Newlyweds and even couples married for decades have complaints about their in-laws: “His mother is too pushy. Her father doesn’t think I’m good enough. His mother is critical of everything I do.” But what if your in-laws or soon-to-be in-laws don’t accept the fact that you and their child are engaged? What if they keep collecting resumes and keep calling shidduch references even after you’re engaged, after it has been posted in Instagram, and after the vort has taken place. What then?
Please note: I received this email weeks ago. I responded, but I do not know what the end result was. I hope the chasan can email me again.
A few weeks ago, I was at my friend’s chasunah, where one of the rebbetzins who were present ushered me into a side room and I met the sweet meidel I am now seriously dating.
The rest is history.
But rather than welcoming me as the newest addition to their family, her parents do not think I am shayach for her, only because my references did not miraculously answer their phones at the instant that they tried calling them, which they strongly believe to be the ultimate Revelation from Hashem that we are not meant to be.
Unfortunately, there are far too many people who think like this today, which we both believe to be the cause of the Shidduch Crisis. (A well-known askan in my community coined the term “the Shidduch Reference Crisis.”)
Even as my parents took us to dinner at a high-end steakhouse and brought my late Bubby’s diamond ring to a shop on 47th Street to fit her finger, my soon-to-be mother-in-law is continuing to collect shidduch resumes of other bachurim and over-indulgently calling their references. In the video recordings my beloved showed me, her mother is aggressively holding a pile of resumes and shooting questions that are solely meant to be asked on dates, including all of the questions from the Perfect Matches game.
My beloved claims that her mother is doing this to simply “shorten the dating interview process.”
When my soon-to-be called the rebbetzin who set us up by the chasuna to intervene on her parents’ behavior, she informed us that there is nothing she can do, as she said she “likewise newly believes” that parents reserve the right to dictate the dating and marriage decisions of all singles in klal Yisrael, simply because they are married, “and only people with experience being married know what is right for marriage.”
Efforts by my night-seder rebbeim to contact my future in-laws’ family’s rav have turned into a weeks-long wild-goose-chase of phone tag, which simply could not keep up with our engagement. Nu, just like my references, people lead busy lives.
Additionally, unlike many of the bachurim whose references my future in-laws are continuing to interrogate, I have the financial means to luxuriously support their daughter without relying on bailouts or expectations to bankroll full-time learning from either of our parents. The last time I checked, the l’shonos of every shtar t’na’im and k’subah mandate a chasan’s achrayus to provide his kallah with adequate parnasah, while achrayus to provide shidduch references on-demand is nowhere to be found!
Whether my soon-to-be-kallah’s parents like it or not, we are making our vort next week. While many bachurim would refuse to marry girls whose parents would not acknowledge their existence, I refuse to collectively blame my kallah for the actions of her parents. Perhaps the flooding of mazal tov messages to their inboxes will change their minds after we publicize the proposal on Instagram. Nevertheless, as a z’chus for our simchah, we ask upon klal Yisrael to be m’kabeil two challenges called #NixTheReferences and #NixTheParentalInterference during these upcoming y’mei haS’firah in an effort to solve the Shidduch Crisis.
Anonymous Chasan V’Kallah
Thank you for your email, Anonymous Chasan V’Kallah.
Firstly, mazal tov upon your engagement. This should be a time of simchah for you both. Never have I heard of the engagement period to be a time to redt a new shidduch.
Secondly, for your future in-laws to judge you based on if your references called them back, and how fast they did is more than ridiculous. How can you be responsible for someone else’s actions?
It is disrespectful and plain chutzpadik for them to keep trying to redt “boys” for their daughter while their daughter is wearing your grandmother’s diamond. Can it be something more than your references didn’t respond in a timely fashion? This seems like an extreme reaction to something as insignificant as that. You said it yourself: People live busy lives. Responding to calls from strangers, even for a shidduch, may not be at the top of their priority list. This seems to be something more than just being in denial regarding the engagement. And I say that just to be devil’s advocate.
Question: Does your kallah know how much you love her? I ask this because she may have to deal with most of the wedding prep, and even life after the wedding, by herself, without the assistance and support of her parents. For a kallah not to have her mother guiding and advising her – especially when the mother is alive and healthy – can be difficult, to say the least. Instead of her mother assisting her and calming her through the occasional panic attack, she is causing one of the biggest challenges your kallah is facing. You must love your kallah “out loud.” What I mean is: Show constant support, let her know she can rely on you (and your family) for whatever she needs, and that she is not alone. In essence, her parents have abandoned her because of her commitment to you. Show her (and them) how much you love her. Don’t let her question her decision for a moment (Is he worth me living without my parents in my life?). I hope your kallah has great friends, because she will need them now – married friends especially, so they can guide her. I’m sure supportive family members of hers will do their best to help, as well. Your mother or any female relative can offer their assistance, as well.
Face it, if posting the picture of the engagement on Instagram didn’t send a message to her parents that this is the real deal, nothing will. Aren’t people calling them upon seeing the picture on Instagram to wish them mazal tov? What have they been saying to those people, “Oh, it’s not true. Just a little prank she is playing on us.” What they are doing is wrong in so many ways. It goes beyond looking out for their daughter’s best interests at this point.
Whether she is 20, 30, or 40, it is very difficult to go against your parents’ wishes. But she is an adult and will be making her home and life with you. Her parents can choose not to be a part of this wonderful special time and experience with her, but they are only hurting themselves in the long run. Yes, their daughter is hurt – but she will have the help and support she needs from others. It will be given by people who are not among the most important in her life. If and when they do choose to accept their daughter’s decision to marry you, whether it be in a week or in a year, it’s up to your kallah/wife to allow them back into her life. They have hurt her deeply by not accepting her choice, being part of her celebration and planning. They don’t get to call the shots anymore. It’s no longer “as long as you live in my house you will follow my wishes.” She’s not a petulant teenager.
My heart goes out to you, as well, because you are watching you kallah hurt and there is nothing you can do about it. You feel powerless, and as much as you try to do all you can for her, you aren’t her parents. Talk about having issues with your in-laws – yours don’t even acknowledge your existence! I doubt any rav who speaks with them will change their minds if their own daughter’s tears haven’t. They are acting more like a child than their child ever did.
Unfortunately, your kallah will not fully enjoy this period of life in its fullest form because of the pain her parents are causing her. A stressful time will now only be made worse. Your kallah needs to be strong. Her parents have said that they don’t approve of her life decisions and therefore they do not believe in her or respect her as an adult. After a while, they should have seen that this engagement and marriage were going to happen and, even with a forced smile, be there for their daughter. This speaks volumes about their characters.
I wish you and your kallah luck, and I hope your future in-laws don’t end up regretting their actions. You can never get back the time wasted in life. Celebrate your simchah with your friends and family who support you, and I truly wish the two of you a life of simchah and brachah. Remind your kallah of her inner strength over and over, because she will have to rely on it now more than ever. Keep reassuring her of your love, because she will need all the love and support now.