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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 10/10/08

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Dear Rachel,

I love your column, though I was surprised by one comment in your response to Hurting for my children (Chronicles 8-22). It says, “There is no rocky marriage that leaves children unaffected, lending credence to the belief that it is far better to come from a broken home than to live in one.” We can perhaps have much different examples of what constitutes a broken home, but the many studies I’ve read say that children are better off in a home with a mother and father under one roof, even when there’s fighting (though not abuse), than when the parents divorce.

Keep up the good work.

Dear Keep,

Yes, what does indeed constitute a broken home? Certainly there’s no perfect match, even as good marriages go. Every couple has its spats, differences and disagreements. “Broken,” I venture to say, is when a husband and wife have lost all respect for one another and an air of hostility permeates the atmosphere. Better a well-adjusted single parent than exposing children to the pollution of such noxious fumes.

Dear Rachel,

This letter is in response to the subject matter of To leave or not to leave (Chronicles 6-27) as continued in the August 15 issue.

The specialist in the field of therapy seems in shock that his client’s small circle of frum friends have several in the process of breaking up. His comments don’t suggest any experience at all!

Breaking up is very easy when it’s not informed and done without any responsibility and some people observe the single status as being one of glamorous independence, when it is never glamorous or independent.

If the marriage didn’t immediately cement itself into a fairy tale partnership of Torah, shared responsibilities and actualization of one’s “theories,” it’s time to go. IF anyone took the time, they would understand, that except for cases of abuse (physical, emotional or other), one should leave no stone unturned before the divorce option is exercised.

It can be likened to a surgical amputation of a vital organ. If one was at risk, would they run to the first surgery to remove it, or would they go for one or more consultations and try a combination of actions and remedies that held out the hope to save the organ and the health of the person, in good time?

In today’s age of disposability and entitlement, the cautious approach of effort would hold no appeal. However, know the amputation does not only affect the spouses. The children are haunted, torn and “changed” in myriad ways by the rent in their lives.

The pain, frustration, worry, exhaustion and loneliness of single parenthood, should be the choice of last resort.

Sorry to say this, but ask any young bereaved wife/husband, what they wouldn’t do to have the partner taken from them in such untimely circumstances?

Two people who chose to stand under a chuppah should know what the commitment entails, the time and diligence and syatta d’Shmaya it requires and not be allowed to chuck it all when the first curves present themselves. Avail yourself of pre-marital counseling to highlight areas that might be more challenging to the two of you, or speak to trusted friends who are caring for their marriages, and gain insight. No one promised you daily happiness and adoration. Marriage and children are investments of effort and work!

If you do separate, make it mandatory for a full year; experience every day, every Shabbos, Yom Tov, vacation and camp times solo. Watch what this does to you and to your children despite your best efforts to remain civil. And if you can try to be civil during a separation/divorce (which looks a lot easier than it is on the long haul), swallow pride and apply that good will to your marriage first. There’s always time for radical invasive surgery!

As a last thought, if you go for professional counseling, choose one with excellent credentials and recommendations. In today’s time, it’s not an embarrassment to get this help, but it has to be properly vetted!

A single parent

Dear Single,

Great advice! It’s tempting to give up when things don’t go our way, but the wise and mature will recognize that marriage is a serious undertaking that won’t survive or do well without being worked on. And like wine, it is with the passing years that the marital relationship takes on that mellow sweetness and rich taste.

But like I indicated above, when gangrene sets in, the only option is surgery. Better to walk away whole and sane than to live a tormented, loveless existence.

This is a wonderful time of year to make amends, start anew, appreciate what we have, and to show that appreciation by giving, sharing and enjoying all of G-d’s bounties with loved ones and friends. Wishing all our readers a delightful Sukkos holiday!

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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