I Thought It Would Be Different
By Dr. Miriam Adahan and T.E. Klein
Dr. Miriam Adahan and T.E. Klein have authored a book which should be required reading for marriage-minded singles and for any couple experiencing difficulties in their marriage.
I Thought It Would Be Different follows three women in difficult marriages. Rina is married to a type 1 spouse, Mimi is married to a type 2, and Chani is married to a type 3. All three women are observant Jews and educated professionals.
What are these three types all about?
The type 1 personality is the ostensibly “nice guy” who is passively hostile, yet actually aggressive, irresponsible, non-communicative and indifferent.
The type 2 personality is the possessive, domineering person who controls and monitors, criticizing the smallest action.
The type 3 personality seems superficially charismatic and charming but is actually cruel. Each type is abusive in his own particular way. Even when these men do something nice, like buying something for the wife/kids, it’s what he wants and not what they asked for or need. Many times it is something the wife doesn’t even like.
The true situations presented are either the same or variations of the same theme, but the behavior of all three spouses, while different, all falls into the category of abuse. Only one of the three women is physically abused, but all of them suffer emotional and mental abuse at the hands of their husbands. (The authors note that abusive personalities can also be found among women, but in this book they focus on abusive husbands).
Most significantly, we read of the warning signals that all the women experienced during their courtships and the excuses they made at that time. Abusive men are usually on their best behavior before marriage. But they do provide clues. However, the woman keeps doubting what she is seeing and may even attribute a positive reason for the negative actions. Years later the woman will remember these early warning signs and realize that she denied them at the time. The authors are quick to point out that many people might exhibit some negative traits both before and after marriage. There are many caring men who want to be sensitive but don’t know how. These men should not be confused with the truly abusive types, even though some behavior may appear similar. The book explains the differences between a healthy adult and one who is abusive.
Among the many chapters is one on Recognizing abuse and Early Warning signs. The chapter on living with violence describes the destructive sequence of living with a physically violent spouse. It is much easier to recognize someone who is consistently nasty as abusive rather than someone who can be very nice one minute and then turn on you the next. This can account for the fact that some men are highly regarded outside the home – “the nicest man in shul” and “the friendliest guy at work” – but at home he turns into an insulting, demeaning, possibly violent Jekyll and Hyde.
Suggestions are offered which may work for some people, such as making clear very early in the relationship that some things will not be tolerated and that clear boundaries must be established. This can work in some of the cases described. A few resources are offered at the end of the book.
The goal of the authors is to give insight to family and friends of those suffering abuse and to help those experiencing abuse to overcome their depression and to remember that they are valuable human beings with much to give.
About the Author: Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.
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