Thursday, July 5, 2007

Welcome!

This blog was inspired by some comments on Babylox. Many women in the Orthodox community suffering through difficult marriages lack an outlet to discuss their challenges. The purpose of this blog will be to give these women a home for them to share their stories and get "chizuk" (strength) from one another.

I am going to try to keep my voice out of the discussion as much as possible, so the success of this blog depends on you. Please post suggestions for future posts in the comments or send them to me at mominisrael@gmail.com with the subject line "shalom bayit."

As most commenters will be anonymous, please assign yourself some kind of code name when you post here.

24 comments:

unsuperwoman said...

Thanks for starting this blog! Not sure where it will lead to. If you have ever read on the forum imamother.com, you will see tons of posts from unhappy women under the anonymous screen name option. Everything from cheating husbands, husband's addicted to porn, verbally abusive husbands, etc. Who knows how many stories are true and how many are made up for shock value?

Anyhow, usually there are a host of replies that say divorce him! Then there are those women who condemn divorce and say stick it out and get counselling from a therapist, rebbe, mashpia, etc.

Anyhow, for those of us who are sticking it out, not because we shun the concept of divorce, but because it just isn't practical (the financial stress, kids stress, on top of the stress with dealing with a bitter spouse/ex spouse) - there is no support. There is no support for those of us whose situations aren't ever going to get markedly better - ever. There will be no miraculous epiphany or changes, the test of time has already proven that.

So, how do we cope/live/attempt to get some happiness in this life on our own - while still married? We could troll Craigslist for men in similar predicaments. That is just switching one set of problems for another. We could take up hobbies, join community groups, read self-help books, exercise, meditate, daven. The point is - we have to try to develop an identity, interests, and a life apart from our spouse - despite the fact that we still live with that person and are married to that person. We have to make it so that his opinion/actions/antics do not affect us personally. We have to make it so our spouse's opinion of us no longer matters.

As long as we treat out spouse with respect - as long as they don't treat us with respect - we need to emotionally detatch ourselves from them. That is pretty much the way I decided to live my life - and it helps a bit.

tziyonit said...

Wow. I think there is a need for such a blog; perhaps this type of situation is more prevalent than I thought. Many of us, myself included, have never really been able to make enough money to support ourselves; our jobs have been adjunct to our spouse's, with they being the main "bread-winner."
I agree with unsuperwoman. We have to develop our own identity, hobbies or activities which fulfill us--and friends--in order to partially separate from our spouses while still living with them. It is so sad, though. Why did we get into these situations to begin with?
I would love to know others' stories, of how and why they met and married their spouses. I know my story: I was chronologically an adult, but emotionally a little kid, afraid to listen to my gut feelings and instincts. I thought I was supposed to do 'what others told me to do,' like a good girl. Never buck authority. Do as you're told. Others (e.g., my soon-to-be-spouse) know better.

mother in israel said...

unsuper and tziyonit--thanks for your comment. I will need some guidance about what this blog will be. Will this be a place for women going through a crisis (because I am sure you will have wisdom for them) or mainly for women dealing with an ongoing situation.

Anonymous said...

I married a guy from a broken home who suggested we get divorced a day after we were married! This was his solution to solving an argument. Beat that! I don't look back on any time of our married life as one I wish to revisit :-( Over 20 years later I am not conviced the unknown would be better, even though some newly singly women say it is.

stayingtogetherforthechildren said...

Mother In Israel, I think it should be an ongoing support group type site for women in this situation who need to vent, to read about others who are making it somehow, to read and post suggestions about the ongoing challenges that this unique situation brings. Whenever I have seen comments about this kind of thing, even in secular magazines, a lot of them mention the "sensational" kinds of situations. I don't mean to belittle those biggies like porn addiction, drug/alcohol, physical abuse, homosexuality but my story was more benign--and insidious in some ways--than those. I couldn't see myself or anything similar in the stories I had read, and definately not in the frum world. What is my situation? Years ago when I was dating, I couldn't find my fit. I was in the middle Hashkafically, not typical Bais Yaakov but not rebellious. I was intelligent and well read, also not typical in the Shidduch world. I found in my husband a perfect counterpart in terms of our Hashkafos. The problem was--which I found out only after we became engaged--that his parents never had gotten along and he had grown up with married parents, but a broken home. My first Shabbos with them--and my only one before we got married--I kind of saw the handwriting on the wall. I remember slouching down on the wall of the house I was staying at with my head in my hands, tears streaming down my cheeks. The flashing red lights were there and I was devastated. I so wanted to get married. I was in my mid 20's then and I really did have important things in common with this boy. So, I foolishly continued. Then twice during the engagement my Choson showed his selfish, inconsiderate, insensitive side. Basically it boils down to the fact that his father did not respect his mother and treated her this way. Also, there was a lot of criticism in the house on all sides and his mom was very neglectful of the kids. He resented his mom, identified with his dad, was completely ignorant of the effects of criticism on someone else and in denial about his own childhood, and he has no empathy. Neither parent shows empathy for others. They appear nice, but always put themselves first and don't notice how their actions may affect others. My husband follows this model. Amazingly, he has kept the same job for years even though his workmates know how difficult a person he is. The funny thing is that his workmates and I are the only ones who know this secret. When people meet him or spend a little time with him, they usually like him a lot. He is very friendly, funny, interesting. Oh and he can be very giving so it throws people off. The giving part happens only when he wants to. He will 90% of the time not give you something if you ask him for it. If you don't, he might just do it for some reason. There's so much more, but the jist of it is that I have never heard of an innocuous story like mine. I don't hear that many anyway. The blogs and the Jewish Press are filled with more exciting stuff. Again, I don't belittle any women who face the really "exciting" challenges. I just want to hear about the more mundane. We had seen a psychologist--after consulting a rav early on--for years. He was a little helpful, and he was really capable. Most important was that my husband respected him, that's hard to find. But, my husband has a major problem with authority of any kind--rabanim, teachers, bosses--because his dad was very critical. The psychologist says he has developed a really thick skin as a survival mechanism. So, in the end, not much changed and it cost us way too much money. Money has been a sore point for us over the years. We struggle and I choose to stay home with my kids when they are young--which my husband supports--so there never is any money. Now, I am working, but we can barely pay the bills. So, at some point, I made the decision to stop going to the psychologist and just try to work on my attitude. To lead a separate emotional life from my husband, which means that he can hurt me less often, but it also means that I am completely disconnected emotionally from him. I, too, dread the Mikvah. Those days are days in which I feel particularly alone. I see the other women running in and coming out all coifed and I am just wishing it would all go away. Those are jealous days to be honest and also heartbreaking days for me. I feel like the biggest loser in the Mikvah. I've considered divorce many times, but I know what happens when people share custody and there are stepspouses. It is very complicated. I also know how hard the Shidduch world is and I don't pretend to think that someone is out there waiting to sweep me off my feet. Plus, my husband never criticizes the kids. He is very good to them. He also loves me, by the way. He just has no idea how to show it properly. I am soldiering on with 50 extra pounds on me and a heavy heart. thank you so much for doing this. Maybe we can hear each others' stories and then also help each other with specific experiences, challenges that we share.

unsuperwoman said...

I can't tell you how much chizuk this gives me! I too, don't have any of the "exciting" or "sensational" issues. Just verbal abuse, constant critiques and belittlement that cause my self-esteem to move down to zero, 50 extra pounds on my frame due to emotional overeating, and a mistake of a "crush" on another frum man a few years back, who claimed to have similar issues with his wife. I learned from that emotional affair never to enter into such a relationship again. I realized if I wasn't going to leave to begin a new life with a single man, I'd have to resign myself to being married, yet alone. Which is what I am.

I also am the biggest loser at the mikvah. I hate mikvah night. I feel dirty after being with my husband. Does that make sense? Because my heart is not with him. I so envy the women who come in smiling and making jokes and small talk. They are obviously happy and anticipating being with their spouses.

At the time I had my emotional involvement with this other man, when I prepared at the mikvah, I used to imagine being married to him and coming home to him when I was finished. Of course, when I got home, it was to face the same person I'd married and the only man I'd ever been with.

For a time, I just wanted to know what it was like to be with another man. I'm glad I didn't go there while married. Now, I just block out thoughts of sensuality, lest I fall in love again with someone other than my husband again.

The sad thing is, all I ever wanted to do was be in love with my husband. He just killed any love I felt for him bit by bit throughout the years. Now I have no one. It's almost like being an agunah. Does that make sense?

s.t.f.t.c. said...

it makes sense. there are a lot of poignant moments like that when you are stuck in a difficult marriage. shabbos can be very difficult when it is quiet and you and your spouse have more time together. shabbos should be happy. Shabbos just reminds me of the help i do not get and friday can be especially painful. when you are trying to be numb, but you know that there are others out there who have helpmate relationships, where even if the husband isn't home a lot, he helps when he is. i have heard a lot of people whine and complain about what their husbands don't do, but these are also painful moments because these women do get some help. I see it all the time. They just don't realize that some of us get absolutely no help at all. they talk about the little games they play to get their husbands to help and things like that. they don't have a clue what it means to be holding a sick baby while another cries in another room and asking your husband to help only to have him say: you know I have to sleep. there are all kinds of moments like that in a marriage like this. or how about the bickering that you may do in front of others when the real truth is that when everyone leaves it is only you who are victimized. You who are criticized. people don't know the ugliness that can happen where no bruises are made. i have also had these sad moments where i will see a husband do something very simple for his wife, ask if she wants something from the kiddush table, pick up a crying child, take the kids to the park...and i feel a bit sad. i don't consider a relationship with anyone else because that--in addition to the obvious reasons--would not make my life any easier. i have pretty much closed off from those thoughts completely. years ago i remember older people saying that the main thing is consideration, niceness, changing the diapers, sweeping the floor. They were so right. what i will tell my daughter is to look for a functional family with lots of kindness and a kind, considerate spouse. that's it in a nutshell. i hope others post here and i was wondering if anyone had any suggestions about controling the arguing in front of the kids. thanks all.

Anonymous said...

I am just wondering if a halachic authority was consulted before starting this blog. The pain of an unhappy marriage is soo soo great its hard for us to imagine how this blog would not be in line with Halacha- but the truth is having comment means that many things/discussion/chizuk will be out of control of the moderator (blog owner) I would be intersted to hear a rabbinic authority on this.

unsuperwoman said...

With all due respect to anonymous, why in the world would rabbinic authority be needed here. Most of us have sought rebbinic authority in regards to our marriages, and have decided to stay married. That being said, most rabbis are delighted at the decision and that it is for them. Unless any other major shailahs come up, that is the extent of their involvement. I am not going to kvetch to my rabbi about my everday miseries and the burdens I have to bear. That is where a girlfriend who understands comes in handy. However, I am too ashamed to talk to any girlfriends. It is nice to maybe make some online girlfriends here who do understand, who won't preach divorce, or won't preach how happy/lucky I should feel to be married/stop your kvetching already.

I am not understanding why rabbinic counsel is needed in having this blog? Unless you mean for guidance/chizuk. But is you mean to decise if it is usser to even discuss marriage problems - you are further victimizing us by trying to take away this forum where we can finally vent.

On a different note - it seems that so far, these discussions might work better on a message board than a blog - as most of the activity is in the comments section. Are there any free bulletin board sites where we could start up Shalom Bayit? Does anyone else agree?

mother in israel said...

Anonymous,
What would be different here than in the comment section on any other blog?

mother in israel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mother in israel said...

I set up a forum at freeboards.net, but I am having trouble logging in as an administrator.

STFTC. I will post your suggestion as a separate post.

tzipporah said...

Hi all,

I am glad for this blog. I hope it stays for its true purpose.

Sometimes someone may have a specific problem that, although its not sensational, its so specific that people can pretty much figure out who it is. Not sure what to do about that?

Anonymous said...

What makes this blog different then others (although perhaps some of those should also consult a rav in terms of Loshen Horah issues) Most blogs deal with opinions and not peoples real lives. The "chizuk" given here can change a persons attitutde for the good- however being that you are only hearing one side of the argument its hard to be assured the comments are remotely appropriate in each situation and it is very possible that for some the chizuk will only encorage negative feelings. So yes, opening a forum for people to "vent" /discuss an extremely sensitive part of their lives in an extremely public manner with no professional moderation is something that would be concerning. Asking a rav would be a good place to start. After 120 I doubt you wouold want to find out that your blog actually hurt some or even one family, if a rav says its ok then your free and clear- so why not make sure, with the stakes so high????

disfunctional said...

Where does someone go if their problem is not so much overt shalom bayit.

in my situation, we send our kids to gan, husband learns and works, we get help from my in-laws. But i'm left pretty much useless. While I had hoped to spend these years raising the children, being a stay at home mom and all that goes with it... the fact that i needed some help here and there when the baby was a baby already deterred my husband from allowing me to have the kids at home. As time went on, my confidence wanned. Now I just sit at home. Me. A people person. I know this may not seem like a real problem, but try feeling useless -especially unfulfilled in the area you hoped to be fulfilled in-and you'd understand.

Its like for me everyone seems insensitive to help me -even myself!

I feel like i'm gently forced into the only option- work. Forget what I wanted work -not that i'm afraid of work. I was in corporate America for a long time. I just wanted to raise my children.

well, I hope to hear from somebody about this. Thank you.

mother in israel said...

stftc wrote:
Mother In Israel, I think it should be an ongoing support group type site for women in this situation who need to vent, to read about others who are making it somehow, to read and post suggestions about the ongoing challenges that this unique situation brings.

I agree--I'll do my best to keep it that way.

mother in israel said...

Tziporah, in that case, the poster could email me privately (if she feels comfortable) and we could try to rewrite the situation in a way that won't make it obvious. If that's impossible she will have at least unburdened herself to one person.

mother in israel said...

disfunctional wrote:
the fact that i needed some help here and there when the baby was a baby already deterred my husband from allowing me to have the kids at home.

To me this is definitely a shalom bayit issue, as you and your husband are not making joint decsions about how to raise your children. I will post it separately and hope others will respond.

sprouter said...

I hope you all will have me. I'm a single woman, and I'm so impressed with the impetus behind this blog and all of you brave enough to be lurking and posting. I hope to just be a witness here to the process, and remind you all that this work and heartache is so very holy. So many blessings...

Barbara said...

I will be linking to you via my abuse site. I'd be happen to trade articles with you to get wider publication of things that Orthodox women in difficult relationships need.

A blog like this is very needed.

Shalom!

stftc said...

MII, how can we publicize this blog?

stftc said...

While articles and recommendations about places of support are greatly appreciated, I hope the mission of the blog is clear. There are many of us who have sought help, employ strategies recommended to us by professionals and still lead difficult lives due to our chosen situation. The hope was that this blog would be a way for us to communicate with each other to strengthen and support each other as only we who experience this particular challenge can and to provide suggestions based on personal experience. I don't mean to diminish the advice of professionals and recommendations for those who have not yet been to see them or have read up on these interpersonal challenges including emotional abuse, but I think what would be uniquely beneficial is for us all to hear from each other. I would love to see more posts and I am wondering if people are lurking and not commenting or just do not know about this blog.

mother in israel said...

stftc--I answered your comment on the most recent post on July 11.

There are many ways to publicize a blog. For instance, we could individually write to other bloggers and ask them to iink to it. But I myself don't like to link to blogs unless it's clear they are going to stick around. Anyone involved in shidduchim, marriage, or the Jewish community would theoretically be interested in linking here. I could come up with a list of questions, and whoever liked could send me the answers and I would post them one at a time.

I am going to put up a list of links to blogs that have linked here already.

Juggling Frogs said...

Not sure where to put this, so I'm adding it here.

There is a guest post on "Jack's Shack" called, "Pressured into Parenthood" that might be of particular interest as a potential future post.