Whenever I encounter couples who are hesitant about participating in a Bashert interview, the first objection they usually raise is, "We really don’t have much of a story" and then proceed to talk about their relationship for 30 minutes or more. One thing I’ve learned in nearly two years of writing this column is that every couple has a story to tell about their first meeting or their courtship. Some are funny, some are poignant, some are even disastrous. But the stories all share one quality: They portray human beings in search of that elusive thing called love. And when two people do find that special connection, their sense of elation is nearly palpable. This is the kernel of emotion I seek in my interviews the awareness that romantic love has deeply touched these individuals and made them richer for it.
Sometimes, especially with couples that have been married for decades, the passing years have blurred that initial rush of emotion. The interview process refreshes their memories and often rekindles these feelings. It’s not uncommon for couples to e-mail me after an interview and tell me how walking down "memory lane" sparked further conversations about the past that made them laugh and cry and ultimately drew them closer together. Other couples tell me that friends and associates they haven’t heard from in years contact them after reading their interview in the Standard broadening their circle in a very positive way.
Remember that while "bashert" might mean "fated or intended," being a bashert couple doesn’t mean you faced no problems or overcame no obstacles. As Shakespeare so wisely pointed out, the course of true love is rarely smooth. What bashert does mean is that you both felt a strong connection and realized that without this other person, your life would be lacking or incomplete.
Some couples had to deal with religious differences, while others were unsure about moving forward after the trauma of losing a spouse or the pain of a divorce. Some couples bonded during adverse times in Nazi Germany or Communist Russia. Others traveled great distances, sometimes to other continents, to effect their courtship. Whatever the impediments, these couples found ways to make their relationships flourish.
Yet not all couples met in exotic or epic ways. Often, childhood friends grew into sweethearts, and teenage crushes matured into genuine affection. Sometimes grade school adversaries discovered that the spark of discord eventually led to adult passion.
Naturally, a shared religion brought many Jewish couples together, but after marriage it also held them together as faith and spirituality increased their bond. Many individuals who were not observant or were more casual about their religion found themselves drawn deeper into Judaism after marrying a person with stronger beliefs.
Coincidence has played no small part in convincing certain couples that they were bashert and therefore meant to be together. An inherited college mailbox in one case played matchmaker. Something as simple as standing by a cloakroom, attending a mixer, or taking a summer rental has led to fateful meetings. And then there is the blind date . . . many of the couples I’ve interviewed braved the awkwardness and uncertainty of a "fix up" and reaped a lifetime of benefits. And online dating services such as J-Date have furnished an ideal way for busy singles of any age to find their soul mate.
Whether your courtship was glamorous or heart-warming or a comedy of errors, whether you’re recently engaged, on your second go-round, or celebrating 50 years together, you certainly have a tale to tell. So I extend this invitation to you to share your own special bashert story with others. If you’ve been toying with the idea of contacting the Jewish Standard, don’t be afraid to come forward and be counted with the dozens of couples I’ve talked to. It’s painless and fun, plus I do all the interviews by phone (no vacuuming required!). And you can take satisfaction in knowing that you offered insight to others on how a successful union came to be and how it has continued to grow. Few things are more life-affirming or love-affirming.