the schmooze


*In Yiddish, the word "shlekht" means bad

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York
Long before Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote "Kosher Sex," people cohabitated.  Shmuley wrote, "Living together...means vastly different things to different people.  You may, for instance, live together but still agree to date other people. One hundred different people have a hundred different interpretations as to what commitment to each other means, once they hear that it is only a relationship.  But if they stand at your wedding and witness your marriage, everyone understands exactly what you mean to each other...Surely, when people are living together, one may ask one of the participants if the relationship is serious. But to ask that of two people who are married to each other would be ludicrous."

Long before people met through JDate, Frumster, and Nuyentacom (a Jewish matchmaking service), single Jewish men and women heard the Yiddish proverb, "No chupa, no shtupa"--no wedding, no bedding.

Bon Jovi wrote these lyrics for "Living in Sin":

   I call it love; they call it living in sin
   Is it you and me or just this world we live in
   I say we're living on love, they say we're living in sin.

I grew up hearing these Yiddish expressions:

.  Love and marriage "geyt tzuamen vi zup un knaydlakh" (go together like soup and knaydlakh).

.  Marital harmony means "shalom bayis."

.  "Far ziseh raidelech tsegai'en di maidelach."  (Sweet talk makes a girl melt.)

.  "Fun zogn vern vert men nit trogn."
   (From talk alone you don't get pregnant.)

In 1973, Sam Levenson ("In One Era & Out the Other") wrote that parents are having the new bedtime story read TO THEM by their children.  "Yes, Mother, we're living together.  You wouldn't want us to be dishonest, would you?  Mother?  We love each other.  If you love each other and don't live together, that's dishonest.  We're not ready to be married; we're only ready to be honest.  You wouldn't want us doing it behind your back...Physical love between consenting adults is honesty, so why don't you and Daddy consent.  (With parental consent they can get a learner's permit.)

The parents then talk it over.  'If anybody asks us, we'll say they're engaged. If they ask, 'Engaged in what?' we can say Wassermann test.)"

These facts amaze me:  There is no evidence to suggest that cohabitating before marriage leads to a stronger marriage. The research shows "der heypekh" (the opposite).  A 1995 study conducted by sociologists David Hall and John Zhoa showed "premarital cohabiters in Canada have over twice the risk of divorce, when compared with non-cohabiters.  Another 1994 study found that only 30% of cohabiting couples actually got married.

So, how is cohabitation "shlekht" for women's health?  Clay Risen wrote that "For every woman who complains about how messy her new live-in boyfriend is, we need to add a new concern:  his effect on her health.  Dieticians have found that women tend to gain weight once they move in with male partners. "Living with a male seemed to put pressure on females to consume more of the unhealthy choices" says Amelia Lake.  However, females had a positive influence on the diets of the males."

"Beyde" (both) partners tend to change their dietary habits to accommodate each other at the beginning of the relationship (AKA the "honeymoon period").  Men eat better than usual and women eat worse.  Over time, both partners drift back toward their starting points--but not completely. Why?  Because women tend to take over control of the couple's food shopping and cooking...and often retain a positive image of their partner's food consumption.  Women tend to stay in the honeymoon period longer, as they are open to influence by their partner's lifestyles.  In the long run, they will tend to eat fattier, less healthful foods.

Perhaps Laura Dole ("The Surrendered Single") was right when she wrote, "Commitment itself is one of the things that makes love last, so if you want your romance to last a lifetime, live separately until you're ready to say 'till death do we part.'  When you live together, the relationship can be renegotiated at any time, which makes it much more volatile than marriage."

"Azoy geyt es"  (That's how it goes.)


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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