Dear Dr. Yael,
I am a forty-two-year-old modern Orthodox woman who was encouraged to marry at a young age. Of course, if I had met the right man at a younger age, that would have been a wonderful choice. However, that did not happen, and I am glad that I can occupy myself with productive activity at the workplace instead of feeling bad about myself for NOT BEING MARRIED. I thought I would have an advantage if I started early. Well, I started at eighteen and that has not made a difference in my life. I went on shidduch dates, single events, traveled and still have not found my soul mate. There is only so much in one’s control. These young women who feel pressured to marry and end up despising their lives may not realize they still can have a life. I say the goal is to be happy – better alone than miserable with a partner.
Keep up your great advice.
P.S. Maybe you can also encourage the religious males out there that women forty-plus are great catches… and can still have potential for child-rearing. I cannot tell you how many men have refused to meet me because they think I am barren! How ignorant. Many women freeze their eggs, and even those who don’t can still be fertile!
Dear D. H.,
Thank you for your letter. Your message is excellent. No one should determine their worth based on if they are married. One can add tremendous value to this world by what they do with their life. You are correct that the goal we should all aspire to is to have internal happiness – Simchat HaChaim. Your letter is a true inspiration. Hatzlocha!
* * *
Dear Dr. Yael,
My husband and I both come from deeply religious backgrounds. My husband works in an office where everyone comes from the same background as us. I find it highly offensive to see the friendly relationships that exist between the male and female co-workers.
We were always taught to keep a distance between males and females. Whenever my husband repeats anecdotes involving female co-workers, I become extremely jealous and insecure. I feel a deep animosity toward the men and women in this office, including my husband. Is there something wrong with me or are they acting out of line?
Please answer this letter in your column in The Jewish Press. I hope that you will forgive me for not signing my name.
The subject that you are broaching is a sensitive one. Since I do not know the specific details of what goes on in your husband’s office, I cannot give you a concrete answer. I agree with you that an extremely friendly relationship between male and female co-workers is not healthy, however, co-workers must maintain an amicable atmosphere. I am not in the position to make the distinction in this situation; thus, I cannot tell you whether they are or are not acting out of line.
What I am concerned with is your extreme jealousy and insecurity that you feel. It is normal to be jealous if another woman is interacting with your husband in an improper way and your husband is responding in kind, but to be jealous of an anecdote that portrays harmless cordiality may be a bit abnormal. Given that I am not aware of the extent of the closeness of your husband and his female co-workers, I am not saying that you should not be concerned, but if there is no reason to be concerned, then your extreme jealousy can be very harmful to your marriage. I see many women who are exceedingly jealous of their husband’s “relationship with other women” to the extent that their husbands go insane from it. Some women falsely accuse their husbands of looking at other women, etc., and their husbands literally cry to me about it. One husband even said to me, “I love my wife so much and I wish that she would stop being obsessive about her jealousy because I am not interested in anyone except for her. She drives me so crazy that I am going out of my mind with her.” Therefore, what I am trying to say is that if you are being unnecessarily jealous, then you should stop. There is nothing worse than being a nagging and jealous wife. If you feel you cannot stop on your own, it would be prudent to seek professional help to build you up and feel more confident in yourself and your marriage.
On the other hand, if you honestly feel that your husband is engaging in harmful relationships with his female co-workers, then you should discuss it with him in a rational manner. You can sit him down at a time when you know that he is not hungry or tired and tell him in a non-accusing tone how you feel. Try to word your feelings in a manner that will not make him feel like a culprit. Something like: “I know that you are totally unaware of this, but I think (or I feel) that you are becoming a little too close to so and so… Maybe I am reading into it, however I just wanted to make you aware of this because I love you and I don’t want you to do anything that you wouldn’t want to do.” In this way, he will not feel that you are accusing or blaming him for anything, rather you are just being concerned because you care for him. Whatever you decide to do, please be mindful of your manner and tone because the way you present your feelings can really make a difference.
If you really feel that his behavior is inappropriate (that this really is not a case of you just being jealous unnecessarily) and your husband is not taking you seriously, then perhaps you can speak to a Rav who your husband respects and try to get the Rav involved. I do believe that many problems [like inappropriate affairs] sometimes begin from this friendly attitude in the workplace. Therefore, you may be correct in your feelings. It is important for you to take a step back and really try to understand what is happening here. Cordial relationships in the workplace are not a concern for jealousy, but if your husband is telling you stories that hint at flirting between him and another woman or spending time together outside the office, then your instincts are correct and you need to get involved as detailed above. Hatzlocha!