Will I ever get married? Will anyone want me? These are questions from Efrat who went out for a few years trying to get married. She did everything she could and feels she tried everything but ‘natural disasters’ proved to be stronger than her. She feels like she’s on a dead end street full of frustration and disappointment from trying to navigate a twisted path with no ability to move forward. Her main challenge is this; can a young woman or man who is living alone carry the burden of finding a match on their shoulders no matter how courageous they are? Is it possible to do it alone without outside help?
Here’s Efrat’s story:
“When I was 20 years old my parents got divorced. It was a long difficult and maddening story. They had endless differences of opinion and it was finished for them. But for me things were just beginning and what would I do with myself? Where would I live? I didn’t want to be with either one of my parents I found it difficult to be with either one. I loved them then and I still love them now but what could I do? At this point I am better able to understand that instead of being involved in our (their children’s) lives, they were too busy fighting.
When I started working I was able to rent my own small apartment. I originally planned on staying for a few short months just to calm down and find myself and learn where I stand in this world. I ended up staying in my apartment for 2 years. After all the noise the solitude was a blessing, I was able to invest in my work and make a new set of friends. But I soon discovered that between putting up with noise and putting up with loneliness, I found the loneliness more difficult, at least for me. After 2 years I went to my mother’s house with all my siblings (that I actually get along with).
I developed my independent path in life. I’m in touch with both my parents but live my own life. Do we call that “living alone feeling together”? Possibly, but I find my separation is important; perhaps it even protects me from mixing in and getting involved with my family which is not always pleasant for me.
I’m now 25 with divorced parents looking to get married.
Did you ever consider the situation of someone single trying to get married that has divorced parents? Why am I to blame if my parents got divorced? Do I hurt anyone? Why is it so difficult for me to get married?
In addition to my parents being divorced I have no one to look out for me to help me find a suitable match. Am I the one who has to ask my father to keep his eye out and speak to the people he meets in his synagogue every day? I have no choice, but he feels closed up about it and embarrassed to approach them. I’m happy my mother checks things out for me and takes part, her checking definitely helps but it’s not enough. It’s hard for her too. So I’m alone in this battle and if I don’t take care of this myself, no one else will. How is a young woman supposed to worry for herself?
I have no baggage from this, thanks for asking. But I do have heartache from my parents and somewhat from myself; after all, I long for a better life. It’s clear that I will do everything in my power to build and value the house I build but my match still isn’t there yet.
I’m trying to hang in there, mainly to hold my head high and keep on looking for my soul mate. I turn to matchmakers but you should know that anyone with divorced parents is offered every pitiful proposal for a match. I feel bad for them but they’re not for me. But I can’t tell this to the matchmaker. If I tell her he’s not suitable for me she’ll answer with insensitivity born out of her sincerity: “In your situation you take what you can get!” What does she mean ‘in your situation”? Which situation might that be? So what if my parents got divorced? What does that say about me? Does she mean my ‘market value’ is lower? And why would that be? Do I do anything less than anyone else? Don’t I keep Torah and mitzvoth? Do I fear G-d less? Is my ability to communicate subpar? This is all foolishness! Everything is the same! I’m even successful in my work and bring home a decent livelihood, so what’s wrong with me? The stigma that someone got divorced, so what; tell me what this has to do with my personality, my talents or who I am? Can someone look at me and not at the stigma?
On the other hand, maybe she’s right! I have no proposals coming my way. Did you ever deal with not getting any proposals? I could go on for a half year straight with no proposals. I have to take initiative and be brave. If I’m not getting any proposals I have to seek them out. What can I do if my heart sometimes sinks inside me? It happened once when the proposed ‘a gifted young man’ as a match. I got emotional and thought: “Wow he’s really gifted. What if I’m not bright enough for him?” But then I met him. He was very gifted with the ability to stare at one spot on the wall our whole date and almost didn’t speak. Instead of running away I felt bad for him and stuck it out trying to encourage him to open his mouth and say something to no avail. I’m the daughter of divorced parents so you can sell me the Brooklyn Bridge or anything else you can think of.
Another young man was according to his ‘Mashgiach’ (rabbinical guidance counselor) was a learned young man with a refined character and whoever marries him will be happy. This counselor said; “I stand behind my words.” This little ‘money back guarantee’ really got me going after the date. I called up the counselor and asked him: “Do you also guarantee his jumpiness and inability to sit still for more than one minute? I don’t want to argue about his ability to learn and not with his study partner if he has one at all, because he’d have to be an angel to sit with a person who can’t sit still for a moment and learn something with him. I just asked myself even if someone wants to sell a match to someone and minimizes what they say about him. Isn’t it clear that someone normal, even a daughter of divorced parents can’t marry someone who can’t sit still and have a 5 minute conversation?”
What about the young man who shouted at me the entire date wanting to know why I chose that spot in the venue of our date until I understood that his behavior wasn’t normal. I’m sorry, do I owe you something? You could’ve asked for a different place but why do you thing I would choose to marry you if you’re already shouting at me even before getting married? How would you be shouting after we got married? What am I crazy to even consider this? The irony is that after the date he told the matchmaker he was very interested in me. He shouts but he’s interested! I’m laughing and crying at the same time!
What do the matchmakers mean when they say “You need to take what you can get?” Do they mean if I don’t take an emotionally disturbed husband I’ll be single forever?
I’m almost ready to give up but I’ll tell you one thing. Without making any promise, with G-d’s help I will not give up! No way! My parents can’t help fight for me so I must fight for myself and I won’t give up. Do you think that because of these painful episodes I’m out of the picture and gave up? You’re mistaken! Come what may, I’ll keep on looking until I find the right one and whoever helped our nation in its time of need will help me find the right husband to build our house together.
I’m embarrassed to ask, but can you encourage me and give me hope in this impossible situation? I’m in the desert, dying of thirst. Can you spare a glass of cold water?
Henya Goldberg is a Family psychotherapist who also counsels on matchmaking for young women or parents either private or in group settings. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org