When our son got married, we were promised a certain amount of support per month for him from our mechutanim. We found out later that the girl’s parents used her bank account to give the money. We felt like they were not honest with us. Is this typical in shidduchim? Is there anything to do?
While this particular scenario does not sound typical, in a certain sense, the only thing typical about many shidduch conundrums is their atypicality. And though I can certainly appreciate the feelings of shock and dismay that surely arose following the discovery of the actual source of funding, I am finding that my ability to develop and formulate a concrete or linear reply has been notably stifled by the dearth of data in the narrative.
For example, does the young couple themselves have any qualms with this arrangement? Was it a surprise to both the chosson and kallah, or were they clued in much earlier and are in full agreement with what has been done? Was the young woman compelled against her will to expend her own money, or did she perhaps even conceive of the idea herself, knowing full well that her parents could not afford to offer impactful support? Was she rightfully fearful that without such an offer, her shidduch prospects would be vastly diminished?
To be fair, it certainly sounds as if the promise of support was a critical factor in this shidduch’s fruition, as it is with many shidduchim, and as it has been for generations. And to those who might argue that such resolutions should have been made wholly transparent during the dating stage, I would counter to consider the possibility that the concealment of such a plan was given rabbinical approbation due to a propensity for its preemptive revelation to ice the shidduch and bring it to a sad and swift conclusion. In short, the hiding of the true source of support may have played a major role in this shidduch culminating in a chasunah. It just may have been the lynch pin in securing the ebullient joy that was produced by their pairing, and has since been shared by both families as a result of these two people joining in matrimony.
Alternatively, the story behind the expenditure of the young woman’s coinage may in no way resemble the above. A devious and dastardly scheme may be afoot, the kallah’s money may have been unfairly wrestled away from her control, and some form of intermediary may need to be called upon to intercede, in order to prevent the further use of this woman’s money in manners against her wishes. Parenthetically, it must be understood that when it comes to enforceable monetary adjudications, any such questions must be posed to a posek, with all parties present and provided the opportunity to defend their positions.
The point being, we simply do not know what transpired in the background, the spectrum of possibilities is vast and broad, and what could or should be done is entirely dependent on the specifics of the circumstances. Consequently, the best I believe that I can come up with in terms of practical direction is to set aside any harsh reactions until such time as the full scope of events has been clarified and everyone has had an opening to honestly voice where they stand on the matter. Indeed, when the dust has settled, this deviation from that which was previously expected may be far more molehill than mountain.
May the Tzur Yisroel fortify us all with the strength to restrain when necessary, and the capacity to cultivate care, composure, calm, and kindness at all junctures of life.