by Mrs. Chana Silver
I am finally engaged! 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.
p.s. 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.
Here are some pointers for weathering the engagement time:
1] You must get some advise 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 one 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,