Family First Inbox: Issue 837| March 28, 2023
“While so much of the ‘adulting’ process revolves around marriage, it’s questionable whether this actually prepares one for marriage”
Happily Unmarried [Words Unspoken / Issue 835]
I read the Words Unspoken and marveled at it. Dear friend, you’ve got it all wrong!
You write, “B’ezras Hashem, one day soon, you will hold your ticket to happiness.” Does marriage equal happiness?
Happiness isn’t something handed to you in a ticket called marriage, or any ticket for that matter. Happiness isn’t something to queue up or wait for; it’s something developed within yourself and is irrelevant to marital status.
My life isn’t a miserable life of standing in line to wait for a ticket to happiness, nor is it one of watching carriages of time advance. I have neither strength nor courage; I simply am enjoying the life Hashem has given me.
Yes, my life comes with its challenges, and I daven that the day Hashem sends me my bashert will come soon. However, I don’t appear happy, I am happy!
Please, can we quit this respect and awe and judgment and just be friends?
Your Single Friend
Injections of Laughter [Musings / Issue 835]
A big thank-you to Hudis Fried for her article, “On Becoming Them.” Finding myself going through a similar situation, I wanted to stress one point that she casually mentioned. This “tekufah” is definitely not easy. The many appointments (very often and very early in the morning), the waiting, and the unknown can be very unsettling. But in the midst of all that is going on, what keeps us strong is the ability to see the humor and to sometimes just laugh!
I remember when we got the delivery from the pharmacy for our first round of treatment. We opened the large box and were greeted by many, many more boxes, this type of needle, that type of needle, this type of injection, that type of injection.
As we emptied the contents onto the counter, we looked at our house-now-pharmacy and couldn’t help but burst out laughing!
It’s so easy to panic from all the craziness, but instead we just recognize how hilarious the craziness is. Of course, there are many (many) times that I cry, too, but between the tears (and sometimes during!), there is always room for laughter.
Rethinking Girls’ Chinuch [Growing Up / Issue 834]
I read with interest the fascinating article about how frum young women form their adult identities. I would assume that young women who do, in fact, marry quickly presumably go through some modified version of this same process, both before and during marriage.
What’s most interesting to me is that, while so much of the “adulting” process revolves around marriage, it’s questionable whether this actually prepares one for marriage.
The study stated that young women discover themselves through the process of dating. This would imply that there is little inward focus on self-discovery: Who am I? What are my values, my passions, my kochos, my unique mission in life aside from being a generic wife and mother? The optimal healthy interrelationship requires that one know oneself and create healthy boundaries before being able to join in an integrated relationship with another person.
The study also noted that a great deal of self-identity comes from giving. While this trait is admirable and should be encouraged, focusing exclusively on giving negates the trait of being a receiver, which is a crucial factor in any intimate relationship, especially for a wife. It’s primarily by tapping into the uniquely feminine trait of being a mekabel that a woman can be vulnerable, bring out the trait of the mashpia (provider) in her husband, and bring emotional intimacy into her marriage.
Interestingly, while stressing that the young women are uncomfortable giving to themselves, the study included spending lavishly on stylish clothing, restaurants, and vacations as actions that maintain the appearance of “giving”; while acts of self-nurturing and taking care of one’s own physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being seem to be thought of as “selfish.” This extreme emphasis on outward shows of giving, too, unfortunately carries negatively to marriage, as women revel in self-martyrdom and excel in taking care of everyone but themselves, leading to exhausted, depleted wives and mothers who cannot show up as their best selves in their relationships with their husbands and children.
Ultimately, it would appear that these realities of the “adulting” process of young frum women aren’t intentional, but have come about unintentionally due to the complex realities of frum culture. Perhaps it’s time to step back and proactively reexamine the upbringing, education, and expectations of our young women, and provide them with a better structure for healthy relationships with self and others — regardless of how many years of singlehood they experience.
The Secret Spark
Deeper Dive [I’m Stuck / Issue 834]
The two experts who gave their advice to the wife concerned about her husband’s new spiritual style were rightly focused on how the wife’s expectations needed to change.
However, I think there is a possibility that the wife is seeing something deeper. Could the husband be exhibiting an unhealthy part of himself he has allowed to emerge? Who are these new “friends,” and what is their focus?
It would be wise for the wife to offer to go to the new shul with her husband in order to develop her own impressions. She should also find out if his kollel has seen any changes in her husband’s behavior. Have there been any changes to their finances? Have friends or family noticed anything unusual?
Major changes could be warning signs of much deeper issues.
Although wives have to adapt to the changes in their husbands, they have to be certain that those changes are healthy. If any of the answers to the questions above are troublesome, it’s most important to get personal, professional advice.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 837)
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