| Family Diary |

Ring Me: Chapter 26

"I know I have to bring her to meet my parents, but I also know what’s going to happen. My mother’s going to find all kinds of things wrong with her!”


Shani Leiman with Zivia Reischer

When Ari called me, I was impressed. It’s hard for people to ask for help, probably more so for guys.

But Ari was desperate.

“I need a dating coach,” he said.

Ari was 24, not “that old,” and he seemed to have everything going for him: great guy, great family, wanted to learn for a while, looking for a good Bais Yaakov girl. True, he’d been dating for three years already, but that wasn’t so unusual.

“How can I help?” I asked.

“I’m going out with this girl,” he started. “Her name is Tehila. She’s great.”

“Amazing!” I said.

“We went out eight times,” he said. “I really like her. She’s smart, she has a great sense of humor, she’s really nice, we just get each other, you know?”

“Sounds really good,” I said.

He laughed, suddenly sounding shy. “Yeah. I’m… I think we’re ready to get engaged.”


“But… my mother.”

I waited.

He sighed. “See, about two and a half years before Tehila, there was Miri. I thought Miri might be the one. I brought her to meet my mother after the seventh date. But then she said no.”

I was confused. “Miri said no after meeting your mother?”

“No — my mother said no after meeting Miri."

She found all kinds of issues with her. She didn’t think she was smart enough for me or accomplished enough for me. She was too frumpy for me, whatever that means.”

“Go on.”

“I’ll tell you the truth, I was a new dater, I didn’t really know what to do. My mother thought it wasn’t right, so I listened to her. I guess I wasn’t so sure myself, maybe.”


“Then a while later, maybe a year later, I went out with this other girl… let’s call her Gitty. I really liked Gitty. She was different from Miri, and I thought, maybe my mother was right, maybe this is the kind of girl I really need. Things moved pretty fast with Gitty, and I brought her to meet my parents after only five dates. But again, my mother nixed it.”


“She thought Gitty was too outgoing, I needed someone more refined, or something like that. And Gitty was very short. I’m tall. That mattered a lot for some reason. I don’t even remember exactly anymore. But after she met Gitty and told me her opinion, the whole thing fizzled out.”

“I hear.”

His voice became stronger. “And now I’m dating Tehila. Mrs. Leiman, I know I have to bring her to meet my parents, but I also know what’s going to happen. My mother’s going to find all kinds of things wrong with her!” He paused. “I want to get married, and I want to marry Tehila. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.

“And another thing…”

Wow, this was getting to be a lot.

“My mother thinks I’m perfect. If I ever did something wrong, even, you know, very wrong, she would just say, ‘Please don’t do that again, I know you didn’t mean that, it’s not who you are.’ So it’s not really a matter of Miri or Gitty or,” he swallowed, “Tehila. She’s never going to think any girl is good enough for me.”

“Ari,” I said, “where’s your father in this story?”

“My father is great,” Ari said. “If it was up to my father I would have been married a hundred times over by now.”

“Okay,” I said. “So let’s get your father involved. Tell him that you’re dating Tehila seriously and want to bring her to meet him and your mother. Arrange with him that you’re just going to come by for a short visit, like 15 minutes.”

“Fifteen minutes?” Ari said incredulously. “Usually it would be an hour. At least!”

“Exactly,” I said. “Now, we don’t want your mother to feel hurt, that’s not right, and not going to help matters. So set it up in a way that makes sense. Take Tehila out for lunch, go to your parents, the whole thing can be three hours. Make it on a day that Tehila has classes, so you’re just going to stop by for a short time so she won’t be late.”

Ari was right about his father — he was very understanding and even relieved. He, too, had felt that something was off, and he was glad Ari had found a solution.

“Yossi didn’t get married until he was 30,” he told Ari cryptically, referring to Ari’s older brother. “And that was after going through a broken engagement.”

Ari brought Tehila to meet his parents for exactly 15 minutes, and he and his father did most of the talking. The two couples had a pleasant chat, and Ari and Tehila were out the door before Ari’s mother could create a list of reasons why Tehila wasn’t good enough for her son.

“Thanks, Mrs. Leiman,” Ari said, grinning meaningfully when I wished him mazel tov at the vort. He gestured to his mother. “Ma,” he said, “this is Mrs. Leiman.”

She smiled graciously, and I wished her mazel tov. “Tehila seems like a wonderful girl,” I told her.

“Thank you,” she said. “Baruch Hashem. You know, it all went so fast, I hardly got to know the kallah at all….”

“This is just the beginning,” I reminded her. “You’ll have a lifetime to enjoy them as a beautiful, happy couple. And don’t worry. You raised Ari very well. He’s a gem. If he chose her, I’m sure she’s very special, too.”

To be continued…


Shani Leiman is a teacher, shadchan, and dating coach. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 719)

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