I’m in my upper twenties and have been in shidduchim for close to seven years. I’ve gone out with several dozen girls and have come close to engagement many times, only to break it off at the very last moment.
I often feel that, intellectually, I wish to go ahead with the shidduch, since I am eager to establish a Torahdike home and most of the young bnos Yisroel I’ve met are frum and tzanuos.
The concern that tends to come up inevitably in every case is that my heart is not there, even if intellectually I wish to go through with it. Many mechanchim and people guiding me have told me many times that I’m being unreasonable, as true feelings come after marriage, even insinuating that I’ve been influenced by the goyishe/treife world with unrealistic expectations and ideas that have been fed to me by the yeitzer hara. I’m confused and not sure how to move forward.
I’m wondering if you can address my concerns. I know that my question might not be typical, but I need some guidance.
While the matter of the growing population of singles in their mid-to-late 20’s and beyond is heavily weighted towards the side of single women, a Klal issue that we are all well aware of, the number of “older” single men is significant in its own right, and certainly one that should be addressed openly and without judgement or assumption.
In considering the issue, there are countless reasons as to why any one man may remain single for an extended period of time. For some, it actually is a consequence of not getting set up on enough dates, or simply not yet having met the right person. However, for the most part, single men of all ages in the frum world today have little difficulty in getting set up almost as regularly as they would like, and there is generally a deeper, more profound reason for the inauspiciously sustained bachelorhood of the frum single Jewish man.
It could be a product of fear of commitment, or of apprehension regarding being able to successfully raise and provide for a family. It could be the result of serial dating; the belief or feeling that there is someone “better” to date just around the bend, and thus constantly looking for another woman to date. It could be owing to an unwillingness to accept that no match is perfect, or the inability to acknowledge that some degree of letting go of control is required in a marriage. It could be due to trauma or dysfunction that one has experienced in their family, and the dread that they are destined to repeat that cycle in the family they start on their own. The list of possibilities is nearly endless.
That said, and while I prefer not to make suppositions about those I do not know personally, given your narrative, the following occurs to me.
First of all, I am loathe to label you as simply unreasonable, or speciously and tritely blame your exposure to the evil environs of “the velt” as the reason why you are still single. Doing so fails to see or appreciate anything beneath the surface, or understand why it is that you find yourself incapacitated when it comes to crossing the finish line of dating.
Secondly, and more importantly, I believe that you may have answered your own question when you first state that “intellectually you desire to go ahead with shidduchim”, and then later, that “my heart is not there, even if intellectually I wish to go through with it” and finally, that consequently “you feel confused”.
To elaborate further, the reason you have given for wanting to get married is to build a Torahdike home, and the measures you have given for what makes a woman marriageable, in order to accomplish that goal, is that she be frum and tznius.
Now don’t get me wrong, these are all fine and admirable goals and needs, but they are also a far cry from what a marriage is ultimately built on. It is correct that “true feelings” often come after marriage, but they must be built on something concrete for a marriage to begin. Perhaps that was not always the case, but it very much seems to be the case b’zmanainu.
If all one sees is a nice, frum, tznius woman with whom he has formed no personal connection or relationship, and is devoid of any recognition or appeal of her inner qualities, it is perfectly understandable why such a man would habitually retreat as engagement draws nearer.
Most people in the frum Litvishe world need more than just a few shared ideals before moving on to engagement and marriage. By and large, that is how we live and how we presently carry out the institution of marriage.
Without connecting on a deeper level to the person one is dating, and thus lacking the advancement and development of an internal desire for marriage that exceeds plain intellect, it will be quite the challenge to see oneself spending their life married to that person.
What I would recommend to you, then, is that you find a seasoned and compassionate mentor or therapist with whom you can talk this through. What must be accomplished is the acquisition and development of the essential skills necessary to make an emotional connection with another person, within the scope of dating and marriage.
Again, while I cannot say any of this with certainty, working solely off the four paragraphs you have shared, it would appear that what is holding you back is an approach to dating and marriage which is entirely intellectual, and one that is therefore absent the requisite expansion of emotional connection as dating progresses.
May The Tzofeh Nistaros help you to discover what lies in your own heart so that you may accordingly be able to truly connect with a Bas Yisroel who will commensurately see all the good that you have to offer, and may you both be matzliach in building the Torahdike home you are so eager to establish.