My wife and I are trying to help our daughter with finding a shidduch, but we feel that our hands are tied. She won’t go to a shadchan. We try to get shadchanim to redd her a shidduch without her knowledge, but it never works out. I remember hearing about that type of method years ago. We have tried to convince her to go to singles events, but she says that it’s the same guys who go all the time. She does go on dates, but only if it comes from a friend. Then when she comes home from the date, she is upset and says that her friends give her their leftovers. My wife cries all the time, and I feel like crying, too. What can you advise so that my daughter can find an appropriate shidduch?
I feel for you and your wife. The anguish you are experiencing is palpable. In reading your brief letter, I get the sense that what you are experiencing with your daughter is analogous to a person who appears to need medical treatment but refuses conventional methods for whatever reason. As parents, you realize that your daughter needs to reach out to shadchanim, or at least be open to their suggestions, in addition to attempt to meet eligible men at events, but she dismisses your sincere recommendations.
Unless she had a major disappointment earlier on and is burnt out, there could be a few things going on. First, there is the possibility that she is not emotionally ready for marriage, and so she finds excuses to avoid meeting someone. It doesn’t matter how old a person might be; being ready for marriage does not always happen when a person reaches a certain age. Society might expect that to be the case, but the heart and mind need to be on the same page for a single man or woman to expose themselves to the elements of shidduchim. The second is that it could be she is looking for a particular type of shidduch, whether from a hashkafic or other perspective, and she might fear your disapproval. And the third possibility is that perhaps she already knows a young man but is not sharing that with you yet.
Regardless of what the reason may be, how can you help her? The one thing you should never do is go behind her back. You need her to trust you. Even though your intentions are good, how can you expect that to happen by being sneaky? I know what you are referring to when you say that years ago there were matchmakers who claimed to be able to get dates for people without their knowledge. I remember seeing such advertisements. I can’t comment on their success rate, as I have no clue how they went about their system. But I will never advise anything but an honest approach on all matters.
I believe strongly that there is a lack of sufficient communication between you and your daughter. It’s likely that it might also include the communication she has with your wife. In order to assist her, you need to get to the bottom of her motives. And that begins with speaking to her. I’m sure you already tried that, and she probably gave you no direction, which is why you wrote asking for advice. That’s why your approach needs to be different this time.
Your daughter is, without doubt, feeling pain, too. Watching her mother cry about something she feels she has no control over is only making matters worse. She needs your strength and reassurance. Make her feel confident about her achievements thus far. Tell her that whatever she chooses to do with her life, you are proud of her and love her no matter what. She needs to not only hear it but to believe it, too. That will be the initial step to open the lines of communication. When you sense that she feels your support, ask her what she envisions for her future with regard to a husband and family. If she says she is not ready to get married, leave it at that. As upsetting as that might be to hear, if she is not ready, you have no choice but to respect and support her decision. I caution you not to fight with her about it, and certainly there should be no histrionics from you or your wife. As time goes on, you can bring up the subject again.
If she really does want to get married but has been turned off by the system, that’s where you have your work cut out for you and where you can do whatever it takes to help her achieve that goal. You will need to ask her what type of man she feels would be most compatible with her. If she tells you something shocking, again, respect her decision unless it’s something so unusual that could somehow be detrimental to her happiness. Once you have that information, find out what her issue might be with shadchanim. If she doesn’t trust them, she might have a good reason—either a personal bad experience (unbeknownst to you) or something she heard from a friend. You will then have to explain that just as there are different types of people in each profession, the same goes for shadchanim.
It would be a good idea to do some major research to find a shadchan who has experience, vision, and sensitivity to deal with the type of man she may be seeking. When you find that person, and feel comfortable that he or she can help your daughter, suggest that your daughter have a phone conversation with the shadchan. In most cases, when the rapport is good between the client and the shadchan, you are on the winning side from the get-go.
Regarding singles events, your daughter is both right and wrong. There are singles who never attend events, regardless of who’s running the event. Those are the types of singles she will not have the opportunity to ever meet at an event. Then there are singles who attend every event they hear about. For singles who attend every event, they will naturally meet the same people, too. However, I will say that as a shadchan who organizes events, there are always new people who join for the first time. It’s just that to those who are tired of going to events, it may seem as though every face they see is familiar. And the fact that your daughter does not attend events tells me that she is repeating what she may have heard from someone else. That said, in addition to encouraging your daughter to try the shadchan route, suggest that she pick one or two events that sound interesting for her to attend.
There is a method of singles meeting one another that I am also in favor of. And that is friends introducing each other. A friend knows you better than any shadchan ever could. Friends making shidduchim has a high success rate. I am not sure why your daughter feels that the guys her friends try to set her up with are their “leftovers.” Perhaps she doesn’t view those people as real friends. Or she might feel that since her friends are not dating that specific guy, there is something wrong with him and they are just passing him on to someone else. It’s quite normal for such thoughts to enter the mind, which is why I feel it is healthiest when a married friend makes a shidduch suggestion as opposed to a single friend.
There is one method of shidduch-eligible people meeting one another that used to be more “in vogue,” and I wish it would still be as popular today. Years ago, people would choose hobbies, workshops, or lectures where they could meet like-minded people. While there are shiurim for singles, not enough people utilize them. There is something to be said about having an intellectual discussion with someone about an interesting experience shared together. It creates a bond of communication that leaves much to be explored further. Urge your daughter to join something she would find inspiring. Even if she does not meet a guy there, it is at least good for networking. One never knows where his or her shidduch will come from.
But of utmost importance is that a person needs to be in a relaxed, contented state of mind to attract his or her spouse. Therefore, you need to make sure that your daughter goes about this milestone stage in a stress-free home environment.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.