I am a bachur in my twenties, and I am having the following issue in shidduchim. Several shadchanim with whom I have met have told me that they are not comfortable setting me up on dates, due to the fact that my parents are not involved in communicating with them. Additionally, they told me that they have felt slighted by the fact that I have a lengthy track record of showing up to “shidduch meetings” without the accompaniment of my parents, a married relative or friend, or one of my rebbeim.
As the bechor of two doctors who frequently work overtime shifts in their hospitals’ ICUs (even before the COVID outbreak), I strongly feel that it is inappropriate that shadchanim are asking me to have my parents walk away from their patients to answer their phone calls.
As an employee for a company that allows me to work my own hours at my own pace (the medical field was not for me), I have more flexibility than my rebbeim to answer phone calls at the earliest convenience of the shadchanim. My married friends likewise have their own busy lives.
Despite this, the shadchanim have still expressed discomfort setting me up on dates, let alone forwarding me résumés of girls they feel may be appropriate for me.
Imagine you were diagnosed with COVID-19, chas v’shalom, and the doctor who is intubating you walks away to answer phone calls from a shadchan regarding her son who is looking for a shidduch.
While you are gasping for air and awaiting life-saving treatment, you eavesdrop on the doctor’s conversations, and you overhear that her single son is currently sitting on the couch at home. Would you think of this bachur as perfectly suited for marriage? Or would you see him as selfish and unaware of his surroundings?
And if I am the one who is halachically expected to take upon the adult responsibilities of building a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael, then why am I being conditioned to such childish treatment from the shadchanim?
I am trying to get to the core of what you are really complaining about. It can become easy to be consumed with a specific detail rather than look at the big picture. That is a normal reaction, because you get caught up with what feels painful to you.
Considering that your parents are both physicians, I will use the following analogy to help you get better insight. When a patient complains of ongoing pain in a specific part of the body, the doctor will surely examine that area. But a conscientious practitioner will probe with further testing to get to the root of the problem, to rule out suspicious disorders in an effort to give an accurate diagnosis and plan of treatment.
So let’s figure this out for you. You stated that the shadchanim with whom you have met do not feel comfortable setting you up on dates because your parents are not communicating with them. What you first need to understand is that shadchanim want to make shidduchim, in the same way doctors want to see patients so that they can heal them.
If you are seeking assistance from shadchanim who want to speak to your parents, it is likely because the girls they represent and will be redding you to will ask them about your parents. Parental involvement in more right-wing circles is expected, for many reasons, especially where it involves discussing finances. More importantly, such parents also want to feel comfortable with their future mechutanim, so they may not allow their daughters to date men whose parents they cannot communicate with. Is it possible that you are only looking to date in circles where it is customary for the parents of young singles to be involved?
The other question I have is: if a shadchan were to call your parents, would they refuse to take the call? I get that they are busy, and I am sure that with the pandemic they are even busier, unfortunately, but would they refuse to return a call? I am not implying that they should indiscriminately answer phone calls while treating patients. But when they have a few minutes, or when they are home, would your parents really ignore a call from a shadchan?
I get the impression that there might be some sort of unresolved conflict going on between you and your parents, and the shadchanim may be picking up on it. Or it could be that your parents are on a totally different page hashkafically than you are, and in their opinion, a young man who is ready to get married needs to go through the process by himself. That, too, is an issue, if the families of the girls are not comfortable with zero interaction with your parents.
You also say that you attend shidduch meetings by yourself. If you are convinced that this is a problem for the hashkafic circles to wish to marry into, then why don’t you bring somebody along? It does not have to be a rebbe or a married friend; it could be anyone who is at least a few years older than you, who will explain that your parents are busy doctors and that he or she is representing you. Sometimes the way something is expressed holds more significance than the actual meaning.
It would be easy for me to criticize those who you say have no interest in assisting you, and validate your efforts to take on adult responsibilities in building a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael, but I would not be helping you attain your goal of marriage in the long run. You seem zealous in your efforts to get married, and I believe you are ready to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
That said, I recommend that you have a talk with your parents, explaining to them that you want to get married, and describing the type of girl you wish to date. Describe in detail the customs regarding shidduchim for the kind of family you are interested in marrying into. Make it clear to them that the process involves their cooperation, at least to some degree. If they refuse, find out why. Is it because they feel you cannot financially support a wife, and they have no interest in assisting a young married couple with bills? Perhaps they feel that you are too young? Depending on the dynamics of your family it could be other reasons that I have not touched upon.
If it is a financial situation that your parents are worried about, then you need a strategy. It is doable for a young couple to sustain themselves if the husband and wife work and they live economically. However, a problem can arise if one of them cannot work for a certain period. There needs to be a Plan B for such a circumstance.
At the end of the day, whatever reason your parents may have for their lack of involvement, if you want to get married, and you are an adult, then nobody has the right to stop you from doing so. Whether or not your parents are on board in working as a team should make no difference.
You are not going to change other people. The changes are going to have to come from you so that you achieve your goal. I recommend that you reassess your priorities about the type of girl you wish to marry. It might be that in your case, you would be more compatible with a girl who comes from a background where both her parents are professionals, similar to your situation. Such households conduct their lifestyles differently from those where there is at least one homemaker in the house ready to be on the phone with shadchanim at any given moment.
I have a feeling you might have burned a few bridges with the shadchanim you have been working with thus far. Reach out to other people who busy themselves with shidduchim. But this time, do things differently. You need to be clear from the beginning that you are taking full responsibility for any shidduch being redd to you, and that you alone will be seeing it through the process till completion.
You will have to accept that the type of girls these new shadchanim will suggest may not be the type you initially set out to date and marry. Give it a chance, because you may not only find compatibility in a different hashkafic circle, but you may also find that you will have an easier time being accepted for who you are and where you come from. When a person is driving on a journey to get to a specific location, sometimes there are roadblocks and traffic that hinder the progression to arrive at the anticipated time. The astute driver will find a way to reroute his drive with the hope that it will get him there more smoothly. You are in the driver’s seat heading to your goal. With a few modifications, you will get to your desired destination of marriage.
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.