Dear Dr. Yael,
I got married the chassidishe way through a beshow. In the beginning the marriage was very challenging. Over the years we worked on our marriage and went for professional help and, baruch Hashem, today we have over a shevet of children and we are very happy with our nachas and we enjoy being together.
One of my daughters got married through a prearranged marriage with two beshows. They have two children and she decided she wants to get out of the marriage. My son-in-law is devastated and we love him. He is a devoted husband and father and he works hard and makes a good living. My daughter agrees that he is a good husband and father but she just doesn’t care for him and never did. She unfortunately has divorced friends and we really feel our daughter is the problem. Our son-in-law is a seriously frum person who is good looking, good hearted and we love him. Our daughter is very pretty and has begun to dress less tzniusdik. She is definitely influenced by these divorced friends. She says that he is a nice person but she can’t stay married to a person that she can’t stand. Please help us. We love your column and are frightened that our daughter will destroy her life.
Dear Worried Parents,
People are unfortunately influenced by their surroundings, but it is difficult to know what is actually going on here as the question is coming from you and not your daughter. I will respond based on your information; however, more information is definitely needed.
I admire that you persevered and found happiness in your marriage. In an interesting article written by Frimet Goldberger in The New York Times Monday April 10th, 2023, she describes being married in an arranged marriage and her journey to stay in this marriage despite times where she could not stand her husband. She says that she encourages couples to try to make their marriages work. She is not talking about abusive marriages. However, “It is worth bearing in mind that divorce is not a paradise – statistics show that many people are worse off after they split up. Divorce increases one’s risk of living in poverty, according to the Census Bureau 2016 Survey. Remarriage statistics show that they have a higher chance of ending in divorce than first marriages. Single mothers are also disproportionately burdened with raising their children.” Sometimes people think once they divorce their life will be so much better. They don’t realize the grass is definitely not greener. It’s hard to live with a spouse that you do not love or even like, but unless she first tries to build a relationship with her husband, she will never know if she would have grown to love him.
First of all, perhaps your daughter just isn’t happy with herself. No spouse can make you happy. You have to find happiness within yourself and then you can build a loving relationship. Does she have a job she likes or spend time doing extra things she likes? Can she explore doing something she finds fun with her spouse to try to build a relationship? What makes her feel happy and accomplished? She needs to explore this and pursue this and then also find time to start dating her husband and build a relationship to see if she can be happy with him as well. Dreaming of another life won’t make your daughter happy because her dreams are not reality. Perhaps you can help her see that maybe if she tried to give her current reality a chance, she can be happy. Maybe she can even read that article in The New York Times and see if it speaks for her.
Please prevail upon your daughter that she should try to seek professional help from a frum therapist who is positive about saving marriages. Maybe a frum therapist can help her realize that Hashem gave her a gift and help her learn to appreciate the gift and work on being the best wife and mother that she can be. Most people don’t want change unless they are unhappy, but happiness comes from within, no one else can make us happy.
Divorce may seem glamorous from her friend’s perspective (or at least the perspective they are sharing with her), but in actuality it is a nightmare for the couple and for the innocent children who become living yisomim being shuffled between two parents with much tension, anger, and disdain.
Please be loving and supportive to your daughter and son-in-law and offer to watch their children so that they can begin to date again. Once they are in therapy, working together to improve their marriage, perhaps you can help them so they can go on vacation and try to create positive feelings.
One word of caution: be careful to encourage your children to seek a therapist who first deals with each spouse individually and then puts them together for the last part of the session. Many therapists destroy relationships by allowing the couple to say painful things in front of each other. In the past I have written columns about doing marital therapy solo before uniting the couple to avoid hurting the fragile marriage. Especially since it seems that your daughter needs to work on finding her own happiness, it will only be hurtful for her to tell her husband she can’t stand him. It’s better if she can work on her own issues and then once she is in a better place, she can begin to work on building a relationship with her husband. It is paramount that they get the proper help to salvage this marriage. Hatzlacha!