A few weeks ago, my friends and I went to Israel for a vacation. We all had a great time, especially me. I met a guy there who is originally from America, but his family made aliyah while he was young. We spent a lot of time together and really hit it off. He told me he wants to get serious with me and hopefully get engaged soon. He asked me to stay longer. I was nervous, and when it was time for my friends and me to fly back home, we did.
Since I came home, this guy and I have been keeping in touch through e-mail and Skype. He wants me to go back to Israel and for us to get engaged. I really like this guy and miss him. But my parents are very against this shidduch. They don’t want me moving so far away, and they say that they don’t trust him because he is much older than I. He is 36.
This guy is telling me that at age 25 I should make my own decisions and fly out to Israel anyway. He seems like the type of guy I always wanted to marry, but I don’t want to run away from home to get married either. What do you think I should do? I can’t stop thinking about him.
By Baila Sebrow
I will answer your last sentence first. You cannot possibly stop thinking about someone whom you have constant contact with, via e-mail and Skype. That said, in order to accurately analyze the situation, you need to take a few steps back to focus on this relationship from an objective angle.
When people travel for vacation, they are naturally emotionally inclined to zone out and leave their real lives behind at home. Additionally, as in your case, being in Israel and experiencing holiness as nowhere else only served to heighten your senses in feeling that where you were at that point was all that mattered in the world.
You and your friends traveled to Israel and enjoyed yourselves. In that relaxed frame of mind and under those circumstances, you met a guy who seemed compatible with you. Would this same guy have felt equally shayach to you if he were introduced to you here in the United States?
I agree that at age 25 you are old enough to make decisions, especially in choosing your future husband—the caveat being that you are doing so with a clear mind and in a thought-out process. When you returned to your parents’ home, you also brought along all those romantic notions that you experienced in Israel while spending a lot of time with this guy. Not even having a chance to unwind, you immediately continued where you left off by embarking in a serious long-distance relationship with him.
Under no circumstances should you at this point go running back to Israel to get engaged. That would be a huge mistake. If this guy cares for you as much as he conveys and seriously wants to have a future with you, the respectful and gentlemanly thing for him to do is to fly out here to the United States and meet your parents. Your letter, however, makes no mention of such an offer. Instead, this guy seems to be filling your head with how important it is for you to go back there, when you just left. That does not sit well with me, and I can understand why your parents do not trust him.
I do not disagree that most parents, including yours, will find it hard for a child to move overseas when getting married. I also do not disagree that his being 11 years your senior understandably adds to their concern. But what I believe is making them most uncomfortable is this guy’s tenacity in attempting to step up your relationship with him. Implying that you should not listen to your parents, and saying that you are old enough to make your own decisions, comes across as a manipulative tactic.
On the other hand, you can look at this from another perspective. You can give this guy the benefit of the doubt and assume that due to his mature age and infatuation with you, he is very eager to marry you, and might therefore be demonstrating overzealousness, which might be causing the negative impression he is making on your parents.
Whether you end up marrying this guy or not, based on the way you both now seem to be feeling about each other there is no way either one of you can just abruptly close this chapter.
My advice is that you need to sit down with your parents and calmly describe this guy to them and how the two of you met. Hopefully, you have information about his family, yeshiva, and other schooling if applicable available to you. Tell your parents all that you know about him. Explain how you feel about him and why he seems different from anyone else you dated. Ask them to enlist the help of a rav to find out more about this guy in order to verify his intentions. It should not be too difficult for an American to check into someone’s references even though they are in Israel. Nowadays this is frequently and successfully accomplished.
If it turns out that this guy has a reputation that is as wonderful as he himself appears to you, the next step would be for your parents to invite him to fly out and meet them. If he refuses, that should automatically signal a red flag in your head, and you would best be advised to immediately terminate the relationship, regardless of how painful it will feel. However, if this guy is willing to meet your parents and family, in addition to being enthusiastic about getting to know all about your life, that would be very encouraging to your parents.
When least expected, as in the circumstances of how you met this guy, it is possible for a shidduch of this nature to culminate in a happy marriage, provided there are no missing pieces to the puzzle and all questions are honestly answered and confirmed to everyone’s comfort—most importantly, yours.
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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