I am a 20-year-old Bais Yaakov girl in shidduchim and I have had Crohn’s disease since I was very young. I am ready to begin shidduchim and have a question for the panelists before I begin to date. Let me give you some background information so that you can best answer my question.
When I was first diagnosed, my condition was so severe that I needed to get an ostomy, which I’ve had ever since. I also recently had a big flare-up and needed surgery, but that generally doesn’t happen. Other than that, for the most part, my condition has been under control, with me taking medicine and having checkups with my doctor every few months. He is on top of the situation and adjusts my medicine when needed. My daily life is just like any other girl my age. I’ve been to sleep-away camp, I went to Eretz Yisroel for seminary, and I am currently going for my B.A. I am very positive, happy, and social, and a go-getter of a girl. I do not let it affect my life in any way. From the outside, there is no way of knowing that anything is different with me.
Since almost no one knows about this, I’ve been redd to many great regular boys. We were told by one gadol that we don’t have to say anything to a boy until the third date, but a different gadol commented that we should ask shadchanim what is normal to do nowadays. My questions are as follows:
A. What do the panelists feel about my waiting until a third date to say? Is that beneficial, as then the boy will get to know me, will hopefully like me, and will be inclined to say yes anyway? Or should I rather tell the shadchan to relay this before I even go out on a first date?
B. Although I am completely fine with going out with boys who have similar medical situations, etc., I am also interested in seeing if a regular, healthy boy would go out with me. Do you feel that I can find a regular boy who would be willing to go for such a thing? Or should I not even bother with all the regular boys being redd to me, as they will all say no?
Thank you for taking the time to answer me.
First and foremost, I must commend and applaud your positive, upbeat, responsible, thoughtful, and forward-moving approach, both to life and to shidduchim. May Hashem Yisborach grant you unbridled hatzlacha at all times, and arichus yomim v’shanim with gezunt always.
In terms of disclosures in the realm of shidduchim, in a more overarching sense, the general hadracha I have received from rabbonim and poskim, and thus, that which I convey to others when this topic is broached, is as follows.
If the potential concern would best be classified as a relatively moderate matter – for example, someone who takes maintenance medication for a physical or emotional ailment which is neither acute nor life-threatening – it is best to wait until some rapport has been established before divulging whatever needs to be shared. That is to say, to offer such a revelation before a yes has even been tendered is unfair to oneself, and may unnecessarily limit one’s opportunities while dating. One should have the ability and opening to present a fuller picture to a prospective spouse, allowing their counterpart to weigh any misgivings they have about the pairing against the maalos they have witnessed and have come to appreciate. Accordingly, having to relay certain unqualified realities too soon could prevent a person from suitably illustrating who they are, beyond those confined and perhaps bracing data points. And yet, to wait until engagement is looming before releasing such information is unfair to the person one is dating, as it precludes them from making a truly balanced decision in the other direction. In essence, it is forcing their hand.
In terms of when that middle stage of rapport is reached, that depends entirely on how the dates are developing and how long it takes any given couple to establish an adequate degree of harmony and accord with one another. For some, that may be after merely one date, and for others, it may take half a dozen dates before they are comfortable enough with each other and have begun to recognize the promise and value of the union. Such an evaluation requires a conscious and astute assessment of the climate and progression of the dates, along with guidance from a rov and shadchan who are proficient in this area, and who have been given a clear appraisal of the specifics of each individual set of circumstances.
However, if the latent issue would more appropriately be categorized as decidedly parlous, incendiary, or of great severity – to take an extreme example, if one is incapable, al pi tevah, of having children – in most cases, it would need to be communicated from the outset.
That said, while I am light years away from being any sort of medical professional, it is my impression and understanding that Chron’s disease can manifest on a rather broad spectrum of gravity, and its accompanying degree of danger is therefore commensurately subject to a wide range of possibilities. As such, and not to in any way detract, chas v’shalom, from the immense weight that any adjudication from a gadol b’Yisroel carries, in this instance, I believe that polling a variety of gedolim is only part of the solution, and certainly so if the shailah was extended informally, through an intermediary, and/or without a comprehensive accounting of all relevant factors. Any gadol or posek can only answer the question being proffered, and if the inquiry remains lacking, the applicability of the answer will stand on shaky ground indeed.
Consequently, my recommendation would be to further consult with one’s personal rov, and detail for him the full scope of the condition, its current and impending future intensity, and all of its ramifications. The rov may then need to consult with a doctor, and perhaps he may need to speak to a gadol, as well, for further instruction. That will be up to him to determine. But if there is one thing I can be virtually sure of, it is that this is a highly personal complication, and it can only be addressed on a proportionally personal plane, and only after the one who is providing the directive has grasped the totality of the situation, couched within the proper context.
As far as which pool of bachurim should be targeted for dating, I do not see a compelling reason to exclude all young men who do not also bear some form of medical condition. It is likely true that some of those candidates will shy away from such a shidduch, but there are also many others who will not. It is not remotely uncommon for a married couple to be comprised of one person who has a malady of some type, and one person who does not, and I am overall unenthused, to put it lightly, with the notion that anyone with a particular or pronounced difficulty should be advised against ever attempting to date people who are seen as unencumbered in all ways (which is no one, really). Yiddin are rachmanim bnei rachmanim, and this plays out in shidduchim as much as anywhere else. And when someone identifies the person they yearn to spend a lifetime with, those very challenges often become irrelevant, and sometimes, even endearing.
May the Rofei Chol Bosor Umaflei La’asos bestow from His wonderous ways and deeds upon the expanse of His holy People.