My son has been going out, and after each of the first three dates, the mother of the girl has been calling up the same three friends and grilling them, asking them questions about my son that we had thought were settled already. What’s this mother’s line of thinking? How can my son proceed with the dating with peace of mind knowing that Mrs. Sherlock will be dispatched post-date to conduct her crime-scene-like investigations?
I understanding that everyone has the right to investigate when trying to marry off their daughter. But when these FBI-level examinations, with forensic-like scrutiny, continue unabated during the dating itself, it almost assures that the atmosphere will be filled with unnecessary tension and stress, exacerbating an already anxiety-filled process.
It certainly appears to me that you are correct in your assessment that the mother of this young woman has gone far past what would be considered appropriate behavior in the realm of researching a shidduch. Especially so considering that the shidduch has already progressed to date three. It is one thing to rigorously investigate a shidduch before giving a yes, but it is another thing entirely to continue doing so after the dating has commenced and gone on for three dates. While it is normal to resume looking into a shidduch as things get more serious, such research must be done with sechel and within the appropriate parameters and boundaries.
What I would like to recommend to you, though, is that you do some of your own research to try and unearth what may be going on behind the scenes here. It would be prudent to speak with this woman’s Rov, and other trustworthy sources, to try and discover more about the nature of your son’s potential future mother-in-law and why she is so rigorously persisting with her inquiries. While there are numerous possibilities as to what may driving her behavior, there are three in particular which strike me as somewhat likely possibilities, and it is those that I would like to discuss.
On one end of the spectrum, it is possible is that this is an aberration, and that she is otherwise a fine person who has simply gotten caught up in the pressure-cooker of shidduchim. Or perhaps she is apprehensive due to a difficult prior experience with another child, where they did not learn certain important pieces of information until well into the progression of the shidduch. Towards the middle of the spectrum, she may have a bit of a meddlesome nature, but not so much so as to be considered difficult or overbearing. And lastly, towards the other end of the spectrum, it may be that this is representative of her overall nature, and that she may prove to be a very difficult person to have as a mother-in-law and mechutan.
Parenthetically, in situations such as these, it also may be that the reports which one side is receiving about the other side’s behavior are being overstated, or that something has been said about one side, which may or may not be true, that is giving the other side reason for concern and what is behind their reinvigorated investigations – both possibilities worth considering and looking into.
There really may be countless other explanations to the reports you are hearing, and with that in mind, it is the three previously mentioned possibilities which I would like to discuss further, as they appear to me to be on the more likely side of what is taking place in this scenario.
If the first possibility appears to be the reality, based on your research, I think it would be much easier to understand this misstep and move past it, as the shidduch itself continues moving forward nicely. If it is the middle possibility which appears to be true, your son should be mindful about how that may impact his future marriage, and how big of a concern it is to him. I don’t think it would qualify as a “major” issue, but it is certainly something worth taking note of.
However, if it is the final possibility which appears to be the reality, and there is a real and justifiable concern that this young woman’s mother may have a significantly difficult and/or overbearing nature, it then becomes a matter which must be very thoughtfully considered. In such a case, how that reality may play out over time can vary greatly based on the combination of personalities involved; and as such, I would like to mention a few items that I feel are worthwhile taking note of as you go through the process of deciding how to move forward given this apparent reality.
One highly important matter to consider is the viewpoint of the young woman whom your son is dating. I would recommend that your son tastefully broach the topic with her on an upcoming date to determine whether or not she sees this reality in the same light which you do. It can be both painful and difficult for people to see certain unpleasant realities within their own parents, and this young woman may have an entirely different point of view on the matter. If she and your son are both on the same page, that is a big step towards moving forward with the shidduch. However, if they are not on the same page, it must be understood that it can fast become extremely challenging to maintain shalom bayis when there is regular strife regarding the behavior of one spouse’s parents and how to properly handle those intrusions.
Additionally, and assuming that your son and this young woman are indeed on the same page, I believe that you and your son should enlist the help of a close Rebbi or Rov, so that he may decide – based on the overall pros and cons of the shidduch, and based on how much he likes this young woman – if this is a shidduch he should be pursuing. Your son must be able to discern whether or not he himself will be capable of having a happy and healthy marriage, despite the pressure he and his future wife may regularly feel from his future mother-in-law. For some, even together with the support of their spouse, that is not a situation they are able to maintain, and for others, it can be handled.
If your son is to enter a marriage that may come along with a difficult and/or overbearing mother-in-law, he must be sure that he has the necessary support of his future wife and that he has the mettle to manage that dynamic in his life without it weighing down on his shalom bayis.
May Hashem see that you and your son always have simcha, shalom, and shalva in your family, and in the families of your mechutanim, for may generations to come.