Why chassidish divorces in the Jewish Community turn so ugly, so fast


For those of you in the ultra chassidish circles, you may understand this very quickly. Those of you who don’t understand, I hope to offer come clarity.

Girls usually are the second or third year on the job when they get engaged.  They marry a boy who was flown home from Yeshiva specifically to get engaged. He then flies back to finish his zman. The chasunah is scheduled so that he doesn’t break a zman, usually Yomim Tovim time (Shavuos, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, After Sukkos, etc.).

Then the fun begins. They have learn each others names… and the next thing you know, she is throwing up in the morning as she rushes to go to her measly teaching job for $300 a week… he arrives to kollel at 11. He compares the lunch that his new wife packed for him, with his ‘learning’ partners. He realizes that although she made fresh brownies for him, his friend has cantaloupe. It’s now her fault that his suit is now plotzing. At night, she moves the buttons over half an inch. He breathes easier. He is turned on by watching his ‘wife’ do mommy things, stuff his mother did when he was growing up.

She continues to throw up. He now learns that when she sends him an urgent text, it means that she needs to go to the doctor.  He comes running.  She gives birth. She is pressured to get clean quickly, she was taught that withholding him for any extra hour is wrong and not her wifely duty. She takes vitamins… anything, to get clean. Finally, nearly not making it, she goes to the mikvah at 5.5 weeks. She is throwing up again.

He gets turned on by watching her nurse the baby, because that’s what his mommy used to do. He gets mad that she is losing her milk and not able to nurse the baby efficiently. He is mad that she is supplementing with formula. Go to the lactation consultant, here’s $300. Go take vitamins, drink beer. Do something!

She feels miserable. Then she finds out that she never really got her period since the baby was born… and suddenly she throws up. Bam. Positive.

They consider getting the husband a job at B&H, because over there, they hire guys with accents who cannot read or write past pre-1-a level.  He says yes. She does all the phone calls for him. She gets him a job because her uncle works in the camera department…

He starts working there. Learns stuff about life. He begins to resent that she is working. He now feels manly. His self esteem has grown. He learns about which movie is good to watch. She is plotzing.  He starts renting 24, CSI… all the shooting gory stuff. She is appalled.

She stays silent. Finally, when he stays overnight in Monticello with his friend Yitzchok on ‘business’ on some bungalow colony they might invest in for next summer… she calls the Rav who gave him his chosson lessons before the chassunah. She tells the Rav that until this marriage is stabilized, she needs a heter for birth control. The Rav has a screaming fit, and yells at her for even thinking so dirty.

It takes ten more years and 3 or 6 children later until the relationship turns into a ‘if I don’t do his laundry and he doesn’t eat my food so that he doesn’t have to comment, I think I can survive another hour’. There is no longer any communication, no intimacy… and nobody knows! But the children get older, and they are now pre-teen. This one is failing yeshiva. That one is beating her classmates…. It’s misery.  She does all the phone calls with the Rebbeim, teachers. He is now working 18 hours a day.

Finally, he gets a call from the Menahal at the Yeshiva – did you know your son is now doing much better with the tutor that your wife hired last year? HUH? WHAT? He gets mad that a “man’ was hired to do totty work, and he had no idea. They start fighting… it never ends. Every rav gets involved. Nobody can make peace anymore because of all this underlying tension. It’s a mess. This is not the straw that broke the camel’s back. There never was a camel. There is no foundation in a marriage like this. So when you add any tiny pressure, there is zero communication, no skills. It’s a dead end.  There is nothing to build from.

The Chassidish boys are immature, not educated with any secular subjects, and have no self worth outside of Kollel. The girls are over skilled, overeducated. They become “mommy’ too quickly… and nobody knows anything about relationships, chemistry, intimacy, fostering communication. They turn to movies and get the wrong idea about romance.

For all of you out there sadly nodding your heads, my heart goes out to you. My suggestion to you – build your man. Make him a human being who has discovered a healthy outlet for the things he likes in life. If he loves nature, keep sending him for those hikes. Alone, if that’s how he likes it. I know a friend whose husband is obsessed with spreading nissim related to his donations to Kupat Hair… in his spare time, he loves going around collecting their pushkas. She lets him. Gosh, if it makes the guy happy, and if helps him feel like a man? Please, by all means. Let them become a happy person. And they will shine, and rise above it all. And exceed beyond your wildest imagination. I highly, and I mean highly, recommend the book, “The Five Love Languages”. Better yet, I have the 30 minute DVD and whoever watched it says, it saved their marriage.

You ask, why couldn’t I save my marriage? Unfortunately, mental illness cannot be incorporated into a marriage without treatment. Sad.

So now, with divorce – this is the saga. The men, who were told their entire lives – get married, have babies, do us proud… that is all they know, and that is all the aspire to. If their wife is not happy, they think that she is leaving him because SHE is not happy. They have no idea what role they played in the decline of this relationship. So it’s all her fault. Now, they must save face in their shul.

So they do one of two things. They spread stories that either she had a mental breakdown, or PPD, or BPD, or Depression… or, they tell people that she was sleeping around.

Then, they rally up the entire community to work with them. And then, when the courts hear that she is nebach so meshuga (they hear from neighbors, school teachers, her own friends…) the courts swiftly grant the husband’s custody. Hurray.  Mission accomplished

I cannot tell you how many women have reached out to me, women who went through this cycle. The only thing we can do is NOT FIGHT BACK. You cannot fight this system, because the men will then find how to make you even more miserable. They will use the kids as the ultimate pawns in this war. Walk away, and they will find no reason to use the kids against you. Horrible, but true. If you want your kids to live in peace, somewhat, walk away!  For those of you who haven’t been through this, may you never half to make that decision.

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9 Responses to Why chassidish divorces in the Jewish Community turn so ugly, so fast

  1. Mindy says:

    Unfortunately this was YOUR story, not all marriages look like this at all,so please don’t generalize so broadly. My heart goes out to you.

  2. Miriam says:

    I’m sorry for your pain.
    I’m not from a chassidish home, but I’m married to a chossid. He is nothing like you described,thank Gd. He has a college education, is sensitive, emotionally healthy, hard-working, spiritual. We have one child. Our rabbanim have no problem with birth control.
    Oh and he doesn’t find it attractive to have a perpetually ill wife.
    You paint with a broad brush.
    May Hashem send you healing, peace, and happiness in your life.

  3. rivky says:

    as i see it … this is your story – however, all those people whose lives & marriages worked out – by no hand of their own but simply coincidence – can never comprehend that for those same many peoples whose marriages don’t work out – this is what happens

    maybe the names, sects, places or scenarios are slightly different, but the torment & pain, they put women through all while hiding behind the garb of ‘holier than thou’ is what counts as the bottom line

    thank you for taking the time to care – someone has to take a stand – something has to change !!!

  4. Liba says:

    I am so sorry you feel that way. I B”H as a chassidish wife
    have a very different story as do my friends B”H. Men taught
    chassidus who understand how to treat others can be wonderful
    husbands and fathers.

  5. agunah says:

    No one is forcing you to stay in the chassidic community.
    You can be a frum chassidic Jew in another neighborhood. You can be
    just a stam frum Jew. If you don’t like the community, so change
    communities. I think you make a lot of generalizations on one
    community as a whole that are irresponsible. There are no shortage
    of fine, upstanding erliche frum chassidic men that don’t do what
    you write above. I’m not denying there are men like you write
    above, but certainly they are the exception, not the
    majority.

  6. Cindy says:

    So there never was a camel in the first place….

  7. e says:

    there is a story about a chossid who wanted to meet his Rebbe. He had a question on Gemarra Erchin (estimations). When he finally found what hotel he was staying in, he got in the Rebbe’s room, and hid under the bed. When the Rebbe came in, he sensed that the chossid was under the bed, and said : the chossid who has a question on erchin, estimations, should first make estimations on himself (his own personal character traits). My heart goes out to you, and to anyone who has been involved with unfair, unhealthy issues. However we need to fix what we can, and that is ourselves. We cannot fix anything else.

  8. friedmama says:

    You are so right. This does happen. People get married with no clue what being married is and barely any interpersonal skills. It is a broken system. Commenters stop denying. If you don’t believe just ask askanim involved in “shalom bayis”.

    • You are a very good writer!There never was a camel” perfectly describes my marriage too. My ex did not want children, did everything to deprive me of that birthright. Then when he was abusive to them too, I divorced him. He fought with two divorce law firms against me and his children for six years. At the end the lawyers made millions–taken from my half of the assets. Judges and other experts corrupt or stupid. During divorce ex almost killed or maimed our children during visitation. No one cared. Children are not important to the practice of “law” in NYS. Once he got 80-90% of the joint marital assets, he was satisfied. He even stopped endangering the children. Crazy harmful man. Too late to find a better father for my children. Thanks for your post. You write so well. I hope your children recover & come to remember their love for you & reenter your life.

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