Dear Dating Coach,
I am new to shidduchim, but I am lucky to already be serious about the girl I am dating. We enjoy the same things, have the same hashkafa, and we always have a wonderful time together. Everything was going well, until Covid-19 hit our community. We were close to getting engaged (had even discussed it with our families) but now I just want to keep dating her. We don’t want to get engaged only to end up with a tiny wedding. Our families don’t think it’s “appropriate” to just continue going out, and I know that they would never approve of a long engagement. I just don’t get it! Help me make them understand!
Dateline on a Timeline
When my sheva brachos ended, so did the glorious dinners they offered. Suddenly, I found myself alone in my tiny apartment, in my tiny kitchen, in front of my tiny stove, wondering if there was a magical spell or takeout number someone had forgotten to offer me. When ‘chef genie’ failed to appear, and no kindly neighbor knocked with a casserole (not nice Apt C3!), I realized dinner would be all up to me. Without much (any) experience in the kitchen other then chopping and setting the table (yes! That counts!), I really had no idea where to begin. How hard could it be though right? (No need to roll your eyes fancy chefs). So, I embraced the humble stir fry, because I loved the idea that it allowed you to make it up as you went along. A bit of this, a bit of that, and voila (ok, not always voila, but you get the point). I learned that sometimes it’s ok not to follow a recipe, and you will still end up with a delicious (I feel your doubt, but you are wrong) dinner.
A Pinch of This
I love that you understand how blessed you are to have met someone so well suited for you so quickly. What a bracha it is to meet someone that you can envision a life with, and you have had the mazel to have this happen so smoothly. coronavirus has really impacted all of our lives, some gravely, and some inconveniently, but its impact has rippled painfully throughout our communities. You were happily dating when suddenly Covid-19 changed the game and forced you to prematurely think about timelines and wedding dates. Moreover, your parents are adamantly against a long engagement, and you can’t picture a backyard wedding in your future.
A Dash of That
One thing is clear to all of you, and that is that you absolutely intend to marry the girl you are dating. You are sure she is “the one,” she feels the same, and your families both applaud the match. This is the biggest hurdle, and I ask that you take a moment to acknowledge how fortunate you are to be in this predicament. In the end, the result will be the same. You will marry her. Whether that happens after a prolonged dating timeline or in a few weeks with only a small group in attendance, you will still be the lucky guy who gets to marry your bashert. So, from this moment on, you are already a winner.
A Heap of Love
Coronavirus, its restrictions, its ramifications, and its trajectory are all new to us. We have never encountered anything like it before, and we pray to never again. So, in some ways, it has changed the dating game (albeit temporarily) and we must adapt and allow ourselves the freedom to alter the recipe just a bit. Since a long engagement is out of the question, and since you are pained at the idea of a small wedding, I would respectfully ask both of your parents for another month. One more month to date, to get to know one another, and to allow more time to pass. This of course can be done over Skype, Zoom, or Facetime to protect your respective family members from exposure. (Yes, it may be unusual, but it will still allow you both to connect and communicate.) In another month, if you are both still sure that you want to spend the rest of your lives together, then plan an engagement. We all pray that this will allow for enough time for you to plan the wedding you have always hoped for. However, whatever venue your recipe offers you, your table has already been blessed.