Posts tagged " divorce "

Dating during divorce process

February 7th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 26 comments

I am a 29 year old woman and I am currently going through a divorce. I did not initiate the divorce and I did my best to be a faithful and good wife to my husband despite his unfaithfulness, lack of financial provision and other issues. 

The one thing I want most out of life is to be a wife and mother. My question is: is it ok to date while the divorce is still pending? I was living in the US with my husband but since the divorce I have moved back to my home country (the United Kingdom). 

I am a Christian but would be interested to hear your point of view on this.

Hannah

Dear Hannah,

It sounds like you have been through a number of very difficult and disappointing years. We pray that the future holds much happiness and fulfillment for you as a wife and mother.  If you handle things correctly from here on and God blesses you, there is every chance of the good life awaiting you up ahead.

For people of faith, marriage is entered into by engaging in two separate processes.  One is obtaining a civil marriage, according to the laws of one’s country. The other is spiritual; more of a covenant that includes God in the new relationship.  We usually think of it as the religious ceremony  in contrast to the civil contract.

Now how about the termination of a marriage?  Not surprisingly, two processes are helpful here as well.  One needs a legal divorce that conforms to the civil laws of the land in which you live.  But there also needs to be a severing of the spiritual bond  A marriage contract is between only two parties but a marriage covenant is between husband, wife, and God. We see this when Ezra tells the Jews simply  to separate themselves from the foreign wives they had taken.  (Ezra 10:10-11)  No spiritual ceremony of divorce was needed because no spiritual bond was formed in the first place between the Hebrew men and the pagan women.

When both husband and wife have a relationship with God, the marriage sadly still might need to end.  And when this happens, God weeps.  (Malachi chapter 2) And when this happens, the marriage should best be ended by both a civil, legal divorce which is what you are now going through, as well as a spiritual conclusion to the marriage.

If your former husband will be willing to cooperate (which is not always the case in an acrimonious divorce), the best thing (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)  would be for him to write a short note in front of two members of his faith community saying, “I, ______ do hereby divorce my wife ____________ as of this date at this location___________ in the presence of two witnesses whose names appear below,” and for him to convey that note to you.  Once you receive it, you will write upon it that you hereby retain no further connection to this man in the eyes of God and are entirely free to marry anew.  You sign and date it also and put the document away with your other important papers.

If involving your husband is not possible, we would recommend that you sign a slightly reworded document in the presence of two people who share your faith. Doing this acknowledges that the marriage was not only a state matter, but also a religious one. We would encourage you not to date  until the divorce is final in both these ways.

The spiritual side might require more creativity on your part. Perhaps the assistance of wise friends or a pastor can be enlisted.  We are certain that once both these processes are complete, you will truly feel that you have broken the emotional bonds of your marriage.You will then feel able to wholeheartedly give of yourself to another man.

We hope you have had some counseling to examine what led you to choose your (soon-to-be-ex) spouse and what patterns of your own behavior you should be aware of before remarrying. We sympathize with your strong desire to be a mother and recognize the realities of biology, but we urge you to enter into a new relationship with skills and awareness so that it may be one that flourishes and nurtures a life-long commitment.

Looking forward to hearing good news soon,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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The Lasting Love Set

A combination of practical advice for dating, selecting a spouse and for understanding the deeper messages in Genesis where God reveals His wisdom on men and women.

 

Should we keep trying?

October 3rd, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

My wife and I have had a pretty rough few years of marriage.  Issues like conflict between her and my family, and the two of us having different personalities are the main reasons for these problems.  I feel like some of my screw ups, (weak communication, insensitive at times) are part of  being a male, and not at all an intentional disrespect to her.  She feels that having 2 opposite personalities never lets us “click,” and she is ready to move on.  We have 2 kids, 6 & 8, and have been married for 14 years. 

 I don’t feel God would have  brought us together, only to give us a yearning for a “soul mate” after we have been blessed with so much.  Is the thought that there is someone who is more compatible, a legitimate reason for divorce?  Any resources you can point me to would be greatly appreciated.  I love your podcast and books.  

Thanks for your wisdom!

Matt M. 

Dear Matt,

It sounds like you and your wife have been on a downward spiral for a while. We do have a book recommendation based on your question, “Is the thought that there is someone who is more compatible, a legitimate reason for divorce?” The fact is that in our culture, one doesn’t need a “legitimate reason for divorce.” However, it sounds as if your wife is hesitating to move forward with ending the marriage perhaps because, even deep down, she believes that she made a covenant for life. Diane Medved’s readable and powerful book, Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage, might give her reasons to rethink her picture of divorce in addition to whatever spiritual and religious views motivate her. Especially with two children in the picture, in our view, divorce should always be seen as the very last resort and only for the most extreme reasons.

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Reconciliation or moving on?

September 22nd, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 7 comments

Question:

Thank you for the opportunity to ask my question.  I have been praying for a reconciliation with an ex for a fulfilling and loving relationship.  It’s been almost 11 months apart and since last Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) I have been praying. Interacted with my ex a few times and found out recently that he is seriously dating.  Should I continue praying to Hashem or just give up?  

Thank you!

Hadas

Answer:

Dear Hadas,

It sounds like you have had a rough year. You are asking a question about your personal situation, but the general idea applies to just about everyone at one time or another. Do we let God know what we wish, or do we instead pray to God to do His will?

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How to respect an alcoholic father?

July 8th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

What do I teach my boys, age 15 and 10, about respecting their alcoholic, angry father? We divorced 2 years ago because life was so unbearable, but they still see him every other weekend. ∼ Wendy W.

Answer:

Dear Wendy,

It sounds like have had a tough few years and we pray that you have a joyous future.
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An Old-Fashioned Reaction

January 4th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 6 comments

I shocked both my husband and myself last week. A friend forwarded us a human interest article from a major newspaper, expecting that we would be as appalled by it as he was. My husband reacted as anticipated. To my amazement, I didn’t.

The article ran in a column which each week highlights the story of some newly married couple. The stories describe how the couple met and the path of their courtship. They always end with a wedding and hint at “and they lived happily ever after.” The often touching stories that get featured tend to shine in the ‘obstacles overcome’ category, leaving the reader smiling. This piece was no different in format.

However, the impediment to the relationship in this case was that when the new bride and groom met one another, they were each married to nice people, living basically happy lives and raising their children in stable and secure environments. Despite these facts, they ultimately chose to acknowledge the powerful attraction they felt for each other.

In the article they are candid about the trauma they introduced into their families’ lives and their attempts to behave as honorably as possible in a dishonorable situation. Eventually, they each divorced, setting the stage for the newsworthy nuptials. The couple doesn’t minimize the weightiness of their decision and especially their worries about the damage they might cause their respective children. As the article celebrating their marriage puts it,  

He said, ‘Remind me every day that the kids will be O.K.,’ …
 “I would say the kids are going to be great, and we’ll spend the rest of our lives making it so.”
The problem was she could not guarantee that.

Neither our friend nor my husband was suggesting that we send the couple hate mail or in any way wish them ill. But they both immediately recognized that publicizing and romanticizing this story was inflicting another wound upon the already badly damaged institution of marriage.

To my chagrin, my instinctive reaction was weaker. While I didn’t “ooh” and “ah” as when a previous column celebrated the marriage of two octogenarians who had been high school sweethearts and reunited after each one’s long-term spouse died, the idea of ‘soul mates’ resonated with me. That tug at the heart strings informed me that I have been more influenced by society’s values than I like.

This particular couple isn’t the issue. What is important is recognizing that today couples embarking on a life together need to define terms like commitment in very concrete ways, because in our day, those words can be as malleable as play dough. For me, it was a humbling experience to realize that I haven’t been as successful as I would like in detaching myself from the moral relativism so prominent today.

After some reflection, I realized that the newspaper’s marriage column read like a condensed non-fiction version of modern chick lit. You don’t have to go that far back in history to a time when popular books might have shown troublesome romantic temptation and chronicle how the protagonists struggled to successfully overcome it. Or else they might have shown tragic consequences flowing from an unfortunate entanglement. Today, an almost universal feature of chick lit is that everybody ends up happy. Quite a change, isn’t it?

Serendipitously, the same week I read the column cited above I also read an excerpt from Nora Ephron’s newest book. In it, while discussing her own divorce, she rather unequivocally states,

…I can’t think of anything good about divorce as far as the children are concerned. You can’t kid yourself about that, although many people do…

Ms. Ephron’s words are a worthwhile reminder, and one that I needed, that it would be a mistake to confuse some genres of modern fiction with real life.

I certainly wish well to the children in the new blended family. They have no choice but to live with their parents’ decisions. It would be truly unfortunate, though, if disseminating this story influences others, even in the subtlest manner, to opt for romance over responsibility.     

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