Dear Dr. Yael,
My son is married to a wonderful girl and they have two beautiful children. My son ended up marrying a girl who is a year older than him. This girl was suggested to him numerous times, but I kept saying no because she was a year older, and I figured there were many younger girls to choose from, so why take this “chisaron.” After my son dated for two years, I finally consented to this shidduch. We checked dor yesharim before they went out, as I did with every girl he went out with. After the first date, he told me that she was the one. Three weeks later, they got engaged (after intensely dating), and they are now happily married baruch Hashem! Since all my children are baruch Hashem happily married, I decided to thank Hashem by becoming involved in shidduchim. I know every shidduch has the right time, so I can’t look back, but I regret being ridiculous with age. I could’ve spared my son so much heartache if I wasn’t stubborn about this issue. I now realize it’s shtuss (nonsense) and I suggest shidduchim all the time where the girl is older than the boy. I often get a no because other people have the same shtuss that I had. I hope people will read this letter and realize that age is not important! Let us all work on encouraging appropriate matches, which will lead to healthy marriages, regardless of age!
The shidduch situation today is very challenging. You are correct that age is not important and is not a good reason to say “no” to an appropriate shidduch idea. I know so many amazing couples who did not let age ruin their chances. We all have to be more flexible and look more at the boy or girl and not nix shidduchim due to age, minor hashkafa differences, money issues, or other things that don’t really matter in a marriage. Middos (Character) and personality, as well as a basic attraction are of paramount importance. Believe me, no one cares how old you are if you’re getting up with the baby in the middle of the night or changing diapers and letting your spouse sleep or have a break! At the end of the day, we need to look for someone that will cherish our children and be a positive, giving spouse. We need to look for someone who wants to raise their children in the same way that our children do (something couples usually discuss when dating) and someone who has good middos and will be able to be there for their spouse during whatever challenges Hashem gives them. The outside things that most people look for are not going to make a difference 5-10 years down the line.
I cannot say one definitive thing that will end the shidduch crisis, but we definitely have to work on being open minded and stopping to pigeon hole everyone. We are all Klal Yisrael, but we have fragmented ourselves into tiny sections and refuse to mix. We must look outside of our tiny boxes and make a concerted effort to help others in shidduchim as you are already doing. If everyone became more involved in shidduchim, we could help so many more people.
Please, dear readers, put on your thinking caps and try to look around you and see how you can contribute to stopping this shidduch crisis! If your children are in shidduchim, please try to open your mind to possibilities that you wouldn’t have considered if the shidduch is appropriate for your child! Thank you for writing this very important letter, and I wish you much continued nachas from all of your children! Hatzlacha!