In yet another Sunday in the Library I randomly found yesterday’s Dear Abby:
- DEAR ABBY: I’m 19. My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half. Eventually we want to be married. Our relationship is great. We are committed to each other in every way. Of course, we have our disagreements, but neither of us has ever cheated.
I’m considering marriage now rather than later because I will be moving to Florida for school next fall, and he won’t be coming with me right away.
Abby, is it silly to think about marriage as a way to ensure that the distance between us won’t tear up apart? Or should I wait till I finish school? — THINKING ABOUT MARRIAGE
DEAR THINKING: Wait until you finish school. The college years represent a significant intellectual and emotional growth spurt for most people. There is the possibility that by the time you’ve graduated, you won’t be the same person you are today — and neither will he. Please don’t be afraid of this. Growth is positive.
Rebbetzin Jungreis she isn’t, but more Jews follow Dear Abby’s advice than you might realize.
Although the trend is to marry young, the society does impose a minimum standard of development. For most of Modern Orthodox, the most drastic changes occur during “the year in Israel” before college. Based purely on anecdotal research, yeshivot and seminaries often (but not always) encourage students to end existing relationships so that they may concentrate on their own personal development. Only afterwords could the student adequately know what is appropriate to look for in a spouse.
If a person is about to enter a personality changing experience, it does not make sense to commit at that time. Although everyone changes (hopefully matures) over the course of their lives, some periods are more formative than others. People who get married too early would have greater risk of feeling stifled later on in their marriage.
Of course you can argue just how developed one is after 10 months of intense yeshiva/seminary life, or if one is really ready to get married at that point. I’d say that the logic is in place, we just need to work on the details.