Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

I dated for years before getting engaged a month ago. In the beginning of my dating journey, family and friends would say, “Be patient!” with encouraging nods and hugs. So, I worked on my patience and my emunah. As the years passed, their refrain morphed into, “You’re too picky!” as they sadly shook their heads in dismay. So, I tried hard to open my mind and my heart to new opportunities in dating. This worked really well, and I soon found myself engaged to a wonderful guy who had been previously married and has a small child. But to my surprise, every “mazel tov” came with an additional warning label. “Mazel Tov, you are sooo special to be taking THIS on!” Or worse, “Mazel Tov, I hope you know what you are getting into!” I am so happy. I met someone I know I can make a beautiful life with. Still, their comments are messing with my head and filling my mind with doubt. Should I have been patient and picky? Please tell me if I am making a mistake?!


Happy, Right?


Dear Right,

I had this brilliant (Only I thought it was brilliant) idea to create a Dinner Democracy. (It has a flair to it, I know.) Every Sunday, my constituents (children, whatever) would vote for the dinners that I would make throughout the week. This way, I rationalized, everyone would be happy and eat with glee. (Ok, glee might have been pushing it, but I was hopeful.) Unfortunately, my squatting, non-tax paying citizens could not come to an agreement. “Lasagna!” one would decree with a makeshift spatula-gavel. “NOBODY eats lasagna,” another would retort. (Umm… what about the entire country of Italy?) “Chicken!” another would offer. “No way! We had chicken last week!” would be the response. (Apparently the bi-laws in our ragtag municipality forbid chicken being served more than once per month.) “Meatballs?” I would humbly suggest, only to be met with gagging noises that were so severe, my neighbors now definitely believe we have food poisoning. Fish? Pasta? Meat? Barbecue? Yes! No! No! Yes! Too many cooks in our town, and sadly, no broth. Exhausted, we adjourn our meeting over tubs of ice cream; dinners unplanned. Please send help. And takeout.

Mazel tov to you! (no extras) Just, mazel tov! Kudos to you for opening your heart to bracha and possibility! You released some of the parameters you had previously put into place while dating, and met your match. This is huge, and I am so happy for you. That being said, you have felt judgment and worry from those that you love and respect. So now, your peaceful decision feels marred by doubt. Did you make a mistake? Is this marriage, this family, going to be a burden instead of a blessing? You want to marry this wonderful man. You want to build a life with him. Should you discount the naysayers, or should you listen to them?

Sometimes, we need guidance and counsel. Sometimes, we can benefit greatly from advice. Yet, there are times however, when too many voices only cause chaos and pain. Your family and friends love you. They are well-meaning. But their opinions have now become harmful and hurtful. So, it is time to refocus. You dated carefully and made this decision with both your heart and your mind. You know that a previous marriage and a child are not simple additions to the relationship you are building. But you are both determined, respectful, mindful, and most of all, HAPPY together. Reach out to your Rebbetzin, a dating coach, or an objective, wise friend so you can allay any doubts that have trickled in. Discuss any concerns until you are reassured that you are making the right decision. The decision to commit to growth, to building a family, and to someone that feels right for you. You are choosing happiness, and that is the best option on any menu.

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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at [email protected] to schedule a phone session.