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Chapter Two Shidduchim

Sheila Segal

Dating after a divorce comes with a lot of big questions: Above all, how can you ensure you won’t make the same mistake again?

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

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“Teaching people to trust themselves again is crucial. One way to solidify their shaky confidence is to validate their emotional intelligence and show them where they demonstrated good skills or made good choices. You want to help singles define what a healthy relationship looks like”

Leah wasn’t sure what to expect when her oldest daughter Chedva started shidduchim, since she knew that girls could sometimes be in the parshah for years. Much to her surprise, everything went quickly. “The dating, the engagement — even the wedding felt so rushed,” Leah recalls. “I don’t think my daughter really took the time to consider whether this was right for her.”

Unfortunately, the young couple soon realized they were incompatible. Chedva’s ex-husband remarried almost immediately, but it took almost five years before Chedva remarried. The second time around, she wasn’t taking any chances, so her entire dating experience was slower and more thought out.

Navigating the world of shidduchim can be difficult for anyone, but it comes with a host of new challenges for divorced men and women.

The Big Question

One of the first questions that divorced people grapple with is simply “When?” — when is the right time to start dating again? After her marriage dissolved during shanah rishonah, 22-year-old Dini jumped right back into dating. She admits now that it was a terrible mistake: “I really wasn’t ready. I just felt I needed to get married again before I got older and it would be even more difficult.”

After divorce, newfound singles often consider good middos above everything else. “Some people might have focused on yichus or other things the first time around. Now they realize what truly counts”

How much time does it take to be “ready”? Each individual is unique, and how much time is needed to heal can vary. Much also depends on how long the marriage lasted and the reason for the divorce.

“Don’t rush,” stresses Sherry Zimmerman, a dating mentor and therapist who has worked extensively with singles. “It’s better to delay dating than to experience a rebound relationship, which seldom lasts.”

It can take months or even years before a person who has divorced can be ready to enter the parshah for a second time, according to Ruchama Zions, who has been working with divorced men and women for the past 16 years in Yerushalayim. “That said, not everybody needs such a long waiting period,” says Ruchama. “A woman who was already focused on developing better skills and self-awareness might be ready to begin dating immediately after she receives her get. It’s very individual.”

Pessy, whose son Yudi got divorced after a year of marriage, says that her son had a rav who helped him overcome the trauma of his divorce. “In all the pain and tragedy of the divorce, my son’s relationship with this rav was a real gift,” says Pessy. “Yudi was ready to resume dating fairly quickly, in large part because of the support he received from the rav.”

As a general rule, shadchanim, dating coaches, and therapists agree that men and women must ensure that they’re in a healthy place before starting to date again. “Divorce is traumatic, and it’s important to deal with the issues that arise as a result,” says Ruchama. “Sometimes one feels he or she was the innocent party who was wronged in the previous marriage, and therefore they have nothing to work on. But that’s simply not true. Perhaps she wasn’t assertive enough, or maybe the boy needs to improve his communication skills.”

Dini, for one, struggled with being assertive in her first marriage. “I think if girls are encouraged to be assertive when making decisions, they’ll gain the confidence to be assertive in their dating relationships. That would’ve been beneficial to me. Girls should never be afraid to speak up and ask questions when necessary,” she says. Therapy helped Dini process the swell of emotions she felt post-divorce: “I still feel a lot of anger toward my ex, which I need to work through before I can manage a healthy relationship with someone else.”

With therapy, you can “figure out what happened in your first marriage — and why,” says Rosie Einhorn, LCSW. The process can also open the door to self-discovery. “Before considering remarriage, a person must get to know themselves. It’s important to know where you’re going before dating again,” Rosie says. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 574)

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