I’m a 23-year-old boy and still don’t feel like I’m ready to get married. My parents tell me that I’m ready, but I’m unsure. Who’s right?
Contained within the determination that one is ready for marriage lie answers to some of the deepest questions which one must ask of oneself. And as far as I can tell, none of them are inherently connected with how many years have passed since one arrived in this world.
To name a few, has one developed the intellectual and emotional maturity to venture into the closest of all human bonds? Is one poised to commit to the most enduring of all human relationships? Does one possess the requisite measure of tolerance to commence sharing a living space with another person, knowing full well that there will be times when they find one another to be positively exasperating? Is one equipped with the capacity to negotiate joint decision-making situations regarding life-altering choices with someone whom they will inevitably conflict with, concerning core philosophies and aspirations? Is one disposed and capable of shouldering the responsibility of parenthood and providing sustenance for a growing family?
For some, a wholly reliable gut feeling emerges, simply enlightening them that they are primed for this new stage of adulthood. For others, as they set forth to ponder these weighty topics, a general and dependable, albeit non-specific, belief that they have achieved this aptitude will begin to surface. And for yet others, a great deal of conscious and grueling deliberation must be devoted and endured before clarity can be grasped. It is a profoundly personal process, and there is no right or wrong way to attain an accurate assessment. Rather, provided one is confident that they have suitably evaluated themselves to be qualified for marriage, they have the right to initiate the journey toward matrimony.
Accordingly, I believe the more pertinent matter at hand is gaining a comprehensive understanding which reveals why one senses they are not yet prepared to marry, and why it is that their parents so vehemently insist on the opposite? What is the true source of discordance underlying this divergence of opinions at such a crucial juncture?
As such, my recommendation would be to call upon a trusted and experienced rav, rebbi, dating coach, or therapist – one whom all participants are thoroughly comfortable designating as mediator – in order to aid in guiding the family towards a mutually agreeable course of action. Initially, each side should be given the opportunity to have a private discussion with their selected conciliator. Doing so carries the potential to allow and encourage both the dater and the parents to expansively and earnestly expound upon their respective position, stating their case fully and uninhibitedly, and without fear with respect to how hearing the genuine and unabated explication of their perspective will cause their counterpart to react.
Subsequently, I would suggest that everyone meet together as a group, with the appointed arbitrator assuring that shalom and decorum is maintained, and, b’ezras Hashem, a resolution which is satisfactory to all involved can be obtained. Ultimately, and as ought to be self-evident, no one can, or should, be forced to begin dating. Indeed, the very thought of a young man or woman initiating the marriage process against their will gives me immense trepidation. The objective here is not to browbeat anyone into relinquishment. On the contrary, the goal is for each side to fully comprehend and appreciate the vantage point of the other, and culminate in a conclusion that is adequate, and hopefully even pleasing, for all relevant parties.
May the Silul Miselaseuni illuminate the proper path for all those who stand at the verge of entering shidduchim.