The Marriage Train

I’m not exaggerating when I say that if I had tried to get engaged or married while in college, I would have been in some serious trouble with my mother. I can hear her rant (albeit a made-up rant, but nevertheless, the sound of her voice is a stunning likeness) about how we had all worked too hard to get me there for me to blow it on anything other than more hard work, no distractions as crazy as marriage. She knew something about marriage; she was in one for sixteen years that ended unhappily, and she had given up admission to a prestigious nursing program to get married. I was supposed to do other things, and finishing college was only the tip of the iceberg.

The impetus for this post is the recent deluge of marriages I’ve noticed among Jews under the age of 23. My confusion is mostly based on the fact that the folks who are making the mad dash for the chuppah aren’t Orthodox or even Modern Orthodox, where the expectation of marrying and starting a family young is seen as an immediate priority.

I’m struggling to understand why this is happening, and why the Jewish community is so hell-bent on establishing it as a norm. It creates a strange and terrible kind of peer pressure, resulting in panic amongst the not married or partnered, and even resulting in those in committed relationships marrying before they’re ready (if anyone is ever really ready).

Marrying so young places an entirely different lens over the concept of matrimony-it’s no longer about taking years to find the right person and begin a life with them. Rather, it’s about starting out together, and hoping, believing even, that you will be able to overcome the hurdles that are inevitable when two people grow and change together. It seems particularly retro if you’re me, and along with your friends in their early 30’s, are either skeptical at best of the institution of marriage, or just starting to think about the idea.

It’s hard to explain to the newly minted college graduates around you that no, this behavior isn’t normal for most people their age. A marriage license and/or an engagement ring isn’t a requirement to receive a college diploma, although it seems like it might as well be. You can still be a member of a Jewish community without a ketubah on the wall of your apartment and with the last name you were born with. It should go without saying that all this is true, but it’s hard to believe when it seems like everyone else is doing getting married and/or engaged. Who will the role models be for young, single, serious Jews who don’t fit into or buy into this paradigm, especially young women? Only time can really tell us if young folks can resist the peer pressure to hurry and create a family (even if it’s not what’s right for them–now or ever) or if they will seek out other communities who can ultimately be more patient.

-Chanel Dubofsky

3 comments on “The Marriage Train

  1. Maximus Romulus on

    Once upon a time, before a time the mighty Tetragrammaton created three

    beings. The first being was the amorphous Spirit, the second was a female

    entity named Lilith, and the third being was a male named Metatron. Eons

    afterward, Lilith and Metatron decided to create third dimensional beings of

    themselves & so they created humanity in their own image, since the Spirit was

    formless it granted humankind a unique element called a Soul, but when the

    Spirit granted humankind its Soul, the first gust was inserted into the man, &

    then the woman received the secondary breeze. As a result, the man possessed a

    minor advantage over the woman. Lilith was not at all pleased with this end

    result, & so she decided to get even. She conveinced Lucifer to rebel against

    Heaven & during the conflict she slipped into the Garden of Eden unnoticed.

    And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, &

    daughters were born unto them, the Angels saw that the daughters of men were

    beautiful; & they took them wives of all which they chose. The Angels under

    their new human disguises formed a clan called the Nephilims. Mankind hated

    the Nephilims and the feeling was mutual but neither sides wanted to strike

    the first blow but all that is about to change when Demete a Nephilim boy fell

    in love with a pleasant human named Naamah. The boy’s uncle, Dagon displeased

    by this forbidden love hatched out a plan to murder Naamah hoping that the

    humans would rise up in retaliation thus giving him a valid excuse for war.

    Indeed the Nephilims were superior, but mankind had the support of an unlikely

    nemesis, an enemy whose interests & purpose firmly depends on the survival of

    the human race. Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury

    like a woman scorned.

  2. marriage on

    “This behavior isn’t normal” I think is a bit unfair…. it’s the same language that’s used to describe queer sex, non-mainstream cultures, etc. “Abnormality” shouldn’t be in the conversation– that just sounds like another form of peer pressure to conform to *another* system’s standard of normality.

  3. Rachal Ginsberg on

    Personally I married for the first time at age 35; but I had children. I was a single mother by choice at 23. Extremely feminist; didn’t think I needed a man. I am now 45 married and the mother to seven amazing Jewish children. We live in Israel and my eldest son is in the IDF. I pray everyday for my 21 year old son to find his soulmate sooner then I did. I think everyday about the six million lives lost to the holocaust. I believe we are the generation that needs to replenish the earth with Jewish souls. Women can’t wait until they are thirty and forty to start families. The best time to start having babies is in your twenty’s and thirty’s. Young people need to examine the reason behind why they are choosing marriage. I believe in “Klal Yisroal”. Am Yisroal Chai… the first five minutes of the movie “Idiocracy” and you will see my point. If the intellectual upper crust doesn’t start reproducing soon the earth will be flooded with Idiots. Jewish people marrying young today should be doing it for “Klal Yisroal”. I lived my young life with children in tow. I believe in the survival of the Jewish race. The young Jewish marriages are the key to the Jewish future.

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