Dear Dr. Yael:
I am facing a huge crisis. Some time back my husband did something terrible to me and we are in therapy to try to save our marriage. I had always thought things were wonderful between us and was shocked to discover that was not true. My husband says that he still loves me; our therapist says he has an illness. We have a beautiful family together with children in different age groups. Our home is lovely; I work and make time for chesed activities.
I enjoy your column and I thought you could give me some strength to bolster my emunah as well as my self-esteem. You see, I am not only angry with my husband; I have been having trouble understanding why Hashem put me in this situation.
Until now, I davened well and appreciated all the brachos Hashem gave us. And now, I just don’t know how to react.
My husband says that he is dealing with his “disease” and we should move on, but it is not easy. I am hoping that you can give me some idea as to how I can deal with this challenging journey I find myself on.
A Broken Wife
Dear Broken Wife,
I am trying to read between the lines of your letter and gain a better understanding of what you are dealing with. What I can tell you is that we all face challenges; some are wrapped in clear garbage bags and others in black ones. The ones wrapped in clear garbage bags are sometimes harder, since they are visible to the world and you have to deal with people’s opinions in addition to the struggle.
Your challenge is a hidden one and that forces you to suffer in silence.
I recently heard a vort from my son, Yitzchak Yosef Respler, that may help you. The pasuk says, “L’hagid ba’boker chasdecha, v’emunascha ba’leilot – To tell your chesed in the morning and your emunah in the evening.” Our emunah and bitachon are obviously tested much more when we are experiencing difficult times. It is easier to have emunah when things are going well, when we are happy and satisfied with our lives. You are now being challenged to believe in Hashem and to daven even though you are in great pain. You must try to meet this challenge by focusing on your tefillot and telling Hashem that although you can’t understand why things are the way they are, you are doing all you can to have faith in Him.
I am not certain exactly what happened between you and your husband; however, it appears that he may be struggling with issues that many in our generation struggle with. It is extremely challenging to forgive and move on. However, you cannot let what your husband has done alter the way you feel about yourself. You must continue to see yourself in a positive light. His issues are not yours.
I hope you find this poem helpful:
You can use any measure when you are speaking of success,
You can measure it in a fancy home, expensive car or dress.
But the measure of your real success is the one you cannot spend,
It’s the way your kids describe you when they are speaking to a friend.
It appears that you have truly achieved this success as your family is whole and you enjoy a good relationship with your children. This should help bolster your self-esteem, since they appear to be thriving and you seem to be largely responsible for their success.
It may be helpful for you to look for a support group of women in the same situation. I believe your therapist can make some suggestions.
I wish you hatzlocha.