Profile Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn

Showing posts with label commitment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label commitment. Show all posts

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How a Troubled Marriage Should Behave

How should a troubled marriage behave? This is a difficult question. And the reason it is difficult, is because people with such a problem have three basic avenues to turn to. One, each person in a troubled marriage, husband and wife, can do one of three things. One, they can turn to their parents or close friends. This can often provoke fights that lead to utter destruction. Again, involving parents or close friends in a problem with a spouse is an invitation to disaster. I told this to a prominent Israeli Rov and he strongly agreed.

Two, a person in a troubled marriage can turn to a therapist to try to make Shalom Bayis. But there are those who claim that some therapists are not effective, or rather, some therapists are effective at breaking up the marriage.. Some, of course, can be very helpful, but this option is not a sure avenue of success. The third option is to go to a Beth Din or Rov. Here too, there are Beth Dins that succeed in making Shalom, and some that succeed in destroying marriage. There is a letter from a Gadol about a prominent Beth Din that it destroys marriages. But after the letter was issued, I think it is still in business.

Thus, a troubled marriage has three very delicate options. And often, none of them succeed. Because if  you don't go to parents and friends, and you don't go to therapists, and you don't go to Beth Din or Rabbonim, what else can you do?

What often happens is that after the three things above have been tried and the husband and wife see no change, not only has there not been an improvement, but things may have reached a new level of anger and bitterness. At that point, and probably before, the flies have begun to swarm. There are organizations of people who believe it is a great mitsvah to destroy a marriage, children and all. And they inculcate in husband or wife such hate for the other that nothing is forbidden. This has nothing to do with Torah, but the people who advocate these things usually blame it on some rabbi, and they may be telling the truth.

If there is a rabbi who wants to save marriages, not break them up, or there is a therapist or Beth Din known to save marriages, they should be consulted.

If there are people giving "advice" about how to destroy the other spouse, the couple should refuse any such advice.

When the couple goes for advice with the appropriate person, they should identify the pressures and the problems that are hurting the marriage. Pressures and problems could be lack of money, or not enough money, or bills or things that are needed but there is no money for them. The gemora says that when the kitchen is bare fights in the family begin.

Today, when we live in urbanized areas where real estate prices are quite high, owning a house or paying rent is beyond many people. Some people just suffer. And this hurts the marriage.

Another problem may be the children. Sometimes, a child can be difficult and the parents struggle to deal with it. They may have different ways of dealing with it. And they may argue about whose way is best.

Another problem could be that somebody hurt the other one and they remember it. How to rectify the hurt is a big problem.

Overriding all of this is one thing. Does the couple have the right attitude about marriage? Namely, is the couple committed to marriage? Is the couple committed to their children? Or do they feel that marriage and children must step aside for the personal happiness of the husband and wife?

Today, many or most Torah Jews live in urban areas where real estate costs and the costs of tuition for Yeshiva are terrible burdens. This hurts the marriage. When we factor in the fact that in America people often get what they want as children, and want to supply their children with the same, we realize that marriage can be a challenge. The parents are used to plenty and can't easily adapt to less. And they are upset that they cannot supply their children with what they had as children.

And there is another factor that I heard from a prominent therapist. I once mentioned that there are people who don't understand marriage. He laughed and said that today the problem is worse than that. Today, the parents of the parents don't understand marriage. The present parents as children never saw a truly functioning marriage, so where do they learn how to behave in marriage?

Today it is very hard. And as the pressure builds, and the flies of "helpers" swarm to "help" the wife be free of her husband, and to "help" the husband to have a better wife, how can marriage survive?

Mort Fertel is a prominent therapist available online. He is a Torah Jew with a strong following for his ideas and help for marriage. He insists that commitment is the key to marriage. He says that commitment creates love. But that love does not last, as it is caused by people at a certain age, and as they change, the love weakens. But one who is committed, and constantly creates commitment, produces a love that lasts. But to be truly committed is truly possible when one had parents who were truly committed. Otherwise, it is a problem. But problem or not, if two people, especially Torah people, commit themselves to being committed, for their sakes and for the sake of the children, there is hope.