Stupid Cupid: Steps to Find Your Beshert

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It’s the season of love. (And not just because the Eagles brought home a victory.)

Rabbi Michael Stern, founder of Rabbi Without Walls — which provides “full-service Judaism a la carte” — emphasized that the first step to finding love is to identify what you are looking for. People have different definitions of dating, but if you’re in the market for a lifelong partner, continue reading.

Stern will lead three upcoming free classes on “dating successfully.” The first class on Feb. 12 will discuss 10 surefire ways to marry the wrong person; what to look for in a prospective marriage partner on Feb. 19; and how “cupid is stupid” and love can be a magnifying glass on Feb. 26.


“Marriage on the surface seems like ‘I’m looking for somebody to share my life with,’ and it’s more seen as, ‘This person can help complete me,’” he explained. “But the Torah looks at it a little differently: It’s ‘What do I have to give to the other person to help complete them?’ And in doing so, that’s how I complete myself.”

To expand on that dating wisdom, we asked Stern for some advice.

Q: What should people look for in a lifelong partner?

A: I see it as bases around the baseball diamond. First base, in true reality, has got to be attraction or chemistry or common interest — something that feels that you have some glue together. … First base is like the wrapping on a present: It’s just the wrapping. But the function of the wrapping is to get you to open up the package. … Second and third bases are the two essential areas where the Torah articulates what you should be looking for in a prospective mate, which are character and shared life goals. What’s the purpose of dating altogether? The most important thing to understand going in is, “What am I doing this for?” … You can’t ask somebody to share your life unless you know what kind of life you want to share.

Q: What does a successful relationship look like?

A: The fourth base is trust and intimacy. … If it’s important to you, it’s important to me. The more the other person is convinced that you have their best interest in mind, that develops trust. Trust develops a vulnerability, an openness and intimacy. Intimacy is to know the other person and to be known.

Q: What are some do’s and don’ts for first dates?

A: Don’t be late. (laughs) The “do” is to be yourself. You have to know who each other are. Be in a situation where the date is not forever, quite frankly. The purpose of that first date is just to see if you have that kind of connection. … Do something together that would reveal the other person a little bit. Don’t interview her or him. It’s a balance between don’t interview them and don’t distract yourself completely where you can’t get a little bit of a feel for what the person is.

Q: How long have you been married?

A: Twenty-four years, and I would say two years ago was by far our best year of marriage, and continued on this past year. When you’re first married, the goal is to truly convince the other person that all you want is their good. It takes couples different amounts of time; a couple can accomplish this year one, possibly, but it can take many years. For us, it took many years. Everybody is carrying baggage with them. Everybody has a self-sabotage button. Everybody has a “not really worth it” button. You have to be completely vulnerable in the marriage, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is very difficult. But once you are you and they are they, and you can allow the other person to give to you — that’s big.

… Quick example: taking out the garbage. First, I didn’t really want to take out the garbage, and I really relied on her to ask me to take out the garbage. Then as I grew up, I was like, “Oh, it’s important to her, I’ll take it out because it’s important to her.” But I didn’t feel like I wanted to take out the garbage. And then to motivate myself I said, “I want to take out the garbage because I want to be a good person or a great husband,” but that has nothing to do, really, with her. When I finally am able to take out the garbage because it’s important to her, that’s a high step. There’s an even higher step, which is the goal of your entire relationship, which is it’s not just, “I’m taking out the garbage because it’s important to her.” Eventually, the garbage becomes important to me. I wind up becoming disgusted by the garbage. (laughs) In that vein, we become us. We become one. 

To RSVP to the classes, call 414-573-9668 or email [email protected]m.

[email protected]; 215-832-0737

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