I woke up about 8.30, possibly woken by the building work going on next door.  I certainly felt lethargic and a bit down.  I’ve got the ‘brain fog’ feeling of not being able to think properly and I struggled even to get the energy and motivation to get dressed.  I skipped a lot of Shacharit (morning prayers), relying on the Talmudic idea of “it doesn’t matter whether you do a little or a lot, provided you direct your heart to God,” except that I couldn’t concentrate well enough to direct my heart very well.  Again.

I’m procrastinating about emailing the shul (synagogue) I want to join to ask about their fees and especially about meeting with the rabbi, because I’m worried about being judged or even being told that I’m not right for the community.  Which brings me to:

The daughter of a rabbi I know from a different shul got engaged.  I guess she’s in her late teens, early twenties at most, likewise her fiancé.  I started looking online for anything to tell me how frum (religious) people manage to get married so young which might give me a clue about what I should do.  As frum people we are constantly told that common values are more important than physical attraction or even common interests, but we are also told to marry young, when surely most people don’t know what their values are, or at least only vaguely.  I’m in my mid-thirties and I’m still exploring who I am (and I’m very introspective and have been in therapy for years).  I searched online for an answer, but only came up with this article about marrying young: apparently people who marry young are richer, happier, more fertile and have a more satisfying sex life… so, even if I do find a woman weird enough or desperate enough to marry me, I’ll still be poor, miserable, childless and sexually frustrated, all because I was too shy and mentally ill to talk to women when I was in my twenties.

I guess it’s made easier for very frum people inasmuch as frum society seems to limit what values and interests are seen as acceptable and in what order of priority, e.g. chessed (kindness) is rated highly for women, but ranks below studying Torah for men; personal growth, caring for family and hospitality are seen as very important while creativity and environmentalism are vaguely suspect.  I don’t know what stereotypical frum women are interested in, but judging by conversations at kiddush and seudah in shul stereotypical frum men are mostly interested in Torah (meaning Talmud), whisky, politics and sport, which are not key interests of mine (I do love Torah, but aspects of it other than Talmud).  Then again, I suppose most stereotypical men in wider Western society are interested in beer, politics and sport, at least judging by what the culture seems to prioritize in newspapers and television.

But how many stereotypical people (frum or otherwise) actually exist, that is the question?  Do stereotypes exist because lots of people broadly fit that category or do they have no relationship to reality (e.g. the antisemitic stereotype of the money-grabbing Jew)?  Maybe this isn’t the case, maybe frum people are interested in other things if I had the courage to talk to them more, to raise unusual topics of conversation.  I don’t know.  I  heard recently about a Facebook group for frum female science fiction and fantasy fans, which is good (I wish I knew how to meet some in real life!).  I’ve met some of geeky frum men online, but haven’t known any in real life since leaving school half a lifetime ago.  It can certainly be hard being unusual in either frum or Western society.  Sometimes I wish I lived in New York, so I could go to Hevria events and meet other geeky and creative frum people, but then again, maybe I would just feel too shy and too much of a fraud (I don’t feel like I’m particularly creative) to go or to talk to anyone there.

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2 thoughts on “Marrying Young and Stereotypes

  1. I don’t know if it’s the done thing or not, in frum society, but a marriage with an age gap can be loving and lovely: my husband was 47 when we married. I was 25. We were soulmates and happiness is something which means different things to different people. There’s a great deal of hypocrisy in every kind of society(including frum, as shown by what you said above…the beer, sport etc stuff) Marriage is something which in my experience felt very different to the concept; the reality was…..wonderful, awful, difficult, sweet, and love like I had never had before. Someone who completed me, was supportive, and understanding(despite some really rough times) and stood by me, stood up for me, and was ‘my other half’. And that’s why it hurts so much now he’s gone…….

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  2. I think Hasidim tend to marry the same age while other Charedi Jews marry with the man just a couple of years older. In the Modern Orthodox world it’s not so fixed.

    In my family, my uncle is nine years older than my aunt and they’ve been married twenty-seven years. OTOH, I dated someone about ten years younger than me and it didn’t work out, although I don’t think that was really anything to do with the age gap, more due to her psychological issues (although if she was older, maybe she would have worked those through). We were at similar life stages as she was finishing her BA and I was working on my MA. Maybe it would have been different otherwise.

    I’m not sure what bit of my post you were responding to here. I can’t really see myself marrying someone in her early twenties, I don’t think (a) she would be mature enough for me (although I suppose that would depend on the person, so twenty-five years olds can be very mature) and more importantly (b) I can’t see a young person wanting to go out with someone as “ancient” and set in my ways as myself!

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