Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Next Victims of The Shidduch Crisis?

When you picture the victims of the shidduch crisis, a few images probably come to mind. Maybe you think of a 24-year old pouring out her heart in a letter to the Yated. Or maybe the single girl sitting at the chupa of her best friend, silently davening that she should be next.

But I think the girl under the chupa, the one in the wedding gown, may also be a victim of the crisis. Here's why.

The shidduch crisis has had a few ripple effects:

1) The pressure - because there's a crisis out there, many singles are feeling the heat, like they need to get married, quick! This obviously can lead to making a rushed, haphazard decision in choosing a spouse. An article in the Five Town Jewish Times deals with this point.

In addition, think about all the Jews that fall for image-itis. For them, marriage is all about image - the spouse, the mechutanaim, and the various elements of the wedding are all chosen based on what the neighbors will think. And many of the neurotic mothers (who are also a large cause of the shidduch crisis, but that's for another time) are freaking out and pressuring the kids to marry, because if the girl isn't married by 20, what will the neighbors think? It's reached the point where if a girl is going out and has an older sister who's still single, it's almost as big a black mark as having a sibling who's off the derech ("Why isn't the sister married? Is there something wrong with her?")

2) The glorification of marriage as being a "magic pill," something that cure all problems, not just the lack of a spouse. Daas Hedyot and Bad for Shidduchim have both done a great job discussing the prevalence of this attitude.

They don't make the connection between that attitude and the shidduch crisis, but I think it's definitely there. Many singles have developed such pressure and desire to get married that they get delusional. They then start thinking, "if only I was married." And it becomes a mantra to address every problem in their lives. After all, we've reached the point where some people are so desperate to get married, you'd think they just want to be married for the sake of being married, no matter that the guy may the biggest putz in Brooklyn. Why should they worry? After all, marriage is the only thing separating them from happiness! And once they're married, all their problems will be solved! And it's quite obvious that such an attitude can lead to big, big issues in the long run.

- What's the solution to these dangers? I don't think denying that there's a crisis would be helpful. The awareness of the shidduch crisis has led to some soul-searching and imprtant suggestions to address the crisis, and we need as much of that as we can get. And if people will get freaked out by the use of the word "crisis," too bad. Let them use their seichel in making the most important decision of their lives. The benefits of awareness of the crisis outweigh the costs.

Let's just hope enough people do, in fact, use their seichel, and prevent the "shidduch crisis" from G-d forbid turning into a "marriage crisis."

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Anonymous Rinkley said...

I think this is chicken-egg syndrome.

When do they become victims? WHen they're stuck in loveless marriages? Sometimes those marriages end up okay, as far as I know.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Isaac Kaplan said...

And very often, they don't. Not sure what you're getting at. Okay, some people will "luck out," get married under pressure, and end up happy. But I have a hard time believing that in most cases this is true.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

This is the first post I've seen on this aspect of the shidduch crisis. Very interesting take on it. (That's "interesting" in a good way, by the way.) Chag sameach!

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. Sad but true. As a social worker at a MO yeshiva, I have saw a young man who wasforced by his family to get married at 18 who several years after getting married was found to be gay. Many who knew him suspected he was gay at the time and several family members later admitted that they thought marriage would "cure" his "awkwardness" with women.

6:44 PM  

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