I’ve received a few letters similar to the one below. Usually, they are written by the mother of the chasan if it is “his” question, that his mother is writing about. If it’s from the kallah’s point of view, then typically the kallah herself has written to me.
The general answer I provide is that it all depends on the maturity level of the individual in question. You can be a 20-year-old chasan or kallah or a 50-year-old one. Age itself doesn’t matter, because we are talking about behavior, and I’ve seen some five-year-olds behave extremely well while I’ve seen 30- and 40-year-olds behave horribly. It’s all a matter of perspective.
This letter is actually about my son. He does not want to write you. He thinks the issue will resolve itself, but I’m curious to hear what you have to say. My son has come to me a few times about this. I think it’s just a matter of his kallah being excited, and all of this being brand new for her, and she’s been waiting, so it’s natural. It’s not anything serious, so don’t worry.
My son Shloimy became a chasan not too long ago. He dated his kallah for a long time before he proposed, and we got to know her and really like her. But after they attend a simchah or go out with other friends of his kallah, he says that the same thing happens over and over again. He feels as if he is a prize or toy when they are around her friends.
It’s hard to explain. But I’ll say it as my son said it to me. She will go off and talk with her friends, leaving him on the side, and then reappear when she’s ready. Sometimes, he has whom to talk to, and other times not, so he busies himself with his phone. During those times, he hears bits and pieces of the conversation and his name, “and there’s giggling.” My son is not a shy person or an introvert, but he likes to keep things private. He thinks that she is telling her friends about him or the way he proposed to her – some of which I don’t even know the details to, because he wanted it to remain between the two of them. He asked her not to make a big deal of it to her friends, not to share details. He didn’t want pictures posted of it on social media. We have pictures of the moments following, but they are for us and our families. I can imagine she’s disappointed that she can’t share everything with the world.
I told my son that this may be nothing and I’m sure she isn’t telling friends things he asked her not to. He said he can’t help but feel like he’s being held as a prize and being spoken of. He said it makes him feel funny. He knows that girls talk amongst themselves and that’s fine, but there should be limits. He wants to know if his kallah is acting like a high school girl at times with her friends, and it makes him feel very uncomfortable. Like I said, I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. I remember when I was first engaged, my sisters, friends, and then my daughters. It’s just girl talk. Nothing to be concerned about. Thoughts?
Thank you for your email, Ima G.
Firstly, I wish you mazal tov on your son’s engagement. I get emails similar to yours from time to time, so that’s why I’m publicly addressing it.
I understand that your son may not want details of his private life and special occasions made public, and he has relayed his feelings to his kallah. Like you, I’m sure his kallah isn’t doing something that she was asked not to.
I never like to dismiss people’s feelings or tell them they’re wrong because they obviously have reasons to feel as they do. If your son feels as if his kallah is acting like a “high school girl,” that may be true. I believe that his kallah does talk and giggle with her friends when they get together. I also believe that his kallah does speak of him with her friends. It’s natural for that to happen among close friends with the excitement of something new to discuss, but it’s a big jump to thinking that she is telling her friends things that mean so much to your son to keep private.
I don’t know how old your son is, or his kallah is, and that doesn’t matter. Has your son ever been involved in a serious relationship before? Has he had a girlfriend? This may be his first experience in a relationship, and while he knows “the basics of how a relationship works,” he may be a novice at this. Men and women behave differently with each other and amongst those of the same sex. Men may be fine sitting around checking their phones, watching TV, and talking about a topic, but not dissecting a topic like women may do. When women get together, its usually a chatty group. Not much quiet time. Your son may not be used to the different dynamics.
Dating and being engaged is one of the first times that many are in a situation where they are not the ones in charge of the narrative. There is a whole other person with thoughts and behaviors that can be unpredictable at times. I don’t think this is a control issue such as your son wants to control his kallah and what she discusses and doesn’t discuss about him, but I do think he has to get comfortable with someone else and how she behaves. If it is a control issue, then you may want to have a different type of conversation with your son altogether re: how marrying someone does not mean they are in control of them and can tell them what they can and can’t do. He can advise, suggest – but ordering someone to do or not do something is not part of a healthy relationship.
Many times, there is an agreement in a relationship of what to speak about and what not to speak about in public. I remember a time when a friend told me that she had to get used to her new husband’s snoring. She was joking. But he was there and his face turned red. Soon after, she told me that he doesn’t like his habits or anything else spoken of. She didn’t think she was doing anything wrong. She said that millions of people snore, so it wasn’t like she was revealing a secret, but he wasn’t comfortable with me (or anyone) knowing that. After getting married the couple still has a lot to get to know about each other. It may take a time or two in order to fully understand what the boundary lines are, but once they’re set, they’re set.
Have your son discuss this topic again with his kallah. She may not understand how much of himself he does not want her discussing. If his kallah is understanding and cares, this would be something she would be able to accept and not even consider a sacrifice. But you can also tell your son that he shouldn’t be so paranoid and think that as soon as he hears his kallah laughing or mentioning his name, that she is speaking about an off-limit topic. Maybe as a mother and someone who has life experience, you can explain all of this to your son. I wish you, him, and his kallah the best.
Hatzlachah to you all!