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Lifelines: The Opposite of the Wrong Thing

C. Saphir

While my parents actually got divorced over two decades into their marriage, the process leading up to it began long before

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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PICTURE PERFECT I was the embodiment of the paradigm my seminary teachers had held up for us: The eishes chayil who took everything on her shoulders to enable her husband to learn, while maintaining perfect shalom bayis

S hortly after my parents’ divorce, I happened to meet the woman who had made their shidduch.

“I’m so sorry, Michal,” she said. “I feel terrible about the divorce, and I feel guilty for making the match to begin with.”

I was all of 19, not married yet myself. “You made a good shidduch,” I told her. “They are the ones who messed it up!”

It was true that my parents had vastly different personalities — my father was quiet, passive, and deliberate while my mother was loud, overemotional, and disorganized — but those differences were not what destroyed their relationship. They each expected the other one to do everything, and blamed the other one when it didn’t get done. Going into shidduchim, I knew it was up to me to make my marriage work.

While my parents actually got divorced over two decades into their marriage, the process leading up to it began long before. I remember that when I was in fourth grade, my teacher sent a classmate of mine, Zehava, on an errand. While Zehava was out of the classroom, the teacher said that she had something important to tell us. 

“Zehava is in a difficult situation,” she explained. “Her parents are getting divorced. We all have to be extra nice and sensitive to her.”

It’s not fair, I thought. My parents fight nonstop, yet I don’t get any special treatment, because they’re not divorced!

If I asked my mother for money for a class trip, she would roll her eyes and tell me, “Go to your father. It’s his responsibility to make some money for a change.”

When I turned to my father, he would say, “We have no money, because your mother wastes it all.” I was a pawn in the battle between the two of them.

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