Opinion: Frum Divorce Rate Is Up


divorceBy Rabbi Hanoch Hecht

Twenty years ago, the divorce rate in the frum community at large was significantly lower than the secular world. In the past decade we have seen a significant rise in our communities. One would think that we would be eager to address this unfortunate upward trend, but that is not so, and this too, is sadly falling through the cracks.

There are many reasons for divorce; it is not limited to one age group, from newlyweds to the “veteran couples.” Each relationship goes through its own trials and tribulations and takes its own course. However, every couple shares something in common, the premarital stage. I strongly believe that if our community would adopt the practice that until now is “The Unspoken” premarital therapy.

In many circles the person performing a wedding will not marry off the couple unless they have attended pre-marital therapy. Pre-marital therapy is when one learns to recognize that they are starting a completely new life along with another person.

In addition to all the differences two individuals have, the fact that they are of opposites genders makes the situation all the more delicate. Each one’s upbringing, experiences, and gender affects his or her vision of what marriage should and will be like, as well as their relationship. Having known the person for only 3-6 months, I think it is fair to say that is a lot to deal with.

As children grow they are taught the proper way to talk, walk, and behave. Each family has different expectations and methods of how that is done. Now with these two individuals starting this new life there is a completely new manual of how to combine these two views. Many disagreements and hardships arise in marriage because there is a lack of understanding of how to do this in a constructive and non-hurtful manner.

Why is it considered a thing of embarrassment to get advice from a person with knowledge and experience in successfully dealing with marital issues? How come we walk into this blind-folded and unprepared?

I strongly suggest that engaged couples take the time and attend pre-marital counseling. This is a good time to learn the hows and whats of marriage. The least it can do is give you some tools to help you through the challenges ahead. May we continue to build a dor yeshorim yevorach.

Rabbi Hanoch Hecht is the Spiritual leader of the Rhinebeck Jewish Center and director of Chabad dutchess.

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  1. I’m sick of tired of hearing different types of alleged crises that afflict the frume community. If you want to write something meaningful, first prove that the crises actually exists. Just because it feels like there are more divorces doesn’t mean that there are! Yesterday I read that the boys are too short. My son is 6′ tall & we can’t seem to find girls tall enough for him. Should I invent a “short girl crises”?
    Regarding the well discussed “shidduch crises”, it would be a breath of fresh air if someone would actually gather some facts before suggesting solutions.

  2. #1 – Is this an opinion or a fact?
    #2 – All Yeshiva boys and Seminary girls that I know of go to Chosson and Kalla classes where they get this “premarital therapy”. Therefore I am not sure what this writer is trying to add?

  3. Maybe we are putting too much pressure on our children to “just get married”!

    With all this “Shiduch Crises” talk, every girl and boy think they better just marry the first person who says “YES”. They know from the start that their are major differences between them. However, they convince themselves that they will change after they get married, or their new spouse will change, or at least they will meet somewhere in the middle.

    If we would stop “Shiduch Crising” all day, and give a girl and boy the time to find the one who is really right for them, the divorce rate will drop.

    And besides, the Shadchanim think that they are solving the world’s crisis by forcing and convincing people to marry their non-bashert. There is no “kuntz” to make a shiduch. The kuntz is to make the RIGHT shidduch- and to prevent the wrong one.

    The world would be a much better place if the Shadchanim would lay off and use some unbiased “sechel”.

  4. “Having known the person for only 3-6 months, I think it is fair to say that is a lot to deal with.”

    In many frum circles they know each other fr far shorter than that and even when they are engaged for a few months the contact between the two is very limited, engaged after 5 dates speak a few times a week see each other once a week. Better education is a must for our community.

  5. we have to learn to give in and work on our middos in mariage being sensitive and learning to give in for the spouses will can save alot of mariages

  6. Excellent idea.
    The realization that two complete strangers are along for a trip of eternity is quite frightening with prior learning of skills.

  7. the devorce rate has been shown to reflect the age of the guys getting married the older they are the less devorces so either devores or shidduch crisis

  8. #1 Just check out the facts with Rabbonim writing gets and listen to the talk from friends and neighbors. The #’s have skyrocketed. You can see how many divorcees are in shidduchim today.

    #2 Unfortunely you are confused. B”H kallahs and chassonim attend classes before marriage. Those classes concentrate 95% on halachos of taharas mishpacha and less than 5% on skill building and tools for communication, effective listening, conflict resolution, understanding differences, appreciating points of view (that are not yours), and how to express feelings. The writer is highlighting an essential need for successful marriages.

  9. The bottom line I tell couples that come to me for counseling is: If you both come in to the marriage with the attitude “how can I make my spouse happy” you will always be happy but if you come in to the marriage with the attitude “whats in it for me” it is the beginning of the end!

  10. There were always unfortunately divorces in our communities. There are many more people now getting married (B”H) then there were 25 years ago. Also, we live in a world of sensationalism, where everything that happens has to spread around town like a big deal.
    I do however agree with the comment that if young couples simply worked on their middos, that would help many marital stresses.

  11. To Mr. Anonymous of Post #1,

    The coincidence of your mentioning a “short girl crisis” only one day after I made the following comment leads me to believe that you “recently heard” this in my post. While it is quite possible I am wrong and that you may have heard what you claim to have heard from some other source, I would like to clarify what I had said, just in case. Here’s my quote. It was in response to the letter signed by 60 Rabbis concerning the Shidduch Crisis.

    “I have a much better solution. Relative to other guys, I’m relatively short. Most girls seem to be taller than me. I don’t like it that girls who are shorter than me prefer to date guys who are taller than me. The pool of short girls is quite limited and the pool of tall guys is also limited. Why not limit girls to dating men who are only 2 inches taller than them? This would give all the taller girls a chance to date the tall guys, leaving the shorter ones for me!”

    In response to your comment here, I must say that I hope you didn’t take my post seriously. The whole point in my post over there was to make the point that the suggested solution, guys to dating girls not more than 2 years younger, is just as rediculous as the solution suggested in my quote above, limiting guys to dating girls who are no more than 2 inches shorter.

    In the context of my post, the quoted text was clearly intended to be sarcastic.

  12. I think therapy is a great idea but I think it makes more sense to have it sometime within the first year. That way each couple already has some idea of the issues they in particular will have to deal with. Or, we could do both. Even better. The question is how to make it something accepted. Most people won’t go to therapy if they believe they have no reason to.

  13. Both Matzav and the Yated have posted many excellent articles along with numerous excellent comments and letters to the editor about the Shidduch crises giving many different reasons for the problem.

    Specifically, at http://matzav.com/a-reader-writes-shidduchim-the-best-is-not-always-the-best and the comments there, there was discussed in detail the phenomenon of people wanting only what is “the top of the line,” and thereby wrongly rejecting many good shidduchim.

    In Comment #7 by Mr. “Rosh Yeshiva,” in Comment #12 by Mr.or Mrs. “Emes,” and in Comment #15 by Mr. or Mrs. “HAPPILLY MARRIED” at http://matzav.com/opinion-shidduch-crisis-dont-look-to-the-age-gap, there is brought out a similar problem of people demanding exorbitant money amounts.

    [I had wanted to note this in a comment there but was not able, so I will note it here. In those comments, people were aghast at bochurim demanding doweries of $100,000. Unfortunately, I need to relate that $100,000 — that is pretty “cheap”!! I was once privileged to stay at the home of a Kollel couple where the wife was a Shaddchan; several times she exclaimed that she knew about three bachurim who were (each) asking for ONE MILLION!!]

    The underlying problem of these phenomenon is that of Ga’ava. What do I mean by Ga’ava? Allow me to relate the following.

    I was once privileged to briefly teach Parshas Noach to some children in a local yeshiva ketana. To this day, I have great regrets that AFTER the school year was over and the class was gone, I discovered what would have been an exceptionally superb visual aid for the students: an excellent picture of a modern day contemporary Nimrod.

    I was privileged to stay at the home of one of the rabbonim in the area; at the house was a set of the World Book Encyclopedia along with a number of its year book supplements, which I looked at. I am pretty sure that it was in the volume for the year 1987 that there was an article about divided countries. In that article was a really beautiful photograph. It was of a long, marble floored hallway; its far side wall is covered with a painted mural of an endless stretch of gray mountains against a backdrop of a pinkish colored sky. In the middle of the hall just inches off of the wall mural stands a huge — rising several feet above the peaks of the mountains in the mural — a huge white stone replica of a cube shaped fancy padded arm-chair. In the large white stone arm-chair is sitting a large white stone statue replica of the wicked leader of North Korea. (The same man who in a few years would be boasting that he was going to turn the capital city of South Korea “into a ‘sea of fire’!!”)

    Yeap! It was just beautiful! There was no need for a caption on it, for it itself clearly projected its own caption:


    Yeap! As long as our little Mikies and our little Johnies — excuse me, our little Moshies and our little Chaiyimies are taught to be Ba’alay Ga’ava — mean arrogant people, with the word “humility” totally not in their vocabulary, and as soon as one of them can say a little “Chabura” applying a sevara of Rav Chaiyim to a peshat in a Tosafos, he is suddenly a little “Rosh Yeshiva” who can thus parade around the Beis HaMedrosh with the air of: “WHO AMONG THE GODS IS AS GREAT AS ME!!” And of course, of course, of course he WILL get a very, very, very, good, best of best of best shidduch, with one million dollars being on the “low end” of the scale!

    Then, obviously, Chas V’Shalom, their rebbe is not Rav Moshe Feinstein or Moshe Maimonidies or Moshe Rabaynu! Obviously, Chas V’Shalom, their “rebbe” is the dictator of North Korea or one of the dictators of Midevil Europe or one of the dictators of ancient Rome or Nimrod and the like.

    Then, obviously, Chas V’Shalom, we are NOT creating Bnei Torah — we are creating TERRIBLE MONSTERS!!

  14. (continuation of above comment)

    These problems of Ga’ava and its outgrowths of demanding only the top best and exorbitant doweries, do not end when a marriage is finally made. On the contrary, when a man and a woman with these attitudes get married, that is when these problems are going to really explode!

    It does not take much logic to realize that if either the man or the woman think that he or she is the very greatest on this earth who deserves the very best on this earth (and, of course certainly if both the man and the woman feel this way), then, when he begins to see that the woman he took, or she begins to see that the man she took, IS NOT the super, super, super best, best, best that he or she thought — there will be “Kolos U’Brakim”!

    At first, if they are patient “nice” people, he will demand that she quickly measures up, or she will demand that he quickly measures up. But when the she or the he will still fall short of the measuring up rod, the he or the she will exclaim: I made a “Mekach Taus” — I made a “purchase by mistake”! And the she or the he will exclaim: “I cannot take this pressure and abuse!” And, understandably, the marriage breaks.