Sunday, September 26, 2010

Younger Siblings and Shidduchim

Well, it finally happened, and I was completely unprepared for it. My younger sister informed me that her first friend/acquaintance her age just got engaged. She just got back from seminary, a few months ago. This actually happened a little while ago, and I have been gathering my thoughts on the subject. Reading Bad4’s post ("Why I Need to Get Married Fast") on this topic, along with my sister telling me of another engagement, reminded me of the main thought running through my head when I originally heard my sister’s news: Now I officially feel old. I usually don't claim to be approaching the "old maid" category, since I know that I am nowhere near there yet (depending on who you ask :) ). I even have a birthday coming up soon and I am excited for it, not dreading it- if anything it reminds me just how young I am in the scheme of things. This piece of news, however, made me feel old. It took me by surprise and for the first time my thoughts jumped to a question I never considered, “What if my younger sister gets married before I do?”

Lately I seem to be hearing more and more about younger siblings who get married before their older siblings. I even heard about a support group for singles whose younger siblings are getting married. If the younger sibling is only one or two years younger than you, then I don’t think it’s quite as big a deal, but if your younger sibling is three or more years younger than you, then I would imagine that it would be really difficult. Whenever I hear of someone getting engaged and I know they have an older sibling who is not yet married, right after I think “Mazel Tov” I cringe and think, “Oy, I feel bad for them.” And I know, no singles want pity, the worst thing in the world is to be looked at as a nebach, as in “I’m so sorry, I feel so bad for you.” But I can’t help feeling that way, I can’t help feeling that they must be in some kind of pain. I put myself in their shoes and all I can feel is “Ouch. That has got to hurt.”

I never really thought about the possibility of my sister getting married before I did because she is so much younger and I always assumed I’d be married long before she even started dating. In fact, I still hope that to be the case, since unlike Bad4’s sister, I don’t believe my sister intends to start dating for another year or two. So I have a little while before I need to really worry about this, and I hope that I won’t have to. But in all honestly, if I’m not married in two years and my sister wants to start dating, it will probably be very hard for me. I will of course tell her to start dating, and I would never want to hold her back, but I can’t picture attending her wedding while I am still single, with everyone glancing nervously over at me, wondering how I’m holding up. The very thought of that possibility is painful. I definitely don’t understand how those who have more than one younger sibling married before them handle it.

When I step back and try to think about this from an objective standpoint, it really makes no sense that it should be so difficult. I’ve heard about tons of engagements of those younger than I am. Hashem has a time for everything and some people have to wait longer to find their shidduch than others. Why should I feel anything but happiness if my younger sibling doesn’t have to wait as long as I do? It doesn’t bother me that my sister’s friend is engaged and getting married before me. I knew that it was likely that one of her friends could get married before I did when she came home from seminary a few months ago and I was still single. But somehow the idea of my sister and not some random other person hits closer to home, it is more personal. This is someone who I’ve known since the second she was born, and have always just assumed that I would get married first. The difficulty is not only in the sudden need to reject my previous expectations, but to watch someone so close to me reach a stage of life that I long to reach myself, yet always found unobtainable.

Questions for the readers: Do any of you have younger siblings who got married before you? If so, how did you deal with this? If you have a younger sibling who is not married- would you be OK with them getting married first or would it be painful? Thoughts?


  1. I'm the youngest, and everyone else is long married. But I think I would not feel awesome if my little sibling easily (by comparison to my exploits) got engaged, officially classifying me as a nebach.

    Not to come off as . . . mean, I have sometimes (I repeat, sometimes) found that little sisters so don't want to end up where their elder single sisters are (it doesn't seem to be such a boy issue) that they rush into marriage, or REALLY compromise in terms of their grooms.

    The pressure isn't only on the older sibling. Like Bad4's little sister, many girls don't want to put their sisters in such an awkward position.

  2. Bookworm- I don't think anything you said was mean at all. You make a good point about the pressure being on the younger sibling as well.

    Chana- Beautiful, heartbreaking, perfectly written post. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I've seen a handful of families where the younger sibling gets engaged, followed shortly thereafter by the next oldest sibling. I don't think it's an absolute death knoll when a younger sibling beats their elder to the matrimonial canopy - everyone is uniquely different regarding whenever he/she is truly ready to marry. Though I will say on a personal level, it can be hard just thinking about a younger sibling dating at all, when I still envision them as the me-too little follower they once were, ages ago.

  4. Shades- yes, it's hard to distinguish between the "ahh my younger sibling is old enough to get married" feeling and the "ahh my younger sibling could possibly get married before me feeling." The two are somewhat connected.

  5. I waited for my older sister, so I started dating at around 21/22, now I'm almost 25 and not married. My 21 year old sister wants to wait for me, but I almost want her to start dating so she doesn't end up in my position, even though I would be miserable if she got engaged first.

    The frum dating world is so frustrating!!!

  6. Anonymous- I completely understand! It's like you want them to start dating, but at the same time you don't want them to get married first.

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