Going to the Chuppah

October 31, 2007 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Dating, Judaism, Opinion piece, Relationships | 1 Comment

Last night I went to my chavrusa’s engagement party (for the sake of anonymity, I will call her D.) We learn together once a week through the Aish 1 on 1 learning program. We’ve known each other a little over a year and have formed a close friendship.

D. and her fiance were dating for 5 weeks before they got engaged. They are not the only couple I know of who got engaged after a short time of dating. Bill’s friend recently got engaged after dating her fiance for 2 months (before dating, they were acquaintances/friends for 5 years) and my friend, J., got engaged to her then boyfriend, now husband, after 3 months of dating.

How well do you really know someone after 1-3 months of dating? D. told me that she went on 13 dates with her fiance’ and that each date was 5-10 hours in length. If you are scratching your head in confusion, here’s a little background: D. and her fiance live in religious neighborhoods in the New York area. D. was brought up religious and I think her fiance was too. If you want a primer on dating in orthodox jewish circles, go here. During those dates,  D. and her fiance were shomer negia, and I also assume that they will be shomer negia until their wedding day. Imagine 12-13 dates of 5-10 hours each spent talking, you get to know someone very well that way.

I can’t help but look back on my thoughts on dating and marriage before becoming observant compared to the way I feel now. Before I became observant, I used to think that dating for years at a time before getting engaged was the norm.  There might also be a large amount of time between when a couple gets engaged and when they get married, depending on how large (and expensive) of a wedding they want. Some of the couples I know dated for several years before getting married, we are talking family and friends, friends of friends, Jewish and non-Jewish too. This was the norm for weddings I went to before I became observant.

It took a 2 year relationship that ended for me to think “Hmm, maybe Orthodox Jews are on to something.” It takes a long time to integrate new beliefs into your old way of thinking, that is something I’ve noticed with my friends who have become observant. We have to navigate this new world of religion into our lives and try not to step on too many toes in the process.

I have noticed that orthodox judaism has seeped its way into pop culture and it sometimes makes it easier to explain to non-Jewish and non-observant Jewish friends and family why we are observant. VH1 had a popular reality show earlier this year on a former TV star who woke up one day, realized that he is in his 40s and has never been married, and wants to examine how he got there.   I think a show like this can really open the doors for discussion between a newly observant person and his/her family about Jewish perspecitves on dating.

As for me, while I don’t feel that 1-3 months of dating is enough time to date someone before engagement, I have shortened my time frame considerably. Now I feel that 6-12 months of dating is a good amount of time for a couple to date before getting engaged. When I started writing this post, I had a different idea of where this would go. This was a little more serious than I originally intended and I still don’t feel like it has a clear sense of purpose, it was a very scattered post : (  Writing is not always a smooth process, hope you get something out of this post anyway.


Gee, Nice to See You Again

October 29, 2007 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Dating, Relationships | Leave a comment

This month, I had the experience of running into someone I used to go out with earlier this year. For the purposes of this story, I will call this gentleman Geographically Undesirable Man (G.U.M.). G.U.M. and I met at a shabbat dinner at a mutual friend’s and we saw each other for the few weeks he was in town. When he got back home, we kept in touch over the phone but it became clear that things were not going to work out. He said that he did not want to move back to the New York City area and I said that I have no intention of moving out of the New York area. We mutually agreed to end contact. A few weeks after that conversation, I went out on my first date with Bill.

Fast forward about 5 months after that first date and Bill and I go to a dinner on the upper west side during the Simchat Torah holidays. To my surprise, I see GUM walk into the room where I was sitting with Bill. We say hello, and I introduce him to Bill. There was some inner gloating going on, and I think it might have shown on my face. Anyone who knows me can agree that I have no poker face; if I am happy, sad, or just plain pissed off, you see it on my face. I would not make a good poker player.

After a few minutes of gloating (okay, maybe it lasted longer than that), a sense of gratitude washed over me. Sometimes what seems like a big disappointment can lead you to a wonderful opportunity. I feel blessed to be in a relationship with someone who just gets me and vice versa, I can truly be myself around him, can be happy, cranky and everything in between and it’s okay.

I wish for all my single friends to meet someone special who just gets them and vice versa and I’m happy for all my friends who are in good relationships. You can also have this same feeling for people that you used to go out with (of course, provided that things ended in a healthy way; if not, the road to that feeling is undeniably more challenging), I found myself thinking at that dinner “I hope GUM finds a nice woman who understands him”, it would have been nicer if I could have skipped the whole inner gloating thing to begin with.

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Time at Ikea

October 26, 2007 at 6:07 pm | Posted in Dating, Humor, Relationships | Leave a comment

Bill and I are approaching our 6 month anniversary. So, I’ve been doing alot of reminiscing about our relationship; how we met, our first date, the fun activities we did together in the summer from going to Top of the Rock to seeing the Mets to swing dancing at Lincoln Center, all the movies we’ve seen, dinners out, coffee runs at Starbucks, and I have a big, goofy grin on my face while I’m typing this.

I think anyone can agree that relationships do not grow simply through good times like the ones I mentioned above. There needs to be some struggle, you have to see your significant other when he/she is cranky, sad, angry or all of the above. What is most important is how your SO handles these feelings and whether they take any of their frustrations out on you or on other people. These episodes can determine how the relationship or even if the relationship continues.

We are going back to the summer of 2007, picture a Sunday morning, kind of cloudy outside, and Bill wanted to get out of the city for the day. We planned to visit friends in Teaneck, go to Ikea to do some shopping for Bill’s place, and return to the city in time to go to my brother, Dr. O’s birthday party.

We have a nice lunch at the Pasta Factory, see some of Bill’s friends, then we’re off to Ikea and that’s where the ‘fun’ begins. Ikea is one of the most overwhelming stores in the world, talk about sensory overload! The store is an obstacle course of left over shopping carts, people gazing off into space in the middle of the aisle, crying kids, harried salespeople, and, I almost forgot, furniture!

Bill did his homework beforehand; he knew what pieces of furniture he needed and the dimensions for those needed pieces of furniture. We get to the sections with bureaus and armoires, and we spend a good amount of time in a debate of “Oak vs. Birch”. Throughout this process, he thanked me for coming with him. We got on line to give the salesperson the information needed to purchase the armoire.

Standing in a long line is bound to test anyone’s patience. Imagine getting to the salesperson and giving your order only to find out that the store doesn’t have the necessary hinges for your furniture and that you will have to go back to the store and order them. That did not make Bill very happy and he asked to talk to a manager. I am trying to keep the pencils away from Bill in case he gets tempted to stab the salesperson, not like he could have done much damage anyway. The pencils were not even sharpened, I guess management is very smart. After talking to the manager, Bill decides to order the armoire anyway and he will get the hinges at a later date.

We end up on the first floor where Bill has to pick up another piece of furniture (I think it was a bookcase), and we go to the back of the area where there is a bunch of furniture on clearance. Bill goes in the room and I lean back against the wall, ready to collapse right there. I must have had quite the look on my face because Bill looks at me, walks up and says something like “You look really pissed off, why don’t you sit down and rest”. Then, he thanked me again for accompanying him to Ikea.

The checkout process is the biggest pain of all. The lines are very disorganized and I had to discourage Bill from buying everything in ‘the cheapie racks’ (the racks of cheap stuff conveniently placed near the checkout lines, I’ve also seen it in Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, the Gap, etc. It is meant to make you spend more $$, I’ve fallen prey to that strategy too many times to admit). Then, after we check out, we have to go to the delivery desk (?) where you have to tell them when and where you want your furniture delivered. They don’t deliver your furniture at night so that causes problems for those of us who work during the day and there are no Sunday deliveries so if you’re Sabbath observant you have no choice but to schedule it at a time that is inconvenient for you.

Eventually we get out of the store and even get back to the city in time to make an appearance at Dr. O’s birthday party. It was Bill’s first time meeting Dr. O and his wife, Dr. N, and it went very well.

Moral of the story: If you want to see how well your relationship is going, go spend an afternoon in Ikea. If you still like your SO after the trip is over, then your relationship is in good shape.

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