Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
So often when I speak to well spouse support groups, and we talk about how difficult the life of a well spouse is, the topic of why we stay in the marriage comes up for discussion. The reasons given are as varied as the people in the group. The reasons range from religious/moral considerations, love, commitment to the marriage, not being able to afford to leave, right down the spectrum of reasons that usually ends in, “I just don’t know why I stay.”
Until recently, I never had an opportunity to interview well spouses who have chosen divorce. Those women who chose divorce did not make their decision easily or compulsively. They stayed married to chronically ill men for many years before feeling they had to leave. I want to thank them for sharing their stories and feelings with me.
When Lois’ husband insisted she prepare him dinner before she went to chemotherapy, she knew she had to leave the marriage in order to survive. Her husband had been chronically ill for over 10 years. During that time her focus had been totally his needs, his care, his wants. And so, along with her family and friends, she had helped him become totally self-absorbed and dependent.
It was not that her husband wasn’t capable of making his own dinner or even ordering in. It was just that he no longer thought it was his responsibility to care for anyone but himself. To him, his needs came first, to the exception of all else. Now that Lois was diagnosed with cancer, and needed him to be there in any way he could, he seemed no longer capable of giving to her.
His main concern this day was that Lois would come home too sick to make him supper. Therefore, she needed to do it before her treatment, while she could. She heard no words of support for what she was about to go through. He never asked how she felt or if she was scared. He just needed to know his wants would be attended to, as they always were. And so it was on this day that Lois knew she had to leave the marriage if she was to survive.
The self-absorption that often becomes part of those who are chronically ill seems to be a very large contributing factor to the unhappiness of well spouses and a major reason for divorces. The give and take that is so much a part of marriage is often gone. The well spouse gives and the ill person takes. The community supports this by rarely asking the ill person about his family, and asking his family only about him. And slowly, over time, the pattern of self-absorption is set.
Rochel came home from a support group meeting to find her daughter sitting on her doorstep in the snow. She was only wearing her nightgown. She refused to reenter the house until her mother came home. She was angry at her father’s constant demands and constant yelling. He kept interrupting her work for school asking her to do things for him that he could easily do for himself.
She had to come downstairs to hand him the remote control. Then she had to come down to get him a paper he had dropped. Then he wanted a cup of tea. Rochel told me that normally her daughter handled “Dad-sitting” without complaint. But lately things had changed. She had stopped bringing friends home and couldn’t go to their house after school because of her responsibilities at home. She began to get migraines and the pediatrician feared she was suffering from excessive stress.
Rochel had shared her concern about her daughter with her husband. She had asked him to try and be as independent as he could and not ask his daughter for constant help unless absolutely necessary. Her husband only became upset with her. “I’m sick,” he said. “You’re both lucky you’re healthy enough to help me.”
Some spouses leave because they have reached their limit. They feel they cannot go on caring for their spouses without getting some care back. Some leave because they fear for their children’s health, mentally and physically. More reasons next week.
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Today is day six without a phone.
Besides for feeling slightly isolated, it’s not too bad.
I’ve been doing things that I know I would not be doing if my phone was sitting next to me, shiny screen beckoning.
Is anyone else alarmed by the way extended warranties are sold on just about anything and everything? It means one of two things – either someone has found a great way of getting consumers to part with more of their hard earned dollars or manufacturers have no faith in their own products. Neither of those options is particularly heartwarming.
As I described Gaon in a review in June 2001 (“In Search of Ancestors, Sculpture by Simon Gaon” at Yeshiva University Museum), his Bukharian Jewish roots are deeply embedded on both sides of his family, echoed in his early yeshiva education.
Let me begin by congratulating my dear machatunim, Soraya and Jay Nimaroff, on being the recipients of the Community Service Award at the Sderot Hesder Institutions 18th annual anniversary dinner.
Think of your issues this way: due to those different backgrounds, you have a “shovel” to deal with difficulties while he has a “spoon”.
Do you remember the good old days when kids were kids and there was never anything to worry about? Those days never really existed, but today there are issues kids worry about that weren’t issues for some adults. They include fear of bullying, natural disasters, divorce, and violence.
In Part I talked about celebrating 30 years of Regesh Family and Child Services providing services to children, teens and families. I shared the agency’s origin and the many lessons I have learned through this journey. As I mentioned, it is my hope that my experiences will add to your toolbox of life skills.
Unfortunately, a map of the Middle East with no mention of Israel is nothing new… It is surprising however, that the world’s largest publisher of children’s literature, Scholastic Books, has joined in this trend.
About six months ago my parents and I started discussing ideas for a mitzvah project in honor of my bat mitzvah. I wanted to do something unique that would be meaningful to me and also do something that my friends could participate in. Immediately I thought of an organization called Sharsheret.
“I’m disappointed that the agreement reached with Iran leaves our unfulfilled our ultimate objective: a complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program and related activities.
Southern NCSY will be holding a leadership training Shabbaton at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour December 6 and December 7. Rabbi Steven Weil, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, will be the special guest speaker.
Is there a beginning and an end to the universe? What role can medical breakthroughs play in conception or genetic engineering? Can science help us pinpoint the end of human life? Does the soul emanate from the brain or vice-versa?
Last month’s column sketched the myriad of social programs in which the Orthodox American communal worker and leader Adolphus S. Solomons (1826-1910) was involved. Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips (1828-1881), a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.
When one is blind one learns to use Braille to read. When one cannot walk, a wheelchair gives mobility. Sign language allows a mute person to speak and ocular implants assist in hearing when one is deaf. These are all compensatory strategies that help a person function despite his disability. But compensatory strategies are not just for physical problems. Understanding our psychological weaknesses and setting up our lives to ensure that we are not tempted to repeat our past mistakes, is as necessary as any aid to the disabled.
Well spouses have often discovered that their friends and relatives, despite their closeness to the situation, often don’t realize the tremendous emotional impact living with chronic illness has on the family. With the best intentions, suggestions, ideas and criticism are offered, based on the non-experience of those with healthy families. Even when the good intentioned get a taste of the difficulties, it is sometimes not enough for them to then identify and understand what the family of the chronically ill must face on a constant basis.
Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.
I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.
Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.
Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.
Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.
Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/choosing-divorce-part-one/2007/01/31/
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