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February 02, 2006

Comments

A.C.

Merav, you are inspiring all of us! Thank you.

Mary O'Hayes

Merav, chin up, girl! You're on the right track, so don't kick yourself.

I spent my 20's and 30's in a series of open-ended "relationships," they typically lasted 6 months to 2 years. You might call it serial monogamy, but they weren't intended to lead to marriage, which I thought would somehow magically happen eventually. Two of the relationships involved living with my boyfriend, which was very common among my social crowd. Now that I'm on the "other side" of adulthood (late 40's, and past the age of getting pregnant), I look back and think how enormously stupid I was to be so casual about finding a husband and getting married. I wasted about two decades, thinking that I was having great "life experiences" and being independent (in contrast to my older sister and friends who married right out of college). And all that got me by age 40 was ending up alone and childless. Not so great. A waste of my youth, in a very real sense, which I didn't see until I was past my youth.

I'm very happily married now, but I look back at my earlier years and regret not making marriage and children a priority. That that was looked down upon amongst feminist circles then, and still is, to a certain extent. Yet nothing is more important in life than having someone to love and be loved by, and having and raising a family.

Stick to your guns, girl, and keep those standards up real high! You're absolutely doing the right thing, and you will find your wonderful life companion, husband and father of your children.

Lori

Merav, I respect you for knowing enough to stop digging when you found yourself in a hole.

Mary, not all women want to raise a family. I can tolerate about 15 minutes around my nephew, longer around my niece. I know myself. If I had a family, I'd be yelling at the kids to put their stuff away, turn down the TV, and get their elbows off the table. Then I'd nag my husband to do the same things. Or I can stay single, have a great day at the office, come home to a clean, quiet house, listen to music, watch movies, work out and eat in peace, go dancing, go out with my best friend, and generally have an enjoyable life.

No, I don't just need to find the right man. Before any disaster, there are warning signs. My mom and brother, who have been married 90 years between them, have told me that I wouldn't like being married. That's as clear as warning signs get.

I suppose a lot of people will chime in and say how wonderful it is being married and raising kids. That's fine. But it isn't universal.

My 40th birthday is three years from next week. I'll be free as a bird and enjoying myself in Hawaii.

D K Jones

Lori-

Wouldn't it be fair to say that in knowing that marriage is not right for you, that you would not pursue a relationship with a man whose goal was marriage?

I feel like that is Mary's point. With so many people in the dating scene just for "the fun of it", those seeking marriage can easily get bogged down with people who aren't on the same page...

A while back I read an article by a radio talk show host( I think) who said that he was taken aback when on the first date, his date mentioned marriage. And he came to the realization that if that's why she is there why not bring it up. If you are shopping for shoes, you go to somewhere that sells shoes, you wouldn't go to somewhere that sold only hats.

I think it goes back to defining relationships and commitments, when our society has become so casual about dating, marriage and relationships.

Wendy Shalit

Lori, thanks for reminding us that marriage and children are not right for every woman.

You are reminding me of something: it's interesting that in Jewish law, marriage is a "mitzvah" for men but not a commandment for women. One reason, as I understand it, is that pregnancy and childbirth can entail a lot of pain (oops, just remembered we have two bloggers expecting... if you're reading this, Gaby or Alexandra, our prayers are with you for very easy and smooth deliveries!) so therefore you can't "force" a woman into something that entails pain. The decision has to come from her.

But for women who do want marriage and family, Mary's point is very well taken: you need to prioritize that.

Merav, it takes courage to do what you did, and I think a lot of young women can learn from you.

Not everyone is ready to get married--yes, even among the Orthodox--so if that's your goal, there's no shame in moving on.

I feel that a lot of women nowadays are 'ashamed' of our desire to get married, but really, we live in such a tolerant society maybe it's time to come out of the closet about it.


Lori

Wendy, thanks for the fact about the commandment--very interesting.

I'd agree, too, that if a woman wants to get married, she should start looking fairly early. Yes, there are single men of all ages, but many of them have children, or have been terribly hurt, or have alimony payments (sometimes staggering), or may have a good reason for not being married. They may be wonderful men, but these things make a relationship more complicated.

Coincidentally, there is a thread at The Fedora Lounge http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?t=6486 about mending a broken heart. Most of the advice, aside from a few obvious no-nos, is pretty good, especially from Andykev, I think.

Elizabeth

"I hope that I will keep up the confidence in myself to believe that I am worth it, and that he will be worth the wait."

If you keep up the confidence, then he will be worth the wait, because you won't settle for less.

I thought your comment on casual dating was interesting. I know this means a lot of different things to different people, but to me it has always meant having guys that are friends. That might mean you you go to the movies or grab lunch, but there's never anything physical. You laugh and talk and have fun with they guys the same way you would with girls.

I'm sure this isn't what most people think of, but I never could understand why anyone would want to be casual with their affections.

Merav

Thank you all for your warm and encouraging words. It was a tough decision to make, one that took me a while to gather the guts to face up to, but now that I did ... I hope/know it is all for the best.

DK Jones, I like your shoe analogy. I think it fits perfectly ( no pun intended). I feel that if someone's purpose of dating is marriage, then that should be stated up front. It's selfish to get involved with someone and have no expectations to see if the realationship will progress to have long term potential. Like Mary said, I have heard many times from magazines and books and random "recreational" daters, that they are just accumulating life experiences. But that only takes into consideration their own personal benefits, but what about the other person invovled. The person whose life and emotions they are responsible for just by being in a relationship with them. It is selfish and just plain cruel to "lead on" a person to believe there may be a future when there won't be.
I have a friend that has been in a relationship with her "boyfriend" for 9 years already. They live together with her daughter from a different relationship. She keeps dreaming of a wedding and security, he says it's meaningless and expensive, they are perfect the way they are. I say- If it so meaningless, then it shouldn't mean anything to you to just do it and get it over with if it makes her happy. I feel it's the selfish desire to keep his options open, and who knows what else. For her though, she only wishes she knew these intentions earlier on so she could have broken it off and found someone who was looking to settle down in marriage and have more kids.

I was able to see these signs earlier on in the process ( and to see that the relationship was not as healthy as I thought it to be) because of the good advice from my wise friends and family(Thank you Wendy and soul sisters)and I knew what my objectives were- (that weren't being met).

The goal of being in a marriage is not something that drives me to live and breathe every day, but it is something that I pray to G-d He will bless me with a wonderful and fulfilling marriage one day, to someone I love and that loves me. It is what drives me to date though. And that was the objective that was not being met, at least not with him.
So I say, NEXT!
Girls, don't settle for something you think is good and hope will come around the way you want it to. Make it happen the way you want it to with someone you won't be settling for, but settling with.

I'm glad I had people to help me realize that for myself.

L.B.

"Casual dating," to me, means a series of partners a person dates for companionship and sex, with no intent of marriage.

Serial monogamy...or not serial monogamy. Deciding that you're only going to spend time with and sleep with one person seems to be a big step for men...and I won't even touch the "friends with benefits" can of worms.

Amanda Rush

Shalom Merav:

Yes, it is very hurtful when you realize that the person you're dating isn't on the same page as yourself, especially when you're dating for the purpose of finding your zivug.
I date with that goal in mind as well, and I've found that those standards can drastically lower the amount of eligible men.
But keep your spirits up.
You'll find your zivug, with Hashem's help, and you'll be glad you were so picky.
Hatzlachah.
Amanda

lizriz

Hm. I don't strongly disagree with the main gist here, but I would like to throw out that sometimes, if you're thinking "MARRIAGE, MARRIAGE, MARRIAGE," it can put an undo pressure on the earliest phases of dating, and also can lead (sometimes) to a checklist mentality that causes you to dismiss people perhaps too quickly, before you even know them. It can add a sense of pressure that doesn't do anyone any favors in a dating situation.

I almost feel like there's a similarity between not rushing into sex, and not rushing into marriage talk. What's the rush? Time is our friend in the first few months. Have a good time, get to know one another.

That said, I totally respect listening to yourself and ending a relationship when you feel it's not a match.

Jeannine

Dear Merav and others who have lived through that same experience!!

You are very strong, so much stronger than many many people, and it is beautifully admirable. I know there are women and men who will understand the strength behind what you wrote, and admire and identify with it!

It's clear you know yourself well and have the clarity of vision to know that the hope of enduring love is a hope for which you are eager to share with new people whom you are welcoming into your life and heart. Yet when one finds out that the enduring love that you thought had arrived, had in fact disappeared is an extremely painful moment in life, and ranks right up there at the top of wretched feelings one has to process.

Your courage is in the expression and clarity of your wish for enduring love. In doing so, you protect yourself from the quagmire of parked affections: many people do hang out in casual relationships that are going no where. It's the dating version of just idling in a parking lot instead of driving somewhere. They justify it with all sorts of reasons that include just exploring the lover, just enjoying the "hot" moments, discovering options, learning what love is, living in the "here and now". Well there really is no "here and now" in life because time moves, calendar days flip very quickly, life always moves forward, and just like aimlessly sitting in an idling car will get you no where, parking your affections in someone's uncommitted lot is hardly love, and rarely offers the inspiring, mutual love we all need.

What I say next offers no instant consolation at the moment. But I do believe, you are being protected. In the moment, we can't see all the reasons why something didn't last—and frankly it usually just seems like stinkin’ bad luck. Yet I believe, wholeheartedly, that you have great accomplishments intended for your life and a man better suited to those great goals is intended come your way. Hang on for the ride--you aren't idling. You can peel out of the parking lot with enthusiasm for life, joining friends with spirited hearts, and keeping your eyes out for guys who have that same spunk. Guys rev'ing their gas pedal, but keeping their gear in neutral or park, are not your style. Not mine either frankly! :-)

You set a beautiful example and are just plain beautiful, and a guy who shares your interests is a fool to not snatch you up!

Sorry for writing so much, but I think we all need encouragment at these moments! I've been there!

Smiles,

Jeannine

Elizabeth

This doesn't relate directly to the topic, but it does relate to marriage vs. living together.

These are the lyrics to a song sung by Jeannie C. Riley, that sums it up beautifully.

You ask me if we can live together
Marriage doesn't fit your way of life
And you say that you'll be with me forever
Well if that's true please make me your wife

Cause if I'm good enough to be your woman
Good enough to share your life
Good enough to live together
I'm good enough to be your wife
Good enough to have your children
Good enough to give 'em life
Good enough to do your cooking
I'm good enough to be your wife

I don't care what people say about us
Loving one another isn't wrong
And I don't care as long as we're together
Right here next to you's where I belong

Cause if I'm good enough to be your woman
Good enough to share your life
Good enough to live together
I'm good enough to be your wife
Good enough to have your children
God enough to give 'em life
Good enough to do your cooking
I'm good enough to be your wife

Darling I'm so glad you want me with you
But sharin' someone's life just ain't the game
So with you really want to live together
Then first of all I've got to have your name

Cause if I'm good enough to be your woman...

Rebecca

I do not practice or advocate casual dating... and in my experience I've found it pointless and shallow, not to mention painful. However four months isn't a long enough time to know ANY person, least of all your future spouse. This is the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with (God-willing) all 40-50something years. It is not anything to be rushing into.... I know most people think two or three weeks would be "rushing into something", however rushing into things are not necessarily confined to a select short period with a limit. It is vitally important you know this person inside and out. This is to prevent the discovery of a aspect in his/her person which appalls you. As well as preventing the process to rectify a "mistake" aka divorce. I'm not judging anyone for divorce... but it is ridiculous for anyone enter into a situation that could lead to an escape, which causes hurt and pain on both sides. It is vital we leave no shadow of a doubt that this is the person for us. We have to examine how they handle different settings and situations, as well as certain people in our lives. This takes a lot of time. Lastly your relationship with this person must foremost be founded on FRIENDSHIP. A true friendship takes much time to grow and develop into perfection. The intimate knowledge of another person is something that has no guarantee of ever taking place... so we (single ladies) must be very careful and positive. My Sociology teacher once said that two things must be present for a marriage to work: One, your spouse must be your closest and best friend over any other person (no secrets), and Two, that nothing the other person says or does will ever drive you to leave them.

I know how it feels to have your heart broken, to find someone who makes everything fit for you.... never to have expected to get so consumed with it, and have it all thrown in your face with indifference and apathy. It hurts, oh yes it hurts so much. Time heals the heart... and after a while you find it whole again, though a scar is left. The very fact of his unwillingness or fear of dedication was a proof, that it wasn't right. Take heart. There is always someone out there. Patience is a key to true and lasting happiness.

In earnest,
Rebecca

Shepherd

I have got to admit that I have never understood all of the ups, downs and crazy spirals of relationships. I really do feel for all of the people out there who go through all of them, yet, I can't seem to understand why anybody would want to put themselves through all of it.
I’m not saying that I don’t understand why people date, rather I don’t understand why people complicate things and hurt themselves so much while in the process of looking for that special someone.
One thing I don’t understand is the blame factor. Trying to come to understanding of a breakup by putting the blame on someone else, or worse yet, putting it on yourself. Along with the blame factor of course, comes the assumption factor... I assume that this was going through his or her mind and I should have realized it earlier...
I'm sorry, but what about just accepting that there is a reason for every journey that we walk.
I understand all of the anger and resentment surrounding "casual dating" that was referred to earlier and I personally date only for marriage, but I still don't walk away from a date that didn't work out in a negative light. In fact, I try to walk away with the same thing that those casual daters probably walk away with... having hopefully learned something new about myself, potentially learned something new about what I am or am not looking for, and now I have narrowed down my search by one more person (not to mention that I have also had the honor of meeting another beautiful soul whether they are meant to be my spouse or not!)
I honestly think that this is by far the sanest way of going about this whole dating arena that we singles unfortunately have to go through. I can further only imagine that the other, and more negative way of going about it, is what brings me the whole slew of first (and only) dates with miserable people who have all sorts of pent up issues from past relationships that they can’t walk away from with pleasantness (I’m not going to expect joy out of them, but at least a pleasantness please!)
As I was saying earlier, there is a reason for every journey that we must walk. Sometimes we might think that we are going through a new journey, and the other characters in our story are always changing, but why can’t we try to learn (with pleasantness, and maybe even joy) from every journey, and help make the ultimate journey so much more pleasant and meaningful, by walking through the journey and learning and growing in happiness and joy.
Merav, I bless you that you should find yours with such clarity and joy, and that all of us out there should find the same!

Shira

"I’m not saying that I don’t understand why people date, rather I don’t understand why people complicate things and hurt themselves so much while in the process of looking for that special someone"
I'm sorry- this doesn't comment doesn't resonate with me. People are textures, multi-faceted creatures, and when they're trying to figure out whether their counterparts are in fact appropriately complimenatry to them (given their unique persona) it seems inevitable to me that such a collision would be "complex". How could it not be? If you give your ALL to something/someone in this case, then of course the pain will hurt after you've been disabused of your enchantment.
Unless you allow yourself to become vulnerable to the person, you cannot really get to know them, though this may "complicate" things.

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