I am a frum single girl in my early thirties. Baruch Hashem, I never experienced the “shidduch crisis.” I always had my fair share of dates. Last year I was engaged and it broke off close to the wedding.
Not surprisingly, it started getting a little harder to get dates than before I was engaged. My shadchan recommended that I consider going out with guys who are divorced. I had no problem with it, as long as there are no children in the picture.
A few weeks ago I went out with a guy who is twice divorced. He has no children and the marriages were very brief. In fact, he jokes that his marriages were “Hollywood-style.”
I really like this guy, because he seems to have it all. He is educated, has a great job, and is very good-looking. Our dates go on for many hours. The connection is very strong, and I feel that this is it.
My parents are against this relationship, and they demand that I break up with him because he was married twice. I don’t see why they are making such a fuss, especially since his marriages were so brief.
It has gotten to the point that I am staying with friends. There is too much tension and screaming going on because of this guy. I don’t want to break up with this guy. How can I get my parents to be accepting that I might marry him?
By Baila Sebrow
If you would tell me that this guy you are so gung-ho about had at least one non-brief marriage amongst the two, I would feel more comfortable in telling you to follow your heart. However, the fact is that he did not stay married for very long in either situation. More importantly, I believe that you will never find out the true details of his marriages and divorces, because a short marital union oftentimes leaves very little impression on those from whom you may inquire references and information.
His cavalier attitude about those marriages is distasteful and inappropriate. If he would be living the fantasy lifestyle of Hollywood fame, with its fake glitz and glamour, I would understand how he could joke about multiple marriages. The tabloids are filled with stories about famous Hollywood stars and their doomed relationships resulting in fast-paced divorces. But the frum society which he is a member of does not take these things too lightly.
Divorce in the real world is shattering and life-altering for men and women equally. This guy is demonstrating that either he is not in touch with his feelings or he is completely detached from the reality of the world he is living in.
While divorce nowadays is unfortunately common amongst frum young people who marry quickly, there is usually a valid reason for it–at least for the spouse who wants out of the marriage. The fact that this guy was in and out of two marriages, both in a short span of time, is a major cause for concern and should be red-flagged.
In the best of circumstances, even if it turns out that he was not at fault in any of those terminated marriages, you should still place your assessments of him on high alert and consider if this guy displays any impulsive tendencies in his personality. In addition, it is imperative to be cognizant of exaggeration in his manner of speech, concerning truthfulness vs. lying. Furthermore, you need to tune in and focus on the subtle signs to see if he consistently finds fault in others or cuts down their achievements, to determine if this guy is dealing with issues in self-esteem.
Your parents, being concerned for your emotional welfare and happiness, are absolutely in the right to not be accepting of this relationship. You have been dating for only a few weeks, and this guy who previously experienced the misfortune of two ill-fated marriages seems ready to consider marriage for a third time after knowing you for such a short period?
I believe you are privately questioning aspects of this guy’s personality and manner. However, you are probably dismissing any doubts you may have, while viewing this relationship through rose-colored lenses. You are sugarcoating any shortcomings you might perceive because this guy seems to otherwise present the qualities you seek in a husband. In addition, you may find his assertive nature and quick-decision style in dating to be attractive characteristics. I am not faulting you, as your reaction is very typical and natural.
From your vast knowledge in the dating world and your previous engagement relationship, you understand very well that people present themselves in the best possible light. Those who date are naturally inclined to do so, in their efforts to make a good impression. Very few people have the courage to “let their hair down” and act as themselves on dates.
Although you strongly intimated that you were very popular in the dating scene, having been lucky to get your “fair share of dates,” the fact is that you did date into your early thirties, only to get engaged and suffer the pain of a broken engagement close to your wedding. So, while it is true that you did not experience the actual “shidduch crisis” as that of your counterparts, you however endured personal anguish of a different nature in your quest to find your bashert. That said, along comes this guy who appears to possess what you have been seeking all these years. As a result, you will be inclined to make all sorts of excuses for slight hints his personality may be giving off, as you build him up to prove to everyone that he is perfect.
My advice is for you to explain to this guy that nowadays it has become very popular for frum couples to seek premarital counseling. To avoid placing him in a defensive mode, you must stress to him that you are concerned not just about his psychological readiness to enter into marriage, but yours as well. Find a reputable therapist with experience in this area, and allow yourself to be guided objectively.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
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