Benefiting Who?

Aaah, Pesach. The whole family, packed into a single abode for three days straight, with two meals of enforced interaction per day…

The old characters:

Lil Sister, Mother, Father

A new character:

Brother – this elder brother spends most of his time in yeshiva in Israel where he’s ostensibly eligible, but just try getting a date with him.

The scene:

So, we manage to get through two whole days of yom tov without much dwelling on shidduchim. We charmed each other with broad discussions ranging from the generator explosion in front of our house to nuances in the hagada. We were the picture of family harmony.

Sadly, Shobbos lunch that subject came up. Sadly because, you see, my parents have one philosophy about dating, which, as you’d expect, includes going on dates. My brother has another philosophy about dating which, strangely enough, does not. Trying to change my brother’s opinion once he’s decided he’s right is similar to trying to reroute a stampeding herd of wildebeest. Not only will you fail, but when you peel yourself off the Savannah you probably won’t remember how you got there, or even who you are.

But here’s one  point my brother made was about why everyone is so anxious to marry young people off that strikes me as legit.

Is it for their benefit? One wonders. I mean, does the average newly minted adult benefit from being immediately thrown into a marriage? How many might, secretly, prefer to finish their degree undistracted by anything except enjoying a few stag or doe years to be themselves? When I think of all the marrieds who warn me “finish your degree first” or “don’t rush, enjoy yourself,” I can begin to suspect they almost regret being shoved into matrimony.

When you speak to people who date as soon as they’re old enough, there’s a certain frantic quality to it. Sometimes it’s self-imposed, but often it’s due to pressure from those around them. If I had to count how many times I’ve been wished to find my choson “soon in the right time” in the past 72 hours, I’d probably have to take off my socks to finish the tally. (OK, so having my grandmother over helped, but still.) Some people’s parents have them dating non-stop from the moment they turn 19. Why this pressure? Do we really believe that everyone is better off married before they can drink?

Not really. It’s more like from this idea that dating is an unpleasant task that ought to be completed ASAP. Everyone hates shidduchim, so it’s better to get it over with. The relatives want the relief from the burden of having a single child to marry off and the friends feel that something is incomplete until their chevra is all blissfully paired up. So they go about the task of removing this unpleasantness with far more diligence than they ever showed for their schoolwork.

Granted, I’m projecting. I don’t really think my brother is dying to get married. I don’t know what he’d do with a wife. Mostly I’m worried that he’s well on his way to become the aged alte bochur in the corner who is part furniture and part yeshiva mascot. But truth is, if he enjoys it, why not?

Besides, I’m pretty sure it’s an accurate projection. Sure, there are probably many people who just want to share the joy with singles. But too many people are too frantic for this to be a simple matter of upgrading to Life Deluxe Edition. Nobody loses sleep if they’ve got an LCD instead of a plasma. People do lose sleep when they’re at risk of missing their project deadline.


16 thoughts on “Benefiting Who?

  1. What’s wrong with him being that alte bachur?
    But perspective is important with all of this- you mean that during 72 hours it only happened less than 20 times? That’s not so bad, actually!

  2. I understand why some people might want to get their degrees, or just read a lot of good books, before marrying. Non-frum people often want that, too. The difference is that non-frum people are comfortable with having physical relationships before marriage. Isn’t the desire to get physically close to someone potentially a motivator for marriage? Whenever I hear of a 26-year-old charedi single saying “I’m not in any rush,” I think that there are two possibilities: 1) the person is NOT actually shomer negiah; 2) the person is abnormal in terms of sex drive or just extremely repressed. Don’t you guys have hormones? I’m not saying that is the only factor, but I can’t imagine it NOT being one, especially for guys.

  3. I’ve come across guys who don’t really want to get married but still date anyway, though either they think they do or feel pressured into going out because it’s the thing to do. Usually it’s because they have strong interests in something that takes up a lot of attention or their personality is such that they don’t take any sort of initiative whatsoever–if a girl is really into them and keeps the relationship moving along, then it might go somewhere but usually not. (Sometimes the guys in the last category have emotional/commitment issues.)

    I know people who’ve dated guys in both of those categories, so it’s not just me who has had her time wasted.

    At least if a guy is honest about the fact that he just doesn’t want to get married yet, he’s being honest and self aware (and isn’t wasting his potential dates’ time) and at some point when he is ready he’ll know it and will probably get engaged fairly quickly.

    Though you bring up good points, #5, I think at some point for guys that passes and they feel more comfortable being stuck in a rut. I think the physical aspect is more of a motivator for younger guys in their early to mid 20’s.

  4. as soon as they turn 19? ah shanda! they shouldn’t be starting a day later than high school graduation! if they really need some extra time to mature, they can wait ’til say, a month into seminary. but to wait so long? oyoyoy!!

  5. so what’s your brother’s philosophy on dating- the one that doesnt include dates…? i’m so curious to know. maybe it’ll solve the shidduch crisis.

  6. I was thrust into dating before I was ready, before I wanted to, before I had any motivation to get married.

    An 18.5 year old not wanting to date yet? WHAT?! Yup. That was me.

    But then I went out and I thought I found the one, and came waaay too close to marrying someone very wrong for me. I was young, naive, inexperienced, and trusted almost everyone around me. It’s so frightening how people will force their kids to date because they’re so afraid…well, see what good that did me?

    So these days when a 19 year old still considers herself young, and her mother does as well, I thank my lucky stars there are still a few normal people around.

  7. It’s not so much repression; it’s a matter of you can get used to anything. Also, you don’t really miss what you never had. It’s a factor, certainly. But, if you’re 26, you’re used to dealing with it and it’s not a pressing need. 16 year olds have a much tougher time on that front than 26 year olds.

  8. guys who are 26 want to get married also, but it would really depend on what they are doing with their life and where they are.

    if they are in a place where guys get married young, then it is more of a societal thing to get married that young, of not wanting to get left behind without your friends. but if you (as a guy) would be in a place where your friends are still around, where you are still interacting with them on a daily (single) basis, then whats the rush.

    I enjoyed my single life until my friends started leaving me behind. maybe her brothers friends aren’t leaving him behind?

  9. Anonymous, you bring up some really good points. I think that the problem posed by this population of boys is an important one that a lot of people overlook.

  10. Pingback: Serendipity (ii) « Bad for Shidduchim

  11. Hi,
    Adam and Chava were originally one person. They were then split into two because it is not good for man to be alone (quote). Marriage is the normal state of mankind. marriage is natural and beautiful and it is a great niche to be in. I cannot understand people who didnt want to get married. When i tell people to finish their degree before they get married , (im in middle of masters with two kids), i mean, hazeet, your not married anyway, you may as well finish up your masters, its the bright side! i do not mean, poor me got shoved into marriage before i was ready!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s