Category Archives: Archives 5767

Sivan 5767 – Dating After A Broken Engagement

Sivan 5767
Reader Write – Dating after a Broken Engagement

A LETTER IN RESPONSE TO MRS. SILVER’S LETTER CONCERNING DATING AFTER BROKEN ENGAGEMENTS – WRITTEN BY A JEMSEM READER WHO WENT THROUGH A BROKEN ENGAGEMENT

I’m not exactly the best person to ask when it comes to these things; it looks like Mrs. Silver hit on all the major points I can think of…I’ve tried a few of these techniques myself in the past, and they definitely made me feel better… !

Because some of this subject matter is near and dear to my heart :-), when I read the question, I decided to do a little exercise for myself and write a few points. As it turns out, many of the concepts are very similar:

Before you begin dating again, make sure you feel emotionally ready to move on and start again….Take time to heal, reflect and talk things out with someone you trust. It is valid to have fear of rejection after such a traumatic experience, but that fear should not paralyze you. If you feel like this may be the case, it is important to speak to someone to help you overcome this before jumping back into the dating scene. Once you feel that you are ready to start again, it is wise to have a mentor to help you through the process, especially as new fears and frustrations arise…Here are a few points to help you move forward:

1) *Be Proactive* – reflect on the relationship that fell through and learn from it. It is very important to have emuna and bitachon- Hashem has a plan and everything that happens is really for the best. Try to learn something from what occurred, either about yourself or about how you relate to others, there is so much to learn from every situation, take the opportunity to be honest with yourself and grow from it. Begin to work on overcoming your fears of moving on, allowing yourself to trust another person and becoming emotionally available BEFORE you are actually in a new relationship. This may include speaking to someone who can help you identify and overcome these issues, such as a therapist or rabbi.

2) *Avoid Depression* – although it is hard to see the good in something that feels so awful, accept what has happened and know in your heart (and say it out loud) that Hashem loves you and that in fact, you are the recipient of great kindness. See the hashgacha in your situation and be thankful- B’H this ended before an engagement announcement or wedding. Know that just as Hashem saved you from a situation that would not have been good for you, He will help you find the person who really is best for you. It is normal to have a bad day once in a while, but don’t let it consume you. Try to avoid boredom by keeping busy, and remember that you have the power to change your negative thoughts to positive ones. Talking to a friend or “getting it out” by writing your thoughts and feelings down may help you feel better.

3) *Be Open* – after a breakup, it’s very common to have your guard up when “sizing up” new potentials. Try not to carry the baggage of your past into a new relationship. This new person is not the one who broke up with you, so try not to retreat when it’s time to open up. There are times you just can’t help but compare one person to another, but remember that each and every person is unique and different. Just because one person reacted a certain way, doesn’t mean another will react the same way. Communication is essential in any relationship; if you’re not sure how the other person feels or if you feel a certain way, never assume that he can read your mind, or that you can read his, talk it out and don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you are in the mode of second guessing your ability to tell whether or not he is worthy of your heart, it may make you feel better, when appropriate, to have someone you respect meet this new guy. Sometimes a little reassurance from someone you already trust can go a long way. It is also important to have someone to talk to throughout the dating process, and to be receptive to their advice. Talking things out can help you become in touch with your feelings, and an objective party can help to guide you through and clarify any confusion that may arise.

4) *Daven* – Ultimately, Hashem provides us with all our needs, and we must always remember that we are in His hands. As much as we like to be in control of what happens to us, regardless of any hishtadlus we may do, it is really not up to us to decide what happens. Coming to terms with this can actually be very comforting. In life, you have the power to make the right decision, but Hashem controls the outcome. Take a leap of faith: Acknowledge that Hashem is the provider of all our needs, concede all false feelings of control and pour out your heart to our loving Father. The release can be both satisfying and uplifting, and it can be the key to opening up your heart.

Kislev 5767 – Cold Feet

Kislev 5767
Cold Feet

Dear Chana,

I am engaged at the moment B”H. But it is quite a long engagement, altogether it will be 6 months.(we did try to make it shorter but it wasn’t possible) My choson and I are finding it difficult and stressful do you have any tips for us?

Plus is it normal to have doubts during engagement? (and like not be in ‘the clouds’ all the time)

Thank you so much for your time.

PS I really like your chizuk, its great!

Dear JemSem Reader,

Mazal Tov! That is terrifically wonderful news that you are engaged!! All of our dating readership should be in that same boat bizman karov!!!

As wonderful as that is, as you are finding out first hand,the engagement time period can be a difficult one. The main reason for all the difficulty boils down to one thing, you are connected to each other in a certain way at this point, but you aren’t fully there yet. There are all the plans for the wedding and setting up what will be your shared life together, so many people and factors to keep in mind and deal with and emotions and thoughts that you have not had before. Put that all together and add a healthy dose of nerves as to how everything will come out, and you get a tremendous amount of stress!! [for all you still unattached girls out there – sounds great – doesn’t it!!] A long engagement certainly doesn’t make it any easier, but as you said, you tried to make it shorter and it just wasn’t in the cards.
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Here are some pointers for weathering the engagement time:

1] You must get some advice from a Rav as to how to set gedarim. The time that you see each other should be limited, as well as how often and how long you speak on the phone. This is really very important. On the one hand, you can now mesh your relationship in a deeper way than you could while you were dating, because you have made the commitment of marriage and a few more of those “walls” can come down between the two of you, and you can get to know each other better. On the other hand, you are just as much of an ervah to your chossen as you were to him when you were dating. Engagement doesn’t change that status at all, and some say that the halachos of yichud are even more stringent once you are engaged, as you can well understand why. An engaged couple has to be careful not to say things that are intensely derech chibah to each other, and they do have to be cautious of how they act in each others company, because at the end of the day, the couple is not yet married. All this is fraught with spiritual dangers and you most definitely need hadracha in this area. It is important to remember that you want to start your new home in kedushah and taharah, your future and everything that that entails will be coming from this union.

2] Concerning all the plans for the wedding: Your job is to not be at odds with either your family or his. Even more than that, to forge a closer relationship with your family, and to start a healthy one with his. When things come up about the plans, really ask yourself how much this particular thing matters to you. You will discover that there are actually many things that don’t matter that much to you and you can let them slide. Of course, if something is vitally important to you, tactifully and respectfully let those that are involved know how important it is for you. There is so much hype about wedding plans today. Granted, it is a red letter day in a life, and it should be designed with some care and thought. But if one understands the reality that in five hours it will be over, This helps one gain the proper perspective for the attention of what the rest of life will need. This is an amazing opportunity to work on your skills of compromising – with your chosson, and your respective families. Rememer, now that you are a kallah, it doesn’t mean that your middos can go down the drain! If anything they can become more honed and refined.

If there are halachic issues about the wedding that come up between any of the parties, find a Rav that all agree to abide by and follow what he tells you.

3] Refering back to ‘the walls’ . Many of the walls come down between the two of you during the dating, some more after the commitment of marriage, but it is important to realize that the rest won’t come down until after you have been married awhile. This is the normal way of things and it cannot be forced. It is a process. So when it feels particularly frustrating and stressful between the two of you, understand that it is somewhat normal. You haven’t really started that shared life together yet. Living in the same house and really being that dynamic duo is yet to come. [Which has its vicissitudes as well, but that is for another time!]

4] Do read some books on marriage and shalom bayis. You will have to reread them once you are married and it is no longer in theory, but getting familiar with it all now will help you alot, and will allow you to go into all of this with the correct outlook.

5] A not so oft spoken of topic is that of getting on a great footing with your future mother in law when you are engaged. Ask her advise, invite her to come with you for gown fittings, go shopping with her for the many things that you need to set up your house, etc. You get the idea. Let her know that you aren’t taking her son away, but that she is gaining another child. This will go far in your future relationship.

6] Don’t forget about your single friends!!! Try to find the balance of bringing them into your life and your plans, but remembering and being sensitive to them that they haven’t yet found their bashert. They want to be included in your life and not forgotten about. I have unfortunately heard from many of them when this happens. It is sad and painful for them. Keep this in mind.

Concerning your question of having doubts while you are engaged. It is quite normal. I think that even those girls who seem ‘in the clouds’ and constantly squeal how everything is soooo perrrrrfect, also have some doubts from time to time. I have heard from many girls that the morning after the engagement they wake up with the thought of “what have I done!?”

The bottom line is that this is a huge decision, one that will shape the rest of your future. I believe that it is impossible to be 100% sure that this is the right person for you. That is why the dating process should be taken so seriously, a person should have one or two key people who are older and married that they are talking everything through with every step of the way, and the dating girl should be constantly thinking, working things through, and listening to herself and her feelings.

So doubts from time to time would be natural, given the magnitude of the situation. But if things really aren’t going well between the two of you on a regular basis, or you are constantly finding fault with him, or you are much of the time wondering if this is right, or you find yourself thinking that there are other young men out there that would be better for you – you should certainly speak to someone about it, and see what is really going on with you. Perhaps you should then speak to him and work things out directly, or go together to a Rav or therapist for pre-marital counseling, or rethink your decision altogether. There is a commitment here, but it is not etched in stone, and as embarrassing as you may feel it is to end it now, sometimes it is the right thing to do. On the flip side, maybe this is just a case of pre- wedding jitters, and by talking it through with someone, you will clarify things that were going on in your head, and it can be okay. Real life, isn’t ‘in the clouds’ – we get those ideas from fairy tales, movies and books. Remember that life is full of challenging opportunities and encounters that help us grow!

The most enthusiastic of Mazal Tovs to you!

With Warmest Wishes,
Chana

Cheshvan 5767 – Is It Over Or Not?

Cheshvan 5767
Is it Over or Not?

Dear Chana,

I recently went out with a guy a few times. Each time I really enjoyed the date. The shadchan told me that he also had a really good time with me. We had the same hashkafos, similar goals in our Torah lifestlye, and communication was great. I have never communicated with a guy so well before this. I definitely never liked a guy this much. I was getting very excited about the whole thing and suddenly the shadchan told me after the last date the he doesn’t think it is going to work out. Just the date before he had told the shadchan that he was really looking forward to the next date and maybe just maybe I was THE ONE. I have no idea what happened so suddenly and the shadchan doesn’t know either. She said she didn’t have time to ask him what went wrong. In short, the relationship is over with and I have no idea what happened. I am left hanging. I keep telling myself that if the shadchan would have been more involved and concerned, she could have smoothed out any misunderstandings!!

The first week my heart just ached and I couldn’t stop crying, and I am not even the emotional type! It has been a couple of weeks now, and every time I think about it [ which is frequently] it still hurts so much. OH – I just wish I could turn back the clock! Yes, I know that it is meant to be, and that I have to trust in Hashem and it is all for the best. When I tell myself these things, it doesn’t seem to help and I can’t seem to calm myself down. I am still blaming it on the shadchan, as well. Another problem is that I am not interested in any other guy who is read to me. I still feel like he will realize that he made a mistake and regret it. There is a piece of me that knows that I am not being totally realistic, but I had no closure and am having a hard time getting past this [ as you can see!!] What should I do now? Help!! I apologize for this lengthy question – but I really hope that you can help me.

Name and Seminary withheld by request

Dear JemSem Reader,

I perfectly understand where you are coming from! As you said, all seemed to be going very well [from both sides] and then boom! It’s over and you have no idea why. You had no closure on any level, and in some ways it probably doesn’t even feel real.

I’m not quite sure what happened with the shadchan. I don’t understand what she means when she says she ” didn’t have time to ask him what went wrong.” The job of a shadchan is much much more than just suggesting an idea and working out where the couple will meet!!! The shadchan should be quite involved with the dymanics of what is going on. He or she should be a helpful third party to facilitate the situation. There is so much miscomunication that can occur between the couple and often the shadchan can be very beneficial. Now that this has ended and affected your life, she should at least be able to explain to you something about it. There are so many people who like to ‘play shadchan’ and aren’t really sure what they are doing. As a matter of fact, because I hear of things going awry so often that possibly could have been prevented, I have considered giving some classes to people who would like to set people up. Perhaps giving them some hadracha of how to go about these things would help.

What I think you should do in this case is to call the shadchan back. This will either help you gain clarity about the situation and move on, or perhaps shift the situation. If she truly does not know what happened, she can call the boy back and have him explain the situation, or maybe tell him that you would still be interested, and see what he says. There are lots of times in the shidduch world, that a person doesn’t accept what has happened and they may try gently to look into it more or try to do something about it. This would, in your situation, be making a fuller hishtadlus on your part. Whatever the outcome is, at least you know that you have done your utmost. I don’t want to give you false hope, but it is certainly worth a try, especially when things seemed to be going so well and you are totally in the dark as to why it ended.

It is wonderful that you keep trying to tell yourself all the right things!! Aside from the fact that it is true [all is for the best, etc.] even though it doesn’t seem to be helping you right now, keep it up. Eventually you will come to believe it more and more and it will help you.

If the answer is really no and it seems quite final, so you need to really work on your mindset and attitude. That this guy is outside your reality. This is a chance for you to actively choose to enhance your emunah and relationship with Hashem. To understand more deeply the idea of same’ach b’chelko. What you don’t have in your life, you don’t need! Your life and everything in it is truly tailor made just for you. What’s also important for you to realize and think about is that the fellow that Hashem already has chosen for you will be even better and more mattim than this one was!! That is surely a comforting thought! Your avodah will be to truly put your heart and soul into the future people that you date and to work through in your mind that each new guy is a real possibility for you to marry. With alot of effort these thoughts and attitude are doable.

Whatever the outcome is and with whoever it should be with, zman b’karov!

With Warmest Wishes,
Chana

Tishrei 5767 – Weighty Matters – Part II

Erev Rosh Hashana 5767
Weighty Matters: Part II

In the Elul article we spoke about this issue from the angle of health and hashkafa. Now we will deal with it concerning dating. I also received a letter that I will take several excerpts from which will address some topics that I would like to discuss. Here is the original question:

Dear Chana,

I am twenty years old and I was thinking of starting to date. I was appalled when numerous people informed me that I shouldn’t bother because I am somewhat overweight. I was told that guys have so many options in dating that they automatically discard anyone who is heavy. I find this quite disturbing. Is it true that all guys are so totally into a girls looks and weight? Should I really put off dating until I fit into the standards of society? [pun intended!]

Dear JemSem Reader,

In the last article we looked at being overweight from a health and hashkafa perspective. V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshosechem obligates us to take care of our bodies and do the best we can to maintain health. This is the starting point.

As far as dating goes, I think that there are some questions that need to be asked. What types of hishtadlus does a young woman need to make?

* Does she need to have a direction for her life?

* Does she need to get proper training in hashkafa and halacha?

* Does she need to work on herself and refine and hone those middos that are a bit rough around the edges?

* What about her physical appearance – is that part of her hishtadlus?

* Does she need to get nice dating clothes and experiment with makeup and hairstyles to help her make a presentable impression?

* Is fitting in with what young men find attractive part of her hishtadlus?

I would say yes to all of these question. I see all of these things as multi- faceted aspects of hishtadlus. It is interesting to note that the Talmud [Kiddushin 41a] obligates a man to meet his wife before marriage to make sure she is attractive in his eyes – based on the pasuk “V’ahavta L’rayacha Kmocha”. We see that Chazal appreciated that physical attraction is a natural glue for a marriage.

Looks and weight are certainly things that young men take into consideration. Whatever the reasons are, this is the reality. It is important in marriage that the couple be attracted to one another, and it is no secret that being physically fit can contribute to this.

Does this mean that girls who are on the heavy side should go on an unhealthy crash diet, starve themselves, throw up or exercise six hours a day? No, of course not! Everything must always be kept in a balance. That means perhaps seeing a nutritionist, going on a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Keeping in mind that first and foremost this is an issue of health and hashkafa and realizing that this can help you in the dating process and for life, a young woman should do something about it.

A reader raises several questions:

Why is it that yeshiva guys are looking for ‘trophy’ wives? They want the whole package: frum, spiritual, thin. beautiful, stylish, put together, fine middos, great personality, excellent mother and homemaker. How many women naturally fit this description?

I agree with you that some guys seem to have taken this too far. Sometimes the picture of what their wife should look like and be like comes from unhealthy places. When a boy goes out on a date, many of them are wrapped up in their dimyon. The Mashgichim in yeshivas truly have their work cut out for them! You should know that Rabbaim do try to deal with these issues and try to ease them into more of a balance and reality.

What about those girls who do fit that thin type because they somehow balance their exercise and eating. Do they really take time to build relationships with Hashem? Or do they think of more ways to enhance their appearance? How much time a day does a woman have to devote to Hashem if she is doing her hair, makeup, nails, toes, facials, tanning, waxing, laser, gym hours, shopping for that ‘stylish’ outfit, preparing diet meals, etc” What should be more emphasized in a person for a relationship, the external appearance or the internal personality and spirituality?

At the end of the day enhancing our relationship with Hashem is what matters most. But I do think that there is room for both in a life and in a relationship. Why must they be mutually exclusive? Why can’t a person find the proper balance in a day to devote to health and the physical as well as working on their avodas Hashem, yiras shamayim and middos? Yes, a woman can go overboard with the glorification of the body and many women do, as per your examples. But in hashkafa a woman is a mix of the physical and the spiritual, she is supposed to express in the world, but the trick of this is learning to make that expression in ways that can be connected to the spiritual. Not physical just for physical. A prime example of this idea is that it is a fine thing that a woman should look her best for her husband for a variety of reasons. By doing so she can add to the shalom bayis of her home. With all of these ideas, as in all things there has to be a balance a harmony. Our emphasis should be reaching for the ruchniyus by using the gashmiyus, after all, we as well as olam hazeh are a mixture of both.

In answer to your question about ‘all guys’ – no, not every boy is looking for a very thin girl, just like with everything, there are different things that appeal to different people, and not everyone has the same tastes. As this same reader points out:

I know of two girls who were very overweight and were told not to bother dating until they lost weight. They still went to shadchanim and asked others to set them up. They got a few dates. They also both lost some weight during that time. They didn’t become a size 6, and some might still have categorized them as being somewhat heavy. One found her bashert at 20 and the other at 21.

So while you are working on your health and weight and making a hishtadlus in all the areas that we have discussed, you can date, for as we see from this story there are girls of all sizes who do get engaged. Aside from all this discussion of weight, believe it or not there are alot of boys out there that truly find shining middos and yiras shamayim quite appealing! Many say that the most beautiful feature in a woman is her simchas hachaim.

Don’t forget that there is a G-d in this world and shidduchim are in His hands. 90% of hishtadlus is tefillah and all of the above is the remaining 10%.

Thanks for bringing up a touchy and tricky matter. I’m glad we were able to speak about it.

With Warmest Wishes,
Chana

P.S. If anyone has any comments or opinions about this or anything else, JemSem welcomes your input!!!!

K’siva V’chasima Tova to all of our readership. We wish you a year and a lifetime of health, endless brachos, arichus yamim v’shanim, and that kol mishalos leibchem should be fulfilled l’tova.