The Gottmans are a power couple in the field of relationships. Dr. John Gottman is a relationship researcher and his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz, is a clinician. I attended a seminar about their perspective on couples in which Dr. J. Gottman talked about his research on successful couples.
One of the most striking pieces of his work that struck me is the concept of a shared vision. Practically every successful couple has a shared vision, a set of goals and values that the partners lean on one another to achieve together. During the seminar, he posited that the shared vision is created together.
Which got me thinking about how we date, or at least what I'd thought about how we date. The impression I had when I entered the dating world is that each person has their criteria, their list, their image of what marriage, life, children should look like. We are each trying to find the other person to fit that bill.
I started wondering if maybe instead of looking for that image in another person we should be looking for the person with whom we can create a new image.
Perhaps it wasn't so relevant when we consider the dating history of frum Jews. Living and growing up in small communities may have created a community image, a shared image that children grew up with. Variations may have been smaller. Perhaps in some ways we still have those small communities and still look within them for that shared image. It may have worked then, perhaps it still works today for some.
On the one hand, it seems easy to choose someone based on their fit with our image, and then we stay with them because we like their character and find them attractive. However, it can be quite difficult to find someone who fits that image, and to expect or look for character and attraction in addition can sometimes seem like a tall order.
On the other hand, choosing someone based on character and attraction may seem difficult too, and with the added work of creating a shared image, of having to work and not so easily have the life, marriage, family that we expect or dream of in this moment can also feel like a tough expectation to swallow.
Which way resonates with you?