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Website sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Malkiel Goldberger in honor of their precious children
info@shidduchcenter.org | 443.955.9887

Yated Shidduch Forum 7/21/17: Will My Son’s In-Laws Respect His Learning in Kollel?

Question: 

My son was redd a girl who, like him, wants to start married life in kollel. How long my son will learn, I don’t know. Neither does he. But it is something he wants to do. 

Our research revealed that while the girl wants a boy who will be learning for some time – even an extended period of time – after marriage, her parents are not of that mindset. They believe that the husband should go to work to earn a parnassah after marriage.

My question is not so much money-related. I am more concerned about the parents not respecting what my son is doing. So, assuming that money won’t be an issue – the girl will have a good job, or my wife and I will be able to help the couple out – is there a reason to be concerned, as I am, about the girl’s parents not respecting the way my son – and their daughter – wish to begin his married life? And even if they’ll respect it at the beginning, is there reason to be concerned that they won’t do so after a few years?

This girl is their oldest child, so we don’t have other married children to look at as a frame of reference. And obviously, she is an excellent girl, about whom we have heard nice things.

I know that this is a difficult question, and we will surely consult with a rov about this, but your insights, suggestions and past experience can be helpful as we navigate this matter. 

Answer:

In short, yes, there is real reason for concern, and it is of great significance that you have identified this potential area of conflict in the shidduch before you. However, in thinking over your question, I believe there are a number of critical distinctions which must be made before concluding whether or not to proceed with this idea.

The first distinction relates to the force of the belief that this young woman’s parent’s hold. What must be ascertained, via further research, and to the best of your abilities, is just how strong their belief is in this matter – as the ramifications and practical differences between strength of mindsets in such a scenario can be k’rchoick mizrach mimaariv.

Do they simply prefer to have a son-in-law who will be working, over one who is learning, or is this a profound, core principle of their mehalech hachaim?

If the former, and your research leads you to believe that your son’s learning will be but a slight disappointment, at worst, in the eyes of his future in-laws, and one that will largely be kept to themselves, there is far less likelihood that his decision to start married life learning in kollel would be disrespected.

Just as there those who believe that the kollel life is the ideal way to begin a yiddeshe marriage, and would thus prefer a son-in-law who is learning, but would equally respect a son-in-law who chooses to work immediately after marriage, the same is possible in the inverse.

In other words, absence of personal preference regarding what one’s son-in-law is doing with his life, and the ability to respect one’s son-in-law, are not mutually exclusive realities.

Contrariwise, if your research prognosticates that your son may be subject to obstreperous in-laws who may belittle and harangue him with routine diatribes against his continuing decision to learn in kollel, and/or will inundate him with inquiries as to when he will stop learning and go to work already, that would be a very serious concern indeed.

The beginning of marriage presents enough challenges, and adding a contentious relationship with one’s in-laws into the picture only magnifies and exacerbates these early challenges to shalom bayis – above and beyond the pain and discomfort it brings in its own right. Such dynamics should be avoided whenever possible, and if you feel that may be what your son is getting himself into with this shidduch, it may not be the one for him.

The next distinction to be made is how ma’tim this young woman appears to be for your son. Granted, this is not a matter which can truly be discerned without the two of them actually dating, but your research should at least give you a precursory understanding of how well they seem to match up with one another.

If the match appears to be good, at best, and if there are other equally positive sounding shidduchim being redd to your son, this might not be the shidduch to pursue at present. Being that you know of a potentially serious concern, and given that the match does not seem to be head-and-shoulders above the rest, there would not appear to be great urgency to choose this particular idea as the one to move forward with at the moment.

If, however, this young woman sounds like an outstanding match for your son, or if your son does not have any other opportunities that stand out as any more promising, this current idea would then become inherently more valuable.

In such a case, I believe the decision would ride on a combination of knowing your son’s nature and inner-strength, along with how intensely opposed you believe this young woman’s parents are to having a son-in-law learning in kollel.

If your son is a steely-natured and strong-willed young man, or of an ebullient and imperturbable nature, and can maintain his sense of self-worth and his shalom bayis, even in the face of adversity, he may be quite impervious to the consternations of his future in-laws’.

As such, if what he has heard about this young woman leaves him feeling that this is an opportunity which is not to be missed, that is his decision to make; provided that he is fully aware of the challenges ahead, and will discuss the topic openly during the dates. If it turns out that he and this young woman are on the same page with regards to handling her parent’s objections to their starting off as a kollel family, it may turn out to be a wonderful shidduch.

On the other hand, if your son is of a softer nature, even if the shidduch appears to be exceptional in all other aspects, it may only be nogaya if his potential in-laws are of a milder temperament with regard to their desire to have a working son-in-law.

While there are certainly more iterations that can be constructed from this assortment of distinctions, the general idea is to gauge in which direction you should head, given all the information at your disposal, and how you believe these various matters may materialize in your specific situation.

May The Doiver L’vavois give you the insight required to be meshadech your son with a family that fully accepts him, and his unique strengths, as a Ben-Torah.

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