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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/14/09

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Differences…

Dear Rachel,

Our communities seem to be plagued with a “shidduch crisis.” We constantly hear of picky boys, fussy girls, torn parents, frustrated shadchanim, etc., etc. It’s not a lack of “work” that frustrates shadchanim, but the line most frequently used to rebuff their suggestions: “Sorry, not what we hand in mind…” – while the clock keeps ticking as singles count their birthdays…

Now, who am I to talk? My husband and I are so different from one another that many have often been left to wonder how it is that the two of us ever got together in the first place.

For you see… I am the talkative type, and he keeps to himself; he is a day person, up and running before the crack of dawn, while I am a night owl. I lean towards the unconventional, he is most comfortable with status quo; my cup is always half full, his is forever half empty; his eye for design runs along symmetrical lines, mine toward asymmetry. (Reflective of our divergent thoughts perhaps? My thoughts do tend to travel helter-skelter, while my husband’s mind is scrupulously organized.)

And that’s not all. Sugar and caffeine serve as his upper, while I get high on broccoli and sweet potatoes. Whereas I’m raring to go, he is endlessly patient. I am the English major, he the math wizard. I primp and preen before heading out and yet he must be cajoled into brushing the lint off his hat, let alone his teeth.

Oh, and did I mention that I’m a hopeless romantic, and yes, you guessed that the man at my side is a cold realist who believes that the very notion of romance is but a figment of one’s fantasies.

And about that painting on the wall that’s always hanging a bit lopsided – I must straighten it, whereas to my husband it’s not crooked at all. By now, Rachel, you should be getting the picture

How on earth have we managed to stay together for all of these years, you may be wondering. Like I’ve often commented to my other half: Imagine how dull life would be if we had no differences, if we’d think the same and act alike. What a colorless world it would be if we saw eye-to-eye on everything! There would be no excitement and no challenges, no interesting and stimulating exchange of thoughts and ideas, and so forth.

Have I ever wished for him to see it my way? Of course I have, just as he has at times wanted me to think like him. (We are human, after all!)

So what does it take to make a marriage work out between two very distinctly different individuals who were raised apart, in two diverse environments? The key is “compromise,” arrived at through “communication” and accompanied with a heavy dose of shared “respect.” And let’s not overlook the most crucial component of all: “self-respect” – without which no venture undertaken can possibly stand a chance at succeeding.

Take note, all of you smart, talented and with-it singles out there who tote your laundry lists of must-have’s, must-be’s and no-ways: if s/he is decent, if your values and goals basically match, and – very important – there is a mutual attraction, you can be assured that the rest will resolve itself in the natural course of time with the help of the One Who brings zivugim together (regardless of who gets the credit down here for clinching the match).

Both my husband and I have long ago conceded that in spite of our many differences, or more accurately because of them, we have learned much from one another. And our children, too, have benefited, by way of, Baruch Hashem, growing into well-rounded, open-minded, tolerant and perceptive adults.

No need to convince you, Rachel, because you’ve known me forever (if I may so reveal) and can vouch for the validity of my words.

An old friend…

Dear Friend,

Sure have and sure can. Thank you for setting it all down in painstaking fashion so that others can take a cue.

I am reminded of Rena and David (all names disguised), two mature and intelligent young adults who had gone out on their first shidduch date. For some reason, which Rena herself could not define at the time, she was left unimpressed and declined a second date. Urged by the shadchan as well as her parents to give it another shot, she did – as a favor to them (she thought at the time). Today they are married for over 25 years, have raised a beautiful family and are thriving in every respect.

Rechel and Mechel crossed one another’s paths briefly the first time. When the idea of a potential shidduch between the two was put forth, Mechel’s father scoffed at the preposterous proposition. He, a bessere mensch (“better person” – usually denoting affluence and influence) be meshadach with plain and poor folks like Rechel’s parents? That’ll be the day!

So Rechel and Mechel went their separate ways and married others. Their marriages successively dissolved, and Mechel’s father’s “affluence and influence” mattered little the second time around. Hashem has His way of dealing with bessere menschen when He is so inclined.

Shira was popular, pretty and smart, but it just wasn’t happening. At the suggestion of Beryl as a possible shidduch, she turned her pert little nose up but finally caved in to give it a try. (What would it hurt to see him once, she reasoned?)

An inner glow and sense of this-is-it settled in after only the first date, and the rest is history. (Shira had always been adamant in her refusal to date a smoker, a concern she had often voiced. This time, however, Beryl’s vice somehow escaped disclosure. By the time she suspected – on her first date – it was already too late to make a difference.)

Lighten up, singles!

Please send your personal stories, thoughts and opinions to rachel@jewishpress.com

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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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