Why I Didn’t Divorce my Husband in the End by Anonymous (Passover Semifinalist #2)
Welcome to our “My Personal Exodus from Egypt” Contest! Each day of Passover I will be posting a new semifinalist, and after Pesach one grand prize $100 winner will be chosen at random…
Like many girls from religious families, I married young. As is common in our circles, my husband and I dated for less than three months, and the wedding was three months later.
I did not know him very well, but I thought he was intelligent and normal and interesting. During that time, we were crazily busy finding somewhere to live, going to chassan and kalla classes, organizing the wedding, and, on top of that, I was still in my final year of business school.
A few weeks before the wedding, my husband was diagnosed with a severe auto-immune disease which left him physically exhausted and depleted. He had been feeling very tired and lethargic over the last several months, and the diagnosis made sense. We consulted a lot of rabbis and decided to go ahead with the wedding.
Right after we got married I realized that my happily-ever-after dream was not to be. He was severely exhausted, mentally and physically. He would sleep all day and when he was awake he was not present emotionally or mentally. Traditional medicines didn’t work and we went from one alternative healer to another. Scans, blood tests, vitamins, Western medicine.
I was devastated. After being an independent and secure single girl, I was looking forward to being nurtured and loved and cherished. I wanted to be doted on. I dreamed of long philosophical conversations over breakfast and being a normal newlywed couple. But my fantasy remained just that…
After a few months of marriage, we took a vacation to a secluded seaside resort. I was so excited. I planned on us spending all day on the beach, hiking, boating, and taking sunset walks together planning our future.
Instead, we managed to go out once a day for an hour and the rest of the time my husband slept or lay incapacitated in bed. I was lonely and isolated. It was not meant to be like this. I lashed out at him, and blamed him for my unhappiness.
As the months went on, I became more and more angry and sad and confused and furious. One by one, our friends were getting married, and as we attended each magical wedding I became more resentful and despondent. I was furious with G-d. What had I done to deserve this? Why didn’t I deserve a normal happy marriage? Would I be miserable forever? I felt like I was being punished for something. But didn’t know what.
I cried out to G-d, begged him to save me, and at the same time was filled with anger toward Him. I would lie in bed and imagine my life with my real husband, not this defective one I had been given by some cruel mistake.
If only I had the right husband, my life would be perfect I thought. After all, there was nothing wrong with me – I was perfect as I was.
Furious with him for making me so miserable, I lashed out at my husband. I blamed him for not being able to fulfill my emotional needs. I verbally attacked him constantly and challenged him. I blamed him for being sick. And thus began the cycle. I would get angry and lash out. He would withdraw. I would feel overwhelmed with guilt for being so uncompassionate. And on and on.
He could not hold down a job, I was the breadwinner and the emotional and physical bedrock of our home.
Where was my chance to finally be loved and cared for? I could not see any good in him – he was stupid, useless, lazy, pathetic and inferior to me. All my problems were because of him.
This carried on for two years, until I realized that something had to change. I had contemplated divorce countless times, but there was a part of me that realized that making such a choice from such an angry and negative space would not serve me well in the short or long term.
Over the next few years, through the amazing kindness of Hashem, we were sent the perfect messengers to help us.
Through incredible therapists, coaches, compassionate rabbis , and programs, I found the courage to look deep into the root of my anger. I also realized that the person my fury damages most is me.
I learned to resolve deep childhood issues of abandonment and neglect, and take responsibility for my own emotional well-being and not to rely on anyone else to fill in my own holes.
The road that led me to where I am today was painful and agonizing.
Soul work is not pretty or comfortable, but I didn’t have a choice. Slowly, I became less angry. I was able to see my husband for the person he was – valuable, wise, kind, and human.
And as I became less critical and aggressive, he blossomed. He saw me at my very worst, and supported me despite everything. He too took responsibility for his own stuff and is learning how to be a giver and how to be a nurturer.
And in the end, he recovered from his illness. He may never be able to run a marathon, but on the whole he is a normal, functioning person.
But looking back, I would never have believed I would say this: Marrying my husband was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I do not recognize the person I was before – immature, entitled, emotionally stunted and small-minded. I am more compassionate, more in touch with myself, and more authentic.
I have an authentic connection to Hashem, and thank him for my abundance of blessings. I do not know why this had to be my journey but I believe we are here in this world to do soul work, tikkun hamiddot. We can do it in this marriage, the next marriage, or the next life– but it must be done eventually.
I often meet people who are trapped in anger and resentment – with their parents, with their children, siblings or spouses. My heart breaks for them – because I know first-hand what a painful and dark prison hatred and anger is.
Every day I am thankful to Hashem for sending us the right angels to free myself from that pain and embrace the beauty in my own soul and the soul of my husband.
There are still hard moments and days. There are still times when I wish he could get up for the kids in the night, or jump out of bed at 6am and bring me coffee. My husband is an exceptional father, devoted to Torah learning and a loving and caring husband.
He is definitely not perfect, but then again – neither am I.