Response to a comment re: Jewish husbands

Last week we discussed a reader’s failing marriage and had some reader input into how they dealt with their own marriages and subsequent divorces. One of our readers, Rebecca, left this comment… I want to attempt to answer it here to the best of my ability.

“Are many Orthodox husbands, standoffish, with their wives and children? I am surprised to read from the women how unhappy they are. R some of these marriages arranged, or have the couples had very little time to get to know one other. My understanding of relationships is that the couple do not spend time together alone. Is that an accurate statement.”

Orthodox men are no more “standoffish” with their wives and kids than any other group of men. In fact, some of the women who commented on that post were NOT necessarily married to orthodox men and NOT necessarily Jewish or religious themselves. I have no clue about the divorce statistics of Orthodox couples vs non-ortho or even non-Jewish, but I would imagine that similar marital problems can exist across the whole spectrum.

“Arranged” marriages are not a thing of the past, however they are more prevalent in the Chassidic community, and this is a community I do not know much about. Most Orthodox couples, even if brought together by a shadchan, a matchmaker, have the chance to get to know each other before deciding to get married. No one is forced into it.

As to “the couple do not spend time together alone” – totally false. Judaism is very encouraging of alone time within a marriage. Yes, there are times during the woman’s cycle that they cannot be physically intimate with each other, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot have quality time together. Quite the opposite. The physical break reinforces the emotional bond that they have with each other.

Most of the Orthodox homes I have been in there is a strong connection between both parents and the children, and between husband and wife. The marital bond may not be shown by physical demonstration – that kind of stuff is private, not for the public to see. You may not see Orthodox couples embracing or touching – but that does not mean there is no love there, or no bond. It does not show standoffishness. Quite the opposite. The touch between a married couple is precious and sacred, and there is no need to cheapen it by demonstrating it for all to see.

Rebecca, I know you are seeking to expand your knowledge, I hope I helped in some way. If you have more questions please do not hesitate to ask.

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  1. mekubal says:

    Just to fill in the statistics.

    Secular divorce rate is at near 50%.

    NCSY did a study about five years ago that put Orthodox Jewish divorce rate at 3.5%.

    Rabbinate in Israel thinks it is currently holding around 7-10%.

    Having had some experience with Chassidishe groups, most do not practice arranged marriages anymore. I know of only 2 or 3 rather insular sects that still do. Even then a woman has the right to not agree to the marriage… I know of only one sect that sets aside that halacha.

  2. the secular divorce rate is around 40%, and there’s no way the orthodox divorce rate is only 3.5%, I know tons of divorced orthodox people- unless the survey doesn’t count modern orthodox, or doesn’t count people who stopped being observant after their divorce (of which I know tons as well).

    • Z! says:

      “or doesn’t count people who stopped being observant after their divorce”

      I believe this comment to be very true. A lot of people take out their anger, frustrations and failures on
      G-d, instead of deriving strength from Him.

      Those that are the most unhappy are those who never learned to communicate openly with their spouses. We DO speak and listen differently. Hashem knows this- hence the different responsibilities attributed to the sexes. This fact seems to only penetrate a precious few in the real world.

  3. JewishMomma says:

    Does the 3.5% discount those orthodox that remarry? That’s the only way this number might make sense. I know of too may divorces of late in the orthodox community and too many singles organizations for divrocees for that to be a real number.
    It’s clearly much lower than the average…

  4. hadassahsabo says:

    yes, I am also having trouble believing Mekubal’s statistics… perhaps we could have more information on that, Mekubal?

  5. mekubal says:

    See page three of this PDF it gives the statistics of NCSY alumni vs NJPS(National Jewish Population Survey).

    NCSY claims only a 3% divorce rate of those married.
    NJPS overall claims 13%(not sure if that is Orthodox only or all affiliated Jews) Divorce Rate in Canada is at 48% In the US is 50%

    The OU did a survey as well placing Orthodox divorce rate incredibly low, but I can find a link for the source.

  6. JewishMomma says:

    Not to say this is a ‘source’, but here’s a short article about one perspective on the rising divorce rates…
    Perhaps the NCSY rebort being several years old is actually a sign of where things have gone…

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