Q: My husband and I are having trouble in our marriage. We tend to fight about the same issues every day and he’s so emotionally distant. At what point should I consider seeing a marriage therapist?
Are we doing enough to prepare our children for marriage? I'm not talking about matters of Jewish law which couples learn about with their chassan and kallah teachers before they get married. What I'm referring to is the lack of knowledge of effective communication skills needed to make marriage successful and relationship-building tools that can enhance feelings of love and camaraderie.
In my last article I had mentioned that often one of the symptoms of autophobia, a fear of abandonment, is that as adults people suffering with this condition may become extremely sensitive to rejection.
In part one (Family Issues 04-29-2011) we mentioned that often a symptom of the anxiety disorder, the fear of abandonment, is a strong need to be in control. That is because the person suffering from the disorder has lost someone in their past - due to separation, divorce or death - and may unconsciously blame themselves for the desertion.
Q. I’ve had some problems getting over the anger I’ve carried throughout my life towards my father. He left my mother for another woman and my mother never really recovered. Even now, 20 years later, I still have difficulty dealing with him because of that. He hasn’t ever apologized, blaming my mother for sharing the information with me, and expects me to forgive and forget. Every Yom Kippur becomes a painful experience - feeling immense pressure to forgive and the guilt of my not wanting to. I feel I must forgive him but don’t know how. An angry daughter
The fear of abandonment, also known as autophobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by an acute fear of being alone. Often, one of the symptoms of this particular anxiety is a strong need to be in control. This is because one has previously lost someone close through separation, divorce or death and may unconsciously blames his or herself for the event. When this happens, any type of separation may traumatize the person, even the marriage of his or her own child can be viewed as a life-threatening event.
Question: My husband is always telling me the wonderful things he’s done to make me happy. If he makes the bed, makes calls on my behalf, works hard in the office, I hear about it. The other day he had to take care of a health insurance issue and he made sure to tell me that it took over two hours and three phone calls, in case I thought it went smoothly. I don’t constantly tally up what I do for him and I find it childish that he does. My friends tell me that their husbands don’t do this – so, why does mine?
Question: My husband and I both travel a great deal, independent of each other. My husband owns a start up company and I am very supportive of his need to travel constantly during the next couple of years. In the meantime, I am the primary wage earner and occasionally have to travel myself. Our youngest child is in college so we aren’t tethered to home. A long time ago, about 15 years, my husband was unfaithful. Obviously we worked through it and determinedly rebuilt our marriage. While he has not given me any reason to doubt him, lately it seems as if we hardly talk. We spend so much time apart and when we are together, we are both so exhausted. I have not brought up this issue with him as I am not sure what to say. Can you help?
The following was a letter sent as a response to the article, "Children of Shame" (02-04-2011). The article addressed the fact that children learn at a very young age to disconnect their feelings as a mechanism to end their feelings of shame. As these children become adults, they find it difficult to reconnect those out of fear that once again they will feel the pain of shame.
Question: My son is three-years-old and we have a great relationship. However, his mother and I are divorced and every time I go to pick him up he runs around and sort of avoids me. It's seems more like a game than anything else. I say that because once I chase him down and get him, we go off together - no tears, everything is great. But then, when I drop him off, he runs away without saying goodbye. For me his behavior is somewhat disturbing, how mother though has said that all this means he really doesn’t want to be with me. Other than pick-up and drop-off everything is truly fine between us. Shouldn't my ex-wife try to help instead of doing nothing and complaining?
Children who grew up feeling shameful for the most part will have also grown up without someone to talk to about how it made them feel. Shame is one of the most destructive feelings there is. It is a feeling that something is wrong within us and has a negative affect on a child's self-development.
Statistically, about half of all couples marrying this year will see their marriage end in divorce. For couples undergoing marriage therapy, surprisingly or perhaps not surprisingly, the rates of divorce are no different about one-half will suffer divorce.
Question: I am becoming an Orthodox Jew. I totally love what I am doing and the new meaning it is giving my life. I want to be become more strictly observant, but my wife does not agree and has become an unwilling participant. She refuses to consult with my rabbi because the one time she spoke with him she felt he wasn’t being sensitive to her needs. The more religious I become, the more irreligious she becomes. I really do love her but as far as I am concerned, when it comes to religious observance, things are black and white. I don’t want to live a non-observant lifestyle and yet, she won’t consider becoming religious. What do I do? I told her I was writing to you and she agreed to try whatever you’d suggest.
For my new book, Connect to Love, the Keys to Transforming Your Relationship, I studied over 500 women throughout the world, discussing with them...
She: We have three children, a home and friends. Finances are not an issue: Yossi leaves money for our home, our family and for me, without my having to ask for it. The children are well dressed, well fed and healthy - at least physically. The house is clean, the laundry done, supper is on the table. I use every bit of energy to make our home the center of my life. But somewhere along the way I lost my marriage.
Question: My wife screams and curses at me. For years I have been asking her to stop, but she hasn’t. Now she’s begun doing the same thing to our children, ages 10 and 7 – and they cower in fear. Actually, we are all afraid of her. She never hits, but I think the verbal abuse and screaming is worse.
Question: I trust my husband implicitly. He has never given me reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. So, why am I writing? Three years ago he began a new job. He works very closely with a frum woman. They make a very good team – she is the salesperson and crucial to the business. A few months ago they started to train together to run in a half marathon for tzedakah. Then I found out that she and her husband had separated. I did not hear this from my husband – it was a friend who told me. When I asked my husband why he didn’t tell me, he said that she asked him not to tell anyone and he respected her privacy. Then I found out that they skipped a workout because of the rain and instead had lunch together. This I heard from a friend who saw them together. Please understand I don't want to think he's doing anything wrong. Surely he wouldn't be in a restaurant for all to see if he was up to no good. He says I'm being overly sensitive. Is he right?
Online infidelity may be the next upcoming challenge facing the Orthodox world. In the last 12 months, I have seen 11 Orthodox couples where one spouse has reported an online affair that has caused serious distress in their marriage. I now believe that an epidemic of online infidelity may be causing the breakup of countless Jewish marriages.
Dear Rabbi Schonbuch, My husband drinks every night. He starts with a few glasses of wine with dinner and always ends with whisky. Some nights it's just one or two large ones and other nights it can be half a bottle. I know that we believe that drinking at a Farbrengen or a Kiddush is allowed, but when does it begin to become a problem?
Dear Gary, I'm very upset with the younger generation today and the way they treat their marriages. I've been married for 56 years and admit that it hasn't always been easy. If I thought about getting divorced each time my husband upset or annoyed me, we wouldn't have gotten past the week of sheva brachos. It seems to me that today’s newlyweds don't want to make any sacrifices and think only of themselves. My grandson, the father of two beautiful young children, is getting divorced. He says its because he didn't make his wife happy enough and spent too much time working at his new job. This is outrageous. Do you think this younger generation is too selfish?
Dear Rabbi Schonbuch, My husband and I are having trouble in our marriage. We tend to fight about the same issues every day and he's very emotionally distant. At what point should I consider seeing a marriage therapist?
Question: A few years ago I was forced to go back to work when my husband lost his job. Baruch Hashem I have become very successful in my field, one that is largely male. While my husband is now working as well, it has become clear that my job is the priority - I make almost triple his salary and there's potential for much more. I never intended to be away from my kids, but am not upset that I had to go to work.
Question: My husband and I have been married 14 years, have 6 children, each one in a yeshiva and are so overwhelmed. Between shuttling the kids and homework, I feel like my marriage is non-existent. My husband tells me it's normal at this stage in our life but my mother tells me to do something about it. Where do I begin?
As the coordinator of the Domestic Abuse Program at OHEL for the past 10 years, I have seen many very special women come forward with their painful stories. I am proud to say that our program has made a significant difference in the lives of these courageous women.
Dear Gary, I have begun dating someone who I like very much. However, there is one issue that has raised a red flag. He talks about his mother a lot - in a good way. They have a very close relationship. However, some of my girlfriends (one who is married and does not get along with her mother-in-law) told me to beware of marrying a "Momma's boy" because then you're marrying his mother. Is this a real concern when dating? Concerned