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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Ob Gyn’

‘I Wasted My Life’ (Conclusion)

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

In last week’s column, I published a letter from a divorced gentleman of 52 who took exception to an e-mail written by a single professional woman who wrote that she regretted wasting precious years building a career rather than focusing on a home and family. She complained that at this point in her life, the shidduch recommendations made to her are very often men who are incapable of earning a living. She stated that she couldn’t possibly consider such individuals for a husband and referred to them as “losers.” It is this term, “loser,” that prompted the gentleman’s letter and his vehement objection.

In describing his personal situation, the man wrote that shortly following his divorce (after more than 20 years of marriage and children), he was hit by the economic downturn in our society. After his separation he bought a little house to serve as both a residence and a business office. Today, the house is in foreclosure and the business itself is in a state of collapse. Consequently, he has difficulty meeting his child support obligations and paying his children’s yeshiva tuition. But, he wrote that he is deeply committed to them and is resolved to somehow meet his obligations. At the same time however, he is very resentful at having been labeled a “loser.” He feels that there is more to a man than what he earns, and since he is a kind, considerate, caring individual, he would make an ideal husband for any woman even though, at this point he would not be able to support her financially. Furthermore, he felt that since the lady in question is an Ob/Gyn and must have substantial savings and a good earning capacity, she could very comfortably consider a man in his position as a marriage partner. Rather than demean him and others in his position as “losers,” she would do well to reflect on the total picture and appreciate the positive qualities that he and others like him have to offer.

I forwarded his letter to the Ob/Gyn, who had written to me, and asked if she would care to comment. The following is her response.

Dear Rebbetzin:

When I received your invitation to respond to the gentleman who has “fallen on hard times,” my initial reaction was to ignore the entire matter – I felt that it was one of those nuisance situations in which I wouldn’t want to become embroiled. But upon second thought, I decided to respond, primarily because I respect you very much and I feel that I owe it to you, as well as to the gentleman with the hurt feelings, to explain what I really meant. Before addressing his issue however, allow me to express my personal gratitude to you for the support, strength and hope that you imparted in response to my letter. I am also greatly appreciative of the introduction that you made on my behalf. I am still seeing him. I do not know where it will go, but so far, so good. Thank you.

And now to the plaint of the letter writer:

My Dear Upset Gentleman,

Forgive me for referring to you in this manner, but the Rebbetzin did not give me your name. My description of a “loser” was not meant for you, or for any one person, and if you took it personally, I’m truly sorry. Trust me when I say that I did not have you or anyone specific in mind. I am certainly sorry for your unfortunate situation and for the hard times that have fallen upon you. Although I am single and, thank G-d, never had to go through the pain of divorce, I can only imagine how traumatic such an experience must have been for you, especially after so many years of family life and children who are surely suffering from the break-up of their parents. In addition, having to cope with the financial crisis is a lot to have on your plate.

Again, it certainly was not my intention to hurt you in any way or to describe you as a “loser.” I am confident that you are a good, hard-working man and suffering a great deal from this turn of events, so I apologize if you felt demeaned or in any way slighted by my letter. In retrospect, the term “loser” may have been a poor choice – I should have been more careful with my words, but bottom line, I still couldn’t consider marrying someone who did not earn a living.

You write that as a professional I must have put aside quite a bit of money. First of all, you cannot make such assumptions… doctors have their own financial challenges to contend with. For one thing, malpractice insurance is very high, and the cost of living in Manhattan (where I reside) is prohibitive. But, as I said, even if I was fabulously wealthy, I would not wish to marry a man whom I had to support. If I am not mistaken, the Jewish tradition itself dictates in the Kesubah that it is the man who must provide for the needs of his wife and family and not vice versa.

Of course it would be a different story, if during the course of a marriage a man falls upon hard times, then indeed a good woman would not abandon her husband, but would pitch in and do whatever she could to ease the situation and support him.

However, to marry someone who, at the outset, is financially bankrupt and has tremendous obligations to support his former wife and family would, in my opinion, be foolhardy. Why in the world would I want to undertake such a responsibility?

You write that you would be a good, loving, caring husband – but what, exactly, does that mean? You would be waiting at the door for me to come home? You would have a delicious dinner waiting? Bring me flowers and shower me with compliments? As nice as that may sound, to me, that’s not a reason for marriage. I would not marry someone to be catered to in that manner. That’s not what would evoke respect for a husband in my heart.

And what if I wished to retire or only work part-time? I would not be able to even consider that because I would have to grapple with all the obligations that marriage to a person who is not earning a living represents. I must share with you that not only would I expect my husband to earn a living, but I would also anticipate that he sign a prenup. Life is very complex nowadays. I have seen what initially appeared to be the best of marriages disintegrate. Yes, all marriages start out with high expectations, but then, something goes wrong and everything collapses, so I would certainly wish to protect my assets (whatever they may) from such an eventuality.

Yes, I can see situations in which a woman would wish to support her husband – and that is in the yeshiva world. I have a 27-year-old cousin who has five little ones. She takes care of them and works while her husband studies Torah, but she made that arrangement by choice. She specifically wanted to marry someone who would devote his life to Torah learning and she was and is committed to making every sacrifice to realize that goal. But, and I am sure that you will readily agree, those situations are different. To my cousin and to many other committed kollel wives, their husbands’ Torah learning represents more than any salary they could earn. So even if I could not see such a lifestyle for myself, I can certainly respect it for those who make that choice.

Having said all this, I do wish you luck. I am sure that there are some ladies out there who are lonely and would be grateful for the companionship of a loving husband and would be prepared to support him, but as for me and the other single women I know, we want a partner in marriage who will support us, not only emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, but financially as well.

Again, I’m sorry if you found my letter offensive, but I have to be candid – that’s how I feel. My reference to “loser” was in no way meant as a condemnation of you or anyone else who is unfortunately out of work. I respect all people, but that does not mean that I’m prepared to marry them.

My best wishes to you, and as the Rebbetzin would say, “May Hashem help that we all find our bashertes this New Year!

‘I Wasted My Life’ (Part One)

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

A few weeks ago I published a letter from a 45-year old single professional woman who expressed regret at having placed career before marriage. She bemoaned the years wasted and the opportunities lost for bringing children into the world and establishing a true Jewish home. In my response, I told her that it’s never too late – that rather than agonizing over the past, she should concentrate on the here and now. I told her to bear in mind the many miraculous happenings of our past as well as the amazing stories of today of all the singles who, through the many mercies of Hashem and modern medicine, do marry and have children later in life.

As a result of these letters, I received a great deal of mail, most of it from eligible men who were anxious to meet her. I am happy to share with you that today, she is seriously seeing one of them, and please G-d, I hope that it will turn out to be a shidduch.

Among the many letters that reached my desk was one from a divorced gentleman who took umbrage at the word “loser” used by the woman to describe some of the unacceptable shidduch candidates that had been recommended to her in the past. He also faulted me for not commenting on this remark.

Frankly speaking, I read her letter differently…I read it as an expression of sorrow at having failed to marry in time and never even noticed the phrase that he found so objectionable. To do justice to his plaint however, I forwarded his e-mail to the woman and asked her if she would be willing to respond to his criticism. She agreed and, B’Ezrat Hashem, I will publish her response in next week’s column. The following is his letter:

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I have always greatly admired your work with Hineni and I frequently read your column in The Jewish Press. The letter written by the female Ob/Gyn who lamented her single state and expressed regret at the many years that she had focused on a career rather than on marriage and a family touched a sensitive chord in my heart. While I certainly sympathize with her situation, I find her labeling some shidduch candidates “losers” disconcerting and offensive.

I am a 52-year old man and have been divorced for the past four years. As I am sure you are aware, divorce almost always presents financial hardships for the parties involved. I had been married for 25 years and, Baruch Hashem, the business that I had inherited from my father provided a parnassah, which although nothing spectacular, was enough to pay the bills. I was always grateful for that.

Only a few short months after my divorce, the recession began to hit my business really hard. I am in an industry, which is sensitive to changes in the rest of the economy, meaning that as soon as things begin to slow down in other areas, my business feels it almost immediately. The past three years have been extremely rough. I don’t know if my company will be able to survive this downturn.

The small house that I had bought for myself (which I combined with my workplace to make it manageable financially) is now in foreclosure as I have been unable to pay my mortgage. I will almost certainly need to declare personal bankruptcy. My number one priority has always been my children, but it has become increasingly difficult to make child support payments and pay half of their yeshiva tuition costs. I lose many nights of sleep worrying about these issues, but I am resolved to meet my commitments one way or another.

Your letter-writer states, “If they are not successful (potential shidduch candidates), it is difficult to respect them. I just cannot marry a loser.”

I was so dismayed that you chose not to address that particular comment. With all due modesty, I can tell you that I have a sterling reputation in my neighborhood (and indeed, amongst all who know me) as being a Yarei Shamayim, a ba’al middos, an honest, caring and devoted friend and an excellent father to my children who adore me. Even my ex-wife has acknowledged that (in her own words) I am a “good guy.”

I have met women, on dating sites, with whom I have easily developed relationships. In many cases, as soon as I mentioned problems with my business, I was history. I have no issue with that coming from divorced women who have struggled with financial issues. I totally can understand a woman who, after going through a difficult time in her life would now like to be able to rest easier and not have to worry about paying the bills.

But this is not the case here. This woman is a success. At 45 and in an Ob/Gyn practice for a number of years, I have to believe that finances are not an issue for her. But to her, I am a loser. Never mind the fact that I can be a terrific husband, and that I would treat the right woman like a queen. The woman I marry will be proud to be seen with me, and I am trustworthy, reliable, and have a lot of love to offer. No, this is all unimportant because HaKadosh Baruch Hu chose to make my life financially difficult for now. I would understand a woman not wanting a man who is lazy and, therefore, unsuccessful. But I have always worked hard to support my family, even working in the evenings to earn some extra money.

In your answer you inform the woman that many men have written to you about possibly dating this woman. Though I can possibly benefit from getting into a relationship with a woman who is financially secure, I could never date a woman who considers me a “loser.” Once again, I am disappointed that you didn’t set this woman straight as to what are the most important qualities to look for in a shidduch.

I Wasted My Years (Part One)

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I just finished reading your book, The Committed Marriage. How I wish I had discovered this wonderful book years ago. How different my life could have been.

I write this letter with a heavy heart. From the outset, I want to make it quite clear that I am not writing with the anticipation of a solution to my problem. I am writing with the request that you publish my letter (anonymously, of course), so that others might learn from my mistakes. It is for this reason that I decided to write although this is probably the most painful letter I have ever written.

I grew up in a typically secular Jewish home. Once a year we went to the local temple in our neighborhood for the High Holy Days. On Chanukah, we lit a menorah, and on Passover we had a Seder (only the first night). All these rituals were carried out perfunctorily, without meaning or content. They were superficial acknowledgments of being Jewish. Our home was not kosher, our Sabbaths were just Saturdays, taken up with shopping, sports, or other activities.

When I was 14 my parents divorced. It was a bitter separation. Without going into too many details, there were many ugly accusations and recriminations. In any event, my father left, remarried and started a new family. My mother, on the other hand, dated and had many relationships, but never quite made it to marriage. We had always enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle, but once the divorce took place, everything changed. The final settlement did not allow us luxuries, and suddenly, we found ourselves on a very tight budget.

My mom, who was never too calm, became temperamental, and would lose her cool at the drop of a hat. The divorce settlement forced us to visit with our father, and those meetings were very painful. I resented his new wife and her taking my mom’s place. I resented her for disrupting our family and I am certain that she also resented me.

I was under tremendous pressure from my mom to do well in school so that I might be eligible for a college scholarship. She kept insisting that before I even consider marriage, I must have a career. “It’s important that you be independent and capable of supporting yourself,” she always said.

Throughout my high school years I worked very hard, although it wasn’t easy. I was in therapy for quite some time, but I never worked out my problems. I never adjusted to the new dynamic of our family. I had no choice but to accept the new reality and try to make the best of it. I had to be tolerant of my mom’s boyfriends and relationships, be privy to all the ups-and-downs, which punctuated her private life, and then, accept my father’s “new family.”

It was more than any teenager should have to deal with. My two brothers were equally impacted by the trauma, and they chose the destructive path of alcohol and drugs. They hung out with girls until the early hours of the morning. My mother would scream and yell, but they paid no heed and continued their self-destructive path. I couldn’t wait to graduate and escape the madness in my home. I was anxious to go to a university as far away from my parents as possible. I worked very hard with one goal in mind – escape! When I was graduated, I received a scholarship to a good university.

I had many relationships in college, but marriage was never even considered an option. My goal was to finish my education, find a good position, travel, enjoy life, and in time, marry and settle down.

When I finished college, I went on to graduate school, all the time bearing in mind my mother’s admonition, “Make a career for yourself! Become independent!”

I decided to go into medicine because I felt that would be the most secure and lucrative profession I could undertake. It was a long haul and a lot of hard work, but it was a worthwhile investment. I specialized in Ob/Gyn, thinking that it is one field for which there is always a demand. I worked very hard and did my residency in New York, and was elated to be accepted as a fellow in a prestigious Manhattan hospital. I was so overwhelmed with work during that period that I didn’t have time to even consider a serious relationship.

After completing my fellowship, I joined a highly successful practice. Once again, I was consumed by work with very little time left for socializing and a personal life. This, more or less, sums up my background. I share it with you so that you may better understand the conflicts and regrets that haunt me now.

Today, I am 45-years-old. I don’t know where the years went, but I can’t deny them, although people tell me that I can easily pass for 35. But I am 45 years old and the best years of my life have passed me by. I bring babies into the world, and it breaks my heart that I don’t have a baby of my own.

My biological clock has ticked away without my realizing it. So here I am – 45 and all alone. Yes, I have savings… a good profession – but so what? I don’t have a family. I don’t even have nieces and nephews. My brothers never married…. they’re all messed up. My mother, in her old age, has become more temperamental and demanding. I find it very difficult to communicate with her because every visit ends up in conflict with tension and shouting. My father has his own life, his own family.

Yes, I have no lack of dates, but the men I meet all seek relationships rather than the stability of marriage. So why am I writing this letter to you? Because I know that you have a wide readership and people respect your opinion. So, I would like to tell all the women out there who have bought into our culture’s value system: “Don’t sacrifice marriage and children for a career. No profession, no amount of money is worth it!”

Yes, I continue to date, but there is nothing much out there. I have discovered that the men in my age bracket who are successful want young women, and they get them. And if they are not successful, it is difficult to respect them. I do need someone to look up to – I just can’t marry a loser. I wish that I had found your book, The Committed Marriage earlier in life. How different everything would have been for me -but I do hope that you will print my letter. If I know that people will learn from my mistakes, it will give me a measure of comfort. No answer is required.

A Brokenhearted Successful Woman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/i-wasted-my-years-2/2010/07/21/

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