I just became unofficially engaged. My relatives think I should be happy, but I am not. I am 29 years old and have been trying to get married for the last 10 years. My problem is unique: Both my parents passed away from natural causes while I was a teenager. It was devastating to me. People kept reassuring me that when I get married and have my own family, the pain of my loss will be easier.
So far, the pain has only gotten worse. I discovered that singles whose parents die young have a hard time getting dates. It seems that people are afraid that the children of people who die young are predisposed to getting sick.
After many rejections, shadchanim began setting me up with guys who have physical ailments, even though I am, baruch Hashem, healthy!
I was recently introduced to a guy who looks healthy and holds a professional job, but he has a physical condition that requires lifelong medication. My uncle and aunt convinced me to date him, and we really hit it off well. Even though I had my doubts, I accepted his proposal for marriage because I know that only people with problems will consider me.
The engagement has not been made public yet, and I am thinking of dropping out. I don’t think that it’s fair that I should have to marry a guy who is sick just because my parents were sick. I know that I am not the only one in this situation.
Am I wrong to feel this way?
By Baila Sebrow
I would imagine that there will be few dry eyes amongst those who read your heartrending letter. You have brought to light an unspoken dilemma that plagues singles in similar tragic situations. There are those who, in an effort to clone perfect shidduchim, instead end up twisting the value system of Yiddishkeit, and if continued can chas v’shalom possibly cause a decline in the continuity of future generations.
Many people seeking a shidduch for themselves or their children have a distorted view of the necessary qualities, instead creating such bizarre requirements that it has metamorphosed into outlandish obsessions. The perfect body type and dress size, similar hashkafic choices in sleepaway camps, financial respect from those deemed important figures, dining-room table décor, and even the mother’s choice in fashion while in her own home have become the necessary ingredients in designing the flawless shidduch. Sadly, many of those who think they have found what they assume to be perfect in their eyes discover, to their chagrin, that it was all an impersonation by the family that desired to be found shidduch-acceptable in their eyes.
You have been put through tremendous grief. The loss of both your parents at such a young and impressionable age must have been traumatic for you. But to suffer from shidduch rejections as a result of Hashem’s plan is disgraceful, and those responsible ought to be ashamed of themselves.
In dating relationships where the guy or girl is ill, it is not uncommon for them to hide their medical history, even in a case such as yours. However, in your situation this guy was honest and did not withhold his medical condition from you. Based on what you are saying, I believe that he was forthcoming with the details of his illness, and shared with you the necessity of his lifelong medication being an element to his managed care. In addition, you stress that although he has a medical condition, his appearance portrays an otherwise healthy man. Equally important is the fact that his condition does not restrict normal daily activities, and he is able to hold down professional employment.
You say that although you needed convincing in going out with this guy, ultimately the two of you hit it off so well that not only did he propose, but you accepted as well. Many happy marriages were brought despite one of the spouses initially experiencing reservations about the shidduch suggestion. Now that you seemingly have found a guy whom you connect with and is compatible with you, it is normal for the focal point of your emotional response to be on the particular details of how this relationship started off.
I think that what appears to be truly troubling to you stems from the fact that you believe to have fulfilled the prophecy of those who felt you should marry a guy with a physical ailment. As a result of the negative manner in which the shidduch system appears to have treated you, you are justified in feeling this way.
To assist in alleviating your anxiety about officially announcing your engagement, you need to have an open and honest conversation with this guy. Communicate with him about everything you have been through since you were a teenager. Discuss your feelings and reaction to losing your parents while still young, and how others responded to your grief. Talk about the prejudices you have experienced in the shidduch parashah as a result of losing your parents. Do not be ashamed in recounting the details leading up to your agreement in going out with him. At the same time, express your appreciation and gratefulness for enjoying the time you are spending together while still experiencing some doubts.
Focus on the qualities and middos this guy is demonstrating towards you and others who know him. Ask yourself if this is a guy whom you can harmoniously spend the rest of your life with as a husband to you and the father of your children, b’ezras Hashem. And if the answers to your questions are in the affirmative, you need to put the thoughts and talk of other gossipy yenta-people aside, and consider that officially announcing your engagement and marrying this young man will ultimately bring you the happiness that you so rightfully deserve.
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
Questions and comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.