The Role of Positive Emotional Feelings

Positive Emotional Feelings As Well as Rational Appreciation

I was pleased to read in your letter that you found many positive qualities in his personality, [i.e., the young man you have been meeting], and that he fits the bill with regard to what you are looking for in a young man whom you wish to marry. You also hope that maybe there are additional [fine] qualities that have as yet not been revealed to you.

You are correct when you write that in matters such as these, there must be some positive emotional feelings [toward the young man] as well, not only that it makes sense intellectually.

This is logically understandable as well: Marriage consists of constructing a complete edifice, one that will endure for all eternity. As such, it must be an edifice and house that is united and coupled in all aspects [in emotional aspects as well], not only joined intellectually.

On the other hand, one cannot always easily discern where the intellectual deliberations end and the emotional considerations begin. Quite often, although one may think that this is purely a matter of intellectual reflection, in point of fact, it is in large part — if not overwhelmingly so — a matter of emotional consideration.

It is therefore my hope that after you meet with him another few times you will be able to discern this matter for yourself — that there is not only an intellectual connection, but an emotional one as well.

In light of the above, if you are sure that as of yet you harbor no emotional feelings at all, [i.e., neither positive nor negative], then it would seem that it is too soon to make a decision regarding this matter. However, if you see that [positive] emotional feelings are also manifest, then may it be G‑d’s will that the shidduch be with hatzlachah and in a good and auspicious hour.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 338)

When There Are Absolutely No Feelings

You write to me that with regard to a shidduch, although you have already met a number of times, nevertheless you have absolutely no feelings regarding the matter. You ask my advice as to how you should proceed.

In such circumstances, you should delay making a decision until you develop a feeling, be it a positive feeling or a non-positive feeling.

At times, the manner to ascertain this, [i.e., your emotional state of mind] is by meeting again a number of times, or alternately, to stop meeting for a certain amount of time and see how this affects one’s emotional feeling. It depends on the personality of the individual whether he should adopt the former method or the latter.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 285)

Ascertaining One’s True Feelings

In response to your letter of the fourth of Adar in which you write that you are still unable to make a conclusive decision [with regard to a shidduch], but [your inclination is] etc. [i.e., to break it off]:

Since the possibility exists for you to meet again, therefore you should do so and see what effect this encounter will have. At that time you will be able to more clearly ascertain your true feelings and then make a final decision.

As I wrote to you in my previous letter, may G‑d lead you in the path that is good for you both materially and spiritually, in a palpable and revealed degree of goodness.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 322)

Providing an Interlude

In response to your letter of the 26th of Cheshvan: You write that you have personally known a young man for a number of years and that you are now facing a decision regarding a shidduch with him.

Your dilemma is that notwithstanding the fact that you have known him for a long time, you find it hard to make a final decision as to whether you should marry him.

Since this is the case, and a shidduch and marriage is for “many long and good days and years,” it would be advisable for you and him not to meet for a while.

This interlude during which you do not meet with each other should be able to clarify to you your inner feelings concerning him. It should reveal to you whether they, [i.e., your feelings toward him] are positive or negative.

May the Creator provide you with the accurate sentiment, that you be able to correctly decide what is beneficial to you both materially and spiritually.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 130)

When the Head Says “Yes” and the Heart Says “No”

.. You write that “the head says that there can be no better, but the heart says no.” You do not write, however, why the heart says “no.”

In practical terms: Generally with regard to a shidduch, the feelings of one’s heart are more than of secondary importance. Therefore, one must have at least a beginning of feeling for this matter [i.e., a feeling for one’s potential mate], or at least conjecture that this feeling will eventually come about.

If, however, even this is lacking and the heart says “no,” then one should give due consideration to this [absence of feeling].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 306)

Fleeting or Permanent Feelings

.. You write to me about your feelings with regard to a shidduch with a certain young man — stating both the reasons for and against [marrying him].

What remains unclear, however, in your letter is whether the feelings you describe are certain and steadfast, or whether it is possible that these feelings stem from your present mood and frame of mind and that they will pass.

One of the ways of deciding whether it is the former or the latter is by seeing what effect not seeing this young man for a period of time will have upon you.

The result of this [cessation of meeting with him for a time will be that] you will then be able to more objectively judge your true feelings regarding this matter.

If, during the time, that you and he were geographically distant from each other you nevertheless corresponded on a regular basis, then you can at least now temporarily cease all communications, including written communications.

You can then analyze what the results are [in terms of your feelings towards him] from this lack of communication.

If [after this period of noncommunication] the relationship proves to be a sound one, both on your part and on the part of the young man, then you can explain to him how he can rectify those things that you find are a cause for negating the shidduch.

For example, that he presently increase his Torah study in a diligent and assiduous manner. Surely, within a few weeks he will be able to know for himself whether he can comfortably live such a lifestyle.

With regard to the opposition of ... If the results of the above-mentioned experiment [of not communicating with each other for a period of time] prove to be absolutely positive, surely their opposition will decrease of itself. You can also ask friends to speak to them and explain to them the situation, etc.

May G‑d — who oversees each and every person with individual Divine Providence — lead you in the path that is best for you both with regard to this above crucial matter in your life, as well as in all aspects of your life.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIII, p. 70)

Putting Feelings to the Test

.. You write in your letter regarding the potential shidduch of a certain young man, who having met seven times with a certain young lady, still feels no affinity, although he himself doesn’t know why this is so. This young man now doesn’t know what to do:

In point of fact, there are no hard and fast rules in such situations, as it depends on the particular nature of the young man — possibly this is a positive sign and possibly not.

However, since this relates to marriage, which is an eternal bond, therefore in these later [spiritually deficient] generations — unlike earlier generations — there must at least be the beginning of a [mutual] attraction.

Nevertheless, with regard to the matter itself, it is impossible that there be exactly the same feelings during the time of the first meeting and the time of the last meeting. This change [as a result of the additional meetings] indicates whether getting to know each other better leads to their being drawn closer to each other or not.

There are two additional ways to test one’s feelings: The first is through comparing this proposition to another — something that highlights and stresses the extent of the relationship.

The second way is by imagining what one’s reaction would be if one would find out that for whatever reason the other party is distancing himself or herself from the shidduch.

In practical terms, in my opinion, they should meet at least once more and see whether this caused a change with regard to the matter.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, printed in Neilchah b’Orchosov, p. 166)

When There Is Trepidation

You write about your feelings with regard to the person whom you have been meeting for the sake of a shidduch [and your trepidation]:

It would be appropriate for you to speak with your friends and confidants, those who have recently married. For often these feelings are quite common and have nothing at all to do with the individual whom one is meeting, but with the overall responsibility and obligation that marriage carries with it.

At times one is able to ascertain that this is indeed so, [i.e., that the trepidation emanates from the general aspect of getting married,] by speaking with those who have already gone through this stage.

In your case, there is even more of a basis to think that this is the reason [for your trepidation], inasmuch as you write that you hold the young man in high esteem, you desire to see him, and so on and so forth.

Despite this, I would still advise you to clarify [your feelings] in the manner described above [of speaking to those who have already gone through this stage].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, p. 43)