I’m baaaaaaack! I want to thank those who emailed and called me to ask why I wasn’t going to write anymore. Some emailed asking me to write again. I can’t even tell you how many people came over to speak with my father in shul about this. I also want to thank Yaakov Serle and Naftali Szrolovits for being persistent and not stop trying to woo me back. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write; I just had no time. I had too many balls in the air, too many pots on the stove and I wasn’t able to handle it. Something had to be given up and, unfortunately, I chose one of the things that brought me so much joy. I loved reading the emails and writing the column, but I was breaking, and I thought that I had to let this go if I was going to be able to care for everything else in my life that mattered the way they should be cared for. But like a wise man told me many times, nothing worthwhile is easy, and give something to a busy person and it’ll get done; he or she will find the time. It’s hard, but I guess that’s what keeps life interesting: the juggle, the rush, the decision making. But here I am.
Everyone can learn a lesson at my expense. Life isn’t perfect. I laugh as I hear the Andy Griffith show theme song being whistled by Matthew McConaughey on a Lincoln commercial as I type this line. That commercial is supposed to evoke nostalgia in the viewer. “Ahhh, Hon. Remember when things were simpler? I’d come home from work. You’d have supper ready, laundry folded. We’d eat dinner as a family and all we had to worry about was the dog getting out of the yard? Hardy, har, har! Now smile a fake smile and hold it for five seconds until we go to commercial.”
Life isn’t Leave It to Beaver or Andy Griffith. Life is cursing at Waze when the ETA has just gone up by 20 minutes because “Traffic is starting to build up ahead.” But you must be home at 4:30 because the school bus is coming, whether you’re there or not. Life is trying to contact the fiscal officer you deal with at work on Erev Yom Tov when the office is closed, because you just received an email from the NYS Department of Health demanding receipts and records of invoices for the previous three years, giving you a 48-hour deadline to get it done, but Yom Tov begins in five hours! Life is being tired as heck, coming home, working another seven hours (getting paid in nachas only, but that does indeed count) and just when you turn off the light inviting sleep to whisk you away for the next six and a half hours (‘cause let’s face it, nowhere does anyone truly get the 8-10 hours they need in order to function the next day), you hear, “Mommy! I’m gonna throw up.” Before you can dash for a bucket or basin or run like an Olympic runner to get that child to the bathroom, out comes dinner and you have another hour’s work ahead of you before you can even try to go to bed, only to start it the next day. That’s real life.
My brother-in-law told me many times, “The only problem getting married solves is the problem of not being married.” He’s right. Once the glass is broken, you are now a unit. Remember, I am not a Women’s Lib kind of gal, so I speak the truth. You are not an individual anymore. Two people have merged into one. You share each other’s worries. You feel each other’s losses as well as wins. You now have to check to make sure it’s all right to accept an invitation from a friend for a dinner out (“Mind if I meet the girls? I haven’t seen them in ages. I’ll prepare supper for you beforehand; the kids will be bathed and fed. All you have to do is bedtime.” Whereas you never had to check with anyone in regard to what night you were going to do the laundry, you now have to think, “Does she/he have enough socks and underwear for another day or two.”
Be ready. Be prepared. Just like you have an emergency kit for a hurricane or earthquake, be prepared for marriage. You are dealing with someone’s emotions, and he or she may have grown up differently than you have, and will have a different perspective. An innocent comment from you to a friend about your spouse may be seen as a betrayal by your spouse. “Why’d you mention that I snore / separate my peas from my carrots / put my left sock on before my right?” You must be ready to eat humble pie, as well. There’s a saying: “Do you want to be right or do you want to be married?” As a single, you did what you wanted, when you wanted, and didn’t have a care in the world. You answered to yourself (maybe your parents) but not anymore. Now someone you love thinks that you are making fun or gossiping about him or her to your friends. They may feel you think of them as a joke and that whatever they tell you, you will tell your friends while out shopping, working, or around the poker table. Be prepared to say, “I’m sorry” and “I didn’t think about it that way,” along with other similar phrases, during shanah rishonah. You must relearn how to live your life by including someone in your everyday mundane thoughts, and feel how they may feel if you say or do something they don’t understand. “What do you mean we are having quiche (or chicken or pizza) for supper? I thought we were having lamb chops. How can you not include me in a decision about what I am going to eat for dinner?” OR “I didn’t know I would have to let you know that I was making a few stops after work before I came home. I thought you’d understand when I didn’t show up at my usual time that I was running the errands we had discussed earlier in the week. I didn’t know I had to call and ask permission to go to the cleaners.” (By the way, it’s not “asking permission.” It’s called just letting the other person know what’s going on. Your spouse may be sitting at home waiting for you or worried that you aren’t home at your usual time and why you didn’t call.) There is a lot to get used to and to learn and to relearn. Do not kid yourself. Whether you are 20 or 50, you need to learn how to live with someone and how to make it work, Yes, there are a lot of tears shed in shanah rishonah, and a lot of “I’m sorry,” a lot of “I’ll try better next time” – even after several years of marriage. Even if someone had a wonderful marriage for 30 years and, for whatever reason, it comes to an end and one of the spouses remarries. They can’t treat the new spouse like they did the previous one! Again, the person needs to relearn and adjust to living with this new spouse.
I have also heard that it is harder to marry someone when they are “older” because they are more “set in their ways.” That’s the phrase I always hear: “She/he is set in her/his way. Who knows if he (or she) wants to change?” That may be true, but the “old” single still wants to get married and merge his or her life with another. Don’t let that hold you back from redting a shidduch to an older, more mature single. Someone doesn’t deserve a mate because he or she reached the age of 52? And you don’t think they can learn not to leave underwear on the floor until laundry day? Or they are so set in their mindset that they won’t go see a Rom-Com if they are a thriller type of person? Come on! Stop it! Yes, people are set in their ways. My 14-month-old is set in his ways and loves our morning routine. When the routine is changed, due to lack of time or some other reason, he starts to tantrum. Does this mean I can’t set him up later in life? I think the analogy is a perfect one, so don’t pooh-pooh it. As time passes, a person evolves, changes, and adapts to change.
I am not at all warning people against marriage. I’m just trying to prepare you for marriage. The kallah or chasan teacher doesn’t teach everything in order to have a happy and successful marriage. You need to learn and sometimes learn the hard way of how to navigate through life with your spouse. There are ups and downs in life. That is a fact, along with death and taxes. You all need to know and to think about that when you are on your sweet dinner dates or in a rowboat in Central Park with someone you are considering spending your life with; is the person someone who will support you through good and bad? Also, ask if you can support this person, as well – or if you would want to be there for him or her through the bad times. Look beyond the physicality of the person. Look at the character of the person. Can you weather a storm with this person? Can the person weather the storm with you? Will he or she cut and run when things get tough – because they will get tough. These are just as important to think about when you look at the person’s yichus and when you ask if the mother wears a tichel or sheitel or (gasp!) a snood while lighting Shabbos candles. I’m trying to give you the right tools. I’d be doing an injustice if I didn’t give you all a heads-up. Friends help friends. I want to help you marry the person who is right for you in every way.
Wow. I strayed from my main topic. Yes, I still have a lot of balls in the air, but I have a spouse who is supportive of me and aids and assists when necessary, and even when I don’t even think it’s necessary. He doesn’t want me to get to the breaking point because, if I break, he’s broken as well. Our family will be affected. It is because of his help (and Yaakov, Naftali, and those who contacted me) that Goldy has returned. I learned a lesson. I thought I could handle all on my own and when it got to be too much, I gave up something that I love because that was the only choice I saw. I should have had more faith in my support team to help me carry the load.
I’m glad to say, “Hatzlachah to you all.”