Here’s an article titled “Finding Love in a  Widow’s Jungle” that originally appeared in the Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times Colonist back in 2004. I just recently touched base with Sheila and she and Merv’s relationship is still going strong, She’s 82 now it feels great to know that I was part of making the past 11 years of her life happy and fulfilling.

In Arizona, seated in her comfortable living room at her winter residence, Sheila is on the phone to a radio station fielding questions about her two extremely happy marriages. The stylish and beautiful 71 year old is currently experiencing her second long term relationship set up with the help of a matchmaking service.” I was on a honeymoon for 11 years” she tells her hometown radio station’s host on his morning show on Valentine’s Day “he was the best thing that ever happened to me”.

Sadly the honeymoon ended with her second husband’s death due to cancer.

Rather than wasting precious time, Sheila went back to what had worked so wonderfully in the past -she hired a matchmaking service.  When first widowed, Sheila went the usual route entertaining perspective suitors from her church group and tennis club.  “When I returned to the dating scene I felt like I was in some sort of widow’s jungle. It wasn’t that I had a shortage of dates; it’s just that I realized that I couldn’t pick the right man; I kept falling for the wrong ones. I had always been a professional woman, so I thought I would hire a professional and let them do the job for me”.

In 2001 Jane Carstens had just moved to Vancouver to open the West Coast branch of a professional matchmaking service. From her office in downtown Vancouver Jane was there to answer Sheila’s phone call; they arranged a meeting in Sheila’s home. “I handle the entire west coast, and I’m on the road a lot through out the lower mainland, the interior, and I usually spend a least one day every week interviewing clients in Victoria and Vancouver Island.

“What makes me so unique is that I’ve meet all of my members in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. When I go to someone’s home I really get a sense of who they are.” says Carstens,  “They feel more relaxed and open in familiar surroundings. Together we go over a detailed questionnaire, I get a clear picture of my client, their lifestyle, and what they are looking for in a partner. I used all this information when I matched Sheila.”

Sheila was impressed with Jane’s no nonsense business like approach agreed to work with her. Jane went back to her Vancouver office, and, armed with the Sheila’s detailed bio she searched her client base and came up with three prospective matches.  Sheila met the first two gentlemen and although they had much in common, there wasn’t the magic Sheila was searching for. “I can qualify a lot, and match similar lifestyles and interests,” says Jane “but chemistry is something that either happens or it doesn’t”.

Chemistry hit on the third date. Sheila: “ The most important part of Merv and my first meeting is that we found out we could communicate on exactly the same level. We took it slow, but after the second or third week we knew we were on to something.”

That first date was back in August of 2002. Merv and Sheila exchanged vows at a wedding blessing at their church in front of a happy gathering of friends and family March 16 2004.

“I am very keen on this approach,” says Sheila in response to Phil’s final question of his radio program, “I highly recommend using the services of a matchmaker, it has worked beautifully for me in the past, has made me very, very happy and I have advised many single friends to go that route.”

Here is an edited excerpt from an article  which was published in the Victoria Times Colonist in 2009:

You say you want to live longer? Easy, forget the gym the vitamins and the vegan diet, just get married. Studies have shown that people in long term relationships and especially those in traditional marriages live on average 10 years longer than their never married, divorced or widowed counterparts. Why remains somewhat of a mystery, however researchers do agree that due to the current trend of double income families, married people tend to be wealthier, receive better health care, refrain from smoking or drinking to excess, save more money and earn more social security when they retire.

All good advice, just get married and live longer, but if you’re single and currently an active participant in the dating game, it seems that all the stress and anxiety related to your quest is taking years off your life. Even a little stress, experts agree, is bad for your health. Anyone who has been single for a while can tell you there is a lot of stress involved in finding the right mate. There’s the stress of finding a date, how? Where to look?  Should you let your Aunt Zelda on your Mom’s side set you up? How about going online? That’s a  whole other set of stress factors. When you finally find a date and will there be a date number two? And if so will it translate into any kind of relationship?

There is a way of removing all this bad stress from the process of dating and veteran Matchmaker Jane Carstens has the answer. “I was searching for a way to enhance the traditional matchmaking business, kind of revamp the model, make it more current when I decided to launch my own business Matchmaker for Hire. In a nutshell, the concept is totally client focused, my clients tell me if they would like to date one of the people I recomend, my clients are also very involved in the feedback process. If they are new to dating (newly divorced, or widowed), we mentor them along providing support every step of the way”.

My overall objective in matching my clients is getting them into long term relationships quickly with the least amount of stress” says Jane “and because 60% of our first dates lead to second dates, I think that the Matchmaker For Hire concept is a great vehicle to do just that”.  So the short answer to living longer: hire a matchmaker to take the stress out of the dating process,
find your soul mate and go get married.

Psychologists say that to some extent the weather at this time of year can motivate us to couple up. Singles are looking for someone to share their favorite activities during these upcoming hot summer days and warm summer nights. Tanya, a proactive 35-year old Island single is a case in point; She’s just hired a matchmaking service to help her find her a mate. “ I love playing beech volleyball, barbeques and watching outdoor concerts, I’d love to have someone to share the experience with.” This is where Jane Carstens of Matchmaker For Hire a boutique matchmaking service serving Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland comes in. Winter is a difficult time for singles but with the advent of the warmer weather singles are pushed outside and pushed to act. Jane says the change in seasons is a busy time for her: “Sometimes when you see couples walking hand in hand strolling through the markets on a beautiful sunny day you realize well, I’m single and I’d really like to do something about finding the right partner”. For Jane matchmaking is not just her job it’s her passion. Jane interviews every one of her clients in their own homes, determining their specific criteria in a partner and then matches them accordingly. “Visiting someone in their own home gives me a good indicator as to who that person is, their surroundings give me a lot of insight into their lifestyle which then helps in the matching process”. The all-important first date seems a lot easier in the summer time as well. “I always encourage my clients to pick some sort of activity for their first date, that way if your conversation starts to stall, you can always concentrate on your short game” says Jane. If like Tanya the warmer weather has got you thinking of a new romance, check out Jane’s website at or give her a call at 778-552-3350