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Dating maze #283 - Fulfillment without Marriage?
Dating Advice 283

Dating maze #283 - Fulfillment without Marriage?

Can she be ultimately fulfilled without achieving her goal of marriage?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 40-year-old single woman with no children, but I am still hoping for these things to happen, sooner than later. I read Rabbi David Clyman's article on, "Is Married Life the Easy Life?" where he describes the futility of choosing "comfort" in the pursuit of marriage. I agree that the single life is easier, at least from what I have observed from family and friends who I saw marry in their 20s, and in many cases, get divorced and remarried more than once.

As I advance toward the completion of my doctorate this year, most days I appreciate my freedom. But there are many days, especially now that I've turned 40, when I deeply lament having such a void in my life.

So while I would very much like to get married and have children, I find myself asking the question if I could be ultimately fulfilled if I don't get married? And I wonder why my friends find someone to marry after they get divorced -- while I am still single. This has been a painful struggle for me, and some days the loneliness seems unbearable.

Sometimes I feel like I'm barking up the wrong tree and am destined to stay single forever. Can you advise me how to proceed?


Dear Tricia,

The question you're asking is not easy for anyone to answer, and we feel a great responsibility to help you find a sense of inner peace, even though something you very much want in your life hasn't yet happened. We can only begin to understand how painful it is to be a 40-year-old woman who longs for a lifetime companion and to have and raise children, and feels that such a goal is eluding her.

We work with many people who face similar life situations, and our biggest wish is to be able to erase everyone's pain and enable them to achieve their dreams. Fortunately, many times we're able to help people -- either through giving encouragement, offering practical advice, or helping them work through the key issue holding them back.

However, we believe these efforts are ultimately successful only because other metaphysical factors are working in tandem; i.e. that God has decided this is the right time to find the right person to marry. And though we may wish for a different timetable, we trust that God knows best.


Her hopes were dashed when her new marriage dissolved.


It might help you to draw inspiration from the example of Sarah Schenirer, a young Jewish woman who lived in early-20th century Europe. She dreamed of being a wife and mother, but her hopes were dashed when her new marriage dissolved. As she worked to support herself as a seamstress, she saw a great need in the Jewish community: an entire generation of young Jewish women were abandoning their heritage because they knew very little about it. Sarah Schenirer chose to turn her energies toward filling this monumental void, and her efforts ultimately led to the creation of a worldwide school network that exists to this day.

Sarah Schenirer remarried later in life, but was never able to bear children. However, this intelligent and compassionate woman become a beloved mentor and confidante to her students and the spiritual mother of generations of Jewish girls. The impact of what she did is so far-reaching that she is credited with literally saving much of Jewry from spiritual extinction.

The point of this example is that none of us knows what we're meant to accomplish in this world. If we try again and again to achieve something that doesn't happen, it could be because that isn't meant to occur for us at this point in time, and that we're meant to be doing something else.

Letting Go

What should a person do when they're frustrated and struggling to reach their goals? Our suggestion isn't an easy one for many people because it requires letting go of our sense of "control," and trusting in the Almighty. The idea is to say as follows:

"This is not in God's plan for me at this moment in time, and He has a reason why I am this situation. Although I don't know the reason, there are a number of things I can be doing while I hope, pray, and try to reach my goal. Perhaps I also need to work on myself... or accomplish something that I wouldn't be able to achieve if I had gotten what I wanted. Maybe there is something I should be doing before my wish can be fulfilled, like improving my character, doing something for other people, or correcting a wrong I did to someone else.

"So, even though I am so deeply disappointed that I am not in a place I very much want to be, I can continue to hope, pray, and work toward it. At the same time, I'll try to live as full a life as I can. I will work on improving myself and doing good things for other people, and get as much joy and purpose as possible out of my life."

Part of this introspection process involves identifying those aspects of your persona or your life that you can develop to help further whatever goal you are trying to accomplish. When it comes to dating, there are so many areas to explore, and making a change in just one or two of them can help you gain clarity and move forward.


Don't beat yourself up if things don't go according to your timetable.


For one person, this could mean realizing that she's been overly focused on herself and deciding to become more involved her community. For another, it could be reassessing her short and long-term goals and narrowing the focus of what she's looking for. Another person could decide to change her strategy for finding dating partners by learning how to network in many different venues, and by considering people she might have turned down in the past, such as men who were otherwise good for her but had been married before.

So the idea is two-tracked: Make the appropriate effort, but realize that you cannot do more than that, and the result is up to the Almighty. Don't beat yourself up if things don't go according to your timetable. There are many possible solutions on the horizon that you may not have considered before; perhaps you will become the perfect match for a widower with young children. We have seen this happen many times. The possible solutions are endless, and embracing the unexpected is part of the joy of life.

We wish you success in all your endeavors, and in navigating the dating maze.

Rosie & Sherry

May 17, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 33

(33) Anonymous, July 9, 2009 3:40 AM

I am a divorced woman, over 50, considered to be kind, intelligent, very attractive, interesting and much more youthful than my chronology would imply. I am healthy and sound, with a good job and financial stability. Moreover, I volunteer within the community, am involved in a variety on interests and pursuits, and active with my synagogue. I also believe that my expectations of a partnership/relationship are sane and reasonable. My standards are high when it comes to ethics, behavior, character and groundedness but I do not believe a man's worth is based on his salary or his title. I have dated those that others might overlook. Yet, I am still seeking my besherit as well. What kind of advice can you offer someone like myself? I refuse to believe that Hashem means for me not to be able to share my Life with a worthy partner.

(32) Steve, June 15, 2009 3:32 PM

Why do Jewish organizations not aid singles ?

I called Aish in NYC to ask about Jewish singles programming for a 42 year old man such as myself. They said their programming is for the 20-something and 30-something age range. They don't have funding for more. Given the high divorce rate which has been a fact for several decades a significant proportion of Jewish singles do not fall within the range served by Aish, and there are few other places to turn other than the non-Jewish world. It isn't sympathy, or counselling that is needed, it is action to help Jewish singles find partners.

(31) Marcia Naomi Berger, LCSW, June 14, 2009 1:21 AM

Make a vessel for blessings

You can get married if you will do what it takes to prepare yourself, based on my personal and professional experience. A good marriage requires self-knowledge and a willingness to compromise and make tradeoffs.

The vast majority of lovely, educated women who are still single when forty are not psychologically and/*or* emotionally ready for marriage, they are afraid on some level and not ready to make the tradeoffs.

The women I know who did marry after being single into their thirties and forties succeded in doing so only after a course of psychotherapy in which they gained self-understanding, realistic expectations of a husband and marriage, and confidence that they would succeed in marriage. Once they were ready, they married, as did I, twenty-one years ago.

The men are out there and you will attract one when you are ready.

(30) Katherine Lipkin, June 11, 2009 7:37 PM

Childhood demons?

Sometimes - certainly not all times - a person is terrified of finding an intimate partner, because of unfortunate childhood circumstances. the author may want to consider visiting a compassionate therapist who can help her review her past, to see if there are any obstacles that may impede her quest for a partner. Many, many people (not necessarily the author) have found it difficult to have a close relationship because of being abused as a child. Therapy is a gift from G-d.

(29) SusanE, June 5, 2009 3:24 PM

Being Balanced Seems to be the Issue .

To quote S. "Getting an education does not preclude a person from having some form of social life. Suppose she had not pursued an education, was she supposed to wait around for a man for her "life to start"? Absolutely not! Getting an education is an important PART of leading a fulfilled life, as are relationships. Tricia sounds like an intelligent woman who is likely capable of balance in her life."

The next words are Tricias own, and I don't see these words as those of a balanced and fufilled woman." I deeply lament having such a void in my life ------and ---This has been a painful struggle for me, and some days the loneliness seems unbearable."

There is no blame here, there is a chance for another woman to perhaps learn from what Tricia is saying from her heart. There is no balance in her life. In her own words she has a void. Another woman could be fufilled totally with out a family and carry on her education. In Tricias case in her own words, that just isn't so. By taking Rosies and Sherrys advice, marriage and a family could happen but something now has to become second. Either the education won't be put to its best use, or G-d willing she will have a family, and will spend her energy and passion there. It's not easy to balance and benefit from both at 40.

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