Thursday, June 18, 2009

Perhaps We Some Should Return To Fully Arranged Marriages?

Yesterday, ProfK posted a story about an acquaintance of hers who was has a son or daughter (she didn't say which) who was in the process of shidduch dating. The young man or woman had gone out with someone else on a total of seven dates. After the seventh date, the couple decided that the match wasn't right for them.

Rather than simply letting it go and trying to find someone that their kids actually might want to marry, both mothers decided to go after the shadchan. ProfK, who was asked to get involved was surprised that the shadchan was still involved in the process after seven dates. Upon expressing this surprise to her acquaintance, Prof K was told by one of the mothers:

"Of course the shadchan is still involved! You think that kids this young should just be left alone to have to make important decisions like this?! They need someone with experience guiding them. Es past nit that they should be the ones to ask the delicate questions or to put themselves into situations that could get awkward if they don't know what the right answer should be."

Now then, I don't want you to think that this mother comes from some sheltered world where she could not possibly conceive of the idea that a young adult could make a choice for themselves regarding marriage and dating. On the contrary, this woman met her husband by herself and went on many more than seven dates with him. And, yes, they were frum at the time. But I don't really want to address that issue. What I want to address is this woman's attitude toward her child and her quoted statement above.

There are just so many things wrong with it that, when I first read it yesterday, I was completely left speechless. Having had some time to get over my state of flabbergastedness, I have a few thoughts to share on these sixty seven words.

I find it amazing that this woman does not trust her own child enough to come up with the "right answers" to questions posed by the other side, but yet thinks that s/he is actually ready for marriage. What would be next? Would she also think that her kids are too young to be "left alone" to the tasks of running a household and childrearing, or will she engage professionals for them in those areas as well?

I also find it amazing that she believes that while her child is clearly not ready to talk about sensitive topics with his/her date, s/he is ready to actually get married and live with said date.

I find it even more amazing that, at the point where she feels that at the point where an engagement should be in the works that honesty is not the best policy. Notice that she says that things "could get awkward if they don't know what the right answer should be." Um... at the point of an engagement, don't you think that honesty should be the only answer? And don't you think that it could be even *more* awkward if the "wrong answer" were said after marriage? (And, yes, if there is a "wrong answer" to a question, it will come out after marriage. Secrets don't stay buried.)

Sometimes, I wonder if, for people such as these, we shouldn't simply go back to the model of completely arranged marriages. Simply tell the bride and groom when and where to show up and that's that -- they'll meet on their wedding day. Seriously -- if you're going to take the point of view that your child isn't mature enough for the shidduch process but yet mature enough to get married, then why not just skip right to the ceremony?

The Wolf


Garnel Ironheart said...

> Would she also think that her kids are too young to be "left alone" to the tasks of running a household and childrearing, or will she engage professionals for them in those areas as well?

After the marriage it changes from "Ask the shadchan" to "Ask the Rabbi" on everything.

I'm not surprised at this woman's background. Many frum people who want to compete with BT's become "frummer" and adopt all sorts of attitudes in an attempt to outflank them.

Larry Lennhoff said...

Would you really trust this woman to arrange a decent match for her child? I wouldn't.

A Living Nadneyda said...

Does she show up with her daughter on job interviews?

I would hope that she had taught her daughter some dating / what-to-look-for-in-a-life-partner skills, especially if she herself managed the task alone -- that must have been a learning experience worth passing on. Or not.

Leah Gayle said...

Don't give them any ideas.

jb said...

And we wonder why divorce is rising in the frum community...

Ariella's blog said...

It seems that the parents are the ones who want the alliance to go through even though the young people do not. Odd as this approach sounds, I once heard a well-known rabbi suggesting something like what this mother is doing. (I blogged about it at the time) Don't misunderstand me: I find it wrong. But they really believe that young people should be pushed along. He said it facetiously but suggested saying first, "just go out." Then "just go out again," Then "Go ahead and get engaged." They seem to believe that if the older people looked into the backgrounds, etc., and believe the couple should prove compatible, it can be made to work. The fact that the young people are not yet mature, they feel, works in their favor in adapting to the match.

Again, this is not my philosophy, but they really believe that it is best to marry people off on the younger side and that there will be fewer issues. They also seem to think young people will be able to "fall for" the person directed at them.

Rachel Tritel said...

I teach at Touro College.
A student's FATHER called me to discuss her grade.

aaron said...

whatever happened to the good old days when people just dated "off the wall"?( Called phone numbers they read on walls)Oy,niskatnu haDoirois!

Something Different said...

If I trusted my parents a little more I would let them just pick a guy for me. Honest the system as it stands is more brutal than I feel ready to face.

yitz said...

I found my wife on my own (ie. lots of divine intervention)

But I trusted and respected my parents enough to marry me off.

I even remember once when they nudged me about dating that I told them "I'm dating whenever there is a serious opportunity, it would be a lot smoother if you were seeking out potentials and screening them for me."

I know that's rare, but still it's a lot more organized and productive than groping around in the dark [metaphorically, please] for years until you find someone.

Maybe arranged marriages + veto would work best (?) to ease everyone's fears.

(Kids often know what they don't want -- far less frequently what they do want (when it comes to what's actually 'good' for them))