This is a different type of email that I will address after you have had a chance to read it.
I shouldn’t even be writing this letter to you; but I am, because I originally sent it to the one it was intended for, twice, and I never received a true response. I hope you will respond.
Before Pesach, I was reading in one of the Jewish newspapers a letter that someone wrote to a shadchan (it wasn’t you or the QJL, sorry). A woman wrote how she was dating someone whom she thought was “the one” for her. The only issue is, everyone with whom she spoke who knew him from his first marriage did not have anything good to say about him. When she asked him about this, he always said that his ex-wife never appreciated him. He said that she just took and took and took from him and it was never enough. The woman asked the shadchan for advice because, on the one hand, she wanted to marry this man; but the man she was dating and the one that people were talking to her about did not seem like the same person. He was sweet and kind with her, and that wasn’t what she was hearing from others. She hadn’t seen any of his negative qualities people spoke of. She asked for advice. The shadchan told her that it did not seem logical that this man treated his ex-wife too well and she still wasn’t happy. The shadchan didn’t believe that the guy told her his ex-wife left him because she always wanted more. No one leaves a marriage because the spouse was too good to them, she wrote. The shadchan said that this woman better do some investigating and start listening with her brain and looking with her eyes and ears, because if “everyone” she spoke with had negative things to say, and his explanation didn’t make sense, chances are if she marries him, she may find out how truthful the people were and how deceitful this man really was. That’s the basic synopsis of the article.
I was so steamed when I read that article. Why? Because it was as if someone wrote about my life. I was in my early 20s when I was first married. We had children and my dream came true. I was a wife and a mother. I was the best wife and mom I was able to be; and because I was so happy, I would go the extra mile in everything. I’d send him cute little texts during the day – nothing raunchy, just “Thinking of you” or “I hope you’re having a good day.” I bought what he liked to eat on Shabbos, even if I hated it. I would take the kids out on Shabbos afternoon so he could sleep for a few hours, even though I was also tired. My husband was very grateful for all that I did, and he kept saying how lucky he was to have me.
But then I think he began taking things I did for granted, as if it was a “given” that I was going to do something extra. True, I didn’t mind doing any of it, but nothing was reciprocated. Birthdays and anniversaries came and went, and it was only when I told him for the umpteenth time that I’d like a gift of any type on these couple of occasions each year, then he would give me a gift – but only after he said, “as per your request” or something like that. I never received a cute little text from him at all, ever. A few times he would make a stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way home from work and come in eating a donut with a coffee. Forget about the fact that he didn’t ask if I wanted anything or even surprise me and pick me up a coffee or something. What annoyed me was that he knew I’d have dinner ready (because I always did), and now he wouldn’t be hungry for it. It would be re-warmed an hour or two later. When I asked him to take the kids to the park or out for a walk one Shabbos when I wasn’t feeling well, he told me the kids can play by themselves and didn’t need to go out – meaning, he wasn’t taking them out. I just needed the quiet to rest; I didn’t care where they went or what they did. But he didn’t get it. I found myself getting jealous when I would see fathers pushing carriages or in the park with their kids or even carrying flowers on Erev Shabbos. I mentioned this to my husband, and he reassured me that he loved me and all I did, but he wasn’t that type of guy. He even asked why I needed to be given gifts or “surprises” to prove his love. He said he loved me and didn’t feel the need to buy into the fakeness of it all.
It was I who wanted to feel special. I wanted to feel as if my husband loved and adored me and thought of me throughout the day…much like I did him. I know this was all me and how I felt. Maybe I was looking for trouble, wanting to be thought of as special and having special things done – but, darn it, I thought I deserved it.
To make a long story short, we divorced. There were other issues besides what I wrote about. That was years ago and we are both remarried and get along well. Thank G-d, we co-parent beautifully. But what made me so angry was that I knew I treated my ex-husband too well; and when my now-husband asked, during one of our first dates, why I divorced, I told him that. I said, among the other issues, the one that really pushed me was that I treated him too well and it wasn’t reciprocated. I don’t know and I don’t care if my now-husband asked around what the “real reason was” for my divorce. But to me, this was a big reason why I left my ex – because I didn’t feel appreciated. I didn’t want to live my life being jealous of what other husbands were doing.
So to hear the other columnist write that it seems odd that the man the woman is dating told her that he treated his ex-wife too well… and she put that down, and told her that no one gets divorced because it’s too good, I was angry. I emailed her trying to explain this. But all she wrote back was, “I understand how you feel, but each situation is different, and I was answering the question asked to me.” That was it. I tried again, but this time I received no answer. I felt that she was giving people the wrong idea and advice.
I want people to know that they should be appreciated, and any spouse should feel lucky to have their spouse, whether its husband to wife or wife to husband. Only when I started to feel angry and jealous when I looked at others, and my ex didn’t seem to take my concerns to heart or try to change, only then did I say I needed more from life.
Thank you for your email.
To be honest, I was very hesitant about publishing your email and my response. But I am here to help people, so that is the only reason why I am publishing it – to help people. I am not going to badmouth or speak negatively about the columnist/shadchan you are referring to, because I don’t know who it is and I did not read the article, so I do not know the full story. I trust that you summarized the article, but you are a bit biased, as you took offense to the shadchan’s answer because of your own history – even though the other columnist told the letter writer to be skeptical and to do more research because “no one leaves a marriage because the spouse was too good to them.” As a married woman, I would have to agree. If my husband constantly was bending over backwards to please me, yes, I’d want more of this good life. Why would I leave him? You may have forgotten one hugely important part of the article you included in your letter. You wrote that the wife left the husband because she kept wanting more and he couldn’t please her. In your situation, you are the one who kept giving and giving and didn’t feel appreciated and finally left. That changes things drastically, and therefore I am publishing the letter.
Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and no one wants their actions or words of kindness to go unnoticed. Yes, we are taught to be humble and kind and not look for recognition; but in real life, if you schlepped across town to get your husband his favorite babka or sent him a cute loving text “just because,” then you want it to be noticed and, dare I say, the gesture even reciprocated. Nothing is wrong with that. But we need to understand that not everyone was raised similarly and has the same opinions as everyone else. You wanted to feel appreciated. You wanted to feel special. Nothing is wrong with that. Maybe you grew up in a home watching your parents appreciate each other in gestures, words, or gifts, and you felt that is the “norm” in marriage. Your ex-husband may not have grown up witnessing what you did, and so he was clueless. I don’t know what the situation is or was. On the other hand, some people must be told what to do because it doesn’t occur to them to do something “just because,” like pick up a latte for the spouse. It isn’t because they don’t care, but because they just weren’t thinking about it.
You may have been hurt by not being thought of in that way because you clearly thought of your ex in that way, but we cannot expect people to read our minds. Yes, I know you told your ex what you wanted and why it was important to you. Sometimes the tides can change with a conversation like that. But it may take two or three or ten conversations for the message to get through – and again, not because the spouse doesn’t care, only because they weren’t thinking about it. Sometimes the message will finally get through and you may get flower and heart emoji’s randomly one day or maybe the real thing. Sometimes the changes stick and other times they stick for a short while, because it isn’t in the person’s nature to go the extra mile (even though you think it should be a natural part of the thought process). Then there are times where the conversation won’t change anything (no emoji’s flowers or lattes). At that point, you have to ask yourself if you can go on living like this. You said that you knew your ex loved you; he said it. But you needed to be shown and reminded of it at times; again, nothing is wrong with that.
What people need to understand is that life isn’t how it is portrayed in Hollywood. As everyone knows, I love Disney movies, but I also know that life isn’t a fairytale. Some people, both male and female, aren’t big on showing affection by giving cards, presents, etc. These people think that by saying, “I love you,” and being true to that person and doing the little things, even like taking out the garbage without being asked or filling the car with gas for their spouse, is enough. And this is the point of what I am getting at. People do not need acts of grandeur to tell another that they are loved and that they matter. I will try not to throw up as I type the next line, because it is not something I’d typically write or say but: hearts talk to each other. His heart thought it knew what your heart wanted. Yes, you knew you were loved; but you wanted to see it in tangible things, while he thought his love and actions (in general) were enough.
At this point, I am aware that readers may be thinking, “Goldy is way off topic and has dropped the ball on this one.” But, please, follow along with me and you will see how I am tying this back to the article and your letter. I’ll try to sum it all up for you. B’kitzur: People should know the type of person they are and the type of person the one they are dating and marrying is. Opposites attract, yes. But now you are living with an opposite. You celebrate the opening of a new pizza store and he barely acknowledges your birthday. Communication is key – as always. I’m not saying to base a marriage on picking up lattes or sending a “just because” text. What I’m saying is know the person you are with and what they are capable of, and accept it. If the woman/man isn’t the type to surprise you on an ordinary Tuesday night, accept it, even if you are the type to surprise him/her every night of the week. We can’t put our expectations onto others just because we act a certain way to them. Understand? Even if we tell them how important these gestures mean to us, it just may not be in their genetic makeup – again, nothing is wrong with that either. So….
I think the fellow the original letter writer wrote about isn’t being 100 percent truthful. If everyone is saying the sky is blue and he is saying that it’s green, it doesn’t make the sky green. It just means that he sees things in a way that absolutely no one else does. His thinking is skewed. He may have thought he gave everything to his ex-wife and she was never happy, so she left him. Yet, according to “everybody,” he was the problem. So, yes, the woman should do more research and think with her brain and not her heart. I’m not saying that this man could never change after seeing the error in his ways, but chances are…
The other shadchan may not have wanted to get into an email discussion with you when you were biased because of your experiences, and since your email seemed to have missed the mark. You were the one who walked away from your marriage, whereas in the article, the other party left. You disagreed with the shadchan’s answer (and possibly with mine) but that’s okay. The shadchan was kind and sent you a response. It wasn’t the response that you wanted, and then he/she broke off communication before a back and forth got started, but the response was correct: “Each situation is different.”
I am pleased that you and your ex can co-parent, and that you’ve both found love with someone else. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be, but maybe going through that experience brought you to where you both have to be now. It could be that this is the case – and don’t roll your eyes.
Hatzlachah to you all.