My parents are divorced. No one else in my family is frum. I have a lot of non-Jewish cousins. Unfortunately, but realistically, my brothers will probably marry non-Jewish women. I live very far away from the rest of my family, seeing them about once a year.
All of these things are not normative in the frum community. Therefore, they are marks against me on the “shidduch market.” You often hear people say they want a girl from a “good” family, someone who has a great relationship with their relatives, someone not from a “broken” home. So, there are times when guys are suggested for me, and after doing a bit of research, they decide they don’t want to go out with me. Based on all these things that are not me, they are my family.
I agree that having these hurdles in life is difficult, and it certainly does make an impact. But the impact it had for me was to make me a stronger person. I learned how to work through my challenges, how to face adversity and make the best of it. How to carve my own life and my own destiny in the image that I feel is the right one.
I have grown the most through the challenges I have been handed in my life, and one of those challenges has been my family. But I have used it as a springboard to work on myself, to improve my character, and to clarify those things I want in life. My parents divorce helped me see what marriage is about, and that it takes hard work.
I learned a lot from my family, both good and bad. My parents taught me to treat others, all others, with respect, and to judge people based on their character rather than their wealth or community standing. While they are not frum, they taught me to be proud of my Jewish identity.
I understand that my background is not what many would envision for their future spouse. I know that a lot of people want in-laws whose homes they can go to for Shabbos and Yom Tov (especially Pesach, so they don’t have to clean!). But if they looked beyond the surface of my parent’s divorce and my family’s lack of halacha observance, they would see that these challenges have given me opportunities to grow, and that I wouldn’t be the same person without them. If I hadn’t gone through such experiences, I wouldn’t know who I am in the same way I do, and wouldn’t have worked on myself as much as I have.
And ultimately, because of these challenges, I think I’m going to be a better wife and mother for it.