At what point is a marriage dead...? When the two partners are no longer emotionally connected? When they are no longer partners with a common interest? When?!?
I have always hated talking about myself for the sole reason that I will be prejudiced financially, physically, or even jailed for some crime for a thought that someone found to be offensive. Let's just put it this way -- I live in fear that someone will take away my life because I don't buy into the rosy-colored utopian left-leaning progressive viewpoint some people have about life.
I don't think that life is all about peace and love. I think that life is about war and conflict. I look around each day wondering who is suspicious, who I should be careful of who may abduct my children, what nooks and crannies in a wall can injure my children who may play in that area, and who could commit a crime and how do I protect myself and my family against that injury.
I fear that people might think that I'm a kook for worrying about things before they happen, but I am a very safe person. I don't get into accidents because I anticipate when someone will swerve into my lane, or when someone is acting strange. I avoid getting into conflicts, and I live a very calm life. I have good relationships with most people around me, and I'd say that I live in peace.
However, I don't have peace. My shalom bayis is existent, but at what cost of deadening the relationship between me and my wife? I thought we were doing well these past few years, but I'm realizing that we have not been doing well.
If a topic of discussion is not a topic my wife is interested in, she is not interested in listening to it. "I don't want to hear about it," she'll say. That was fine at the beginning of our relationship when there were so many topics that I was fascinated by, and so over the years, I would move from topic to topic until she'll shut it down because she is not interested in hearing about it or talking about it, so I would move onto the next topic and so on.
In the beginning of our marriage, I was very much into homeopathic medicine, brain entrainment (holosync, hemisync, yoga, ayurveda, meditation). Then when she wasn't interested in that, I started talking about alternative medicines, health, and wellness. That was shut down. Then after a while, we started to see a marriage therapist because we had so many walls between us that it wasn't that I had nothing to say to her -- I simply ran out of things to speak about that she wanted to hear.
To bring you up to speed on my life, we made aliyah last year not because we were anticipating the redemption of Moshiach and the returning of the Jewish people from the Jewish exile of the Roman Empire, but rather, because I did not feel that the environment in the United States was heading in a direction that would be safe for my children's well being. I was concerned that the US was turning into a militaristic dictatorship (not one that will shoot its citizens, but one that will jail and financially deprive, sue, and confisgate the savings of its citizens who do not go along with the progressive liberal viewpoints of those in power). I felt that we were going away from the principles of liberty and freedom upon which the country was built. Not only that, but in the neighborhood we were living in and the events of Ferguson, Missouri, and then the events of Baltimore and the black war against the cops and the threats of war and Islamic terrorist against the US, I was concerned that the infrastructure of what kept us safe was threatened. Since those in power were not taking steps to make the problem go away, I came to the conclusion that things are only getting worse, and so we decided to leave. We moved to Israel 1) because my wife is a zionist and believes in the building of the Jewish state, and 2) because I am a Jew, and even though the Israeli government is also a socialist state (some call it a police state), at least here I am not seen as the enemy for my viewpoints.
Obviously there were other reasons for coming to Israel -- we were looking for a place where our children could have a good education, many friends, and a community of people who were like-minded. But really, with the drug dealers living across the street from us, and the looting that was happening across the US at the time (and a government who was supporting the looters rather than the store owners), I thought we were getting to the point where I would need to get a gun license, learn how to fire a gun and become one of those survivalist kooks who store food and water in an underground vault (really, it would have just been under our stairs in the closet), or move. I even went to Costco and purchased a 55 liter water jug just in case the water went out [since we did not live near a source of clean water]. Buying a generator, security cameras, a shotgun, a pistol, a safe to store the pistol safely, and a generator was next on my list before we left.
But getting back to the topic of this article -- a connection between a husband and a wife -- it is becoming very clear to me that I married a bleeding-heart liberal who doesn't see the world the way I see it. She doesn't see war and conflict, but rather, love and peace. Now obviously there is a medium of simply being both optimistic and realistic, but what is really tugging at my heart is -- how can a marriage survive when the husband and the wife do not share common views of the world? How can a marriage survive when one partner shows no interest in the topics of interest and passions of the other partner, and in fact, she goes so far as to scorn the ideals that are meaningful to me and call those who adhere to the belief systems I believe in as rubbish, garbage, and kookery?
So I am once again faced with a decision -- for the sake of shalom bayis, to give in to her demands and no longer speak about yet another set of topics which she does not find to be interesting and to dead-en our relationship even further. Yet one more "wall" will now go up between us, and I will retreat further and further into my own world, and my connection to her will yet diminish even further.
However, I already thought it was deadened and diminished as things were. I have found topics to speak about with her that interest her -- kids, school, family, social interactions -- but what about our relationship with each other? How does a marriage continue when one partner makes absolutely no effort to know or understand the other partner? And how do I stand in her presence when all I feel around her is a rejection of those ideals I believe strongly in? I chuckle at saying this, but I really don't think she knows who I am.
I guess the only answer is to find topics to talk to her about which she enjoys, and to find interests that we share in common, and focus on those. As far as the end of the marriage, not to worry about the differences between us, and not to compromise or stop being the right-leaning conservative political activist that I am in my heart. I'll continue to be interested in the things that I am interested in, and as we get older and older (I am now almost in my 40's believe it or not) and as our children continue to grow, by the time they are grown up and move out to live lives of their own, we'll see if there is anything left holding us together. Hopefully the amazing daily effort, hardship, and difficulty in raising a family together will be enough "glue" to keep us together even if our interests, values, or viewpoints of the world differ. And as for a "passion" or a deep connection with my wife, well, that has never been the case, nor will it ever be the case. She's my partner in life, not my partner in crime.
My rabbi used to tell me, "Your wife is not your chevrusa. Don't try to make her one." I suppose that also means, don't try to co-opt your wife into being your best friend to share all of your interests and visions. If she is your best friend, great, but if she is not, don't worry about it. Remember, the Jewish purpose of a marriage is to be married, not to extract all the good-feeling benefits and goodies that come from being married. Being married in and of itself is an outcome that is seen as merit from the Jewish faith. If your wife is not your "partner in crime," have relationships outside of the home with others [of your own sex] with whom you can connect with and draw support from, and with whom you can talk to if times are tough between you and your wife. Be part of a group, a community, even an online Facebook group of like-minded folks, if necessary. But remember, your wife is not the end-all-be-all-treatment for all of your emotional and psychological ills, wills, and motivations.
NOTE: Image taken from Pixbay, CC0 Public Domain, Free for commercial use, No attribution required. Link.