Thursday, November 5, 2009

Some Thoughts on the "Shidduch Crisis"

I am not in favor of the term "Shidduch Crisis." There are far too many elements in the shidduch process to simply slap on one label and have it hold true for the entire process. However, I do believe that there are some problems in the shidduch process, and that these problems need to be addressed, one by one.

I was taught that the first step in problem solving is to accurately define what the problem is, to set out the elements of the problem. While there have been some mentions of what people believe may be causing the crisis, there has been no systemized attempt at laying out all the parts of the problem. What follows is my attempt at dissecting the problem and labeling the parts. I am setting out the various parts of the problem in no particular order.

1. There are more Jewish women then men in the Jewish population.

2. Not all members of Klal Yisroel actually want to get married, despite certain actions such as dating.

3. The age for marriage is being "cemented" into younger and younger "requirements."

4. The issue of money figures in shidduchim all out of proportion to other requirements for a shidduch.

5. As the population of Klal Yisroel has grown, the population has gotten more and more compartmentalized, more "specialized," more insular.

6. The Jewish population is spread out all over this country, and all over the world thus creating access problems for those looking for shidduchim. No where does it state that your shidduch is going to be living up the block from you.

7. Traditional family responsibility divisions are being fractured as more and more women are required to be outside of their homes working.

8. Yeshivas of higher learning have individually grown at a tremendous rate, requiring ever larger numbers of talmidim to attend in order to remain self-perpetuating.

9. There are huge numbers of yeshivas of higher learning requiring a steady input of talmidim in order to stay in business.

10. The financial costs of getting married, being married and staying married have risen out of proportion to the ability of young married Jewish couples to pay, resulting in shalom bais issues.

11. Men have requirements for a future spouse that do not have anything to do with creating successful marriages.

12. Women have requirements for a future spouse that do not have anything to do with creating successful marriages.

13. Sub-groups in Klal Yisroel have set up rules and regulations for the shidduch process that impede that progress and slow it down, rather than facilitate it.

14. Demonstrated, or even assumed, maturity is no longer a requirement before looking for a shidduch.

15. Those who set up the shidduch "rules" frequently have motives in addition to the pertuating of Klal Yisroel.

16. People are becoming ever more fearful of being "left behind" and so accept shidduchim that may or may not lead to successful, lasting marriages.

17. Young people are not taught about the practical aspects of marriage, the issues of day to day living. They are thus unprepared for what marriage is beyond the wedding.

18. Shidduch making has become a "race," a competition instead of being viewed as a connection of two individuals.

19. Klal Yisroel has come to value conformity in all areas--fit the mold or else. This has become the case in making shidduchim as well.

20. Trying to "standardize" human beings, certainly as regards shidduchim, has resulted in a lot of outside personae that don't match the inner person, as people squeeze themselves into shoes that don't fit.

21. Making shidduchim has come to be viewed as a competition for scarce resources and parents and singles are determined to be counted among the winners, no matter what it takes.

22. Many of the "rules" applying to dating and making shidduchim impede the very shidduchim they were set up to facilitate.

23. Young males and females are being given fewer and fewer opportunities to observe or interact with those of the other sex. Actual working knowledge of the other sex is highly limited, if not absent altogether.

22. The dating process has been foreshortened to the point where decisions on getting engaged are based on less time then buying an outfit or buying a car.

23. Everyone talks about the crisis in shidduchim but solutions are rarely offered, certainly rarely put into affect.

24. A few of the solutions are not really solutions--offering money to shadchanim for making certain types of shidduchim changes what exactly? Decreeing that certain age cohorts may marry only those of another, specific age cohort solves the problem just how?

25. Even though it seems that so many people are involved in trying to make shidduchim, not enough really are.

26. Having a single child is not just a concern of a specific parent--everyone in Klal should be concerned.

27. Klal Yisroel is highly fragmented and there is no one central authority that speaks for all members. Thus there is no one to appeal to to change the methodology of shidduchim.

28. If "authority" X says that shidduchim must be made in such and such a way, "authority" Z is just as likely to answer that "we don't hold that way."

29. Most shules are not sufficiently actively involved in promoting shidduchim for their unmarried members.

30. There is a confusion between wants and needs as regards dating and marriage.

31. While some institutions of Klal are not doing enough to help promote shidduchim, there are still too many people involved in each individual shidduch, lending some confusion as to whose expectations need to be met and who the shidduch is really for.

32. "I deserve" is of too much importance to some in the shidduch process.

33. Question asking has gone to a high level of absurdity.

34. People exagerate, stretch the truth, tell "tall tales" and just plain lie when giving information about a possible shidduch.

35. Perfection has gone out of the realm of philosophical ideology and is now a requirement for a shidduch.

36. Marriage is for adults and far too many "children" are getting married before they are mature enough to do so.

37. Too many men are not taking on the mantle of "husbandness," leaving that responsibility to others while still enjoying the "perks" of married life.

38. There is too much antipathy being created between males and females, each seeing the other as "strange" yet necessary.


NonymousG said...

I think the greatest obstacle to everything is 27 and 28. It is probably the single greatest reason we need Moshiach, we are seperately going down bad roads, and no individual figure or Gadol is unifying enough to rescue us. The irony is that when he does come, he'll probably be rejected by some sects...

Anonymous said...

N: I've always liked the fact that judaism did not have a central ultimate leader and beurocracy like the pope and the roman catholic church. It allows for a more populist form of judaism and more lay involvement, accomodation or more views and more thinking for oneself. Too much power in any one person, even rabbis, can be dangerous. On the other hand, our system does lead to lots of factions and sects and less cohesion. There are advantages and disadvantaes to both systems. Nothing is perfect.

Ruth said...

I read through the list twice--are you sure we don't have a crisis? Even 4 or 5 of these items would be enough to have a problem of huge dimensions. Add them all up and it's frightening.

concernedjewgirl said...

Can we please add another one?
How about the fact that when a person tries to make a shidduch between people they know and something goes wrong, the person is pounded on the head! Then the person never wants to get involved again.
Of course I still do it again, time and time again...still getting pounded on the head.
Out of all the shidduch's I've tried to make NONE of them have gone through, thank g-d I don't do this for money!
The most frustrating part of trying to help make a shidduch and it not working out is not that it does not work but the reasons for the failure!!!
When I hear friends not wanting to go out with incredible boys because of looks I just think to myself...OY! Or other very superficial, and even more ridiculous excuses.

I agree with all of your points.

Anonymous said...

another factor:

there's internal pressure to get married early, but external social pressures to not get married early--most americans are getting married later & later, so the general social mindset at those ages are different than they used to be, when it was more common for people to get married right out of high school or college. This affects frum mindset as well, since we don't live in a vacuum...

Tamar said...

After reading the list I agree that solving one point at a time might make a difference. In fact, with certain of the points, like how long people date for, if you fixed that some of the other problems would be fixed or at least become less of a problem, like some shalom bayis issues that come because the couple don't really know each other.