Love, Lies, and Shidduchim
Click: The Magic of Instant Connections, the latest book from the team of Israeli-born brothers, Ori and Rom Brafman, touches on couples who have instantly connected, married, and stayed together down the road. (see their earlier book, Sway, mentioned in http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2008/09/power-of-single-word-could-sway.html) The book opens with the story of such a couple. They were not impetuous teenagers like Romeo and Juliet but educated professionals in their thirties when they met. They clicked from the first conversation, talked for hours, and decided to marry very soon. While there is a "magical" connection, and that book does use the term throughout, the connection is not one born of the magnetism of opposing forces but of similarities.
Click reveals that a key component of relationships that click -- both romantic and platonic -- is the similar basis of the people involved. They share values, beliefs, tastes, or, even, names. It is the sameness that draws people together. The shidduch system is designed to achieve matches by bringing like people together. The assumption is that those of similar backgrounds, hashkafa [outlook, usually as indicated by school attended], and similar socio-economic circles have better odds of clicking than those of divergent backgrounds. So why doesn't it always work out? Well, there is more to clicking than matching on externals or being able to engage in small talk while sitting for hours in a hotel lobby. In fact, if people remain in the realm of small talk, which include "phatic statements" like "'How are you?'" and "factual" ones that merely offer bits of information like where one lives or attends school. Even "evaluative statements," which offer opinions, the conversation will not lead to a click between the people conversing. They have to progress to to "gut-level" statements" which reveal our feeling-based perspective" and, finally, "peak statements, where we share our innermost feelings, feelings that are deeply revealing and carry the most risk in terms of how the other person might respond." (pp. 38-39). Now how many shidduch dates progress to the point at which there are revelations of feeling that lets down one's guard to the point of vulnerability? Without it, though, the click is likely to elude the couple. However, revealing one's vulnerable side to another is a necessary step in creating a deep connection. As it says on page 44:
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in engaging with another person, the emotional intensity of the conversation escalates as the other person responds in kind. He or she recognizes our willingness to be open as an invitation to take the relationship to a deeper level. Of course, the person may back away -- that is the risk we take in being open. But when someone responds in kind, then we both are acknowledging that we would like to take the relationship to a deeper level.
It is not necessary for a couple to arrive at this level on the first date, as those who instantly click do; it is possible to build up to that point without the instant connection. In a study recounted in Click married couples fall into 3 groups: those who clicked right away, those who decided to marry after dating in a typical courtship situation, and those who transitioned from friendship to a romantic relationship after a while. Marriages in any of the 3 categories can prove successful, as they do in the study covered in the book, though there are differences in how the spouses think of each other and their relationship. Ultimately, one size does not fit all when it comes to individuals' happily ever after. Whether one falls into it or descends slowly, the components of a successful relationship are the same.
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