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.


  1. I don't know... Give the girls a couple extra years and they might start getting ideas. Better marry them off young and guarantee virginity.


  2. Don't even get me started on this one - I think it's absolutely nuts to pressure teenagers into getting married before they have any idea of what they are getting themselves into and how they are going to support themselves. And to make girls feel like they are "old" if they aren't married by the age of 22. There is absolutely nothing wrong with someone deciding to wait to marry until they are more adequately prepared to deal with life, and their families will probably appreciate it later on.

  3. As a rebbi of mine once said with regard to the suggestion of having boys getting married younger in order to solve the "shidduch problem" - "great - we wont have a shidduch problem - we'll have a divorce problem"

  4. we'll have a divorce problem

    Your use of future tense implies we don't already have a divorce problem.

  5. Ezzie, obviously you must be misrepresnting the article. How could anything Mispacha Magazine suggests be viewed as anything less than Halacha leMoshe MiSinai? ;-)
    Anyway, if the article in question is tthe same one (The Mispacha copies keep coming to my house but arrive on Monday after the week each comes out in print) as the one posted by R' JR on CC today, I presented my take on it in

  6. The ratio of girls to guys would decrease, you mean, yes?

    There might be a problem with some getting married too early, but there is also a problem with many in the larger Jewish world getting married too late, having trouble conceiving, having mor etourble building lives together after having built more substantial lives apart first. I wonder which is a worse problem?

    People shouldn't get married, generally, before the year in which they turn 22, I think, but also shouldn't wait until they pass their mid-20s.

    Anyway, there is tradition -- ages of majority of twelve and thirteen aside -- that a person isn't really an adult until the age of twenty. (Maybe someone else can supply citations?) So opinions could be put forth supported by these ideas.

  7. JA - Oy.

    Shoshana - Seriously. (I know, I'm one to talk, right?) As someone kept yelling [or adamantly saying] last night at 7 brachos - "25 is not 'old'! 28 isn't old! Agh. 45 is already old."

    Anon - Yeah, I've heard that one.

    LT - True too. :)

    Ariella - You are one of the many I was referring to, actually. And LOL.

    Anon - Yes, that's what I mean. Am I saying everyone should wait until 30? No, of course not. But waiting from 18-19 to (say) 22ish to start dating isn't putting anyone at risk. Good comment.

  8. Is it possible that the stereotypical younger girls (or boys) discussed here are immature because they were brought up to be immature? I think people used to assume adult or adult-like responsibilities at younger ages than they do now.

  9. Bob - Not exactly sure what you're asking. I don't think that they're incredibly immature per se, though that's obviously true for some. But there's no reason to rush them into marriage.

  10. Bob has a good point. Kids are being brought up to be dependent. They aren't expected to go out and earn their own living, and they don't develop the maturity that comes along with that responsibility.

    If those who are pushing for younger marriage for pushing for greater responsiblity and independence, I might be jumping on the bandwagon. But, since the talk is just getting married earlier for the guys (and letting the girls complete more of their education so they can be more fiscally supportive). . . . I say "no thanks." I've seen enough young divorces in the frum community already and the financial issues look like they may be coming to a head soon.