Sunday, August 11, 2013

How I Got Married - Part 2

Some Shidduch Advice for Late Bloomers

The introduction to this article appeared in last week's post. If you want to skip it, just don't skip this IMPORTANT NOTE: Some of the comments below may seem uncomplimentary to my husband, but don’t let that fool you! He is a tzaddik and I greatly respect him. I have received his permission and blessing to publish this text, because he understands that any drastic expressions in this article were written only in the hope of being helpful to persons who are suffering. And also to get a few laughs.

3.      What You Are Doing Isn’t Working – So Do Something Different!
Do you insist on only going through a shadchan – or do you refuse to have anything to do with one? Are you determined to date only learners – or only earners? Won’t you give the time of day to anybody who isn’t at least 1” taller than you? Does she have to be a size 4? Do you demand to see a photo before agreeing to a date? Are you making yourself inaccessible? Or too accessible?

Whatever your dating procedure might be, it clearly isn’t working. You need to do something different; stretch yourself and go outside your comfort zone. NEVER, EVER, do anything immoral or self-destructive – or against the Torah in any way! – but don’t be afraid to go a bit against the grain, to reverse your usual order of things, to try another approach or different tactics, even if it feels uncomfortable and “wrong”.

For ten years I went on dates whenever I got an offer, I cried and davened, but nothing worked out.  A Rebbetzin friend of mine was pushing me to try internet dating, but I resisted for a long time. I didn’t want to expose myself to potential weirdoes; I didn’t think it was tznius, modest, for a woman to be in such a public forum – it just offended all my sensibilities. She kept insisting that today’s unusual shidduch crisis called for unusual measures; that what might have worked twenty years ago was not effective enough today. (And that was ten years ago!)

Finally, just to shut her up, I posted my profile on a reputable Orthodox dating site. “But that’s it,” I thought, “I’m there – let Mr. Right come and find me. I refuse to initiate anything – it is not derech nashim, the way of refined women, to pursue a partner.” (Not to mention that it would be totally against ‘The Rules’ to run after a man!) However, I was persuaded to change my attitude in this also. I made a search on the dating website, got some profiles and sent out a few emails. A couple of days later, emboldened and excited, I did a new search, widening my criteria (a crucially important factor for success!), and sent out a few more approaches. One of the replies came from the man who is now my husband.

An additional, funny twist to the story is that his reply to me was full of spelling errors. (He is an excellent, creative, quirky writer, just not a great speller.) Normally, a mail with that kind of spelling would have sent its author straight into the “reject” pile, but I had decided to go against the grain, to do the opposite of my normal modus operandi, so I gave him a chance. (What luck!) That should demonstrate very clearly how important it is to Do Something Different.

The tent of romance is beckoning!
(Image from
4.      Don’t Be Too Quick to Say No – Make a 3-Date-Minimum Rule
First impressions are not always right – or, they don’t tell the whole story. Nerves, fear of rejection, work stress, coming down with a cold – dozens of factors can get in the way of a person presenting himself in the right way. Unless you see something really off-putting in a date, don’t say no. (By off-putting, I would generally mean something like bad character, anger and/or violence, an abusive personality, addiction, meanness.) Good character in a potential shidduch is the only thing that is unequivocally non-negotiable. Most other things you can compromise about, but never that. And good character in itself can make up for many other things that might be missing. Even if you feel indifferent initially, it may be worth giving it a further try (obviously that indifference should begin to turn into interest at some point, otherwise it is no use), but as long as you are not repulsed, remember that there can be hidden treasures under the surface. Every diamond begins as a lump of coal.

I didn’t begin to be really interested in this guy who was pursuing me until we were on the fifth date. (But then!) I just accepted dates anyway, because, let’s face it – I was out to get married, no matter what! He seemed decent enough; I had nothing more important to do, so why not? (He told me later that he had been tearing his hair out, wondering what he was doing wrong.) Finally, pulling himself together, he switched on the charm full blast. Aha!

The last installment of this article will appear, IY"H, next week.

Shalom Uv'racha!

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