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Question: I have been engaged for a few weeks. All is well with our relationship. However, I recently discovered that my chassan is really marrying me because I come from a financially well-to-do family. Before we were engaged, my chassan had a good job. Soon after the l’chayim he stopped working, and somehow placed himself on disability benefits. When I found out and asked him why, he didn’t give me a clear answer. He said, “You have a rich father, what are you worried about?”

My parents looked into the situation and they were told that this guy only wanted me for the money and nothing else. My parents want to force me to break up with my chassan. They told me that they will not attend the wedding, nor contribute monetarily in any way. I am 25 years old and a little bit overweight. A broken engagement will destroy my chances of ever getting married. What should I do?

The Panelists Respond

Baila Sebrow:

My first concern is your statement with regards to how you perceive yourself. A dangerous and strong misconception exists within our frum society that because a girl may weigh a bit more than other girls, she needs to overlook negative qualities within a guy if she wants to get married. Whether or not you are overweight bears no significance to this compromising situation, and you must leave that out of the equation.

Your parents have every right to feel as they do. No one wants to be taken for a ride. In this case, they feel that if you marry this guy not only will they be taken for a ride, but you will be situated in the most vulnerable spot of this vehicle, as the front-seat passenger who sits devoid of a seatbelt.

Based on the details you are describing, not only do I believe that this guy wants to marry you for your parent’s financial status, but I also fear for the future of your emotional contentment and self-esteem. You state that although he was employed while dating you, soon after the engagement was made official, he became the benefactor of disability benefits. You do not mention any visible physical defect in your chassan rendering him disabled. Therefore, I come to the conclusion that his disability might be of a psychological nature.

I urge you to please examine this situation from an objective angle. Forgive me, but it sounds to me that this guy is not only unstable, but a major con-artist.

You need to call for a conference involving both sets of parents (assuming his parents are around and involved in his life) and the two of you. Reach out to your rav, and ask him to mediate within that setting. It is important that each person have the opportunity to express their comments and concerns. You all need this for formal clarity. Please have a pen and paper ready to jot down important remarks to review thereafter, because when tensions are high it is easy to either misunderstand or not comprehend entire sentences.

I believe that the signs are clear to you that it is in your best interest to seriously consider terminating this engagement. Do not fear that this unfortunate circumstance will impede your chances for finding another chassan. The statistics are way too high of young divorced people who openly admit that they knew something was wrong during their engagement period, yet chose to get married anyway.

The pain and shame one experiences as a result of a broken engagement is not to be underestimated. However, daily survival in a dysfunctional marriage is far worse. You have a long life ahead of you. Choose to make it a happy life with a husband who considers himself lucky to be married for the person you are.

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.

Yehuda Koppler:

When a young man to whom you are engaged dodges questions and offers snide answers, there is definitely a problem. The problem goes way beyond, “will he work and hold a job or won’t he?” It is more serious than just the question of how he will make a living and how the two of you, as a couple, will make ends meet. It is more grave even than the concern that this person may turn out to be a parasitic loafer who is ready to take advantage of any opportunity to live off the support of others. Not that these issues aren’t important in themselves. They most certainly are. But these problems are, at least, manageable and within the pale of resolution.

But when the one with whom you are intent on making a life together finds it problematic to sit down and discuss with you, his kallah, honestly and openly what his intentions and plans for married life are, when he dismisses the issues you raise as irrelevant, then he demonstrates a serious lack of maturity. His whole commitment to you and to your future together is suspect. A failing like this cannot be allowed to pass unnoticed.

As much as you want to get married, you simply cannot afford to allow a potentially intolerable situation to develop. You would be doing yourself a terrible disservice. Tellingly, you intimate that what motivates you to go ahead, despite the dangers that may be in store, is the worry that your chances of getting married may, ch’v, be ruined or at least compromised. Lurking behind this rationalization is the admission that, deep down, you too sense the possibility of trouble ahead, were the situation allowed to follow its natural course. I am suggesting that you need to look deep inside and recognize this situation for what it really is…or seems to be. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself as far as future prospects are concerned. Instead, have bitachon and emunah.

As someone who does not have firsthand acquaintance with the particulars of the case described, I am in no position to resolve the matter for you definitively. In regard to something as important as this, you are well counseled to seek out the advice of those whom you trust and whose opinions you respect. I can only share with you an empathetic bystander’s perspective. And this is what I’ve tried to do.

Yehuda Koppler has written articles for various publications and is actively involved in shidduchim. He can be reached at autobus@outlook.com. 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 5townsforum@gmail.com.

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Posted by on January 17, 2013. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.