Posts tagged " marriage "

Marriage Disagreement about Interracial Marriage

July 10th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

Greetings: My question is what does scripture say about interracial marriage?  My husband and I have recently had occasion to discuss this and I am asking for wisdom to respond to some of his concerns.  We both were raised in rural WV where our culture frowns on this.  I used to agree with the reasons we were taught growing up.  1. Ham & descendant of Canaan were cursed 2. God told the Israelites not to marry from other groups 3. God separated the continents during Peleg’s time to divide nationalities. 4. Moses couldn’t enter the promised land because he married a Cushite from Ethiopia.

But as I’ve matured as a believer, I’ve read the scriptures they drew from and didn’t find God mentions this but that it was more likely [people] read how they wanted it to speak. The only separation I found was from pagan nations, or unbelievers.

I’m not searching merely to have a topic to discuss or argue but my husband is truly upset that have changed my mindset. While I would  prefer my grandchildren not marry interracial it’s more due to the reality of the family division it would bring.  I will however advise their potential mate be a believer. He however is frustrated because my change of heart challenges his prejudice. He is beginning to blame my church for teaching me this and while I have been believing he will come to have a relationship with Jesus and come with me, this seems to be a backwards route. I’m sure I’m not alone in this culture/religion shift.

Deborah L.

Dear Deborah,

Having just returned from speaking at many churches in Ghana (RDL),  I had the opportunity to see a number of outstanding marriages  between people with black skin and people with white.  We have noticed this also at many churches we admire here in the United States.  However, and this is huge, these marriages are between two believing Christians.  We also know several interracial couples in Israel and of course both spouses are deeply committed Orthodox Jews.  Shared belief is what matters. We would like to discuss  this question from a few more  angles, starting with correcting some Biblical misinformation.

Taking your points in the opposite order:

1.        We have no idea where you are getting this idea from. Tzipora made Moses a wonderful wife, even assuming the responsibility of circumcising her sons when Moses delayed. (Exodus 4:24-25)  Scripture is very clear  that Moses did not enter the land because he struck the rock rather than speaking to it according to God’s command. (Numbers 20)

2.        We discuss the spreading out of nations as spoken about in Genesis 11:8 in our audio CD Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel.  Dividing people into nations in no way ruled against marriage between groups.

3.        You are correct that the Israelites should only marry other Israelites. It is equally true that Christians would be well advised to marry other Christians. This is a spiritual mandate, not a racial one. Even descendants of our arch-enemy, Amalek can convert to Judaism at which point that individual becomes a full Israelite. There are two nations, Moab and Ammon which were descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot, from which male converts were not accepted due to deep cultural flaws. (In today’s day and age we have absolutely no idea who comes from these lines.) There is absolutely no suggestion of this being connected to skin color  and as Abraham’s relatives, they came from the same family as he did.

4.        Ham’s 4th son, Ham, was indeed cursed by his grandfather, Noah, to serve his brothers. (Note, he was not cursed by God.) However, Ham had many other descendants as well. We know that this verse was misused historically in support of  enslaving Africans, but that isn’t textually  supportable. Biblical verses have often been perverted in the past and we know many today who continue to misquote and take things out of context on all sorts of issues.

None of this matters in your disagreement with your husband. It sounds to us as if your involvement with church is leading you to grow in ways that are making your husband uncomfortable. We are sure this is not the the only issue to crop up between the two of you.

As we see it, the question is how to maintain a loving and respectful marriage as you mature in certain ways. Of course,  in all successful marriages on all sorts of issues, both husbands and wives focus on their spouses good points rather than weaknesses. We urge you not to allow religion to become a wedge between you. Demanding that your husband grow spiritually at the same pace and time as you is unrealistic.

Until and unless this becomes a practical issue for your family, we would suggest that you not discuss it. Why focus on an area of disagreement? Hopefully, your husband will see you becoming a better and happier person through your church involvement. At the right time, this may encourage him get more involved as well. This will not happen if your church involvement leads you to condemn and provoke him.

We are not familiar with rural West Virginia culture but no matter how you and your husband were raised, the fact is that the coming generations are likely to think differently about race. As long as your husband treats all people with respect and kindness, what he thinks about different races marrying is truly not terribly important.

Sometimes, the other way is the best way to look,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Who are those  three boys from whom all the nations spread? Find out in
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Love Her, Hate Her

June 24th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 23 comments

During a few appearances in California recently, I found myself counseling three sincere and newly married young rabbis.  They had all enjoyed the good fortune of marrying lovely young women deeply devoted to religious ideals along with an eager willingness to adopt the mission of being rabbis’ wives.

It turned out that all three were experiencing the same mild marital problem and it was resolved for all of them with exactly the same directive.  It’s one my wife and I dubbed “The 3-A challenge for men”.  I directed these three well-meaning newlyweds to create regular opportunities to make themselves authentically feel and then tell their wives how much they Appreciate them, Adore them, and Admire them. 

Please don’t for a moment think that my three young men meekly acquiesced to my instruction.  They didn’t.  They insisted that their wives knew how they felt. They insisted that such spiritual wives as they were blessed to have would see such compliments as mere flattery. Again, I patiently explained that unless they took the time and effort to really feel deep appreciation, adoration, and admiration for their wives, saying it would be nothing but flattery.  Furthermore, I insisted, their wives were entitled to husbands who really felt that way about them.  Furthermore, a great many wives, unless told, tend to doubt the esteem in which their husbands hold them.

Two of the three have already expressed profound, and in one case almost tearful appreciation to me, assuring me that I couldn’t possibly have any idea of what a tremendous difference this simple instruction has so quickly already made in their marital relationships.  I’m sure I’ll soon hear from the third guy as well. 

Husbands are usually astounded when I explain how common it is for a wife who is not assured of her husband’s affection to begin suspecting she is disliked or worse.  Here’s how I know:

If a man has two wives, one beloved, and another hated…
(Deuteronomy 21:15)

After reading that verse from Deuteronomy, anyone with even a rudimentary familiarity with the Bible will remember the following story:

and he [Jacob] loved Rachel more than Leah…
And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated…
(Genesis 29: 30-31)

There aren’t many characters in Genesis who married two wives.  There is only one who married two wives, one of whom felt hated while the other felt loved and cherished; his name was Jacob.

Our Deuteronomy verses teach that when a man’s ‘hated’ wife gives birth to his son and later his beloved wife does the same, he may not favor the son of the loved wife over the boy’s older brother.  Yet, this is exactly what Jacob did.  Jacob’s wife Leah gave birth to Reuben and much later, his beloved wife Rachel gave birth to Joseph.  Jacob displayed favoritism towards Joseph which stimulated years of enmity between his sons.

Not surprisingly for those of us who treasure the Bible as God’s blueprint for living,  the word SeNuAH (hated) occurs only twice in the Five Books of Moses; once in the story of Jacob and his wives and the other in the legislation against favoring a younger son found in Deuteronomy.  Clearly we are being taught to link the story to the legislation.  Though God had not yet formally prohibited favoring a younger son over the first-born in Jacob’s time, it was still a very bad idea.

There’s another vital lesson we’re being taught.  Note that Scripture never even suggests that Jacob hated Leah.  We are only told that Jacob loved Rachel more.  Nonetheless, while Rachel basked in the knowledge of his love for her, Leah felt hated.  Indeed, God accepted that she was hated in a way that perhaps Jacob himself was oblivious to.  I can be closer to one sibling, cousin or friend more than to another one and yet they and I know that I love them too. That is not so in marriage. And this isn’t only true for multiple wives. Women can feel hated when they see their husbands seeming more passionate about work, sports or other people than they are about them.

Most women intuitively understand that their husbands need physical reassurance of being loved. Fewer men realize that their wives need, and deserve, emotional reassurance of being loved, expressed in words and actions. While courting their wives, most men understand the value of positive words and gestures like flowers. I’m delighted that my young rabbis learned at an early stage of their marriages that those tangible signs of adoration, appreciation and admiration are a lifetime commitment.

P.S. Is it time to buy your wife some summer beach reading? May we suggest two fun and thought-provoking books that are on sale? Check out Judy Gruen’s The Skeptic and the Rabbi: Falling in Love with Faith and Susan and my collection from our popular Ask the Rabbi column, Dear Rabbi and Susan: 101 Real-Life Ask the Rabbi Questions.

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When Divorce Wasn’t an Option

May 30th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 14 comments

Department stores continue to disappear and the crowds in the remaining ones are increasingly poorly behaved.  Just about anything you want is available online.  I find myself  rarely stepping foot in a mall. Yet, there is one category of store that I still enjoy visiting in person. Second-hand book stores get my heart racing. I have difficulty walking away empty-handed.

And what gems I have found! One of my favorite discoveries was a copy of Pink and White Tyranny. While Harriet Beecher Stowe is universally known for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, she was a prolific author with other volumes to her credit. Pink and White Tyranny tells the tale of a New England man accustomed to competent, intelligent, God-fearing, principled and diligent women such as his sister. On vacation he meets and marries a different type of girl, one whose entire life training has been to catch a husband; she is a bit of mindless pink and white fluff.  The book is sad and humorous; depicting his arrival home with his new wife and his slowly growing comprehension that he has made a disastrous choice in his life partner.

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My wife isn’t content with her life

May 7th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 7 comments

In reading a recent “Ask the Rabbi” you responded to a comment including the following statement “Sometimes, the wife wants to work out of the home not because the family needs the money but because she has been conditioned to believe that only such a job affirms her self-worth.”

Can you point me to information that will help me to better affirm my wife’s worth to the family regardless of her working/bringing in money. (We do well financially and our family does not want for anything.)

She stopped working shortly after we had our first child (Dec 2017) and has since mentioned in many tense discussions/arguments that she doesn’t feel to have “her own identity” since she no longer works. I feel that the conditioning, mentioned above, is the cause for her to believe she needs to work or that household responsibilities are somehow demeaning/waste of time.

I did search the “Ask the Rabbi” for similar questions but found it difficult to know keywords to search so I hope this is not a waste of your time. I really appreciate your words of wisdom on the podcast you do as well as the information you and Susan post here.

Thank you,

Nate M.

Dear Nate,

Thank you for picking up on the statement we made and giving us the opportunity to elaborate on it. We think that the question you are asking is an important one. As always in our answers to questions like these, we will try to give you and your wife a few avenues to explore. Since we don’t personally know you, we hope that at least one or two will resonate. (We are assuming that your wife is not one of those rare women who have a calling that is the equivalent of oxygen. In other words, almost everything else in life is secondary to that calling. Few men have a calling like that either.)

Just as one’s career should not completely subsume one, neither should the career of marriage and family. What are your wife’s interests and passions? Encourage her to take an art class one evening a week while you’re home with your son, attend a Bible study, volunteer with a literacy group, sign up for an adult-ed class in her area of expertise or interest—she should have the opportunity to cultivate her personality and talents for a few hours a week. She also can develop skills to use in the future or ones that can support and enhance your business.

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What steps can I take towards marriage?

April 9th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 28 comments

I am a 38 year old young woman who has never been married and does not have any children. I was raised in a Christian home in NC. I’ve obtained a graduate degree and made a good amount of money in previous jobs. However, I can’t help feeling like a failure in the area of marriage and children.

I value marriage and leaving a legacy but it seems the men in my generation don’t appreciate my traditional values. Lots of men are meeting women using online dating and are perfectly content not choosing from the thousands of women available to them via their phone.  In addition, it’s creating more men who don’t know how to have a conversation unless they can “text” you.

I’ve started devaluing my career and education as I get older because a family of my own is what my heart desires. What advice does the Bible have for me and lots of other women in my situation?

Thanks,

Danielle A.

Dear Danielle,

What a painful period in your life this must be. We would like to offer four suggestions that we hope will be helpful, but before we do so we want to make a few comments about your letter.

Like a doctor telling his patient that he has put on too much weight and instructing him to lay off the French fries and ice cream, those able to help us occasionally have to tell us things we may prefer not to hear.  So, know that we write to you only with a deep desire to hear back from you soon with news of your happy marriage.

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Am I Destined to Be a Domestic Drudge?

March 20th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 36 comments

Dear Rabbi Daniel and Susan,

I’ve been married for 9  years to a pretty great guy.   We have two boys and a girl, also a dog.  I have a full time job and I also take care of most of the inside-the-house chores and organize all the activities for the kids and family. 

My husband and I have had several discussions and sometimes arguments about sharing the household workload. We make new agreements about duties that my husband can take on, but within a week these agreements have fizzled out. When I ask him to take on tasks with our children, such as bedtime or supervising homework, it generally devolves into screaming matches between him and the kids.

My resentment is starting to affect my sexual desire for him. I feel less like he’s my partner and more like he’s another child.  I go all day from the time I wake up at 5:45 a.m. until I collapse into bed at 10 p.m.

Is this simply the reality of being a working mother? Do I have to abandon my  dreams of sharing the child care and household duties?

Do I accept that my husband is doing his best and perhaps is limited by his parenting and organizational skills? Do I swallow my anger, do I fight for more or do I just walk away?

Domestic Drudge

Dear D.D.,

We got lost between the, “I’ve been married for 9 years to a pretty great guy,” and the rest of your letter. If, as you say, your husband is a great guy, something is off-kilter. Exhaustion, resentment and anger are pretty awful things to drag around in a marriage so we do think this is urgent to deal with. It isn’t surprising that with so much negativity, the sexual and companionship side of your marriage is suffering.

If we told 1000 people that we received a letter that began with “I’ve been married for nine years to a pretty great guy” and concluded with “Do I swallow my anger, do I fight for more or do I just walk away?” we doubt that even one would guess the content of the intervening eleven sentences. 

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How Do I Encourage My Wife to Dress Better?

February 12th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 20 comments

Hi Rabbi Daniel and Susan,

I need some advice and assistance regarding my wife and her appearance.

When we first dated and were married, she cared much more about looking nice around me. In the past few years or so, she seems to care little about her appearance. She many times hasn’t showered in the morning, doesn’t fix her hair, and wears clothes that are too big, too old, or clashing prints, frumpy, etc.

However, when she has an appointment, church, work (part-time), or we go out to eat, she will take more care for her appearance. It is night and day. I usually look presentable and my clothes fit and coordinate.  I take care of myself, exercise, and strive to keep attractive to her.

The other day she mentioned that she would like if I would compliment her more on her appearance, or tell her she’s beautiful, and inside I was perplexed – it appears she doesn’t want to do the work and just wants to look, well, literally like a slob or college roommate.

I sense she also may have features of depression. I feel like she doesn’t like her own self, and is not driven to improve herself. We are both in our 40’s and have a child in elementary school.

This is challenging for me, as I do love her, but I definitely notice other women while at work, running errands, out to eat, at church, etc. – and I long for my own wife to care about herself (and me) to, well, look more feminine and attractive, to care about it.

I have casually mentioned / hinted at improving her appearance in the past, but it was met with denial, attack, criticism, etc.

All that to basically ask,

1) how do I communicate this to her, that perhaps when I am home can she look nice/care about her appearance for me (which would fan the flames of love and passion), and

2) I was thinking of asking her to find a ‘feminine life coach’, perhaps one or two neighbor women, to help her with her style, appearance, mannerisms, self-care, etc.

Please help, we are Christians, and we do love each other, it is just sort of flat in our relationship and I hardly notice her. I feel at some level that each of us is responsible to care for ourself and to do what we can to attract our mate. Thank you and God bless you, your family and ministry.

Thomas

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for asking your excruciating question with such candor.  An exquisite balance must exist in all marriages between continually courting one’s spouse on one hand and feeling at home, relaxed and comfortable with that spouse on the other. As you note, we’re all going to encounter those of the opposite sex who are dressed up and put together when they appear in public. It is important always to remember that, out there in public, we don’t see the exhausted, complaining, unprofessional, very human side of those very people.  Even 1950s television wife Donna Reed wasn’t always in pearls, makeup, and heels. 

We want to address one jarring note in your letter: You write that you think your wife might be depressed.  While not fans of amateur diagnoses especially in the mental health area, we urge you to encourage her to go for a complete physical.  Maybe this is something you both could/should do together.  Being run down or off-kilter physically can deplete the energy needed to care for oneself. A good physician should detect signs of depression as well. If there is any underlying spiritual/mental/emotional dimension to your wife’s behavior, you both need to know that.

Assuming that everything is okay and there is no serious complication, it certainly sounds like your wife is unhappy and doesn’t feel attractive.  She asked you to tell her she is beautiful, which sounds like she tried to open up a conversation but you kept your response internal instead of taking the opportunity to discuss the state of your marriage. That, along with hinting that she should improve her appearance was probably quite crushing to her.

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Choosing Childlessness

October 30th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 26 comments

I am 32 and married 3 years ago. My husband and I do not like children and thus we choose to be childless. Is that okay?

Jia Mun

Dear Jia Mun,

We aren’t sure what ‘okay’ means and we know almost nothing about you and your husband. From the fact that you wrote asking us, we assume that you aren’t completely confident with your decision. Perhaps we can suggest some avenues to explore.

We come from a Biblical perspective that says that God’s preferred architecture of life is for people to marry and raise families.  Getting married and becoming a parent are ideally both steps that discourage self-absorption and teach us the great human thrill of bringing good to others. God wants us to connect to others and countless modern studies show that being connected to family and friends is not only a formula for happiness but also one for health.  Like so many other improvement projects, connection works best from the inside out. In other words, the most effective way to set about developing a love for humanity is to start off exercising our love on our own children.  After that, upon the children of our loved ones and then moving on outward from there.

You say that you and your husband don’t like children. We confess to feeling a bit perplexed.  What exactly do you mean by that?  We do understand that having a child makes a massive difference in one’s life and we understand that this can be terrifying.  But for you both not to like children sounds a little hard to understand.

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I feel like a stranger in my own home.

October 17th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 27 comments

My husband (second marriage for both of us)  and I live in a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house. Our 24-year-old nephew is living in the house with us for the purpose of learning my husband’s trade and going to college part time. I am feeling uncomfortable with this arrangement as he is not my blood relative and he has asked me if I am “trying to give him hints” which I don’t think I really answered at the time due to being caught off guard.

Later I explained to him I am not his friend, I am his aunt. I see my role during this time as helping him to get up and out on his own. I told him he needs to go out and make friends of his own age. He moved from another state and has not made much of an effort that I know of to be social.

I never explicitly talked about the “hints” comment with him, but mentioned it to my husband who said we don’t really know what he meant by that but if it ever comes up again they will have to have a man to man talk.  I tried to not worry about it, but am as careful as I can to always dress very modestly, and try not to be alone with him.

He is doing well in his work but I feel profoundly uncomfortable with this arrangement. I told my husband I would like to be able to shower in our camper in our yard and I even said I would be ok with living in the camper until we are able to find another way to work things out. My husband is not in favor of me living out there but is ok with me showering out there, however he has not had time to set it up for showering yet.

I sometimes shower in the middle of the night when not too tired or wait until the weekend to shower, when our nephew goes to stay with his birth mom, step dad and half siblings about an hour away. He is supposed to be with us a year.

Rabbi Daniel and Rebbetzin Susan, please share your thoughts with me on this.

Dear Acea,

We know exactly what we want to tell your husband, but unfortunately he isn’t asking for our advice. Will he pay attention to our words? If not, you need to find someone to whom he will listen. If there is no one (or no one who will give the correct advice) then this is one of those times where you must stand up for yourself with strength and determination.

The short answer is that this is unacceptable. It isn’t just a minor issue.  It is absolutely and completely not ok. Your husband has an obligation to provide you with a home in which you feel comfortable. For you to need to shower in the middle of the night and feel nervous and on edge in your home means that he is failing in his duties.

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Marrying again – Will the third time be the charm?

October 3rd, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 16 comments

Hello,

I am a truck driver and just started watching you and your wife on TCT. First, thank you for your ministry.

I have been married twice and was cheated on both times. I am thinking of getting married after being with my girlfriend for 5 years. Would I be wrong in God’s eyes to get married again?

Michael R.

Dear Michael,

We often drive fair distances to and from speaking appearances because we much prefer the road to flying.  We’ve had so many opportunities to admire the professionalism of most truck drivers.  Where possible we favor truck routes because we feel professional drivers are, on average, more predictable.

That said, we think you might just be behaving a bit predictably here too. 

There is no Biblical limit to the number of marriages one can contract as long as the previous marriages ended properly. However, you didn’t really think we would leave it there, did you? After all, if that’s all you wanted to ask us, you wouldn’t have included information on how your previous marriages ended and about how long you’ve been dating.

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