Is communal pressure to marry too high?

An old friend of mine called me in tears the other night, he had just been to his best friends wedding and he couldn’t help but fear alone and like he was never going to get married. He asked me how I could live without the constant nagging fear of being alone, as I always do, I told him that I never really felt alone and that everyone was different when it comes to these matters.

My friend is succumbing to communal and societal pressure to marry and have kids, in my opinion this a good thing. He happens to live in a singles community which could be good or bad for your loneliness depending who you are. I myself think that singles communities are a great place to stay single – in regular Jewish communities, singles feel left out – forcing them to either get married or move to a more “comfortable” situation. The problem is, that when they move to a community they can feel comfortable being single in, people tend to have mixed emotions about actually getting married, especially when they become a big part of the community. I have been told that getting married when you live in a singles community is tough because you lose your friends and don’t feel like you can be part of the community anymore.

I told my friend that one of his problems is that he thinks too much about singledom and considers himself to be a single. Rather than just being a dude, he’s constantly looking for someone and forgetting that life can be enjoyed while looking for a mate. I find that a lot of single folks will forgo life because they think everything should be devoted to finding a mate.

This leads us to the question of the day, is societal, communal and religious pressure to marry, too high? Is it a good thing to be pressured? Or a bad thing?

I was at a Stanford learning session when a girl brought up this important question. She wants to concentrate on her career (I’ve heard that one before) and doesn’t feel that it’s right for the community to nudge her about marriage and children. She loves children and wants them, but at the same time – she is adamant that if it doesn’t happen it’s not the end of the world. Once again, I feel that insecurity is the root of a lot of these problems.

I feel no pressure to marry; if you want to feel pressure you will feel pressure. I don’t feel pressure by society or community. I can chose what I like and I chose to be open to all suggestions for shidduchim, but at the same time – I understand the pressure and I understand that one can never really be a full fledged member of a community that revolves around children. I mean, without Jewish education to moan about what would Jews do?