Growing up in a peaceful home, with happily married parents, I always assumed and took for granted that I too would grow up, meet the man of my dreams somewhere in my 20’s, fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. When I became a baalas teshuva (one who has returned) at the tender age of 14, this dream of creating my own family became an even more important goal in my life, for I now had the desire to build a Torah home with my true zivug (soulmate) and raise a family of Torah-observant children.
When I turned 19, along with most of my friends, I started on my journey in search of my other half, allowing friends and shadchanim (matchmakers) to set me up on blind dates. I soon discovered that this whole dating and marriage chapter that I had now entered was not as easy or exciting as it looked and certainly not as my happy parents had described it.
After years of disappointing dates and failed relationships, including a short horrific marriage, ending in an even more horrific divorce, I finally sat down and seriously asked myself; “What am I missing here?” More accurately, I asked myself, “What are so many of us missing here?” For not only was I having a frustrating couple of years myself, but I also stood back and watched as countless friends, colleagues and acquaintances went through similar and even far worse experiences. Painful break-ups, broken engagements and messy divorces seemed to be popping up everywhere I looked.
Following my divorce, I decided to take a year off (at least) from dating and figure out, just what is this mystery that I am unable to solve? What is this secret to successful dating and more importantly, successful marriage? During this time, I did a great deal of soul-searching, spoke to some experts and made many observations. One of my friends ran social events for non-religious Jewish singles, in order to encourage Jews to marry other Jews. I used to volunteer some of my free time by helping her host and facilitate these events and enjoyed standing back and observing the crowd; seeing which guys were getting the most phone numbers and which girls were getting the most male attention. Ironically, it wasn’t always the best-looking people who were the most successful.
After a great deal of this internal work, I had come to some revelations as to where I (along with many other singles) was going wrong and became more aware of what I needed in a partner for a successful future marriage. I was happy to finally have some clarity within myself but although countless friends and colleagues were trying to set me up, I was not all that confident that I would ever find the right guy for myself, or have the courage to marry again.
That Pesach, nearly a year after my divorce, I went home to spend the week with my family. Two days after I arrived home, my uncle called and informed me that there was a wonderful guy at his shul named Marc, who he wanted me to meet; a real mentsh whom he thought would make me happy. I agreed to meet him while I was in town, after all, what did I have to lose? Who could be a more trustworthy shadchan than a member of my own family?
To make a long story short, a few miracles and acts of divine providence later, Marc is now my wonderful and devoted husband! We were married one year after we met; I was 29 and he was 30. I have never looked back and it has been true happiness ever since. (See the full story under “How We Became.”)
So, you may ask, what is this secret that I managed to so successfully uncover? What is it that creates a successful marriage and how does one ensure that he or she gets there? Well, I would be happy to share my secrets with you, provided you will keep in mind a couple of important points.
1. I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker, (although I am currently a Masters student in Marriage and Family Therapy). I am speaking from my own personal research, experience and observation in my own life as well as my friends’ lives, which I am privileged to be a part of, as well as the valuable information which I have thus far gained from my Masters program.
2. Everything is ultimately from Hashem (G-d). The advice that I am providing may help one achieve their goals but it will not necessarily produce positive results instantaneously. Hashem brings us our soul-mates in the right time.
3. I am VERY honest about my thoughts and observations. I apologize in advance if I offend any of my readers, but in order to get my points across I must be straightforward.
So check out some of the articles I have up here and I will continue to post more as my blog develops. I am also very interested in hearing your thoughts and feelings so please leave a comment!