Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Problem with Orthodox Marriage (OrthoWeddings, part II)

First, just want to thank everyone who left comments with ideas about feminist Orthodox weddings.

I've (obviously) been thinking a lot about the issue and here's what I've come to.

I had serious issues with the actual wedding part of the Orthodox wedding. What I mean by that: I don't really like a lot of the symbolic (unnecessary) rituals -- i.e., the bedekin, the walking around 7 times, etc. -- but my real problem with being the bride in an Orthodox wedding is that I don't agree with the actual dynamics of marriage within Orthodox Judaism.

Here's what I mean:

From the way I understand it, if I was the bride in an Orthodox ceremony, I would be "acquired" by my husband and would be promising to be faithful to him whereas he is not doing the same thing with me.

He says, "Harei at m'kudeshet li?" (Will you be consecrated unto me?) But I never say the same thing back to him because in Orthodox Judaism, a husband's faithfulness is not given the same weight as a wife's. I really, really don't like that and I don't think our relationship fits within that model.

Now I know that maybe I should just be able to swallow this for the sake of making my (and his) parents happy, but then again, I feel like this belief system that I have (and I recognize that it is a belief system) is just as central to the way I see the world as Orthodox Judaism is to the way my and his parents see the world.

A lot of my friends seem to think I'm being silly, but I really feel like taking part in such a ceremony is compromising myself.

I know Conservative Judaism has a much more egalitarian ceremony with a brit ben ahuvim, etc.. PLEASE tell me that something of the sort exists in Orthodox Judaism that I don't know about? Or that there's a way to change the above issues while staying within the confines of halacha?