Photo: Gabi Menashe
Photo: Gabi Menashe

Marriage can wait

In remarkably candid open letter, religious girl urges others not to get married at young age

I dream of stirring simple women before life humiliates them, after they have already become pregnant. I wish to wake up my friends, who are filled with ideology instilled in them since 3rd grade, whereby there is only one form of love.


I once read that Rabbi Aviner wrote that women do not necessarily have to be satisfied by their intimate relationships, and that’s just fine. So I too thought it was just fine – for me, sexual gratification was a term tantamount to sin. Yet I wish to tell all of you that this isn’t true. Women too have their desires and needs. How did they manage to educate us otherwise?


I met my husband during my national service. One female friend recommended him, and then a male friend; everyone recommended him, so why not. He was nice, smart, and modest, studied the Torah and also did well in the army. So we met, and created a pretend-love, and a pretend-relationship, and it was fun and proper and good. We did not touch and our intimacy was wrapped in plastic and sealed, just like the rabbi ordered.


I don’t know my husband

We went out for two months and everything went well, and we had no fights. We even went on trips, and I believe there could be no greater closeness than to sit near a spring and talk about the Torah. Eventually we decided to get married. It was actually touching, he went down on one knee and there were flowers, and music, and I knew I would finally get to touch him soon.


A few months later I was already pregnant, sitting at the wedding of another friend. With us at the table were two childhood friends with their husbands, and another young couple. Nobody around the table was older than 21, none of the husbands completed their army service yet, nobody had a child yet, but all were on the way there.


And suddenly it hit me: All of us around the table are the same. We are all lonely. We are all children playing at being parents. I don’t know my husband. He doesn’t know what I want and like, aside from two sugars in my coffee.


He doesn’t know how to conduct himself with me. He doesn’t know how to touch, how to show interest, or how to make my happy with small gestures. Yes, he does everything I ask him to do, but sometimes I want him to do a little more – to hug me from behind, or send a romantic text message.


We’ve all been brainwashed

Suddenly, I woke up. I’m a child. A baby. Yet I have a husband and a child in my stomach. I’m not ready, this isn’t the right time. Elsewhere this all happens later on in life, so why not here? And why is everyone around me like that? They are all strangers. This table is surrounded by children hungry for touch, married to strangers. We’re all children. We’ve all been brainwashed that this is the right way, but it isn’t so.


My husband is a truly good guy, but it appears that he just doesn’t know what to do. He never learned how to conduct himself with a woman. We, at the all-female school, had a class about intimacy and family. I’m not sure that this will make a difference, as ultimately we mostly beat around the bush. The lessons were mostly irrelevant for us at that stage of our life. But at least we had something, which is much more than nothing.


How can we expect a guy who never held a conversation that was more than a minute long with a girl to enter a life of marriage without proper preparation? How can we expect him to build bridges that he never learned to build? Don’t the rabbis see the distress faced by their students, and especially by their students’ wives?


The rabbi said so

The lack of preparation for creating a marriage partnership gives rise to another problem – “the rabbi.” For my husband this is of course not a problem, but rather, a solution. A solution for anything that comes to mind. This does not bother me when dealing with minor Jewish law questions, but it does bother me when it comes to our intimacy. Our life, my life! With dilemmas related to getting pregnant, for example, the rabbi’s opinion is no less important than my own, as if we shall be carrying the baby together.


When I talk to my husband about a sense of crisis, he immediately rushes to the rabbi. Why don’t you talk to me? I married you, not your rabbi.


Wake up before it’s too late. Don’t get married because everyone is like that. Don’t trust two months of dating, it isn’t enough. Can you get to know yourself in such a short period? Take a breath for another year or two before you get married. I know this is not customary, but Jewish law certainly doesn’t want me to be so miserable. The Halacha is not against me.


A moment before I get divorced, I want to present a different alternative. An alternative that is not about getting married at 20 with a stranger. An alternative that now gives me the new life I’ve been waiting for. Yes, I will be divorced soon, but I’ll be happy.


The writer requested that her full name not be revealed


פרסום ראשון: 02.19.08, 15:31
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