An interesting incident occurred to me yesterday. Let me give you some background first. When my book The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures first came out it was greeted with some very positive reviews. Many of my critics hailed it as a “breath of sanity” and “a must read if we are to deal with the increasing problems of our young people.” Others were not so accepting of my findings and suggestions for change. Actually the suggestions for change that I made were primarily to allow people to date without the interference of facilitators and interlopers. After all, I argued then and continue to stress today, if you are old enough to get married then you should be old enough to make some other important life decisions on your own.
Those who disagreed with my approach were mostly some shadchanim, matchmakers who felt that they had a special talent and superior insight into making the very best choices for marital partnerships and success, along with some rabbis who for whatever reason felt that men and women should not make important life decisions on their own. Some of these people sent me nasty E mails others called with comments and still others shunned me publicly. I was initially upset by the vehemence of some critics but as one admirer of my book and its ideas said “If you got them angry you must be doing something right.” I knew that to be true and I felt confident with my work because I did have data indicating that young marrieds were significantly more dependent on their parents then any prior generation. I also had some significant evidence on the increasing rates of divorce and domestic violence that was correlated with the increasing dependence of young people on the stringent use of intermediaries, intermediaries who make introductions for them and follow up and then counsel them, without the benefit of training, professional licensure or even having a complete history of the participants save for a shidduch résumé.
Just an aside – when I think résumé I think of someone who is applying for a job. So I guess the analogy that fits best is that the shidduch résumé, like a job résumé, allows the hiring party to terminate within three months if the employee or marital partner does not work out. The funny part about this is that it is not so funny. It is sadly true and happens much too frequently.
There have been times over the years when I have received calls from rabbis and members of their families to thank me for the “clarity” of my work and suggestions that I have made both public and private. I have also been asked by matchmakers and rabbis to help them with tough situations in their own families. But, I have never been in the situation I was in yesterday when I was visiting a friend. We were discussing a variety of topics when someone my friend knew dropped by. I recognized his name when he was introduced to me but initially he did not recognize my name. This other individual was one of those who was quite publicly negative about my ideas for curing the shidduch crisis; at least he had been initially. I saw some recognition come to his eyes as I was speaking so I decided to lay it on the table. “Perhaps you recognize my name now”, I said. “I’m the guy who wrote the Shidduch Crisis book.
“Yes” he responded. “So your idea for curing the problem is to go back to the old tried and true ways. We should arrange for singles to meet like they used to.”
“It is one of my major suggestions” I said.
Surprisingly he said “I absolutely agree with you. We have gone way too far in trying to be helpful and in the end we are making things worse.”
“So will you say that publicly?” I asked him.
“I’m afraid that can’t be done.”
And that was the end of the conversation. I wondered if he was just trying to be polite or just did not want to have an argument with me by telling me he agreed with me. He struck me as speaking in earnest. I know why he would not say anything publicly – he does not want to be seen as not right wing enough. The consequences for that would impact his stature in his own community.
And so the charade goes on.