet with other people, you have not reached the Torah's standard or obligation for being a sweet person.

The Vilna Gaon writes that the most essential purpose of human life is FULL-TIME working on midos (character improvement). Any MOMENT that one is not working on midos, (s)he is wasting life (Evven Shlaima). Being ready for marriage requires full-time conquering bad midos and practicing of good midos.

The Chazone Ish said that the first and foremost test as to whether or not one is Torah observant is whether the person is subjugated entirely to halacha (Torah law). Since halacha covers every aspect and event in life, being ready for marriage means being prepared to obey halacha across the board (e.g. Shulchan Aruch, psak din and gedolai Torah).

The midrash says the "derech eretz (civil, polite, thoughtful behavior) comes before Torah." To be a Torah Jew, one's practical interpersonal behavior must always be characterized by derech eretz. To be ready for marriage, one must be prepared to apply this with one's spouse, in particular, at all times.

The Talmud, Rambam and Tur all stress that a couple is obligated to give one another enormous kavod (honor, respect). Without this, they will not be able to have peace. To be ready for marriage, one must be prepared to treat another with ongoing and massive kavod at all times.

Michtav Me'Eliyahu says that couples only have happiness and satisfaction with each other when each one's focus is to give on behalf of the other's happiness at all times. When one takes or demands, their happiness dies. To be ready for marriage one's orientation must be to give for the purpose of pleasing and benefitting the other on a steady and constant basis.

The Maharal says that the essence of maintaining a marriage is trust (e.g. keeping one's word, fulfilling responsibilities and promises, behaving steadily and reliably, etc.). To be ready for marriage, one must be prepared to be trustworthy and constant in all things and at all times.

One of the elements of my research has been interviewing people about marriage: mature veterans of happy marriage, Torah gedolim, therapists, people who have been through divorce and "learned lessons," matchmakers, etc. Let me share some of the ways successful, mature, experienced, wise, learned people have capsulized marriage. Marriage is:

* taking care of a person

* spending a lifetime making someone else happy

* being with someone you're comfortable being yourself with

* completing each other (A is complete where B is lacking and B is complete where A is lacking)

* devotion

* TRYING to build a relationship with another person over a lifetime

* adaptability

* commitment (don't think, "If it doesn't work, we can get divorced" - have the firm idea right from the start and all along that it is for keeps)

* constant forgiving

* overlooking (e.g. faults or mistakes)

* accepting less than perfect (or less than all that you want)

* giving in

* giving yourself up

* accepting what marriage "costs" for what it "gives."

No one said anything grandiose about "saving the world" or "getting a catch." All answers focused on getting along, making each other happy or living maturely and responsibly; day in and day out, for a lifetime. Everything else is subordinate.

Getting along and making each other happy must be a stable, ongoing, fundamental and practical state. Before this, nothing is appropriate, adequate, in place, effective or healthy.

Readiness for marriage requires:

* getting along with a spouse and making a spouse happy at least reasonably consistently

* doing so to that person's satisfaction

* and as the main focus in your life for getting along and making another happy with anyone.

Without these, there is something seriously lacking that had better be immediately and effectively addressed and fixed in order to be defined as a person ready for marriage.

There has to be sufficient shlaimus (inner perfection with wholeness and internal integration) to have a successful marriage. Only a person with adequate shlaimus can be half of a couple that has shlaimus. A couple with shlaimus can make a contribution to the world (beyond the marriage itself). You can't do things out of order and succeed. Only when these three "Shlaimus stages" are in place (1. self, 2. marriage and 3. community), there can be blessing and success.

Any time you do anything that makes another Jew happy (or less unhappy), it is a mitzva (Sefer Ahavas Chesed). How much moreso, then, is one obligated to make one's spouse and children consistently happy, help them and keep your home peaceful. You may want to consult a rov to determine for your individual case:

* what measure of shlaimus is appropriate for yourself, a partner and a relationship in your choosing of a spouse, since no one is perfect and part of marriage is bringing one another to greater shlaimus and

* how to balance emphasizing peace and happiness in your marriage with other life obligations. An example of this last point is that during the shana rishona (first year of marriage), kollel men are told to skip their night seder (evening learning session) and spend that time with their bride, as part of making her secure with his love for her.

In halacha, there is NO kibud av ve'aim in shidduchim. A single should marry the person who he gets along with and who is good for him/her. There is a world of difference in halacha between a parent giving mature advice or sharing life experience vs. forcing or blocking a shidduch. The ultimate criteria for suitability of a shidduch is: what is good for the couple. One of the test's of readiness for marriage is the ability to evaluate a shidduch independent of inappropriate parental agendas, manipulating or coercion.



In various sections of this internet site we have explored many obstacles to shidduchim (avoidance of commitment, incompetent matchmakers, etc.). Another major obstacle to forming or keeping an intimate lifelong marriage is when people's own behavior or contradictions stop a relationship from succeeding. This can be blatant (angry or nasty behavior) or can be obscure (the person who starts certain of wanting a kollel life and ends up miserable with the hard work, sacrifice and poverty).

Have other people ever given you feedback about yourself? When people come to me for counseling, whether alone or as a couple, one of the remarkable things I repeatedly see is how often people can have impressions of themselves or their behavior that, shall we gently say, is not matched by the impression that others have of them or their behavior. That is important for someone looking to marry (unless you marry yourself). The other person may have some views of you that don't match your view of yourself AND YOU WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH THAT PERSON'S VIEW OF YOU ON A DAILY BASIS.

When you are under pressure, provoked or angry, how do you behave? How do other's feel about that? Can you CONSISTENTLY remain calm, controlled, pleasant and considerate of the other person, regardless of whether that person is the cause? Can you communicate and resolve differences or is this very challenging?

What religious and psychological characteristics in another make you attracted, compatible, contented or frustrated? What weaknesses of yours would your mate have to compensate for and what strengths of yours would compensate for another's weaknesses - without this being adversarial or engendering resentment!? Have you had needs that are unreasonable to expect another person to supply? How much imposition upon another person is OK with you - and is this a workable level of demand - AS FAR AS OTHER PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED, ON A SUSTAINABLE BASIS? Are you capable of PROMPT compromise, adaptability, patience, sacrifice and behavior changes ENOUGH - based on what a relationship or another person needs or feels? When on a date, in what ways might you regard or disregard the feelings or dignity of the other person? Do you provide a reasonable sense of companionship and presence to the other person?

What potential in you would you want a relationship to bring out? What are you able to bring out in another person? What makes you want to give to another person? What in another person makes you feel that not taking nor demanding in the relationship is OK? Are you capable of feeling empathy and bonding with another person unconditionally, so that you are a genuine (not a "lip service") "us" (instead of a more adversarial and separate "me-you"); and you can prove your "us-ness" by extending yourself for the other without complaint when the other is hurt, pressured, needy, annoying or troubled? Do you spontaneously give people in relationships benefit of doubt and presumption of innocence?

What kind of spouse would find you attractive and, AS A PERSON (not for your money, contacts or other self-serving advantages), valuable?

Are any of your unhelpful behaviors or patters modeled after those of one or both of your parents? How has your behavior in close relationships been affected by what one or both of your parents did or failed to do?

When a relationship does not work out, do you learn from it and face what you did that was wrong, off-putting or destructive? Do you talk to objective, capable and trustworthy people to obtain constructive criticism and feedback so that you can change for the better and grow in whatever ways are needed?

When married and single people come in for counseling, their position often is that they are fine and the other person in their present or past relationship is wrong or crazy. If that is one's stance even before marriage, especially when rigid about this, the prospects for a compatible and happy marriage are crippled. One of the best things singles can do in searching for their mate is to take control over their own part in it. The single is the only element which is in his/her control. The as-yet-unfound mate is not even there, any relationship partner is not in your control and, for sure, Hashem, the Ultimate Matchmaker, is not in your control. The main advice that I can give any single seeking his or her mate is to be the best and most marriageable mate you can possibly be - but in a very real sense. The more you are ready to be the spouse G-d wants you to be, the more likely He will let you be a spouse.



Not all of my relationship counseling is restricted to married couples. A part of my practical counseling work is with single couples who are trying to evaluate whether they are right for marriage to each other. When single couples come for counseling, there are recurring issues which I see, and I believe writing about some of them will help couples who are confused, have mixed feelings about their prospects for marriage or a complex package of positives and negatives.

It is not unusual for couples to have differences. Mature people who can work through their differences can end up even closer and more attached than they were before. When there are differences, I am more concerned if their approach to differences is hostile (vicious, sabotaging, critical, malcontent, confrontational, unstable, explosive, punitive, etc.) or "resolution-oriented" (calm, peaceful, honest, compassionate, patient, supportive, compromising, respectful, etc.). Further, if differences appear which indicate to me that both partners want something from each other which will help them both grow, I take this as a good sign that the couple can be "basherte" because this means they each can bring each other to "shlaimus (completeness as a human being), which is an important component of healthy marriage.

One of the techniques I use to advise singles who find it difficult to decide who to marry is to make a thorough and brutally honest inventory of their positive and negative attributes as an individual. Starting with the positives (e.g. "I am kind, communicative, adaptive, caring, sensitive" etc.), consider these as a basis for relating standards. How does the person you are interested in compare? Is the person capable of appreciating you and exchanging on a compatible two-way basis? Would giving yourself to this person be a waste or a reasonable investment of your time, interest and qualities?

I want to caution the reader about the person who is "sensitive." Some people are sensitive about THEMSELVES while they can be sadistic or irresponsible to others. Such "sensitivity" is unhealthy and destructive. Sensitivity is only of value in a relationship when the person 1. is AT LEAST as sensitive, preferably more, on behalf of the other person than for self and 2. never uses the sensitivity to cost or hurt the other person!

Now list your negatives. Divide them into two categories. Are any of them destructive, neglectful or harmful to others? If so, I would not recommend proceeding because no relationship should harm either of its participants and these negatives must be worked on. Although it would be logical to put this question (of harmful negatives) first, some people get too defensive or closed about their faults. They may deny that they have faults or become angry. Mentioning their positives FIRST is more likely to put the mind at ease and convey that this is a fair and balanced exploration. People are often more PSYCHOlogical than logical!

Then, we can inventory the non-harmful negatives that make us human and I will ask what kind of a person can help you grow out of your faults, accept them or compensate for them with their strengths? Make a similar inventory of the person you are in the relationship with (as well as other past relationships, if a pattern or sabotage-

condition is indicated): list each person's 1. positives, 2. harmful negatives and 3. neutral "human negatives." Then we can compare the results of all this exploration with what the Torah, as well as helpful guidelines for psychological health, indicate; and we can consider what this indicates about the individual's readiness for marriage and prospects for a workable relationship with any other particular individual. The person or couple generally can have some useful tools for evaluating prospects in a committed, intimate and sustained relationship. Bear in mind that this is one tool and any given case may require others.

Another thing which I believe is vital for the marital success of the frum Jew is to only marry someone committed to halacha. Find out early on before marriage if the person has one or more rovs who (s)he goes to for halacha and life questions. Find out from the rov(s) if the person obeys faithfully; especially when doing so is a test of will, character or self-discipline. If you would only marry someone who has A CONSISTENT HISTORY of uncompromisingly and steadily obeying halacha and daas Torah, and of having derech eretz and refined midos; the chances are much greater that you will never be abused, abandoned, a moreddess, an agunah, emasculated, tormented or think that you need a prenuptial agreement; because the Torah tells the mature person truly devoted to the will of G-d what to do in every single situation of life.

HoRav Shimon Schwab ztz'l, former leader of the German Jewish community, once told me, if one wants a "segula" for success, let what (s)he does be completely leshaim Shomayim (for the sake of G-d).

One of the great keys to specialness in a match is giving what each has to offer in accordance with what would please and benefit the other. We only have our Jewish people because Rivka gave unhesitatingly to Eliezer. He asked for some water for himself and she gave to his entire entourage and animals, fulfilling what Shammai says (in Pirkei Avos), "Say little and do much;" which she RAN to do and which she did politely and with a good attitude! It is the trait of diligent, constant giving for the good of the other person which creates love for that other person (Tractate Derech Eretz Zuta); and only when this is practiced mutually between man and woman can their marriage have happiness and satisfaction (Michtav Me'Eliyahu]. And it was only after marriage that Yitzchok loved Rivka [Genesis 24:67]. We see that we do not love by taking nor by "trying" to give casually without marriage. The "system" only works when the two evaluate before marriage their ability to give to each other what they each individually need from the other, as well as what spouses are objectively responsible to give in marriage. DEMANDING KILLS RELATIONSHIPS. The time during dating must be used to concentrate on exploring the couple's ability to relate in serious domains such as these. Yitzchok could exchange love with Rivka by their making COMMITMENT to give to the other and to accept what the other gives. Only when this is applied steadily can the couple truly develop love for each other and be happy and satisfied. When a couple is able to establish and to trust that they are both willing to work together and "custom tailor" each one's giving to please and benefit the other ongoingly, theirs will be a marriage that will endure and be "special" every day for a lifetime.



Let me provide some ways to chart several crucial characteristics that help measure readiness for marriage, which audiences have found useful.

At first glance, these charts seem impossible and impractical. This is understandable, with a superficial glance. Keep in mind that a healthy and Torah-based marriage will consist of two people each of whom approaches the other with the same approach and standards. When both come together lovingly, trustworthily and harmoniously, the system makes the ideal understandable, fulfilling and practical.

It is a destructive and selfish rationalization to object to any of these criteria. All are based on timeless Torah sources. Some may be disparaged by the values of modern society. Any objection will be rooted in the extent to which one has been influenced by the contemporary values, most of which are antithetical to Torah and which do not work lastingly.

A person who authentically has the charted traits with high scores will be attracted to, appreciate, and relate well with someone else who has comparable high scores. What makes these ideals valid, practical and beautiful is that, in psychologically healthy people, these traits (in conjunction with good scores) bring like people together. They want and value the same things. Therefore, there is no significant shortchange. Fear of the system breaking down can basically take care of itself. If it doesn't,

1. one really has a low score and fears (understandably) being rejected by someone with a decent score

2. one is psychologically not healthy and can neither deliver what a high score demands or be attracted to a healthy partner who could deliver what a high score demands, or

3. one is subjective or inaccurate in measuring oneself.

It's easier to call the Torah's standards unrealistic than to call oneself unworkable. Remember from the chapter on self-image: all who delegitimize do so from their own blemish.

In a serious relationship between two mature adults, at the bottom line, both partners should end up receiving all legitimate needs reasonably evenly. If both parties approach the OTHER as the only one who counts, each will receive everything humanly possible to expect. What will be achieved is an ATTITUDE, APPROACH and VALUE SYSTEM through which you both make the other happy, appreciative and content. This will be the key to building a happy marriage WITH TWO WINNERS.

Then, we get into the separate but critical question of "can I be attracted to and choose someone who will share these approaches, attitudes, values and standards? That is addressed in the chapter on self-image and the psychology of choosing a mate.

The charts each use a 1 to 10 format. The Torah doesn't allow for mistreating or damaging another person, so "negatives" won't even count. I structure the charts so that zero is neutral. Negatives are below zero and don't even rate. There can be no credence to negatives, so they are "off the chart." If one charts any negative numbers (minus one, mildest negative; through minus ten, severest negative) one can chart self-development projects which MUST be devised, implemented and achieved before prospects for a reasonably successful marriage can be realistically developed. In any event, one must get above positive number one (on all of the charts) at least a few integers, to be where choosing and having a functional, healthy, satisfying and durable marriage would be probable.

These charts will "give you a way to go," so you can know what you have to work on to overcome your obstacles to being a "married-person mind-set" person. You may think of more charts for yourself. Use the same criteria:

* negatives don't even make it onto the chart

* each factor which you chart is crucial to marriage or to your becoming marriageable

* you have to judge yourself with painful and courageous honesty and objectivity, or else the value of these measures are lost

* you base your assessment on your practical "track record" and honest attitude; not on abstractions, rationalizations, wishful thinking nor on your intellectual ideals.

If a confidante who knows you can score you (with your permission to be brutally honest and uninhibited), you will gain from constructively discussing the disparities between your scores for you and your friend's scores for you. Your friend must not be judgmental, you must not be defensive.

When charting, writing will help concretize your thinking. Repeat the chart for each factor. You may use half-numbers in the interest of accuracy (e.g. + 1 1/2 for A, + 3 1/2 for B, + 2 1/2 for C, etc.). If you want to draw charts, use any system that you find to be effective and reliable. For example:

-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10

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In anything in which you have a negative number or a zero, consider yourself as not having a fundamental and non-negotiable prerequisite for a lasting or happy marriage. Be objective enough to have others who know the "real you" corroborate your findings. If handled without resistance or defensiveness, this will open up very healthy, constructive and helpful dialogues that can give insights and lead to significant life-changing breakthroughs.

On a scale from one to ten, since giving is crucial to marriage, grade yourself as a giver to other people. To do this correctly is tricky because there is subtlety here. A zero means that you give as much as you take (remember, more taking isn't even on the chart; and zeros, for the purposes of these charts, are neutral). A one means that you give slightly more and make other people happy slightly more than you require or take for yourself. A ten means that you give exclusively except for the barest minimum necessary to stay alive. You would have to be an absolute tzadik to be able to give totally (i.e. a "ten") except for what you need for barest survival, but this also gives some perspective. This is the Torah's reference point for the end of legitimizing taking. You should have a good few points on this chart to demonstrate readiness for marriage. Think through your "track record" and attitude regarding the spectrum from giving to taking. In relationships do you give more, less or equally? Do you chase opportunities for kindness. Are you creative about doing good to please and benefit others? How much do you feel for the unhappiness or happiness of other people, and does such concerned feeling intensify commensurately for people who are progressively closer to you or in greater need? How much do you want to give to a spouse and children?

Peace is the single highest value in all human relations...and all the moreso in marriage. So, on a scale from one to ten, chart yourself as to avoiding and resolving fights or differences (in all aspects, including the four steps of interpersonal tshuva, sincerely apologizing, controlling temper, handling provocations gently, making resolutions endure, etc.) pursuing and striving on behalf of peace. The confrontational person is a negative who is below zero, "off the charts." A zero means that I want to win and lose equally. Sometimes the winner can be you and, an equal amount, it has to be me. A one is: I let the other in any relationship win slightly more. A ten is "I want the other one to always win and never have a speck of breach of the peace. For peace I will travel, exert myself, spend money, sacrifice, cancel or conquer my ego, do whatever it takes to promote peace between people, whether it is a case which involves me or not - and all the moreso in my marriage. I'm always soft, compromising, I give in and I back off for the preservation or building of peace." Do you have a few points? Where are you on the chart?

It is vital for marriageable people to be able to make another person feel that (s)he is the most important in the universe. One who demands to be more important than any other person, is a negative number, not even on the charts. A zero is: I make us equally important in my human relations. One: I make the other slightly more important. Ten is: I make the other totally important, except the least amount necessary for me to survive. I am a paragon of thoughtfulness and consideration. I demonstrate that I am thinking of you by phoning you from wherever I am, bringing presents, using my talents to create things that please you, I anticipate or I let you have what matters to you, I give compliments and express appreciation, and I am responsive. I keep sending concrete messages that say that you are important, special, precious and valuable.

Crucial to marriage is acceptance of responsibility for other people. To need others to be responsible for you or for others to be highly responsible in your arrangements with other people is negative and off the chart. A zero has us accepting responsibility equally. A one is: I accept slightly more responsibility for other people than I require them to accept for me. Ten is: I accept total responsibility all over, all the time, in all relationships, except for the minimal necessity for survival. This is the Torah's description of the level of a "gadol," a leader or a king who has responsibility for his generation. How much do you strive to be responsible several digits onto the positive side?

Crucial to marriage is "working on myself." This pertains to being able to grow, to be sensitive, adaptive, principled, to work on developing and elevating myself. Backsliding or declining is a negative. A zero is: I stagnate. I'm comfortable and/or rigid, "treading water" where I am. One: I work on myself slightly, relative to my potential (NOT relative to any other person). Ten is: I am totally, steadily, diligently, perseveringly and intensely working on growing and elevating, becoming increasingly more spiritual and mature. I am working to my utmost and potential. I am growing constantly and significantly.

Respect is vital to marriage. Any contempt or demand for respect for any person is a negative. Expecting an equal entitlement or even exchange of respect is a zero. Respecting you just a little more than I respect myself is a one. Respecting you totally, except for my needs for survival, is ten.

Self-control, especially in relation to anger; or any cause of abuse, hurt or shortchange, is vital to a marriage. If you ever display a speck of outburst (active damage) or negligence (passive damage), that's a negative, not on the chart. A zero is: sometimes I'm willing or able to be in control of myself, sometimes it's your onus and responsibility. One is: I would like to get angry or lose charge of myself but I control it; albeit with difficulty, tension or resentment. Ten is: I am always calm and in control of myself, I operate on the basis of intellect and Torah principle, I don't ever feel anger, I am diligent on behalf of always behaving like a mentsh and feeling good-heartedness for every other Jew at all times, and I only look to do good (and guard against bad) in every way at all times.

In order to choose a happy partner and have a happy marriage, one has to be happy within. An unhappy person cannot choose or have a happy relationship. One is attracted to people who are like one's true inner self, who are a reflection of one's true inner self, and who serve the needs of one's internal emotional condition. This is because that is how one's true inner personality is "wired" or "programmed," and this, in turn, determines how the personality defines and understands reality. An unhappy person cannot provide happiness, or appreciate treatment that should make a recipient happy. Your inner state can be measured by the extent to which your relationship behavior makes other people happy. If you make others unhappy, that is a negative. If you make another happy on condition that the other make you happy equally, that is a zero. If your outpouring of self, in relationship terms, causes the other to be made to be slightly happier than you expect to be made to feel, that is a one. If you are fully capable of outpouring constant joy, humor, happiness, security and delight into another, that is a ten. Orchos Tzadikkim, in defining "happiness," requires absolutely no sense of hurt in one's heart.

Vital is trustworthiness. Not being trustworthy is a negative. A zero is seeing yourself and the next as equally obligated in trustworthiness. A ten is utter commitment to unending and unchanging total trustworthiness in every area of life, with utter preoccupation on scrupulousness, attention to detail, erring on the side of being too reliable and competent.

It is vital to see these charts (and most important of all, the inner qualities which they are designed to measure) in concrete, practical terms. To keep detached or abstracted is to deny their purpose - and the purpose of your life: to achieve your potential and mission, especially in spirituality, and which you cannot do without your soulmate.