On October 7, '93 I was one of the featured presenters at Brown's Hotel in the Catskills for the Shmini Atzeress holiday program. I spoke on the topic, "A Torah Approach For Succeeding In A Man-Woman Relationship." One of the most central and most important points of that presentation provides a most appropriate and most impactful beginning here. The presentation at Brown's applied to both marrieds and to singles. I will be transitioning into a singles context momentarily.
I opened with some startling statistics, vintage early '90s (and growing worse, not better, as we proceed into the later '90s). Ninety percent of American Jews age 18-24 are single. Thirty six percent of American Jews age 25-34 are single. Twenty two percent of American Jews age 35-44 are single. Fifty four percent of American Jews who marry, marry a non-Jew, and the rate of intermarriage is rapidly rising. An undetermined but alarmingly high, and rapidly rising, percent of American Jews who marry either 1. have significantly troubled marriage relationships or 2. divorce. To put it another way, even those who do marry, have a worrisome, high likelihood of returning to singlehood or of living a miserable or dysfunctional marriage, as if the man and woman are each a single who hopped through a chupa (wedding canopy) to give some neighbors a show, rather than to leave singlehood to form a genuine and lasting marriage bond. They are individuals with a "single-person mind-set," or to say it a little more radically, they are singles who happened to have been through a wedding ceremony, and it will just take a little time for their marital status to catch up with their mentality status. They tend to exhibit major shortcomings which are necessarily associated with being separate, alienating, alone or stormy. They fight and criticize, are selfish and rigid, don't communicate (at least, not beyond what they expect to be an investment in getting their own way), etc.
"Married-person mind-set" people are unconditionally and consistently good to people. They get along, communicate, are adaptive (when there is no violation of Torah principle), are thoughtful and generous, have good midos (pleasant and strong character), are well-liked and respected by people, are helpful and kind to others, etc. They unequivocally consider marriage to be a lifelong commitment and are fully ready and willing to be half of a working partnership. They are developed and mature personalities and are spiritually refined. They are emotionally and psychologically equipped to be a lifelong partner in a successful marriage.
A "married-person mind-set" does not come as a natural event. The maturity, character and responsibility that are prerequisite to a lasting and successful marriage require work on oneself and, perhaps more important, the will to do the requisite work on oneself.
It seems, therefore, that, as of this writing, far less than half of American Jews of marriageable age is capable of finding another Jew to marry - and to stay married to! And, the situation is steadily getting worse and worse.
In the Jewish culture, rich in tradition and values, in which the family is the central institution for Jewish society and continuity, and in which marriage is central, this is nothing short of crisis. It is commanded in the Torah 1. that every Jewish man marry a Jewish woman and have children (Beraishis 1:28) and 2. that every Jew not ever marry a non-Jew (Devarim 7:3).