July 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How ‘Marrieds’ Can Help Their Single Friends

Question:

My single friends and I often wondered why our married friends and their husbands didn’t try harder to help us out in the shidduch department. Clearly their husbands have single friends who may be potentials for us singles, but we found most of them (definitely not all) didn’t seem to be all that busy worrying about us. They had their fulfilling lives going on and we single friends weren’t on the top of their “to do” list. We figured most of them who got married pretty soon after returning from Israel never experienced the angst and fear we were experiencing, not knowing what our futures had in store for us. So, giving them the benefit of the doubt, we figured they were pretty much clueless about our struggles.

But more amazing than that was when friends of mine who got engaged and married a little later on, and these were the very same girls whom I had actually previously sat around with and shared our mutual worries with, fell into the same pattern. Friends who themselves made comments like, “Why can’t our married friends set us up?” were suddenly so busy with their own married lives that they, too, became too busy or uncaring to get involved in our plight.

I never wanted to sound desperate to these married friends, but once in awhile I would force myself to ask them straight out whether their husbands had any friends or acquaintances who might be potential shidduchim for me. Some of the responses I got were really upsetting. One good friend said, “Yossie really feels uncomfortable getting involved in such things.” Or, “Moshe has so much on his plate right now, I really don’t want to bother him with this.” And these comments were from women who knew very well what it is like to wait for that next important call.

My questions to the panel is the following: First of all, how do I stop myself from getting angry and hurt by these formerly “great” friends, who suddenly seem so uncaring and certainly unloving toward me? And secondly, how can I approach them in a productive way that will shift their attitude so that they take more initiative in bringing together their single friends with their husbands’ single friends? I’m guessing there are so many potential shidduchim that could be made, if more effort were put into making this happen. Thank you.

The Navidaters Respond:

I see many women in my practice who, like you, cannot understand how their married friends aren’t making more of an effort to set them up. They are frustrated, sometimes angry, but most of all baffled and even shocked that their friends aren’t pounding the phones and calling single guys on their behalf. I always validate their feelings about it. Anyone in your shoes understands it, and everyone not in your shoes should try to understand it (if they don’t already).

With regard to your anger, it is a natural, normal feeling to have in your situation. You’re not going to not feel anger, ever. When my clients talk about this very issue, I get angry too! It almost feels like an injustice! Let’s dig a little deeper. Anger is sort of the “cover” for fear. Anger is a secondary emotion that sometimes hides the primary emotion of fear. If I am angry that my friend is not setting me up, I may be fearful she doesn’t truly love me or I may be fearful that I won’t get married (chas v’shalom!). When we honor our feelings and make space for them, they often stop feeling so overwhelming. So, honor your anger and understand that you have good reason for it. That may help decrease angry feelings.

Even the best shana rishona (first year of marriage) can be stressful. Husband and wife are busy getting to know each other, learning about their quirks… there is much terrain to explore: how do we manage our parents and in-laws, how do we find alone time with busy schedules, managing financial responsibilities, cooking, cleaning, chores, etc. And then, unfortunately, there are those couples that are having a difficult first year filled with strain and tension.

Shana rishona aside, I think you have to swallow your embarrassment (validate, then swallow) and go for it. A good friend may get caught up in her own life, but if you call her up and suggest a practical idea, she should be on board… unless she is dealing with a serious and/or time-consuming matter. Ask a friend to host a casual Shabbat lunch with like-minded men and women. Every man should be able to meet with every woman and have a good amount of time to get to know one another. If lunch is too much for your friend, ask her to do a casual dessert. What do I say? You say, “Hey, it’s me. I’d really love to meet a great guy and I have an idea I’m so excited about. Would you be willing to help me get started?” There is nothing shameful or burdensome about this.

While you’re working the friend angle, you can also work with a shadchan, get involved with YU Connects, Saw You at Sinai and JSwipe (depending on your religious affiliation), ask your parents to get on board, your siblings, call your teachers and principal from high school, anyone who you made a connection with in Israel (if you spent the year), enlist good neighbors and good people from shul. Your neighborhood may have a shidduch group that meets monthly to discuss potential shidduchim. Get your name on that. The good people of the world want to help you. You must remember that. The good people want to help you. They may need a little push because they get busy with their own lives. Send a little thank you note, or a follow up thank-you phone call. This can feel like a job. It does take a tremendous amount of work. Though there is one person out there for you, your job is to contact as many people as you can, make connections and follow through. The rest is in God’s hands.

If you are reading this, I urge you on this woman’s behalf, and on behalf of all singles, to start thinking about setting up one person you know. One. There are so many fabulous singles out there and they may be hesitant to approach you. And you may be hesitant to approach them. We all have to get over ourselves and just. do. it. Making a shidduch, or trying, is one of the greatest feelings in the entire world. People are always talking about taking on a mitzvah. Make this one yours. What can you commit to? Six Shabbat afternoon mixers a year? Calling your husband’s friends to try to get the ball rolling on behalf of your single girlfriend? Calling your local shul and trying to advocate for more singles activities? If you are on the board or an active member of your shul, how can your shul get involved? The Navidaters would love to hear what you are willing and excited to take on! We’d also love to hear your innovative ideas for making more shidduchim! Write to us (anonymously, if you prefer) with your ideas or personal commitments, and we will publish it in next week’s column! You never know who will be reading about your idea or commitment and the impact it may have on someone’s life.

It is my hope and prayer that you find the right one very soon!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

Disclaimer: This column is not intended to diagnose or otherwise conclude resolutions to any questions. Our intention is not to offer any definitive conclusions to any particular question, rather offer areas of exploration for the author and reader. Due to the nature of the column receiving only a short snapshot of an issue, without the benefit of an actual discussion, our role is to offer a range of possibilities. We hope to open up meaningful dialogue and individual exploration.

By Jennifer Mann

 Esther Mann, LCSW, and Jennifer Mann, LCSW, work with individuals, couples and families in Hewlett, New York. As The Navidaters, they specialize in dating and relationship coaching. To set up an appointment, please call 516.224.7779. Sessions are held in the office or via Skype. If you would like to submit a dating or relationship question to the panel anonymously, please email [email protected]. Visit their website, thenavidaters.com, for dating and relationship advice and to learn more about their services. Follow The Navidaters on Facebook and Instagram. Check out the hit web series “Soon By You,” and be sure to tune into the Navidaters After Show!

 

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