My Rant on Shidduchim
Alright. We get it. The age gap is the cause of the shidduch crisis. Can we move on, please?
Well, clearly, we can’t.
Last month’s Sound Off filled me with the urge to sound off on the topic myself. I’m a 24-year-old young woman (not girl) who, some might say, is a victim of the shidduch crisis. Even if b’ezras Hashem I get married this year, the fact that I don’t yet have three kids like some of my former classmates do, makes me a nebach case.
‘Nobody’s calling you a nebach case!’ you want to respond. Well, the individual who wrote last month’s article promising to solve the shidduch crisis sure is. For those who don’t recall, the goal of the article was to persuade the boys to start dating at 19. Since girls begin dating at 19, and we want to eliminate the age gap, the boys’ dating age should be pushed down. The author notes that pushing the girls’ dating age up to 22 would accomplish the same goal, but is much more difficult to instate. Why? Because 22-year-olds who are single not by choice already feel old, so forcing them to wait until then is inexcusable.
“...You realize that even if you prefer a mature son-in-law, it is only a slight preference and something you would not be willing to sacrifice a lot for.” That is probably one of the dumbest things I have ever read. Maturity is imperative in any relationship. Especially marriage. Maturity is the will to work things out. To communicate. To ‘fargin.’ Maturity is hardly a preference. It’s a necessity.
The writer proceeded to suggest that yeshivos force their talmidim to date at 19, and by force, I mean not allow them to stay in yeshiva if they don’t date. “If, however, he has no good excuse, and simply callously decides that the wellbeing of a bas Yisroel is not worth his time and effort, then he should obviously be forced to leave the yeshiva,” the author wrote.
Yes, for the well-being of a bas Yisroel, let him stay in yeshiva (or start college) and let him grow up before he risks his wellbeing and that of some unsuspecting girl. There is undoubtedly a gap in maturity between males and females; this is what led to the age gap in the first place. Thus, the only way you can have a successful marriage in which the two partners are closer in age is by moving UP the dating age, not DOWN.
In my world, quoting gedolim or sefarim does not validate your argument. Granted, there are 19-year-old males who are mature enough to get married, but they’re a tiny minority. Flooding the market with 19-year-old boys is a very short-sighted solution. Sure, it’ll pair up a bunch of people; a bunch of people who are not ready for marriage. This would lead to the other crisis our community is facing, which is the short-marriage crisis. (A discussion for another day.)
These people are not ready for marriage. They have not graduated college. Therefore, they don’t have degrees, and they don’t have jobs that are capable of sustaining families. They haven’t grown and developed as individuals, or clearly defined their needs; what they desire in a spouse. The girls returning from seminary need some time to come back down to earth and understand what they want.
My friends who are single and past the age of 21 have regaled me with tales of their adventures through the country; all over the world, they are having a good time. They are enjoying their freedom while they still have it. When Hashem sends them their basherts, soon, and they have real responsibilities, they will know that they’ve enjoyed themselves, and they will be ready to take on the challenges that come with marriage and children. They had a great few years to see, to explore, to learn, to grow - all things that are essential to people. It is much more difficult to accomplish these things as a married woman with more responsibility.
In addition, within the kollel community, where the woman is the breadwinner, more time allows her to further her degree, begin to pay off her student loans, and establish a job before she takes on the responsibility of paying rent and other household expenses. The idea of a young woman still single at 22-23 shouldn’t sound like a nightmare or a nebach case. It should sound like responsible individuals who are preparing themselves for marriage.