Crisis: When Are You Ready to Stand Under the Chupah?


dennis pragerBy Dennis Prager

In every age, people say and believe things that aren’t true but somehow become accepted as “conventional wisdom.”

The statement “I’m not ready to get married” is a current example. Said by more and more Americans between the ages of 21 and 40 (and some who are older than that), it usually qualifies as both meaningless and untrue. And it is one reason a smaller percentage of Americans are marrying than ever before.

So, here’s a truth that young Americans need to hear:

Most people become “ready to get married” when they get married. Throughout history most people got married at a much younger age than people today. They were hardly “ready.” They got married because society and/or their religion expected them to. And then, once married, people tended to rise to the occasion.

The same holds true for becoming a parent. Very few people are “ready” to become a parent. They become ready … once they become a parent. In fact, the same holds true for any difficult job. What new lawyer was “ready” to take on his or her first clients? What new teacher, policeman, firefighter is “ready?”

You get ready to do something by doing it.

In addition, at least two bad things happen the longer you wait to get “ready” to be married.

One is that, if you are a woman, the number of quality single men declines. Among deniers of unpleasant realities — people known as progressives, leftists, and feminists — this truth is denied and labeled chauvinist. But, as Susan Patton, a Princeton graduate, wrote in an article titled “Advice for the young women of Princeton,” published in Princeton’s student newspaper: “Find a husband on campus before you graduate. … From a sheer numbers perspective, the odds will never be as good to be surrounded by all of these extraordinary men.”

The other bad thing that happens when people wait until they are “ready” to get married is that they often end up waiting longer and longer. After a certain point, being single becomes the norm and the thought of marrying becomes less, not more, appealing. So over time you can actually become less “ready” to get married.

And one more thing: If you’re 25 and not ready to commit to another person, in most cases — even if you are a kind person, and a responsible worker or serious student — “I’m not ready to get married” means “I’m not ready to stop being preoccupied with myself,” or to put it as directly as possible, “I’m not ready to grow up.” (No job on earth makes you grow up like getting married does.)

People didn’t marry in the past only because they fell in love. And people can fall in love and not marry — as happens frequently today. People married because it was a primary societal value. People understood that it was better for society and for the vast majority of its members that as many individuals as possible commit to someone and take care of that person. Among other things, when people stop taking care of one another, the state usually ends up doing so. Just compare the percentage of single people receiving welfare versus the percentage of married people.

Nor is the argument that the older people are when they marry, the less likely they are to divorce. This only applies in any significant way to those who marry as teenagers versus those who marry later. Moreover, the latest data are that those who marry in their early 30s are more likely to divorce than those who marry on their late 20s.

And then there is the economic argument. Many single men, for example, say they are not ready to get married because they don’t have the income they would like to have prior to getting married. As responsible as this may sound, however, this is not a particularly rational argument. Why is marrying while at a low income a bad idea? In fact, marriage may be the best way to increase one’s income. Men’s income rises after marriage. They have less time to waste, and someone to help support — two spurs to hard work and ambition, not to mention that most employers prefer men who are married. And can’t two people live on less money than each would need if they lived on their own, paying for two apartments?

Throughout history, and in every society, people married not when they were “ready” to marry, but when they reached marriageable age and were expected to assume adult responsibilities.

Finally, this statement reflects another negative trend in society — that of people being guided by feelings rather than by standards or obligations. We live in an Age of Feelings. Aside from the rational and moral problems that derive from being guided by feelings rather than by reason and values, there is one other problem. In life, behavior shapes feelings. Act happy, you’ll feel happy. Act single, you’ll feel single. Act married, you’ll feel married.

Do it, in other words. Then you’ll be “ready.”


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  1. How can the Frum have anything to do with this man? He is an apikoris. Listen to him on the radio – G-D doesn’t the future, no difference between Jews and Goyim in the next world, Moshe married a goya (therefore mixed marriages are halachically permitted. Does not believe the Talmud is word of G-D. Either you don”t know what a heritic is or you don’t know who Dennid Prager is. I hope it is the latter. – Disappointed

  2. Hello is anybody out there? Don’t you know this man is a heretic of the first degree. He is anti-orthodox. The ONLY time you hear hatred in his voice and not being compatible is when he talks about Orthodoxy. Among his gems he has said on radio is
    1-G-d doesn’t know the future.
    2-no difference between Jews and Goyim is this world. In the next, all are equal.
    3-Moshe married a non Jew. Therefore although he doesn’t think it is a good idea, it is not prohibited!
    And many more! Why is he here? Please answer.

  3. Tzippi.why…is he talking against halacha…is it kefira? On the contrary. .saying what the Torah says. ..that feelings are predicated on actions!

  4. Tzippi is right! This man is worse than a reformed Rabbi. He should not have audience with the Orthodox world. The fact that he is very intelligent on the social level makes him more dangerous when he talks about religion. #4 & 5 are correct also.

  5. #7 .You shouldn’t listen to heretic…even he tells you’ hashem achod’. sefer torah s’kosvo min (heretic) yisarof .Even he did it with all hiddurim. I don’t know Rabbi Praeger. Just explaining why you though needs explaining

  6. But yet we were told that its the age-gap crises. We are all %100 perfect. Its just that there are more girls than boys. Now, back to that bridge I wanted to sell you…..

  7. Joseph.
    I just said his article concurs with Torah concept didnt say to listen to him….you listen to what Torah said…but just so happens that it CONCURS with it…get it?

  8. Actually, he doesn’t seem that disrespectful to the Orthodox. One of his favorite fathers was and favorite brothers, ybl”ch, is Orthodox. He is very intelligent, interesting, and has clarity. But a site of Matzav’s caliber should not be quoting him on any issues of hashkafa.
    To Anonymous7: Tell you what. Listen to the second hour of his show on Wednesdays. It is not about religion, or philosophy, which would be problematic enough. Listen to that hour for a month or two and we’ll talk again.

  9. Incredible how people are so close minded. When you hear wisdom, you take it.Why should it matter who it is from? What’s the difference what his opinions are on other matters? If honesty is what interests you, you’ll appreciate this article. But if you’re interested in superphisical elements and in branding people, then you unfortunately will forfeit much insight. This is common amongs lt it common amongst some of us orthodox people to prefer wrong or misguided advice from the “right” people, than truth and professional advice from the ” wrong” person. Let the truth be our guiding light.

  10. I retract my comment that Rabbi Miller said some of these ideas… The gemmora says in Shabbos daf ayin heih 75a “Anybody who learns one thing from a magus (heretic who turns people towards idol worship) is chayav misa (death penalty).

  11. Re Yisroel (15): I’m not a kanai by a long shot. But people have to know the source. Imagine someone reading this, hearing he’s written books and thinking, wow, I’d like to read more because I like how he thinks. They’ve never heard him talk about how the chachamim were wrong in instituting yom tov sheini, or had the pleasure of hearing him eviscerate Dovid Hamelech with Dovid Wolpe.

    Now if someone were to say, there is honest discussion about yom tov sheini, that’s fine. However, I’m sure that the poskim that discuss this do so with a humility and reverence that is completely absent from this neo Karaite, who has issues with Torah sheb’al peh. And to be fair, I didn’t hear the last segment of the Wolpe hour: perhaps they wrapped it up with a genuine discussion on how Chazal understand this episode because if were in fact to take it by pshat only, then there is no way that we could look up to Dovid Hamelech and his works the way we do. Somehow I doubt it.

    I will be dlkz the editors here that indeed, they found those words sensible and so are printing them here. But I know that there are many readers who are clueless as to who the writer of those words is.

  12. Forgive me for another P.S.. Wish there was a “you have five minutes to edit”button. This is not a character weakness; I could see how one might call that a (more) superficial element. And I won’t say ignore Prager across the board. I just say that people have to know who he is so they can tread carefully because there is something systemic in his works.

  13. There is a story told about R’ Chaim Brisker. Someone came to the town and wanted to speak in the shul. R’ Chaim refused to allow him to spoke because of who he was, someone who did not lead a true Torah life. The traveling maggid said that everything he will say will be according to the Torah, there won’t be anything wrong with what he will say and requested that R’ Chaim let him speak. R’ Chaim said that you can take the most kosher piece of meat, geshuchten by the most ehrlicher shochet, kashered by the most ehrlicher butcher, but if you cook it in a treife pot it becomes treif.