Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Talia & Joshua - Everlasting Emuna Through 25 Years of Dating

Question: What was dating like before you met your husband?

Talia: I hated dating, it was a means toward an ends and there wasn't much of a choice. It was stressful. I was dating for many years, since I was about 20.

Question: How did you stay hopeful through the years?

Talia: I was born with an optimistic outlook and I was never embittered. I'm also a very big believer, with deep-seated emuna. Deep emuna can get you through anything. You have to really believe to the core of your being.

I tell this to a lot of my single friends: Believe you are important, you are an important part of society, believe it is not your fault, believe that you really do want to get married and you deserve to get married.

I was unique among my friends in that I was such a believer and a very optimistic person. I did not have to work hard on not remaining bitter, I have always been that way. I've handled many crises that way.

Question: What did you do in the meantime?

Talia: I eventually went to school to get my masters and worked on my career. I was extremely involved in community functions and very involved in family.

I actually lived at home with my parents but was very independent. They gave me my space and I didn't take advantage. I was also very lucky because I had parents who knew how to be the parents of an adult child. We respected each other's space. I didn't want to move out and live with another single or two because I felt like singles were ego-centric and financially dependent without obligations to people. Living in my parent's house with my parents forced certain behaviors - living together and interacting with other people - which was very important. It was a conscious a decision not to move out.

Question: Did you date continuously until you found your husband?

Talia: There were periods of months here and there that I didn't have anyone to go out with, even though I had a lot of connections and came from a large family. There were periods of times where there just weren't any guys to date anymore and I didn't date for months.

Question: How did you meet your husband?

Talia: It was a shidduch! We were set up through his cousin who was determined to have him get married. He actually had dated a couple of my friends and one of my friends convinced me to go out with him after she dated him. At the time he was working and also living with this parents, he was not married before.

Question: How did you know he was the one for you?

Talia: [Laughs]He married me because I said yes and all the other women he was dating said no! There were a lot of reasons I could have backed out and a lot of reasons I tried to back out but it just developed a momentum of its own.

We were coming from very different backgrounds and things were not easy. I was coming from a Bais Yaakov education and he was coming from a modern orthodox education, the lifestyle and family we grew up with were very very different.

But there definitely was chemistry and something that was drawing me towards him. He was a very big mentsch. There was a sincerity to him, a desire to live a very different lifestyle than the one he grew up with, that I was attracted to and was supportive of. I knew he was very sincere about wanting to be married.

Question: How long was the dating process and was there a turning point?

Talia: We dated for nine weeks, seriously dating four to five weeks. This really shocked me because I never expected it to happen so quickly!

I had felt a lot of the guys I was dating just couldn't make a commitment and he felt the same way about a lot of the females he was dating. I think the discussion we had about that was a turning point because he really believed then that I was sincere and that I didn't want to remain single.

Question: Do you have any words of advice for single women who are still dating?

Talia: One of the points I would like to make is: I don't think it is good for singles to be discussing their dating with other singles. If I needed information [about a shidduch] I would get it from another source. A lot of older singles become very negative and down and it comes across when you ask information about a guy. We try not to speak loshon hora but there is a certain negativity that comes across from singles.

But definitely have a mentor who can guide you in the dating, especially for older singles. Someone you can talk with and meet with who can give guidance on how to move the relationship along. You should agree on it [with your shidduch] even before the date. I think it is an element that is very much missing in dating, it is actually something I'd like to offer my services for.

Also, you could marry almost anyone as long as your goals are the same and you have open communication about where you are heading in life. Of course the person has to be a mentsch, a stable individual, and should be striving toward the same goals.

Question: What about the idea of a bashert?

Talia: I think a lot of people have met their bashert but waved to them in passing. I don't know if I didn't do the same earlier in life. We have very preconceived notions when we are dating and if older singles didn't put so much emphasis on things they think are important it would be easier for them. Like whether he is taller, shorter, heavier, thinner, good-looking, less good-looking. All those things are so not important.

It may not be the lovey dovey relationship one had envisioned, but that can be developed as long as two people respect each other and share a similar hashkafa.

I always felt that if I liked the person then I would like his looks too. I remember an actually gorgeous guy I dated and I didn't think he was so good looking by the time we broke up.

Question: You seem to have amazing storehouses of emuna, how does one go about strengthening their emuna?

Talia: I am a very big believer in tefillah, taking time to daven at least once a day to connect with HaKadosh Barchu. Say: "You are by my side, You are guiding me. I need help with A, B, and C, and I believe You can provide me with that help." In whatever language you know best.

We really have no control over our lives, even when we make decisions, our decisions are guided. Even when we make what we perceive is a wrong decision, we were guided to make that decision, to grow and learn from our mistakes.

Question: How is married life?

Talia: It is wonderful! It was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.