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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/01/08

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We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.comor by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

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Dear Rachel,

I have a problem, and I can surely use your advice and the advice of your readers. I am married for six years and have four beautiful young children, ka”h, and a very kind husband who is very helpful and supportive.

What could the problem be, you ask? My husband is a graphic artist who works at his computer 90 percent of his waking hours. Half of that time is valid – work, etc. The problem is the other half.

Admittedly, he spends a good deal of time just reading news articles and other harmless things. But it’s the rest that I am losing my mind and heart over. Let me explain

A year after I got married, I discovered that he was looking at pornography and searching for extremely inappropriate things online late at night when I was already sleeping. I completely lost it when I found out. I cried myself to sleep for at least six months. I was in early pregnancy with my first daughter at the time.

I confronted him immediately and he literally sobbed for my forgiveness, swearing this was not the real him, and that this would never happen again. I loved him so much and so wished to believe him that I did. I think he might even have believed himself.

Well, as you could probably have guessed, when the issue died down again, I caught him again. And again. And again. And now again. He always answers the same way, denying the extent of his problem and claiming that it had nothing to do with me or us, that it was not my fault, and that it would never happen again.

I am having such a hard time with this, especially because I don’t feel comfortable telling any family or friends about it. I feel so belittled and betrayed, and I hurt so badly. Just so that you can get a good picture of the situation, I am thin, stylish and take good care of myself. I am certainly not a snood, robe woman. I cannot say that I am all dressed up and made up when my husband comes home at night, but I know that my husband does not prefer that type. I always look good and we have a good intimate relationship, as well.

I wish someone would give me some sort of words of wisdom and advice to help me deal with this!

Feeling betrayed

Dear Betrayed,

The fact that you are not alone with this problem may offer you a bit of consolation. This column has addressed your dilemma on more than one occasion in the past. As a follow-up, we even heard from a young wife and mother who wrote of her and her husband’s ongoing progress in conquering his battle with his addiction.

Organizations geared specifically to help afflicted individuals like your husband to overcome their debilitating dependencies are worthwhile exploring. LifeSTAR Network is one – you can log onto www.lifestartnetwork.org to tap into a support system that offers information regarding individual, group, and family therapy for those who struggle with pornography and sexual addictions.

You can contact the S-Anon International Family Groups World Service Office at (800) 210-8141 or (615) 833-3152, or access their website at www.sanon.org. You can also e-mail them at sanon@sanon.org for helpful guidelines.

If your husband is indeed as “kind, helpful and supportive” as you’ve assessed him to be, it should not be too terrible a struggle to persuade him that he is in desperate need of outside intervention. That it is in your place to stand firm and not allow yourself to fall for his apologies, excuses or downplays, regardless of how sincere his pleas may seem, goes without saying.

For his own good, as well as for the sanctity of your marriage, you must summon the courage to give him an ultimatum: Either he gets help or he goes it alone. It may not be an easy approach to assume, but neither is it fair to you or your children to be living this nightmarish life – if it can be called ‘living’ at all.

You speak of going to pieces over your husband’s betrayal. In your anguish you fail to recognize that this is not about you – you are good and decent and upstanding and have no reason to defend yourself in any way. This all has to do with HIM – HIS weakness and HIS sickness. You deserve better, and you’ve certainly cried for long enough. At this point in your marriage, he cannot be allowed to get away with even the slightest hesitation in moving in a positive direction towards HIS healing. Threaten to speak to a person of authority whom he respects, and if that fails to move him, emphatically issue your final ultimatum.

As for your own sanity in this predicament, you’d be best off unburdening the heavy load you have been carrying and would benefit substantially from counseling to guide you through this rough terrain. Since you are reluctant to confide in anyone close to you, you can safely search for a competent therapist at www.nefesh.org in the privacy of your home. This is a site that features an international network of Orthodox mental health professionals.

To the many readers who have previously written of similar struggles with their addicted spouses, please let us in on your progress to date. The lessons of your experiences may well serve to lend hope and support to a fellow sufferer.

May our Master Healer heed our cries and cure us of our ills.

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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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