I am a 22-year-old pre-med student. I come from a good family, and people tell me I am pretty, but I am still having a hard time with shidduchim. Shadchanim are telling me that boys are intimidated by girls who want to become doctors, and I am starting to believe them.
The same thing happened to my aunt. Guys did not want to go out with her because of her profession. When she was in her late thirties, she took a year off from work to concentrate on finding a shidduch. She told me that during that time, there were a lot of guys interested in her. When she went back to being a doctor, her problems started again. Guys were rejecting her. My aunt is now in her fifties and still single. I do not want this happening to me.
Recently, a guy said yes to me, but his mother said that the only way she would allow her son to date me was if I did not go to medical school. She wants her grandchildren to have their mother full-time. She feels that a doctor is always busy dealing with patients even when home.
My parents encouraged me to go to medical school, but now that they see it might prevent me from getting married, they are telling me to change my career. They like this boy, and they would rather I be married than be an unmarried doctor.
I want to get married, but I also want to be a doctor. And I am not necessarily looking to marry a doctor. Are my parents right? Should I give up my career to date a guy?
By Baila Sebrow
From the time a child is born, the wish of every parent is to have the zechus of walking that child to the chuppah. When the child grows up and is ready to embark on the milestone of seeking a shidduch, anything that impedes that course of action will be cause for the parents to panic and react with a fight-or-flight response.
When shidduchim do not come easy for their children, parents, terrified that their child will become another “shidduch crisis” statistic, oftentimes overthink the situation. In your case this is even more so, because your parents are distressed from seeing what happened to your aunt. They watched her struggle with shidduchim and are afraid that history will repeat itself.
It’s not surprising that your parents now recommend that you give up being a doctor in order to get married. But in the long run, that would be the worst decision of your life. There has never yet been a person who gave up his career for a particular shidduch who did not live to regret it. Marrying under such circumstances will cause you to feel as though you missed out on something in life, no matter how fulfilled you might be in other areas.
Do not give up medicine for anyone; don’t even entertain such a thought. If this is how the boy and his mother feel, then such a shidduch is not for a girl like you, unless they come around and alter their way of thinking.
Please bear in mind that you and your aunt are completely different individuals. No one but your aunt knows the true details as to why she has remained single all these years. We do not know what she was searching for in a spouse, nor do we know whom she rejected. There is the possibility that maybe she was not as open-minded as she should have been.
Oftentimes, a woman who is a doctor seeks to marry a man who has a similar career. In a perfect world, that might work, but when it comes to shidduchim there are so many other variables to take into consideration that the profession itself is just not enough to bring a shidduch to fruition. And so when a guy has a job that is of lesser value in the eyes of the woman, that person, no matter how wonderful, is not considered a good enough candidate for marriage. You need to understand that such scenarios might have played out in your aunt’s dating life. That said, neither you nor your parents will ever have any knowledge of missed opportunities your aunt may have been responsible for.
However, it is true that there are guys who will not marry a woman who appears to have a higher profession than they do. There are also guys who, even though they are doctors or other professionals, will specifically seek to marry a woman who is not. There are some men who are intimidated by women who appear powerful or educated. A person studying medicine is viewed as highly intelligent, and some men find that frightening.
There are also men who prefer to be the knight-in-shining-armor of day-to-day circumstances. Some men enjoy having their wives reach out to them for minor decisions, and a powerful or intelligent woman can usually solve everyday problems on her own. There are husbands who like to feel that they are the head of the household and looked up to with respect. And when the wife has a high-powered profession, oftentimes these guys feel that the children, and even the wife, will respect them less. It is not necessarily an old-fashioned type of mentality, but stems more from the natural male ego.
The mother of the boy who does not want her son to marry a doctor subscribes to an old-fashioned mentality. She believes that an educated and career-motivated woman cannot balance her professional and private lives. She is clearly not up to date with the current lifestyles of the many beautiful families in the frum society.
There are many successful frum women who are doctors or lawyers, or hold other high-powered positions of employment. And yet these women are still there for their children. Not only that, but many of these women make the time to prepare delicious meals for their family, and they enjoy spending quality time together. Their families do not lack love or attention. It is all about time management; these women know how make the most out of their busy schedules.
You have chosen the same career path as your aunt, and you are also experiencing rejection for what you have been led to believe is the same reason. I am not sure what types of shadchanim you are dealing with, but it seems that because these people have not been successful in finding you a shidduch, blaming it on your professional path is an easy way out for them. It takes the load off their shoulders. Rather than presenting you for all the lovely qualities you possess, their focus appears to be on your career plans. Maybe they, too, are of the same mindset as the mother of the boy who said yes to you. Now is the right time to switch to different types of shadchanim. I advise you to seek a shadchan who respects women who are or will be professionals.
From what you are saying, it appears that you and your parents were of the same opinion about your pursuit of a career in medicine. It also seems that you are open-minded about marrying a guy who is not planning to be a doctor. That speaks volumes about you. Your focus is on finding a compatible shidduch, regardless of the boy’s profession. Such sensitivity will certainly carry you far in accomplishing that which you have always dreamed of—a career in medicine and becoming a wife and mother.
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. ϖ
Questions and comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.