B inyamin was my husband, but he wasn’t the man I had dreamed of marrying. Back when I was 19, I was redt my first shidduch. Eliyahu was everything I was looking for, and he felt the same way about me. We were almost ready to get engaged — and then my parents heard something about the family, and they told the shadchan that the shidduch was off.

I don’t think my parents realized what a blow this was for me, and I certainly didn’t say a word about it — not to them, and not to anyone else. I kept the disappointment hidden deep inside, knowing that I would never, ever meet anyone as good as Eliyahu. I went out with many other boys, but none of them held a candle to him.

Finally I met Binyamin. He was of a higher caliber than the others, and I told myself then that I might as well just get engaged to him, because he was probably the closest I’d ever come to Eliyahu.

Even after the wedding, I never told Binyamin about my previous almost-engagement, and I tried my hardest not to show him in any way that he was second-best. I quickly learned that he had a strong personality and firm principles, so I went out of my way to please him, going along with whatever he wanted and rarely expressing my own opinions or preferences.

But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make him happy.

If I ever made an impulse purchase, I’d hear about it for days. I had to have an exact accounting of all the money I spent, so that when Binyamin asked, “Where did the money go, Zahava?” I’d be able to answer him down to the last dollar.

Because I knew how to sew, I could never buy myself clothing. “Why should you buy clothing, Zahava, if you can sew it yourself?” Binyamin would ask with a frown.

“I’m allowed to buy myself something once in a while!” I would protest. But all that did was make him more adamant that I had to curb my spending. Which I eventually learned to do, even if it meant neglecting my appearance.

Once, we went out to a park together, and while there, I met an old friend of mine. I talked to her for a couple of minutes, and when I turned around, Binyamin was gone.

I said goodbye to my friend and started calling Binyamin’s name. For a few minutes I couldn’t find him, and I started to feel frightened. Finally, I saw him way off in the distance, and I hurried over. But when he saw me, he turned his back and started walking quickly in the other direction. I had to run to catch up with him, and when I did, he refused to acknowledge my presence.

“I’m sorry for talking to that lady,” I apologized, panting. “It wasn’t nice of me.”

I didn’t think I had done anything wrong, honestly, but I didn’t want Binyamin to be upset with me. Better to say I’m sorry and be over with it… (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 660)