Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I read your response to the letter writer of your Oct. 29th edition and felt both saddened and surprised at the same time. The way it reads, you got insulted by her saying that your generation didn’t get divorced. that’s my generation as well. It wasn’t meant as an insult but rather that her generation, this one, seems to be quite more flippant about divorce. It’s actually a compliment to your generation. To say you are reminded that you are from before the wheel was invented was quite disturbing. We/our generation may have a piece of the blame for their flippancy.
This is a girl who is in trauma. She is at the verge of giving up her dream to be married to the love of her life. She looked away from the red flags prior to her marriage and thought she could overcome the issues. Apparently she is failing. I will tell you it is brutally hard to overcome an intrusive mother-in-law who will sabotage a marriage. This mother-in-law is not spiritual, not acting within halacha and is showing sinas chinam. Maybe this girl is not failing because of her own inadequacies, maybe she is failing because of outside forces that are pounding on the fragile house that she is trying to build as a newlywed. Maybe because of the self-centered, narcissistic mother-in-law who doesn’t understand boundaries.
She obviously is married to a kindhearted man who also does not understand boundaries. Halachically, he is to go with his wife. His sense of kibbud aym is going too far and he does not know how to tell his mother ‘no’! Yes, the mother is intrusive but the son should learn the halachic limitations that apply to his mother and the halachic obligations he has to his wife.
I hope you will print this so that others will take away the understanding of what great damage is caused. I recommend the book “Toxic Parents and Toxic In Laws” which addresses the issue of co-dependence. I agree with you that they could use some guidance from a marriage counselor. Unfortunately, I have not found many that were very helpful and reading a book may go farther than a one hour session per week. To this newlywed I urge you to be strong. You got married for a reason, so fight for your husband and your future.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this letter, and your mistaken critique on my reply. I value your view as it may well reflect on what others see as my terse and ‘holier than thou’ response on the generational discrepancy and outlook. No disrespect or minimization of the letter-writer’s plight was intended, and to address your own observation that I was implying that divorce in my generation was a rarity, that was an absolute truth. I cannot remember ever having heard about someone in our community getting a divorce, but that’s not to say that there weren’t many marriages where women suffered in silence in our oilam, that were abusive physically, mentally and emotionally and should never have taken place. In that time divorce was a taboo issue that was not acceptable by the Rabbonim and the rare few that were issued were swept under the rug and never mentioned in public and rarely in private. We have come light years in our thinking and understanding, thanks mostly to the many brave and caring people who have stepped up and championed the cause of freeing and protecting such women.
Returning to my reply to the young woman who wrote in, and to which you addressed, I can only say that there are deeper issues there than appeared to the naked eye and although I appreciate the book suggestion and your own evaluation of the issues based on the sparse information that was in evidence to the general public, I must ask you to be careful when making a judgment call based on only a half page of information at best. Even if she agrees to go to counseling, will that fix her intrusive mother-in-law? Will it in any way help her meek but wonderful husband grow a backbone to be able to stand with his wife against his obstinate mother? And the biggest question of all – does she really want to invest any more time in this marriage and risk bringing a child into the world that will absorb the dysfunction she is trying to escape from?