Will the shidduch process lead our girls to give up on marriage?

In a recent Open Mic “Why Risk Shidduchim?” (Issue #786), a single girl from Far Rockaway, questioned whether the uneven shidduch process will lead young women to become disillusioned and simply give up.

What do you think? Join the conversation below. 

 

Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt |
January 31, 2019
LAST UPDATED 5 months ago

Comments (9)


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    Debbie Greenblatt

    To ‘Name Withheld’:
    While I laud your perspective of rising above the fray to ‘choose you’, a more valid Torah based approach would be to choose what Hashem would like of you in this difficult situation, as best as you can ascertain.
    Every moment of a person’s life, whether they be man or woman, single or married has its own unique tafkid, a spiritual potential that can be actualized only then, and which isn’t coming back around again. It is hard to say that we should put a cap on development in any area for the sake of being more marketable. What that does is take the keys to Shidduchim out of H’s hands and put them in human hands. That is simply not the case.
    Every nisayon, and this is a huge one, is ultimately a test of our Emunah. H’ takes away from us something we need in our lives and He wants to see if we will turn to Him or blame the mothers, the picky boys, or the stock market for our situation.
    Any discussion of shidduchim that leaves H’ out of the picture is missing the point entirely. All of our societal and personal ailments have only one thing about them that we can say for certain, and that is this is they are the result of our being in Galus, and Galus is what results when we live our lives with anything other than HKB”H as the center of the picture.


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    B.M.S.

    This well-meaning objection to discouraging single girls from pursuing advanced careers is disturbing.
    If you think about it, many of our halachos take into account basic human nature as opposed to insisting that people just “ought to behave better.”
    With that in mind, I find the attitude of “single girls should be able to pursue whatever career they want, at whatever level” without acknowledging the risks of those decisions, deeply misguided. At best. Of course not every girl will be fulfilled by a simpler job and girls who have a strong skill and passion for a certain line of work should be encouraged to pursue those careers regardless of their prestige.
    But if a girl is considering pursuing an advanced position or degree just to make more money, or for status, or simply as an alternative to “waiting to get married” as you put it, is that really the best idea? On a purely logical level, does that extra money (or stature) really justify putting oneself in a position where men might have to fight their nature to be comfortable with the idea?
    As a guy, I never had a strong passion for the career in finance I have today. But I didn’t expect a large number of girls to just “get over themselves” and date me if I wasn’t able to provide a respectable living. And it’s a choice I’m happy I made.
    There are many ways to grow and accomplish while still single. Perhaps seek an option that doesn’t demand asking potential suitors to fight their human nature.


  3. Avatar
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    Debbie Greenblatt

    To R.L.:
    The old adage, “You can’t fire me I quit” tries to preserve the dignity of one who has been told they are no longer wanted, but it doesn’t really address the pain of that rejection. Talks of opting out of a system in which you don’t feel valued are a cry for help.
    That cry needs to be heard and addressed. El Ishech teshukasech, with that punishment to Chava, H’ instilled a keen desire in every woman to be deeply connected to her spouse. The women that claim they don’t need a spouse for fulfillment are longing for it to be so, and I don’t blame them. Unfortunately, desire alone does not create reality.
    I think the place to start is in our girls’ chinuch. A girl has to grow into a woman who has to a sense of herself as an Ovedes Hashem. Her personal relationship with her Creator and the middos she develops as an expression of that relationship have to define her more than any other external situation, be it her marital, financial, or community status.


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    Name Withheld

    I don’t know how old R.L. is or what her experiences have been. But based on what she writes, they’ve been depressing and demoralizing. And it’s no one’s place to judge what she’s thinking and feeling now because of them.
    R.L., I’d like you to know that there is a third option: Instead of choosing marriage or choosing career — you can choose you. Because you are not defined by either of the above. And you are so much more than what happens to you.
    Put yourself at the center of this story. Take back the narrative. Do you want a husband and a family in your life? Then you are going to persevere. Because, you. Not because, society. Not because, normal. Not because, sheitel. Not because, minivan. Because you want this (if you do want this — and reading between the lines, you do) and no one gets to decide when or if or why you should give up.
    You mention that secular women don’t necessarily see marriage as a goal or means to fulfillment. While marriage can certainly be a means to very, very deep fulfillment, it shouldn’t be a goal — for the simple reason that goals are things we choose to work toward, and marriage is a gift. But you can set other goals for yourself. They do not need to be big. They do not need to be exciting. But they can help you become the person you were meant to be, irrespective of your current marital status, or even your career choice.
    You were born to strive toward completion. Not completion within marriage but within yourself. Marriage is a tool. Career is a tool. And both involve Yad Hashem. And the nisyonos involved in the pursuit of one or the other are also tools.
    I agree that society could do with some changes. I agree that too often, women get the short end of the stick. I also believe, though, that even with unfairness and injustice and struggle, Hashem will never forget about you. We can work toward making things better for other people (by writing, for example — and more single women should do it), while also believing that even the way things feel now, Hashem has a way to make things work out very, very well for each and every one of us.


  5. Avatar
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    Debbie Greenblatt

    To ‘Seen Enough’ and all mothers out there:
    Remember that the best shidduch is not the best boy, it is the best husband for your daughter, or wife for your son. The best is often used to being treated as such. Wouldn’t you rather a spouse that treats your child as the best?
    We have a crisis of confidence. Too many parents look at a prospective mate for their child through the lens of how it will make them look in the eyes of their peers and community. The ‘best boy’ or ‘best girl’ is the stempel that they have succeeded; a living tribute to their having arrived. A boy or girl with any external imperfection is immediately rejected. It would do the whole situation well for parents involved in their children’s shidduchim to step back and take a fresh look at the situation. Ask yourself some hard questions. How well do I know my child and what internal characteristics are important to them in a prospective mate? Am I seeking that type of information when call references?
    Remember, the person you marry is the Rembrandt. The external circumstances are the beautiful frame. A beautiful frame enhances a picture, but a frame alone, without the painting doesn’t have much worth at all.


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    A Daughter In Pain

    This struck a sensitive chord within me. I am what people refer to as a “great girl.” All modesty aside, I am eidel, I am smart, I am capable, I am put-together, I am friends with other “great girls,” I possess strong hashkafos, I went to a top seminary, I have impressive teaching jobs, and my parents are ready and willing to stretch themselves (although they already struggle financially) to help support me and my future husband in kollel with what is considered standard.
    And despite all this, I am one of those who are “sitting home, without a shidduch prospect in sight.” When I read R.L.’s alarm about those who get “two to three dates a year,” I bit my lip and thought: For many of us “great girls,” that would be considered fantastic! I try to work on my emunah and trust in Hashem that there is someone out there waiting for me, and appreciate all our community does to help us singles, but I still find myself struggling every day not to become disillusioned and angry with a world that I was always a happy and idealistic member of, a world in which I now feel invisible and unwanted, a world in which a boy receives 100 resumes in the span of one year (true story) and a girl receives none.
    I don’t want to ever become a bitter “system-basher” or entertain thoughts of heading to supposedly greener pastures, yet it is a huge and ongoing challenge to keep my mind and heart positive and not take the short trip from frustrated to resentful. Something needs to change about the way we make matches nowadays between our singles, because right now I’m feeling bewildered about and rejected by a community that I know is truly wonderful, beautiful, hard-working, and well-meaning.


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      A Shadchan Who Tries

      Among other great sounding things about her, ‘A Daughter in Pain’ says that her parents “are ready and willing to stretch themselves (although they already struggle financially) to help support me and my future husband in kollel with what is considered standard.”
      Perhaps this girl might consider widening her perspective of the circle of boys she is willing to consider for marriage. It sounds like she is limiting herself to the group of boys expecting to be supported in learning after marriage. Perhaps if she were to consider boys who were willing to live a much simpler lifestyle, and spend years in learning not supported by parents, but making it work on their own with their wives; or even consider serious bnei Torah who are not planning to go to kollel; that may be a way of expanding the group of boys she’s willing to consider.
      Instead of only pursuing names in a too-small group of inaccessible boys, and being disappointed that they are not accessible, she would be pursuing names in a wider group and hopefully get more dating options.
      I’m not discounting the pain the writer describes — I spend huge amounts of time trying to help girls like her. But perhaps being open to a wider perspective may help a little.


    2. Avatar
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      Debbie Greenblatt

      To A Daughter in Pain: You are a great girl who doesn’t get dates, and feels that the system failed you. You did everything right and didn’t get the payoff. It indeed batters the ego to hear about girls who weren’t so great get date after date while you sit home.
      It is imperative that we remind ourselves of several realities.
      It’s not a race to the finish. Collecting dating stories is not like buying Hotels on a Monopoly Board. While its completely normal to want to have dates, know that all those dates are not free. They come with an emotional price tag, which ultimately weighs the dater down, and after a while makes it harder to respond in a real and natural way when Mr. Right comes along. Girls with lots of dates also run the risk of making a composite of all the good qualities of the individual boys they date, creating a vision of a young man that doesn’t actually exist. I know girls who have many dates, and every date that doesn’t work out grows their despair of ever meeting the right one.
      I hope you will have dates, but more importantly I daven that when you have a date, he should be a fabulous prospective for you, and spare you the emotional baggage of too many ‘dating stories’.


  7. Avatar
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    A Shadchan Who Tries

    While I am completely sympathetic to, and in full agreement with, the writer of “Why Risk Shidduchim”, I wanted to point out another side of the picture. As someone who has been involved in facilitating shidduchim for years, it has happened to me frequently that a boy really is busy. So when I truthfully tell a girl or her family that he is still busy, I am not just trying to push her off or offer “euphemisms,” as she claimed.



Debbie Greenblatt is a senior lecturer for the Gateways organization and a teacher for over 30 years of both observant and not-yet-observant Jewish women. Debbie’s lecture topics include Jewish texts, Jewish thought, and relationships.

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