Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 28, 2005 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

All's fair in love?

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

How much should I tell a date?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. Do the principles of "truth in advertising" apply in dating as well?


A. In an earlier column we pointed out that in many ways the "marriage market" is similar to other markets. To some extent everyone is trying to "sell" him or herself; eligible men and women are permitted and even encouraged to put their best foot forward, but they have to eschew any deceptive practices. Indeed, the basic principles of truth in dating are parallel to those in truth in advertising, and often the Jewish legal tradition learns one from the other.


One rule of fair selling is that a deficiency that can be considered an actual defect must be disclosed to the buyer before the sale is closed. (The exact timing of the disclosure requires some judgment. It is permissible to delay disclosure a short time so as to arouse the customer's interest before pointing out a defect, but it is acting in bad faith to wait so long that time is wasted in pointless negotiation over an ultimately unsatisfactory deal.) A normal deficiency doesn't need to be actively exposed, but may not be concealed. For example, if you are selling a used car and the brakes are bad, you have to be up-front with the customer. If there is a little rust in the body, you don't have to point this out since most old cars have some, but you shouldn't paint it over to hide it.


The overall idea behind these laws is that in a business deal, each party is free to pursue his or her own interest, but is not allowed to mislead or take advantage of the other side.


Some legal works draw a parallel to dating. For example, a person is obligated to reveal a serious disease, but a healthy person who requires a stringent diet doesn't have to tell a prospective suitor. (1) The idea behind this parallel is that marriage is also to some extent a kind of business deal, in which each partner agrees to undertake specific obligations and is in turn entitled to a variety of rights. The section of the Code of Jewish Law devoted to marriage laws is filled with a detailed enumeration of these obligations, and an important part of the Jewish marriage ceremony is the reading of the kesubah, or marriage contract, which spells out many of the husband's obligations to the wife, including the responsibility to support her, to esteem her, and so on.


The idea of marriage as a standard contract, with standard obligations, still has an important message. Surveys show that despite changing roles in marriage, certain basic expectations have not changed; in particular, even very successful women generally expect their husbands to be able to support them if necessary, and most men expect that their wives will be willing to stay home with the children during the most critical period. Today it's even important to remind people that marriage implies obligations!


However, we have to acknowledge that most people marrying today are at least as interested in a relationship of trust and openness as they are in having the spouse fill some specific set of obligations. Therefore, anything that interferes with such a relationship is in itself an obstacle to domestic harmony. To go back to our previous example, a wife who expects that her husband will provide her with a certain standard of living and will love and respect her is not being cheated if he doesn't reveal that he needs a special diet. But today, a wife may feel that the very fact that her fiancÚ didn't reveal his special need is in itself a breach of trust, and this feeling of lack of trust may undermine the quality of the marital relationship for both partners.


So I think that today the most ethical policy is: anything that will become known after the wedding, should be revealed before the wedding. Any other policy is likely to lead to feelings of resentment and to sapping the reservoir of trust that sustains a successful marriage.


That doesn't mean that couples have to reveal everything. Getting married doesn't mean giving up your right to privacy, and married people are certainly entitled to keep some things to their selves. Indeed, sometimes people err on the side of making dramatic revelations that are really irrelevant to the couple's future but cause worry to the partner. But any substantive quality that is going to come to light, should in general be revealed to a prospective partner at an appropriate stage of the developing relationship.


We like to draw parallels between marriage and other relationships in our life; we talk of the "marriage market" or the "dating game". But a successful marriage today is neither a game nor a business deal, but rather a deep relationship of trust and respect. Dating can be fun and adventurous, but ultimately it has to be structured so that it can lead to a serious and permanent commitment.


SOURCES: (1) See, Hanisuin Kehilkhasam 3:13.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

THE JEWISH ETHICIST, NOW IN BOOK FORM

You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
HARDCOVER
PAPERBACK
Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


Previously:

Comfort and Competition
Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone?
Overtime for lost time
Is it unethical to play suppliers against each other to get the lowest bid possible?
Do family members have precedence in charity allotments?
What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal
Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?







© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics