There is another issue which is
important to discuss in the subject of shidduchim: DESTRUCTIVE MEDDLING BY PARENTS BEFORE
AND AFTER MARRIAGE. For example, I know a fellow who was going out with a girl and things
were progressing nicely. After dating a few months, her father wanted to schedule a
meeting so he could meet the fellow. He had a cold and his nose was twitching. The father
assumed the nose twitching indicated mental instability and possible violent tendencies.
He talked his daughter into immediately terminating the relationship. I know the fellow.
He is a "baal mussar" who constantly works on his midos. He would never
intentionally hurt anyone. He just had a cold.
THERE IS NO HALACHA IN THE LAWS OF HONORING PARENTS THAT ENTITLES PARENTS TO FORCE AN
UNWANTED MARRIAGE OR TO BLOCK A VALID MARRIAGE. Let the child marry who he or she wants.
The parents can do DILIGENT RESEARCH AND INVESTIGATION, OFFER MATURE ADVICE AND
LIFE-EXPERIENCE. But DO NOT FORCE the child to marry or not marry against his/her will,
nor to marry BEFORE THE YOUTH IS MATURE ENOUGH.
If there is parental interference after marriage, the halachos are different for a man
and a woman. When a woman marries, if there is any conflict between her husband and her
parent(s), her loyalty must go 100% with her husband. In contrast, when a son marries, his
obligations in honoring parents are not diminished. Based on the gemora in Kiddushin 31b
(when Rabbi Ossee's mother was unbearable and he left the country), I would tell a couple
(when the husband's parent is meddling, instigating or damaging his shalom bayis) to move
away, get an unlisted phone number or (depending on the situation) be resourceful and
exclude that parent so as not to be disrespectful while not being available for harm. A
parent whose behavior causes a child to be disrespectful is guilty of michshol (causing
another to sin), cruelty and (often today) must be psychologically disturbed. THE COUPLE
MUST BE ALLIES TO EACH OTHER AND UNIFIED against all attempts to break them up, disturb
their relationship or psychologically harm them or their children (speak to a rov).
When a "ba'al tshuva" (returnee to Torah life) may be set up with a
"frum-from-birth" shidduch, the frum parent may interfere. My rule of thumb
would be: if two people are in a "religiously compatible ball park," then two
people suitable for each other should be enabled to marry, on condition that the ba'al
tshuva has reached genuine commitment to observance of halacha, midos tovos, straight
hashkofa and p'sak din. If he's still finding his way, or "picks and chooses,"
then it is proper to block a shidduch between a "b.t." and "f.f.b."
As a marriage counsellor, about half of my client-couples are Chassidic. It is central
to Chassidic matchmaking methodology to leave the vast majority of seeking and choosing a
mate to the parents. The brief "bashow" comes after parental investigation.
Sometimes, the parent has an "agenda" (e.g. marry for money, marry to be in a
desired family or Chassidus, choose someone for ANY REASON THAT MINIMIZES THE SUITABILITY
OF THE PERSON AS INDIVIDUAL). One of the key ingredients of compatibility is the
individual's intuitive feel for the other. In healthy families, the child is generally
satisfied with the match. But, if ever a child is not willing voluntarily to marry the
person, the parents should never force or manipulate the child to marry. On the practical
level, this can lead to a "shalom bayis disaster." I know of one Chassidic
father who forced his son to marry someone deformed because the family had money. The son
hated the ugly girl and begged his father to cancel the shidduch. The father pushed it and
called the son mean and selfish. The couple had children who had the same ugly deformity
as the wife, which cost him thousands of dollars in repeated corrective surgeries.
Eventually, he couldn't take it, divorced the wife and abandoned the children. The son was
pushed into something unbearable by a short-sighted father. Another Chasidish man told me
how his parents pressured him into a marriage that he never wanted - and ended up with a
divorce. Let the child wholeheartedly agree in advance of completing any shidduch. The
single doesn't have to accept parents' decision who to marry. The single should marry
(especially these days) a GOOD-HEARTED, PSYCHOLOGICALLY NORMAL AND TORAH-LOYAL PERSON WHO
THE SINGLE WILL GET ALONG WITH; SUCH THAT THEY WILL PLEASE EACH OTHER, TAKE GOOD CARE OF
EACH OTHER AND RAISE HEALTHY AND FRUM CHILDREN TOGETHER.