I’m the one everyone loves to hate: mother of the boy. After going through the stress of marrying off three girls, I thought this would be a piece of cake, but it’s a whole new set of stressors. I know I’m biased, but my 25-year-old son really is a good catch — he’s a solid learner, a kind person, and good-looking too. I get at least four phone calls for him a week. Once I add in the names people throw at me in the supermarket and at shul, and the random résumés flooding my inbox, we’re talking at least ten suggestions a week. I work full-time, have aging parents, marrieds, plus a few teens at home. I can’t put my life on hold to research hundreds of girls — particularly since when I do make phone calls, so many of the names are completely off-base. How do I go about finding my son’s bashert?
The Grass Isn’t Always Greener
You remind me of a life lesson I learned from a friend when she was remodeling her home — she told me that no one feels sorry for you when you’re remodeling your home. Which is kind of unfair, because the fact that it’s a brachah does not negate the fact that it can be very stressful. But, yeah, no one wants to hear about it.
In reality, though, the same mathematical principle applies to a boy’s shidduch as to a girl’s: You only need one. And whether your challenge is waiting for a date so you can meet the one, or whether you are inundated with nondescript piles of profiles you have to sift through to find the one, it’s still a challenge. In much the same way that poverty and wealth are both nisyonos and, given the choice, most people would choose wealth, a dearth of suggestions and a deluge of them are also both nisyonos. And while it seems that being flooded is the obvious preference, it’s important to note that some challenges are hidden.
Much like wealth, it’s easy to fall into the trap of kochi v’otzem yadi. Yes, kein ayin hara, my son is a good learner and kind and good-looking, etc. etc. (I mean, we did, after all, raise him, with Hashem’s help) — it’s no wonder we’re getting so many résumés. It’s crucial to bring humility into the picture.
Remember that just a year or so ago, you struggled to get your daughter a date, and I’m pretty sure you raised her too. It’s easy to remember Hashem when you’re feeling desperate; it’s crucial to remember Him when you’re feeling confident. Second, it’s important to remember the pain of that time period so you don’t lose your sensitivity. A girl is a human being, she is not a “résumé.”
And while you didn’t ask for a soapbox monologue, it is relevant to your question. Keeping in mind that you only need one, staying humble and connected to Hashem, and remaining kind through the process are three guide lights that will help steer this process.
When we say you only need one, what we’re really saying is that you’re looking for your son’s life partner — not just a great date. That means certain suggestions will be eliminated right off the bat if they don’t match objective criteria that are important to your son. At 25, he probably has a pretty clear picture of his goals. If, for example, your son wants to learn long-term, but the suggested girl is looking for a short-term learner, it’s fair to say no to that suggestion.
It also means that you’re less interested in what makes her a “great girl” and more interested in what makes her great for your son. One of my favorite questions is, “What about this girl made you think of my son?” And here, I believe, lies the key to efficient research.
Whenever a suggestion is made, ask the person for a distinguishing factor. What makes this girl stand out? What are her defining features? When you hear a response that resonates, one that mirrors what you and your son value, mark that profile with an asterisk.
If they can’t articulate at least one quality that stands out, you can move that suggestion to the “you have a son/I know a girl/ what could it hurt?” column and prioritize other suggestions.
Staying humble means that you ask for siyata d’Shmaya as you look through the résumés so the pertinent information catches your attention. Spend some serious time with your son discussing what’s truly important to him, what’s negotiable, and what’s not.
Being kind means that if something is not shayach at all, you get back to the shadchan right away, remembering that someone may be hanging at the other end, pinning hopes on this suggestion.
Yes, all this is time consuming. And yes, you have multiple and very real responsibilities at this stage of life. But getting your son married is one of them. And just like you spent hours calling shadchanim to get dates for your girls, you may need to spend hours sifting through suggestions.
My brachah to you and all the mothers out there is that your tefillos, coupled with smart hishtadlus and the zechus of your menschlichkeit, will bring your son his zivug sooner rather than later.
Originally featured in Family First, Issue 597. Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed social worker and a columnist for inshidduchim.com. She also lectures on topics related to relationships, personal development, and growth. She welcomes questions, comments, feedback, and interaction at firstname.lastname@example.org.