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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 11/17/06

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Readers React To ‘A Disappointed Husband’ (Chronicles 9-29) (Part 2)

Dear Rachel,

I generally find your columns cogent and insightful. Consequently, your response to Disappointed Husband was quite… disappointing.

After you gave him permission for a perfunctory pat on the back, you assailed him. For what reason? He simply wanted his wife to get her physical act together, to resemble the woman he married and once desired. Why did you make him out to be a villain? There is no crime or sin in wanting one’s spouse to look and remain attractive, especially when lack of appeal is due to one’s own neglectfulness.

You had absolutely nothing constructive to say to his wife regarding her abysmal failure to live up to her responsibility in their marriage, to remain attractive to her husband. There simply is no justification for neglecting one’s personal appearance and health and to eat one’s way to obesity.

Your excuse (the stresses of motherhood and parenting) is lame. It’s an excuse, nothing more. Everyone has stresses in life, and the difficulty in raising a family is no license to completely neglect one’s physical appearance. When a married woman spends her day outfitted in a robe and snood and does nothing to curtail her weight and improve her appearance, can you fault a husband for looking at other women who dress attractively?

Snoods should be banned from the Orthodox market. They are hideous. Robes are meant for bedtime or awakening. No mention was made about the negative health consequences of obesity. What example is set by the caring and doting mother who gives her all for her children but neglects her own health?

Why not tell it like it is?

Dear Why,

You are quite right. Obesity is a health hazard. This column has previously addressed this and other issues that you raise. Disappointed Husband’s focus on the physical facet of his existence, however, seemed to outweigh his concern for his wife’s emotional well-being − which could potentially place their marriage and her health at risk.

Bravo to the self-motivated kind − but a wife who spends the better part of her life nurturing her family, only to have her husband hardly paying her any heed − let alone appreciation, has little incentive to pull herself together. Make no mistake: a woman instinctively knows whether or not her husband is really “there” for her. When he is home but his heart is elsewhere, the comfort of food can (for some) counteract the pain of eating her heart out.

Enough said. The following letter should more than satisfy your call to “tell it like it is.”

Dear Disappointed Husband,

Oh gosh, I don’t know what to say. I am one of those sophisticated women whom you lust after. I once was a warm inviting “Mommy” like your wife, who had visions of building a strong parent-child relationship with my children. But the bills piled up, kids kept coming, and eventually we needed a second income.

Now I spend most of my day at the office, and when I leave I usually take work home with me. When I come home, I am too tired to greet my children − and because of my uncomfortable attire, I am physically unable to return their enthusiasm and pass around hugs.

I have not had a meaningful conversation with my husband, let alone any intimate moments, for as long as I can remember − because tshe minute I’m in bed or able to relax, I’m fast asleep from exhaustion. Supper is usually something put up in the morning or just takeout.

How fortunate you are that your wife provides a secure home for your children. You can be sure that they are healthy and thriving in her love. She has a hand in dressing them, playing with them and preparing meals for them each and every day of their lives. And when she cooks them supper, she has you in mind as well.

I, on the other hand, could not say I have half the abilities or accomplishments of your wife, who seems to be a very special woman, putting you and the children before herself. What can I say about myself… other than that I am a beautiful empty vessel.

I am sure my husband is starving for a wife to greet him warmly and patiently as he comes home from work; for a wife who will care that he has supper prepared to his liking; for a wife who will have spent her day instilling her hashkafos in his children − and most importantly to be waiting eagerly to spend time with him.

Instead, I worry about my jewelry, clothing, shaitel and shoes…

You could not have been more fortunate to have such a selfless human being as your spouse. Your children are lucky but could be luckier − if they would see a strong bond of appreciation between their parents. Your wife, who has been selflessly playing her role as a mother (and loving it) is not so lucky. She will continue her chesed without emotional support until her children are grown up and mature enough to thank her, or until her husband recognizes that he has had every man’s dream all along.

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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