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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am a very young divorced woman with a child. People don’t know why I got divorced and seem to imply that I am from a disposable generation. However, I made every effort to save my marriage. Although my ex-husband dresses like a frum person, he is not at all frum. He wanted me to stay married to him and keep his secret. I could not see myself pretending and raising a family with such a person. He appears to be nice and is fair with me financially, but people can be cruel. They have no idea what is really going on. My ex-husband has no plans to remarry as he lives a secret, crazy life. People think that since he did not want to get divorced and I am very attractive, he is still in love with me. I promised to keep his secret because I did not want an acrimonious divorce and he promised to treat me fairly in return. Why do people speak so much lashon hara? I feel bad for my ex-husband as he is struggling in his emunah and does not believe in Hashem. My ex-husband is afraid to hurt his parents and does not want to hurt our child. We promised each other not to speak lashon hara about each other. What do I say to others? Even my own parents are upset with me because they do not know the full extent of my ex-husband’s issues and felt I should have tried harder to make it work. Please advise me what to do.

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Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

I admire your resilience and your commitment not to speak lashon hara about your ex-husband. It is a huge thing that you are doing and you will see a lot of bracha from your above and beyond behavior. Unfortunately you are not the only person to live with such a difficult situation. Every situation is different, but some wives choose to remain in such situations, and it is very difficult to raise children in that circumstance. You are making a great sacrifice by not telling people. If you have not already done so, it is imperative that you speak to your rav and find out how to handle the fallout from keeping your ex-husband’s secrets. Perhaps the rav will advise you to share some of it with your own parents in order to help them understand what is going on. As a young divorced woman, you need their support.

You are correct that people can be very cruel. You are also right that we should all be careful not to speak lashon hara about others. We never really know what other people are enduring. Life is so challenging. People often evaluate situations based on what they see, which is often not the whole picture. Perhaps others are jealous of you, which is fanning the flames of their lashon hara. Regardless, I hope your letter helps others realize that they never know what is happening in other people’s lives and that it is critical to never judge others and always give them the benefit of the doubt. We have no clue what other people are going through or why people do what they do. It is not our job to judge others; rather, we can be helpful if appropriate, or just say a nice word to brighten up someone’s day. Gossip and relating negative information is never helpful, unless necessary in very specific situations.

This generation is challenged with a high divorce rate. While people can be judgmental, I know so many situations where great efforts were made to save the marriage; however, for reasons that were insurmountable, the marriage was not salvageable.

As I read your question, I realize how detrimental lashon hara can be. At the same time, it is important that you seek guidance from an adam gadol to help you navigate the world of shidduchim, while being careful not to hurt your ex-husband. There may be different things you need to tell a perspective shidduch, or things you are correct in not revealing. The laws of lashon hara are complex, and it is crucial that you speak with someone who can guide you on the right path. There are times that information must be revealed and other times when information cannot be revealed. Only someone who is well versed in these halachos and has an understanding of your situation can help guide you during this difficult time.

May Hashem give you much bracha and may your efforts be rewarded in this world and in the next world. Hatzlacha in dealing with this challenging situation.

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to [email protected]. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.