Are we pushing our singles into marriages they’re not ready for?
It’s the expected trajectory: high school, seminary/yeshivah, dating, marriage. But are all the young adults in our community ready to take out the greatest responsibility of their lives at the same time? How can we know if our child is ready? And is there any way we can help them reach readiness?
Adina came home from seminary in June. Three girls from her circle are already married (not counting Shaindy, who broke her engagement). She’s begging her mother to meet shadchanim.
Tatty shrugs: What’s the rush? Let her find her bearings and put some money in the bank for a few months. She’s just a kid. She spends more time getting iced coffee with her friends than considering her future. How will she ever deal with work and school and housework? Not to mention babies, im yirtzeh Hashem...
Rikki’s gone out seven times with Moshe, and she likes what she sees... more or less. She’s just not feeling it. Her sister Chavi and her best friends Esti and Tova each knew that their husband was The One by date four or five...
The shadchan is calling almost hourly, and Moshe’s siblings want to know if they should start finding babysitting arrangements for the l’chayim. But Rikki just isn’t ready.
As organizations and askanim spread the alarm about the imbalance between the male and female single population, and we hear of early divorces with greater frequency, many people are deeply afraid of becoming statistics — either older singles or divorcees. Concurrently, to even out the purported age gap, boys are being encouraged to date at younger ages.
But are we contributing to a shalom bayis crisis by putting too much pressure on our singles to date and marry before they’re ready? What does “ready” even mean? And how do we get our singles there?
What Does Ready Look Like?
Are today’s pressures causing us to make worse marriage choices than we once did?
“Shalom bayis problems, which may partly be due to poor ‘marriage choices,’ predate current shidduch pressures,” says Lisa Twerski, LCSW. “The discussion and collective concern about the shidduch situation add gravitas.”
Still, while there’s far more worry about being able to snag a boy, she doesn’t believe people are dating or making decisions in a substantively different way than they once did. Today’s singles face different challenges than their parents did, but like many mental health professionals, she doesn’t feel that the “crisis talk” is causing girls to make poor decisions more often.
The consensus, across a wide spectrum of marital therapists, mentors, shadchanim, and rabbanim, is that age is just a number. “Ready” is a level of maturity that has little to do with age — and doesn’t mean fully formed.
“We don’t get married perfect. We’re not supposed to,” says Dr. Tamar Perlman, PsyD, who counsels singles and couples, and also teaches kallahs. Even if the communal norm was to wait until 40, she points out, people would never be fully “ready.”
So what is readiness for marriage? As a community, we don’t expect our children to be fully independent when they get married. Financial support is widespread, as are dinners at the parents, packing up to spend Shabbos and Yamim Tovim with in-laws, and moving into Mommy’s after having a baby.
“Are we defining ‘ready’ as fully able to go out there on their own?” asks Lisa Twerski. “It doesn’t look like it to me.” As a community, we’ve decided to think about readiness in terms of age, she says, with the assumption that parents will be there for their children and continue supporting them, to some degree, through at least the early years of marriage.
However, this attitude is rife with conflicting messaging, points out Sara Eisemann, LCSW. “They tell us ‘If you’re old enough to get married, you’re old enough to take care of everything yourself. If you have a problem with your husband, don’t breathe a word to your mother.’ We encourage this ‘independence’ while still supporting them. It’s a convoluted, nisht ahin, nisht aher tangle of boundaries that goes only in one direction.”
A Self to Meet Another
Success in marriage depends on a healthy sense of self. “We teach our girls to be an ishah kesheirah,” says Mrs. Eisenmann. “That concept can be abused if they have no healthy sense of self.”
Our singles need to understand how to proudly assert who they are, agrees Mrs. Rochel Goldbaum, a shidduch mentor and kallah teacher based in Denver who works with an international clientele.
She describes two types of marriage — the oatmeal bowl, where the maple syrup loses its identity and blends into the cereal, and the fruit bowl, where each component takes up its own space.
“A fruit bowl is what we want,” she says. “A girl who knows how to take up her own space, respectfully but assertively stating her desires, and also giving others space.”
Can she speak up to a boss who’s taking advantage of her schedule? Can she maintain her own identity and opinions among friends? Any deficit in these skills will be more pronounced within the confines of a marriage.
Even before marriage, a sense of self is critical for dating. “A single needs to have a real sense of who they are and what’s truly important to them,” says Dr. Perlman. Often, young people define themselves and their needs externally — “he needs to be outgoing, well-dressed, balabatish.” Dr. Perlman believes that’s a recipe for disappointment.
She encourages singles to think about why those traits are important to them. If someone can only respect a boy who plans the dates without her input, why is that? Does she value organization and preparedness, or does she have a need to feel taken care of?
“The more internal your definition, the more likely you are to find a matching partner,” explains Dr. Perlman. “You end up marrying what you look for.”
Crystallizing the need behind the desired characteristic also has the benefit of opening up additional possibilities, notes Rabbi Yechiel Rhine, international dating coach, and former director of Agudath Yisrael’s Shidduch initiative. “Full-time learning” might be the only way a single knows how to express what she wants. But if she analyzes the need, and comes to understand that what she’s really looking for is someone deeply connected to Torah, she’ll have both a more accurate and a more flexible criterion with which to evaluate potential shidduchim.
Aside from identifying values and ideals, Mrs. Twerski emphasizes the importance of understanding one’s emotional needs. “You want to be in touch with who you are, what your needs are, what type of person you’re emotionally compatible with. To make the best decision, you want to be able to say, ‘I know me in relationships,’ so you can think maturely about what kind of person you want to be with,” she says.
While family background, religious goals, and community are all of critical importance in choosing a spouse, she says that a lot of those can be evaluated by doing research. Dating is for clarifying the remaining issues, and a significant focus should be on getting to know if the couple is emotionally compatible.
“It doesn’t mean being the same, but finding someone you can work through life best with. One intense person might feel she fits best with someone calm to balance her out, while another might feel she can navigate issues better with someone who can match her intensity.” Unless someone truly knows herself, and has spent time reflecting on which relationships bring out the best in her, she won’t recognize whether an attractive personality is truly well-suited for her to marry, or is simply an appealing date.
After finding the right candidate, marriage is hard work, and singles need to be prepared to shoulder that responsibility.
Responsibility manifests itself across a spectrum of arenas. Baila, a mother of several recently married daughters, saw her daughters taking responsibility for more than just their immediate needs. “I saw them pitching in as part of the household; they saw Yom Tov coming and wanted to know how they could help.” They also took responsibility for their own spirituality after leaving seminary. They attended shiurim, even once it was no longer expected of them.
“In general, you’re looking for pattern of steady ability to cope with life’s demands,” says Mrs. Eisemann. “You want to be able to see they can manage their responsibilities, that they’re showing up for most things most of the time.”
To the surprise of some whose sole focus is on the parties and the gifts, marriage also comes along with the needs, habits, and opinions of another person, which might conflict, even dramatically, with his spouse’s.
“Flexibility is huge,” asserts Mrs. Eisemann. “Young people have to move beyond black-and-white thinking. They need to be able to live with ambivalence and gray areas, and not be rigid about things.”
Flexibility is broadly related to perspective taking, the ability to see a situation from another’s viewpoint. It’s important for someone on the cusp of marriage to be able to see their own role in a disagreement, says Dr. Perlman.
“Let’s say it really bothers her if her almost-chassan doesn’t call her back right away. Hearing only, ‘He needs to fix that,’ doesn’t seem like a wholesome perspective to me. I want to hear, ‘I wonder if I call at bad times?’ or ‘I wonder if I should give him more space?’ It could be those aren’t the problems, and maybe the young man really does have something he needs to work on. But a single’s ability to consider another’s perspective is a critical skill for marriage.”
Is My Son Ready?
While the girls feel the heat of the shidduch crisis, and are worried about becoming leftovers even before they’ve hit the tarmac at JFK, some experts are concerned that our boys, despite their older chronological age, are less ready than their female counterparts.
Unlike the girls, who have been hearing about marriage from high school and seminary teachers, many boys only hear these ideas during their chassan classes, notes Rabbi Greenfeld, rav of the Chestnut Street Shul in Lakewood and experienced chassan teacher.
The number one concern cited is responsibility.
“Girls have many more opportunities to demonstrate and practice responsibility,” says Baila. Her daughters were GO officers, chesed heads, yearbook editors, and camp counselors, which taught them accountability and valuable life skills, and showed their parents what their strengths and weaknesses were. “I wonder how I’ll be able to tell if my boys are ready,” she says apprehensively.
Rabbi Greenfeld says that many boys have been sheltered from the realities of life and have never been made accountable for anything. He’s even had mothers call him to arrange a chassan shmuess for their sons. “Isn’t your son the chassan?” he asks. “He should be arranging these details himself.”
“Do you know how many times the kesubah says achrayus?” asks Mrs. Goldbaum. Parents need to be mindful to allow their sons to develop a sense of responsibility. She recommends teaching boys to pitch in with household responsibilities and to avoid waiting on them hand and foot, despite the temptation to pamper them on their brief visits home.
“When checking out a shidduch, I always ask, ‘Did he ever have a side job? Was he a lifeguard, a counselor?’” she says. Parents can teach responsibility even when their sons are in the safe cocoon of the yeshivah. For example, when providing a boy with a car, they can make him responsible for insurance and maintenance.
Rabbi Rhine points out that the pressures we put on boys and girls are unequal. While boys are expected to be masmidim and excel in learning, they face fewer expectations in other areas. As long as they’re learning well, parents and mechanchim are loathe to rock the boat. Girls, on the other hand, contend with more rigorous academic accountability, are expected to help out at home, know how they plan to spend their lives and already be pursuing a career at 19, and juggle school, work, and family obligations.
Concurrently, boys who don’t quite toe the line can slip back into the mainstream relatively easily, while a girl who pushes the envelope can quickly be branded for life. The upshot, he says, is that some boys acquire a sense of entitlement.
“Boys come to me and say I want x, and y, and z,” he says. “They want the girl who’s perfected the area they don’t want to work on. The boy who’s constantly running late or keeps a messy room wants a punctual, organized type. Instead of working out their issues, they’d rather find a girl who will do it for them.”
To combat this trend, parents need to insist on mentschlich behavior from a young age. Instead of falling into society’s trap of evaluating a bochur solely by his skill in lamdus, parents also need to look at the complete picture, and not be afraid to demand proper middos in all areas.
How Can I Help?
“How can I fix my immature 19-year-old?” is unlikely to have many good responses, notes Dr. Perlman.
The best preparation we can give our children starts at a much earlier age. Before our children are even born, we need to start the lifelong process of building our own marriages. Modeling an authentic and respectful relationship is the single best preparation a parent can give her child for marriage.
As well, parents need to give their children room to grow into responsibility. Rather than being the proverbial lawnmower parent who hovers nearby to mow down any adversity in your child’s path, leave room for your child to make mistakes.
Dr. Perlman describes a newly married young woman who was having a hard Friday — her in-laws were coming on short notice and her oven was on the blink. When she told her mother about her stressful day, mom swung into action, and it wasn’t long before she showed up on her daughter’s doorstep bearing challah, dips, and kugels, as well as assurances that the repairman she’d called was on the way. To the mother’s surprise (today’s ungrateful generation!), rather than being effusively thankful, the daughter felt disempowered.
“She didn’t need to be rescued,” explains Dr. Perlman. “She needed her mother to say, ‘You’ve got this. How do you want me to help you?’ The daughter should feel like the hero, not the victim.’” Practicing this supportive, yet empowering parenting style can help children develop the grit they’ll need to overcome obstacles in their married lives. Someone who was always padded from the hard knocks of life will flounder when faced with challenges.
Among all the social skills parents can teach their children from a young age, Dr. Perlman singles out one of the most important: being heard. It’s not something people often think of as a skill — you’re either heard or you aren’t, right?
But one of the most important factors in the success of a relationship is whether both partners feel validated. Often, Dr. Perlman says, a couple fights about something purely practical — say, there’s not enough money or the husband doesn’t help out enough at home — and all the wife really needs is the acknowledgment that her husband understands her perspective. Even if the problem doesn’t get fixed, feeling understood is the backbone of a healthy relationship. And that’s something a dater may not be able to evaluate well if she didn’t experience it growing up, says Dr. Perlman.
“Teaching kids to be seen and heard starts with seeing and hearing them,” she says. “We need to look at them with curiosity, not anxiety: ‘You have something big and beautiful to give the world, and I don’t have any idea what it is yet.’” This teaches kids to see themselves as valuable individuals, not merely reflections of their parents or society.
It can be uncomfortable or even scary to hear what our kids tell us, and the urge to rush in with correction or disagreement can be overwhelming. But listening to them with respect, openness, and genuine interest will ensure that they know what real relationships and healthy listening feel like.
Positive communication is another skill that’s critical to marriage, and can be inculcated from a young age. “Often we tell people what we don’t want, what’s wrong, and what isn’t working, instead of telling them what we actually want,” says Mrs. Goldbaum. Even when valid concerns need to be aired, the phrasing and tone can make all the difference. From early childhood, kids can be taught to say, “Please do that more quietly,” instead of “You’re so annoying!”
Of course, life is rarely as simple as the parenting gurus would have us believe. You may have done everything right, but are still worried about your 20-year-old daughter’s readiness for marriage and family.
“Have a conversation,” says Mrs. Twerski. Explain your concerns. Discuss your questions and perspective. Hear why your child thinks your concerns are not a problem. .
“You’re not looking for your children to be able to solve every problem — there will inevitably be maturing that will happen through marriage — but you’re looking to see that your child shows a degree of introspection,” Mrs. Twerski explains. She should have some awareness of the inevitable complexities that will crop up in marriage, and some judgment about herself and whether or how she’s equipped to deal with the issues.
Many girls have classes in seminary, and sometimes shiurim afterward, which talk about dating, knowing yourself, and preparing for marriage. Use what your daughter tells you she’s learning to have discussions that will help you discover their level of awareness. Such conversations can also be sparked by an article. “Connect what they learn to their life,” says Mrs. Twerski. “Use it as an opportunity to have a dialogue about readiness, dating, expectations, and marriage.”
Of course, acknowledges Mrs. Twerski, these conversations can be more difficult in the case of a girl who wants to date right after returning from seminary abroad. “You haven’t been able to have those conversations all year over dinner, hearing their thought process and development. Some parents are comfortable deferring to their daughter’s judgment, but others will be thinking, ‘Oh, no!’ Trying to fit in all of the conversations you want to have prior to her starting dating might feel overwhelming.”
The “seminary high” is a common concern; parents worry that their daughters are rushing into marriage based on impossibly lofty ideals without a full understanding of what the commitments entail. So talk about it.
“‘You don’t understand, you’re being unrealistic’ — that’s not a conversation,” says Mrs. Twerski. “Conversation is, ‘I’m a little concerned because you have no experience with this lifestyle. What appeals to you about it? What do you think your struggles will be? Do you have ideas about managing those struggles?’
“If she isn’t coming up with anything, explain, specifically, what your concerns are. We’re worried about the girl who says, ‘Oh, it’ll be beautiful,’ and can’t or won’t engage in a conversation about the difficulties that might come along with their ideals.”
If you don’t feel a child is ready, discuss it in a practical way, says Mrs. Eisemann. What evidence do you have of your concern? Don’t say, “I don’t think you’re mature enough yet.” Instead point out a situation with a coworker or sibling that highlights your concern. Give details: What behaviors or benchmarks would satisfy your concerns?
“Set criteria: ‘I need to see you keeping up with your coursework for a full semester,’ or ‘I’d want to see that you can handle criticism without a meltdown.’”
“Readiness,” according to Mrs. Twerski, is the sum of these life competencies, with the understanding that more will be filled in along the way. This is something parents are in the best position to observe and discuss.
In most healthy families, if parents are capable of and willing to have frank discussions about shidduchim and the future, they can be the best guides their children have to determine readiness. Still, many feel that it’s helpful for the single to discuss shidduchim with a mentor, with or without her parents present.
Rochel Goldbaum recommends that everyone see a mentor before their first date. “Usually, they call me once they’re stuck. Once something doesn’t work out, they see the value in mentoring,” she says.
Rabbi Rhine starts his mentoring with a long interview with the single, preferably with the parents present. This discovery session — which can last upward of two hours — can obviate so many of the problems that often crop up in the process, he says.
He helps parents and the single understand who the child really is, what his needs are, and how best to pursue them. “The child walks out feeling ‘My parents heard me, they understand me.’ The parents feel confident that the kid believes in them.” With the newfound clarity of purpose, he says, many singles don’t need further coaching, because they now have a focused, goal-oriented approach to shidduchim.
Sometimes, surprising things come to light. “There’s a box of tissues in the room. The process can be uncomfortable at times,” he admits. Parents occasionally have a mistaken notion of exactly where their child is holding in life or what they want or need in a spouse.
One prestigious family he worked with told him that their daughter needed a top boy from Brisk. Seeing that the girl herself seemed less than enthusiastic, he asked the parents to step outside. Speaking privately with the girl, he discovered that her lifestyle was very far from a kollel one. He convinced her to open up to her parents.
“There was lots of crying, but they were so relieved. Then, of course, they had the clarity to search for the type of boy she actually needed,” he recounts.
Such extremes are uncommon, but many well-meaning people inadvertently hurt their own children because of their ideas of what the child needs, or because of their concerns about what the neighbors might say. Working with a mentor before beginning shidduchim ensures that parents and child are all on the same page.
When both parents and child are basically healthy, is there anything a mentor provides that a wise mother can’t?
“I can’t coach my own kids,” Mrs. Goldbaum confesses. “I’m scared, I’m emotional about it, as I should be.” A mentor can provide objective guidance without the emotional entanglements that are inherent in any family relationship.
The main help a parent can provide, she says, is being a rock of unwavering support, and keeping an eye out for general personality changes. Does the single seem to be getting more anxious or uptight while dating someone? Is she walking around the house singing? These overall swings can be strong indications of the health of a relationship.
“A dating mentor is like a handrail on the staircase,” says Mrs. Goldbaum. “We hold them steady, watch from a birds-eye view, and keep them healthy. We make sure they’re going up one step at a time, not jumping ahead, and sometimes we help move them up one step. Because that’s what dating should feel like — a progression, like climbing a staircase, not like riding a rollercoaster.”
Rushing the Process
Aside from the single’s personal readiness, the complex protocols that surround shidduchim can also create artificial pressure that leads some singles to rush into marriages before they’re ready.
While some people are eager to get married and shoulder all the associated responsibilities when they’re still in their teens, others’ adolescence is more protracted — and that’s fine.
“Certain developmental processes can’t be rushed,” says Mrs. Eisemann. “When we truncate any developmental stage, those needs come out later in another way.” Teens need time to explore their identity, to feel out who they are without being under a teacher or parent’s constant watchful eye.
If singles are pressured to jump into shidduchim before they’ve had a little time to figure out who they are as adults, they don’t necessarily have the buy-in that will carry them through life’s hardships.
“We’re watching people having serious crises,” says Mrs. Eisemann. “Not even mid-life crises, but early adulthood crises, because they never had the chance to figure out who and what they are. If we cut off a process that needs to unfold, it will come back to haunt them later in life. There’s nothing sadder than watching a 40-year-old look at his life and say, ‘When does living start?’”
That doesn’t mean everyone needs an exploratory year or two after high school to find themselves, or that people should delay starting shidduchim. But young people who need time to find their footing should be allowed to do so without the shidduch police breathing down their backs.
Faigy’s bright, capable daughter hasn’t been in a rush to start shidduchim. She’s in school, she’s starting a new job, and she recognizes that marriage will come with another entire set of responsibilities. She feels she needs a little time to get settled before she shoulders that — and she still wants to be a girl with her friends for a little longer.
“People ask me, ‘Why aren’t you pushing her?’” relates Faigy. “When the shadchan calls, I wish I could tell her that she’s busy, but instead I’m honest: She doesn’t feel ready.” Faigy is aware that people look askance at her for not pursuing promising leads. “It’s hard for me to say nope, status quo,” says Faigy, but her child’s needs come first.
In today’s high-pressure shidduch environment, it’s easy to miss important concerns when checking out a shidduch. While boys’ mothers can put the FBI to shame with their exhaustive checking, once they say yes, the shadchan will often pressure the girl’s family to answer within a couple of days.
The temptation to give a quick answer can be immense, says Rabbi Greenfeld, but it’s important to be careful and thorough. “Once the couple is deep into the dating process, continuing to check is very uncomfortable,” he says. Too often, rushed checking means that families miss health concerns (physical or mental), middos problems, or complicated family dynamics that can have powerful impacts on the couple’s future shalom bayis.
“Remember, they took a long time,” he says. “Yes, they’re pressuring you, but you can’t just jump in, your daughter’s life depends on this. Stand up to the pressure. By the time your child walks out the door, you have to be comfortable if they want to get engaged to this person.” Are you willing to sacrifice your child’s future because you’re scared to insist on one or two more days to check out her potential life partner?
Once a couple has begun going out, the natural timeline of relationship-building needs to be respected, too. Forming a bond of trust and respect takes time.
“People don’t make good decisions out of fear and pressure,” says Mrs. Goldbaum. Well-meaning parents and shadchanim, seeing a shidduch progressing nicely, often apply pressure to wrap things up. Frequently, this happens when one party — usually the boy — has made up his mind more quickly than the other. “He’s not going to wait forever!” whisper the well-intentioned cheering squad. With no real reason to say no, but without the clarity and confidence to say a resounding “Yes!” girls often go ahead and get engaged.
“I get a call a week like this,” says Mrs. Goldbaum. “My sister or cousin — or me — is about to get married, but isn’t sure she likes her chassan.’” Often, she says, it’s a perfectly well-suited couple, but they were never given the time and space to bring the dating process to a satisfactory close. The result is kallahs with more than the usual share of nerves and fear, which can lead to long-lasting trauma as they head into a relationship for which they aren’t emotionally ready.
Ideally, says Mrs. Goldbaum, shidduchim proceed through predictable stages. First, a couple must make sure they’re compatible on a cognitive level — that their values, goals, and directions are similar. Then they open themselves up to friendship by exploring emotional compatibility. Only once the first two levels are in place are they safe to proceed to the complete oneness of marriage.
“Relationships take time, and you can’t put numbers on that,” says Mrs. Goldbaum. “Some people need six dates, others twelve. Never, ever push a girl.”
Not infrequently, removing the pressure is all it takes to make a girl comfortable.
Esti, a young newlywed, remembers feeling like something was wrong with her when she was still unsure after what she assumed was too many dates. She met with a dating mentor, who reassured her, telling her not to worry about the number of dates. The next thing her family knew, she was announcing she felt ready to get engaged.
“I just needed to not be under pressure,” explains Esti. Once she didn’t feel like the world was waiting anxiously, she relaxed enough to open up emotionally and make the commitment of a lifetime.
“How well do you operate when you’re late and someone’s pressuring you?” asks Mrs. Goldbaum. “Of course you’re more likely to crash. We need to allow our singles to be in the driver’s seat — of course, with a good GPS.”
If girls get engaged with their heads, but never with their heart, they learn to go against what their emotions are telling them, which breeds resentment, disconnect, and anger. “It’s very difficult to clean up after the fact,” notes Mrs. Goldbaum. In the best-case scenario, she says, someone spots the warning signs during the engagement and calls her in to do damage control. “I get called all the time for crisis management. I teach the chassanim and kallahs to re-date, that it’s not too late to build their relationship through the proper stages.”
With a good mentor and just two or three more dates, Mrs. Goldbaum thinks many early shalom bayis crises could be avoided. “It’s the long, short way,” she says.
Faigy, whose daughter will begin shidduchim when they both feel she’s ready, puts it this way: “The mountain you see — you’re expected to climb it, not carry it. I’ll climb as fast or as slowly as I need, but carrying it is way above my pay grade.” Shidduchim are in the hands of the Master Shadchan, and all that we control is the process of our climb, and the tools we equip our children with as they start up the mountain.
No Quick Fix
While our community has made great strides in recognizing and treating mental illness, we can only help the people whose problems are apparent. And a lot of mental illness isn’t yet manifest at young ages, warns Mrs. Eisemann.
“So much of mental illness doesn’t rear its head until late adolescence or early twenties,” she says. “And an estimated 26% of adults have some form of mental illness. That means if you have 12 guys sitting around in a yeshivah dorm room or 12 girls in a sem dorm room, three of them are likely to have some form of mental health issue.”
Often, these problems are undetectable in the person’s teens. “We need an awareness that at 19, 20, we’re not looking at a fully-formed person,” she advises. It’s not realistic to put singles into a freezer to wait and see if they’re going to develop mental illness, but parents need to be vigilant for any signs of trouble. If parents spot any worrisome signs, it’s of critical importance to evaluate the concerns and treat them, if necessary, rather than hustling the single out the door to the “safety” of marriage.
“If someone is showing any form of budding concern, don’t say ‘Thank G-d he’s married, now it’s someone else’s problem,’” says Mrs. Eisemann. “Two young people are so ill-equipped to deal with it. It takes a whole lot of wisdom and experience to handle mental illness well.”
Is My Daughter Ready?
Basic emotional health and age-appropriate middos are key components of readiness for marriage. Here are some specific warning signs to look out for in a single who seems otherwise healthy:
Her view of marriage centers around gifts, parties, going out to eat, and preparing couple-themed costumes and mishloach manos. A healthy view would see marriage as the next step in a person’s development and growth, and an opportunity to consider another’s needs.
Does your daughter think all men are emotional Neanderthals? Does she think marriage is just a ploy the patriarchy invented to get someone to wash their socks for them? Negative attitudes toward men and marriage should be discussed and given a reality check, with professional help if necessary.
Is she seeing marriage as an escape hatch from any kind of toxic situation, whether familial or emotional. The only problem marriage solves is being unmarried; someone who gets married to resolve other issues is setting herself up for failure.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 760)
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