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Rabbi Ari Shvat

Av 13, 5778
In this response you gave some comfort in saying that women can pursue other worthy matters in the meantime while they are single. But what if this meantime gets extended and reaches the end of their childbearing years? Should single women then stay single and childless if they cannot find a proper husband during their childbearing years? It is emotionally destructive to marry for the purposes of procreation. Or should they find someone who is at least somewhat good though far from what the woman wants for herself and then only marry because childbearing years pass? How should a woman go about in married life, when she will be challenged to be intimate with a man who is not observant and with that a possible failure as a good husband too? Should women then practice unending forgiveness and patience for the same mistakes comforting herself that in imperfect world love is also far from what it should be? Most importantly how to bear to be intimately challenged when you stop to hold a good opinion of the husband. And do all this only to have a child? How is this child going to be ok if the parents bore it because it is a command to procreate? You say that only men are obligated to marry by Halacha but we see that women feel social pressure as well. Where does this pressure came from and is now present all around the world and what do to about it? I don’t know what you call a “Hollywood love”. Maybe you should explain. Surely it is not good to marry without feeling attraction just as it is risky to marry only because of feeling attraction with someone less than morally satisfactory. In the meantime the biological clock is ticking. Why is G-d doing this dismatch to us and in the same time commanding procreation while the biological clock is ticking? There is a condition called ROCD – Relationship obssesive compulsive disorder. Couples become dysfunctional and it affects their everyday life because they obsess that the marriage is not with one’s true soul mate. I have heard a rabbi claim that most marriages are formed with someone who is not our true soul mate and that we don’t find our real soul mate because we don’t deserve to because of previous sexual mistakes. But nevertheless we should keep the marriage. Maybe ROCD has become epidemic, leading to dissolution of marriages, just because we are afraid of time passing and then choose who ever is last available. Maybe we should not feel obliged by the command to procreate anymore. Halacha is developing isn’t it? Isn’t it about time that our private lives develop by not marrying unless we really want to without feeling a pressure from commands, people or time?
Every case is different and must be dealt with subjectively. If your husband isn’t religious and sees life and relationships significantly different than you do, maybe divorce is a real solution. In general, both sides of the coin are true: you shouldn’t marry someone where there’s no basic compatibility and basis for building a relationship, but also, you can’t expect any serious relationship to already be perfect before you get married! No man is perfect, and no woman is perfect either. Additionally no relationship is perfect, and all (!) experienced people will inform you that the major effort in building the home and family of “soul-mates” is only after (!) the marriage. Judaism doesn’t at all “pressure” women to marry (they’re actually exempt!), but to the contrary, the fact that most want to (including you), is a natural and beautiful desire for nurture, warmth and giving. Don’t “blame” Judaism, but rather western society which infatuates us with infatuation, and focuses us on ourselves, justifies self-centeredness and validates “disposable” spouses and relationships, and shies away from hard-work and challenges in inter-personal relationships. These problems are not necessarily your’s, but they definitely affect many in our society, making it difficult to find thoughtful and caring spouses (especially men- and that’s part of the reason the Torah obligates davka them (!) to marry!). What’s the solution? Try starting with Shabbat: a day without internet, cellphones, and Hollywood, a day where we return to normalcy. A day for deep and meaningful conversations, building real relationships face-to-face with real people. Whether you’re single, or whether you’re already married in a “lacking” relationship, try taking advantage of Shabbat, which has already helped thousands in this respect (regarding parent-children relationships, as well)! It turns out that the classic age-old solution still works and God’s eternal framework is super-beneficial, if you just give it a chance!
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