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A Match Made in Rehab

Shoshana Schwartz

Addiction can strain even the strongest marriage. Yet some couples don’t discover it after years of marriage, but go to the chuppah aware that addiction will always be a part of their lives together.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Just before her 18th birthday, Michal was brought by force to Retorno’s women’s program by Israel’s Welfare Department. Though she’d seen Daniel many times during her seven months of treatment, there was no contact between the different divisions. After graduating Retorno and returning to school, Michal was supposed to attend Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step meetings, but she was enjoying her freedom and didn’t seek a sponsor (an addict with good recovery to serve as a mentor). She stayed clean (free from addictive substances and behaviors) only a few months before “falling” — that is, starting to drink again. But something stopped her from falling too far. “I wasn’t going to meetings,” Michal recalls, “but I was in touch with Retorno. Within hours, I was back with my counselors, getting the help I needed and making the commitment to work the program.” Immediately, she began attending NA and AA meetings in her neighborhood. At almost every meeting, she ran into Daniel. “He’s seven years older than me,” Michal says, “so at first I wasn’t interested in dating him. I admired him, saw he was serious about staying clean, but that was it.” After a few months, Michal began hosting a regular Friday night seudah for Retorno graduates.Daniel would attend, and, as they got to know each other, they realized they shared many values, not only life circumstances. Despite rebelling against religion, both held on to a belief in G-d. Both also started keeping Shabbos again in Retorno — one of the many rules. They also attended the Torah classes offered on campus, and discovered they enjoyed this added spiritual dimension to their recovery. With strong recovery and looking toward a brighter future,Michal andDaniel married and are raising a religious family. Recently, they celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary.

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