Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I think I have a problem but something holds me back from asking anyone I know. I have a feeling, though, that you can help me.
I have been married for three years and, while it was never great, lately things have gotten worse.
I am twenty-two years old and the oldest child in my family. With seven brothers and sisters after me, my parents were anxious for me to marry. Even when I was just nineteen, they would act as if something was wrong with me that I was not married. So, when a young man said yes to a second date, my parents convinced me he was a good match. To me he seemed a little funny, sometimes answering strangely when I asked him if he had a sense of humor. He was very quiet and almost withdrawn and if I didn’t initiate the conversation, all he did was sit there and stare at me.
When the shaddchan called to say that his mother was ready to make a l’chaim after the third b’show, my parents were very happy and had all of my relatives on standby.
Sure enough, after we all met, he gave me a bracelet, my two aunts and uncles who lived in the neighborhood were called in and a small l’chaim was made. I got caught up in all the attention shown me and the excitement of becoming a kallah. I really wasn’t focused on the fact that I felt nothing special for Luzer, but later that night, when I lay in my bed, fright overtook me. I realized that I didn’t know anything about him and worse, I didn’t think I really even liked him.
In the days that followed I tried to speak with my mother, but she simply brushed off my words saying that all kallahs have these thoughts and that after the wedding we would get to know each other better. She was already deep into wedding preparations and had little time to devote to such conversations, so I accepted as truth whatever she told me and put aside my worries. I looked at many of my married friends who seemed happy, some already had babies, and immersed myself in wedding planning and shopping.
The wedding was so much fun, and the badchan kept us all laughing until the early morning hours. Then it was time to go home. I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, kallah classes only cover so much and the rest will be personal experience. Where was the tenderness, the mutual respect and the gentleness that were hinted to in the classes? Certainly, none were present that night, but the marriage was consummated, I was officially a married woman.
None of it was pleasant, however, and it never got better. My mother discovered some of what was going on when she came with me to the doctor to find out why I wasn’t getting pregnant, but told me to keep it to myself and that once I got pregnant things would be better. My doctor could do no more than give me some antibiotics for what was clearly infections caused by my husband.
Thanks to what my husband calls his “games,” I lost a baby in the first trimester and a second some months later. My mother again told me to just stay quiet and eventually it would get better, but I don’t think it ever will.
I can’t stand to be with my husband; I hate the look in his eyes when he looks at me. Mrs. Bluth, is this the way marriage is supposed to be or should I be rethinking my options and leave?
There is absolutely nothing normal or remotely acceptable about your marriage and, forgive me for saying this, your mother should be arrested for encouraging you to stay in this abusive and torturous marriage. I would advise you to get out immediately.
It is very sad that you have been ill advised and terribly mislead by the person who should have been there to protect you and prepare you for marriage. The truth of what a marriage should be was either distorted or completely withheld from you to keep you in this prison of torment so that your family would not be shamed by a divorce. Human sacrifice still exists when shame hangs in the balance; some believe it is better to sacrifice your daughter rather then have the community look down on them.
Your marriage is the farthest exception to the rule. What should be the most beautiful time for two young people who have chosen to marry has eluded you. Love cannot grow in such a morbid wasteland and things don’t get better of their own accord when there is any form of abuse. I do believe that every moment you stay puts you in danger.
Be discrete, pack a bag with all your valuable papers and personal belongings, but don’t tell anyone, least of all your mother, since I hold her judgement in question. Call Shalom Task Force and find out where you can stay and what resources they can provide for you until you can stand on your own or until some family member is willing to stand with you and end the marriage. There are wonderful organizations ready to assist you in any way so that you can put your life together and start looking forward to a healing, healthy and happy future.
Last week a letter from one G.R. appeared as a Letters to the Editor. In that missive, G.R. challenges my response to a letter-writer who wrote about her angst about her adoption of a child from another country and the child’s disturbing issues of which she was not previously informed or prepared to handle. The term G.R. used to ridicule my reply was ‘psychobabble’ and he/she disputed my observations by placing all the blame on a small, defenseless and possibly abused child and not on any other extenuating circumstances or facts that have been substantiated and confirmed by many recent studies on foreign adoptions. G.R. was also kind enough to inform me that ‘lessons on how to deal with brats’ are best left to those over the age of 60. Newsflash to G.R….. there are some people over 60 I wouldn’t allow to own pets, much less raise children, and to enlighten him/her further I am a small stretch past 60 myself and find that comment sad and disturbing.
However, I would like to thank every letter-writer who takes the time to comment on the column for the better or the worse and say that I take every valid response seriously. Except this one, as it was written by someone who obviously dislikes children and has used the column as his or her own personal soapbox.