I am a frum guy and have a serious problem that I need advice about. I have been dating a girl for the past nine months. Obviously, this relationship is a serious one. I am now starting to believe that she is my bashert, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. She has met my parents and they seem to like her as well.
However, I have yet to tell my parents one paramount detail. She is not frum. She grew up on Long Island in a non-observant home, but she is very familiar with Jewish culture. We are at a point where we have been discussing marriage and our future.
She has agreed to raise our children according to Yiddishkeit and have a kosher home, since she knows that it’s very important to me. However, she does not want to become frum herself.
What should I do? My parents would be devastated if they found out the truth about her. Is there any way to compromise on this complex issue? Your advice is truly appreciated.
The Panelists Respond
It sounds like you alone are seeking compromise, rather than you and the girl whom you believe to be your bashert. Furthermore, since you acknowledge that your parents would be devastated if they found out the true details of the girl’s lifestyle, and you are concerned about their approval, it seems as though you hope to find a way for them not to discover her lack of observance.
You correctly analyzed this to be a complex issue. However, the complexities of this relationship are deeper than you can envision at this stage of your life and point of emotional involvement.
Despite how writers of fiction describe the excitement in feeling that love can conquer all, mature love is based on facing reality and the comfortable acceptance of one another.
The blunt realities of a typical day in the life with this girl, should you choose to marry her, will likely be fraught with confrontation. They will run the gamut in clashes with regard to halachic observance in family purity, Shabbos and yom tov observances, kashrus, child-rearing, and just about anything and everything having to do with Yiddishkeit.
There is little chance that she can prudently keep a stringently kosher home if she refuses to be frum. How can she possibly care about hashgachas in food products, when she herself might eat non-kosher food? Do you honestly believe that your children can be raised to be strictly shomer Shabbos when their mother isn’t?
Being that you are frum, I believe that you would be most comfortable living in a frum community. You need to be realistic and understand that the nature of your marriage will probably not be found acceptable in the eyes of the people around you. They will refuse invitations to your home, as they will not want to eat from your dishes, and, sadly, they will not allow their children to associate with your children. The circumstances of such a marriage will place the family you and your wife will create in the position of social isolation. The negative strain such anxieties create will imprint heavily upon your marriage.
Yes, there are marriages in existence where one parent is frum and the other is not. But, unfortunately, the children who are brought up in such environments suffer the most. They end up feeling confused about religion and go through long cycles, well into adulthood, searching for spirituality and meaning in life in their quest to find themselves.
As difficult as this is going to be, you must reveal to your parents the true lifestyle of this girl. Expect tears and drama, as they will be in shock that you have been keeping this from them, and more so, that you are contemplating marrying her.
Although misguided by strong emotional feelings for this girl, you nevertheless convey intelligence and perception. Examine the situation from all angles, and putting aside the love you feel for her, ask yourself if you can visualize being content in a very odd, atypical marriage.
Having been raised frum, you are no doubt accustomed to practice rich traditions and customs that your soul will forever crave. The compromise and sacrifice that you will have to make if you marry this girl will be denying yourself that which your heart will forever covet—Yiddishkeit.
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.
If you truly want to marry a frum person, which it sounds like you do, you should only be dating frum women. It’s nice that she is culturally Jewish and that she is willing to raise the children according to Yiddishkeit, but if she herself is not willing to be frum, what kind of message will that send to your future children? Imagine the mixed messages they will get when they learn one thing in school and they see their parents doing something else at home. How will you explain to them that they are supposed to be following certain laws, even though their mother does not? You may have years until you will have to answer those questions, but the need to answer your parents will come more imminently.
If being frum is truly a top priority, then your life partner needs to share that ideal with you. You need to marry someone who shares your top priorities. If she is willing to become frum because she believes in the truth of Yiddishkeit, and for no ulterior motive, then you can discuss marriage and a future together. If not, there is really no way to compromise on such a fundamental issue.
Tehilla Lazovsky is a seventh-grade Judaic Studies teacher at Yeshiva Har Torah and is involved in making shidduchim. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. v
In each installment of the Five Towns Jewish Times Dating Forum, a question pertaining to contemporary dating issues will be addressed by our diverse and experienced forum panelists. Questions and comments can be submitted to email@example.com.