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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 11/04/11

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Lonely at the Core revisited

(Chronicles July 22; column’s response July 29; readers’ views Aug 19, Sept 2 and Sept 23)

Regular readers will surely recall the woman who bitterly lamented her husband’s skirt-chasing ways over their many years of marriage. The letter below was written by a male reader in response to a commentary that appeared in the September 23rd column, which began as follows:

I am a male who, upon reading the article about the husband who likes the company of other women, thought the story had more holes than a rice strainer. How can any human (male or female) dwell for so long in the same hostile environment with a cheating spouse and endure this kind of torment and agony — and all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, decide she’s had enough, just because she married off all of their children...”

The above and the following letter refer to the one written by Lonely at the Core – whose husband’s main focus in life seemed to be centered on the entertainment he sought and found outside of his marriage.

 

Dear Rachel,

I am also a male and agree that this story is full of holes. You only heard the woman’s side of the story, so how can you possibly have advised her to follow her heart and seek a divorce? Interestingly, in the same issue of The Jewish Press and in subsequent ones, columnists warned of the terrible effects of divorce on the wife, her social life, her family life, and the lingering effects on children and grandchildren.

I would ask the woman the following questions:

1. Have you started taking a medication, underwent menopause, or started a diet program that is having an effect on your brain chemistry that you don’t even realize?

2. How many times have you had actual physical proof of misbehavior? When was the most recent? (She stated this started 35 years ago; I can’t believe after counseling and maturing that the husband is continuing the same behavior with the same consistent frequency.)

3. Has your financial situation improved such that you can take half the assets and do what you please? Would you still consider divorce if you got nothing? Is it the money talking, or is it truly your heart?

4. Are you talking to close friends that have bad marriages and perhaps internalizing their tzoros as your own?

5. Do you have too much time in the day, i.e. you are not working and not busy with children, such that this takes up your entire existence and are therefore magnifying issues and over reacting? Are you constantly checking his whereabouts, emails, phone records, work colleagues, and doing it all behind his back — and finding nothing?

6. Do you overly criticize your husband, creating a distance between you? Do you smile at him? Do you laugh with him? Do you thank him when he does something good? Do you apologize when you do something wrong? Are you ever wrong? Do you accept an apology or just launch into another diatribe? When you have an argument do you bring up every wrong that he ever committed or just focus on the disagreement at hand?

7. Do you have difficulty forgiving anyone who has hurt you, including friends, co-workers, bosses, parents, or your children? Do you remind people of the wrong this one or that one did to you, even if it was years ago?

8. Have you physically changed and feel uncomfortable with your appearance, whether it be a weight problem, wrinkles, arthritis or other physical deformity that may have brought on a low self-esteem so that you need appearance compliments constantly? Are you overspending on clothes, makeup and sheitels? Do you own more than 5 human hair sheitels? Do you have more than two closets full of your better clothes and gowns?

9. Do you understand what love and commitment really mean? Don’t confuse these terms with marital relations and inertia.

Honest couples’ therapy is a better choice than divorce if she can’t answer these questions clearly and emphatically as having no bearing on her state of mind today. Otherwise, she is entering into the Sheol Tachtis and dragging her family with her.

I would really like to see this in print to balance the comments and especially your flawed advice. You should have asked a lot more questions of her facts before suggesting divorce.

Still shaking my head in disbelief

 

Dear Shaking,

While you start off making a sustainable argument, the cynical and negative tone of your questions bring to mind the relentless hounding of the prosecuting attorney intent on eliciting a guilty verdict at any cost.

Without having heard both sides, you callously insinuate that this woman suffers from delusion and that her husband’s bad behavior is all in her mind.

Agreed, therapy is a better option than divorce, but counseling does not always produce the hoped-for outcome. In fact, this couple’s been there and done that — to no avail.

Since you don’t divulge anything of your own experience with the opposite gender, far be it from me to suggest that your almost hostile stance could be stemming from a personal relationship encounter in your past.

Your criticism of the column’s advice to Lonely at the Core is unwarranted as well. Whereas the woman is encouraged to take a strong stand in putting an end to her emotional torment, she is also advised to seek consultation with a trustworthy confidante — and warned of the pitfalls of divorce, should she choose to go that route.

 

* * * * *

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.

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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