In this series 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.