Welcome to our S.M.A.R.T. dating blog. The “S” stands for “serious” – are you serious about getting married. There’s a lot to say on this topic, and I want to start by sharing a story.

Once upon a time, there were 3 sons renting apartments, each claiming to desperately wanted a home of his own. Their father presented them with an offer: there are so many great homes out there. Show me you are serious about settling down in one. Find the home you want within 30 days and I will buy it for you.

Son 1 made a list of everything he wanted. It had to be in a certain neighborhood. 5 bedrooms. A huge kitchen. A yard with a pool. 5 bathrooms. A big living room with bay windows. A spiral staircase. He called 30 realtors and they began searching high and low for a house that had everything on is list. Every day they called him with available houses, but something was wrong with each one. Wrong neighborhood. One bathroom too few. No bay windows. Not only did he have great demands, but he did not give feedback to the realtors so they could explain to him the potential of the home. One bedroom short isn’t a big deal when there is a huge yard and space to add on. Bay windows could be added. The rug in the living room could be removed. But without the feedback, the realtors just heard “No” after “No”, and none could not help Son 1. At the end of 30 days, he did not find his dream home, so Son 1 ended up staying in the rental.

Son 2 did not have such a long list, only 4 things: (1) 4 bedrooms. (2) A huge kitchen. (3) A few bathrooms. (4) A big yard. He, too, contacted many realtors who searched high and low for him. But every time they made a suggestion, it was not a good fit, claimed Son 2. When they showed him 4 bedroom homes, the rooms were too small or didn’t have windows where he wanted them. When a realtor suggested a house in one neighborhood, Son 2 did not feel like traveling to see it – too far right now, he said. I am busy with work. The kitchen may be big but not what he was looking for. There may be several bathrooms but they weren’t the way he imagined they would be in his dream home. He gave feedback, but always had poor and flimsy excuses for why each home was not a good fit. After 30 days, he did not become a homeowner.

Son 3 made a very short list. 4 bedrooms. 3 bathrooms. A decent kitchen. A yard of sorts. He contacted 3 realtors and said, I want a home. I know my father means well with this, and I will not lose this opportunity. Choose any safe and reasonable neighborhood. Find me something nice. I’m going to be realistic knowing that it may not be perfect but over time I’ll become really happy with it. And he was presented with lots of suggestions. He saw a few houses and chose one that he thought had potential to be his life-long home. It was not perfect, but he knew no house would be. He made sure it did not have major defects like a hidden mold problem, a leaky roof, or pipes that had to be fully replaced.

The father said to Son 3, you found a good home. You were realistic. You had the right focus and priorities. You didn’t have excessive expectations. You found something with potential for a life of happiness. Every year henceforth I will give you $100,000 to make renovations and improve it. You looked ahead and made a smart choice for your future, and I will be there right by your side to help you enjoy it for years to come.

Sons 1 and 2 turned to the father with aggravation. Don’t you love us? Why don’t you give us what we want now? So, the 30 days are over. We were just looking for what is best for us. The father said, this was not about me giving you what you wanted. You are so focused on your own needs and demands you failed to understand and appreciate a great gift I was offering. You were narrow-sighted and unrealistic. So now go find your own dream house and pay for it yourself, if you ever find it. I don’t think you’ll ever find the perfection you are seeking, nor the happiness.

This time of year, people pour out their hearts to Hashem. Make it my year to marry. Find me the perfect spouse. Help me find my dream partner, what I have envisioned all my life.

Let’s remember: Hashem gives everyone opportunities. But did you turn someone down because of age? Location? Lack of degree? A photo? Or did you “see the house”, envision its potential, and realize that no house is perfect but with effort and investment, it could be perfect for you…forever?

When you are really ready for marriage, you will reduce your long list of demands to three things you need to go on a first date. You will find realtors you trust to help you. You will seek to grab the opportunity by being open minded. You will realize that you won’t find perfection or happiness packaged the way you dreamed about, but you can find the potential in someone if you know what to look for.

More coming next week…

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