By Baila Sebrow

Question

Three out of my four children are desperate to get married, but I cannot find even one shadchan who is willing to look for a shidduch for them. My two sons are 21 and 24 and my daughter is 22.

The issue is that we have a chassidishe background but are now Modern Orthodox. However, my kids would only marry someone who also has a chassidishe background and speaks fluent chassidishe Yiddish. They also practice a number of chassidishe minhagim and prefer to daven in chassidishe havarah.

The problem is that none of them were redd even one shidduch because they don’t fit in any group. They are very good kids, and I am not saying this because I am their mom. They are very respectful and never raise their voice. They are also socially awkward, though, so they want me to set them up (rather than find a match on their own).

They are super-smart and speak a number of languages. My oldest is finishing school with a double major in linguistics and urban planning. My daughter is still in school, and my 21-year-old son is a programmer. He is currently writing a new computer language that addresses issues that are not yet addressed in any other current computer language.

My kids are desperate to find their mates, but I can’t help them.

I reached out to a number of shadchanim, but they all said that they can’t help me. I would really appreciate some guidance. Who should I call? What can I do to help them?

Response

Though you are just writing about your children seeking their bashert, from what you are disclosing it sounds like there are several issues they need to tackle before they set out to find a compatible match. For the benefit of your children, so that they can have better relationships with shadchanim and continue receiving assistance from them, you need to understand that people who refer to themselves as shadchanim are doing so because they want to make a shidduch. Their popularity and success in shadchanus are completely dependent on the number of appropriate shidduchim they make.

There are shadchanim who only deal with specific types of shidduchim with regard to hashkafah, life status, family background, age, etc. Other shadchanim will do shidduchim for anyone, regardless of any particular details. However, what both types of shadchanim have in common is that they know what they are looking for on behalf of their client. Moreover, they fully understand with whom they are transacting in terms of where the person is coming from and what they have to offer for the type of shidduch they seek. From what you wrote, it sounds like the shadchanim don’t have a clue how to help you, so rather than redd your children to the type of people who are clearly not for them, they are backing away. I believe that is why you think the shadchanim are not willing to search on their behalf.

Your dilemma is not just having three children in shidduchim. There are several factors going on at the same time. Until your children come to terms with who they really are and who would best be for them as it pertains to a marriage partner, trying to find fault in those who are not helping you is not only pointless and a waste of time but also detrimental to future community support. For this reason, we need to break this down and examine the situation for what it is, so that we can come to a healthy plan of action.

Your children have a chassidishe background, yet you are all living a Modern Orthodox life. Basically, that means that they relate to different parts of both hashkafos but cannot classify themselves as belonging to either one. Not only that, but they want to marry someone who comes from a chassidishe background, speaks fluent Yiddish, and will also be willing to accept their minhagim. In other words, on the outside, they look like they are Modern Orthodox, but they really are not. If all of that was the only issue, it would not be such a problem. There are many families who used to be chassidish, yet chose to veer towards the Modern Orthodox way of life. But that only works well if they go Modern Orthodox all the way. Yet even when that’s not the case, there are families like yours. Your challenges are compounded because you say that your children are also socially awkward.

It would be very easy for me to tell you to keep up the good work of being a hands-on proactive mother and continue searching until you hit on somebody for your children to marry. My biggest concern, however, is not so much that they haven’t met anyone yet, but that they might marry the wrong person, chas v’shalom. And by that statement I mean that there are people who marry incompatible spouses, expecting them to change with time. Your child might decide to settle on a certain person who seems easygoing and laid-back and would not care about the disparities. But with time, one or the other may decide that somebody has to make a change. And that is where the problems begin. An important rule of thumb to remember is that for a marriage to succeed, when it comes to hashkafah, middos, character, and the way one relates to his or her significant other, it should be expected that the person will not, cannot, and should not change after the chuppah. What you see is what you should expect to get, without any questions asked.

What your children do have going for them is the fact that you are putting everything on the table about them and your family. You are not afraid of being vulnerable, and that is a vital aspect that many people frequently overlook. But it goes even further than that. While it seems like you are asking for a lot, you are not listing inconsequential requirements for your children. They merely seek someone who is similar to them and will accept them for who they are in order to establish compatibility.

How can you go about finding your children a shidduch? Discontinue searching the way you have been doing thus far. In finding a marriage partner, one needs to look for emotional connection, someone with a good heart, and someone who will have his or her back. Such characteristics have nothing to do with chassidish or Modern Orthodox. Anyone can possess those qualities. As a Yiddish-speaking person myself, I can appreciate that your children would feel comfortable marrying someone who speaks Yiddish. There are certain expressions and perspectives that cannot be translated to be received in the same way. However, that is not what married life is dependent on. There are many successful marriages in which one partner does not speak a language that the spouse speaks fluently, and it does not take away even one iota from their relationship. Your children’s havarah and minhagim will not be an issue for the right person, as long as they don’t have a problem with their significant other coming from a different background.

With respect to their social awkwardness that you mention, I strongly urge you to address that issue with a professional who is qualified to make an assessment, if you have not already done so.

You need to restructure the way you speak to shadchanim. Yes, tell them all about your children, but also stress that they are open-minded about the type of shidduchim that will be redd to them. Before you do that, make sure that your children are on board with that idea. Explain to them that, in some cases, marrying someone who is exactly or most similar to themselves is the socially acceptable tactic. But when a person has various sides, the notion of a matching equivalent no longer applies. In their circumstance, since they are already exposed to different hashkafos, marrying someone who is the opposite of them in life can be not only interesting, but can also potentially complement who they already are.

They should be on the lookout for a person with whom they will enjoy life and who will become their best friend. What are the qualities for a best friend in a marriage situation? Honesty, respect, trust and trustworthiness, support, and everything else that comes in the precious package of unconditional love.

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to 5townsforum@gmail.com. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.

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