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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/15/07

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Dear Rachel,

I hope you print this letter, as I believe it will benefit others. I and just two friends have spoken to each other about a subject that is embarrassing, and we almost didn’t talk about it. Two of us are engaged. All three of us feel similarly, about facing marriage.

We are just plain afraid of relations with our spouses-to-be. In our community, unlike others, we go from not having relations at all to being married. It is one big sudden jump. Yes, it has happened from the beginning of time. But to us it feels – well, it is hard to explain.

This might seem strange to you, but one of the unsettling things about it is – how can we respect each other (our spouses) afterwards?

You will no doubt recommend therapy. None of us for various reasons would be able to do so. So we hope in some way you can respond to us. We are sure some of our friends and others in the community feel this way and are just too embarrassed to talk about it.

Need to remain Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

First, let me reassure you that your fears and misgivings are not all that strange. In fact, though most girls, as you say, will not voice their uneasiness, a large majority feels exactly as you do.

Those who claim to be cool, calm and collected as they look forward to the big day are usually either more mature (in years), have been ‘enlightened’ by an older sister or friend, are emboldened by their own extensive dating experiences, or are great actresses.

Yes, it has happened from the beginning of time. But you are fortunate in this day and age to have an excellent educational resource at your service to allay your fears: your kallah teacher. Today’s kallah classes are not what they used to be. If you do your research, you can take advantage of one-on-one valuable interaction with someone whom you can comfortably approach with any question or qualm you may harbor.

The best I can do in this format is to assure you that your chassan may be as shy and apprehensive as you are; that the phase you are about to enter into is as natural as the rising and setting of the sun; that your self-consciousness and embarrassment are indicative of your modesty – a beautiful and appealing trait in the people of our heritage; and that the ultimate expression of love between a man and a woman in a proper environment and under the right circumstance can be a most satisfying element of a relationship.

The difference between you and your counterpart in the secular (more permissive) society is major. You and your partner in life begin to “date” in earnest on your first day as husband and wife, with the newness and excitement of getting to know one another piquing your interest in each other on each successive day. The single who has been ‘hanging out’ with the opposite sex long before even thinking of settling down may be streetwise, but her/his anticipation is short-lived and the thrill of togetherness will leave much to be desired.

If you are interested in obtaining contact information, please get in touch via e-mail. (Since your anonymous letter arrived by postal mail, there is no way to offer you any personal connection data.)

It would be a pity to allow trepidation to detract from your joy during one of life’s most delightful stages. If you truly believe that you have met up with your intended, have faith that the same G-d Who brought the two of you together will guide you further and forever on your path through life.

Hatzlachah in forging a lasting and fulfilling life partnership, and Mazal Tov!

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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