May 23, 2024
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May 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Before You Can Find a Spouse, You Must First Understand Yourself

I’m a big fan of your column and I look forward to reading your responses to your various—and oftentimes very complex—questions. My question is not so uncommon but still very important.

My question is the following: I am a frum, single, yeshiva-educated guy in my mid 20s, looking to get married. Unfortunately, I come from a very complicated family situation, which severely limits my options. Perhaps because of this I have for a while been in a situation where none of my prospects seem appealing to me, nor do they feel like marriage material.

Now, I believe you might say I’m being too exacting or too picky—and that’s exactly my question. How do I know where to draw the line? What exactly am I supposed to be able to endure? Am I supposed to get married to a girl who I’m only lukewarm attracted to, or even not attracted to at all? Should I get married to a girl who I’m going to be embarrassed to be seen with or introduce to my friends because of her ditzy and giddy personality? What about respecting her intellectually? Is that merely a nice “luxury” or an absolute must-have? What about a divorced girl?

I can go on and on with even more variables, but you get the point. I would love to get your advice on this matter and hear a response to the specific points I have raised as well.

The Navidaters respond:

I don’t think anyone should get married consciously ready to “endure.” You shouldn’t marry someone whose face you “endure.” And you shouldn’t marry someone whose personality and intellect leave you feeling empty or ashamed. Mutual attraction is very important. I have no way of knowing if you are “being too picky,” as you mentioned in your email. This is something that can be processed with a therapist or dating coach to give you some peace of mind. If you are being “too picky,” that may come to light in your sessions. And if you aren’t being too picky, that will hopefully become clear as well.

I write the following as a public service announcement:

Do not marry anyone who embarrasses you. This isn’t fair to her.

Do not marry anyone of whom you feel ashamed. This isn’t fair to her.

Do not marry anyone who you think is a “ditz.” This isn’t fair to her.

Do not marry anyone whose looks disappoint you. This isn’t fair to her.

Shidduchim are tough. And yes, I have found that when people come from complicated families or situations, it can become exponentially more difficult. People questioning you, questioning your ability to be a good husband and, more often than not, questioning what went on in your family of origin. This is where I see people get into trouble, and understandably so. All this questioning of family of origin sometimes leads people to believe that there is something wrong with them. If my family is broken, then I must be broken too.

The thing is that you are not responsible for anything that happened in your family when you were a child. Whatever the story, you didn’t write the script. And you do not have to marry someone you don’t like. I have two pieces of practical advice for you. The first is to see a good therapist to make sure you aren’t standing in your own way in terms of dating, be it via “pickiness” or old family stuff that may (or may not) be impacting your self-worth. The second piece of advice is for you to develop a positive mantra about what you are open to welcoming into your life. I deserve love. I am ready for a healthy relationship with a woman I respect, admire and find attractive. I am not defined by my family. Find a mantra that feels right for you. Once we re-adjust our beliefs, we then create objectives and goals for ourselves and figure out how to go about making them happen. This may look like sitting down with a pen and paper and writing down the top-five priorities you have for the qualities most important in a spouse. A picky top-five list may look like: 1. She must be blonde. 2. Between the height of 5’5 and 5’7 and skinny. 3. Went to such-and such seminary. 4. From a wealthy family. 5. No moles. An example of a healthier top-five may include sense of humor, mutual attraction, similar hashkafa, similar values, growth oriented, kind, sweet, I’m comfortable with how she spends money, etc.

Once you are crystal clear on your mantra and your reasonable, healthy top five, be sure you are conveying this to shadchanim. There may be a breakdown or something awry in the way you are communicating with the shadchanim at this point. Best of luck to you!

All the best, Jennifer


Jennifer Mann, LCSW, is a licensed, clinical psychotherapist and dating and relationship coache working with individuals, couples and families in private practice in Hewlett, New York. To set up an appointment, please call 516.224.7779 and press 2 for Jennifer. To learn more about her services, please visit thenavidaters.com. If you would like to submit a dating or relationship question anonymously, please email [email protected]. You can follow The Navidaters on Facebook and Instagram for dating and relationship advice.

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