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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/27/08

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Dear Rachel,

Reading your column that dealt with the issue of a husband’s sex-addiction finally convinced me to sit down and write my particular story, so that I can get your valued opinion.

I, too, have suffered terribly for a very long time now (10 years), since my husband is also a sex addict. He started out with books, which I had found. Then it was porn videos, and later the smut on the Internet – which I had no idea even existed in our house.

My situation is different: I really tried and tried to stand by him time and time again, of course not wanting to break up our family and subject my children to the effects of a divorce.

But though I try and try and he is in therapy, I’ve lost all of my respect, trust and love toward this man. I can’t handle this anymore. I don’t think I can go on living this way. I feel I always did my best to be a great wife and mother and that I don’t deserve this. I’m still young (early 30’s, attractive and thin).

Through therapy I learned that his problem is not my fault. I feel I deserve to be happy and content and don’t see why I have to suffer this way for the rest of my life. Although he is a decent father, he is not a great husband or provider and our intimate life is far from what it should be since no amount of therapy can convince me to want to be close to him again. I am actually far from attracted to him since all I can think of is the hurt and pain over and over again.

Where do I turn from here? Divorce was never an option before but has lately become one. Am I being crazy or selfish? Is it worth it for me to spend the rest of my life with him and to keep having sleepless lonely nights just for the sake of my children?

I am confident in myself, in that I can be a great single mom, and we can probably have a civilized divorce since it is not uncommon in his family at all. Please help me with some of your wise input.

Thank you in advance.

To leave or not to leave

Dear Leave,

Your emotional state and misgivings are understandable under the unfortunate circumstances you have had to endure.

You mention having realized through therapy that the fault of your husband’s addiction has nothing to do with you. You also say “you tried and tried to stand by him.” Was that before he sought counseling? If so, you may have suffered a long string of broken promises without any guidance to steer you both in a healing direction. A betrayal of trust damages the foundation of any relationship for sure, but it is not impossible to rebuild lives and regain trust.

Your letter indicates that your husband is currently in therapy. If he is admitting his weakness, expressing remorse and is responsive to the therapy he is undergoing to conquer his addiction, then yes, for the sake of your children (you mention he is a decent father), you ought to give your relationship yet another try. It may not be an easy road to take, but the stark reality of life is that divorce is no pie in the sky and no guarantee of a rosier future for you or your children – notwithstanding your nurturing capabilities.

This is not to advocate staying in a helplessly dysfunctional relationship at any cost. Every situation is unique, and this column offers only an objective opinion based on the little information divulged in your letter. Ultimately, it is you who needs to decide. (If you haven’t received therapy by yourself for yourself – versus alongside your husband – consider doing so to help you sort things through.)

Ironically, we always seem to be advising the hapless wife, the tragic casualty of her testosterone-loaded husband’s deviant ways. Maybe it’s time to send a message to the high-wired male who flirts mindlessly with his yetzer ha’ra, under pretext of irrepressible male instincts:

Aside from the wanton waste of time and actual sin of the forbidden act, consider the damage and the searing pain that you inevitably inflict on your nearest and dearest; reflect upon the value of human life and the holy mission your soul has been divinely entrusted with; picture a future devoid, G-d forbid, of the endless nachas of your children; and, finally, think of yourself, a creation of the highest form on earth, who – unlike the four-legged kind that act upon instinct – has been imbued with the power to choose and the intellect to discern right from wrong.

Don’t delude yourself into believing the devil’s assurance of “just this one time,” for you will be paving the way for “just another” and so on down the line to self-destruction. (The same can be said for other detrimental patterns of behavior, such as gambling, immorality, incessant TV or movie watching, etc.)

It would be in your own best interest to commit yourself to a course of earnest Torah study – the greatest antidote to all of man’s ailments. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of men, wrote “Hashem Yiten chachmah mi’Piv da’as u’sevunah” – G-d grants wisdom, from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding…” – which comes to teach us that toil in Torah strengthens one’s yetzer tov and illuminates the soul.

Don’t wait until it’s too late; don’t trample on your wife’s precious gift of love for you – for when all her respect for you will be lost, it is you who will be on the losing end, and your climb uphill will be an excruciatingly difficult and lonely one to undertake.

May Hashem grant you both the strength and the stamina to do the right thing.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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