In order to make such a decision you must look in your potential spouse at 4 central things. 2 should be checked even before dating and 2 can be checked during dating.
These are the 4 things:
- Good character traits: The proposed match is someone with a good heart, tolerant, cares about the respect of others, doesn’t get heated up quickly and if he/she does get angry it’s not great anger and he /she makes up right away.
This should be checked out before going out on a date by checking out extensively with the people the proposed match spends time with like his immediate family, friends, colleagues and the like. Find out about his conduct in these circles and don’t base your decision on the top behavior you see during a date.
- The proposed match is a G-d fearing person: Fearing G-d has many levels but the base line that should not be negotiable is that a man has set times for Torah learning in his daily routine and he keeps his eyes from straying after immodest things. A woman should have knowledge of family purity laws she will keep when getting married and other laws pertaining to family life. She should also be modest in her demeanor and her dress.
Included in this is to see if his/her spiritual ambitions of how to run a home and raise children match up with yours. Both a man and a woman must have the sensitivity not to say bad things about others and not to put food whose kashrut is suspect into their mouths.
- Pleasant conversation: Do you feel comfortable when talking with him/her? Your conversation shouldn’t be shallow to the point you can’t wait for it to end nor should it be overly profound to the point you’re not sure what was said and what they’re getting at. Conversation should flow in both directions and be pleasant.
- A pleasant external appearance: Don’t look for outstanding good looks, they’re not necessary and at times can bring harm. Looks should be such that a couple feels comfortable with each other’s looks. If there is something that causes repulsion it can have repercussions down the line. Our sages in Kiddushin 41a already said: “A man cannot marry a woman without first seeing her for he might see something unappealing and she will be unappealing to him and the Torah says “You should love your friend as yourself”.
You alone must decide if your match is attractive to you; it doesn’t matter what others think. Sometimes the proposed match has some other outstanding trait that more than makes up for what other may consider plain looks. It can even make them personally appealing to you. Therefore don’t consider what others say as far as looks. But as far as character do listen to what others say! Especially your mother will have a sharp eye for character traits and listening to her is worthwhile most of the time provided you’re both on good terms.
Adapted from 'Happily Married – The Complete Guide to a Successful Jewish Marriage' For Women, by Rabbi Zamir Cohen. Click Here to Buy Now