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A House on Shaky Ground

Malkie Schulman

It’s one thing to put up with socks on the floor or other annoying habits. It’s an entirely different story when one’s husband starts slipping in his relationship with Hashem. Can a woman stay married to a man who no longer keeps Torah as she does?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Every couple has their disagreements, usually about mundane issues like taking out the garbage or balancing the checkbook. What happens when their differences fall into the category of religious values, when after a few years — or even decades — of marriage, one spouse decides some or all of the laws are archaic and not necessary to follow anymore? Is divorce the only answer, or can a couple like this make it work? The Gemara teaches us that Hashem values tranquility in the home and harmony between couples to such an extent that He allows His name to be erased for the sake of shalom bayis. There are many women like Ilana who, upon rabbinical counsel, stay married to men who have spiritually lapsed — some no longer religious, some who keep “basics” like Shabbos, but let many other halachos fall by the wayside. Wives who are able to make this excruciating and complicated reality work are heroines. They knowingly sacrifice their image of the ideal husband, the father they dreamed of for their children, and continue to build a home with the one they already have, exactly as he is. Resilient and resolute, with the advice and input of their rabbanim, they do whatever they can to  keep their families intact and raise their children in a healthy, frum environment.   I Won’t Do That! With 613 commandments, there’s very little in an observant Jew’s life that doesn’t have a religious component. From eating, sleeping, speaking, forms of entertainment, to work — religion touches upon everything. Can a couple still remain close when there are such distinct differences in their lifestyles? And assuming it is possible, should they? Suppose the less-religious spouse wants the other to do something halachically forbidden or simply against the more religious spouse’s principles — how does she handle that? 

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