By Baila Sebrow
I have no one else to turn to with my problem, because nobody thinks I have a problem. I am going to share my background so you can understand me. My parents were Holocaust survivors who came here with nothing. They gave my siblings and me a beautiful life, because they worked hard and became wealthy. No one gave them anything. They taught us that money is important, and people respect people who have money. That’s the way it is. They made us all get a good education and forced us to become professionals, because that’s the way it is in America. You have to be somebody big.
I got my education, and it was not easy. I worked very hard to get to where I am. Then I got engaged to a man, and my parents didn’t like him. At first, he seemed like everything they would want, and I was crazy about him, but they found out that he was not from a respectable family, so I broke the engagement like they asked me to do. Not long after, I married another man, who came from some money, and my parents liked him because they thought he had the potential to make lots of money. That never happened, and the marriage was a disaster. He was not bad to me, but I just had no respect for him. He was never able to earn that much, and I made more money than him that helped support our household. We got divorced when I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was alone for a long time.
Years later, I started dating a man whose family has been friends with my family for years, and he wants to marry me. He loves me and he is crazy about me, but I have a problem again. He has a good job but is not the most ambitious person, and, again, I make more money than he does. He also complains about how expensive everything is. I am not used to that. I like to spend money on the finer things in life. Why not? He does not see it that way. I asked a few people, and they’re telling me that I am making the biggest mistake of my life if I don’t marry him, and that he is my last chance. Should I marry a man I don’t respect, or spend the rest of my life alone?
If you are married to someone you do not respect, you will always feel alone! A person might be surrounded by many people, yet feel lonely, while another person can physically be all alone, but feel content by oneself. It is about personal perspective.
Forgive me for saying this, but the mentality with which your parents raised you, regarding money and respect, is skewed. Your parents meant well; however, they arrived in this country having not just lost material necessities, but probably family and their tangible history. They were traumatized and devastated in ways that are almost impossible to grasp. Not only that, but they lacked an organized support system. Though there were funds established for food and clothing after the war, there was none for psychological assistance. These poor souls had to fend for themselves. Most survivors married quickly after the war, and each spouse leaned on the other very heavily while trying to raise a family. They figured things out by their own assessments, which in most cases was unhealthy, and that is how they raised their children.
Holocaust survivors may have physically survived the atrocities committed against them, but emotionally they never recovered. It does not matter how much money they made or how successful they managed to become. The fact remains that the brutalities they witnessed and experienced became part and parcel of who they were—forever. And it did not stop there. Their children continued to feel the legacy of that pain.
It was not uncommon for Holocaust survivors to obsess that their children become highly educated so they could gain a profession. That mentality came as a direct result of Jews losing the opportunity to study under the Nazi ideology. There are so many other facets to the thought system Holocaust survivors acquired in order to create success in spite of their tormentors that it would take a separate article to explain. The reason I am briefly addressing it is so you can understand that where your parents were coming from emotionally is not a perspective that you need to maintain, especially if it means hindering your future happiness.
The past is gone, and the present is gifted to us so that we can move from what was to create what will become. Your first engagement ended because your parents had no respect for his family, and your marriage to the man who followed failed because you could not respect him. You now have been given a third chance that few are fortunate to behold.
There is a man in your life who loves you and wants to marry you, but you are being held back by that old mentality of needing to respect him for his money. Baruch Hashem, you were never placed in the position of having money and losing it, but many others sustained such blows, unfortunately. There are plenty of wealthy people who lost everything and have gone from riches to rags in a very short amount of time. What would you do then? What would have happened if you lost everything, G-d forbid, and your friends and other loved ones dumped you because they lost respect for you?
With that chain of logic, what would you do if you married a man who is super-wealthy, and something happens that causes him to lose all his money? Would you divorce the man because you lost respect for him? Disrespecting a person because he does not earn as much money as you do is the equivalent of disrespecting Hashem. Yes, that’s right. Parnassah and any monies acquired by people come from Hashem. It is He who determines who will get money, how much money, and who will become or remain destitute and be placed in the embarrassing position of having to rely on handouts. That is how this world runs. Nobody has the right to act high-and-mighty because he or she was blessed with money.
Your parents are no better than the parents who did not have enough to feed their children. You are not better than a woman who did not have the opportunity to educate herself and make it to a high professional level. It was all from Hashem. When you look down at people less fortunate than you, you are looking down at Hashem. Think about that for a moment. If Hashem is Above you, and you are looking down where He is not, that means you do not believe in Him. And if you do not believe in Him, you should not be dating anyone who does believe in Hashem. In essence, if you are looking to date an Orthodox Jewish man who has Yiras Shamayim, then you are not compatible with such an individual.
You have two choices. You can alter your perception about the man who loves you and wants to marry you, or set him free to find a woman who will appreciate him for what he offers her.
I am concerned about your happiness because it is clear your value system is not operating to your benefit, so here is what I suggest.
You do not state your age, but based on the details you have shared, it is evident that you must be at least middle-aged. At this point in your life, your need for money is not the same as when you were raising your children and sending them to yeshivas and camps. At this juncture in life, couples start enjoying life more and worry less about finances, because the bills have lessened to a degree. It sounds like your kids are grown up now, and you have a nice place to live. So, with both you and this man earning a salary, how much more money do you really need to maintain the lifestyle to which you are accustomed? I am sure that when you do the math, you will realize that if you were to accept the man for who he is, your financial lifestyle will undergo very few changes. You will come to understand that your need for money is more in your head than in physical necessities.
He complains about how expensive things are? He is right. Most things have gone up in price. Is he trying to stop you from spending your money? If the answer is yes, then you are dealing with a control issue, but if he is just talking about general prices and is cautious about money while you are not, I see nothing wrong with his view.
My response cannot undo years of your parents’ schooling about money and respect; that will have to come from within you. But I’ll leave you with the following advice. The ultimate success in any partnership, whether it is marriage, friendship, or business, relies heavily on a most basic element called respect. You will never enjoy unity and harmony with somebody if you have no respect for the person. I wonder how many people you actually have in your life who you do respect. Please explore further by self-introspection. With regard to this man in your life, check out the qualities that attracted you to him in the first place. Do you value those characteristics? Respect in any alliance is about recognizing the value that person has in your life.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Baila also hosts The Definitive Rap podcast for vinnews.com and Israel News Talk Radio. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to email@example.com. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.