I am from a heimishe background and am involved in a shidduch with a girl who also comes from the same type of family. She is 21 and I am 23. In our circles we date differently than modern people. Instead of a date, we have a beshow, which means that the boy sits in the girl’s house without going out to a restaurant or lounge.
The problem I am having is that this girl has an 11-year-old brother who keeps getting in the way. Every time I come over, he comes into the dining room and interrupts our conversations. Sometimes he kicks me under the table. One time he even spit at me.
The last time I went to the girl’s house for a beshow, her brother took my hat and used it as a shoe. By the time I got my hat back, it was destroyed.
What bothers me most is that the parents don’t punish this kid or stop him from behaving this way. I asked around, and I heard that this boy did this to other guys too when they came to the house to have a beshow with his sister.
At this point, this girl and I have met about eight times, and we really should have been engaged by now, but I am scared of what’s going to happen after we are married. My parents think I should ignore this situation, because this girl is a very good shidduch for me. Even though I know that this girl is perfect for me, I am having second thoughts because of her brother. What do you think I should do?
By Baila Sebrow
Dating for the most part can and should be fun when you find someone compatible to spend time with. Whether you date by the modern method of going on outings, or by contrast the heimishe and chassidishe arrangements in meeting by a beshow, the process should be carried out in a pleasant manner. When one is faced with an awkward situation, as you are now, it becomes difficult to know how to handle it and to make the correct choices.
From the way you describe the scenarios that take place in this girl’s home, it sounds to me that there is likely some dysfunction within the family dynamics. The behavior patterns of this girl’s 11-year-old brother are highly unusual for a child of such an age. Deliberately interrupting conversations, spitting, kicking, and destroying the personal property of a guest are symbolic of a serious underlying problem. What seems most troubling of all is that the parents appear to have made peace with their child’s behavior, to the point that they do not even realize that they are possibly jeopardizing their daughter’s chances in getting married.
That said, and putting aside the child’s lack of etiquette and his aggressive demeanor, it is clear that he feels threatened by any guy who has the potential of taking his sister away from him by means of marriage. The bottom line is that this child sees you as his enemy.
The fact that this situation keeps repeating itself, as you state that other guys had similar experiences, is definitely cause for concern, but not enough to warrant breaking up this seemingly good shidduch and losing the opportunity of marrying the girl who you feel is perfect for you.
If everything else about her is favorable in your eyes, and you can see yourself being married to her for the rest of your life, with her as the mother of your future children, there is an option that can yield amicable results. True, you do not have the professional expertise to make this boy’s deep-seated issues disappear, but you can potentially win him over to your side.
The next time you meet with this girl for a beshow, make the first welcoming move by asking for her brother to join you both. The look of shock and surprise in the eyes of the girl and her parents upon your request should not deter you from proceeding with your child-friendly mission.
Initiate an open line of communication with this boy by inquiring about his studies, friends, hobbies, etc. Smile and look into his eyes as you speak. Open up and share personal anecdotes about yourself. Tell him about a humorous situation you had when you were his age.
Because he will most likely be suspicious and not trust your new interest in him, you might find this 11-year-old intuitive boy to initially be resistant to your overtures. Again, bear in mind that because he views you as a threat, he will undoubtedly feel that you are tricking him into behaving himself for your own hidden agenda. Do not be discouraged, and continue to persevere in your efforts. Act and talk not just to him but with him, and you will ultimately convince him of your sincerity.
No child, including this boy, will continuously reject an adult’s ongoing attention, which I believe he craves. When the boy feels that you truly care about him and want him to be a part of your relationship with his sister, he will in due time relent and be receptive to your friendship.
If this shidduch comes to fruition and you and this girl become engaged, you will have accomplished a major victory on all accounts. In addition to achieving a harmonious relationship with your future brother-in-law and admiration in the eyes of your future parents-in-law by your selfless determination in building healthy family relationships, you will also fundamentally strengthen the bond between you and the girl who will with Hashem’s help be your kallah soon.
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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