Recently, I was a featured speaker at an event where a film about matchmaking called “A Match Made in Heaven” was aired. Following the film, I was asked to comment about the film and to moderate a group discussion.
The film focused specifically on the Orthodox Jewish community and portrayed their matchmaking practices.
Similar to many other cultures, the Orthodox Jewish practice involves the parents of young single adults hiring a matchmaker to find prospects for their children based on the parents’ intimate understanding of, and expectations for their children.
As the film portrayed, the results of these efforts are mixed. Some matches succeeded due to luck and the right chemistry between the young adults while others failed due to the lack of these factors.
While my matchmaking practice is completely different in that my clients hire me for themselves, certain similarities with the old fashioned practices became apparent, as I watched the film.
The theme of expectations, in the film, of parents towards their children, paralleled my clients own expectations, which for them are based on their upbringing and cultures. Often, it’s difficult to shed those expectations when meeting potential partners, even for older singles, whose parents are either elderly or deceased.
I recently introduced David, a 65 year old client to Judy, age 63.
They were both Jewish-David had been raised as a Conservative Jew, while Judy came from a Reform Jewish family. On their first date, which went exceedingly well for the first hour, Judy brought up (why??) the issue of burial. She informed David that she had instructed her children to have her cremated and her ashes scattered in her favorite childhood park.
Upon hearing this, David went white and was rendered completely speechless. In his mind, he had always envisioned a traditional burial, where he would be laid to rest with his lifelong partner or spouse. He presumed anyone Jewish would want the same thing.
David called after the date and was very upset. He told me this might be a ‘deal breaker’, despite the fact that he felt they were a great match otherwise. He felt strongly about his final wishes and wasn’t sure he could get beyond their disconnect on this issue.
I listened sympathetically and then gave him my reaction to his dilemma.
I advised him that if he truly liked Judy, he should worry less about how he would die with someone and more about how or whether he could live with them.
This gets back to the issue of expectations.
Often clients are hindered by their presumptions about how things should go, based on their upbringings, no matter what their age.
While we are all subject to these internal pressures, I always encourage my clients to look at the bigger picture.
Achieving true happiness sometimes requires that people get beyond their comfort zones to negotiate solutions for the greater good of a relationship.
David heeded my advice and continued to date Judy for several months. At some point, however, they both realized that their relationship lacked the right physical chemistry, an issue far more fundamental than their respective final wishes.