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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 2/18/11

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Dear Rachel,

Though I don’t think I can be helped, I write this letter to warn others.

I have been married for a good many years now and have Baruch Hashem wonderful, healthy children. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before, but I think my husband is crazy. He is constantly losing his temper, screaming, yelling and hitting the kids.

What’s more, he keeps track of the times we are intimate, and Heaven forbid if I am tired, he loses it completely and rants about having missed a day.

The other night I was exhausted and fell asleep. The next day he was so enraged he wouldn’t talk to me. Unfortunately (or fortunately), on the following night physical intimacy became not possible.

It was then that a horrible thought crept into my mind: maybe I shouldn’t tell him of my unclean state; he wouldn’t know, and at least then he wouldn’t rage at me.

Can you imagine that, Rachel? I, a Bais Yaakov girl who know the halachos and the ramifications of defying them, was willing to risk it all just to push off that crazy anger of his.

The anger issue is something I didn’t see all those years ago when we were going out; it has surfaced only lately. Do men go through some crazy pre-menopausal stage? Or is he a sick man in need of therapy? I almost wish he wouldn’t be so interested in me.

If only I’d be writing this letter simply to vent about my spouse’s anger and to warn singles to be on the lookout for anger issues on their shidduch dates. But unhappily I confess that I’ve been harboring ideas of doing dreadful things – something that should never have crossed the mind of a frum bas-Yisrael to begin with.

Am I for real?

Dear Real,

If your husband’s anger issue has indeed only recently surfaced (the trigger for his anger may have been festering for a much longer period of time), can it perchance be due to stress he’s been experiencing? Many families have taken a quite a beating as a result of the economic downturn of late. Has your husband suffered any financial instability or job loss? Can an accumulation of unpaid bills be weighing heavily on his mind? The pressure of such a burden can challenge the equilibrium of an otherwise calm and rational mind.

This is not to attempt to justify the kind of behavior your husband has displayed, but knowing the source of his frustration may move you to be a more sympathetic and understanding helpmate. A burden shared becomes a burden more bearable; together you may be able to come up with some viable solutions for your troubling situation.

Some men, it should be noted, do suffer from a perpetual state of immaturity, as when a husband feels that he vies with his children for his wife’s attention and/or is resentful of the time and attention he perceives his wife lavishing on their kids.

Then again, maybe you’ve been neglecting your spouse without being conscious of doing so. You speak of exhaustion. Are you too tired at the end of the day to spend some relaxed time with your husband, to sit down and eat dinner together instead of coldly placing his food on the table as you run to complete unfinished chores, leaving him to eat by himself?

Whether any of the above applies to you or not, it would seem that you have both sadly lost (or simply misplaced) the art of meaningful dialogue and communication. An emotional connection and a meeting of minds are components at least as vital to the health of a marriage as is physical closeness. Intimacy, as we like to refer to it, is not “intimate” at all when it becomes merely an obligatory mechanical function.

As for the “forbidden” acts you have entertained, thankfully we are called to account for our deeds, not our thoughts. But why would you even consider tampering with the safety valve Hashem provided us with? The rules, the laws of Niddah, actually fortify the marital relationship; they afford you some blissful downtime during which you can collect yourself and maybe even catch up on some beauty sleep – while they train your husband in the art of self-control and teach him not to take you for granted.

About your question as to whether your husband may be experiencing a form of pre-menopause, many aging men do. Moodiness, fatigue, weight gain and depression are some of the giveaway symptoms of male-menopause, also referred to as androgen decline, literally a decrease in production of the male hormone testosterone. The reduced level of this hormone leads to a decrease in sex drive – virtually eliminating your husband’s chances of being menopausal.

Please consider marital counseling, or at least a private discussion with a spiritual mentor. Not only will this help you strengthen your resolve never to act upon your impulse but may result in getting to the root of your husband’s anger.

Things may not be as complicated as they seem, and it is for your benefit to do everything you can to iron out the kinks that are impeding your happiness. Rekindling the love you once felt for one another and renewing the close friendship you once shared are well worth your trouble and time.

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, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. 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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