Some Shidduch Advice for Late Bloomers
And again - just to make sure you are aware of 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.
5. He’s Not Your Type? – So What!
A friend of mine once passed on to me some good advice that she had received, and I will now pass it on to you: Imagine that you are looking at a photo of your future dream zivug. Carefully study every detail of the picture. Really get into it – all the character traits of this person, all the special things that make this the most wonderful person in the world! Now, tear up that photo – because this person doesn’t exist, and that is not the one you will marry!
The thing is: you are not the expert on what you need – your Maker is! You may be attracted to a certain type – but that isn’t necessarily the type that’s good for you, or that will make you happy. You may think you need to get certain things from a spouse; or conversely, you may think that you can’t possibly put up with this or that. This is all very well – I’m not saying that you have bad judgment, but your judgment is human; your frame of reference is human, of this world, and therefore inherently limited. In your search for certain criteria, you may be completely overlooking the deeper, hidden, spiritual needs of your neshamah, your soul.
No, I’m not talking about anything that a therapist could help you figure out; this is not about psychology – it is about what takes place in the realm of the spirit. I am referring to what Hashem, your Creator, knows about you. He put you together; He knows what needs tinkering with; and He has the right mechanic for your soul – if only you will open the door when he – or He – knocks.
The first time I met my husband I knew he was not for me. I knew it! Not my type. Talks too much. Don’t like his looks (though it should be said that in wider circles he is considered quite the handsome guy!). Pleasant enough, maybe, but – no, not my type. But as I came to like the man, so I came to like his looks. The chattering I got used to. Who listens, anyway? Some of the traits I had davened for I didn’t get; instead I got other, more important traits that I hadn’t even thought to ask for! The funny thing is, he is still not my type – but I love him. And what’s more – over the years I have come to realize that he is my neshamah mechanic straight from Hashem’s Yellow Pages. Now, if I could only make him understand that I was sent to perfect his neshamah too…
|May you be zoche to stand under the chuppah with your true zivug!|
(Image from dexknows.com)
How many times have I heard – and said myself, in the past – “I’m not desperate; if the right one comes along I’ll get married”. If this is how you are thinking – then I’m sorry, but the right one will not come along, and you will not get married! You have to be desperate – how else to dare the plunge into something that might not be what you had anticipated? I also believe that many late bloomers carry within their hearts a measure of fear, acknowledged or not, as the case may be, and the desperation must be strong enough to overcome that fear! If you are not desperate, there is a risk you’ll become complacent. In constant pain, but complacent.
Another story: This young woman isn’t even so young anymore. For reasons that may have made sense initially, twenty years ago, she lives as a boarder with a large family. The first time I met her, nine years ago, I knew she would never get married as long as she remained in this situation, and so far, nebech, I have not been proven wrong. How do I know? Because many years ago, when I was a newcomer in this country, I lived for some time – not as a boarder, but as a caregiver – closely together with another family. I wasn’t exactly a family member but I was part of a larger context. There were people around; I wasn’t lonely. There were men coming from shul at the appointed times; they weren’t my men, but I still experienced that – vicarious! – sense of satisfaction you get when a man walks in the door and it’s time for Kiddush, or Havdoloh, or kashering the curtains, or something… There were many similar factors, which all contributed to giving me a false sense of belonging with somebody. It was very subtle, and I was barely aware of it at the time, but I know that it was so, and it prevented desperation.
This may sound harsh, and please don’t be offended, but it is a reality: If you are a late bloomer, you may need to expose yourself to the full, unadulterated pain of your loneliness – only that way will you experience such a degree of desperation that you absolutely must get married, no matter what. You must be desperate enough to be able to give up all your pre-conceived notions of what marital happiness should look like. You must be desperate enough to be able to daven, like I finally did: “Please Hashem, I don’t care who my zivug is, I don’t care what he’s like, what he has or doesn’t have, or what he looks like – just bring him, whoever he may be!” Once I was able to say that, and mean it, things began to happen.
“But I don’t want to settle”, I hear you say, “I have waited so long and suffered so much I can’t take just ANYBODY after all this – I mean, THAT is what I have been waiting for all these years?! Look at the people I have said no to already - now I should say yes to this one?” Oh, the horrifying specter of “settling”! Let me tell you something: it feels good to be settled. Okay – I know that is not exactly what you meant, but that is how I think you should look at it. “Settling” means that you accept Hashem’s plan for you – and that is a good thing! And believe me – you may be very pleasantly surprised.
Let me say it again: as long as you insist on making up the rules for what kind of a zivug you should have, Hashem can’t help you. He has someone in store for you, but you must be prepared to accept THAT ONE – not the product of your own imagination. I’m not telling you to marry and be miserable, chas vesholom, I’m telling you that happiness is sometimes found in a different shape, and in a different place, than you would think possible.
After we had gotten engaged, my choson and I discovered that we had many contact points; my friends knew his friends, and theoretically there were many people who could have set us up with each other. Obviously nobody had thought it made sense – because “on paper” it didn’t (and still doesn’t) make sense. “Only Hashem could have put this shidduch together!”, one of my acquaintances burst out in spontaneous amazement. There were many issues to discover and deal with; in all honesty, there were difficulties, and there were days during our first married year that I feared I might have made a mistake. Would I have married this man if I hadn’t been desperate?! No, I certainly wouldn’t – and I would have missed out on great happiness and a good life with a good man who, strange as it may seem, has been tailor-made for me by our Creator. (And, obviously, I am his perfect ezer k'negdo - the helpmeet against him!)
Dear Late Bloomer, may Hashem bless you with success in your efforts at finding your true zivug!
And invite me to the wedding.