I am getting pretty sick and tired of all these articles about our alleged "singles crisis". I know that most people are just well meaning individuals who wish they could somehow help change the situation and get all us "poor single people" married off and procreating, but what they do not realize is that there is no magic potion or self-help book or article that will help you find the one. The answer to finding that special person lays in the hands of G-d and when the time is right, you will find him/her. Any advice to the contrary goes against a core element of our religion - Emunah!
Over the years I have been given heaps of advice which included:
Don't be so picky (Umm... would you say that to YOUR son/daughter?)
Just when you stop looking you'll find him
Maybe you're not trying hard enough? (What's next? Plastering a billboard in Times Square?!)
You just have to pray more (Maybe YOU should pray more?)
You should go to Amuka
You know, they say you have to be the one to find the one
Did you try a vision board (Yes, and so far Justin Timberlake has not left Jessica Biel for me, so I am not holding my breath...)
You should do that 40 days at the kotel thing
Maybe you should do more chessed
You have to go on more dates
You have to be more open minded
You have to lose weight (There are people of ALL shapes and sizes who get married and live blissfully happy lives. This is not a solution!)
Maybe you should settle (did YOU settle? then why should we?)
Did you try saying Shir HaShirim for 40 days?
Maybe you should move to New York (Jerusalem,Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, Miami... That's the way to solve things - run away!)
You should "get out there!" (Where exactly is "there"? I am not sure.)
You should go to more singles events
You have to do something - He's not just going to fall from the sky after all..!
If you *really* wanted to get married, you would be married by now... (Yup. And if that barren friend of yours *really* wanted a baby - She'd be pregnant.)
I am sure that these words of wisdom or some variation of them, have been uttered to every single female in her 20's, 30's and beyond. And at the end of the day what message are you all really trying to get across?
The fact of the matter is that there is no mathematical formula that one can follow that will ensure you find the right person and get married. I know people who have lost weight/put on weight, dated every night/went to every singles event, did 40 days at the kotel, went to kivrei tzadikim, received brachot from Kabbalists, volunteered on a regular basis, went to therapy, dressed more tzniusly, dressed less tzniusly, got frummer, became chiloni, you name it, I know someone who has tried it.
No one knows why or how some people get married earlier than others. No one understands why that weird girl from your high-school class with greasy hair and mismatched clothes found her basheret when she was 19 and is now happily married to a great guy with 5 kids and a terrific job! Or why that super-smart, talented, and beautiful classmate is in her late 30's is still single and living in Katamon with 7 cats?! No one can understand the ways of Ha-Shem but we have to have faith that it is for our very best and when the time is right for us we will find the right one. And yes, sadly there are those that never get married. Does that mean their life is less meaningful or fulfilling? Should they have to suffer even more, feeling like they don't quite "fit in" just because they have not been fortunate enough to find their soul-mate yet? And as painful as that is - who are we to place blame or criticize anyone? Why is someone who is "single" thought of like a disease to be healed instead of as a whole person who just hasn't happened to find their life-partner yet? We can't even try to understand why certain people are forced to walk down these excruciatingly difficult paths in life. All we know is that everyone walks a unique path and we all hope to be blessed enough to find the right person to share the journey with.
Life is full of challenges - there are those who are plagued by illness, shelo neda, there are those who are trying for years, fruitlessly, to conceive a baby, there are those who are unemployed with hungry mouths at home to feed, there are those who are struggling with mental illness. There are people who in abusive marriages, men who won't give a "get", people who are missing limbs, people who have lost children, and children who have lost parents... the list goes on and on. The world is full of pain and struggle. And while it is human nature to want to help those less fortunate than us, sadly there are times that all you can and should really do is support the person in their struggle, whatever that may be.
For your single friends, just be there for them, listen to them, think of people to set them up with and go through with it! Keep in touch with them and remember that you didn't do anything out of the ordinary or exceptional to find your spouse. It was a gift from Ha-Shem, and they just haven't received theirs yet.
Be sensitive to your friends, but do not pity them! And yes, you can talk about your children. But don't go overboard. If your baby went up a diaper size that may not be worth mentioning - but when your 12 month old takes his first steps - that is! Think before you speak and most important - REMEMBER to ask them about their life and LISTEN to their answers. Don't try to "fix" them. They are not broken.
And what advice should you offer them - none!
Believe me, every single person that I know who wants to get married is soul-searching, working on their middot, working on their character and trying to live their life to the fullest! And just because you may see them out enjoying their lives and not hibernating in a cave depressed that they aren't yet married doesn't mean that they are "jaded" or "given up" - it just means that they are simply enjoying this beautiful life Ha-Shem has blessed them with! They are living in the "now" and not living in a constant state of waiting for "real" life to begin.
And most importantly, if it really bothers you so much to see so many single people in your life, just relax. Maybe you can ask yourself how you can be a better person, maybe say a few extra prayers for your friends to find their "zivug" quicker, talk less lashon hara and try to be a little less judgmental. And hey, try to set up your old college roommate with the newly divorced hot dad down the street! Try to hook up your husband's best friend with that cute new secretary who started working with you! You never know - you may just succeed!
But ultimately, just remember that G-d knows what He is doing and when the time is right, everything falls into place exactly the way it's meant to. At the end of the day, we are all tiny little puzzle pieces in a larger-than-life jig-saw puzzle and somehow, all those random pieces that seem to us not to have a place, one day will magically and simply find their way to fit in perfectly. We just have to remember that maybe we can't see the whole puzzle when standing so close - but when we take a step back and look at the puzzle as a whole - we see that there was never a reason to worry to begin with.
Bottom line - Have some faith, people! I know I do!