Taking the first step -a second time
A look at the process that leads to second marriages
“I’m sorry that I really can’t feel for you. “
That’s what Naftali’s best friend said to him. That’s the best empathy he could give in his situation.
Naftali is in shidduchim for a second marriage. Through his life experience and a lot of self-work he now has an idea how good marriage can be. Now he wants to get remarried and it’s just not happening for him. His married friend couldn’t relate to that, to be so mature about marriage, but not married.
Between widows, widowers, and divorcees a large percentage of singles today, have marriage experience and are looking to get married again. We asked Dovid Katsburg who runs Binyan Olam ,the largest charedi and non internet based shidduch database , in Yerushalayim-how many post marriage singles are there?”We’ve personally interviewed and registered 8000 singles over the last 5 years since we’ve started, and happily married off many of them.”He responded.” Out of that total, we’ve interviewed 2000 men and women (about half of each) who’ve already been married once.”
How can we understand what they are going through?
What is the community already doing for them, and what more can be done?
Haddasah is divorced with four children at home and has a job, which she’s busy with for many hours during the day. “My kids need a father,” she says” and I need a spouse for myself and to parent these kids together. I need a sounding board to speak out my ideas of what my family needs.”
Aren’t you scared that you will go through the same predicament that you already went through once? “Yes, but now I’ve invested time and effort to learn from my experience. I’m better prepared now.”
Chanoch has been divorced now for four years.
What obstacles did you have to overcome in order to start going out again?
I had many fears like making a wrong decision, making another mistake, another failure. At first, I had to overcome feeling shame from being divorced in the frum world. Through therapy I realized that I really did try my best, both before and during the marriage and I can accept myself for who I am, while having made a mistake.
Matching Families-concentric circles
Mrs. Chagit Rein was extremely successful at bringing together tens of widows and widowers of victims of terrorist attacks and battles.
What skills did you use, i.e. a data base, matching people by category, by culture, etc.?
“Hakadosh Boruch Hu gave them a tremendous amount of Siyatta Dishmaya. My skill was in my being human. I focused on the person, not on the paper.
I would meet each person personally for as long as I felt I needed to get to know their unique personality. If I set them up with someone, it was already a high chance that they would work out, and they trusted me by then too. I also had a lot of will. I took this on as a response to the many tragedies that I was connected to during the years of the intifada.
What's unique about connecting widows and widowers?
What is unique is that it's not just the single; it's their children, their community and their greater family. The second round single has many concentric circles that surround him that have to accompany them into the marriage.
These people also have to leave behind their previous relationships which were positive and taken away without any preparation. Grieving takes time and work. I found that the women were more patient to wait and more willing to go to therapy to help themselves be ready.
The value in this group of singles is their maturity. Their ability to focus on their personality compatibility, and ignore the secondary factors, that are too common to young daters. The couples who eventually married were able to notice the personality match within the first few dates, but till the engagement there was a much longer period of time, as there was so much to smooth out.
Bracha is divorced after a short marriage. Her perspective is that second timers have a life which is fuller and their puzzle pieces, that need to fit together with the other person, are a lot more developed and rigid. They frequently have less enthusiasm. Twenty year olds are marrying potential people - people who haven't yet developed themselves. So there's not too much to work out. Older singles and especially second timers have already become adults. Because of all this they need more third party intervention to move things along. This is an irony, as they are more mature people.
Yaakov has a full time job, a learning seder - and sees his children often.
Ruchama, too has a job, takes good care of her children and is busy with their lives.
With all the good intentions that they have to get themselves married, the Shadchan continued to coach them heavily, every night for a month, till they were engaged. They weren't avoiding marriage, there was just too much unknown involved to give up the known and familiar and routine.
Mrs. Devorah Weinberger is a counselor and psychologist in Har Nof specializing in second marriages.
What is unique about second time singles?
“Having been married already once gives a person experience. Experience is always good, even if the marriage wasn’t good, we can learn from the experience. We can learn about ourselves and be clearer about what we want in a marriage.
Second timers in shidduchim are frequently a preferred choice by first timers as they’ve already developed themselves through a relationship and have grown from it.
Of course with that experience comes ingrained habits. By the time people are marrying for a second time, they have become more used to their specific family culture.
“We always did this like so in my home.” Is a more common statement the second time around.
We can’t let experience make us rigid, rather we need to learn to change when necessary.
Second timers will need more private time to initially develop their relationship, and time is usually less available to them because of children and other life responsibilities.
After the initial and most important stage of looking for a personality match, they will have more issues to discuss, and they should talk it all out, patiently.”
Boruch and Miriam, both divorced, have been married for quite some time. “We haven’t seen much of the conflicts that are known to second marriages. We talked openly about everything we could beforehand, like kids, money, step families etc.”
“Those who have readied themselves for remarriage have lowered their expectation levels and have learned to focus on the priority condition in a shidduch-emotional personality chemistry.”
Is chemistry a reality?
Some people wonder if this fits with our Torah Hashkafa.
Rabbi Hershel Klein, is a highly acclaimed marriage counselor for 30 years in the Israeli yeshiva community and a very close talmid of Rav Shach in Ponovez. He has a mesorah from Rav Shach, that in order to marry, a couple must start with some personality chemistry.
He said that he’s worked hard and saved many marriages over many decades. He’s seen added success when the emotional foundation once existed. He bemoaned the lack of emotional development today, by both boys and girls. He points to that, as a common snag in smooth shidduch decisions and smooth marriages.
Rabbi Aaron Manheim of the Shalvas Chaim organization in Yerushalayim,that focuses on second marriages for Chassidim, uses this principle directly in his work.
In contrast to conventional shidduchim where each side commonly “checks” each other out and then decide to meet. He has the couple meet first – with no checking out -for a very short meeting. They might only know a few basic facts like where they live, if they have children and how many. If they feel emotional chemistry, they then proceed to checking each other out.
This system cuts away at much of the intellectualizing and “deliberating in the air” phases, which damage the spontaneity needed for the two people to meet, open up, and be able to feel at least their own feelings.
He knew that this idea would come across quite radical to some people, so he sends them to the Admorim and poskim that have strongly backed him, to hear their positive support for his plan.
How do we clarify to ourselves emotional chemistry, in a realistic fashion ?
Mrs Chana Rochel Frumin a therapist for 30 years and successful shadchanit explains to singles that it is not mystical at all. She has the single pick out the names of 5 of his/her best friends of the same gender, and to write down the characteristics of those friends that makes the single most socially comfortable with them. From there he/she can feel for him/herself if that choice of characteristics would be the same for a spouse. It’s really helpful to discuss this written list with an experienced mentor. Some call this the "REBECA" method - REality Based Emotional Chemistry Attitude.
“Chanoch, what's so hard about perceiving emotional chemistry in a date?”
“Shidduchim requires well tuned human skills which is becoming a rare commodity today.
We all grew up in a technological world - in the information age. It's hard to bring out our emotional side and sense it. We didn't have an emotion class in elementary school or an experiential personality course in high school. I spent time in therapy developing my emotional side, that helped me a lot.”
The fantasy phenomena
Can you explain why it seems on the outside that many singles are dreaming?
“The fantasy attitude is really common. It's so easy to fall into the pattern of being unrealistic.
Engineers and architects have some clear picture of what they plan to build before they build it. A chef has some taste and vision of the gourmet meal he plans to cook. Even a pilot has a mapped out destination to where he's flying to, even if he was never there. A single in shidduchim has a healthy tendency to try to imagine in advance his/her bashert. However there is no concrete way to do that. So one resorts to fantasy imagination, and then gets stuck when faced with reality.
Another cause is the lack of experience. It's really important for the right person to be a fresh and new experience. But the drawback is that I have no experience in meeting the right person and therefore quite easily can pass her up.
Pilots have computerized simulator flights and doctors have internships. Marriage should not have previous experience, but that is a challenge in shidduchim. Traditional shidduchim styles don’t have much room for experience
Therefore, for me I thank ×' for each experience, after the fact, as I learn from it.”
One divorced single man who, upon meeting his match, was planning quite a short dating period till his engagement. Upon being asked if he should date longer, he responded “I’ve had so much experience that I can now be confident on who is fitting for me.”
Boruch has been searching for a new kallah for four years. He says he’s met divorcees who've said to themselves, "it didn't work out right the first time, I'll make sure I'll meet someone even better the second time." That's not reasonable he says. The proper attitude should be "It didn't work the first time, I'll give in more of my demands to at least be married a second time."
“Get realistic about expectations.” Beracha who was divorced after a short marriage, tells herself and others that many more would be married if they’d be more grounded and realistic.
A changing world, an adapting trend
Divorced singles are more experienced and more mature. They’ve already done much of the relationship self work that’s necessary for marriage. Many have more clarity on who they‘re compatible with.That should make them more attractable to other singles. Are more singles today open to marrying divorced individuals?
Mrs. Shaindy Katz (not her real name) is a shadchan who has a special sensitivity to divorced individuals. We asked her if more singles today open to marrying divorced individuals.
“I do find a growing trend in the older girls being more open to divorced men and sometimes might actually prefer it over an older single gentleman with the explanation ‘a man who is already older and has not been married has not yet developed his relationship skills. Whereas a guy that has been married, but is unfortunately divorced, has at least succeeded in somewhat building a relationship.’ This of course holds true for widows or widowers with singles as well. Nevertheless, singles whose parent is more directly involved are less likely to go out with a divorced individual.”
Digging for truth- is redting irresponsible?
How would you suggest a divorcee? How do you know the inside scoop?
Mrs.Katz responds “When I redt a shidduch for a divorcee it is no different than redting any other shidduch.
When I meet a divorced single for shidduchim purposes I ask for a brief overview and their take on the divorce. I do not ever ask the ex-spouses’ name or go into much detail. I firmly believe that the checking is the single's responsibility (or whoever takes care of their shidduchim) and there is no need for others to be privy to the extra info and possible Lashon Hara. The caution I give with the info prior to the checking is "Just remember - it takes two to tango"- meaning, it is important to check things out, but any side they will call regarding a divorce just might have a personal slant.”
Bracha says as far as asking for information about the divorce, outsiders beyond the single and her trusted checker shouldn't be asking for information, just like they wouldn't be asking married people about what's going on in their personal lives.
Chanoch got a little more emotional about this. “Some people will ask who's to blame for the divorce you or her.
Phrasing the question like that makes me feel childish. “Which of you two children spilled the milk, because he's got to clean it up.”
If it's really my fault then anything I say will probably incriminate me, in the lay listener's perspective. Inexperienced people will not accept that people can learn from their mistakes. If I say it was my fault then I'm blacklisted for life and am not allowed to grow from my mistakes.
If it's her fault, I hope I don't say anything at all. It will only give me less Siyata Dishmaya, There is no Toeles to put someone else down, especially if it's to create an image that I was a Tzadik on her account.
The preferred method is to respect our human ability to learn from our experience, and that someone who made a mistake, is still accepted. People are not expected to go through life without mistakes. Ask the divorcee for a reference person as to the inside divorce information. More experienced singles will go out without finding out first and ask directly on a later stage date –“what would you like to share about your growth in your marriage or divorce?”This is a perfect opportunity to explore if they feel the comfort to show honesty and openness to each other.”
A time to grow
Mrs . Katz has a few stories unique to our society that illustrate how Hashem is giving divorced individuals a special exercise.
Getting divorced has thrown Yehonoson off a bit from his previous frumkeit standards. Previously, within the system of a family and his community Shul, he was connected to his chosen level of religiosity. Now that he lives without his family and had to move to a different neighborhood for financial reasons, he finds himself waning on some issues and that's affecting the clarity of his identity in Shidduchim. This lack of clarity is stagnating him. Upon realizing this he approached and asked some of his old friends to give him extra social time in order to reconnect with his previous and preferred identity.
David has a good relationship with his kids who are being brought up in a certain Yeshiva system that they are already well used to.
He's been suggested to meet Chana who also has children in a Yeshiva system, but, of a different style. They decided to meet.
Her personality matches very well and their personal Hashkafos are quite agreeable, but he raises the issue whether their children can blend. Her children are in a school system that doesn't accept the "other" hashkafa. They married and for a combined number of factors they moved to a different city where this issue would not cause a conflict.
Mira has four children with her at home. Her children had a rocky reaction to their divorce and a weak relationship with their father.
Mira herself is quite Frum but, with the guidance of her Rov, she's come down to her children's standards in Frumkeit for their needs.
She's looking for a husband who's as shtark as her but can put up with the more lenient standards in her home. She's hoping with their combined strengths she can bring back the standards to her true values.
Before restarting to go out, Berel was apprehensive.He wanted to take financial responsibility for a new wife and family, besides his present children, and he had no "plan." Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit"a told him that he certainly should be honest about that with a prospective shidduch, but that shouldn't stop him from looking for someone who can accept his situation, "He who gave life, will help you do the best you can to live that life." He did get remarried, which included quitting his job in order to relocate to his new wife’s city. With no job set up for him there he said, ”I’m honest about the challenge and determined to make it work.”
In summation, Mrs.Katz recommends divorced singles be ready to answer the following questions from their suggested partner:
“Mrs. Weinberger - When can a person say that he’s ready to go out for the second time?”
“That certainly depends on the person and the circumstances they went through. After a death or a divorce a person is usually traumatized and needs to heal after such a trauma. Additionally they went through a major life change and they may not yet be ready for another big change right away. They may have children to take care of or other family business which they need to focus on first. A divorcee may need to relearn what a healthy relationship is made of. All of these (and more) will likely to be circumstances which will be strongly controlling their emotions. They can’t deal with a new relationship, when emotions are controlling them.
With time a person will hopefully gain ability to self manage his/her situation .He/she should be controlling his/her emotions rather than the reverse. That’s when most people feel they can start again.
For example one woman needed to wait five years after her husband was tragically killed in a car accident.
On the other hand a certain widower whose wife had been terminally ill for quite some time chose to remarry just six months after her petirah. He said “I had a good marriage—I don’t want to learn what it’s like to be alone.”
A divorcee who waited for a number of years said “I had to get past my expectations of my ex-spouse and forgive them so that I won’t let that out on a new spouse.”
Nevertheless, it is true that we can’t expect to be totally past the trauma. The goal is to be marriageable. Go back into marriage with as much freshness as possible.”
The crumbling of relationships - Hashgacha Elyona.
We're observing in our age the fulfillment of a prophecy of the Navi Micha and mentioned at the end of Meseches Sotah as a forerunner of Mashiach's coming.
In perek 7 posuk 5,6 Micha prophesizes that people won't trust friends, and even close family members and spouses will become enemies(See Malbim). In posuk 7 and cited by the Gemara Sotah 49b it is told to us that the expected response of all of us is trust in Hashem. Hashem is making trust more challenging and wants us to keep on trusting.
In this light we can view a divorced individual (after the divorce) as an awardee of hashgacha, as a shalem with mazel, not as a shlamazel. Hashem has chosen them to strengthen their trust in him, and with that, reacquire their trust in others. Likewise, we too, can trust them.
What follows?-posuk 8-I fell down I get up, Hashem will lighten my darkness.
Have a pair of second timers that you want to set up, but don’t have the courage or the time to do it? Call a professional shadchan in their area or even in your area. Shidduchim today are done internationally and can be arranged by phone or by Skype.
2nd marriage Shidduch Interview Questions
What obstacles do you have to overcome to start going out again?
What is motivating you to remarry?
Do you have a mentor to guide you through shidduchim?
Have you grieved your first loss?
Were there mistakes that you can grow from? Did you grow from them?
Are you looking for someone similar to your first spouse?
Are you looking for someone different than your first spouse?
What are your challenges?
Can you describe your unique qualities to another human being?
Are you able to be aware and admit to your unique weaknesses?
Can you describe the unique individual that you are looking for?
What fears do you still have?
How do you feel about others’ opinion of your situation?
Accept mistakes -build Experience
Thomas Edison when asked why do you persevere after failing 5000 experiments?
“I succeeded in failing my way to success.”
“I succeeded in 5000 experiments how not to make a light bulb.”
Babe Ruth had the highest homerun score and less well known the highest strike score.
Interview with extremely successful shadchan of widow and widower victims of terrorist attacks and battles.
Q. To what do you attribute your success in marrying off tens of blended widowed families.
A. Hakadosh Boruch Hu gave a tremendous amount of Siyatta Dishmaya. It was clear that He put the people together.
Q. What skills did you use, i.e. a data base, matching people by category, by culture, etc.?
A. My skill was my heart, I focused on the person, not on the paper.
I would meet each person personally for as long as I felt I needed to get to know their unique personality. By then I was feeling their vibes. If I set them up with someone, it was already a high chance that they would work out, and they trusted me by then too.
I had a lot of will, as I took this on as a response to the many tragedies that I was connected to during the years of the intifada.
Q. What's unique about connecting widows and widowers?
A. What is unique is that it's not just the single, it's their children, their community and their greater family. The second round single has many concentric circles that surround him that have to accompany them into the marriage.
These people also have to leave behind their previous relationships which were positive and taken away without any preparation. Grieving takes time and work. I found that the women ,more than men,were more patient to wait to feel ready and more willing to go to therapy to help themselves be ready.
This group of singles is more mature and is able to focus on their personality compatibility first, and ignore all the other secondary factors that are too common to young daters.
Marrying off widow/ers to singles actually worked with some exceptionally mature singles.
Divorcees and widow/ers were somewhat harder as each had quite a different perspective on marriage.
The couples who eventually married were able to notice the personality match within the first few dates, but till the engagement there was a much longer period of time, as there was so much to smooth out.
(Rabbi Klein said that he’s saved two kinds of marriages – Marriages that felt personality chemistry beforehand were able to enjoy a happy relationship again. Marriages with kids that didn’t start with emotional chemistry, he was able to guide the couple how to technically and peacefully stay together for the kids and that is the proper advice for them.)
Joy Happens after the Challenge
Our culture, as a whole, wants to hide from difficulty, preferring to envision fairy-tale outcomes. The net result is that people are ill-equipped when it comes to slogging through the challenging parts of marriage—the parts that arise in each and every relationship where truth needs to be told. We tend to run away, withdraw emotionally, try to change the other person, become defensive, counterattack—or do anything other than stopping and taking a look inside. But in order to go into the richness of relating, we must go beyond these childish strategies and learn to consistently make the effort to search inward. (pp. xiii-xiv)
Second marriages that start off with greater ease and higher functioning seem to share four common characteristics: (pp. 4-5)
Heal Yourself First
The truth is that nobody really wants to do this type of heavy work. But those who don’t will eventually end up repeating at least some of the dysfunctional dramas from a previous marriage. Those who insist on blaming their exes for failures are usually in for a rude awakening once they settle into a second marriage. In fact, a few people have to go through this process many times before they wake up to the one constant in their failed marriages: themselves. (pp.9-10)
Across our entire culture, we are encouraged to look outside of ourselves for someone to blame when things go wrong.
In our first marriage, we have a hard time seeing problematic patterns because we only have one experience to go by. In a subsequent marriage, we have the great advantage of experience and the maturity that goes along with it. (pp.10-11)
A couple who is willing to “manually” work directly with the anger, resentment, stagnation, and sourness that rise up in their relationship from time to time, end up automatically with a relationship that works.
(Doug and Naomi Moseley, Making Your Second Marriage a First-Class Success, Prima Publishing)
based on Saving Your Second Marriage Before it Starts -by Drs. Parrott