These are certainly exciting times. We went out tonight again and she was distant because she had a few things on her mind, generally religious issues. These issues include, but are not necessarily limited to 1) she feels that she sticks out in a crowd when she is with me, 2) it is difficult to get used to a man with a long beard, and 3) my black and white dress is very uncolorful. I could do nothing except to be understanding regarding the first two issues because she is right - people straighten up when they see me because they see a tall sophisticated religious man with a neatly tied-up beard in good clothing. In a world of ripped jeans and casual attire I am like olive oil in water.
As for the third issue of black and white clothing, how do I not give in when the arguments she is giving me are the same as my own? It is clear that a when a chassidic man is wearing a colorful shirt, it is likely that either 1) he has a creative wife, or 2) he is somehow lacking in his religiousness. These aren't my dogmas, but sincerely, this is the way it seems to be. She asked me with feeling whether I would be willing to wear more casual clothing, and I couldn't say no because I could feel that it was very important to her. My rabbi once told me that when dealing with a woman, it is important to choose one's battles, and that there are some things are simply are not worth causing resistance over. With the strides on her path to become religious, she still has her secular eyes. Something as silly as a colored shirt shouldn't be a big deal. I could tell you, however, I would die if one of my religious friends or my rabbi saw me in secular clothing.
Nevertheless, I did say that I would bring a sweater with me. I also told her that I was ready to get end our meetings and to get engaged. She told me that she needed a few more meetings before she made her decision. There is something she still wants to tell me. I am frightened about this because I thought that I knew all there was to know which is why we decided that we no longer needed an intermediary (shadchan) to arrange our meetings for us. Suddenly everything has gotten a lot more personal and sensitive and I wonder with anxiety what could be so important (or what could be such a secret) that she is not comfortable moving forward with an engagement until we discuss it.