Most people have probably discovered by now that there is no correlation between ‘Valentine’s Day’ and love. But let’s talk about love itself. The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote many books for women in honor of His wife Chaya Mushka of blessed memory whose day of passing was yesterday the 22nd of Shevat.
The advice he gives is priceless especially for those who haven’t yet found their soul mate and for everyone not just if you’re from Chabad.
1. “If you toil and find believe it” (Megilla 6). Though there is much room for having faith, tolerance and prayers, there is no substitute for actually looking for your mate. Go out again and again and don’t despair. As the Rebbe once replied to a young woman that felt despair from the dating process: “you should go out time after time. In the end, you will definitely find your true match and you needn’t be afraid that the process takes effort and toil.”
2. Get real! Many young man and women imagine their marriage as something that may not actually exist. Love and being loved is built into us as people, and the first thing you must look for is a life partner. A young woman told the Rebbe she want out a lot but didn’t like any of the young men. The Rebbe told her: “You are reading too many books. In reality when you meet your suitable match you don’t feel a blinding bolt of lightning or butterflies in your stomach! This is a fantasy that comes from an imaginary world with imagined feelings. When to people meet, a small weak knot can be formed; a small flame can be kindled. This small flame is an emotion that will grow and strengthen into a great flame whose fuel is your cooperation, caring, mutual respect, dealing together with life’s challenges and the creation of your family cell, your home. In the end you get to a point where two people who started out almost as strangers cannot imagine life without their other half.”
3. Focus on what’s important. When you have misgivings, you must focus the spotlight on what’s important and not be petty. “You can’t find something (or someone) perfect with every possible attribute and you can never figure out every eventuality. If the main items are good often it is wise to forego trivial considerations that seem or are imagined to be incompatible. Especially since it is possible these things are only imaginary.”
4. Make peace with your past. Many times the rebbe responded to people with difficulties getting married that it is possible a long delay in getting married may be caused by a previous breakup that wasn’t properly resolved and ended in an ugly manner. The Rebbe was adamant that every potential relationship that wouldn’t work out should be concluded with the utmost respect and pleasant manner without letting anger loose at the other party or bearing any grudge.
5. Listen to your parents too. Even with the individualism prevalent in our generation you should seriously consider your parents’ thoughts and their judgment. They raised you from age zero until you reached maturity and actually know what is good for you. In a letter the Rebbe once wrote: “Her parents definitely want what’s good for her and to help her. But since it’s hard to decide things that have to do with life you should seek counsel from people that know the details of the matter.”
6. Don’t marry someone to change him. With all your noble desire to help the other person “progress” in life, the Rebbe opposed matches that are based on the potential in the prospective spouse. The potential spouse has to be assessed with his/her current abilities, attributes and faults. In his words: Clearly a match isn’t to educate someone to change him from one end to the other rather it is to build a Jewish home on the foundations of Jewish tradition with someone whose mindset about the world is similar to yours.”
7. Don’t stretch out contact unnecessarily. It’s not good to have ties stretch out long term without coming to anything concrete. Both sides need to think together if they can build a Jewish home together.
8. Take a break. Sometimes a break is beneficial to see how you really feel about your potential match. How do you know you are drawn to him/her? How do you know you have feelings of love for your potential spouse? The Rebbe gives a simple piece of advice; take a break from contact for a given amount of time. If your heart longs for your potential spouse and you feel emotional about it, he/she is the one. “Marriage is for many happy years to come. A short break will magnify positive feelings if they exist or magnify their absence.”
9. Blend logic and emotions; the heart alone doesn’t decide nor does the brain alone. “The decision to marry must come from the heart and the mind together. Just beware that sometimes what seems to be logic is really emotion… and she should contemplate this.”
10. Think about others first. “Worry that your friends should find their match and G-d will see to it that you get your match,” the Rebbe recommended to a young woman that sought his advice.