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Why So Many Young Jewish Couples are Divorcing

Why So Many Young Jewish Couples are Divorcing

4 keys to understanding the crisis facing singles and marriage today.

by

At a recent forum on singles, dating and marriage, a father stood up and asked me, “Why is it so hard for our singles to commit today? Why do we hear about so many young couples who are divorcing? Do you think the two are related?”

He had a good point. Many speak about the ‘singles crisis’ and we also hear a lot about couples who are not making it to their second and third anniversary. If we could put our finger on what is contributing to the problem, perhaps we can find solutions that can transform this painful bind that many young people find themselves facing today.

I think there are four key factors we need to contemplate.

1. Disposable Society

Who fixes appliances anymore? Toaster ovens, microwaves, and alarm clocks get tossed while quickly outdated laptops, iPhones and cars get traded in for the latest model. After all, new is always better. Our kids lose their clothing knowing that we’ll just buy them more of the same next time. Somehow it has become no big deal to throw away or replace what we’ve lost.

This thinking has seeped into our attitudes towards the people in our lives. I’ve seen it in the conversations I’ve had with couples who are facing marital issues. One young woman said to me, “So what’s the big deal? I’ll get a divorce and find another one. There are lots of men out there. Look at all my friends.”

We’ve lost the ability to value what we have, including the people we’re supposed to cherish the most.

When we see relationships as disposable, whether they are friendships or marriage, the sacred bond becomes easily unglued. We’ve lost the ability to value what we have, including the people we’re supposed to cherish the most. All relationships have their ups and downs. The mindset that it never pays to fix things and that newer is better impacts our daily lives, lessening the sacrosanct value inherent in marriage.

We need to value the people and things we have in our lives. Work on appreciation and stop taking relationships for granted.

2. Instant Gratification

Whatsapp, texting and emails have brought us to expect an immediate response. Otherwise we wonder, “What is taking so long! Why didn’t they answer me?” Instead of waiting our turn to be helped in the store we just click and order most things online. We have next day delivery. I remember taking my film in to be developed when I was a little girl and anticipating the day it would be ready for pickup. Who can imagine not viewing your photo and sending it to others across the world instantly? We’ve lost the ability to be patient. We expect it all to be there for us right here, right now.

What does this have to do with relationships?

Serious dating and marriage takes work. You will not always see instant results. Love grows with time. The more we nourish a relationship the greater we feel invested in this partnership. If we don’t automatically feel madly in love or don’t always see the fruits of our labor, what then? Do we just give up and move on?

When couples look back through their years of being together they realize how much they have evolved. Sure there were great obstacles and dark moments. What would have happened if they decided then that it’s not what they thought it would be, so why go on together? (I am not speaking about abusive or intolerable situations). With time and much sweat, tears and self-work is born a love that is deeper than one could have ever imagined. Love is not instant. Marriage is built on a “mature love” that is carefully nurtured. Great patience is required.

Expecting instant gratification strips us of the opportunity to work through the difficult times and climb life’s tougher moments together. We give up too easily believing that there is no point if we don’t see what we want to see or feel what we want to feel right now. We end up selling ourselves and our relationships short.

3. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

You see parties posted online, other people’s vacations, even delicious sushi or steak dinners and think to yourself, what about me? This fear of missing out is not good for singles and married couples. Comparing lives, wondering if there is something better out there, and checking out Facebook posts feeds this frenzy.

People are too busy counting everyone else’s blessings to see their own. Commitment requires one to be happy with what we have. FOMO is the exact opposite. There comes a point where we must make peace with our lives. We need to make a decision to stop glancing over our shoulder. Dating with one eye on who else may be around becomes an impossible way to create a lasting relationship. And surely one can’t have a solid marriage thinking that others have it better.

Begin with making a conscious mental U-turn. Stop looking at others and work on being satisfied with all you’ve been given. Seek out the good in your days and the people in your life. Instead of imagining other people’s happiness, work on creating your own. You will become self-satisfied and content.

4. A Disconnected World

Technology has connected us but it has also brought us farther apart. We’ve become used to communicating through texts instead of speaking. Singles have told me that their dating hit a roadblock when they began texting instead of talking. Husbands and wives converse while staring at their screens. Eye contact brings deeper connection-now this is lacking. Couples listen with half an ear and see with half an eye. Of course our relationships are affected. We also get bored easily with those next to us; constantly checking our phones. Our loved ones begin to feel irrelevant.

The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to put down our devices and pay more attention to those around us.

Whether you are single or married, or raising children who will be in future relationships, contemplate how these four factors affect your relationships. A few simple changes can allow us to live better, and love better too.

May 21, 2016

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Visitor Comments: 26

(24) Anonymous, May 30, 2016 3:30 PM

Let's get real here

as a former divorce lawyer I can honestly say that many of these posts are utter nonsense . Divorce for what ever reason is horrible ,not just for the couple concerned but for their children and families .in all the years I was in practice I never ever had a couple who divorced because 'they were too busy watching other couples travel the world to give each other a kiss' In the orthodox community we want our children to marry young ,far too young for many . Often they know little if anything about the other sex and of course are not allowed to know each other in any meaningful way . A young couple can find them selves married to a virtual stranger with a child or even two before they are 20 and the pressures are enormous . They won't of course be economically self funding relying on handouts from state ,Kolel and or parents who invariable will interfere far too much . This lack of financial independence infantilises the couple ,problems fester and the young couple simply dont have the maturity or the vocabulary to deal with them .these relationships can become very toxic even abusive ..Then of course there is the issue of homosexuality . Yes it exists and no it can't be 'cured' by marrying a person of the opposite sex. It's time the community faced up to this .i have seen and heard of far too many cases where two young lives have been ruined in these circumstances .finally if our children don't have the values to sustain a healthy marriage , if they are shallow ,venal and unable to commit well who exactly are their role models ? Take a look in the mirror . Instead of blaming our children ,we need to accept the world as it and not as we would like it to be and we should be helping our children to make sensible life choices when and only when they are mature enough to do so and allow them to develop fully before they take on the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood .

(23) Debra Franklin, May 28, 2016 3:18 PM

Fifth factor: Spirituality.

Wonderful suggestions. Let's include a fifth factor. Let's keep our spirituality connected as well. Baruch Hashem!

(22) John T. Hughes, May 26, 2016 12:33 AM

Hi Slovie : Thank you once again for touching on a heartbreaking subject . One must realize that we're imperfect people living in an imperfect world . Yes everyone wants life to be peaches and cream but the reality is its not. When two people make a bond with each other then when things aren't going the way you want or the other one is going through something then that's when life's challenges should bring you closer . In simple terms . Life on life's terms . Thank you

(21) Anonymous, May 24, 2016 1:42 PM

Pushing couples to marry too fast

One more item that should be on this list: deciding to get married too quickly. I have seen several couples decide to get married after a handful of dates. Enough dates to know you're interested, but not enough to really be sure that this is the right person.

Couples should be sure to spend time (a Shabbos meal or two or three) with each others family as well as do some "ordinary" things, like grocery shop, or do a bunch of mundane errands. These are the things that real life is made of; not the fairy tale dates. Sure, it's important to "date" when you are married, but that's a small percentage of the time you are together.

If you don't know how your potential spouse deals with the real life issues, you really shouldn't be decide to get married. Take time to really know each other. Most people will spend more time deciding on a car purchase than the person that they will spend, I"H, the next 60 or 70 years with.

(20) Guest, May 24, 2016 6:06 AM

perspectives on the issue

As someone who grew up and dated in the "modern orthodox" world of the 1980s and now married almost 25 years (and living in Israel) I have some perspective. First, the point about lashan hara cuts both ways. I know for a fact people broke up or never dated because "they heard" something which was totally false. Of course, prior serious things like if a married woman was cheating is now divorced and your buddy wants to date her - the question of telling him arises. I am not sure how I would handle this - I guess Halacha should govern. Maybe she did Teshuva so why hurt her chances of re-marrying? Are you sure she cheated or is this just a rumor put out by the former husband or his family to ruin her?
Second, the entire subject is tainted with the idea that "only men go astray". Women are naturally attracted to men who are successful and muscular. Women cannot help themselves. And I have seen many married women cheat with rising office stars, athletic muscle guys and the like. I personally know of 2 friends who arrived home early from work and found their wives in bed with other men who BTW were physically robust and in great shape per my friends. Women have strong drives and urges. Its not just men who have them. Example: young women look for "very" successful guys to date and marry. So the problem is these men are attractive to most other women as well and as such...well things happen. It is not a hubby's fault when a woman unbuttons her shirt late night at the office. Solution - young women need to change their value system - the guy you want to marry need not be the huge success you want him to be. Of course, he needs to be attractive and you need to support yourselves but what are his values and character? Clearly, young men should take values into account as well and not "only" looks and appearances. This has been going on for thousands of years - "there is nothing new under the sun" but we must try to bring Torah values into our lives.

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