The Challenges of Marriage and Dating Through COVID

Finding effective tools for dating a potential spouse should be simple in our information age, right? However, the process is not always smooth for digital natives or those who grew up with the Internet.

Building a relationship is not an instant process, it takes time, energy and skill and requires one of the participants to be proactive and take the initiative. It takes more participation than texting, looking at screens, and clicking the mouse.

Aleeza Ben Shalom, a dating and relationship coach who came to Israel less than a year ago, has developed simple techniques to help stuck singles avoid common pitfalls and guide them on the right path. Magazine observed Ben Shalom in action and listened to some of his direct directives while conducting a workshop for a singles group in Jerusalem. This monthly event was one of a series sponsored by the OU organization. Most of the participants were over 30 years old. They listened enthusiastically, took notes, took a sip of hot soup, and posed questions about issues that bothered them.

Ben Shalom cautioned against screening potential partners too hastily in the first place. Some singles expect instant chemistry on the first date. Some will not date the person again unless they experience an immediate relationship or strong attraction. To other people who are already dating but are not sure whether to continue, he recommends: “When in doubt, go out.”

To encourage dubious singles, Ben Shalom’s second similar rule is a version of the old favorite: “Date them until you hate them or marry them.”

WITH HUSBAND Gershon. (credit: courtesy)

“But the goal is not to hate them,” he explained. “The goal is to get clarity and to know if this can work or if it really can’t.” She recommends meeting with your date at least twice a week “to get things moving,” otherwise the momentum is likely to ebb and the relationship wears off. In his experience, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to six months of intensive work for a promising connection to develop. Emotional receptivity will avoid hasty judgments.

BEN SHALOM began her current occupation as a matchmaker or initiator in 2011, long after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh. “I never had professional aspirations,” he confessed. “Even though I have a degree, it was in interdisciplinary studies and it didn’t really qualify me to do anything.”

However, her outstanding social skills led her in the direction of promoting interpersonal relationships. “I received a coaching certification and spent many hours in other courses to support my line of work,” he said. She names her mentors as “Rabbi Aryeh Nivin, my rebbetzin, my parents and grandparents who had long-term marriages. And my husband likes to joke that he taught me everything I know. ”

She soon realized that she was not only a matchmaker but a facilitator. “Another part of a matchmaker’s job is to help singles figure out if this is the one or if they are done. [at the end of a relationship]. I love this part of the process, ”she enthused. That is why he often works alongside professional matchmakers or shadchanim.

Ben Shalom’s business, Marriage Minded Mentor, deals with dating and relationship management for singles. Two of his recent books are Be Real, Get Married: Overcome Your Obstacles and Under Chuppah and Virtual Dating: Your Guide to a Relationship in a Socially Distant World; he is currently working on a third party.

COVID-19 did not make a dent in their activities. “My work increased enormously during the closures. I have always worked remotely with clients and less often in person. Loneliness had an impact on singles who wanted to find someone and do it now. They were more open to virtual dating and wanted to know how to transition from virtual to face-to-face on time. ”

Aleeza, who grew up in a conservative household and became an Orthodox in her 20s, is now a mother of five and is married to Gershon. “I was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia,” he said. “My husband too. He grew up in Glenside. “The Ben Shaloms met at a Jewish retreat.

“We dream of making aliyah and we plan to come after seven years. We are more than a decade late. ”Her two oldest children made aliyah through the Naale program a few months before the others.

BECAUSE SHE owns her own business, “that’s what made the transition to Israel at work easier. Before this, I worked in sales and was a Hebrew teacher. But mostly I was a stay at home mom raising five children. “

Although her husband had his own blinds and shades business in the United States, “he gave it up generously so we could come here and I could grow my business. He takes the year off to find a new career and, in the meantime, he helps us adapt and take care of the family while I work, ”he explained.

They chose Pardes Hanna as their home because they had friends there and found it “a warm and welcoming community and environment with many different educational opportunities.” They also “wanted a city that felt like Israel years ago, not like a mini America.” On top of that, “We are all creative and artistic, and the community here is very supportive of those interests,” said Ben Shalom.

“As a bonus, I was hoping to be close to the beach. Caesarea is 15 minutes away and it is a real treat! “

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