Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I have been debating with myself whether to write this letter or not. My heart tells me this is the right time to do it. I hope you will not judge me unkindly, rather, to offer me some words of support. I am a sixty-nine-year-old woman with seven wonderful children. We have just recently gotten up from shiva for my husband. My children are in deep mourning over the loss of their father. I, on the other hand, am mourning the loss of the fifty miserable years I gave up being married to this menuval. I did not shed a tear when the police came to tell me that he had perished in a terrible car accident and that the doctors could not save him. In fact, I felt absolutely nothing at that moment, not grief, not joy, not sadness. Nothing!


My children, all married baruch Hashem, with children of their own, rallied around me, as they mistook my shell-shocked demeanor for one of shock and devastation. I played the role they thought they saw so that I was able to comfort them. They have no idea how brutally cruel their father was to me. You see, to them he was a knight in shining armor, who gave them everything they asked for, or he thought they should have, they got. I am overjoyed that at least they didn’t suffer the brutalities he inflicted on me. Many years back I read letters sent to you by women, some of whom were in the same predicaments as I was, and your response was that abusive men (some, not all) have been known to carry over their abusiveness onto their children when the satisfaction of abusing their wives was not enough. I was married only three years at that time, already a mother of twins, maybe that’s why I stayed and suffered alone, because he was never cruel to the children and never abusive to me in front of them. He saved his cruelty for when he was alone with me with no one else around to witness it. I never said anything about it to the kids or anyone else. And so, fifty miserable, painful years went by until Hashem, my only witness to my pain and tears, finally took pity on me and released me from my suffering.

I was just nineteen when I married, fresh out of school and he was one of the first young men I was redt, he seemed sort of quiet but nice and while he seemed to have some trouble making eye contact, I did not take that as any red flag simply explaining it to myself as a case of nerves as he, too, was new to dating and it got somewhat better towards the fourth date when we began discussing tachlis. Soon after, we got engaged and married. Our married life was a mystery for me from the beginning. Our intimacy was never enough for him, he was never satiated and I was often tired, so tired in the mornings, I couldn’t get to work on time. What perplexed me even more was that he was even demanding intimacy with him when I was assur to him and I had to physically force him off. That was when the beast emerged, when I fought off his advances.

I know I should have sought advice/help from someone, but really, I didn’t have anyone to confide in. My mother was nifter when I was fourteen and I had two older brothers with whom I was not particularly close. I felt ashamed to reach out to aunts and I didn’t have close friends I could trust with such information. It was a time when women in bad marriages suffered in silence. So I zipped my lips and suffered in silence – for fifty long years. It did not take long for me to understand he hated me, that I was just a tool whereby he released his frustrations. When refused, he would damage my personal things, he would turn off the stove from food I was cooking for Shabbos or Yom Tov, and by the time I noticed it had to be served half raw. He would send nasty letters to people and sign my name. He would open my mail and when there was a check enclosed he endorsed it and cashed it. These are some of the things he did to squeeze the life out of me, I won’t go into the mental, emotional and physical pain that he was a master in inflicting, where only I suffered but no one else could see.

So when he died on that snowy, icy highway on that night a little over two weeks ago, I felt this unbelievable sense of lightness, as if a huge weight had been lifted off my soul. I felt no guilt, no remorse, no sadness, only this new sense of total peace and relief. The torment was finally over. As I said, I played the role of a bereaved widow masterfully at the levaya and the shiva for the sake of my children. However, there were no tears to shed as they had all been shed during the years of misery and enslavement.

Baruch Hashem, my children are loving and wonderful people in spite of their father’s hidden cruelty and abuse towards me and for this alone, I have no regrets for the fifty years I kept silent. What I do regret is what a waste my life has been and my spirit is weeping for the little that is left of my life in which to find some peace and personal happiness. I am not a mean person and I never wished death on him but does that make me despicable for the peace and the joy that I revel in now that he’s gone?


Dear Friend,

First, let me express my sincerest condolences to your children upon the loss of their devoted and doting father. That he was a wonderful father to them, of itself makes him worthy of that recognition. To you I say, “Baruch Dayan HaEmes.”

Fifty years of a miserable marriage would make this your ‘yovel’ year, a year decreed by halacha that all Jewish slaves are set free, and you, certainly qualify. You have earned the right to enjoy the rest of your life as you wish. I can only imagine the mental, emotional and physical anguish you went through all of those fifty years and commend you on your fortitude and discretion along with your inordinate strength in keeping your ordeal a secret while still maintaining your sanity. You are correct in the assumption that your sacrifices and silence are what allowed your children to grow up happy, healthy and mentally sound and not carrying any of his destructive baggage over into their own marriages.

Judge you adversely dear friend? Hardly! It is not my place to pass judgment on anyone or anything. I admire the great sacrifices you made to give your children the benefit of their father’s love at your expense. However, I wish you had reached out to me way back then when it was new and fresh, so that I could have given you resources and options to make ‘YOUR’ life somewhat easier while living in such dire conditions. You should definitely look to replenish yourself at this point, get counseling to help you reenter an interrupted life these last fifty years in the making, so that you spend the coming years wisely and enjoy them to the maximum. You need to heal the stunted ‘YOU’ that has been sacrificed to benefit your children!

‘SAD’ and ‘JOY’ are both three letter words but polar opposites in meaning. In spite of this and on rare occasions one can experience both simultaneously! May the future JOY outweigh the SAD memories in the coming days. You have definitely earned the right to look forward to many bright and happy tomorrows. Don’t look back is my advice, train yourself to look ahead, enjoying your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in peace, tranquility and good health.

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