I am a divorced man in my late thirties. I learn every day, am financially successful, and considered good-looking. Although I was married only a short time, I have a son. I have been divorced and have not remarried for many years, which is no fault of mine. I blame the shadchanim.
As soon as they hear that I have a child, they automatically try to set me up with women who have children. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t have a problem marrying a woman who is compatible with me and has one or two children. As long as the financial situation is right, and she is not looking for someone to be her ATM machine to pay her bills and her car-service driver to chauffeur her kids around, I would marry her.
There are plenty of never-married single girls in their thirties who would consider going out with me if the shadchanim would present me fairly. The problem is that not only am I not being set up with girls who are compatible with me, but as soon as I say no to a shadchan, I become blacklisted.
I am ready to hang up my hat and forget about remarrying. At this point I have a nice apartment, have many friends, and have made a comfortable life for myself, even while being single. Do you think I am doing the right thing, or should I continue my search knowing that I will hit a dead end each time?
By Baila Sebrow
My initial reaction while reading your letter was that you had made peace with your status quo, and who has the right to question your reasoning and lifestyle? But after thinking about your situation, it became clear to me that as a result of feeling a lack of fair treatment, you either need validation that you are doing the right thing in remaining single, or you might need convincing that a change is in order.
It needs to be acknowledged that you are presenting a common problem in the shidduch system of divorced people. Women, too, face the same shidduch suggestions as you, being set up exclusively with those who also have children from previous marriages, without even considering other probable shidduchim.
I know that you believe the blame lies with the shadchanim particularly, and I am not discounting your experience with shadchanim. However, the reality is that there are many never-married girls who will reject the most amazing guy they may meet even on their own, due to the fact that he is divorced with a child. You need to understand that a shidduch is a personal and individualized choice, regardless of the fact that the decision one ultimately makes may be self-destructive.
What may be happening in your case, with shadchanim who from square one are setting you up with women who have children, usually stems from ignorance. There are shadchanim who, when reading the profile of a divorced person who has a child or children, will take the easy route by devoting their efforts in setting up such an individual with someone in a similar situation. Ironically, these shadchanim, who are dedicatedly zealous, sincerely believe that they are doing the right thing. They think that someone with children would be most compatible marrying someone who also has children and do not take the other factors you mentioned into consideration.
I will agree with you that there is a very small percentage of shadchanim who, when not on the same page as their client, can become infuriated, and tragically are in a position to blacklist. If you have proof of such corrupt and dangerous behavior, you must present it to the rabbanim in your community, who will without doubt immediately take action.
I believe you are sincere and realistic, as you state that you are not specifically seeking a girl who has never been married and would even consider someone that has two children. What is of legitimate concern to you is that the conditions of the woman’s situation be something that you can realistically live with.
No one has the right to fault you for not wanting to be the financial provider of someone else’s children. Furthermore, you should not have to feel any obligation in tending to the extracurricular activities of your stepchildren by driving them to play dates or for car-pooling. Do not allow anyone to make you feel bad or selfish for honestly acknowledging and being in touch with your feelings. It is better to address the realities of your own needs before marriage, rather than resentfully going along with whatever is expected of you after you are married.
You demonstrate a healthy attitude in the face of your adversity. I am glad that you have the spirit of heart and mind to maintain a nice home, friends, and job. But I am a bit worried that you are showing signs of defeat in your pursuit of remarriage.
Do not “hang up your hat,” as your situation is not beyond recall. There are many women who are financially and emotionally independent and seek to marry for the purpose of sharing their life with an equally compatible man—with no strings attached. There also exist never-married girls who would consider going out with you—if, as you say, a shadchan would present you “fairly.”
Take your own statement to be the key in opening the door to your shidduch possibilities. You need to acquire a reputable shadchan who will advocate on your behalf and present you fairly. In addition, if a shidduch does not seem shayach to you, your shadchan needs to be accepting and understanding of your determination and be willing to angle his or her efforts in the direction of your focus.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
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