Dear Rosie & Sherry,
I am a single Jewish professional specializing in on-site project management. Most of my life I have worked in remote locations. Right now I am stationed in the Arctic Circle. There are Eskimos and it is freezing up here. But the work is fun and challenging and the pay is great.
I am writing because I am trying to meet somebody special and get married. The trouble is that no woman wants to date me during my weeks off, when I return to mainland North America. (I work two weeks on, one week off, etc.)
Most Jewish women, when hearing about my lifestyle, complain that I am not serious about commitment, question how can I bring up a child, and in general say that nobody would marry me due to my lifestyle and career.
Why should I be ashamed of my lifestyle? It's not like I'm robbing banks!
I tried Internet dating, with all the same complaints, and same results. This pattern has been going on for the past five years.
So what can you suggest for me to improve my chances?
By the way, when I prepare it for them, my Eskimo friends love to eat bagels with lox and cream cheese!
It sounds as though you have a very interesting and unique life, and you're to be admired for maintaining your Jewish values in such a remote environment. But we have to be honest with you. Right now, your career is far more important to you than marriage. If you want to get married, that will have to change.
It's clear to us that you're a very intelligent and educated man, and the woman who is right for you is someone who is intelligent and well-educated. She probably has a career she enjoys, ties to her community and synagogue, and a social network of friends. She has invested years into developing a rich and rewarding life. Yes, she's also lonely, and would like to share her life with someone. But she isn't about to consider abandoning everything she has built over the years of adulthood, in terms of:
1) Personal identity. Right now she identifies herself in terms of her friendships, career, community involvement, family and creativity. She always contemplated that she could become a wife without having to give up her identity in the process. With you, she will have to abandon most of this.
2) Jewish communal life. The woman you seek is attached to a Jewish community where she feels a sense of comfort. With you, she will be living an isolated existence where the community life is different than anything she has experienced, and where she will have no Jewish infrastructure to give her a sense of stability. She won't want the disruption of two weeks in the arctic and one week in the city. That's okay for a single man, but having two homes and not feeling settled in either is not conducive to married life.
3) Circle of friends. In this new life, the woman will be expected to give up her friends and make new ones in a community where there will be no Jewish women she can relate to, as well as few educated people. She will have to make you, her husband, the center of her universe. Suddenly, you will become her identity, her community, her social structure, her only source of validation and personal happiness. A woman with a strong sense of self would not want to be placed in such a dependant role. And you would hate having the role of savior thrust upon you.
4) Career. Most likely this woman would have to abandon her career, and would risk becoming bored and frustrated. A woman may be willing to relocate, find a new career, and develop new friendships for the sake of building a home with the man she loves. But that is only when she can foresee the possibility of becoming part of a community, finding new friends who are like her, and finding a new job that will help her feel fulfilled. Unfortunately, your lifestyle doesn't give her this option.
Do you think the woman who is ideally suited to you would want this? She won't. And you haven't even considered the fact that newlyweds have a tremendous amount of adjustments to make to married life and to each other. Too many adjustments at the same time will add stress to a marriage and could cause it to break up. Most women have the ability to perceive this.
In such a case where the woman already has children, she will want this disruption even less. Placing children in this lifestyle, away from their friends and a familiar culture, is a recipe for family disaster. We, who both moved to Israel from the U.S. with teenage and young children, have seen first-hand how difficult it is for children to leave their homes and schools, change cultures, and make new friends. But our children had the advantage of moving from one Jewish community to another, of meeting other American-born children their own age, and of having two parents to help them make the transition. They didn't have to adjust to having a stepparent. This is a lot to ask a mother to do.
Can you begin to see why it is asking too much for the type of woman who is right for you to consider you as a potential dating partner/husband?
So it really comes down to the question: Do you want to get married? If so, then you have to make a tough choice -- to get a different kind of job, or to change the nature of your current job so that you are full-time in a city. Is it possible, for example, to make a certain city your home and fly to the Arctic for three days each week, or five days every other week, to get your work done? Can you perform any telecommuting tasks to enable you to spend more time in a city? Many people travel for business, and you would be doing the same.
Bear in mind that a commuting marriage will still be a difficult adjustment, especially during the first year when newlyweds want to forge a strong relationship by spending a lot of their time together. But with some creativity, you may be able to work out an arrangement that enables you to spend the vast majority of time together.
As far as we see it, if you really want to get married you will have to change your lifestyle now, not later. Any woman you date will want to see what your lifestyle is like now, rather than rely on the vague promise of change if things work out between you.
And even though women who decide to date you will probably have to relocate for marriage, it will be a lot more palatable for them to relocate to a city, rather than accept the lifestyle that you currently have.
Frankly, this is the only way we believe you will be able to achieve your goal of marriage. If you hang onto the illusion that someday you will find a woman who has all of the qualities you seek, and will want to adopt your lifestyle, we are afraid that illusion will become your life partner.