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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Dear Wit’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/28/06

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

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.

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Readers Speak

Dear Rachel,

I found the letters relating to the subject of boys who learn rather than earn really interesting and very true. The writer I most agreed with was “A parent who represents many others” (Chronicles 2-3).

I think my perspective is a little bit different because I am not a parent but rather a post-seminary girl. I am 19, and I haven’t yet started dating, although most of my friends are. I feel like I can be somewhat objective about it because I am not yet entangled in it.

I attended a pretty mainstream seminary. Learning in general was looked at as an ideal. Many of our female teachers supported husbands in kollel and worked and mothered – a pretty incredible feat. They chose to live that sort of life and were happy with that choice. As students, we got mixed messages. Mostly the message was that learning in kollel is the ideal, but that there are other acceptable options.

For many of us, it’s not all right just to be “acceptable” – and therefore my friends often gravitate towards boys in learning, because they are considered “better” boys. The question really is, “Is there truth to the idea that boys in learning are generally better in avodas Hashem?”

This cycle will continue unless strong evidence comes out showing that this is not the right way. This evidence would have to be from the roshei yeshivos who are allowing and encouraging this cycle in the first place. It is important to realize, though, that even if this is a wrong hashkafa, it is coming from a very positive place and we can’t judge those people.

Dear Rachel,

I have never written to a paper before, but I was losing sleep over “At My Wit’s End” (Chronicles June 9). The first part of your response was perfect and seemed appropriate. However, I was deeply bothered by the last few sentences mentioning giving up and losing respect for one’s husband. Giving up on marriage should only be introduced as a last resort by a competent authority who knows the whole story. Giving up and losing respect should never ever be hinted at. Once words are spoken and put into one’s head, it becomes its own reality. How can this woman work with her husband when now in her head, he is a failure? I would love to give her some positive reinforcement and hope.

Dear Wit,

Breaking a bad habit or addiction is tough. Learning good coping skills for today’s complicated world is tough. Overcoming spiritual challenges is tough. That is the purpose of this world. Change does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing process. Everyone has challenges. Your husband appears to recognize the endless watching of movies as inappropriate as he has tried to refrain. Don’t lose respect for him. Don’t be judgmental. Don’t give up on him. Don’t give up on yourself. Try to understand him.

No one’s perfect and no one is one character trait. Everyone is a package deal. We are on this world to improve ourselves. We are not finished projects. Life is about overcoming spiritual challenges. Marriage is about teamwork, working together to overcome our challenges. His challenge is not his challenge alone – in a good marriage it is both partners’ challenge.

Talk to a rabbi, a therapist. Try and try again. Even if your husband refuses to see a rabbi or therapist, you can benefit by seeking help. You will learn skills to enable you to help your husband. You will be that much stronger as a person and as a couple once you overcome this difficulty together, and with the next spiritual challenge that comes your way you will benefit with having the improved skills to tackle the task of life.

Good Luck.

Dear Rachel,

Cheers for Anonymous’s personal report of permanent change in his own SSA (Chronicles June 16). Even though such changes are reported often in the media, and “Parents and Friends of Ex-gays and Gays” (PFOX) is a growing organization which demonstrates the changes among real people, many in the counseling professions and media continue to insist falsely – and contrary to the fundamental Jewish concept of teshuva – that such change cannot occur. That insistence results from the immense influence of homosexual activists within those groups.

It is important, however, to distinguish between same-sex attraction (which we can call SSA-1) and same-sex activity, SSA-2. Which of the two Anonymous was engaged in is unclear, especially with regard to his pedophilia. SSA-1 is relatively easy to overcome; after all, we all have forbidden sexual thoughts – most of them heterosexual – and they usually recede into insignificance when one is involved in stable, satisfying marriage. When it is SSA-2 that has been engaged in, however, change is harder, and under crisis, relapse – temporary or permanent – is more likely to occur.

If Anonymous had been involved with pedophiliac activities, I would insist on his having gone at least 10 years without them before I would allow him to, say, run a Boy Scout troop. Also: it may be more accurate to see SSA as a habit, for which one is responsible, rather than an illness, for which personal responsibility is lacking.

The fact that therapy/counseling can help people change SSA does not mean that they will, or that the change will be permanent. And without adequate marital satisfactions, the chance of relapse (especially with SSA-2) remains high, no matter how effective the therapy/counseling has seemed to be. That’s the lesson taught by the many Roman Catholic priests who were returned to full duty after therapy/counseling, only to repeat their pedophilic behavior.

Cheers again for Anonymous’s story, and thanks to The Jewish Press for publishing it.

Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D
Former Clinical Director
Kingsboro Psychiatric Center
Former Assistant Clinical Prof. of Psychiatry,
Albert Einstein and SUNY Downstate Colleges of Medicine;
One time Chairman,
Task Force on Religion and Mental Health,
Commission on Synagogue Relations,
New York Federation of Jewish Philanthropies

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/09/06

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

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’ve noticed that your column covers an assortment of topics, including compulsive addictions, and therefore I decided to write.

My husband has become addicted to/obsessed with movies, since we got married three years ago. The habit started quite innocently, renting a movie occasionally to watch together, out of boredom. It has since progressed to a nightly occurrence, often more than one movie a night. He has no self-control and does not set limits to the amount of movies or viewing time. My husband uses movies as a tool to unwind from a long day, tune out the stresses of reality or keep himself company, when I’m tired and go to sleep early (which is often, I have to admit).

Aside for the enormous waste of time and money (and bitul Torah) this habit is affecting us in many ways. My husband is often tired and irritable in the morning and during the day, and in the evenings he turns to his movies, as opposed to us spending time together. I also believe that his language and behavior are being affected in subtle and not so subtle ways (which is inevitable, I suppose).

I’ve spoken to him numerous times about limiting the amount of movies he watches and have mentioned some of the detrimental effects this might be having on our marriage, but he’ll refrain from watching for a day or two and then lapse back into the habit.

At this point, I’m wondering if his habit is just something that he has to want to break on his own, or something that might need professional intervention.

If you would be able to address this issue, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you.

At My Wit’s End!

Dear Wit,

It is complicated, to say the least, to zero in on the reason(s) your husband has become so attached to the “great escape” – considering the myriad of details that are part and parcel of a couple’s existence together.

Let’s explore some facets of your relationship that you’ve touched on in your brief letter, as they may offer more than a clue to what may be brewing underneath the act being played out nightly.

You speak of your husband’s “long day” and “stresses of reality.” Do you refer to the normal daily grind, or are there serious issues that aren’t being addressed and dealt with? If that is the case, your husband may be immersing himself in a fantasy world to avoid responsibilities that overwhelm him.

You say that you “go to sleep early” often. If this has been an ongoing regimen, your hubby may be harboring underlying resentment toward you – for not being available to him in his time of need. (“Unloading” to an understanding and loving mate can be a most effective stress-buster.)

You mention watching movies “out of boredom” when you were first married. “Boredom” between newlyweds? What more satisfying pastime than sharing dreams and goals with a new spouse in the rewarding process of getting to know one another!

Presuming there are no children in the picture, the stress of frustration in being unable to conceive can be a factor in his behavior. Conversely, he may be avoiding intimate contact with you for fear of bringing a (or another) child into your lives at a time when he feels he’d be unable to cope with the ensuing responsibilities.

If it’s action your husband craves – whether born of a need to alleviate mind and body fatigue, or as an outlet for pent-up male energy – his best bet may be to sign on with chesed organizations, such as Chaveirim, Shomrim or Hatzoloh. This type of involvement offers excitement and “escape” of the healthy kind, with the bonus of acquiring a sense of fulfillment and well-being – still leaving plenty of evenings free for family bonding.

As for yourself, you would be best advised to readjust your own day’s itinerary (if at all possible), so that you can be there for your husband as often as you can when he is home. Couples who have only evenings and weekends to “connect” need to prioritize their agenda to allow for quality time with one another.

A most effective deterrent to succumbing to temptations that surround us is meditation in Torah. Solicit the help of a close friend (surely there’s someone!) to entice him to attend a shiur at least once a week. All of us require constant reinforcement in Yiddishkeit – how vital for a ba’al habayis, the head of a household, to be a dependable source of guidance and chizuk to his family!

Should your husband be displaying a reluctance to confide in you, or you feel you cannot relate to him, your best recourse is to seek professional counseling.

If, after all is said and done, he still opts for the dummy screen, you may need to rethink this relationship altogether. Your husband’s deleterious nocturnal habit is obviously eroding your respect for him and, doubtlessly, eating away at his own self-respect – both integral elements for maintaining a tip-top marital partnership.

May Hashem grant you strength and wisdom and guide you through this difficult time.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-17/2006/06/07/

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