I’m a chassidishe lady married nine years. When I was 21 years old, my parents found a shidduch that matched the picture I had in my head as to what type of boy I wanted to marry. I had three “beshows” and got engaged. (I actually believe that the third beshow was a waste of time.) I am very happily married.
I am watching my non-chassidishe brother-in-law date girl after girl and I am seriously plotzing. I want to ask all of you: All of you are married. Did you really, truly get to know your spouse when you dated? Did you not have any major surprises after you got married? Have you not changed at all since you got married? What is the point of all this dating?
You don’t truly know what life is all about and you can’t ensure yourself a happier future. Shouldn’t you just encourage the girl and the boy to simply make sure that the other party is ehrlich and a mentch and just get married? Everything will just work itself out after that. If you want to argue that the divorce rate is higher among those who do beshows (and I don’t know if that is true), then I’ll tell you that the marriage rate is definitely higher.
True though it is that matrimony inevitably brings about surprises and revelations that will never emerge during the dating process, no matter how many times a couple goes out together, simply put, I do not believe it possible to pluck an isolated custom from culture A and drop it into culture B, and anticipate that the transfer will flow smoothly, or even lead to positive outcomes.
The nature of marriage and child rearing, and ultimately, life lived overall in the Chassidishe velt, is vastly different from that of the Litvishe velt. On the whole, it is a far more insular community, and, thus, allows for internal systems that are equally insular. This is not to say that one way of life is inherently better than the other, or provides a more efficient structure with which to acclimate through life. They are just disparate on a multitude of fronts, both large and small.
Accordingly, well-intentioned though the suggestion surely is, I would opine that it is misguided to surmise that a singular convention, and one which has deep-seated roots interconnected with the very fabric of a particular way of life, can be seamlessly inserted into an entirely dissimilar way of life. I do not think it will be comfortable for daters in the Litvishe velt. I do not think it will aid those daters in working through the progression of shidduchim with enhanced effectiveness. And I do not think it will lead to an upsurge of marriages. I just do not think it will work, nor do I think it should be expected to work. It would be akin to trying to plow a field with a buffalo, using reigns that were fashioned for a horse.
And parenthetically, swapping an increase in marriages (aka, short-term success), for an increase in divorces (aka, long-term misery), would seem not only pointless and counterproductive to me, but damaging and unfair to our young men and women. It is hard enough to go through shidduchim once. Let us not put people in a situation where they may likely have to travel that arduous journey yet again, and now with compounded challenges and under circumstances which are often exceedingly complex. In short, the decision to commit to engagement ought not be one of potential zugzwang, and by my estimation, implementing the practice of an exceptionally abbreviated duration of dating within the Litvishe velt would be doing just that.
May the Roka Haaretz Al Hamoyim grant us all sure-footedness, and place us always on solid ground, so that we may be able to navigate the intricacies of His miraculous and wonderous world.