Why is it that today, so many people are not getting married? Has something gone wrong with our concept of love?
There are at least 6 major changes in western society that need to be identified as part of the problem many people have today in finding their soul-mate: 1. Unfortunately, the modern technological world which God revealed to man to be used beneficially, is often misused. Just like modern atomic energy can either cure cancer or bomb, indiscriminately killing masses, so too computers are unbelievably beneficial, yet internet, Facebook and pornography can unfortunately produce loners who mistakenly think they have friends, or are so distracted from life, they don’t even realize what they are missing. 2. Similarly, in a society where one chooses a spouse out of the “romantic” feeling screened in Hollywood, there will inevitably be a disproportionate amount of disappointed marriages and divorce (because the romance wears off), and an exaggerated number of single people “waiting for the magic” to happen. I’m not saying that we should all go back to the “matchmaking” system, but if by a certain age one hasn’t yet found their soul-mate, they should unabashedly take advantage of some form of assistance (today there’s even international computer dating to expand one’s potential social field!). 3. This problem is compounded by the extremely co-ed society which to a large extent “immunizes” the super-strong chemistry that is naturally found between men and women when they discover the opposite gender for the first time at the age of 18, and for the purpose of marriage. Halacha calls for more separation between the sexes, thus facilitating that special “chemistry”, to feel the magic. 4. God granted mankind the will of free choice, which is so strong that it can even overcome nature. Man can choose to overcome his natural fear because sometimes he needs to charge the enemy, or overcome his instinct to eat because he medically needs to diet. This super-strong will, can also be misused to overcome our Godly good nature, as well. Just as there are anorexics who overcome the natural healthy instinct to eat, to do counterproductive and exaggerated diets, so too, western society and especially feminism, sometimes produces women who overcome their natural desire for motherhood, mistakenly delaying marriage, by thinking that dedication to their career will bring them even more satisfaction. Rav Kook stresses that in general, when healthy, we should follow our healthy nature, and the tool to “overcome” one’s nature and instincts should be used sparingly and only under rare circumstances. 5. Feminism sometimes confuses people, to mistakenly think that financial independence also lessens the need for companionship. 6. The self-centeredness of the “Me Generation” in western society runs counter to the Godly ideal of altruism and giving, which is what marriage expresses, helping us achieve our potential to be “givers”. Accordingly, the idea of compromise, giving-love and altruism, the building blocks of marriage, must be consciously developed today, whereas once they were taken for granted. We can meet these challenges, but we must first identify the problems.