Friday Repost: How to Get Married – From People Who Have Done It

I interviewed some MFs and asked them to give me advice on how to get married, based on their own experience.  The results are at the other end of the link.

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Things Not to Say to a Friend You See on a Date

Who set you up with him?

Soooo…. should I plan for a wedding in the future? [wink wink nudge nudge]

Oh well, we all have to eat a few lemons.

Don’t take this the wrong way but, next time you go out? Let me do your make-up.

Your tag is sticking out.

He brought you here? He took me to Abigael’s on our first date.

Bisha’ah tova umutzlachas

You can never tell – my first date with my husband was terrible.

YOU

Why – why – do you think that you know exactly why I’m not married yet?

Cuz guess what. After due consideration of your suggestion – and I did consider it long and hard – I have concluded that you’re not correct. So stop suggesting. You might have noticed that I’m not listening, which is why you keep repeating. Well please stop. Please, please, please stop.

Because I used to like you.

Same Page of the Rulebook

There are so many Rules for how to live life and date. No problem with that – in general, they’re helpful. Except when they’re not. Like when they conflict.

Take the general rule that you should always arrive five minutes early. Or be ready five minutes early. I’m always ready five minutes before a date, but my dates, for their part, rarely seem to operate on the Five-Before rule. They either lurk outside waiting until the clock strikes before they push the bell, or they show up somewhat later.

“He’s late,” my mother might observe.

“No,” I answer. “He’s probably operating by the Five-Late Rule. That the guy should show up five minutes late, because the girl is never ready on time.” I’ve  even heard of the Fifteen-Late Rule, but I hope nobody actually does that. So not appreciated.

Then there are the dinner-date Rules. Like the What to Eat rules. I’ve always wondered: if a guy takes you out for falafel, does it mean he knows the rules and is purposely ignoring it for kicks, or is he ignorant? I don’t know, so just in case I don’t lick my fingers.

(I must observe: it’s amazing how much different eating a burger feels when you’re across the table from a guy you barely know. When I was quite small I was sometimes told I had a big mouth. I discovered, when faced with a giant hamburger, that the mouth hasn’t kept up its growth. I just couldn’t take a bite without making what felt like a pretty silly face. To my utter shame, I found myself eating the burger with a knife and fork. What must he have thought… the mind blushes. No wonder we didn’t last long.)

What about the Rules for ordering? When I go out for dinner and the guy says “I’m not really hungry” and orders the cheapest thing on the menu, I wonder, “Does he know the rule that the girl orders something of comparable or lesser value than her date, so as not to put him out of pocket?” Then I shrug, figuring that if he does, and went ahead and ordered a $6 side as his entrée, he deserves a spank in the wallet. So I order whatever looks good, short of the house steak.

Humans have this compulsive need to make rules, starting from when they’re little kids inventing a game. (“No, you have to count to five before you move, and then over there you can only throw the ball to someone behind you, unless I’m standing over there…”) In theory, the rules are supposed to simplify things. (Kids don’t discover this until later.) You’re supposed to know exactly where you stand when you play by the Rules.

However, general knowledge of the Rules varies across the orthodox Jewish community and as a result, messages become garbled, daters befuddled.

Let’s do something!

I would like to recommend a comprehensive community education movement. It’s important for our young men and women to know how to conduct themselves during this most important of interviews: the date.

Do not stand idle on the blush of your brethren!

We’ll create an organization with a name that includes Irgun and Zecher in it; hire married women and kollel yungermen on a part-time, flexible basis; and start offering lectures, mini-courses, and guest speakers for high schools and conventions.

Together we can change the world!

A special panel of experts (advised by rabbanim whose signatures will appear on the bottom of our fliers) will examine current conflicting Rules and decide on which to keep or modify and which to throw out. They will also compose new Rules as they deem necessary.

Don’t just stand there!

Your donation will go toward printing handy little Qik-Ref booklets that fit into handbags and pockets for discreet reference under the table or in the bathroom, as necessary.

Who is with me?

Good Advice

I was reading An Ideal Husband, by Oscar Wilde, last week, and came across this line of unmatched wisdom: “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”

If good advice were meant to be passed on, I imagine isru chag would contain a flurry of advice-exchanging from “older” singles who have had the secret of their singleness revealed to them by wise relatives over the holiday.

One of the nice things about strangers is that they don’t give you advice. They just adapt to your “quirks” and get on with business. This is why some very flawed people have become very successful. Friends will sometimes share their insights, but only after agonizing over whether it’s really a fatal flaw, and then rehearsing their lecture in the shower. Relatives, I am sorry to say, rarely take showers before starting in on you.

Now, my relatives behaved this Pesach so I have little advice to pass along. I am only scarred by a few backhanded compliments (my favorite: “You sound so reasonable online”). However, on an annual basis I get an earful. I have become quite good at taking it. I can now listen to advice for a full five minutes before my eyes cross, my ears turn red, and steam starts dribbling out my nose. At this annual rate of tolerance growth, I will be more than ready to handle the censoriousness of my teenagers when I have them.

It’s not like it’s usually such great advice, I must note. People grasp at the simplest solutions. If you tell them “Former Date didn’t like my boots,” automatic reaction is “You should wear nicer boots on a date.” Yep, that should do it. One shopping trip and they’ll all be falling at my feet – and proposing to my footgear. I mean, seriously. If he’s going to be a shoe critic he can find himself dates by standing outside the outlet store of his choice.

I take it because I tell myself that the advice itself is a compliment. They really care. They think I’m not completely hopeless. No… what I mean is like this:

If you think Someone is absolutely wonderful, you naturally assume that everyone else will see this Someone as wonderful too. When it becomes obvious that scores of dates do not realize how absolutely wonderful Someone is, you begin puzzling over why. Could it be that so very many dates are blind? Or is Someone somehow obscuring his/her wonderfulness? You can’t help the amount of unperceptive people that Someone goes out with, but you can help Someone make his/her wonderfulness more obvious to these not-quite-perfect date.

So, by advising me on my boots, these well-meaning folks are just affirming that, in fact, they think I’m wonderful. Except for my boots. Those could use help. But everything else about me is just wonderful.

After all, there’s no point in advising a hopeless case, is there? Which means—can you imagine—they think there’s hope!

But… Wait… why didn’t anyone give me advice so far this Pesach?

Have they given up?