Trust Your (Young) Adults

I graduated bais yaakov high school with a head full of ideas about marriage that I trusted but didn’t believe. That is: I trusted the teachers who’d taught them to me. They were older and wiser and presumably had my best interest in mind. But many of the things they said didn’t pass the critical thinking test, so I struggled to believe them.

One day I found myself on an eighth date.  I liked the guy. Respected him. Enjoyed spending time with him. But I also knew that eight dates meant we were Serious and that freaked me out. I had no reason to break up with him, and no desire to marry him.

Luckily, the guy didn’t go to a bais yaakov. He pointed out that something big was missing in our relationship. We were, to put it mildly, stuck in the Friend Zone, and going nowhere fast. He broke us up. He was absolutely right and I was secretly relieved, but it took me a couple of years to come round to agreeing with him.

Trusting without believing gets us girls in trouble. We try to do what we’re told because it must be right, and yet, something inside is crying that it can’t be. But, ever trusting, we sometimes allow our elders and wisers to drive us into places we really shouldn’t be.

Back when I was 21, I had friends who were lucky enough to have breakdowns and wind up in therapy before they could be pushed into an inauspicious marriage. Now that I’m 27, I have friends who are divorced, because they didn’t manage it until after. 

I’m sure by now everyone has read Gital’s story in the Post about how she let the people trusted nudge her into a marriage she didn’t believe in with a sociopath simply because he came from the Feinstein family.

I told the matchmaker I wanted to stop seeing him, that we weren’t a fit…

My parents asked me to think about it because his parents were so insistent I had the wrong impression of him.

In Orthodox dating, you rely a lot on what other people tell you — what their impression is. So I gave him another chance.

I don’t want to sing any Disney-style “follow your heart” tunes here. But at some point, the yeshivish community has to believe they’ve instilled their children with the right values and a pinch of common sense, and trust them to navigate the world themselves. Until they do, girls will struggle to trust themselves. Bad decisions ensue.

For a while I thought I was the only girl naive enough to treat feeling of reluctance for a guy with repetitions of the mantra “love comes after marriage” — something oft repeated in high school, but without the sort of elaboration necessary for girls who have been segregated from boys their entire lives. But now I know the unhappily married and the happily divorced — sometimes with children in tow — who weren’t as lucky as I was.

The parents and teachers advising these girls into their relationships mean well. They want the best for them. None of them dream of creating a future divorcee, let alone an agunah. But they still view them as children, girls, unable to trust the inner compass they’ve been cultivating through years of schooling and upbringing. And the “girls” share this view, because it’s held by the people they trust the most.

This makes me sad.

And long term, it makes a lot of other people sad too.

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21 thoughts on “Trust Your (Young) Adults

  1. So well said. Thank goodness I never bought into some of the nonsense I was taught. Whenever I was dating a guy I didn’t have feelings for, I broke it off. There were several who I could have “made it work with”, I suppose. But that’s not really the life I want. I’m not unrealistic; in no way do I expect religious courtship to be like Hollywood, but I’d like to marry someone who I’m not stuck in the Friend Zone with.

  2. I’m disappointed that you chose to drag Lashon Hara into your blog.
    It is indeed a tragic story, but there are two sides to every story, and we only know one.
    It must be very hard for those family members to have a family member labeled a sociopath publicly. Emotional immaturity and sociopathy are two different things, and I doubt sociopathy was the issue here, on either side.

  3. Putting aside the rest of your post (I am sure you’re aware that lots of great marraiges start off as good friends, in both the yeshivish and non-yeshivish circles, and that more “romances” divorce than arranged marraiges), I am disturbed that you mentioned the name of the family in the story, I have not read it, but even if everyone reading your post had, it would still be lashon hara (and in case they hadn’t, you included the link). Was it really necessary to mention the name of the family that produced a sociopath, even assuming you believe the story?

    The validity of your post wouldn’t change if you’d written “because he came from a prominent family”., and omitted the link. Can I suggest you change it to avoid further instances of lashon hara? Why embarass anyone just to make your point?

    Additionally, T makes an excellent point, You’ve only read one side of the story, and I doubt that the kind of person who writes a story like that for the Post has only the best interests of the frum world at heart.

  4. Your post reminds me of this blog as well.
    If she had not thought he was great on paper
    (and more to the point, if she had not hoped that
    great on paper meant more than her own feelings
    (not to mention if she had not been panicked into thinking there were a limited supply of good “boys”))
    she might have been able to follow her instincts and avoid a world of pain:
    http://livingintwolanguages.blogspot.com/

  5. I really hear what commenters are saying.
    I feel sympathy for their point of view that
    this could be rechilus (you really did not want to say it is lashon hara did you? you think it is true? And it is a little late, more than three people know. ), and that there are two sides to every story.
    But sometimes we have to take a stand.
    Yes, in halacha, the man is in charge of the woman and can do as he pleases, and keep her married to him for years after they no longer live together; halachically he may have done nothing wrong.
    But this is all women have: our public voices.
    BAd4 can stand up and say “We do not like this, we do not accept this, no matter what his rights are, we will shun this, and call it out.
    He may well be an innocent lehalacha, but this tzibbur will not stand for it lemaaseh.”

  6. liza: If a man (I mean any man, not specifically this man) withholds a get from his wife, the beis din can pummel him. But people are so squeamish about corporal punishment nowadays. It would seem halachically, he is not smelling like roses.

    But I concur there are two sides to this story, and her going to the Post was inappropriate, and will certainly not bring her any closer to her desired document.

    But back to the original premise: Not all young eligible females who encounter marital strife were necessarily pushed into it by unfeeling relatives or preachy morahs, or were necessarily the victims in all cases.

    “Shidduch crisis” hysteria is still running high. Girls fear being the “Unmarried One.” Quite a few marched determinedly to the altar, secure in their night of glamor that they are not one of us, those pitied nebachs. And that was enough for them. At first.

    Some may even have had loved ones who tried to talk them out of it, knowing the individual wasn’t for them, but went forward anyway. Some, after being bullied into a engagement, acquiesced, but later broke the engagement (power to them!)

    While females tend to know the ex-wife’s perspective, there is also the question of the ex husband’s side. What was going on there?

    So many out there ignore their inner voice to pursue a sheep-like existence. I suppose it is not a crime, and many have pleasant lives in less-than-ideal circumstances. But even the self-aware are not infallible.

    My point (following all this rambling) is that there are many factors to the current rising rate of divorce. But most of it all comes down to discipline, which is a rare commodity today.

  7. 1) All of these people, complaining about loshan hara, please learn the halachots first. If it’s public knowledge, it’s not L’H. This story has been widely publicized and there was siruv issued. It’s problem with frum world today, people do / don’t things because it’s “frum” thing to do, without learning if there is basis for this in halacha.

    2) Most other bloggers focused on the get issue of the article, and totally missed out on the part when it talks about problems with shidduch system. I have mixed feeling about it. Since there are no “benefits” before marriage, it kind of makes sense for Frum world to encourage people to marry young, but a lot of times kids are not ready to look for spouse, so parents have to be invovled. Also they not ready for married life, assuming it will be just fun and games. I guess there has to be some kind of a balance.

  8. I think there are two issues that are getting confused here. One is when a young lady feels in her gut that something is wrong, but is pressured to overlook that. My wife related to me that she dated a guy who “on paper” seemed perfect for her, but there were a number of things that bothered her about his behavior. (Read: he was a jerk.) when she discussed the issue with a renowned “mechaneches”, she was advised to “marry him and he will change, getting married is just what he needs, it will be like medicine for him…

    Thanks God my wife had th good snse to ignore this idiot mechaneches and trust her gut feeling. Sounds very similar to what may have happened here.

    The second issue is getting married even thjough you don’t feel in love or whatever. I think that’s a totally different question.

  9. I’d take any guy that is right “on paper” and that includes having the type of midos I would get along with. I can’t imagine rejecting a guy because he’s in the friend zone- isn’t that a good thing? Besides, my list of criteria is restrictive enough. It would be miracolous to find someone who just fits my basic criteria.

  10. I agree with Bad4. I think that kind of frum community is so scared that its children will make mistakes in life that they try to keep them children forever and control every aspect of their life.

  11. Superintendent – you’re right that those are not the same thing, but they can be. I did not think “love” was important, but I still had a gut aversion to taking the relationship further. For many people, they may not be able to explain what they don’t like about a match, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong to turn it down.

  12. Liza:

    Obviously Bad4 believes this to be true, or she would not have included it. Surely she would not have referenced it if she beleived it to be false! (nor would you defend repeating the allegation, if it were untrue.)True or not, it’s still assur, plus, unfair to his family to have their name mentioned. Re: the idea that once 3 people have heard lashon hara or rechilus, you are misinformed. Even if something is printed in a newspaper, one is not allowed to repeat it. (SG: I[‘d love to see your source that anything that’s public knowlege is repeatable: I am pretty sure that I saw just in the last week or two that the Sefer Chofetz Chaim disagrees. Don’t assume that anyone who disagrees with you doens’t know the halacha)

    Re: women having only a voice, I disagree. If you learn the halachos, they are not as unfair as you seem to think, But even if you beleive that to be true, what is gained by publicizing the name of the family here? Do you really think that Gital’s ex is going to change his behavior now, because his family’s name appeared in this blog? So there is no potential toeles whatsoever.

    Bad4: a “gut” feeling is enough of a reason not to take it further! You should never have to defend that decision. But your original post said that you had “no reason to break up with him”. A gut instinct is a reason, in my book.

  13. @Random Shadchan, thank you, that the point I was trying to make. Chofetz Chaim was machmir with 3 people situation (he is generally machmir), but there are other opinions about this issue, especially when siruv is involved, so need to accuse people of committing esurim. Personally, I also do not like that this story has blown up publically & in secular press in particular, it should have been internally and with only people who needed to be involved. But we should not judge people unless we are in their shoes and just learn from this bad situation.

  14. The truth is, it’s irrelevant what “the other side of the story is” – and it’s irrelevant whether he is really a sociopath. This is a marriage that should not have happened. While I don’t think there is any excuse for withholding the get, it would be healthy if she and her family took some of the responsibility for getting into the marriage to start with. I mean, the third date, I could see, but after that? What were they thinking? She, clearly wasn’t, by her own description.

    The one commonality this story has with a large percentage of the stories of marriages that should not have happened, is that at least one key player ignored clear signs that should have been heeded – whether it’s the Chosson, Kallah, or one (or more) of the parents.

    All this has nothing to do with whether love comes after marriage. To a large extent, that’s true. I’ve seen plenty of durable (and HAPPY) marriages that started in “the friend zone” and plenty of disasters that started in the “head over heels” state. The keys lie in what happens after the wedding and parties are over.

    Which also has nothing to do with whether someone should get engaged to someone if it doesn’t feel right. Yes, there are some people who just get nervous at making a major commitment, or are simply change averse (even though they manage fine…) and you have to be able to know if that’s the problem or there is something just not right between a you. If the latter, then even if you can’t articulate it, then getting engaged is just stupid.

  15. SG:

    You write, “it should have been internally and with only people who needed to be involved. But we should not judge people unless we are in their shoes and just learn from this bad situation.”

    I agree that something like this does not belong in the secular press. However, I can’t imagine there is any heter, anywhere for someone to badmouth a prominent family as having produced a sociopath, and honestly, I am censuring Bad4, not Gital. (No offense, Bad4.) Bad4’s post wouldn’t lose validity if she left off the name of the family.

    I happen to know of single girls in that family. And there are mothers, fathers, small children, all of whom did nothing wrong. Which of us would want our family name blogged about in this connection?

  16. Observer, I like your observations.

    Random shadchan, it shouldn’t matter if a family is prominent or not. Also, hopefully one bad apple shouldn’t cause us to look down at the other singles in the family.

  17. Mindy:

    I agree totally; it’s just that it seems that the girl got pushed into agreeing because of the prestige associated with the well-known name. Certainly, in terms of lashon hara, rechilus, sensitivity to other family memebers, it’s irrelevant.Thank you for pointing that out; I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

  18. it’s sort of sad. there are so many legitimate aguna cases out there and the one that hits the news is the one where it’s more likely a case of moredes than aguna. the fact that she is a kotler let’s her get away with alot. if some no name girl would’ve walked to the press with her story I very much doubt she would be vindicated in the same way gital was.

  19. Quote from my preferred rabbi:
    “As I understand what I was told, if she went to a bais din to protest his withholding a get, (she did) and the bais din issued a psak that he needs to give a get, then it would not be loshon harah.”

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