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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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Desperate To Reconnect With Their Son

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Dr. Yael, can our son-in-law’s idea work? We know that going this route is no guarantee for success, but at this point we are desperate to try anything.

We are heartbroken parents who love our son and daven daily for his refuah.

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer us.

Brokenhearted and Devastated

Dear Brokenhearted:

My heart goes out to you.

The biggest red flag when your son’s shidduch was arranged should have been the poor relationship his wife had with her family. I question why his rebbeim would suggest such a shidduch, considering the pair’s cultural differences and the fact that this match appears to have had severe detrimental effects on your son’s mental health.

Other questions: Did your son present himself in a way that this shidduch seemed like a good match? Where were you at this point in his life? Did he marry this girl as an act of rebellion? Did he have mental health issues before his marriage? Did he feel unloved in some way, or did he feel that you favored his siblings over him? Answers to these questions may help me get a better feel on how to respond to your challenging dilemma. Until I have these answers, I feel uncomfortable advising you with concrete counsel. But the ultimate issue is why he has chosen to be estranged from his family.

Also, did the psychiatrists with whom you’ve consulted know him before giving you such a gloomy prognosis? Since you have described the behavioral counselor as a friend, he may have more insight on this situation since he once knew your son.

Please supply me with answers to these questions so I can be more helpful to you. I will say, though, that it is important to maintain contact with the rabbi and rebbetzin who are in touch with him. Also, send them a cash gift or a useful present (e.g. a case of quality wine) as a show of hakaras hatov for assisting you. Keep in mind that many rabbanim who reach out to those like your son are in financially difficult straits; thus your gratitude may make them try even harder to help your son and you. Right now, the rabbi and rebbetzin seem to be in the best position to help you.

Once again, please respond to my questions. Your answers will afford me the opportunity to better guide you. I await your response. Hatzlachah!

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