Thursday Link: Reasons to Marry Young?

This is an interesting article about why to get married young. It’s interesting because a couple of the reasons she lists for getting married sound like classic reasons for not getting married, and vice versa. Just for example:

On paper, our unmarried peers looked more carefree. But many of them also relied on their parents to supplement their income, drove home for long weekends and holidays, or stayed on their parents’ health insurance and cellphone plans (even though they had decent jobs!). I put David on my health insurance. We bought our own family cellphone plan and Netflix account. When we visited our parents once a year, we paid for the plane tickets and still did our own laundry. We loved our parents and siblings, but marriage made us realize that we were now a separate family unit.

Wait, I could have sworn that people who marry before they have an income rely on their parents for help. I have personally seen friends head off to their parents’ with the sum total of their household laundry. And in-laws are just one more family to make you feel guilty for not visiting–if anything, you now have twice as many demands on your holiday weekends.

The plane ticket mention makes me laugh. I once went out with a guy who said his parents decided against going to Israel for Pesach because they’d have to pay for too many tickets: their own, their unmarried law-school son’s, their two daughters’,  their two sons-in-law’s, not to mention a grandkid or two.

“Oh,” was my reaction, as I struggled to find something to say besides “Don’t any of your siblings pay for their own lives?” Marriage, at least to Orthodox Jews, doesn’t mean becoming a separate family unit.

That said, she does reiterate what they told me in high school (and at work):

Sometimes people delay marriage because they are searching for the perfect soul mate. But that view has it backward. Your spouse becomes your soul mate after you’ve made those vows to each other in front of God and the people who matter to you.

I am not sure that “I married young and love it” is exactly a compelling argument, but that could be because I’m one of those on-paper free siblings who are bribed back to visit my parents with the promise of a free washing machine.

HT Kansasian

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Thursday Link Early: Marry Young, My Son, Marry Young

Not going to have a post ready by Monday, so here’s this to keep you busy:

Living OOT and not getting too many Jewish publications, you miss some of the more entertaining  notions people come up with. So I was unaware that men going to Israel at 21 is depriving poor spinster girls sitting back in the USA trying to get married. (What is wrong with marrying a 23-year-old boy, I’m not sure yet. Does anyone have an article detailing this particular solution to the “crisis”?)

At any rate, someone is calling them on it.  Controversy ensues. Arm waving, yelling, someone throws a tallis bag… Whattaya think?

In case the link becomes defunct, here’s a page with the full text of the letter (but none of the comments).

My Contribution to the Community

I have a great idea for an invention. (Listen up all relevant parties; yes I mean you.)

It started when Good4 and I were sprawled on my bed with our heads stuck out the window, enjoying a spring breeze. A young wife was shoving her way up the block, pushing a double stroller in front of her. She was practically 45-degrees with the ground in her effort to keep the heavy thing moving. And this was on level ground.

“When I have a double stroller, remind me to stand straight when I push,” Good4 said. “It looks so awful.”

“Not as awful as her husband strolling along behind, hands in pockets,” I observed. “But you know, she’s doing that because it’s heavy.”

“Yeah I know, but still.”

“You’d be like Black Beauty in the bearing rein if you insisted on standing straight. And that was outlawed as cruelty to animals.”

“Still. It looks terrible.”

I recalled that conversation a few months later while pushing a friend’s single stroller up a steep Israeli hill. I tried standing straight, but the darn thing (not to mention the kid) was heavy. I gave in to physics.

While I was pushing (and sweating), I thought about uphill bicycling.

Bicycle commuters are not always enthused about the exercise opportunities of their transit medium. That’s why they invented these motors you can attach to your bike. The smaller ones just kick in on hills to make it easier to pedal up. You still have to pedal somewhat, but it’s a whole lot easier.

I think we need something like that for double strollers. A small motor you can kick on that will make it easier to move those things.

It would have to have the following criteria:

(1) It has to be removable. For chagim and for locations with eruvim.

(2) It has to be small enough that we don’t wind up with motor-vehicle classification issues. It has to be legal for sidewalks.

(3) It has to be strong enough that a small woman, laboring under the weight of a large sheitel, could push a double stroller uphills without compromising her posture.

Someone, please invent this before I have my first kid.

Why do you want to get married?

Why do you want to get married? I tend to ask this of people a lot. You’d think that I’d usually get something like “I want to fulfill my tafkid by raising a family of good Torahdik Jews” with a “And support/sacrifice for Torah” for those who want learning boys. Well actually, I think I’ve only heard that once or twice.

It’s always possible that the girls I hang out with are smart enough to realize that they are not mechuyav to have any family at all, and that there are other ways to sacrifice/support Torah than by doing its laundry. In that case, they would give an answer to the tune of “I want to find my soul-mate and become whole so I can serve Hashem bishleimus.” I actually did hear something like that once, but in response to a different question entirely.

I was asking two recently engaged friends why it is that for the first two months after they get engaged, girls don’t stop yapping about how they’re going to set all their friends up with all their husband’s friends and marry everyone off happily ever after. (This usually lasts until they get busy arranging their wedding. It totally falls off the radar screen once they become “young couplish” and fail to touch base with their friends at all, let alone set them up.) Anyway, they answered that it was twofold: first of all, they never knew guys before (except the ones they were dating, and you can’t exactly say, “Some guy I dated was totally off—maybe he’d be good for you?”) and now they have someone who knows dozens. Secondly, they now have a significant other; they are a team; they are whole… it is such a great feeling that they just want to share it with all their friends.

Well, it’s nice to know what it is that makes engaged people so euphoric—if only single people knew to want it. But nope—never got that answer to my question.

So what answer have I gotten? Here’s a very common one:

“What? Whattaya mean? (nervous laugh) Why wouldn’t I want to get married? Like what—don’t you?”

In other words, either she has no clue why she’s getting married, or she has such a deeply personal reason that she cannot bear to voice it to me. I’ll accept either possibility, because I like to think I’m open-minded, but I’m also a tad cynical, and I suspect that it’s usually the first reason. After all, we all know that after we come back from seminary we start getting married.  This is so obvious, that many of us fail to wonder “Why?”

Here’s another:

“I want to move on to the next stage in my life already.”

How’s that for a reason? The girl is simply sick of being single—and mind you, this is after only a few months of it. I don’t think she was so sick of $350 rent in a Brooklyn attic (meals and laundry included) that she wanted to swap it for $900 rent in a Lakewood basement (no meals or laundry included, and maybe not even utilities). She was sick of “being single”, the worst possible stage a girl can inhabit in our community. She was sick of “trying to get married”, a pursuit that consumes time and robs us of our dignity. And of course, she was sick of not being taken seriously simply because she didn’t have a wig on her head. Who can blame young Orthodox Jewish women for trying so desperately to get married? Marriage beats pre-marriage hands down. And for post-seminary girls, it’s all pre-marriage.

Another answer I only heard once, late at night. Me and a friend had attended a wedding out of town and stayed by a third friend who lived nearby. We stayed up well into the wee hours, chatting in the darkness about just about everything, but particularly marriage.

“Don’t you want to get married?” she asked me in exasperation, after some discussion.

“I wouldn’t mind it at all, providing I found the right guy. But I don’t want it for its own sake,” I explained.

“Well of course not, but most girls want to get married.”

“Do you?” I asked.

“Yes! Of course!”

“Why?”

“Why? What do you mean? That’s what you do!”

“Oh come on. That’s not a good reason to take on a lifelong relationship!”

She was quiet a minute, and then said, “You want to know the real reason I want to get married quickly? I mean, I want to get married, but the reason I want to get married right away? Because I don’t want to be the nebach case. I don’t want to be the one everyone looks at and thinks ‘Oh that’s so sad, she’s not married yet.’ And I don’t want to get left behind. I don’t want all my friends to be on to the next stage, raising babies and talking about mother things and I’m left out of it all. That’s why I want to get married.”

And that’s not the end of the story. So desperate was she, that she got engaged before she was ready, and within two months broke the engagement. The stigma would follow her into all her other shidduch attempts, sabotaging her chances, potentially leaving her the old maid she feared so much to be.

 

How many other girls harbor such fears in their hearts? How many feel pressured to marry simply so they won’t “be left behind” or be the subject of pitying whispers at gatherings?

 

What are we doing to our young women—and what are we young women doing to ourselves?

 

Yes, to ourselves. Nobody can make us feel any way we don’t allow them too. After that conversation, I vowed (b’li neder, of course) that I would not feel any pressure to marry for any reason whatsoever. Let them cluck sympathetically and shake their heads. My eligibility for marriage is between me and God, and no third parties need stick their noses in.