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December 23, 2014 / 1 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Dear Lonely’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/29/11

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Reply to Lonely at the Core and Finally Free To Do Something About It…

 

Dear Lonely,

In last week’s column, your riveting depiction of your marital relationship no doubt left readers reeling from the sheer chutzpah your husband has displayed over the many years of your marriage.

Keeping in mind that G-d gives each of us no more than what we are capable of enduring, your meticulous rendition of the wretchedness you have tolerated for years on end paints a picture of a strong, resolute and composed woman who has sacrificed tremendously in order to provide a solid upbringing for the children she gave life to and spare her Holocaust-surviving parents the heartache of a break-up in the family.

You had everyone in mind, it would seem, except yourself. Now that your youngest child has married, the misery of the loneliness that’s been eating away at you becomes more acute — to say nothing of the detrimental effects the ongoing stress unleashes on your health.

Now that you finally have a chance to do something for yourself, you wonder whether it isn’t “late in the day” to take the drastic step of ending your marriage in hopes of gaining “a measure of peace of mind.”

Surely there isn’t a therapist, counselor or religious leader who doesn’t aim to salvage a broken marriage. But positive outcomes can be realized only when each side is willing to invest the work and energy required to save the marriage. One spouse alone, without the other’s input and cooperation, cannot succeed.

Well, it’s not as though you haven’t made every effort to make a go of it. You’ve been to counseling together; you’ve called him on his misdeeds; you’ve suggested and proposed ways to spice up your marriage, and yet your other half has stubbornly persisted in his selfish, thoughtless, immature and hurtful behavior.

Your husband’s acts cannot be minimized or downplayed. One cannot even make the argument that he just got carried away in an Internet chat room (bad enough), or has simply allowed himself to seek out pornographic web sites (despicable), or has merely neglected his wife in every way a man can conceivably shun his woman (disgraceful).

The man you married over 34 years ago and had your children with has actually had no qualms about frequenting bars and strip clubs, dating and flirting with women and partying away as the mood suits him. To boot, he has the temerity to look you in the face and insist that you should not be bothered by or begrudge him his “harmless fun.”

It would be easy for me, or for anyone else, to tell you to get up and get out, as fast as you can. Realistically speaking, however, things are not that simple. In our personal e-mail correspondence, I’ve already advised you to take someone into your confidence, someone you can trust and who would be able to give you some guidance and moral support.

You ask whether you should leave “in the hope of a better marriage” or stay “in this painful but practical arrangement,” but you essentially answer the question yourself — by divulging that you are “thoroughly repulsed” by him, are ashamed to be his wife, that you “neither trust nor respect him” and consider your marriage relationship dead. Is it at all feasible to stay put in this type of atmosphere?

You did for years, true, but you were driven by a goal, a purpose that has Baruch Hashem been achieved with the help of an inner strength granted you from above.

Notwithstanding your strength of character, you should be forewarned that freedom comes at a price. Though the stigma of divorce is not what it was some decades ago, the sense of security a marriage license provides (false as that security may in essence be) dissipates with the divorce papers.

Sad to say, we live in a world where the divorcee becomes a vulnerable member of society, regardless of her courage or resilience. Not only is she prone to be preyed upon by vultures (disguised as men), but she could also find herself being snubbed by some of her married lady friends (who fear her as too attractive to be in the company of their husbands).

The divorced woman will furthermore encounter misplaced pity, as well as inevitably find herself “odd man out” at many get-togethers.

In addition, unexpected reactions from your loved ones – born of a genuine concern for your safety and wellbeing – may be forthcoming, as when mixed feelings surface regarding your decision to leave behind a “comfortable” existence to go it alone.

But all of these drawbacks are relatively minor inconveniences when placed against the heartache you suffer endlessly. To your credit and advantage, you seem to have an organized mind and golden heart, and you speak of supportive family and friends. Your husband has long ago made up his mind about how he wants to live his life; it’s now time (and about time!) for you to decide how you don’t want to live the rest of yours.

 

A message for the husband who may see himself in this woman’s letter: The words in Pirkei Avos — Kol Yisrael yesh lahem chelek l’olam haba (a portion of the next world awaits every Jew) are reassuring, aren’t they? But there’s a catch… each Jew is responsible for maintaining and nurturing that parcel of real estate that will be his at the end of his days here on earth.

The Chofetz Chaim cites a parable of a king who apportioned acreage to each of his servants; every piece of land was fertile and had much growth potential, but the fruit it would bear would ultimately be contingent on the care and input invested in the property by each new owner.

So it is with each chelek of Olam Haba prepared for us; the choice is ours — it is within our power in our lifetime to render it lush and bountiful or barren and empty.

Your self-indulgent tendencies and mindless pursuit of fleeting physical gratification speak volumes about your choice.

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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.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/31/07

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or 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.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot, please send your tax deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.

Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.

* * * * * * * * * *

Dear Rachel,

I am one of those women in a lonely, lonely marriage. A therapist once told me, “Staying in a marriage for the children’s sake never works, because then nobody is happy.” How true this is in my case. (Quite some time ago I decided to stay in it for the children.)

Even mikveh night in my home is lonely; the deed gets done in silence in the pitch black and is over before you know it, until next month. Professionals have advised me to stay, since he’s Baruch Hashem a fantastic provider and a decent father, and he is not mean to me at all, etc., etc.

I have one very, very nagging thought: Right now I’m young and so are my kids. When I’ll be 50-60 years old, am I going to bang my head in the wall for having stayed all these years and never had my needs filled? Am I going to berate myself for wasting all these years living with such a cold, cold man? Never, ever, in all my marriage did I hear “I love you” or a good word. My children don’t see a happy home; it’s cold, cold, cold all the time!

My dilemma is my parents, who are very well respected and a highly regarded well-to-do Boro Park family – who would probably want to kill me, because they are clueless to the whole situation. In public we look just fine. I also care a tremendous amount for my siblings, and they will shut me out since divorce is so frowned upon. But is it worth staying and being so miserable?

Therapy is not the solution. In the past when we’d gone, it always came down to, “It’s his nature.” Frankly, I’m sick of hearing it!!!

One last thought: I know that when the mommy of the home is miserable, so is the rest of the home.

A lonely stay-at-home mom seeking advice

Dear Lonely,

“Staying in a marriage for the children’s sake” while wallowing in misery is a waste of a life and can leave children emotionally scarred for a long time to come. It can however work out – if you can work on yourself to alter your perspective and approach.

While I nor anybody else is in a position to tell you to stay or to leave or how you should be feeling in your particular situation, you may want to take some time to reflect on the following:

The storybook marriage: Each partner fulfills one another’s needs and expectations. Parnassah worries are non-existent and mental telepathy makes for no arguments or hard feelings, ever. Love and romance are in full bloom on each new day, and kvetching – on the part of parents or children – is unheard of.

The ideal marriage: Each partner strives to fulfill one another’s needs. He is her best friend, she is his, and each can count on the other for support, come what may. Effective communication figures heavily in the success of the relationship, both in and out of the bedroom.

Needless to say, the ‘storybook marriage’ is a rarity. While every person dreams of the ‘ideal marriage,’ it is unfortunately not as prevalent as we would like to believe. Any number of circumstances (usually unforeseen) can place a burden on a relationship (the outsider being totally unaware of the struggles that take place ‘behind the drawn shades’ of one’s home).

Let’s suppose you choose to act on the concept that has you so preoccupied. What guarantee do you have of securing a husband #2 – and moreover, that the second time around will be trouble-free?

Actually, none. You may get lucky, and you may not. You may end up swapping one set of problems for another – plus having a splintered family to contend with.

Or, you can make up your mind to start focusing on your blessings. Your husband has never been mean to you (some women reading this would trade places with you in a millisecond). He is a ‘fantastic’ provider. (Countless of marriages suffer simply on account of parnassah woes.) You have children, a wonderful blessing in itself (that some would give their eyeteeth for) which can yield a lifetime of endless joy, nachas and fulfillment. He is a decent father. How will your children feel about being separated from their daddy (now and in the long run)?

This in no way goes to say that yours is not a legitimate need – every wife is entitled to her husband’s attention and affection. But we do not live in a perfect world. No one has it all, and it is up to each individual to determine what s/he can put up with and what will never work.

If you can bring yourself to rejoice in what you have, to view your cup as half full rather than half empty, the positive vibrations will rub off on your family and you’ll all be better off for it. Your husband may even ‘lighten up’ a bit. (There’s no way that he doesn’t sense your despondency, which does nothing in the way of motivating him to at least try to satisfy your needs.)

On the other hand, if your bitterness is eroding your self-respect and any feelings that may still linger for your spouse, and you can’t see yourself emerging from the depths of despair, then nobody is benefiting from this union.

Divorce is never a pleasant undertaking, but it is a viable, Torah-sanctioned option when all hope is lost. Certainly, the stigma once attached to ‘divorce’ is no more, and to live one’s life for everybody else is foolhardy. Hopefully your family can prove themselves worthy of the “high regard” they enjoy and will stand by you in your time of need.

A word of advice: Proceed with dignity, along whichever path you were meant to take – and remember to place your faith and trust in Hashem, Who is there for anyone sincerely seeking Him out.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-75/2007/08/29/

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