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Dear Readers:

Last week we featured a letter of chizuk from a woman who first found her bashert at the age of 37. She discussed some of the challenges she faced on her journey and shared some pointers for those who are still searching.

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Dear Anonymous,

Thank you so much for your heartfelt and important letter! Your story is extremely inspiring and gives hope to those still struggling to find the right person to marry. You are absolutely correct that age and nuances in frumkeit are not as important as basic middos and an overall frumkeit match! Being open-minded is integral when you are in shidduchim.

You mentioned that the hardest part was other people’s pitying stares. If all anyone walks away from your letter with is an extra sensitivity to this issue, it will be worth it. No one likes to be pitied and we must remember that most people are doing the best they can in the situation they are in and we should always treat people the way we would want to be treated.
A large part of the “shidduch crisis” is age. As you noted, this is an area in which men would benefit from being open-minded. Men generally start dating at an older age, so right away there are about three times as many eligible women, which makes things more difficult. If men were more willing to date women who were older, they would be introduced to many amazing girls and women.

While it is important to think out of the box, we must also be cognizant of people’s wants and needs. Try to think of appropriate people for the singles you know to date, this will keep them from feeling as if they were wasting their time and getting burnt out and frustrated. It’s not fair to set someone up with a person who does not have a single characteristic that he or she is looking for.

That being said, those who are single need to remember that most people have their best interests in mind and are not trying to hurt them. Frumkeit and hashkafa have become so pigeonholed that many people in my generation do not even know what all of the different “types” and “levels” mean! Yes, it is important to find someone who is on “the same page as you,” but when we get specific to an extreme we are limiting people’s choices. You spoke about the different labels that dating websites use, some of which seem unimportant. It was sweet that you and your husband ultimately found each other because he wrote that his “category” was shomer mitzvot!

Shidduch resumes have also gotten out of hand. When we were “in shidduchim” there was no such thing as a shidduch resume and although people did inquire about possible matches, there was no “FBI checking” the way there is now. This type of checking is detrimental as many times people do not get to meet because of something that was said during the investigative process – and would not have been an issue if the couple had actually gone out once or twice and liked each other.

Shidduch resumes also highlight people’s age and height, which can be an issue. As you noted in your letter, age is relative and although most men want to have children, this is not something dependent on age. There are many young couples struggling with infertility, while there are older couples who have children easily. Additionally, while some people have strong preferences when it comes to height, it isn’t generally something that will make or break a marriage. It’s important to look for a spouse who will be good to you and a good parent to your children. Statistically, age and height do not have any correlation with those variables. These are areas that people should consider being more flexible in as it will not impact their marriage in a significant manner.

As individuals can only work in the parameters that have been already set up, we must try to do our best to think of all of the singles we know and try to help them network. After all, it is Hashem who decides who is bashert for whom; we just need to do our hishtadlus to help them come together!

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Hatzlocha with your marriage and your new journey!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.