Dear Editor and Readers,
Several days ago, Matzav published a letter quoting a noted therapist in a radio interview who opined that the reason for divorces within our communities is that people who aren’t compatible are marrying each other. This reason sounds questionable. Is claimed “incompatibility” a sufficient reason to break up a marriage? I can choose to skip dinner with my neighbor based upon our “incompatibility,” but may I destroy an already built household based upon this claim?
To be sure, Rav Matisyahu Salomon, who has dealt with many hundreds of shalom bayis cases, offers a very different reason – a reason that resonates and is not clouded in a conflict of interest.
The noted therapist just launched a website whose “system utilizes the power of a Personality Compatibility Questionnaire that is designed to match singles according to their degree of compatibility.” Is it possible that her business venture may have influenced her perspective?
The Jewish Observer once interviewed Rav Salomon on the topic of shidduchim. They also asked him about divorces:
To what do you attribute the rising rate of divorces in Chareidi circles?
A key element in a successful marriage is savlonus – forbearance. After all, a marriage brings together two unique individuals, from different backgrounds, and of different genders – which, of course, expresses itself in emotional and spiritual makeup and needs, as well as in disparate educations and different roles in the life of each. A successful marriage is thus a learning process. This is viable when the members view themselves as partners in an undertaking, with each yielding to the other partner more often than not. Should a person enter marriage with the single goal of self-gratification, with an agenda of ‘I’m in this for me,’ it is doomed to failure.
This focus on self-gratification – physical pleasure and emotional fulfillment – is often the product of oversimplified lectures or literature available on how to create a successful marriage, which promise a life of marital bliss, if you just adhere to the guidelines that follow. This leads to chasing an elusive rainbow. Then, when the promises do not materialize, the disappointed marriage partner assumes that there is something better out there, something (or someone) to which he or she is entitled. So why continue to make do with less than that to which one is entitled?
Again, marriage is a partnership in which both must continue to invest in a common venture, with dividends yet to come.
A young man cannot be imbued with this outlook in a single chosson shmuess or even in a five-session vaad (series of talks). It calls for long-term preparation in fashioning oneself – in Rav Dessler’s reference – into a “giver” rather than a “taker.” Then one emerges as a person prepared to found a bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel. To do otherwise is to risk being either a chossid shoteh or a naval bireshus haTorah.
Another reason (which is included in Rav Salamon’s explanation) was once published here on Matzav.com:
Q: Based on your 15 years of experience as a solo family law attorney, what would you say is the top reason for divorce in the Orthodox community? Is that any different than for non-Orthodox?
A: Interference by in-laws, especially when couples marry at a young age. (See: http://matzav.com/new-york-law-journal-speaks-with-steven-z-mostofsky.)
A Fellow Jew
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