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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/14/06

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Dear Rachel,

I have a problem that I need help with. I am all alone and do not know where to turn. For over 18 years I have been married to a wonderful man. He is a loving husband and a great father to our children. We have a strong marriage, and I always sympathize with people who have marriage problems, because I know how it feels to be happily married. However, now this is all changing.

I just discovered that my husband might be engaging in homosexual activities. I was using his computer and accidentally came upon very disturbing things on it. I needed to download a certain form to fill out, and the computer showed me items that had been previously downloaded. One was a “gay map” of the country that my husband is going to be stopping off in on his way overseas this summer. Another was a “gay map” of a country that my husband had been to on a different occasion. This of course disturbed me, and I decided to search his computer, hoping that maybe this was just a mistake and I really had nothing to worry about.

However, I discovered material that had been downloaded from gay websites, which included scores of pictures of gay activities. I then recalled that my husband was out often at night for a few hours doing “errands.” I would ask him where he was, and he never had a specific answer. I assumed that he probably needed to get out a little, just as I do at times.

So now I don’t know where to turn. I can’t turn to our rabbi, because actually my husband himself is a religious leader in our community. This confuses me even more. My husband is very frum. He gives shiurim in our city, people look up to him as a religious role model, and he is a well-respected, fine, decent person. He learns with our children, and people love coming to our Shabbos table because of the warm atmosphere environment.

We’ve also always enjoyed the intimate part of our marriage. My husband always looks forward to our “being together” and likes when we have a chance for a little “get-away” without our children. Is this all a sham? Is it a cover-up for his lifestyle – or does he just have a serious problem that he needs to get help for? I love my husband and want to help him, which is why I am writing to you first before telling him that I discovered his secret. Again, I can’t go to other religious leaders in our community. My husband will probably lose his job if I do this.

Please advise me. I always read your column, and I admire the sound, Torah’dik advice that you give. I never thought that I would one day have to write to you myself. I know that you have a lot of people asking you for advice. But please try to help me.

Thank you.

At a loss

Dear Loss,

Your shock and confusion are completely understandable reactions given the circumstances. You must be feeling like you are stuck in a nightmare and that this can’t really be happening.

From what you’ve described, your husband seems to be perfectly heterosexual. Would he be otherwise, it is doubtful that he’d have been able to pull off such a class act with you all this time. Chances are he has some sort of a fascination with homosexuality. (Could he be exploring this arena in order to glean information that would enable him to help others who may have turned to him for help? If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you’ve been made aware that a number of Orthodox young males are caught in this struggle.)

Since your husband has been filling his role with such finesse and dignity in all areas of your marital relationship, you owe it to him to be upfront with him. Be wary, though, of your approach. Rather than confronting him with accusations, be truthful – in a worried manner. You used the computer, etc., and this just materialized. You weren’t snooping; it was there and you followed it up and found there was more, much more.

Offer no theories or speculations as to what he may have done. Ask him outright whether he has engaged in any homosexual activity which may put you at risk. If he admits, but to having a curiosity thing, then let him know that you strongly feel that he owes it to you – out of respect for you – to start seeing a competent therapist. If this is a recent problem, he should be very amenable to good psychotherapy. Consider consulting an outsider, such as a rav, only if he reacts as one who is in absolute denial.

This is a tough and lonely struggle for you, but for whatever reasons … we are given trials to overcome. The reality is that your husband has been there for you in a positive way for years now, and the solidity of your bond with him should sustain you and see you through this. With the help of Hashem, you will emerge intact, stronger and wiser.

Please stay in touch

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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