Monday, February 13, 2006

Mr. & Mrs. Smith?

After hanging around for around a year in the Orthodox Blog scene, acting sometimes as the Devils Advocate on behalf of the Chassidim and at times joining the masses in criticizing them. From time to time I wonder, should I take up having Blog of my own? As I received most of my education in S H one of the things that always kept me back, was my English grammar or rather lack of it. (Therefore you all have my apologies in advance)

However after a friend approached me for advice on a subject which has been bothering him, I decided to take the plunge.

A close relative of his is married to a guy who to outsiders comes across as a nice guy, however to his wife is total control freak and demands every thing to go in his way. Initially his reaction was that plenty of husbands behave in that manner perhaps in order to satisfy their manly ego. However after witnessing some extreme behaviour played out before him, it dawned on him that the problem is quite serious.

The lady in question has become a shadow of her former self and seems to have lost her self confidence, as when it comes to social & family gatherings she hardly manages to get a word in, before he interrupts her and all decisions in their domestic life are made entirely by him.

His question was should he approach her and advice her that she should not put up with this behaviour and demand that he [her husband] start treating her in a decent manner or perhaps seek guidance from a marriage counsellor?

My advice was as difficult as it is to see a close relative being abused verbally, steer away and don’t interfere as perhaps beneath the sluggish bullets they have a deep love for each other. Mixing in and giving advice might have the reverse affect as she will most probably claim nothing is wrong and go back to her husband & will generate a rift in the family.

Being no expert in marital problems I would like to ask you readers your opinion on the matter.


  • difficult one - if he don't want to go for help and don't realise he got a a problem u might be making matters worse for the poor woman - don't forget she'll get the brunt of it - u need to find someone whom he respects - and she should go to someone who can help her stand up to him but by getting the results she wants.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:42 PM  

  • you know how the lads and lasses b4 they get married have their classes - it should be compulsory to have the after sort of like a marriage guidance/hashkafa or whatever u want to call it so that they can discuss issues that b4 the wedding were not reality and once they are married and practicing the facts they should be able to discuss these things

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:48 PM  

  • The wife should go seek help without her hubbys knowledge (if he will freak out that she is going to talk to someone) and a good counsellor will be able to guide her how to stand up for herself without making the situation worse - very often (not always) these bullies just need a little standing up to.
    I remember talking to a counsellor friend and asking her all sorts of questions about her job and one exampe she gave me about a husband who verbally bullied his wife the wife went to get help and the counsellor gave her the tools to help herself - one time this woman left the toys in the garden and it rained the husband started freaking out at his wife "why didnt u bring in the toys now they are ruined" and with the skills she had learned she turned round to him and replies " you know you could have also brought in the toys" - to which the husband was a little taken aback that his meek wife had actually challenged him - now im not saying that this is the answer in this case but the lady should get some help -

    I dont live in s. hill but one time i was there i went to one of these kids clothing shops thingies and a woman walked in with a black eye - i was embarrased for her - now i am sure there could be loads of explanations how she got that black eye - but from her demeanor it looked a bit suspect.
    first step is these women need to go for the help.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:17 AM  

  • Thanks all of anon's, the root of the problem is who should approach her? since if a member of the family does it might backfire. Any ideas?

    By Blogger joewish, at 8:31 AM  

  • a member of the family is a good idea if there is a family member who can approach her and she can feel it will be kept "confidential" being that everyone knows anyway is a bit pointless but she prob needs someone she can feel safe talking to or a very close friend if her husband still allows her any.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:08 AM  

  • She should definately be approached by a family member. As a stamford hill girl myself I would never want a stranger to approach me and I would deny it to their faces and refuse their advice. The best bet would be for someone who is family, who could be trusted to keep the secret and could advise and cover up for her when she does go for help.
    Unfortunately there is a lot of cases where woman (or men, less commonly), should not put up with their spouse but due to lack of knowledge that the behaviour is outrageous or lack of support, guidance or simple embarrassment these people choose to suffer it, cover up or just deny it.
    Please send her a lifeline....

    By Blogger exsemgirl, at 9:17 AM  

  • i got a question why would any woman not stand up for herself and allow it to get out of control unless of course she saw her mom go through the same thing and is repeating the pattern

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:56 AM  

  • I find it incredible (as a man who lives in SH) to notice how Charedi women are so docile.

    I look at the women's rights movements in this country and elsewhere. The great success women have had (women lawyers, doctors, professors and even a Prime Minister) and I look at the sort of girls churned out of Beis Yakov (my wife is from there).

    So docile, so uncritical (unless you are a shaigetz), so simple. It seems that every vestige of intelligence and life is sucked out of them.

    The only demands she makes to her husband is parnossa, new furniture, new suits and give me twenty babies. I am sure that not one of them ever had the desire to study a blatt of Gemorah (don't ask me I'm a girl).

    No wonder we bochurim who were trained in critical thinking can run rings around our wives and utterly dominate them.

    As a bochur who studied in Yeshiva for eleven years of my life I would be interested if there are any Beis Yakov girls out there who were ever troubled by the meaning of life. Ever wished to learn Gemorah or Rishonim. Ever troubled that the pat explanations given to them by their Reibbeim was a load of tosh.

    By Blogger keZohar Harakia, at 6:30 PM  

  • Thanks, to all of you anonymous guys & ex sem girl for your sound words of advice.

    Kezohar, do S H girls have a monopoly of being abused? In addition who said the lady in question grew up in S H.?

    May I ask what’s your issue with Gemara, why should girls study Gemara?

    By Blogger joewish, at 3:08 AM  

  • "In addition who said the lady in question grew up in S H"

    I'd assume that she is a chassidishe, in which case, the SH "thick woman" argument probably works for her too.

    Anyway, he said Chareidi.

    The problem of abused women is not unique to the Chareidi world. What is unique is the way we educate our women to be stupid (as Kezohar says) and that we try oh so hard to keep any problems we might chas vesholom have, firmly under the carpet in case it ruins our good name. So often by the time attempts are made to retrieve the problem from under the rug, it is so mouldy and smelly that its far too late to fix it.

    And that’s the danger in this sorry tale. Unless she drags herself out of it now, she will become used to living her life this way, in fact she may already have resigned herself to it by now.

    A problem such as this can only be resolved by a very close friend or sibling pointing out to the abused that she doesn’t have to put up with being put down.

    She needs to be told that she can still love her husband, but that she has a right to be treated in a “bekovodik” manner. Only the woman can take the steps needed to push her husband in the direction of help to teach him how to respect his wife.

    By Blogger Frummer?????, at 3:20 AM  

  • what is with the gemorah business - i am a woman and have no interest in knowing about the cows that grazing someone elses fields and who is liable for the grass that was eaten. lets face it there are things that are male orientated and female orientated and if a woman has this burning desire to learn gemorah then let her but i highly doubt that is the reason for "stupidity" and ignorance among women.
    Women in all societies are abused the question is this specific woman does she realise that she is in a situation and more importantly does she want to get out of it? like frummer????? said she may very well be resigned to her situation and the best thing she can do is go get help that she can work within the framework of her marriage (if that is possible perhaps her situation is too far gone - but if she wont try then she wont know) she should get in touch with Ezer they have some great counsellors who can give her tips on how to deal with her situation.
    My advice is to check her husbands life insurance policy and spike his food :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:15 AM  

  • If she/your friend can be sure the guy isn't the violent type than perhaps she should discuss this with him, as long as one is sure he's not going to take it out on her.
    Going to a councelor is strongly advisable, for sure if they don't have any kids yet.

    By Blogger Pragmatician, at 5:56 AM  

  • Anon said:

    'what is with the gemorah business - i am a woman and have no interest in knowing about the cows that grazing someone elses fields... lets face it there are things that are male orientated and female orientated'

    Sounds to me like a prize product of our education system is talking.

    Why would you want to study Gemorah? Perhapes because it is the single most important book to have been written by Jews and encompasses our attempt to understand the world and what it's all about.

    But as you said being a woman you are not interested.

    By Blogger keZohar Harakia, at 3:13 PM  

  • She is being abused, and generally abuse escalates from emotional to physical abuse. In fact, maybe it already has--she may be physically abused already. I don't know about the UK community, but in the US and Israel there are specifically Jewish groups to help with domestic violence, which is what this is.

    For instance, there is the:
    Shalom Task Force
    The National Jewish Domestic Violence Hotline:
    (888) 883-2323
    (This is a US number). Call and ask for a UK contact for a Chasidic woman, and give it to this woman.

    Also, just by telling the woman that it is NOT her fault and she is NOT to blame you are doing a tremendous mitzvah, and you may be saving her life.

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    By Anonymous Rick J, at 10:38 AM  

  • Family member a must, and to her directly. Indirect can cause further trust issues for her if she finds out. Also lets remember, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. Trust what she says as well, it may be they havnt learnt how to manage there relationship in public and they have a more equal say in the home.

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    By Blogger ctnfm, at 10:37 AM  

  • listen, my faTHER IS abusive and whhen we were out of town, my mom and the kidz ran away to shelter at many professional's advice. Now 3 yrs later, we are still waiting for my dad to GO 2 THERAPY! or get his ass of his chair!!! so this laady should call up a gooooooood rav and if its legit- run away to a shelter cuz its a miracle if abusive guys change- and even if they love each other- thats no way to love!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:21 PM  

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