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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ah, To Be Young

NOTE: Sorry no links right now. No time.

There are many, many blogs discussing the article about shidduchim (matchmaking, for lack of a better definition) in this week's Mishpacha magazine. There is much to say on so much of what is being discussed, but I just want to focus on one aspect for now: The rush to get married.

The article does a nice job of presenting why there is a problem, though I think they missed a few other causes. The solutions mentioned, though, are seriously lacking. The one that bothers me the most is the 'boys getting married younger, to decrease the age gap and therefore the total discrepancy between the sexes'. It bothers me most because it's so short-sighted. Forget that it means more people who aren't ready to be getting married would be - it creates and exacerbates so many of the other serious problems in the Orthodox Jewish world it's absolute stupidity. It's like someone said:
"Hey, let's deepen the economic crisis! Let's make it even less likely that people who don't stay in learning will be able to get a college education! Let's create more young parents increasingly reliant on the support of their parents [not just financially] to the point that the next generation will be completely screwed! Let's have even more young parents on the low-end of the economic scale trying to support even larger (more years = more kids) schools that are already bankrupt!"
How about focusing on the much more logical explanation which has the reverse effect: Stop pressuring girls into getting married so young, and feeling "old" at even the age of 21-22. It could seriously help in so many different areas:
  • Just-out-of-seminary girls who are still on an unrealistic "high" in how they view life, marriage, and Judaism won't rush into marriages that turn out to be very different than their perceptions. Or marriages that are decidely unhappy when they feel that this isn't really the life they wanted.
  • The ratio of girls to guys would increase, making it much closer to even. With the decrease in panic over the "shidduch crisis", guys won't be unrealistic, they won't reject girls before getting a chance to know them because there's "other fish in the sea", and girls won't feel as 'desperate' or that they have to be a certain way if they want to "have a chance of getting married".
  • Economically, everyone is better off. The girls will be much further along in their education, and therefore much more able to work and support or help support their families. There won't be a drain on parents from young couples who are unable to support themselves. There won't be a massive accumulation of debt, as instead of getting married before spending a few years not earning money while getting an education, people will be getting married after they are at least much closer to if not finished with their education.
  • With less young children to very young parents, schools won't be drained by extra costs, and the tuition breaks for those who need it will likely drop dramatically.
There are other benefits, but these were the first few that came to mind... and that's just if girls waited a year or two. Imagine if other ideas were followed as well.

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