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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Why Can’t I Get Married? (Part One)


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I’m not the type of person who writes letters for advice. As a matter of fact, I’m surprised at my own self for seeking out your guidance, but I feel so desperate and frustrated that I decided to give it a try in the hope that you could shed some light on my problem.

It is my mother and your book, The Committed Marriage, which has prompted me to send you this e-mail. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who attends your classes, gave me the book and it spoke to me. I am certain that you receive countless e-mails from all over the world, but I hope that you will read my letter and respond. Should you feel that my problem is relevant to others, as well, I have no objection to your publishing it. I do however ask that you delete my name.

I am 37 years old. I have been told by everyone that I am very attractive and do not look older than 27. I am athletic, play tennis and go to the gym regularly. I love music and travel. I have a good solid job as an attorney and my friends tell me that I have a great personality and am fun to be with. So what, you might wonder, is my problem? To be honest, I don’t know, and that is precisely why I have chosen to write to you in the anticipation that you can give me some clarity. I will try to portray as objective a view of my life as possible so that you may have a complete picture of who I am and where I may have gone wrong.

My parents are solidly Jewish, but secular. When I say “solidly Jewish,” I mean that they support Israel, make a Seder on Passover, and go to synagogue on the High Holy Days. My mother lights Shabbos candles, although I must admit, not regularly, and my father is a supporter of many philanthropic organizations.

Our formal religious affiliation has always been Reform – I was confirmed in our temple, as were my two brothers. My older brother married out of the faith and that upset my parents. They would have preferred that he marry a Jewish girl, but they are very understanding and didn’t want to stand in the way of his happiness. My brother is a successful physician and the girl that he married was a nurse in the hospital in which he did his residency. Unfortunately, she did not choose to convert and my brother does not want to pressure her, but my parents are hoping that one day she will come around. She does go to temple on the High Holy Days and of course, she participates in our Seder.

My younger brother is still single. He too is an attorney and quite successful. He dates mostly gentile girls, but my parents hope that when it comes to marriage he will choose someone of our own faith.

And now to my problem. I always thought that I would be married by the age of 23. My plan was to graduate from college, travel a bit, start my career, and then focus on marriage. I never dreamed that I would have a problem achieving this dream. I was always popular with no lack of boyfriends, but for some strange reason, nothing has worked out as I had hoped.

To be sure, the career part has been realized beyond my expectations. I command a good salary, and even in this economic downward spiral, when many of my associates have been given pink slips, I have been lucky enough to keep my job. Strangely however, all this has not brought me happiness. More than anything, I want to get married; I want to start a family, but its just not happening, and it’s not for lack of boyfriends or dates. Over the years, I have been in many serious relationships, some lasting as long as three years, but when push came to shove, all my boyfriends turned out to be gun-shy.

In your book, you explain that the word for “but” in biblical Hebrew is “efes,” which literally means “zero,” so when a man says, “I love you, but…” it means zero! He is telling you in a nice way, “I am not marrying you!” How well I know this bitter truth. I have heard it too many times. So why, Rebbetzin, do you think that all this is happening to me?

I realize that you don’t really know me, and it may be unfair of me to ask you to make such an evaluation, but still, after having read your book, I am convinced that you have a profound understanding of human nature, and I feel that if anyone can give me some clarity, it is you. Mind you, I have been in therapy, and while my therapist is a very sensitive person, I have not been able to resolve my problem. I go to singles socials, on tours with various young leadership organizations, met people through J Date and paid astronomical sums to matchmakers – but all to no avail.

My parents have retired to Florida, and my brothers are busy with their own lives. As you can imagine, my single brother is wrapped up in his social life…. I don’t particularly get along with my sister-in-law and we see each other only on formal occasions. So despite the fact that I have a family, to all intents and purposes, I am all alone.

A friend told me that nowadays, all of the men in my age category are commitment phobic. That which is going on in my life has nothing to do with me but is symptomatic of our times…. It’s not what I do or say. It’s the guys…. they just can’t commit. If that is the truth, then that leaves me even more depressed. What possible future does that foretell for me? I’m so sick and tired of the entire dating scene… going to dinners and bars, getting all made up, trying to be charming and accommodating, only to be rejected after investing years of effort.

While I wrote that my parents are not religious, I also said that they are very Jewish-minded, and when I speak to my mom on the phone, she never fails to lament my single state. “Why are you wasting your time? Why don’t you meet someone and get married already?”

“I’m trying, Mom,” I answer, and then she comes back at me with, “Trying is not good enough – you have to do it!”

I get irritated with her remarks – they rub a raw nerve. I snap back an answer, and before I know it, we get into a fight and end up hanging up on one another. After these conversations, my emotions run the gamut from anger to guilt. I feel guilty for having lost my temper with my mom, but I’m also angry because her questions cause me so much pain. Doesn’t she understand that I want to get married?

In our last conversation, she told me that one of her bridge partners told her that you are the person to consult and that not only would you be able to give me guidance, but you would also be able to introduce me to someone as well – and that was the clincher that gave me the final push to write to you! Please help a single Jewish girl who wants to get married.

Sincerely,

Single Jewish Girl

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