Monthly Archives: January 2016

Why I’m a fan of the shidduch dating system

Recently I came across something online about the shidduch/Orthodox dating system about was very harsh and negative.  The shidduch system without a doubt has its problems, because it’s a system and systems can never be individualized to meet the needs of all individuals.  However, it’s overall a very good system with a very high degree of success.

I met my husband almost 24 years ago when the idea was suggested by a couple who knew us both.  We went out seven times over the course of two and a half weeks, and got engaged on our seventh date.  We were engaged for ten weeks, and three months after we met were married.

When I heard about this approach to dating when I was growing up, I couldn’t imagine how it worked.  You hardly know the person, for goodness sakes!  How in the world can you commit to spending your life with someone that you don’t know?

Shidduch dating is the opposite of the casual, ‘try it on to see how you like it and throw it away if you change your mind’ approach toward relationships that is so common in the 21st century.  You would think that if the length/degree of involvement with someone is the most critical factor in determining suitability for marriage, a couple that has lived together prior to marriage should be significantly more likely to have a long term stable marriage.  However, studies have shown that those who live with their partners before getting married have a higher divorce rate and lower rate of marital satisfaction than those who don’t.

What if success in marriage isn’t about how long you know someone, but how committed you are to mutual goals and to one another?  What if you carefully and thoughtfully think about who you are and what kind of person you want to spend your life with, and carefully and thoughtfully go about the dating process to find that person?  What if the system is set up to support you in doing this, and others who are in the system share similar intentions and understandings?

Shidduch dating is very different from being set up on a blind date.  It works because there are some ground rules that set the tone for mature relationships.

  1. Compatibility – In the shidduch dating world, people are matched for compatibility in important areas before they ever meet.  Suggestions are made and then looked into.  Only if both sides agree that the important things match up  does the couple go out to see if they hit it off personality-wise.

2) Commitment – Both parties are going out because they are seriously interested in finding a marriage partner.  There’s mutual clarity on what the purpose of going out is.  You don’t have one person getting attached with hopes that one day it might lead to a long term relationship and five years later the other announces he’s not interested in marriage.   If they don’t emotionally connect after meeting a few times, then they move on and go out with someone else.

3) Focus – When dating, the intention is to get to know the other person. No hanging out for weeks or months with casual chit chat or going to activities where you don’t interact with one another.  That doesn’t mean that shidduch dates aren’t fun! My husband and I enjoyed parks, picnics, restaurants, miniature golf and a museum when we dated.  However, the setting or activity is the backdrop to help someone get to know what the other person is like, what matters to them and what life direction they want to take.  What are their goals and aspirations? What kind of character do they have?

4) No physical contact – Physical contact is like emotional superglue and can prematurely create feelings of connection before a mature emotional context for the relationship is there, clouding one’s judgment about if this is the person they really want to spend the rest of their life with.

You’d be amazed at how much you can get to know someone when you’re meeting in a purposeful and thoughtful way with the intent to see if someone would make a good life partner!

If there are questions you have about the process, please ask and I’ll do my best to address them in a separate post.  

Avivah

Should I have let these boys fight it out and not gotten involved?

A couple of days ago I was speaking to my older kids about a problem I have with the Harry Potter series – that the adults are all ineffectual, irrelevant, incompetent, missing at times they’re needed or dead.  The kids have to work everything out by themselves, and of course the kids being the heroes is part of what makes the series so compelling.

The next day I was waiting at a bus stop as boys from a local school streamed out at dismissal, when I heard calls of “Fight, fight!” As I stood there, I watched boys trying to get others involved and very quickly there was a growing crowd with boys chanting and egging their school mates to fight.

KidsFightingI looked up and at the top of the steep hill saw two boys who looked like they were in the upper elementary grades pushing each other in a way that was clearly not friendly.  There was one other man who had crossed to see what was happening and I waited for him to do something as I saw his expression of concern, but then realized he wasn’t going to get involved.  What I wanted to do was go back to my bus bench but my conscience was telling me as the only other adult around that would be irresponsible.

I shouted up the hill to where the boys were pushing one another back and forth, “Boys, stop  and come down here right now!”  (This is so embarrassing but it’s the truth, that’s what I did.) Of course it always works really well to raise your voice to show that you have authority in a situation, right?  Ahhh…no.

I always tell parents, don’t raise your voice – get yourself up off the couch and actively get involved when there’s a situation that needs to be dealt with.  Real authority is quiet and calm.  If they hadn’t been up a hill that I didn’t think I could easily climb, I would have walked over and started speaking to them from the start instead of raising my voice, but that wasn’t the case so I made the mistake of trying to borrow power.

Some kids moved away but the main players didn’t budge.  In for a penny, in for a pound… I hiked up the steep hill, told the kids watching to go down, and spoke to the kids involved from two different schools.  After taking a few minutes to hear them out and them agreeing to let it go, I went back down the hill and all the boys who had gathered around went back to wait for their rides home.  It was over for this time, at least.

I planned to call the administration the next day to suggest this area be monitored at dismissal by someone able to facilitate a peaceful resolution since the boys told me it was a daily issue.  A teacher happened to be passing by just as I got to the bottom of the hill  so I spoke to him instead.

I shared what I had just learned with him and he told me they would deal with it the next day, that it was good I got involved – and it seemed to me they weren’t going to do anything and he was trying to politely dismiss me.  (Not that I blame him – if I was a teacher at the end of a long day wanting to get home, I wouldn’t appreciate having to deal with something like this.)

I pointed out the student in his school who could help him understand the issue the next day when (if) they looked into it, and realized by the teacher’s face that he understood the situation much better just by seeing who it was.  My goal wasn’t to get anyone into trouble and I quickly told him they’re all good kids, they just need some help in learning to talk respectfully to others.  He told me my suggestion was very hard, very, very hard (he meant impossible and unrealistic) – and he’s right.

It is impossible to teach kids to communicate respectfully, if it’s not important to you, if you believe it can’t be done, and if the adults involved don’t have the skills themselves.

I went back to the bus stop wondering if I should have just stayed out of the situation and let the kids fight each other.  It wasn’t my kids who were involved, right?  Did I accomplish anything other than breaking it up for that day?  Probably not.

As I waited for my bus I wryly thought about Harry Potter and his friends.  It’s not just in the magical world that we well-intended adults can be ineffectual and irrelevant in the lives of kids.

Avivah

mountain-climb-help

Shifting Parenting Paradigms workshop in Ramat Beit Shemesh

paradigm_shift1[1]When I began actively rescripting my thinking and actions at the age of 17, what was most helpful to  me was to participate in an interactive weekly support group that was a combination of learning new information, listening to the experience of others and sharing my experience.  This was crucial support for the most important aspect of learning to live successfully with others –  learning to manage yourself and your emotions.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at CHANGE.” Wayne Dyer

I see many women who – once they’ve learned a given approach – intellectually know what they want to do and how they want to do it.  The academic aspect of sharing a different parenting paradigm can be covered in a given amount of hours. But parenting isn’t an academic process!

In the past I’ve given classes for a set number of sessions but would like to do something different now to create a framework for ongoing learning and mentoring.

mountain-climb-helpThis new group will allow for ample discussion and interaction.  I’ll be speaking about shifting your parenting paradigm, sharing helpful insights and practical tools, and talking about lots of different things that relate to you being a happier, more empowered parent.

We’ll be meeting from 8:30 – 9:30 pm on Sunday evenings at 4 Nachal Sorek, apartment 8, RBS-A, starting this Sunday, Jan. 10.    The first class will be free and give you a sense of my approach and direction.  After that there will be a fee of 100 shekels a month, with a one month commitment.

If you have more questions, feel free to email me at avivahwerner@yahoo.com.

Avivah

Healing yourself with vitamins – That Vitamin Movie documentary

This summer I attended a talk given by an orthomolecular physician for parents of children with Trisomy 21 and afterwards spoke with him one on one.  It came up in discussion that a family member of his had cancer and was healed using high dosage intravenous vitamin C.

Knowing how effective this is in healing cancer since I’ve done quite a bit of reading on this topic in the past, the good results were predictable.  My big question was, how was he able to have this protocol used with his relative!

He told me that it helps being a physician.  :)  Unfortunately I’m not a physician but at least I now know someone in Israel who has used this tool!

In a new documentary titled That Vitamin Movie, the message is about the efficacy of vitamins in maintaining health and healing illness.  (It’s free to view for about another week and a half.)

The person who made this documentary began his journey of exploration of this topic when a friend of his was helped with depression by changing his diet and getting supplements.  As he researched, he found more and more stories of those recovering with help of large doses of vitamins much larger than the daily recommended amounts.

The approach of conventional medicine is to treat the symptoms, not to get to the root of what is causing the problem. I regularly ask the doctors or dentists that I take my children to why they are having the issue we are there for, and I’ve consistently been told: “That’s the way it is.  Sometimes this happens.”

The response is to prescribe medication, surgery, dental work. But the question remains, why is the problem happening?  If you don’t address the root issue that the symptoms are stemming from, you’ll continue to see health issues coming up.  And if you go the route of medication, often the side effects of one medication lead to the need for the prescription of another, and so on.

It was to explore some of these questions that this man said he set out to interview some of the world’s vitamin experts.

Dr. Andrew Saul commented in the beginning of his film that he raised his children to college without antibiotics and says very few people can say that – but I can!  I only have three children of college age, but 2 of the 3 haven’t had any antibiotics.  The third had them twice.   Ds16 was treated with antibiotics when he had a hip infection (I wished at the time I had access to high potency intravenous vitamin C because we weren’t able to give high enough doses orally of vitamin C to counter the infection), and other than ds3, the others haven’t had any.  Bli ayin hara.

By the way, this was an issue for a potential shidduch once.  The other side found out that we prefer to use natural antibiotics rather than prescription drugs to deal with illness and this was problematic for them.  I had to explain to the shadchan that we’re not dogmatic about this, and that although we have used medications at time, we’ve found this approach most effective to help our family stay healthy.

I think if people understood how much research there was on the use of vitamin C alone and read even a fraction of this, they wouldn’t see the use of it as extreme but rather as logical and self-apparent why it would be the preferred approach.

(While vitamin C is repeatedly mentioned in this film, it’s not the only supplement recommended.  However, almost six years ago I wrote a detailed post with specifics of how to dose vitamin C and if you’re interested you can read it here.)

This film is a consciousness raising of the benefits of using vitamins for the average person. Vitamins can be amazingly effective in treating a huge spectrum of issues: some of those referenced by the experts in this film include depression, cancer, heart disease and ADHD.  Though I’m familiar with all the information shared, I’m feeling prompted to mentally dust off that knowledge and be more conscientious about applying it.

Wishing you all abundant health – enjoy the film!

Avivah