“She’s a wonderful girl, excellent middot,” said my shadchan. “She has a job, comes from a respectable family, and shares your Russian-speaking background.” I’ve heard this line before, so I was already prepared for the downside, the big “but” that comes after the positives are listed. “She is divorced, but don’t worry, she has no children. It was a brief marriage to a terrible guy. Are you still interested?”
To my shadchan’s surprise, I agreed. Enthusiastically.
My friends were a bit worried, and my folks were also skeptical, but not me. Having reached the proper age for marriage, I dated a few “virgins” but they did not possess the maturity of a divorcee. While virgins either rush into marriage, or delay it until Prince Charming comes along, divorcees are much more practical. Having already tasted the fruit of marriage, the divorcee asked me about my career, family goals, and long-term goals.
Having already experienced marriage, my date knows exactly what she is comfortable with and what red flags to look for, to prevent another divorce from happening. She is much more serious than any virgin I’ve dated. As an added bonus, I know that if I marry her, the wedding will be easy on my pocketbook. As a rule in my community, when a person remarries, the second wedding is much smaller and humble. So instead of packing the wedding hall with relatives I barely know, and neighborhood machers I’ve never heard of, this wedding will be mostly close friends and parents.
Our date was going well, but even for an open-minded man, the subject of her divorce loomed in my mind like a giant elephant staring down at our dinner table, ready to sound the trunk. Was hers a peaceful divorce or a bitter lawsuit? What was wrong with her ex-husband? Or perhaps there was something wrong with her? Perhaps it is her health. Perhaps she sought money. Perhaps she was pressured by her folks to divorce him. Or perhaps he was pressured. Perhaps my friends were correct, that dating divorcees carries too many risks.
But having dated a convert, why not keep an open mind towards divorcees? A Jew is a Jew, and we all possess the potential to create a bais neeman Yisrael, no matter what our personal backgrounds may be, even if those backgrounds include horrible personal experiences. A divorce is almost as horrible as a death. It is the permanent loss of someone intimate in your life, and rebuilding that life from scratch on your own.
It is about determination. Specifically, the determination that this time around, her second marriage will be a success, keeping in mind the mistakes of the first one. And so, I will see her again. Because she deserves happiness in her life, and I deserve an experienced woman to show me how it’s done.