Sunday, October 29, 2006

Are you prepared to lie to the Shadchan about....

After some very interesting Shabbos table discussions, I'm left trying to formulate an opinion on what seems to be a big issue. So I turn to those faithful SerandEz readers for your thoughts, in the hope that someone inspires me.

The question: How should issues like eating disorders and depression be treated in the Shidduch-world? If a "teenage problem" is "solved" by the time a girl or boy returns from his/her year in israel, does a prospective spouse need to know about it?
(notice the strategic placement of quotation marks; hamayvin yavin.)


  1. I just hope that by "teenage problem" you don't mean "homosexuality."

  2. if we are talking about clinical depression and eating disorders, then these are not "issues." they are serious life-style-altering medical conditions and are dsm-defined. you can deal with them and cope with them and you may even think you can control them, but you don't really "cure" them. (especially not if one favors the nature side of the nature vs. nurture debate.) a professor of mine once mentioned that the best specialties for doctors are psychiatry and dermatology because very often you can't cure the patient and they are your customer for life.

    also, i'm not sure what the year in israel has to with any of this.

  3. i did not see jewish atheist before i commented. if that is what you meant, i guess i am not a "mayvin"

  4. JA - I'm assuming she doesn't.

    Pobody - Honesty above all. To me, the question is more about *when* the other person should be told rather than whether.

  5. I should also note that there's a difference depending on what the "problem" was. The ones you mentioned are - as Ari noted - issues that are treated more than "solved". That a person did stuff they might regret but there's no reason to expect they'd do it again (say, smoking, drugs, etc.) I'd probably lean to leaving it out. But if asked, the answer must be the truth.

  6. [Um, by drugs I meant marijuana, not cocaine.]

  7. She thought so (when she told us.)

    The anonymous mentioned in that post told all of us that she had been advised not to speak of her eating disorder because people doubted whether she would get a shidduch.

    However, she believed (at the time, and I think I can safely say believes)

    1. That she could make a difference for us

    2. That she would have to have an open relationship with her husband, and hence he would need to know her past anyway

    I have to say, marrying someone who you can't trust with yourself...and I mean your most private self, your thoughts and feelings and all that is you- why would you want to do that? Anorexia, bulimia, drug problems...this is a major part of a person's life, and often there are causes (if you are dangerously involved.) Even experimentation is important.

    What is a marriage founded on if not trust?

  8. I think these issues are important to be brought up because you never know if they can happen again and you don't want your children to be affected it reoccurs or even happens to your children.

  9. I'm with Ezzie. Its an issue of when, not if. Honesty is key in a relationship.

  10. There are two opportunities for lying or concealing information. One is from the shadchan and the other is from the date. Sometimes people do disclose some unfavorable things about themselves to the shadchan, but the shadchan does not pass it on to the date. It would be left up to the person to convey the info. directly.

    What of conditions like diabetes? It seems that people are far more open about it today. However, someone's letter to the editor of Misphacha Mag. said that she was keeping her 12-yer-old daughter's diabetes a secret. Her only motive could be for the sake of a shidduch. I was once set up with someone who was known to have diabetes in the family (for some reason it was known in his brother) though the shachan assured me 100% that the younger brother that I was set up with did not have it. Well, I found out many dates later. But the shadchan said he really didn't know. (So can one who doesn't know claim to have positive knowledge of something?) You also see how the concealment strategy can backfire b/c now the shadchan did know. And though I kept it in confidence, once he got serious with the next girl (whom I knew) and told her, she told me about it and had clearly shared it with her sister-in-law who reinforced the girl's feeling that she could not trust someone like that.

  11. okay, before i do individual replies, i'll give you my semi-formulated opinion; it includes many aspects in common with commenters views.

    PointA: A marriage should be an open relationship where nobody feels that s/he has secrets from the other spouse.
    PointB: Anorexia, bulimia, self-mutilation, and depression are real illnesses which involve real emotions. They can be overcome, but still remain a part of the person forever.
    PointC: Shadchanim need not know about a person's struggles. Even if they do know, Hilchos Lashon Hara dictate exactly what information is allowed to be given and what is not; i am not an expert, nor a Shadchan. However, it is only proper that when a relationship begins to get serious (the timing of this point is varied in different circles), one who has a serious *past* should let the potential spouse know. If that information turns off the guy or girl, s/he would not have made a good wife or husband for this person anyway.
    PointD: How do we get the world to stop its kibbitzing and lashon hara fest when dealing with shidduchim????

    Now you can all respond to my opinion. I will respond now to yours:

    JA- no, i was not referring to homosexuality. i don't know enough about it, especially its instances in the frum community, and i have no idea if it can be dealt with through therapy or what.

    ariK- i think i adressed most of your comment above. the point about year in israel was that many feel that after a year (for girls) or 2-3 (for boys), a level of maturity has been reached and many issues from high school have been resolved. (I do agree that *some* things get fixed during that year, because the focus is on self-growth and being away from home does wonders for many people. However, emotional issues are very different than "i decided i'll stop talking to people of the opposite gender.")

    ezzie- i agree, somewhat. the examples you gave (smoking, pot, and my own addition of hanging out with opposite gender) dont *need* to be said to a potential spouse, but as always, honesty and openness are best.

    chana- wow. that was an excellent post. i have no direct response, only a semi-connected thought. A close friend of mine struggled with a serious ED and is far along in her recovery. She once told me of a conversation she had with a rabbi during seminary where he gave a mashal. At some point during Harry Potter (im not a reader, so pardon any mistakes please), Harry goes to Dumbledore (i think) and says something like, "I don't want to be different any more. I don't want to have a scar on my head any more. I just want to have normal parents and be a normal kid..." The wise man responds, "Yes, Harry, but you are different and you will always be different."
    Those who have gone through any emotionally involved experience- be it an eating disorder, a family death, or any other life-changing thing- ARE different. But that difference isn't bad. And often, it is those people who have been down dark alleys and who understand the inner workings of the mind who end up changing the world.

    i think that's enough for now.

  12. ps- like my new avatar? a friend was discouraged by my "sigh". check out my blogger info for a cute quote about pickles.

  13. Scenario #1- A guy tells a girl very early in a relationship that he used to have a drug problem and suffers from manic depression and must take his lithium no matter what in order to control it. Girl says, "I'll love you anyway no matter what!"

    Scenario #2- A guy tells a girl very early in a relationship that he used to have a drug problem and suffers from manic depression and must take his lithium no matter what in order to control it. Girl goes out and buys every book she can find on manic depression and calls every Shrink and Counsler shes ever heard of to find out everything she can about addiction and manic depression.

    Which girl loves the guy more?

    All I know is that honesty never comes to bite you in the butt. It's very clear to me that since this world was created with Emes, that whatever happens or is constructed (i.e. a relationship) because of someone being honest, or even too honest, is 100% only for the best. And if someone can't handle your honesty, then they probably aren't for you. To my knowledge, there are some guys out there that are actaully a lot more open minded about certain issues than most girls think.
    I know I might sound very much like some crazy first year seminary girl right now, but that's my conclusion from all the times honesty has saved my butt.

    However, I now have to deal with the s'tirah that some have said that the reason it says to stay far from lieing is because it's not a lav and that's because there are certain times when one must lie. This one is not as clear to me, but one of the few times that I can understand one lieing is when emes is used for the opposite of its purpose. Which is to destroy, instead of create. When a husband and wife build a relationship from the beginning, it should be built on emes of course, because emes used to create is absolute. But when a husband makes a really retarded move and sleeps with his secretary, and then truly truly wholheartedly regrets it and does his tshuva and so on and so forth, that seems like a case where emes would only be used to destroy. One cannot rationally admit such a misdeed because if he truly loves his wife, he wouldn't want to further hurt her by also telling her about the stupid damaging thing he did. Therefore, telling her the truth could in no way really be constructive in such a situation. I feel that it makes sense that the Torah left this room for sheker, because ultimately, we all have yetzer horas, which is all from the world of sheker, so sheker does exist and it can creep in. Therefore, it seems to me as if sometimes one can only counter the deepest darkest forms of sheker with sheker as well. But this stuff is prbbly way too deep for a guy like me to be speculating about.


    I am sure the post was innocently worded, but - there is an unfortunate tendency to brush problems under the rug by packing kids off to Israel and hoping they "grow up" and "get their act together" or that the holiness of Israel will act like some sort of magic pixie dust (even though G-d has already provided us with other therapeutic means, and seems to want us to use them!!!...)

    Often the lying about these conditions has started in Jewish schools, and continues in order to get a kid into an Israel program.

    And - unfortunately far too often - this combination of face-saving and wishful thinking ends in tragedy or near tragedy, as kids melt down/lose it/endanger themselves and their teachers - not let in on the situation - are left to pick up the pieces.

    Very often these kids experience this whole face-saving sequence as an extreme negation of their worth as a person - the parents' concern with public opinion totally undercuts the child's sense of being loved and wanted - often the child already feels damaged or inferior due to their problems.

    Packing the kid off to Israel is often perceived as the last straw of rejection.

    And often that perception is correct, much as selfless, hardworking parents would like to deny it.

    Sorry - I've got several relatives in teen and adult Jewish education in the Jerusalem area, and I've seen/heard too many of these cases.

    Don't lie.
    Don't send your kids to Israel with just blind, amorphous hope.

    The solution is not to increase your child's shame or to hide problems - and certainly not to foist them onto unsuspecting educators across the ocean who already have their hands full.

  15. Chana - Amen. Without trust, a marriage is almost nothing. (By the same token, there is the idea that certain things simply aren't worth telling. They only hurt and serve no constructive purpose. But that's rare indeed. Similarly, that could simply be a timing issue.)

    Anon - Thanks. I think that's the key. Timing is a huge chunk of this.

    Ariella - The shadchan shouldn't have claimed to know if he/she didn't. And it's understandable that the boy wouldn't want to say until he hits a certain comfort level - much like PN said.

    I have a close friend who's dyslexic. Many people think that this means a person is slow (though this is incredibly wrong) or has other issues such as ADD (also wrong). Should they tell a person before they go out? I don't think so.

    Pobody - A, B, C, D - amen.

    Homosexuality should *definitely* be disclosed. Even when treated, people can lapse. That's from firsthand experience - the wife was never informed about the husband, and he ended up (many years down the road) molesting little boys. His roshei yeshiva and family knew he had done stuff while in yeshiva with other boys and never said a word.

    I agree with you PN regarding my comment. I'm closer to anon that it's more of an issue of when than if; I'm specifically thinking if a person must say that (say) they smoked pot once or twice or kissed a girl in HS a few times. Each case is different, but I could hear those being examples that don't really need to be volunteered at any point.

    Again, if asked, the truth must be told.

    Great quote and pic, but I really liked the *sigh*. :/

    MordyS - I know it's rhetorical, but while I'd normally say "clearly 2", it's not that simple. 1 could be planning on doing just that, but her point is that it doesn't matter.

    And honesty definitely never comes to bite you. And while I agree with the premise that certain times a person may be better not saying anything, your "sleeping with the secretary" one may not be a good one...

    Ben-David - I think everyone agrees that it's both a big problem and shouldn't be done. Notice that in the comments, Pobody specifically said "most" gain from that year.

  16. My question is if someone should tell a person he or she is dating, if he or she had previous sexual encounters. It gets even more confusing if that person "flipped" out and is now dating a person who has never done anything before. Will this information bring them closer or split them apart?

  17. when I first your post, pn, the first thing i thought was what ezzie said, honest first but "To me, the question is more about *when* the other person should be told rather than whether."

    There is a certain way one can tell the shadchan about any problems that ensures confidentiality and that it is handled correctly (with discretion) so as not to damage any prospects. Sometimes it's not necessary (too much info) and sometimes it is... depending on the person and situation. When it comes to telling a prospective spouse, honesty is the best policy. But it's up to them when and how they disclose this information.

  18. Well I never really have time to respond to these wonderful posts but this one I could not pass up.

    I think that everyone gave very important comments. Above all else, honesty is crucial. The "problem" that I think this whole post goes back to is that there is too much emphasis in the shidduch world about a persons past and a person family.
    I agree that these are important, but I feel that there is too much emphasis put on "oh they used to hook up" or "oh they are a ba'al teshuva" or things about the persons family, such as "the mom wears pants or doesn't cover her hair". These are all important things but I often struggle with finding their relevance to a persons situation at the present moment when the shidduch is suggested. I know that many will disagree with me, but I really feel strongly about this.

    Also, I must comment about the homosexuality discussion. I strongly believe that people do not choose to be homosexual. People that "experiment" in yeshiva does not mean that they are homosexual--they likely need counseling to help them with why they have experimented. Or they experiment because they are developing young adults with hormones and are often not taught or guided about sex ed. and proper ways to act. This does not make them homosexual.

    Ezzie, unfortunantely, many more people in the yeshivish community are coming out with stories of abuse. I believe that these are not examples of homosexuality but rather of child and sexual abuse.

    More to come as more thoughts are processed.

  19. Blitz - I'm not disagreeing. I'm just using that particular case as an example; that person was not simply experimenting in HS.

    These are all important things but I often struggle with finding their relevance to a persons situation at the present moment when the shidduch is suggested.

    I think that's one of the key points. Often when I hear such Q's or statements I pause and say, "And therefore...?" "And if so, then what...?"

  20. Nobody answered Anonymous's question.

  21. I think the bigger question that needs to be asked is, how are we prepared to deal with this if G-d forbid we are faced to deal with this type of situation together as a married couple? And by that I mean, young mother, younger than 25 with 2 or 3 small kids with raging post partum depression and husband in Kollel with his head in the sand? Isn't it more important to gauge the husband's potential for maturity in dealing with that kind of situation in the future than in determining her level of depression, if any, beforehand? Anyone, at ANY age, can develop depression, an eating disorder, come out of the closet, develop a drug problem, etc etc...

  22. Chana, that is a very, very astute observation. Thank you.

  23. Well, the example I posted could go both ways, of course. A young wife should go into marriage with the awareness that her husband could develop issues after their wedding that may not have been apparent before their engagement, and that she should be prepared to help him through...

  24. I'm not a big fan of the modern shidduch system. Maybe in the days of Fiddler on the Roof it was just and fair.

    From what I've heard, people get "blacklisted" for far less than a personal history of mental or physical illness.

    Family history, contact with non-frum relatives, dress habits also seem to have direct effects on one's "shidduchability."

    So if you're seriously going into the shidduch scene and want to find a mate, I'd say, don't ask don't tell.

    However, once you do find someone you like, it's vital to be completely candid about such things, because they will get out eventually, especially with physical and mental problems, and the lying will poison the marriage.

    Of course, if the shidduch doesn't work out, you will have screwed your chance at being considered for another shidduch, since shadchonim don't like to by lied to either.

  25. Ezzie, you have no idea how much I am involved with questions like this on a day to day basis!
    I didn't have time to read the other comments, so if I repeat something I apolgise.

    Halachically, if someone has a condition which has been cured, unless the other side asks a specific question about it- the info may not be volunteered. However, if it is a condition which is still present and will have a bearing on the quality of life for the couple then it must be told to the other side immediately.
    The best solution in all cases is to seek advice from a Rav.

  26. I think the shidduch system today is atrocious!!! For the most part, a shadchan's purpose is to open more meeting opportunities to people who would not otherwise have them. A person's health, exact dress size and extended family details are none of this third party's business!!! Why can't people today LEAVE SOMETHING TO DISCUSS ON THE DATE. Nobody should be denied a date because they have a third cousin who has diabetes or they have a small scar on their left ear from falling when they were seven years old. Does this society not realize how idiotic this all is?!

    The medical history (and other) is important for a prospective spouse to know, however, it is the responsibility of the individual to disclose it. Maybe after a few dates if they think there might be a possibility of a future. THer is no reason for anyone to open up their whole life for everyone to see for no reason.

  27. I'm not sure that "pre-disclosure" (shadchan telling potential date about a past issue) is a good idea. There are certain things that, if a person is told about them beforehand, s/he might be less likely to go out with the person being suggested. However, once, they've gotten to know each other a little bit, and they can see the other person as a whole and not just as a person with a problem (or past problem), they might be more willing to accept the person and see the good in them despite (or perhaps because of) their past/present struggles. However, I agree that the person must tell their potential spouse at a certain point--it's probably different in every situation and relationship--because 1) most things can't be hidden forever, and s/he is bound to find out eventually, and 2) who wants to spend their life with someone constantly having to be on guard so as not to drop the Big Secret? I know I couldn't. I would feel like I was faking my way through life, married to someone who didn't really know the "real me".

    Also, it really bothers me when people send their kids to Israel with issues and expect them to come back completely "cured". I don't think it's usually done maliciously, but it's sticking your head in the sand to expect that if you send your daughter to sem with an ED that she's going to come back healthy and normal. If anything, she'll get worse; I would venture to say that no seminary is free of EDs. And especially with the stereotype of "all girls get fat in seminary", a girl with an ED is going to go to even further extremes in her ED just to avoid that. For someone with depression, if they aren't getting any help or treatment or support while they're in Israel, they can just spiral further and further downwards, all the while feeling guilty for not magically getting better as is expected. They'll probably blame themselves, rather than the fact that they're not getting any help, and they'll get worse, not better. The same could be said of a drug problem or a host of other issues. The truth is, even if a person was treated for any such issues in high school and seemed to be doing "better", the year in Israel is a perfect opportunity for relapse, with the lack of supervision and treatment it generally entails.

    Like I said, I don't think that in most cases it's done maliciously; in many, it may well be out of ignorance. But it's still a big problem. And the fact that then these kids come back and start dating, all the while with a Deep Dark's a recipe for disaster, if you ask me.

  28. I don't think there is ever an excuse to not reveal these types of things (ED, drug use, homosexuality, etc) before a couple gets engaged. Once the couple is far enough along in their relationship to feel secure with one another, and there is no set time for this, it is different for every couple, information must be disclosed.
    Yes, it puts one in a vulnerable position but this is part of the process of forging a strong and HONEST relationship.

  29. I can't say that I have been following this conversation fully, but I did notice something that I think should be corrected. A number of commenters (Ezzie, you too) have repeatedly mentioned "homosexuality," yet have been referring to pedophilia-type activity. There is a distinct difference between homosexual activity and pedophilia. I don't know of any specific evidence that links homosexuals with pedophilia (other than the media's obsession with Mark Foley being a gay pedophile.) The two may be related, but it is unfair to consider homosexuality a form of sexual abuse.

  30. A quick note to Anon - I understand they're different. In the case I cited, the person's homosexual tendencies turned to pedophilia, but that could be for a number of reasons: Perhaps he felt this was his "only option" because of how homosexuality is viewed in the world he lived in. But in general, they are two very distinct things.

  31. I think that if dating couples were given the time and space to develop trust and comfort with each other, we probably wouldn't have to have these shidduch conversations that are so prevelant.

    Every skeleton is a different creature, so to speak, and I'm not sure that we can apply hard and fast rules accross the board for what information needs to be revealed when, since we are dealing with people and not meat (although shidduchim can look a lot more like a meat department at time).

    There is so much that could be said on such a topic and so much that has been said on a topic.

    My personal feeling is that shadchanim (be they friends, community members, or pros) need not know everything before setting up a date. In fact, sometimes I believe that having to put on a game face for a shadchan can produce more disinformation than relevant information.

    I prefer to see singles be pro-active participants in their own quest to get married, rather than having to get to the single through official channels, often parents or singles. Unfortunately, not every single out there that is "on the market" really wants to be on the market or should be on the market.

    Great conversation, maybe I will add more as it develops.

  32. Anon1&2 - That's one of those "each person must gauge their own situation" issues. If the person wasn't religious, that's perhaps much less surprising than if the person was and it's not as big of a deal. But that's an "each case is different" one.

    Chana - Oooh, well put. The focus should definitely be more on the future than the past, and people forget that all too often.

    PT - I wouldn't say don't ask don't tell, necessarily. For people who would strike you off for stupidity, the honest answer is simply: Well, wouldn't want to marry them if that is what they think/what is important to them.

    Kasamba - Medical issues that have been cured are always tricky, though I generally don't see why they'd be an issue if there's no reason to expect a return.

    Sheva - Oooh, one of my favorite subjects!!! I've always questioned why these issues have to be dealt with before - or better, in between - dates by people, especially people who AREN'T THE ONES DATING! Argh. Let them discuss it themselves. It usually will go much smoother, clearer, and it's a nice lesson for marriage - discussion is needed to work through problems. (What a novel concept!)

    Anon (3?) - Amen.

    SL - Also true. Too many couples are rushing because of pressures from outside people.

    And also true, more singles should be the ones taking care of their dating. I'm not sure why parents should be involved past "someone mentioned this person to me, if you're interested, give them a call". And too many singles we know were pressured into dating before they were comfortable to do so, or before they were ready to do so. Agh - I could go on those for a while...

  33. okay, so here's my view of the collective conclusion of the serandez readers, who have all posted lengthy comments because we all suffer from the "i'm having trouble defining in less words what i'm really trying to say" syndrome.
    Here goes:

    It's okay to hide the truth from a Shadchan; only when dating becomes serious is it necessary to let the boy/girl know of any past (or present) big issues. this is because a good marriage is dependent on honesty and trust.

    Did i get it?
    If yes, i have a new question; perhaps it even deserves a new blog post, but for now i'll ask it here:

    Even though the SerandEz readers are pretty much all in agreement that emotional struggles are not something to hide from a potential spouse, the stigmas of eating disorders, depression, homosexuality, therapy, etc. all still exist. Is it right to feed into these stigmas? If yes, why, and if not, how do we change those stigmas, both in our own minds and in the general world?

  34. I actually don't think you got it, exactly.

    It's NOT okay to hide it. It's just not the shadchan's business to be asking (okay, so maybe people didn't say that) and there's no reason to be volunteering it. The shadchan shouldn't be the one sharing it - the person should.

    And it shouldn't necessarily wait until it becomes serious - at that point, people who may not be prepared to handle certain issues will tell themselves they could because they're already at a certain level in the relationship. It should be *at the proper time*, whenever that may be.

    I'm not sure exactly what your question is with the stigmas, especially as your examples vary quite a bit. Should people be educated more about them? Certainly. Are we feeding into them by not discussing them until a certain point? I don't think so - those things are private, stigma or not. No?

  35. Ezzie, as a single myself, its not easy to be in control of dating. I wish I could just do something that would make all the right things happen but its not possible. In circles where guys and girls don't mix much (though they aren't completely separated) what is one supposed to do, go up to someone who looks about right and say, will you date me? Its just not so simple though I wish this wasn't the case.

  36. Anon - I don't think you quite understood the examples I was referring to. I'm talking about the people who are having other people make all the calls for them, finding out info, "looking into" people, etc.

    I *could* go off on how people should be able to do just that, but I actually do understand the point perfectly. You could simply try to find out more about the person and express interest through a third party in those circles; or, (gasp) you could try and get her number and give her a call. (That won't fly in those circles, most of the time, though. :::sigh::: )

  37. ezzie- two points.

    a)the stigma to which i was referring is only explainable (new word) through an example. Shadchan/mother of boy/boy himself finds out that girl was in therapy during HS (or alternatively, post-sem). Shadchan/mother/boy automatically think "this girl must be out of control, weak, unloved or abused, forever branded as emotionally unstable." Now does my question hold more water?

    b) those circles which wouldnt approve of a guy or girl getting the others number to find out information have reasons for this. no system is perfect, but the shidduch system, if carried out correctly, works.

  38. a) I didn't know what the Q was before, exactly (but I was close!). But now... yes! And my answer still applies: People need to be educated about these issues, and in a way, not volunteering them early on in a relationship helps to do just that. (Though that shouldn't be the motivation!) People shouldn't feel pressured to volunteer that they had therapy, which is by definition private, early on in a relationship. When they feel comfortable doing so, great. Perhaps the prospective mother-in-law will realize that a person having gone to therapy is now this amazing, stable, mature person in front of them and understand that therapy is a good thing.

    b) Of course. That would apply even in the non-shidduch world. I was just giving an example.

    (Side note: Every system, shidduch or not, if "done correctly" works. That's not really an argument...)

  39. At some point, a person should tell the truth.

    One of my best friends would never have married her ex if she'd known in advance that he was the second generation to inherit a genetic mental illness. Instead, she ended up emotionally abused and with a mentally-ill child. I can only pray that their other child chooses to adopt. Three generations of incurable and not-too-treatable genetic mental illness in one family are quite enough.

  40. (Same A-nony-mouse as above.)

    This may seem a cruel thing to say, but having seen the h#ll that my girlfriend went while she was married and her continuing nightmare of having an adult child who will probably never be well enough to live a normal life, I truly believe that there are some people who are simply not healthy enough for marriage. My girlfriend's tragedy, as well as her child's, could have been avoided if her ex had simply chosen to stay single for life. There are some things that you simply don't do to someone whom you purport to love.

  41. A-non-y-mouse - I don't think it's that cruel. It's a simple statement of fact - there are the rare occasions where the person simply shouldn't be married.

  42. (Same A-nony-mouse as above.)

    I think that both the person with a problem and the other person involved need to be honest and realistic both with others and with themselves. The person with a problem has to assess honestly whether s/he is really a candidate or marriage, or whether, while a candidate for marriage, s/he should have children. (Over the years, I've had two friends with Multiple Schlerosis. Both married, but one adopted a child and the other chose to remain childless.) On the other side of the equation, the "well" person should assess whether the situation is *really* one that s/he can handle, or whether s/he is actiing out of sheer desperation.

    All of my girlfiend's friends warned her that there was something not quite right about her ex, but she not only married him, but stupidly stayed with him despite years of emotional abuse and the blatantly obvious fact that her ex was sufficiently lacking in common sense that he routinely endangered the welfare of their children. (How many people do you know who would let a pre-schooler walk six blocks to the pizza parlor by herself, or let an 8-year-old find her own way to and from the ladies room in a public park?) The reward for her desparate insistence on getting and staying married at any cost was not only that she suffered through over a decade of emotional abuse, but that her children also suffered physical abuse. She finally threw her ex out the day he locked one of their then-teenaged kids out of the apartment--after dragging the child out by the hair.

    Marriage and parenthood are serious commitments. One must not allow own's judgment to be clouded by desperation, as the price for an error in judgment on such a serious matter may be far too high.

  43. Mother of girl asks mother of boy, "is your husband being treated for erectile dysfunction? Because if he is, we won't consider your son."

    Sorry, but this whole conversation is getting to me...

  44. Anon-y-mouse - Well put. (Scary story...)

    Chana - Ugh.

  45. Very intresting conversation and I have a lot to add but I just wanted to note one thing that cracked me up. I feel like PN second question was a nightmare from one of my english classes. "To answer this question you must write an essay that will be at least 200 words. Spelling and grammer counts. You have an hour and a half. Good Luck."

  46. going back to the original question concerning ed and depresson, i think that some commenters who write about a situation where an issue has been "resolved" really don't appreciate the biological and chemical basis of many mental illnesses. i have not studied ED, but i just took my clinical therapeutics exam on depression. to repeat what i wrote about, you CAN NOT cure a clinically-depressed individual. at best you can treat him and help him cope with it. indeed, 50% of individuals who experience an episode of major depression disorder will experience a second episode. after three episodes the likelihood of another one climbs to 90%. (and for this reason i am not sure what the year in israel making people more mature has to do with anything.)

    in any case i am surprised that no one has mentioned that the shidduch question is just one facet of a much ethical delima that will become a bigger question in the coming years: how many informatoin about a person needs to be disclosed in various situations in an age when we can use genetics to predict a person's predispostions. so for example, is there a difference between notifying a shidduch that you have a 50% chance of having a depressive episode or notifying a life insurance provider that you have a 50% chance of an early heart attack.

    finally, in shidduchim we do "discriminate" (and i don't mean that in a negative way) against certain individuals if they are a carrier of one of the jewish diseases. people don't generally see anything wrong with this and there are even organizations that ensure that 2 carriers do not get married.

  47. OK, so maybe I was being a bit snarky in my comment. But so much about the shidduch system turns me off--it's very similar to "The Best" system that I wrote about last year. Everyone wants the best. Why should my daughter settle for third or second best when she can have The Best?! Why should I even consider spots 2 and 3 on the list. Only #1 is of interest.

    The problem is, no one is "The Best". No one is perfect. We all have one flaw or another. And to reduce a person to a bunch of checkmarks is something that I find offensive.

    When you meet someone, and decide whether it is someone you like, you don't base it on one or two things. You take the good, you counter balance with the bad, and decide how you feel. Yes, there may be a few deal breakers. But when you hear about what people in the shidduch system consider to be "deal breakers," you really have to wonder about where their priorities really are.

    Take a look at your spouse (if you have one). I'm sure he/she has many wonderful qualities. Ignore them for the moment. List 3 bad qualities about them. Family history, their education, bad habits, physical imperfections. Write them down on a piece of paper. Now imagine someone had shown you this before you met him or her. Would you still consider meeting your future spouse? Or would you move on to the next one down the list. Be honest.

    Now do the same for yourself.

  48. Anon - LOL

    AriK - The examples you gave of "discrimination" are not really that: I think it's wrong to discriminate against someone just because they're a carrier, for example. That there are organizations that want to make sure there aren't couples that have high risks of having a child with issues because they're both carriers is very different. Nobody's discriminating against anyone individually; both sides are simply agreeing that this is not a life they want to get into with all the difficulties it entails.

    PT - Great, great comment. Care to explain it to a few of the young singles we know?

    I think I'm going to repost your comment as a post...

  49. 48 comments? i feel super-popular.

    my thoughts:

    ariK- by "cured" I meant dealt with through therapy (and medication where applicable.) Many people, however, do think of cured as completely free of the disease. Regardless of which answer one chooses, I still understand the view of a person who is wary about marrying someone who suffered from an ED or depression; its taking on the responsibility to help the person remain healthy, and regain health in the event that the ED or depression would relapse at a later time. Not all people are strong enough to take on the challenge. (This is not to say that depresson or EDs can't spring up after marriage without any prior signs; rather, that it is somewhat understandable to be wary going into a marriage knowing that there is a strong chance of a relapse)
    secondly, i agree with ezzie about the genetic testing for fatal diseases such as tay-sachs. All the halachic authorities from whom i've heard opinions say that we have an achrayus to take the "dor yesharim" test (or other equivalents). This is not a breach of emunah because obviously Hashem can make anything happen, and if a couple is supposed to have a child with a disease, Hashem will find a way for it to happen.

    psychotoddler- i agree, to a point, and i disagree, to a point. Yes, if all the negative qualities of a person were listed out, nobody would ever date anybody. Everyone has deficiencies. Sometimes we need to look away from the deficiencies of another person to see how great s/he really is. HOWEVER. However, everyone has certain qualities which they feel are necessary to have in a spouse. It shouldn't be a three-page long list; three or four qualities are enough. It is essential that one prioritize. For example, (not a personal thought, just a theoretical) "I want my husband to come from a functioning, loving home; however, that is something i'm willing to give up, as long as I hear from his rebbeim/friends/etc that he is emotionally stable despite a difficult family life. It isn't important to me if he is drop dead gorgeous, but I know that I will not be attracted to someone with a facial disfigurement. Since I am 5'9", it's important to me that i marry a tall boy. I absolutely will not date anyone who watches movies, but i dont mind if he did as a child or even in high school. Etc." Yes, it's detailed. Yes, a girl who thinks this will turn down short boys, extremely ugly boys, or boys who watch movies. That is not because she looks down upon short, ugly, or movie-watching boys. It just means that she knows what she needs in order to become the best wife and mother.

    sigh. these discussions wear me out.

  50. Wow, Pobody, how you've grown! :)

    I think you actually said the exact same things as PsychoToddler...

    When you meet someone, and decide whether it is someone you like, you don't base it on one or two things. You take the good, you counter balance with the bad, and decide how you feel. Yes, there may be a few deal breakers. But when you hear about what people in the shidduch system consider to be "deal breakers," you really have to wonder about where their priorities really are.

  51. by the way, in my example i was trying to include what psychotoddler had said.. "Family history, their education, bad habits, physical imperfections"

  52. ezzie and pobody:

    as i wrote, i did not mean "discrimination" in a negative way. i should have used a different word but that was what came to mind in my hurry. i fully support pre-marital genetic testing and in retropect i am very upset that our hatan/kallah teachers never raised the matter with us.

    but as long as we are on the topic of discriminating (in the negative sense) against shiduchim, i think we've all heard the alledged stories of families that hide children with genetic or other serious diseases so as not to harm the chances of siblings getting good matches.

  53. That's not all they're hiding, Ari. Click.

  54. ezzie,

    thanks for ruining my night and for giving one more reason to be cycnical. sadly, i think we could go back and forth like this to see who knows a worse story pertaining to these matters.

    happy blogging!