Saturday, June 04, 2005

Giving In

I'm not so spooked about the whole shidduch event anymore. This weekend I came to terms with the fact that what happened must have been for the best. I went through the variables in my head, and I did a little bit of arithmetic, and I realized that us continuing would probably have been a bad idea.

I'll list a few "red flags" that came to my mind, but keep in mind this is not at all meant to belittle her or to make her look bad. There are many things that people can enjoy, but when that preference or enjoyment turns into a make-or-break expectation on the other person, that can signal that there is a problem. Further, I was supposed to keep in mind that a shidduch date is meant to interview the other person objectively (if it is even possible after a while) without getting emotionally involved. Because I was not thinking clearly, I was giving in to issues some of which violated my value systems just to make peace between us. I even agreed to change my body structure to fit her ideal picture, to change my middle name, to discard my white shirts and to commit to wearing colored shirts, to commit to naming our first child my current middle name, and to go backwards on some steps I've taken in my religious growth.

Next, people are supposed to be well behaved on shidduchim; if one party gets physically angry at the other or has an emotional temper tantrum on the date, this is a bad sign because one should keep in mind that the real person's bad traits do not become revealed until after the wedding when the risk of breaking it off has disappeared.

Anyway, without saying too much, everything that I just mentioned excluding the secrets that I promised not to divulge have led me to believe that this was for the best. I still feel comfortable that I was willing to overlook all these things and that I was going to propose to her because I felt that she was a quality person; each one of these quirky attributes taken alone were not deal breakers. Now, with slightly clearer hindsight, I am sad that everything came to this, but I understand non-emotionally that this was the correct decision, even though it was fully out of my hands and I feel sad yet comforted that in spite of all of this, I ran after her and failed at my attempts to mend our connection. In the end, we had none. She remained adamant that she was not going to continue, and in her higher wisdom I am forced to trust her judgment. As she said in her previous e-mail, things were not what they appeared to be at face value.

There is one last piece of the puzzle that I am reluctant to speak about because some Orthodox Jews get offended by the importance Chassidim (Chassidic Jews) put in their Rebbe. (A Rebbe is a spiritual leader; the head of a Chassidic group of Jews [also known as an AdMoR (an acrostic for ''Ad[oneinu] Mo[reinu] R[abeinu]'', "[Our] Master, Teacher, Rabbi")]. [With my apologies in advance for the crude comparison, think of Yoda.] During a Rebbe's life, his followers sometimes are given the chance to go into yechidus (one-on-one conversations) with the Rebbe, where they get his advice on important matters.

In the Lubavich world, when couples used to get engaged, they would go to the Rebbe to ask for his blessing. Since he has passed away more than ten years ago, instead of going into yechidus with the Rebbe, Chassidim now pay their respects to his gravesite. Along with this, they say Tehillim (Psalms) and prior to entering the gravesite, they write a report which discusses the issues they would like to work out.

After a week of uncertainty where my shidduch date of (by then) many weeks (and over 80 hours of sit-down conversations, shidduch style,) she would not agree to get engaged until she told me her secret; she didn't feel comfortable moving forward with an engagement until she told me and saw my reaction to her secret so that I could prove to her that I had the capacity to support her the way that she needed to be supported. The difficult part was that she would not tell me her secret until she had the proper environment, and since she found problems with every place I chose that matched her criteria, I felt like I was jumping through hoops trying to find out what was stopping her.

I expressed my concern to my rabbi that we were going in circles and that I felt that the shidduch system was breaking down due to a lack of communication. I told my Rabbi that as I understood it, clarity and objectiveness were the hallmarks of the system, and I felt that those attributes were no longer present because after thirty hours of moving from one location to the next over a period of five days to fit her criteria of what environment she would require to feel comfortable to talk about her "secret", she still would not express to me what she was feeling.

My rabbi told me to have patience, but he also suggested that I see the Rebbe and that I write to him what is going on. Two days prior to her ending the shidduch, I visited the Rebbe to ask for some clarification on our situation, and to ask for a beracha (blessing) that I get eyes to see the truth to understand what is going on with the girl. I also wrote about our uncertainty in the letter, and I asked for the Rebbe's help so that the problems in this shidduch either resolve themselves quickly, or that the shidduch come to a quick ending if the match is not proper in G-d's eyes. If the shidduch was proper in G-d's eyes, I asked the Rebbe for a beracha (blessing) that we get engaged. While I am certainly not one to openly state that I received an answer from the Rebbe, I was actually hoping for the other answer, namely a beracha (blessing) for marriage. Fate has an interesting way of moving us in the right direction when we let our hearts blind our eyes from the truth.

So for now, I leave to China in three days. I will be spending the next few days in the books, writing a paper on recent law changes regarding patenting business models. Other than that, I will pack my books and I will prepare for the exciting five-week life-changing experience that is about to follow.


Daphnewood said...

I wish you well and I am glad you are focusing on the trip. You are a wise young man with a promising future. You'll be in my prayers Zoe.

Rowan said...

Iam happy to see that you are taking a positive, analytical approach to what really happened. I think you are right, "have to change your middle name?" That doesn't even make sense. Why should that matter? Take in mind, I am not knocking her. Just seems that she was looking for reasons to break things off.

Zoe Strickman said...

Perhaps. As a general rule, in the Jewish world one doesn't name children after a parent that is still alive. I think that is a bad thing to do for the health of the parent. My middle name that she wanted for our first child was my English middle name which holds no value because it is a name on paper only. My real name is my Hebrew name, which many of you know from corresponding with me "off-the-air".