April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A New Year, a New Marriage, a New Life

A new year has begun, and please God, a better year. Not a better year in terms of circumstances–our health, our wealth, and, indeed, our very lives–all of those are beyond human ken and control. But a better year in terms of how we deal with our circumstances, whatever they may be. We need a lot of improvement in that area, because it is the only area that we do have control over, and the only area that really makes a difference.

You see, we spend an infinite amount of time and effort in trying to change and control our life circumstances. There seem to be countless indications that what we do, does make a difference, but it is clear that in the final analysis, it’s all an illusion. One day we are on the top of the world, the next day, groveling in the mud. How many of us have seen our circumstances change radically–for better or worse, k”heref ayin, in the blink of an eye? How many of us have had a very important presence in our life–a wife or husband, a child, a parent, etc. just snatched from us? We are left reeling from the repercussions, in some cases, never to get back.

But a change in our attitude in life can make a difference, almost no matter what the circumstances. An attitude of gratitude, a living with purpose, a life of meaning, no matter what is happening around and to us, can help get us through whatever Hakodosh Baruch chooses for us. I have been writing quite a bit about marriage. It is wonderful when I have touched on something that resonates with some people, and helps them work toward improving their marriage (and virtually all people need to do that!) But it is terribly painful to hear of some people who continue to suffer and, worse of all, don’t feel that they are understood, or worst of all, are being blamed for their terrible plights.

I AM NOT BLAMING YOU! You are not the author of your circumstances. It is generally not a result of what you have or haven’t done. Even when it looks like you could or should have done something differently, you are like every other one of us–just going through life the best way we can. I feel your pain, and I understand the impossibility of living with a troubled spouse who just doesn’t get it (though I am often confused about whether the troubled spouse is our mate or ourself)! And I also understand your feelings of terrible pain of being judged by others. Forgive me for adding to that feeling in any way–I greatly regret if I contributed to your suffering.

Please allow me to explain my views. I believe that marriage is one of the most important institutions in life. Thank God, we have been blessed with an attitude that glorifies marriage and family. In general it is difficult but rewarding and most of us do it to the best of our ability. But there are a large number of people that continually struggle with the difficulties. A spouse who is beset with his/her own problems and simply can’t or won’t do their share, is a very heavy burden. A spouse who isn’t aware, or even worse, doesn’t care, about the torture they inflict on their family, is even worse. Every single one of you needs to know that you are not at fault. But there are things that you might be able to do that might help your situation.

This does not mean that your spouse is being forgiven or relieved of his/her obligations. It means that you are taking steps to try to better cope with your circumstances. You can leave your marriage at any time, but you need to do it with the full awareness of the weight of the institution. And that, in general, means the following. If after marriage, you are aware of terrible things in your spouse that you weren’t aware of before, consult someone with experience and wisdom in such things. Not your parents, not your friends (though it is sometimes helpful to be able to talk to someone who can listen–not to someone who is down on marriage), but to a therapist who is committed to marriage in theory and can be there to help you through the tough times, or to support you through the steps that you could take to protect yourself and if necessary, end an impossible situation.

If your Rav is understanding and kind and wise, call him (and ask strongly for a heter to use birth control in the meantime). Or contact one of the many wonderful organizations that we are blessed with. But don’t do it alone. If after everything, you need to end your marriage, do it with care and proper guidance, to ensure that it will be done in the best way possible. If you do end up with a divorce, you should be able to rely on your friends, and hopefully, family to help you get through it. That means that every one of us needs to be more compassionate to people in difficult circumstances, and do so without judgment (not judging is the single most difficult thing to attempt in life).

Please feel free to contact me anonymously by writing to [email protected]

For an appointment contact [email protected] or call 201-983-1532

By Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Glick

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