Thursday, May 22, 2008

Playing the Blame Game Shidduch Style

Someone commented to me that my blog has changed character from when I began blogging to now. She pointed out that I had lots of posts on shidduchim when I first started out and that I've put up none in a very long time. She would be correct, and perhaps the time has finally come to do another shidduch posting, even if not the one some of you might be expecting.

Making a shidduch today is fraught with tension. Just mentioning the word shidduch to a parent with children about to enter the parsha can bring on palpitations and gastric distress. Somehow things have gone awry in shidduch making and everyone but everyone is now playing the Shidduch Blame Game. You know the one--it's where you get points by finding the correct person to blame because soneone's 1) date didn't work out, 2) date didn't come to fruition, 3) can't get a date. Who is blamed for the problems in shidduch dating/shidduch making? Singles blame everyone but themselves. Parents blame everyone but themselves. Shadchanim blame everyone else but themselves. Schools blame everyone else but themselves. Rabbanim blame everyone but themselves. Members of the community blame everyone but themselves. Your friends blame everyone but themselves. Guess what? EVERYONE is to blame. That's right, no one escapes blameless in the Blame Game.

But a word of explanation is needed. Why do we even have the Shidduch Blame Game? Because we have another game that we play first. It's the Match Game carried to extremes. In its original version the Match Game had two players and a lot of people cheering them on from the sidelines. The Game has evolved to a multi-multi-player game. What's worse, the Game has become an amalgam, a mishmash of rules taken from lots of other games. We've added in producing a resume for players, from the Let's Find a Job Game. We've borrowed bluffing and outright lying from Poker. We've borrowed the strangest questions ever asked with no known connection to anything that matters from Trivial Pursuit. We've taken rules from everywhere and plunked them down willy nilly into a game that no one really seems to want to play, and everyone does anyway. It's surely not a fun game, for all the fun has been drained from it. And given the higher rate of shalom bayis problems and of divorce today, it's not a game where the winners are always winners either. And because we play the Match Game we also play the Shidduch Blame Game.

I, personally, am simplifying the game, if only a tiny bit. I'm removing myself as a player, at least as a shadchan. There was some family business to take care of this year, so I was not as actively involved in shadchanus as in all the past years. And I noticed something strange--I wasn't missing the "joy" of shadchanus very much. Perhaps the final straw came a few weeks ago, when I read a piece in which shadchanim were designated as "mitzvah junkies." Yes indeed, a title to be looked forward to with happiness. I'm not the only one who is leaving the game playing to others. Two friends who have been active in shidduchim for decades are also saying "I quit." When you don't recognize the game board any more, when you don't know or like the rules, when the prize to be won is not worth the effort needed to be expended, it's time to quit.

I expedited my first match when I was young and single. That couple just had the zchus to marry off a grandchild. The other 21 matches I made are all still married and doing well. I'm leaving the mad game while I'm still a winner.

Why do people become shadchanim, at least volunteer shadchanim? Lots of reasons, but mine is fairly simple. I believed that if I was busy and helped out other people to get married, someone else would also help out so that my children could get married. No one can know everyone out there and sharing the information and the job seemed sensible to me. I need to concentrate now on my own children, on my beloved niece's behalf, because things didn't go quite the way I thought they would; "someone" changed the rules mid-stream. And frankly I'm tired--tired of the endless machinations, tired of the endless maneuverings that lead nowhere, tired of the marathon phone calls with no results. I'm tired of the artificial protocol, and I'm tired of the endless finger pointing. I'll still have to play the game, at least somewhat, on behalf of my children, but the Shadchan playing piece is retiring from the fray.

To paraphrase Richard Nixon, "You won't have this shadchan to kick around any more."


Anonymous said...

Agree that the game is horrible but what are you supposed to do when it is the only game in town?

Maybe you just need a vacation instead of giving up shadchanus completely?

Anonymous said...

You need to read your own postings to get some chizuk ProfK. There's a disconnect between the Donne poem and your decision to stop making shidduchim. If you are a part of all mankind then you need to stay with shidduchim.

Having said that, I can still understand your decision completely. With some of my children married and some yet to be married I want out of this game. If I'd had to go through this craziness back when I was single I have my doubts that I would have gotten married at all. We can split atoms, we can send a man to the moon, we can change salt water to fresh, and we can't find a better system?

Anonymous said...


Oy vey. Say it ain't so, Prof. K !

Prof. K throwing in towel. Who will catch ?

Masses left shivering and wet.

Blog remains. Klal's gain.

Klal dismembered. Priority to family members.

Anonymous said...

Hello I would like to throw in my 3cents. I am 62 years of age and many of my classmates from yeshiva days have become influential educators in the yeshiva system, if there is such a thing. Well many of these guys & their wives have succeeded in transforming the most exciting time of young persons life into one of fear,loathing and apprehension

Anonymous said...

Lot's of people who are choosing not to play the game any more including a lot of singles. There's something really demeaning in being looked at like a piece of meat at the butchers.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Jay. This is one area where the next generation didn't progress. What a mess we have made of it all. Don't blame you for saying you've had enough.

Bas~Melech said...

Well said. I think we all feel that way. People need to have more appreciation for each other instead of looking for a scapegoat. This is not a shidduch problem; it's a FAITH problem. When people can resume saying "Thanks shadchan, other side, references, parents, for trying to help -- this one was not bashert," then people like you will no longer have to run for cover.

Anonymous said...

No comments on my poem/haiku/whatever it is ?

I was thinking of giving more, but now I don't know...

ProfK said...

Silence is also a compliment to great writing. It means the reader is ruminating on wht was written and internalizing the message. That said, my thanks for the literary output. (We were at a wedding last night so I couldn't comment until this morning.)

Anonymous said...

"To paraphrase Richard Nixon, "You won't have this shadchan to kick around any more."

Ah, but a few years after saying that, Nixon came back and was elected President....