Dear Mrs. Bluth,
Unlike some of your past letter writers, I am no youngster, in fact, I am forty-two years old and quite worldly. Unlike the young people who married, perhaps too early or before they were mature enough, I am neither. Yet, I am embarrassed to say, I have become a victim of poor choice; I have been blinded by false love. That is the reason I am not capable of reaching out to those people who expressed their doubts about my marriage. I am ashamed at my own stupidity.
I even wrote to you almost a year ago; there were some signs that he was overbearing and controlling, wanting to know where I was going, with whom and even what I was doing all the time. He was also very firm that we move away from family and friends to start a life of our own unencumbered by outside commitments. Even I found it a bit odd that this fifty one year old man, who appeared so intelligent and sophisticated, should come across so insecure and needy. You, however, saw other things, “red flags” you called them, “harbingers of danger ahead.” In hindsight, I so regret that I didn’t listen. And that is why you are the one I turn to now, this time with open ears.
Understand that wisdom, age and maturity didn’t stand a chance when “Sheldon” entered my full but partner-less life. He was tall, handsome and a perfect gentleman who had never been married, but felt he was ready to finally commit to one special person –
and I was the lucky individual he had been waiting for all his life. Those were the words I believe every woman waits to hear and I was no different. I succumbed to his charm, even while others made veiled comments about things that “didn’t appear quite right” or were a bit “worrisome.” When you answered my letter, feeling the same as they did, I had already accepted his marriage proposal.
After sheva brachos, we moved to another state and he became a totally different person. He couldn’t find work, not that he tried too hard; I landed a great, well-paying job almost immediately and soon after the comments started. He accused me of cheating on him when I had to stay late at work and he became aggressively forceful when those arguments escalated to include my withholding money from him, putting my work before him and what he needed. My broken blood vessels from his pinching and black and blue marks from his punches were the last straw for me.
Today, the mistakes I made are glaringly evident and I know that I have no one to blame but myself.
I reach out to you now for advice and help – only this time, I am ready and willing to do what needs to be done to reclaim my sanity, my self-respect and my life.
Very often, the desire for true love is “the snake in the Garden of Eden,” pushing temptation and the prospect of untold pleasures so much that it blinds those desperately seeking it. Along with the desire to share a lifetime of respect, caring and love, one must use common sense, be intensely observant and pay attention to history, character and basic good human behavior. It is wise not to let too much emotion cloud your research, and red flags, no matter who brings them to your attention, must be taken seriously.
As for the “love” thing everyone is so gung-ho about, that takes years of work to achieve, years of devotion, of putting someone else’s need before our own, of overlooking small imperfections, and basically giving the other the same considerations you want for yourself, willingly and without bias.
What is perceived as true love before marriage, what the romantics view as this wonderful, all-consuming, glorious sensation that is proof two people belong together, is nothing more than the snake in the garden that blinds us to the truth.
True love, in simple terms, is like an old pair of shoes you bought when they were in fashion. You wore them for years, even when they were a bit tight or gave you a blister. You always remember how they looked in the store window. And, after some time passed, they stopped pinching your toes, the heels conformed to your foot; you knew that they were keepers and loved them even more because of it. They were comfortable, dependable and still gave you the same thrill and pleasure as when you first laid eyes on them.
It takes years to achieve the glorious state of maturity, when you see the person you married, his or her hair speckled with silver strands here and there, maybe not as svelte and youthful as when you first met, but deeply comforting and delicious to be with, a person who has become your best friend, your trusted confidant, your whole world. The passion and lust that passes for love before marriage is just that, the prelude to years of work in building on those early feelings. Like good wine, great cheese and vintage clothes, it takes time for love to mature to its highest quality, but it’s worth it!
As to your situation: Pack your bags, your important papers and sentimental things and go stay somewhere else while you work with a rabbi or organization to seek a get and a divorce. With all that you have written in this letter, I don’t hold out hope that counseling will resolve anything here. There’s too much wrong.
Should you need any help, please get in touch with me. But please, act now.