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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/21/08

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Dear Rachel,

After reading that powerful letter the gentleman wrote to your column (Chronicles 2-22), I felt compelled to respond and share my story. I cannot help but feel sorry for his wife if she is aware of all this, for I know too well the pain and suffering involved. And if she is not aware, the betrayal is heart wrenching. Your response was indeed chilling and on target, as usual.

I am in my late 20′s, married with four young children, and am the wife of a husband who I never thought would go down this road. (To refresh the memory of the reader, I refer to a man finding himself in a situation of meeting another married woman, resulting in a relationship that should not be.)

However, my husband has gone down that road and still does! Unlike the writer of that letter, he does not admit to making a mistake. My husband strongly believes that as long as the friendship/ relationship with other women does not get physical, there is no harm being done.

He has had quite a few of these “friends” which I only find out about accidentally. I feel that if there were nothing to hide, their mere existence would not be kept from me. The loss of trust, the endless arguing over this issue, the endless tears have not yet made my husband see my side, my hurt, my pain. The lack of trust keeps me from believing it has not gotten physical as well.

This seems to be a growing concern in my community. I have heard these issues in conversation among friends and coworkers but never dreamed my husband would be in disagreement with me on this − let alone be involved in the horrific, unacceptable act.

He loves his children more than life itself, to this I can attest. He says he loves me too, but I can only wonder… if he loved me, why hurt me? I feel strongly that without trust, without honesty, a marriage cannot survive! (Even if all else is as it should be, as is our life together.)

I do love my husband and always did. I always felt loved by him as well. But when it comes to this, we are both stubborn and will not relent. We both believe we are 100% right. We are just on opposite sides.

I cannot live with these “friends” in my life. If it were just an occasional phone call, it would be one thing, but these “friends” call, text, e-mail at ALL hours of the day and night, every day! They don’t even stop when we are out together spending time with each other, or just having a family day at home.

I start to question whenever he’s on the phone or replying to someone’s text. I don’t want to think this way I don’t want to feel this way. I would never deliberately hurt my children and never want to see pain in their eyes. I am, therefore, stuck in a position I don’t want to be in.

My husband is not backing down, I cannot live doubting him anymore, but I do not want to separate or divorce him for fear of hurting my children.

Rachel, to me it is a black and white issue − it is not appropriate for married men to have relationships, even if not physical, with other married women. Are there any shades of gray when it comes to this matter that my husband knows of that I just cannot see, understand or accept? I am stuck and don’t know where to turn.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to vent and share my feelings. I look forward to hearing your insight.

Intolerably stuck

Dear Stuck,

After having read your letter the first time, I wondered if you were of the Jewish faith or had perhaps intermarried. In fact, I am still shaking my head. No offense intended to the non-Jewish reader − we certainly do not have a monopoly on respectability or common decency. But as Jews, we are called on to live by a set of divinely prescribed guidelines.

So when you say you “don’t know where to turn”, you may want to begin by turning the pages of the Gemara Kiddushin and pointing out daf 70 to your errant husband who seems to be living a delusional existence in a world of his own. Bluntly stated, a married man has no business conveying any sort of greeting to another’s woman, let alone schmooze her up whenever the yen overtakes him. In fact, he is forbidden to transmit messages to her through anyone else as well, even if that person is her own husband!

Speaking of which, where are the husbands of these women your husband “cavorts” with?

Happily married or unhappily married, the same rules apply (though excuses for breaking them may vary). If your husband’s for real [this is not a Purim hoax, I gather], run to your local rabbi, spill your woes and beg him to intervene.

Needless to say, this advice applies only if you are indeed Jewish and observant. One of the things our religion teaches us is to have a rav at the ready with whom to consult when a life matter leaves us befuddled.

In answer to your question, the only shades of gray in this area are in your husband’s clouded vision. His reasoning is faulty and typical of why we need to keep ourselves in check. As innocent as he may consider his behavior to be, he is playing with fire. We have rules precisely because we are human and fallible. Besides, what gives him the right to hurt his wife, one he professes to love yet?

Purim, the anniversary of Hashem’s miraculous intervention on our behalf, celebrates a time when we embraced His Torah with absolute acceptance. Hence, the heavens on this day are wide open to our prayers. Make yours count.

Simchas Purim!

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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