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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/29/06

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Dear Rachel,

I find your advice smart and insightful, and I hope you can help me as well. My wife and I took a much needed get-away. Our five beautiful children went to sleep-away camp, so I suggested that we spend some time away together.

Don’t even ask! I didn’t recognize my wife. She looks like a shmatte. I don’t know what happened to her. At this stage of the game, I am not asking for a super model, but she totally ignores herself! I told her numerous times lovingly to take care of herself, and that approach isn’t working. I’m at my wit’s end.

She used to take such good care of herself, but somehow along the way, she stopped. As for me, I work in an office with very sophisticated girls. They dress to kill – from sheitels down to shoes.

I know she works hard and has issues. So do I, and so does this whole world. That’s no excuse for total neglect. I can’t stand the fact that she has become extremely obese. She has a closet full of clothes that don’t fit. I constantly tell her to buy new clothes and she just refuses, saying that one day she’ll fit into them. Baloney!

I hate to say this, but I’m embarrassed to be seen with her, especially when she is among my friends. To be quite frank, I never realized how turned off I am of her. At home she somehow looks the same every day, with her robe and snood and the kids always around her. So after a long day at work I never realized how neglected she became. Since this trip when we were together and I saw her daily wearing the same attire, I can’t stand to look at her or be with her in every possible way.

I love fancy women. I love women who wear make-up, long sheitels, who exercise and take care of their bodies, and my wife knows that. Every man wants a good-looking woman. You can deny it if you want, but men want someone who, when she walks on the street, other men should say “wow.” That’s in every man’s heart. (I’m sharing with the world what men really crave.) Ask any man who is totally truthful, and they’ll say that I’m right.

As for me, we have a membership in the gym and I go there all the time. Unfortunately, only I do.

I’m not joking. My wife turns me off, and that’s not good at all! How can I help her?

A disappointed husband

Dear Disappointed,

Allow yourself a pat on the back for thinking enough of your wife to spirit her off on a mini vacation while your “five beautiful children” were away at summer camp. But don’t overplay the self-praise.

Do you suppose your wife (the mother of your five beautiful children) has had any hand in shaping their delicate personas in molding their fine character traits in consistently ensuring their physical and emotional wellbeing – thus rendering them “beautiful” children?

Do you imagine in all your wild fantasies that the “fancy” woman who turns your head would manage to retain her picture-perfect facade while filling the demanding role of wife, mother and homemaker to you and your brood? (Dream on.)

So your wife, by your own admission, escaped your notice until recently. Until you had the opportunity to place her in a setting where you could compare her – like a slab of meat – to the wives of your friends, whom the Torah explicitly forbids you to focus on. Apparently, you have been taking your wife’s presence (and chores) for granted – not very conducive to motivating her to want to please you.

“She works hard and has issues,” you say. Are these issues in the process of being resolved? Have you made yourself available to her in every way to help her overcome these issues?

“She works hard” – while you revel in daydreams and in your daytime superficial surroundings. Your big-heartedness in urging your wife to purchase new clothing is admirable. Have you dispensed equal generosity in your quest to ease her workload, by hiring household help to give her a respite and by spending as much time as you can in being her helpmate, both in a physical and emotional sense?

You lament that your wife refuses to update her wardrobe. Has it dawned on you that she may be none too pleased with the extra weight she has amassed and would rather not “enhance” the image she projects? You should be encouraged by her aspiration to fit into the clothes she once wore – once, when she still caught the eye and admiration of her spouse – and oh, how good it made her feel about herself and her ability to please him!

Ideally, with time and the sharing of life experiences, initial attraction (at the start of a relationship) turns to true love and appreciation. A woman immersed in the caring and nurturing of her dependent young ones is susceptible to “forgetting” to pay attention to herself. By neglecting to maintain an attractive appearance for her husband, she runs the risk of having him drift away, mentally (if not physically as well). The resultant anger and feeling of emptiness on her part can lead to the overindulgence of sweet-tasting foods for comfort.

A husband is duty-bound to work on himself to remain loving, supportive and attentive to his wife – while a woman needs to find a balance between being a devoted mom, having expectations that her husband will be totally understanding and patient, and with being able to give him some emotional attention.

Surely you recall that electrifying time when you embarked on your life together, when you were there for one another mentally and emotionally. To retain that positive energy and attain a lasting fulfillment, a husband and wife must constantly strive to be number one for each other – for always.

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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