Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

The Ultimate Ezer K’Negdo: One Woman’s Battle With Her Husband’s Mental Illness

Barbara Bensoussan

When Ahuva F. discovered her husband had a mental illness, she was tempted to run away. Instead, she joined forces with him to slay the inner dragon. Family First explores her story for our special "Beyond the Confines" theme section.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A woman in Ramat Beit Shemesh who’d often hosted Ahuva for Shabbos proposed a shidduch with Dovid, a baal teshuvah from Toronto. Dovid was tall and broad, with a philosophical bent; he’d majored in mathematics at a prestigious university before dropping out to learn Torah in Jerusalem. He had a quirky sense of humor that Ahuva enjoyed, and shared her love of books and the arts.

“He was six years older, had traveled extensively, and was far and away the most brilliant guy I’d ever met,” Ahuva says. “I was told he was one of the best learners in his yeshivah. One person hinted that he was a little eccentric, but that got passed off as a consequence of being so smart, and an older bochur.”

Everybody helped the couple pull off a simple, no-frills yeshivish wedding. They found a tiny apartment, and Ahuva, who’d studied economics and marketing, found bookkeeping work at an American yeshivah. But red flags began to unfurl even during sheva brachos.

“I picked up on a certain oddness, even at the very beginning,” Ahuva admits. “Okay, Dovid was still my brilliant, exciting new husband. But he had absolutely no inclination to get out and do anything. It went beyond being a homebody — it bordered on reclusive. It worried me, but I wanted things to be smooth, so I didn’t say anything that might rock the boat.

“One day he told me he had to go to the doctor — not the one near us, but in Tel Aviv! He realized he had to explain why he needed to schlep all the way to Tel Aviv for a regular doctor’s appointment, and after hemming and hawing, finally confessed that he took Prozac, and that doctor wrote the prescriptions.”

Ahuva bursts out laughing at the memory. “My reaction was, ‘Is that all?’ As far as I could tell, the entire world was on Prozac! I thought, what’s the big deal?”

She could live with Dovid’s Prozac-popping. The more pressing issue was parnassah: their savings were running out. They agreed that Dovid would continue learning, but also enroll in a technical training course to learn accounting.

Ahuva sighs, and stirs her coffee.

“Dovid was kind of pushed into this by a friend who sincerely wanted to help; he paid for the classes. But Dovid is simply not the accounting type. His friend also had no clue that by then ...” She shakes her head, closes her eyes for a second. “By then both of us were coming apart at the seams.”


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Top-Down Theory
Shoshana Friedman Our true currency, the accomplishments we value most
Strive for What Binds Us
Yonoson Rosenblum The chareidi community represents something of an oasis
Embracing Victimhood
Eytan Kobre Combating the allure of victimhood
The Kids Are Going to Camp, the Parents Are Going Broke
Miriam Klein Adelman Mindy has to feel good; it doesn’t matter that I feel ba...
Work/Life Solutions with Carlos Wigle
Moe Mernick “Rejection is Hashem’s protection” 
How to Create a Simple 900-Page Novel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman All of us can reset the titles of our own lives
Stand There or Do Something
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP It’s called collaborative care, and it works miracles
I'm Here — Are You Ready?
Riki Goldstein Upbeat and catchy, but still makes listeners think
Back in Time
Riki Goldstein "I wish I could recapture that excitement"
Mixed Messages
Riki Goldstein The unsung craftsmen who give albums their special touch
Go in Peace
Faigy Peritzman Inner peace makes us vessels for blessing
All Work and No Play
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A life only about doing your duties loses all its color
Dying to Believe
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Emunah peshutah is the force behind Jewish continuity