Three in One: Advice for a Time of Big Decisions

By Wendy Belzberg

Published January 16, 2004, issue of January 16, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

For the first time I am printing three related questions submitted at one time by the same reader. I read the multiple queries as a symptom of anxiety, hence the full treatment. Let’s hope this helps. In any event, our correspondent is entitled to his concerns; he’s taking a big step. He’s also asking all the right questions, after which let’s hope for his sake it’s clear sailing up the well-charted aisle.

I want to get engaged to my girlfriend of four years. We live in New York City and her parents live in Milwaukee. I have been to her parents’ home twice in the past month but I have not had a private moment with her dad to ask for his permission. Is it appropriate to ask over the phone or should I wait for the next opportunity — another crowded family gathering in two months?

Did you tell your girlfriend’s father that you wanted a few minutes alone with him or did you trail him around the house hoping to find him in his study waiting for you to appear? I am utterly charmed by your decision to ask for your future father-in-law’s blessing before becoming officially engaged. Having made that choice, I suggest you stick to your original plan: Ask him in person. If you are ready to marry, you are ready to sit down with your future father-in law, man to man. And you are ready to ask for his attention. Make an opportunity to talk to him privately; don’t wait for one to appear. Call him the night before you arrive and let him know that you would like to speak to him separately. Matters as weighty as these shouldn’t be left to serendipity.

* * *

My mom has offered me her engagement ring to give to my girlfriend. My girlfriend is thrilled and has asked me to wear her granddad’s wedding ring. I feel as though I am taking the easy way out. Am I just being blindsided by the material world in which I live? Please give me some insight.

Were your parents and her grandparents happily married? Does your mom’s engagement ring come with a history of happiness, nurturing and respect? If so, I would go for a family piece over Tiffany any day. Marriages and weddings are about sentiment and there is none greater than the passing of tradition from one generation to the next. The offer of your girlfriend’s family ring places you in a lovely history. Marriage is hard work. Start with a firm foundation. There is plenty of time later to splurge on a fancy stone and setting — that’s what anniversaries were created for. Take good care of the rings so you can pass them down to your children with the same blessings.

* * *

Is it my responsibility to tell my siblings that my mom has offered me her ring or do I just say nothing?

It is your mother’s ring and your mother’s decision about to whom it should be given. That done, it is her job to inform her other children of the choice she has made. If you are the first-born, the first to marry or her only son, your other siblings should have no problem understanding her decision. If you fear that your acceptance of the ring will spark civil war and ignite sibling rivalries, then talk to your mom about the possible ramifications before accepting it. My answer is based on the assumption — perhaps misguided — that the value of this ring is largely sentimental. If you have neglected to mention that we are talking about a flawless 12-carat yellow diamond, then I demand the right to revise my answer.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.