Monday, March 22, 2010

More On Shidduchim...

My last post, apparently, touched a raw nerve for a lot of people, and the comments came swiftly.

A part of me was thrilled (Yay....someone's reading my blog!). But the bigger part of me did not like being attacked. I guess this is negative attention, kind of. Better than no attention at all? I'm not sure...

But all those comments did get me thinking about some of the issues discussed in the comments, and about the whole shidduch system, and I'd like to share some of those thoughts, and get some opinions.

First thought was triggered by a comment by Bored Jewish Guy.

Most guys, even in the stricter chasidish circles, know what they like or don't like in a girl well before they're old enough to get married.

My first thought when reading that was, "Nah...not my son. It may be difficult for someone like BJG to understand, but my son and his friends really have very little, if any, exposure to girls."

But a few days later a very minor incident made me realize I was wrong.

My kids came up with an idea for a shidduch (her friend to his friend), which I thought was actually good, and I was going to possibly suggest it. In the meantime, my son texted his friend, saying he had an idea for a shidduch for him.

The first question his friend asked was, "Is she pretty?" I did a double take.

"That's a normal, natural question," my son said, in his friend's defense.

Sure it is. Of course. But....when did my son grow up??

So that was a reality check for me. You were right, BJG.

Second thought is in connection to my post title. I chose it because it is one of those "crazy" shidduch questions that some people ask, and I was making a point. be completely honest...although it's not a question I'd ask, I don't think it's as crazy as it seems.

Suppose my son was raised in a home where the Shabbos table was always set, with china, glasses, silver and pretty tablecloths, and he marries someone who grew up in a home where they just put a pile of plastic cups and some napkins in the middle of the table, and then used disposable plates. Neither method is right or wrong. It's just different. And sometimes different can cause some conflict. Not because of the plastic. But because the plastic is usually indicative of the way many other things in the home are done...the way that home is run. I'm not saying it's an insurmountable conflict. I'm saying that it's something to take into account.

Third thought is a question that came to mind because of the reaction my post engendered.

I wonder if the reaction would have been the same if I would have written about money instead of looks.

Before you beat up on me, let me explain where I am on the money issue.

My son would like to learn full time for about two or three years. Obviously, he wants to marry someone who could appreciate that, wants the same thing, and is willing to work hard to help him realize that. During that time, rent and bills will have to be paid. If his wife has a job that covers that...great. If not, the money has to come from somewhere. I don't have it. So money definitely plays some part in the decision.

But I understand that while the support coming from the girl's parents lasts for a couple of years, he will live with this woman forever. And in those cases where the support lasts longer, there are almost always strings attached. So while money does play some part, it only plays a small part.

I am also very familiar with the other side of the coin. I also have a daughter in shidduchim. I've lost count of how many shidduchim fell apart because I am not able to support her. She wants to marry someone who is learning, is willing to support him, and is able to do so. But most parents of boys in shidduchim want money, whether or not they have it themselves. It's an entitlement.

So here's my question:

What if I would have said, someone suggested a shidduch for my son, but the girl's family does not have a lot of money, and would not be able to support them for whatever amount of time he wants to learn? What if I had two suggestions, both equal in every way, but one has money and one does not...and I'd choose to go with the wealthy girl? Would the uproar be the same?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

China or Plastic?

My sister calls me with a shidduch suggestion for my big boy.

I love those kinds...the ones that come from someone who knows my kids well, and also knows the person they are suggesting. The usual calls are from people who don't know either one of us, and are just matching random boys and girls, based on what they wear, or something equally inconsequential.

She tells me the girl's name and whatever she knows about her. Sounds good. I'm ready to look into this.

I go find my big girl. She's a wealth of information. She knows so many of the girls that are suggested, and if she doesn't, she knows someone who does.

She looks doubtful.

"She's not skinny," she says.

"Well, is she fat?"

"No...not fat... Just a little chunky. Like Chany," she says, referring to one of her cousins, "but shorter."


I shoot my sister a text. "She's not skinny."

"Is she fat?"

"No. Like Chany, but shorter. Probably like a size 8."

Her response comes quickly. All Caps. "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND??? SINCE WHEN IS 8 FAT?? DO YOU GO BY THOSE STANDARDS?"


I have no answer. I DON'T go by those standards. I'm right there with those who decry the invasive, superficial, nonsensical questions asked by some mothers...the kind of mother who only wants a size 2 for her son.


But now it's my son. I look at the list of suggestions I have for him. Some great girls on that list. Including, possibly, the size 8. I don't know yet, because I haven't given her a chance.

I text my sister.

"If you had two girls you were looking into...both really great is pretty and thin, the other...a bit chunky, maybe...what would you do?"

"Ok. I hear you."

I felt a bit better. For about a minute.

What is wrong with me? This isn't me. I don't ask the sort of questions that are typically asked. I don't even ask for pictures. I'm the one who tossed the shidduch resume from the girl who put her dress size(size 2) right up there after her name and age.

I know I'm being ridiculous. My brain knows it. I'm disgusted with myself.

I know that this poor girl just fell a few notches down my list. I know it...and I'm powerless to do anything to change it.

I'm no better than the rest of them.

What's next? Dishes? Tablecloths???

Shame on me...