I have written extensively on criteria for healthy and durable shidduchim, emphasizing matters of good hashkafa and midos, a good heart, honesty, responsibility, communication, common goals, respect, humility and phychological normality. These criteria often vary from the those chosen by frum and supposedly knowledgable people. The Torah gives each person free will, the bigger the person the bigger his yetzer hora and everyone can either do good or bad things. I will bring two case histories, each showing how a "perfect shidduch" became a fiasco and was based on perverse criteria. Names are, of course, fictitious, to protect privacy.
Mr. Bernstein, a fabulously wealthy man, went into a yeshiva and asked to speak to the Rosh HaYeshiva (head dean). He said that he had a daughter of marriageable age and wanted the best-learning guy in the yeshiva for his daughter, Sora. He would give the couple a fortune of money so that the fellow could continue to learn Torah. The Rosh HaYeshiva said he had just the boy, who was excellent in learning. The boy, Shmerel, was called in and given the proposition and he agreed.
At the wedding, the rich father-in-law, true to his word, presented to the couple an enormous sum of money. Just when Sora gave birth to their SEVENTH CHILD, the money ran out. Shmerel said to his wife, "If I have to go work for someone, let me work for someone I love, not you," and he divorced Sora promptly. He had gone after the externals. Mr. Bernstein went after the fashion of judging a boy by his intellect, without regard for the important qualities. Sora was caught in the middle; together with seven perplexed, broken and abandoned children. And there never had been any heart. There was nothing of any substance there. We see from Shmerel that even if one is brilliant in the mind, if one isn't also brilliant in the heart, one can be very stupid in how one uses one's brilliance. In marriage, midos come before intelligence.
Getzel wanted a girl with personality. It would have to feel like "electricity," be fun and she would be his best friend. When he was set up with Genendel, it was like a dream, like Heaven. She was bouncy yet "cool," intelligent without airs. After they were married, he noticed some changes in Genendel. She became more demanding and rigid. Things had to be her way, to increasing and irrational degrees of detail and precision. She become more forceful and intense. Her approach to everything; money, intimacy, Yiddishkeit, pastimes; assumed a frantic quality with proggressive blindness to Getzel and any impact her behaviors had on him. He was unable to communicate, never mind reason, with her. There was only her way. Getzel became incidental. She was closed to his existence as a distinct human being. Fights erupted more and more. They became very cruel, hurtful and hostile towards eachother. The marriage was very destructive and the trouble escalated to the point where divorce had to be contemplated. This made Genendel aware that "something" was wrong, although it "probably was all his fault." They both went into counseling with me.
Genendel had been through a very troubled childhood, but since the emotional abuse was kept essentially within the privacy of the home, it was kept fairly secret and since she knew of no "normal" upbringing or home envoironment, she viewed her "reality" to be normal. She manifested her problems and inner restlessness by showing the world a bubbly personality, in her desperate desire for love and approval. To the world she seemed personable and positive. When she became secure with her marriage, the act could stop. The bitter, viscious, controlling, resentful and insecure inner person; who had been "psychologically buried" since childhood; progressively came out after marriage. Therefore, there was no indication or information before marriage that Genendel was seriously ill and destructive, and that what appeared to be "loads of personality" was really the outer phoney face of an emotional cripple carrying unmanageable pain, defense, anger, fright, instability and escapism.
Getzel had his "peckel" of problems too: spoiled, immature, emotionally neglected; passively, not actively, damaged like his wife. They each had "antennas" that sought the likes of eachother out (which is why they each were so intensely attracted to eachother) and their neuroses fed into eachother's neuroses. Psychologically, they were a "team," co-dependent on eachother.
Once we all started realizing the situation for what it was, we started working on each one's individual inner resolution and the marriage resolution. Genendel found out that she was pregnant and was smart enough to realize that she owed a normal, nurturing and healthy upbring to her baby. There was enough love-bond and sense of responsbility (to their halachic obligation to do all that is humanly possible to bring peace) to motivate them to salvage their marriage. They were fortunate to have an unusually dedicated rov, who was very supportive and who they both respected. When he told them to keep working with me and to do all that they could and should to stay together, they obeyed loyally. They both are complex and troubled people. The work which they have to do WITHIN THEMSELVES AND BETWEEN THEMSELVES is considerable. They are motivated, have the support of their rov and a unified loyalty to him and Torah, and have become committed to giving their forthcoming child a normal life. They plan to overcome all the fighting and pain, make adaptations, heal themselves individually and resolve the marriage as "allies." It's a slow and gradual process but progress, so far, is significant. They are both learning to recognize eachother as people and respond to eachother as "mentshen." They have caused eachother a lot of suffering, but they are reconciled to learn to be good to eachother and grow so that they will be able to get along workably, as a steady and practical matter.