Dear Dr. Yael,
I am writing to you about my Yom Tov. I had a few of my couples over for Yom Tov, and I am very worried about my son who is newly married. We thought we got the perfect shidduch with this daughter-in-law. We got a rich girl from a rich family. They give full support, and she is smart and beautiful. My son was thrilled and we were so happy for him. Over Yom Tov, this daughter-in-law did not get up from the table to help and seemed very spoiled. Our son, who was such a happy go lucky boy, seemed very tense. My daughter-in-law kept speaking about all the beautiful jewelry her friends got from their husbands for Yom Tov and how she got a costume piece of jewelry. My son was very quiet and seemed so sad. In addition she kept making disparaging remarks about my son to us. I was so embarrassed for him. We never speak like this in our home. My son is a Kollel boy who learns well and is very caring and nice looking. He had many options and many people were interested in him. We are not so well off, so we thought this would be a great opportunity for him. At this point, we are not sure that he should stay married to this girl. We feel guilty that we sold our son.
I am writing this letter more to tell others not to be blinded by money and good looks. In retrospect, we heard that she was a good student, but we never heard that she was a baalas middos. I am not asking you what to do since we will have to see how things work out. However, I am telling people to try to look more at the girl and her middos than to be busy with money and good looks. At the end of the day, your son has to live with his wife, and money and good looks doesn’t add to shalom bayis!
A Worried Mother
Dear Worried Mother,
As you noted, it wouldn’t be appropriate to respond to your particular situation in a column. It is very important that you have the couple seek professional help and daas Torah. If this is an emotionally abusive situation, you would need to get your son out of the marriage, but if you can get the couple help and your daughter-in-law changes, the marriage can be saved. This cannot be determined from a column, but it is much appreciated that you wrote to help others focus on the tochen of a person in shidduchim. Money definitely cannot buy happiness, so we need to help our children marry someone who they will be happy with long term.
The Chofetz Chaim married a poor girl even though he had better options financially. In looking for a shidduch, one should look more at how the parents treat each other as well as how the parents treat the child (and how the child treats her parents). A girl who has middos will have joy in helping others and in being a giving person.
Material things should not be the focus. We all need enough money to live, but if someone focuses on financial issues like the best jewelry and the most expensive clothes and shaitels, they ultimately will not find happiness in life. I think that feeling that you can give to others and be helpful is a great feeling and we should all strive to obtain happiness by doing things in this world to make others happy. By doing that, we will have the greatest internal happiness. The root of ahava is hav, to give. So too, the joy we should obtain in our marriage is by giving to our spouses.
In going into a marriage, we must think, “what can I bring to this marriage? What can I give to make my spouse happy?” As we grow older in life, we realize that everyone has challenges in life. An internal feeling of self-worth and the ability to give to others is the most important thing to try to look for in a shidduch and to develop in our children and ourselves. I wish you Hatzlacha in this challenging situation.