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Eventually, one is required to get married. In the process of selecting a marriage partner, what are important topics to discuss in the dating process?

In particular, I'm looking for topics that will help ascertain if two people are compatible for marriage...

Also, do seforim talk about these topics? Or is it a matter of common sense?

Please include sources for your answer(s).

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DovidSmith, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thanks for the interesting question. I hope to see you around. –  msh210 Jan 31 '13 at 2:24
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I'd just like to remind everyone that sources are very important for this type of question. –  Double AA Jan 31 '13 at 2:52
    
I'd just like to remind everyone that common sense is also very important for this type of question. –  Seth J Jan 31 '13 at 2:59
    
@SethJ It is very, if not more important when confronting the actual issues. That doesn't make it relevant for the discussion here. –  Double AA Jan 31 '13 at 3:22
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FWIW, my rabbi made sure my (then-future) husband and I discussed: children; observance details (since I, the woman, had the stricter practice); money; our families; how we argue/resolve differences; career goals (to make sure they were aligned); and a few more I'm not remembering right now. I didn't ask for sources. :-) –  Monica Cellio Jan 31 '13 at 3:30
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2 Answers 2

First off: make sure you're not both carriers for a recessive disease such as Tay-Sachs or Canavan. You can do this through Dor Yeshorim (in which case you're simply told "no conflict"), or can see a geneticist to actually find out what you carry. (Some people prefer not to have that burden.)

It's important to make sure you're on the same page about finances, and can manage conflict. If either side tries to get out of signing the Beis Din of America prenup, run.

Similarly, to quote Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz (who wrote a book on contemporary Agunah conflicts): "it's not a fun question, but ask yourself -- how would this person and I deal with each other if we were going through a divorce?" Now usually people are dewy-eyed and can't possibly imagine a problem coming up, so an alternative formulation of this suggested by a friend of mine is: "see how this person deals with their enemies."

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Source? (the famous Teshuva of Igros Moshe) –  Shmuel Brin Jan 31 '13 at 3:17
    
Does the Teshuvah discuss other diseases? –  Seth J Jan 31 '13 at 3:31
    
    
@SethJ, no I think R' Moshe only discussed Tay-Sachs a few decades ago. We know a lot more now about Ashkenazic recessive disorders. –  Shalom Jan 31 '13 at 14:43
    
"it's not a fun question, but ask yourself -- how would this person and I deal with each other if we were going through a divorce?". He's right. It's not a fun question, and I think it is a very very wrong question to ask at that point. –  Shraga Jan 31 '13 at 18:09
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"You can recognize a person's real character by his wine cup (koso), his purse (kiso), and his anger (kaaso)." (Eruvin 65b)

I don't advise getting drunk, but the point is that to know someone you must test that person in different situations. It's not enough to talk things over. Take the person to different situations and test them out in their midos (how are they when desire for something hits, or are they stingy vs. generous, are they controlling? Are they easy going?)

Excessive anger is a big no-no in marriage. I would avoid an anger prone person like the plague. Also, a big no-no is a controlling person who is rigid and insists on having his or her way.

The Talmud says 3 people cry and are not answered, one of them is he who whose wife rules over him. (Bava Metzia 75) It also says a man should never cast undue fear over his household (Gittin 6b) and that a man must be very careful with troubling his wife, for her tears come quickly. (Bava Metzia 59a)

Bottom line I'm trying to say, is that midos plays a crucial role in marriage, and to research these requires seeing the person in different situations; it's not enough to talk things over.

Obviously, it's important to talk also to find common interests, religious speed, family issues, etc. But as the Talmud says, to find the real character of the person requires seeing them in different/difficult situations.

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I hope you don't mind, but your answer was likely to get many downvotes before. There are numerous statements in the Talmud about the dangers and pitfalls of being an overbearing and dominating husband as well; I added two to balance out your answer. I also tweaked it for punctuation, etc. –  Seth J Jan 31 '13 at 15:16
    
Thanks for the edit Seth. It affected my vote. –  Monica Cellio Jan 31 '13 at 16:41
    
ok. thanks. why would this bring downvotes? I was talking from a man's perspective. –  ray Jan 31 '13 at 20:46
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