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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/11/08

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Dear Rachel,

Reading the articles that have appeared in your column has given me the courage to write.

What is a wife of 42 years to do when she finds out her husband has a girlfriend? I confronted my husband after hearing him on the phone with her talking about their “fun” together. He denied the entire conversation, despite my standing in the hallway overhearing it all. A week later he came home with visible evidence that they were together.

I told him I’m done with him and said I’m getting a divorce. He tells me he loves me and that I should forget all this. He says we have a great life together. We have many children and many grandchildren. He said he is having a midlife crisis (he’s in his early 60’s) and that he won’t see her again.

I strongly suspect that he is still with her. What do I do? Get a divorce and start again at this stage of my life? Hire an investigator and break up the other marriage? Pretend it did not happen and continue life with my husband − that took 42 years to build?

What will happen to my children and their families with this? Am I to leave my job . . . find somebody else? Not that it matters: I am thin and in excellent physical condition, I’m a size 4 and take care of my looks.

A wife in need of an answer

Dear Wife,

You poor dear, how you must be hurting! Not enough the heartache of betrayal, your emotional distress is intensified by the burden of “where and to whom to turn.” While you long desperately to oust him from your life, your are reluctant to face embarrassment from close ones like your own children and from acquaintances like your employer, your peers at work and your neighbors.

Looking back at the 42 years spent building a life together and forging a lasting bond (or so you had been led to believe) adds to your wretchedness. Then there’s a dread of being left to live alone and of possibly regretting not having given him the chance to prove himself worthy of your giving him a second chance.

There is no condoning your husband’s behavior, midlife crisis notwithstanding. But as human beings, we are vulnerable and may stumble when coming up against temptation in a weak moment. If he is indeed contrite, he must be made to prove it. Words ring hollow and “I love you” in this circumstance is woefully insufficient.

Your marriage has suffered a blow and the wound is too deep for a simple band-aid application. The strongly recommended remedy is for the two of you to seek professional marriage counseling, which may be the only way to get things out in the open to properly air deep-seated issues.

His insistence of having given up his fling should not deter you in pursuing such a course. If he truly does not want to lose you, he should be amenable to your suggestion. If he continues to display indifference to your feelings with a glib “get over it” attitude, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to see his rabbi who will be able to give you constructive advice in confidentiality.

Moreover, should he persist in making a mockery of your marriage with his philandering (the telltale signs again making it obvious), haul out that old suitcase and start packing – not your things, his. Empty his drawers of his clothing, underwear, sundries, etc. and park the packed suitcase by the door. When he gets around to finding it there, inform him straight out that you are dealing with your midlife crisis, by getting rid of it. He will read the message loud and clear.

Sadly, a woman’s intuition in such circumstances is usually right on. Eating your heart out while playing out different strategies in your mind allows him the freedom to do as he pleases. For your health, your family and your marriage, you must take immediate action.

I wish you lightness of heart, peace of mind, and all the best that life has to offer.

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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