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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/30/07

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* * * * * * * * *

Dear Bubby,

For each time you diffused a potentially explosive situation, you earned the mitzvah of promoting peace. In every instance where you did refrain from reacting to his raging insults, Heaven smiled favorably upon you.

You say you made a mistake by marrying your husband, yet later in your letter you opine that it was meant to be. We all, at some point in time, attempt to decipher the meanings behind the moves we make – especially when things don’t turn out quite the way we had intended them to. But speculation is futile, for G-d’s reasoning is beyond our grasp. As intelligent as we may deem ourselves to be, His logic eludes us.

If after having made all the right moves (right according to Torah counsel) we still find ourselves mired in challenging circumstances, we can only deduce that we were meant to face and tackle them.

At the same time, since we have been granted freedom of choice (allowing good or evil as our guiding force), one who has acted in a rebellious fashion can lay blame for the ensuing consequences squarely on his/her own choosing. (A whole other topic in itself.)

When a couple is happily married, we label theirs a “match made in heaven.” Nonetheless, a marriage meant to be is not a guaranty of smooth sailing. Some couples are predestined to work harder at maintaining stability and peace.

You, dear woman, seem to have successfully surmounted the hardships you have encountered along your path in life. Kudos to you for your healthy and sane approach in trying times and for appreciating the good that has been bestowed on you.

As for checking into prospective shidduchim, there is only so much we can do. Despite your daughters having carefully researched their suitors, one married a temperamentally natured fellow. Strive as we might for the utmost in comfort and contentment, G-d may have other plans for us – so don’t be quick to regard your marriage as the outcome of an error in judgment. When we proceed cautiously and play by the rules to the best of our capability and still come up short of what we envisioned, we must accept our lot and summon all our resources to do the best we can under our given circumstances.

You mention how things improved after your children went off on their own. A competent therapist would surely have been able to unearth the root of your husband’s inclinations and work with him to ferret out his feelings of inferiority and misplaced jealousy. But that’s all water under the bridge now. Luckily, you were comfortable and secure in your own skin and thereby able to withstand the hard knocks you were subjected to. The fact that you were raised in a warm, loving and solidly nurturing environment doubtless contributes to your enduring strength and level-headedness.

Witnessing the offspring of dysfunctional parents growing up normal and sane has convinced you that “divorce is not always the answer.” The hard reality is that in certain instances divorce is beneficial – especially for children who suffer in an unhappy and turbulent home atmosphere. But this did not apply in your case, since you were obviously able to provide yours with a strong and stable upbringing. As for how children generally fare in their surroundings, other factors come into play. For one, a child’s nature has much to do with how s/he reacts. Secondly, children exposed to a “hard” life early on are often well equipped to handle crises later in life. They mature sooner and inadvertently learn how to circumvent undesirable behavior. Their growing years actually serve as a valuable learning experience.

Many children of divorce or of incompatible parentage turn out in fact to be wonderfully well adapted and successful in their own right. On the other hand, children of seemingly sound backgrounds sometimes emerge as troubled and down-on-their-luck adults.

When you ask yourself whether you’d have been better off marrying someone else, you reply in the affirmative. And yet you admit to having come across many who have suffered a worse fate than yours. This brings to mind the old Yiddish saying, that were each of us to throw our bundle of woes into a common heap, we’d all end up retrieving our own.

You, dear woman, have much to be proud of – you did well. Why allow regrets to mar the big picture? By all accounts, you have lived your life the way you were meant to – and have overcome obstacles most admirably.

As for your declaration, “When he is in a kind mood, all I want to do is love him” – what a blessing, to still be able to love! I am reminded of the words on a pretty little hanging plaque I once came across and couldn’t resist owning:

“Sing as though no one can hear you Dance as though no one is watching you Love as though you have never been hurt”

I wish you continued nachas . . . and much hatzlachah in maintaining your newfound shalom bayis.

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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