Friday, February 10, 2012

The Last Holdout

I wasn't happy to go to this wedding. 

Not because I wasn't ecstatic for my high school classmate; rather, as one of the last single girls of my grade, I expected the usual gloating of marrieds and condescension to the singles. 

So I marched into the hall with the most false bravado I could muster (along with the most makeup) and prepared for battle. 

"You're single?" 

"Yes," I bristled, with a "what of it?" attitude.

"So you make money? And you can save it?" Her gaze was not that of hauteur, but rather of yearning envy.

I wilted. 

As the evening progressed, it became obvious that this young wife's reaction was not rare. Not once did I receive patronizing comments; but I did get more than one vicious glare. 

Prepped for a miserable evening of having my ego crunched underfoot, I was, rather, the belle of the ball. 

When rabbanim say that our generation is "fastidious," and so can have leeway when it comes to privation, it says a lot about our mentality. 

It cannot be that every girl back from seminary is ready for marriage. In my mother's day every girl out of high school got a job. When one experiences life under an unreasonable boss, 9-5 work hours, and a commute, one really knows the pressures of employment. Add to that the stress of crying infants, laundry, and a husband to be fed. 

I am not saying it is impossible for a young bride to be happy, eagerly tackling the new responsibilities. But I have noticed that has become more and more of a rarity. 

Many children enter marriage without going through even the smallest of pressures. Is it fair to them, to shoo them hurriedly into wedlock lest spinsterhood awaits?

I found it sad that so many young women - not yet 25 - were not the happiest they could have been as they took on something they were not ready for. At least, maybe, if they were realistic, they would have realized the difficulties as well as joys of marriage. 

But we are not encouraged to think past the wedding. We are just told get a guy before you become a dry stick like Princess Lea over there. Yeah, it'll be wonderful, whatever, love, blah blah blah, just get married, time's a'wastin'.

For those still single and no longer 21, be happy that you have this time to know who you are, what you are capable of, and dabble in other interests, like playing recorder. And we can hope that the extra time will leave one all the more appreciative when the baby cries at 11:05, 2:38, and 5:16. 


Mystery Woman said...

After my daughter was working for a year, I realized how happy I am that she didnt get married at 18 or 19. That year of work did so much to mature her.

Princess Lea said...

Nothing like a w-2 to age a person.

The Professor said...

Working a bit before marriage can really help teach fiscal responsibility. Too many guys and girls get married right after yeshiva / sem after living off of their daddy's credit card and have zero understanding about the value of money. They dig themselves into huge credit card debts in their first year of marriage.

If theyre smart they spend the next number of years digging themselves out. If they have too much pride to cut back on their living standards / just still fiscally irresponsible they just dig themselves deeper and deeper into the hole...

Princess Lea said...

Fiscal responsibility is another unpleasant side effect of marriage. That's why I'm hoarding all of my money now. For the most part.

The Professor said...

"Hoarding money" is a great idea. I stared an IRA when I was 18. All my friends thought I was insane for starting so young, but I looked at it as the best time to start, not many expenses at the time etc.

SporadicIntelligence said...

I got married when I was 21,the last year before nebach looks start being shot in your direction, and I think I got married too young.

The young and dumb approach just breeds irresponsibility, dependency, and a lot more stuff down the road.

As for you hoarding your money - good idea to save, but please make sure to live life and enjoy when you have a disposable income (not so worried about you though, you know how to pamper yourself)

SunshineDreamer said...

i wholeheatrtedly agree- i relished not having responsibilty and learning to be responsible at my own pace. i think girls who have tremendous responsibility thrust upon themselves too soon resent the blessings in their lives- they resent the husband, the children etc. they're constantly tryiung to regain their lost youth. i got married 2 months before my 24th birthday, i think it was the perfect age. i had time to grow into myself and realize the mgnitude of marriage. now i'm glad to wake up in the middle of the night for my sweet baby- but im glad at age 25. I don't know how I would have felt at 20. Everyone in grad school used to give me strange looks when I'd say "well enough time has passed that there's no way i'm having a baby while in grad school! I'm not even dating anyone!" but i really am glad i never had to pump sitting on a toilet in a bathroom in Touro!

Sweet Profusion said...

Amen, amen. Now that I have finally said I married too young to know better, I hear so many other 40-somethings saying the same thing, "I got married too young."
There are so many reason to take a little time experience being a single adult, I don't even want to try to list them. But above all, it is important to find yourself as an adult, before involving a spouse and children in a situation you find detrimental. Some people really know there minds and heart at 18 or 19, but I would bet that does not include most people.
I also just found, I can get just about any working mother over 35 - jewish or buddhist or atheist - on a rant by introducing how wealthy we would be if we never married and had kids.

SporadicIntelligence said...

Yeah, I second the pumping. I finished my masters, went on two vacations back to back, came home and got engaged. I never had to do the married college thing - I'd have been miserable!!

Now, I thank G-d didn't make any financial blunders, and I'm blissfully married with a kid, but I'd have like more time to just live without responsibility, experiment, look around, be lazy without major consequences.

Princess Lea said...

I was reading a book of Rebbetzin Jungreis where she advocates that when it comes to marriage, the younger, the better.

Maybe once that was a good policy. But no longer. We have to recognize that times have changed in some respects. Today's generation matures later than it used to.

Sure, I want to get married. Golly, how I want to get married. But at the same time, I am thankful for the experience of being tied down to only my siblings' children. (Babysitting is a constant).