I am a 29-year-old Sephardic guy. I come from a good family and should have been married years ago. In my tradition, we get married young, and when it does not happen, the community thinks there is something wrong.
The reason I did not get married at a young age is that I always liked Ashkenazi girls, especially those who are fair-skinned. There were a few girls who liked me too, but their families always messed up the relationships. Ashkenazi parents do not want their daughters to marry guys like me.
For a long time, I had given up. But I recently met a nice girl to whom I am attracted. Her parents approve of the relationship, but my parents are against it.
The girl that I am dating is divorced, and that is half the problem. The other part is that her father and my father had a bad business dealing that cost my family a lot of money.
I don’t know what to do. I am in the family business. If I continue with this relationship, my family will kick me out of the business. They are selfish! I was given a choice: the business or the girl. If I break up with her, I may never meet another girl I am attracted to. What do you think I should do?
By Baila Sebrow
Most shadchanim have had requests from Sephardic guys and girls to be introduced to those who are of Ashkenazic descent. Rarely does it happen that a guy who is Sephardic will not even consider a girl from his own background, but it is not unheard of. The sad part is that the results are usually precisely as you described.
We are creatures of habit and generally feel comfortable with that which we are accustomed to, especially when it comes to shidduchim. However, there are those who feel more adventurous and seek to step outside their pool of familiarity—as you have. There are many reasons why people choose to do so. In your case, the attraction factor caused you to reject girls within your own circles and culture.
I sense that your preferences in shidduchim have also caused a rebound effect. Since you preferred an Ashkenazi girl who is also fair-skinned, I imagine that you did not get too many dates while you were young. That, along with enduring parental disapprovals, caused you to reach the age of 29 while still remaining single. I also sense that your problems have been compounded by the fact that now you are most likely experiencing rejection even within your own circles. Those who are part of communities where the tradition is for people to get married at a young age suffer further from the lack of support that is so emotionally necessary.
I do not know how familiar you are with the way Ashkenazic people conduct themselves in the shidduch arena. Even within Ashkenazic circles, there are parents who disapprove of shidduchim based on diverse traditions or practices of the other family. It can be anything ranging from choices in hashgachos, the style of dress of family members, or the types of schools the younger or older siblings attend or have attended. There are parents who have asked me about the types of snacks the family eats!
As bizarre as it may sound, the bottom line comes down to the fact that a shidduch is a personal decision, and people are entitled to the preference of marrying or being meshadech those whom they feel comfortable with. These people also understand that, down the line, certain diversities have the potential to create issues in shalom bayis.
After everything you went through, you finally met someone whom you feel compatible with, but this time the issue is not the Ashkenazic parents, but rather your own family members who are vehemently refusing to accept this girl. Although you state two reasons why this girl is being rejected by your parents, I believe that since you are 29 years old, they would likely make peace with the fact that she is divorced. The bad business dealing between the two fathers appears to be taking the decisive role here. The fact that you are currently working in the family business helps serve as an intimidation tactic in persuading you to abandon your relationship with this girl. Your family is holding it as a weapon over you. Having to choose between marrying someone you want and your livelihood is heartrending.
To be fair, I am not entirely ready to agree that your family is being selfish. You do not indicate how the fallout in their business occurred. If there was something as serious as embezzlement or even plain dishonesty, then I can understand how they would be against this shidduch. Furthermore, if your parents lost a great deal of money that they could not recover as the result of this girl’s father, then the resentment, I am sorry to say, is understandable. It could also be that they are concerned that a marital union between you and this girl might financially hurt them in the future. Or they might even be afraid that if there is some dishonesty in her family background, it might somehow reflect upon her, even if she may present herself as an honest, upstanding young lady.
To solve your dilemma, you would need to get all the details in order. Enlist the assistance of an objective third party to sit down with you and your parents and find out exactly what happened.
If there was some personality disparity between the two families that caused a falling out, perhaps this third party can be called upon further to help mediate a truce of sorts. I would also advise you to go ahead with the shidduch, and if it is not more than a frivolous quarrel between the families, I doubt that you would actually be “kicked out” of the business. These situations tend, for the most part, to work themselves out in the end—but it may take some time and lots of reassurance from you and the girl.
However, if it turns out that there was a serious discrepancy in the way the father conducted himself in dealing with your father, then you would have to make a major decision. In marrying this girl, your family would feel threatened having you continue to work in the business, and that is something you need to respect.
I understand how you believe that you may never meet anyone like her again, and you might be correct. That said, if you feel strongly about this relationship and your compatibility with her, I advise you to not break it off with this girl. But you need to let her in on all that is going on. If you and she have not had any discussions about your family’s opposition, it is possible that she may be in the dark about all the politics behind the scenes.
You state that her parents approve of you, and so I find it peculiar that all is completely fine with them and that they have no opinion or comments on the very matter that sits so strongly with your family. You need to probe deeply into that topic. Finally, find out how this girl feels about the situation and your family’s rejection of her. Give her the opportunity to conduct a personal inquiry that will allow her to come to her own conclusion. When all is said and done, make sure that you are both on the same page on the subject of marriage.
With regard to remaining in the family business, if you marry this girl, you need to accept that if the past events are serious ones, it will likely not happen. My advice is that money should never take the place of life’s happiness. I can appreciate how scary it may feel not to have an immediate source of income, but remember that parnassah, as well as your bashert, is ultimately in the hands of Hashem.
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.
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