I know this issue has been discussed to death, and I would hate to be yet another blogger to plant a proverbial boot into the flank of an already abused, rotting equine carcass, but I think my perspective is a little different than most posts readers may have seen thus far. First, basically every blogger that has written about this subject has been female (that I have seen, and I could very easily be wrong, considering how many untold numbers of Jewish bloggers discussing shidduchim are out there). Second, my views on the subject of a date's intelligence are probably not typical at any rate, as are most things I think or write about. Therefore, I hope I can present a fairly unique perspective, rather than repeat points previously expressed, by people who, at any rate, probably write better than I do.
There are many things that people often prioritize when thinking about considering a potential marriage partner (see Bad for Shidduchim and A Mother in Israel). I emphatically agree with many commenters on both sites that list kindness as a top priority. I think that possessing a firm essence of kindness is especially significant since kindness is a very important "foundational trait" of sorts that many other positive attributes, such as being giving, expressing patience, and having the will to work out problems, can, and do stem from. I'll safely place kindness as the number one choice of what one should look for (both men and women).
But what about intelligence?
Everyone, to one degree or another, has some functional level of intelligence. However, is it wrong to desire a spouse (or in my case a wife) who enjoys actively participating in deeper discussions of Judaism-related topics (hashkafa, halacha, learning, etc) and/or secular matters (science, literature, etc)?
Just to clarify, even though I would personally very much like to have a wife who can hold her own in talking about some area of Judaic studies, I am not looking for a "chevrusa," as one of my rabbeim in Israel so eloquently put it. It is true that husband and wife often find some matter to study together, such as a beautiful example of a friend's parents who regularly studied the Chofetz Chaim's works on Lashon Hara together, even though the daily grind of kids running around the house can detract from such regular paired study. Even someone who has some level of exposure to Gemara study (whether minimal, or significant) doesn't worry me, but I don't anticipate spending the evenings of Shana Rishona immersed in a night-seder chevrusa in my apartment instead of in the beis medrish.
I am not frightened of the idea of even having a wife who could very well be smarter or more intelligent than I am (as in I would never be scared off like the guy from Bad for Shidduchim's story). If anything, I find a woman displaying higher levels of intelligence, or who is accomplished in her studies to be a potential source of inspiration. Rather than creating a childish competition of "who's smarter," I feel as though I would admire such a person. Instead of letting myself be complacent, and potentially backsliding over the course of my life (as in, if you don't use it, you DO lose it), I would do my very best to continue developing in Torah study and elsewhere. I also think I would shep nachas from a wife who could deliver interesting and engaging shiurim.
Upon bringing this idea up with my parents, Mom quickly replied that this shouldn't be a significant factor in evaluating a date. She basically said that the general craziness of married life and the particular unending job of raising children would preclude any possibility of ever having serious, intellectually stimulating conversation with my wife. While she would know far better than I about what it's like to deal with kids running around the house, I must respectfully disagree on her second point - I don't think one can make such a broad statement about looking for intelligence in a spouse.
Having seen examples of relatives and friends' parents who have started settling into their older years sprawled out on a couch, passively watching TV, is it wrong to want someone who would rather read a book? Reading and discussing books is a pastime long forgotten in many places in the world we live in today, and can provide very meaningful interaction and exchange of ideas. It may just be me, but I find the image of my wife and I sitting side by side reading together to be inherently more romantic than perched on a sofa, my arm around her shoulders, viewing the latest hit TV show or blockbuster movie.
I'm not trying to make an anti TV rant here. While there is indeed a glut of mind-wasting sludge out there (*cough* reality TV *cough*), there is programming worth watching as well (anyone seen episodes from the Discovery Channel's "Planet Earth" series? It's absolutely fascinating and features gorgeous footage of the incredible world we live in). My point is that preferring leisure activities/forms of entertainment that are intellectually stimulating should be a person's priority (which doesn't remove the license for a little fun on the more mindless side of things every now and then).
Intelligence is certainly attractive, and I think it is something that can make someone even more attractive than their physical features alone. Unlike what I presume most guys would choose - I would much rather have a wife who does not possess super modelesque looks and proportions (but whom I find physically attractive) and can give me a run for my money in the intellectual arena, than a woman who could easily be featured on the cover of a fashion magazine and not know who Shakespeare was.
I just feel as though there is a whole additional level of connection in the cerebral realm between husband and wife. Certainly, the physical attraction component must exist, as well as the emotional connection - the will to place the other person ahead of your own needs (IE kindness, giving, loving him/her more than yourself etc), and a level of spiritual compatibility (similar religious levels, values, hashkafic viewpoints). But the ability to engage in intellectual discourse - a sort of melding of minds - even if the particular educational perspectives are different (as they inherently will be, to some degree) seems like something worth desiring in a mate.
I agree that you can't presume your spouse will be able to fulfill every single intellectual need you have, that's what friends and rabbeim/teachers/chevrusas are for. I just don't believe that this is an area that is so easily compromised as say, an interest in a particular area of popular culture. I can live with the fact that my wife doesn't like _____ as much as I do (or at all, for that matter) - I can discuss it with my guy friends when I get the chance. But to entirely lack that deeper, brainier sort of relationship with the one woman who I'm going to share the rest of my life with, partner with to raise a family, and hopefully create a positive communal impact beyond the walls of our home, is a big issue in my mind.
Also, just to make something clear - I am not the most brilliant genius that has ever graced the YU campus (my GPA is NOT 4.0). I have plenty of friends who I will willingly recognize as making better grades and quite likely possess an IQ higher than mine. This post isn't about me being intellectually arrogant and putting down others who are not as smart as I might be. There are definitely guys and girls out there who could really care less how smart their husbands/wives are, as long as they are fun, easy to get along with, and will be a great person to help run a family. I certainly respect those who need that kind of spouse, and who they themselves are not the more intellectual type. As a commenter or two said in the above linked posts (check second paragraph), intelligence is a G-d given ability, so far be it from me to be a snob about a person's natural abilities, whatever level they are on. I merely feel that this is a level of connection that seems very essential to a successful, long-lasting relationship with my future wife. I could survive without this component, but I don't think I would be as fulfilled without it.
Maybe this is why I tend to think girls who wear glasses are more attractive than those who don't?