A letter to the wife of the GYE husband
Before I begin, I reiterate that this letter is written by a Yid - little mr. yechida here. Your husband did not know I would write this and certainly didn't ask me to. It's important that you keep this in mind as you read this letter.
An important disclaimer: every life and every marriage is unique. Some may go through extraordinary situations beyond the scope of the norm. If chas v'sholom one of you is suffering from a serious illness such as cancer or the like, or the illness and death of a child, then parts of this letter will not apply to you. Hashem has placed before you an extraordinary situation that requires a separate unique discussion, requiring special sensitivity.
Know that a letter such as this requires several assumptions: That you and your husband are generally physically healthy. That both of you have experienced, are experiencing, or will experience some of the various challenges that face our generation. This may include struggles with parnassah, raising children, stress of daily living, or working together on common problems. Paying bills, PTA problems, interaction with parents, in-laws, nosy relatives, neighbors and shul members are also included. Stress can manifest itself via good things too; the simcha of a newborn, of bar mitzvahs’ or marriage. It includes the heartbreaking stress of an elderly parent who is ill and will soon leave this world. Almost every Yid and every couple will go through this. Please keep in mind that it is within this context that I am writing.
Know that this world is an upside-down world. Our perceptions are way off; good seems bad while bad seems good, high looks low and low seems high. Because of this, it is imperative when assessing situations, that you do not pay undue attention to what others say or think. Personally, examine the case at hand, and then do what Hashem wants you to do.
Once, in my first year of marriage, someone close to me pointed out something negative about my wife. They were correct; she did possess this negative trait. I did what Hashem wanted me to do. I threw the negative comment in the garbage! Hashem gave me this neshomoh, my true zivug, from 40 days before I was born. So either He wants me to ignore the negative or He wants me to look at the good in her and build on it. And even if you argue that Hashem wants me to see this true negative trait in her, it is only so that I can help heal her not hurt her. It’s no different than a doctor looking at an ugly, gaping wound. He is examining it in order to find a way to heal it. He doesn't spit at the wound in disgust or contempt.
Remember this: something true, looked at the wrong way – is false.
Now you may ask why I am talking to you. I wouldn't be able to say why because I would start crying before the words came out. So I write instead. Because you are dear to me like a brother who treasures his one and only sister. Yes, you; who I do not know. You; who I will never see, nor want to see on this physical Earth (after 120 or when Moshiach comes - that's a different story). You; who, if came my way, I would cross the street to the other side. You are precious to me because you are a daughter of Hashem, and because you love my dear friend - your husband, whom I haven't seen either.
How do I love so intensely people I don't know and will never see? Spend time on this website. You will learn and you will understand.
So, your husband is here; either because he has within him an unhealthy addiction, or if not an actual addiction, he has within him an intense struggle. He has a strong pull toward unhealthy thoughts and emotions that he must battle with on a day-to- day or sometimes an hour-to- hour basis. You discover this, either because he finally told you or you stumbled across it by Hashgacha Pratis, and he was forced to open up and tell you. It's natural to feel very painful, complex emotions - anger, hurt, fear, confusion. If your husband is here at GYE, he already understands that you have every right to feel this way. But what I need to tell you is that you need to look into yourself and try to understand that there are parts to these emotions that are in the wrong place. My dear sister, feeling hurt and upset is OK. But you really need to know - I mean really, really know - why you feel this way.
How do I know your husband? Let me tell you in this parable, this mashal. Your husband and I are climbing up this very steep, tall mountain. Suddenly a heavy-weight, full muscled 300 pound mobster appears and shoves both of us violently down the mountain. We are both rolling down at great speed. Then I smash into a big boulder. I suffer head trauma as well as several broken ribs. But at least it stops my fall. Your husband, only several inches to my right, misses the boulder, and continues rolling further down the hill. He finally stops, much further down. Suffering even more, he somehow finds the inner strength within him to get up and start climbing again.
Now, my sister, this is what I meant about the world being an upside-down place. On the outside, it would appear that I am greater than your husband; after all, I'm higher up on the mountain. But isn't that absurd?
Do you not see how ridiculous that thought is? That large rock which stopped my fall did not come because of anything good I did; did not come because of any special z'chus. Hashem, for reasons not known to me, wanted me to be pushed down and to slam into this rock. And your husband, also for reasons not known, was just on the path that missed that rock by inches. I'm not making excuses for wrong choices, but it is clear as day that your husband is greater than I and has more inner strength. I look down the hill at him, fighting and fighting to climb up. And I am humbled. I see greatness in him that you may not yet see – but you will.
And the real "holy" men - the ones that you think are great, whom in your anger and hurt say "that’s whom I should have married"- those "holy" men never experienced that violent shove, never felt the pain of being in a dark place, never had been shattered by a severe fall. Hashem put them in safe protected places. Take them out of these safe places - and they fold like a cheap camera.
If your husband is here at GYE, then he is in a place that is like a brutally honest mirror. He already looked into himself with brutal honesty, however painful that was. He sees in himself things that he doesn't like, doesn't like at all. He sees what he needs to fix, what he must fix, to become closer to Hashem again, and yes, my beloved sister, to become closer to you again, in a way that it is deeper and closer than it ever was before this had begun.
Men are men. He may have difficulty telling you this in words, but I know his heart. He loves you very deeply. He knows that Hashem gave you to him from 40 days before he was born, and he knows that he hurt you very much. And if he is here he feels that hurt as intensely as you do, because that's what this great GYE mirror does. To be here, even nameless, requires great courage, honesty, humility and the determination to fix hurts. To fix what is wrong.
My dear sister, in this part, I have to repeat that it's just a simple Yid, mr. little yechida, saying the following, not your husband. So if what I'm about to say upsets you, then, be angry at mr yechida here, not your husband, because he's not saying these words. All I can say is that you are dear and precious to me, and I ask you to listen with an open mind.
The hurt you feel should be when the act of faithlessness occurs. Even if he fought with all his might, and was pushed down hard, you have every right to feel that hurt; that stab of pain when this fall occurs.
But you have no right, no right whatsoever, to blame your husband for the struggle itself; for this lustful urge, this very pull to look at oher women, and for this need for intimacy. Be upset if he falls, but to be angry at the fact that he is in this struggle in the first place is wrong – very wrong.
For example, you and your husband have a sheva berochos to attend; men and women separate, but no mechitzah. Or, perhaps, you are both going to an important appointment. In these places: the simcha hall, the train, or the waiting room, there are other women, some dressed in immodest fashion. Or, perhaps, you’re both taking a walk together, and a group of girls appear across the street, each one better looking than the other.
You are sharp and observant, and as the saying goes, you were not born yesterday. You know your husband well. You see him struggle with himself, looking at the floor, saying tehilim quietly, staring into a sefer or Yated or Hamodia or whatever. You feel this bitter anger coming up inside you. Not because he is failing his test, but because he has this struggle within him. Shouldn't I be everything to him? Why should his mind and heart go in that direction?
This, my beloved sister, is misplaced anger. If he stares at this beautiful woman across the street, then yes, he has hurt you. But what if he doesn't look; looks down, or in a sefer, or forces himself to think of a dvar Torah, or daven to Hashem to help him? What if he forces himself to go to meetings, which is the last place he wants to be? Then you are wrong, even cruel for being angry at him. Complain to the Creator that created him!!! You should be proud; he is fighting, he is a warrior. He's trying so hard for Hashem. He's trying so hard for you, his true zivug, his dear wife. You should love him for this, not be ashamed of him for it.
If your husband is here, at GYE, he already feels great shame when he falls. As I said before: GYE is full of Ahavas Yisroel but it is also a brutally honest mirror. He is staring at his faults and it hurts terribly. It hurts so much, but he is not looking away. He is trying his hardest, figuring out how to fix what is wrong.
So, my sister, I'm saying this with ahavah because… it hurts so much to say this…(it's good I'm writing, not speaking, because the tears are coming). I don't want to say this but I have to, out of love. Your husband's struggles do not give you the excuse not to look into the mirror yourself; a GYE-type mirror. You may not have these unhealthy sexual-type urges, but like every human being on this earth, there are things that are wrong with you that you need to fix. You must be brave and must stare yourself down, you must force yourself to see the ugly in you, and also look at the good and build on that too. There are many things you need to learn about yourself. It may hurt a lot. But it's the only way you will heal, and become a better person, better mother, and better wife.
My beloved sister, if your good, decent, precious husband opens his heart and expresses interest in sharing intimacy with you; think twice before pushing him away in rejection. If he is here at GYE, then you see clearly it's not just a physical need. He wants to connect with you emotionally on a deep level. He wants to tell you things that he may be afraid to tell you and this is the only way he could.
Your dear husband is crying his heart out, desperately needs to hold you, his true soul mate, and cry on your shoulder.
Open your heart and your arms and allow him to do so.
Because this, my beloved sister, is what Hashem wants you, needs you to do.