A few weeks ago I published a letter from a 45-year old single professional woman who expressed regret at having placed career before marriage. She bemoaned the years wasted and the opportunities lost for bringing children into the world and establishing a true Jewish home. In my response, I told her that it’s never too late – that rather than agonizing over the past, she should concentrate on the here and now. I told her to bear in mind the many miraculous happenings of our past as well as the amazing stories of today of all the singles who, through the many mercies of Hashem and modern medicine, do marry and have children later in life.
As a result of these letters, I received a great deal of mail, most of it from eligible men who were anxious to meet her. I am happy to share with you that today, she is seriously seeing one of them, and please G-d, I hope that it will turn out to be a shidduch.
Among the many letters that reached my desk was one from a divorced gentleman who took umbrage at the word “loser” used by the woman to describe some of the unacceptable shidduch candidates that had been recommended to her in the past. He also faulted me for not commenting on this remark.
Frankly speaking, I read her letter differently…I read it as an expression of sorrow at having failed to marry in time and never even noticed the phrase that he found so objectionable. To do justice to his plaint however, I forwarded his e-mail to the woman and asked her if she would be willing to respond to his criticism. She agreed and, B’Ezrat Hashem, I will publish her response in next week’s column. The following is his letter:
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:
I have always greatly admired your work with Hineni and I frequently read your column in The Jewish Press. The letter written by the female Ob/Gyn who lamented her single state and expressed regret at the many years that she had focused on a career rather than on marriage and a family touched a sensitive chord in my heart. While I certainly sympathize with her situation, I find her labeling some shidduch candidates “losers” disconcerting and offensive.
I am a 52-year old man and have been divorced for the past four years. As I am sure you are aware, divorce almost always presents financial hardships for the parties involved. I had been married for 25 years and, Baruch Hashem, the business that I had inherited from my father provided a parnassah, which although nothing spectacular, was enough to pay the bills. I was always grateful for that.
Only a few short months after my divorce, the recession began to hit my business really hard. I am in an industry, which is sensitive to changes in the rest of the economy, meaning that as soon as things begin to slow down in other areas, my business feels it almost immediately. The past three years have been extremely rough. I don’t know if my company will be able to survive this downturn.
The small house that I had bought for myself (which I combined with my workplace to make it manageable financially) is now in foreclosure as I have been unable to pay my mortgage. I will almost certainly need to declare personal bankruptcy. My number one priority has always been my children, but it has become increasingly difficult to make child support payments and pay half of their yeshiva tuition costs. I lose many nights of sleep worrying about these issues, but I am resolved to meet my commitments one way or another.
Your letter-writer states, “If they are not successful (potential shidduch candidates), it is difficult to respect them. I just cannot marry a loser.”
I was so dismayed that you chose not to address that particular comment. With all due modesty, I can tell you that I have a sterling reputation in my neighborhood (and indeed, amongst all who know me) as being a Yarei Shamayim, a ba’al middos, an honest, caring and devoted friend and an excellent father to my children who adore me. Even my ex-wife has acknowledged that (in her own words) I am a “good guy.”
I have met women, on dating sites, with whom I have easily developed relationships. In many cases, as soon as I mentioned problems with my business, I was history. I have no issue with that coming from divorced women who have struggled with financial issues. I totally can understand a woman who, after going through a difficult time in her life would now like to be able to rest easier and not have to worry about paying the bills.
But this is not the case here. This woman is a success. At 45 and in an Ob/Gyn practice for a number of years, I have to believe that finances are not an issue for her. But to her, I am a loser. Never mind the fact that I can be a terrific husband, and that I would treat the right woman like a queen. The woman I marry will be proud to be seen with me, and I am trustworthy, reliable, and have a lot of love to offer. No, this is all unimportant because HaKadosh Baruch Hu chose to make my life financially difficult for now. I would understand a woman not wanting a man who is lazy and, therefore, unsuccessful. But I have always worked hard to support my family, even working in the evenings to earn some extra money.
In your answer you inform the woman that many men have written to you about possibly dating this woman. Though I can possibly benefit from getting into a relationship with a woman who is financially secure, I could never date a woman who considers me a “loser.” Once again, I am disappointed that you didn’t set this woman straight as to what are the most important qualities to look for in a shidduch.