Q: Baruch Hashem, my 19-year-old daughter has come to the age of shidduchim. She is very apprehensive about the prospect of getting married, as she sees friends disrespecting their spouses and marriages ending in divorce.
My husband and I have tried to allay her fears and reassure her. We’ve told her that these situations are the exception and not the rule. However, I don’t think our attempts to encourage her have helped. I believe she may be questioning her ability to be a good wife and mother.
What’s a good way to respond to this situation?
A: First and foremost, we must understand that a shidduch is min haShamayim. Forty days before a child is born, a bas kol calls out, “Bas ploni l’ploni” (Sotah 2:1).
Spouses go through changes differently throughout their lives. Both husband and wife must be able to deal with the other’s differences and unique patterns of growth as an individual within the marriage.
A young adult seeking to marry has to look for superlative middos in a spouse, one who is flexible in outlook. Such an individual needs to be able to listen to another’s opinion and be able to compromise. This flexibility can be gleaned from information-gathering in the shidduch process.
Your daughter needs to focus on what positive character traits are most important to her — patience, good listening skills or whatever she appreciates most in an interpersonal relationship.
As regards all successful relationships in life, one needs to possess realistic expectations.
If your daughter is able to communicate and express her feelings easily, this is already an asset in beginning a marriage. You can point this out to her as a way to reassure her. The ability to live with sibling conflict and be able to compromise and resolve difficult issues is also an admirable character trait. Such problem-solving tools are invaluable in marriage. If your daughter does have difficulty in these areas, she can work on them through various venues. In general, if she is expressing self-doubt about her ability to be a wife and mother, professional help can be very beneficial.
When children see their parents as role models of a harmonious marriage, in which communication is clear, direct, yet sensitive — this can only help them be secure in their decision to marry. When children are complimented for good middos — the ability to be flexible, to compromise, to listen to the other’s opinions — this also strengthens their confidence in their ability to succeed as a spouse.
As always in areas of decision making, daas Torah should be consulted throughout, and one needs to daven for siyatta diShmaya to merit a “well suited” spouse.