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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 1/05/08

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Dear Rachel,

I want to begin by saying that I love your column and it is the first thing I read when I get my paper every week. Your advice is so practical and sincere and that’s why I’m writing to you.

I have a very serious issue in my marriage that I’m pretty much dealing with in silence and alone at this point, because I have no one else to turn to anymore. I’m crying just writing this to you because of how depressing and sad this sounds. There’s nobody to calm me down or to put things in perspective for me. Words cannot describe how I feel. I’m at my wit’s end and honestly don’t know what to do anymore.

My husband tells me that he loves me but isn’t attracted to me like he was when we first got married. He says that love and attraction are two different things. Granted, I’ve put on weight since having our son and haven’t lost it. But he fails to understand that I’ve been overweight my whole life. Weight has been the biggest struggle in my life (and now it’s my husband who’s my biggest struggle).

And that’s why he signed onto various sexual web sites and talks to beautiful women about inappropriate things and has profiled exactly what he is looking to find. I’ve confronted him about this numerous times, and he told me that he stopped. But I don’t believe him and have reason not to. I’m always questioning him, looking to find something on him. I know that it’s wrong, but I just can’t trust him.

About a week ago I told him that I was willing to put the past behind us and forgive him for his past wrongdoings (assuming he was only chatting and making phone calls and hadn’t actually hooked up with any of the females he was talking to) and not to talk about it again. But I just can’t do that. My heart is not quiet because I am always thinking about it. I feel like every woman is a threat to me. I look at him and all I see is what he did and how deeply he hurt me and continues to hurt me. It really tears me apart inside.

The rabbi that I spoke to told me that once I lose the weight, all my problems will go away, because I will stop feeling insecure and have more confidence in myself. I believe I will gain more confidence, but for some reason I don’t believe that my husband will stop doing what he’s doing, because it’s something that’s forbidden and exciting, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons he’s doing it.

There will always be someone more beautiful and skinnier than me out there, who will perhaps excite him more than I do. Also, I know that no matter what I try and do, nothing is ever good enough for him. But I still try to please him and be a good wife to him. I desperately want to see a psychologist about this and other issues I have, but I just can’t afford it, especially when my husband is the only one working. What do you suggest I do? My husband doesn’t think we have a problem, that’s how stubborn he is.

P.S. You can publish this if you want because I really want people’s feedback and comments on this issue, and, sad to say, I’m hoping that I’m not alone in how I feel.

Deeply distressed

Dear Distressed,

In a previous column of late (see Chronicles 12-21), I strongly advised the writer to believe in herself. And I will tell you the same. Become involved in volunteer work that will give you a sense of accomplishment. Sign up for an exercise class (getting and feeling fit will be a tremendous boost for your self-esteem).

You mention always having had a weight issue. That must mean that your husband once loved you that way, yet now he cites your weight gain as reason for a lack of attraction. Does he mean to say that he hasn’t changed any over the years and is as suave and trim as he was when you married him? Besides, a wife’s weight is poor excuse for withholding warmth and affection, for not appreciating all that a wife does for her family. And men (especially yours) should be made aware that women often eat to quell emotional upheaval, to stifle feelings of frustration and anger.

If your husband has assured you that he has stopped his on-line shenanigans and you have told him that you want to put the past behind you, you should try your best to stick to that assertion. Dwelling on the past is pointless and painful and hinders moving on.

I have a hunch that your hubby is not exactly Mr. Debonair himself, and you might want to remind him that he did not carry your children within him and bring them physically into the world. At the same time, you need to start focusing on yourself. Your rabbi makes a valid point: if you will take care of yourself, some of your problems will disappear. Once you will feel good inside and exude self-confidence, your husband will respect you more and you will feel less self-pity and pain.

The master key to a successful union is communication. The two of you seem to have lost touch with one another, and you should seriously contemplate therapy to set things back on track. To paraphrase a famous U.S. president: Ask not what your spouse can do for you, but what you can do for your spouse. Never lose sight of the fact that you are each other’s closest friend and ally. Each of you should be there supporting one another, through good times and in trying times. True love and friendship withstands the test of time.

And don’t forget to communicate with your Maker – your ultimate source of assistance.

Hatzlachah!

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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