I’ve been dating a special someone for a while now, and with each date that passes, I’m feeling more and more certain that Josh is THE ONE. Thankfully his feelings mirror mine, which he has expressed on numerous occasions. However, there is one rather large thorn embedded in what should be a time filled with joyous anticipation – my parents.
My parents are concerned and harbor a lot of reservations about our situation. Josh has worked three different jobs in the span of six years, and while I see his moves as progressive and ambitious, my parents view him as fickle and lacking commitment.
“How will he support you?” they wonder.
Hunching their shoulders forward, they wrinkle their brows, a stance they take whenever they feel burdened by a weight too heavy to carry.
In addition, my parents have always placed a strong value on Jewish tradition. Although we weren’t Orthodox, Shabbos and holidays were always marked with lighting candles, festive meals and synagogue attendance. Josh, on the other hand, is completely disinterested in these rituals, and while we rush off to synagogue, he flops down on an easy chair and switches on the TV.
This conflict leaves me feeling torn. Part of me wishes Josh would join us to please my parents. The other part says that this is who he is, and why can’t we accept him and love him unconditionally? Josh is warm, loving and loyal, has a wonderful sense of humor, and makes me feel like a queen. When I’m with him, I feel safe and secure, like I’ve found a piece of myself that was missing for many years.
But I love my parents. They have guided and supported me throughout my childhood up until my current stage, and I’m afraid to disappoint them by ignoring their reservations. Not only that, but I worry that if I go forward with Josh, I may drive a wedge between myself and my parents that will permanently damage our relationship.
So, Rachel, I turn to you. If you were in my shoes, how would you proceed?
Sincerely, On The Fence
Bravo to you! In a generation that spurns the wisdom of its elders, your caring about your parents’ opinion and not wanting to cause them disappointment and pain is an eloquent testimony to the stellar person you surely are.
While Josh presents with many fine qualities, it does seem concerning that he has flip-flopped through so many jobs in a relatively short period. Financial instability has wreaked havoc in many a marriage. Even if the wife brings in a steady income, there is always the hopeful chance that she will, G-d willing, become busy with children. If those blessings come to fruition, she may even want to stay home to tend to her family during their formative years. How will that be possible if Josh is in between jobs or must settle for a lower salary since he is once again beginning anew?
The second issue you raised also sets off alarm bells for me. Shouldn’t Josh care enough and make the extra effort to please your parents by joining you when you attend synagogue? He can lounge in front of the TV when you get home. To show such flippant disregard for values they and you hold dear is a rather strong statement.
I suggest that you and your parents engage in a long, honest conversation. If the three of you continue to feel strongly regarding your positions, meaning that you still want to proceed with the relationship and they would like you to terminate it, then please seek counsel from someone the three of you respect – a rabbi, therapist, or just a wise friend. Before you go, plan that no matter what you ultimately decide to do, you will continue to support each other with love, because that’s what family is all about. Life is too short; there is no place for long-standing anger and resentment against our loved ones.
Wishing you heartfelt blessings as you navigate this significant voyage. May you and your intended build a home that will be a source of pride and joy to yourselves, your family, and the entire Jewish people!
Warmly, Rachel Stein