My mother keeps telling me that in order for people to get married they have to settle. Is that true? I just turned 30 plus years old, and the last of my younger siblings got married. My parents are depressed that I am still single. But I can’t get married just to make my parents happy.
All my married friends seemed so happy when they first got married. Now years later they look like shmattes. Really, they look like bubbes. I don’t want that to become me.
I am looking for a tall, handsome, yeshiva and college educated, fun-loving, but serious professional guy who has a seder at night and tons of friends. And baldness totally turns me off.
So far, all the boys I dated lacked at least in one of those areas. I want to be crazy about the guy I marry and for him to be crazy about me. So far, I have not experienced any of that. I want a guy who is right for me.
I did give in a little bit and accepted dates with guys who were older, and some who were even divorced. But none of them fit the bill.
Does getting married really mean that I have to settle or I will become an old maid?
By Baila Sebrow
I sense that you are trying to come to terms with two issues built into one. You give the impression that the settling aspect your mother advocates in order to get married is not the only factor bothering you. I believe that what you are viewing amongst your married friends is most troublesome to you. Seeing your once attractive friends physically transformed into “bubbes” leaves you shaking with fear. You do not want that to become you.
Imagine an instance where someone purchases a house that they always wanted and are crazy about. Moving into that home makes that person feel like the luckiest human being in the world. In the beginning this person can talk about nothing else but that house with beaming happiness.
As time goes on, they still love their house, and have developed an intense emotional connection to their home by the sheer act of tending to it. But after being on cloud nine for a while, they eventually come down to earth, and consequently no longer talk about it in the same way. They may no longer have that starry-eyed look as they did earlier on when mentioning anything in relation to that home. But under no circumstances are they unhappy, nor do they regret having purchased their home. It now means that they settled into it.
You state with certainty that your friends who seemed to be have been so happy when first getting married, no longer are. From what you are saying it seems you are basing that assumption on the way they appear to you.
Looking like a “shmatte” is not enough of an indication that they are miserable in their marriage. There may be any number of reasons why they give that impression. They might be kept awake by a crying child, and by morning light the last thing on their mind is looking glamorous. Or, some women, and I am not condoning this in any way, feel that after they get married they no longer need to go out of their way to make themselves appear attractive. Your once well-made-up single friend, after a few years of marriage, probably has not touched a lipstick or mascara in a very long time. That, my dear, is not necessarily a sign of unhappiness. And no, it does not mean that marriage will turn you into that either, unless that is what you choose.
How a woman dresses and grooms herself is a personal choice. Many girls diet, exercise, and groom themselves to the hilt while dating. After marriage, there are those who become lax in those areas. I understand how it scares you to see your once attractive friends turn into the complete opposite.
When your mother tells you that everyone who gets married settles in order to attain that status, that is her version of attempting to “knock some sense into you.” She is conveying the fact that your unproven philosophies on marriage are frustrating her. The mother of a boy recently confessed to me that, out of frustration that her older son is not yet married, she actually told him to marry a monkey and she would provide the bananas if that is what it would take to get him to the chuppah.
There are singles who make impractical mistakes during their search for a spouse. One of them is that they draw up a shopping list similar to yours. I urge you to read back to yourself the list of requirements that you wrote to me for what you seek in a potential husband. Read it quietly at first, and then read it aloud. You will then agree, maybe reluctantly, that there are very few guys, if any, who can entirely fit that bill. And if it so happens that you do hit the jackpot and meet that dream guy, sadly, his feelings may not be mutual.
You profess to have given in by surrendering to dating older or divorced guys, and still have not found what you are searching for. The reason is probably that they were swiftly disqualified from husband candidacy because they lacked in any of your important prerequisites.
It is not my place or anyone’s place to dictate to you the most important elements that would make you happy in a marriage. What may seem frivolous to someone else might be important to you.
That said, based on what you are describing, I believe you wish to marry a guy who comes across as polished on the outside. Nowhere in your description do you make mention of respect, kindness, middos, and overall character as any of your requirements in a potential husband. Those are the benchmarks of a decent and loving husband and father.
Marrying a guy who lacks any emotional or spiritual positive traits will result in the likelihood that he will turn his wife into his personal shmatte, and I am not talking about the sort who does not wear makeup or trendy clothing. Marrying a guy who lacks kindness and respect is what will, G-d forbid, turn you into an emotional shmatte; one that may not be visible to the naked eye.
From generation to generation until the present, countless shidduchim have taken place and will, with Hashem’s help, continue to take place. Did any of those couples settle for something less than what they set out to get, or did they take stock of what it means to be a quality husband or wife? Those are answers that will remain private amongst the couples themselves.
I urge you to reevaluate your criteria in a marriage partner. Be honest with yourself and what you truly need from a husband. Your list is not essentially a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with marrying a guy who is tall, handsome, educated, etc. But if you need to compromise on anything, and in reality that is how life works, then let the compromise be something that will be lacking in your list.
Embarking on the journey of marriage is like treading in unknown territory. You never know what your spouse will be like until you live with him. But if you marry a person who possesses a good heart, that will fit the final bill for a perfect husband.
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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