I recently went out with a boy, and on the way to drop me off at my home following the date, he stopped at a gas station to fill up on gas. He clearly had plenty of gas left in the car, but I guess he figured that it would be convenient to run this errand on the way. I immediately thought that it was strange that the boy chose to fill up on gas and didn’t wait till he dropped me off to do so.
Am I overreacting or do I have a legitimate question about the boy’s behavior?
Myriad hefty tomes have been penned on the topic of archetypal differences between men and women, and it is almost invariably stated as axiomatic that males display a penchant for pragmatic and dispassionate decision making, whereas females possess an inclination towards determinations rooted in sensations and feelings. As such, though neither method is objectively right or wrong, it is essentially inevitable that this natural divergence will become a source of discord to one degree or another.
In its most common form, a wife presents a personal difficulty to her husband, and instead of receiving the validation and support she seeks, an earnest attempt is made at “fixing” the problem. I would imagine that this cycle has been repeated by virtually every couple – whether they are in shana rishonah, or have just celebrated their 50th anniversary – and it is a theme which is consistently covered by celebrated orators across the globe when discussing pathways to improving shalom bayis. Ascertaining which party is best served by compromising in any given situation is no small task, and achieving reliable success is usually a lifelong exercise in the art of trial and error.
Accordingly, I would tend to agree with the aforementioned supposition that this young man came upon a sudden realization that he could cut down a bit on his journey by briefly pausing to fill up on fuel, and that this somewhat startling solecism is thus unworthy of generating any great apprehension. Presumably, it was the most expedient route, and he probably assumed that the quick pitstop would in no way be perceived as a nuisance, since it would clearly make sense from a logistical standpoint. In fact, he may even have thought that consideration should rightly be afforded to his total time expenditure if he was carrying a notably heavier travel load. And had he simply inquired whether it would be acceptable to deviate from the itinerary before actually doing so, indicating his ability to defer if necessary, the disquiet may have been avoided entirely. Granted, it may not be the classiest of moves on a first or second date, but it seems quite explicable to me, especially for someone who has not yet been presented with the reality that practical solutions often conflict with emotional needs or expectations.
That being the case, provided this young man was otherwise polite and courteous, and exhibited genuine care, concern, and interest throughout the rest of the date, I would set aside this small aberration, chalk it up to the standard male operating system, and simply keep an eye out on future dates. If there are no additional incidents along these lines, the case can then be closed. Conversely, if these sorts of incidents do persist, and one fears that they may be a bellwether of their counterpart’s capacity for consideration of others, I believe it would be both fair and prudent to delve deeper into the matter with the shadchan.
In this way, the issue can be presented softly and inoffensively to the young man; he will be given an opening to acknowledge his mistakes, rather than justify and defend them; and he will be granted the opportunity to alter his conduct moving forward. Indeed, it may just prove to be the foundation of a valuable lesson regarding a critical conundrum that you will both toil together on solving, with mutual respect and admiration, for many happy and healthy years.
May the Shochein Ad spread appreciation and understanding amidst all of Klal Yisroel, and may we all merit to bask in the everlasting presence of the Shechina in our homes.