More Classmate Statistics

A while ago I posted a breakdown of my high school class’s engagement record, complete with histogram. (Go on, click through. You know you want to see it again.)

In response, a reader sent me the statistics from her class. Talk about depressing. I don’t know how she gets out of bed in the morning (if there’s no date to prepare for).

Oh wait, she probably has school or a job or some other fulfilling aspect of her life. I forget that can exist.

Anyway, here are her numbers:

Graduation year – 2008

Stats taken  – 2013

Number in class – 76

Number taken – 53

Percent married – 70%

Not bad. The stats for my class were 74% gone by year five. I wonder if this is a standard for the Ultra-Orthodox community?

Does anyone else have statistics to contribute.

Marry Younger, My Son, Marry Younger

This isn’t new, but I was hoping I’d feel capable of providing a comment other than “oy” when I posted it. After sitting on it for a few weeks, I’m just going to go with “oy.” (It’s such a perfect, general purpose word of despair.)

A kol korei signed by a whole bunch of big names calls for boys to marry by the age of 22.5 (yes, highly specific it is). Boys being the right word, given their age. The actual words in the text are “bochurim” and “girls.” (In the Hebrew it’s “bochurim” and “banot.” Why did I title this post “my son”? It should be “my bochur.” Am I being an angry feminist for thinking that the females should be given the honor of being referred to as “bachurot” or something equivalent?)

I suppose, from some perspectives, it makes little difference whether you’re in yeshiva at 23 or in kollel. Certainly, there are plenty of people who marry at 22 and manage pretty well. It might even get some young men ahead of things; instead of discovering they have three starving children and need a job at 30, they can do it at 25. And, most obviously, looking for a wife at the age of 20 doesn’t mean you’ll find one. Honestly, I don’t know why this bothers me at all.

…Oh wait. Could it be maybe that this is a rather crazy controlling reaction to an alleged shidduch crisis? (I mean, must we control our children down to the 0.5 year they marry? Really?)

 

HT to the Overland Parker

Why I Don’t Speak to Shadchanim

…because, these days, sometimes I can’t help but sound like the crazy old lady I’m doomed to become.

I have not willingly sought out a shadchan in years, but for some reason they’ve been calling me these days. The following conversation was transcribed about 10 minutes ago. I admit, I was cranky. I was overtired, had half a cupcake for supper and I was trying, unsuccessfully, to make sense of the fees on my 401k. Not really the best time to get a phone call that goes like this:

Me: Hello?

Him: Hi, I’m a shadchan. Can you hold on?

Me: Sure, I guess.

Him: Thanks. [disappears for a few minutes] Hello, thanks for holding.

Me: Yeah, no problem.

Him: So I got your information from another shadchan and I have a few questions. Are you still 26?

Me: No, I’m 27 these days.

Him: And what do you do?

Me: My Job.

Him: I see. So are you looking for a more modern guy?

Me: I don’t know what that means.

Him: I mean do you want someone who is more modern.

Me: I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. Can you please explain this to me? Like, what’s your name?

Him: My name is My Name.  I’m trying to complete your profile so I can set you up.

Me: [In my head] I really don’t think that is going to happen, if you divide your guys into “more modern” and “less modern.” [out loud] I guess I’m looking for a YU type. Halachic Man, not yeshivish.

Him: Left wing YU or right wing?

Me: [sigh] I don’t know.

Him: Moderate, then.

Me: Sounds good. I’m all for moderate.

Him: And your parents? Are they the same as you?

Me: I… [to myself] Is this question objectively objectionable, or is it just me?

Him: I mean, are they to the left or to the right of you?

Me: [to myself] In family pictures, it’s one on either side. [aloud] I guess to the right?

Him: Hm. Okay. And you live OOT?

Me: Yes, I do.

Him: And your parents are there too?

Me: No, they’re IT.

Him: Oh, where IT?

Me: In Their Neighborhood.

Him: Is that Flatbush or Boro Park?

Me: Neither. Or either, if you prefer.

Him: I’ll put down Flatbush. And why aren’t you there?

Me: Because my job is here.

Him: Oh I see. And do you have relatives out in OOT?

Me: No.

Him: You board? Have an apartment?

Me: An apartment.

Him: And are you willing to relocate?

Me: No, not really. I like it here.

Him: [doubtfully] So I need to find a guy who is willing to relocate. Or maybe somebody local… Hm. I don’t know.

Me: [ticked off by the implication that no such people can be found] Tell you what, if he’s got a better job than me, I’ll consider moving.

Him: What’s your salary?

Me: Decent.

Him: Decent for a woman is not very much.

Me: Excuse me?

Him: Well you know, women get paid less out there.

Me: [snappishly] On average, when both the man and woman have the same job. But seeing as most of the last dozen guys I went out with were all unemployed or underemployed or employed in low-paying fields, it really seems unfair that they all expected me to relocate.  Seriously. Even the 35-year-old living with his parents because he can’t afford his own rent. I think he planned to house us both in their basement or something.

Him: Well, okay. I’m glad I have your information. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Me: No fear. Thank you. Good night.

Him: Good night.

Sometimes, I think, you can gauge how likely you are to get a good match from a shadchan based on the sorts of questions they ask. I once had a conversation that went like this:

Him: [To wife] What do you think of NerdyGuy? I taught him in middle school. He’s single now, in Touro, studying accounting. Brilliant boy. So many ideas. He once brought in a kiddie pool for a carnival game and carried it all the way home on his head! Can you believe it?

Me: What’s wrong with that?

Him: Exactly!

Me: [sigh] Sounds like a great idea.

Friday Repost: Why Are You Telling Me That?

I kind of laughed when I reread this exchange.

…She began listing all my sterling virtues, and, running short a bit earlier than she’d intended, fell back on plain ol’ information about me. “…and she had a blog,” she enthused to the mother.

“A blog…?” asked the mother uncertainly. “Um, isn’t that bad for shidduchim?”

As in, “are you bragging about that? Shouldn’t that be a turnoff? Hang on while I consult my manual for the appropriate reaction…”

Trust Your (Young) Adults

I graduated bais yaakov high school with a head full of ideas about marriage that I trusted but didn’t believe. That is: I trusted the teachers who’d taught them to me. They were older and wiser and presumably had my best interest in mind. But many of the things they said didn’t pass the critical thinking test, so I struggled to believe them.

One day I found myself on an eighth date.  I liked the guy. Respected him. Enjoyed spending time with him. But I also knew that eight dates meant we were Serious and that freaked me out. I had no reason to break up with him, and no desire to marry him.

Luckily, the guy didn’t go to a bais yaakov. He pointed out that something big was missing in our relationship. We were, to put it mildly, stuck in the Friend Zone, and going nowhere fast. He broke us up. He was absolutely right and I was secretly relieved, but it took me a couple of years to come round to agreeing with him.

Trusting without believing gets us girls in trouble. We try to do what we’re told because it must be right, and yet, something inside is crying that it can’t be. But, ever trusting, we sometimes allow our elders and wisers to drive us into places we really shouldn’t be.

Back when I was 21, I had friends who were lucky enough to have breakdowns and wind up in therapy before they could be pushed into an inauspicious marriage. Now that I’m 27, I have friends who are divorced, because they didn’t manage it until after. 

I’m sure by now everyone has read Gital’s story in the Post about how she let the people trusted nudge her into a marriage she didn’t believe in with a sociopath simply because he came from the Feinstein family.

I told the matchmaker I wanted to stop seeing him, that we weren’t a fit…

My parents asked me to think about it because his parents were so insistent I had the wrong impression of him.

In Orthodox dating, you rely a lot on what other people tell you — what their impression is. So I gave him another chance.

I don’t want to sing any Disney-style “follow your heart” tunes here. But at some point, the yeshivish community has to believe they’ve instilled their children with the right values and a pinch of common sense, and trust them to navigate the world themselves. Until they do, girls will struggle to trust themselves. Bad decisions ensue.

For a while I thought I was the only girl naive enough to treat feeling of reluctance for a guy with repetitions of the mantra “love comes after marriage” — something oft repeated in high school, but without the sort of elaboration necessary for girls who have been segregated from boys their entire lives. But now I know the unhappily married and the happily divorced — sometimes with children in tow — who weren’t as lucky as I was.

The parents and teachers advising these girls into their relationships mean well. They want the best for them. None of them dream of creating a future divorcee, let alone an agunah. But they still view them as children, girls, unable to trust the inner compass they’ve been cultivating through years of schooling and upbringing. And the “girls” share this view, because it’s held by the people they trust the most.

This makes me sad.

And long term, it makes a lot of other people sad too.