A couple close to my heart is going through an ugly divorce. Is there even such a thing as a pretty divorce? Maybe so, but not with kids involved. It turns out they had been going to therapy for years, but things have only gotten worse. Of course they did- that’s no big surprise. But why hasn’t it helped them? The bottom line is: he doesn’t want to see his own faults.
No one likes to admit they have issues to work on. Even those of us looking to better ourselves are embarrassed and ashamed of our faults. But that’s not the biggest problem about him.
The biggest problem is that he’s killing his kids.
By not trying to see that he is much of the problem in their marriage, he creates a tidal wave of additional problems. The most long-term problem is the emotional trauma his children will carry for the rest of their lives. I know many people will be upset by what I’m about to say, but I must say it: parents who fight in front of their children are the most selfish people on earth. Be mad at me - at least it will make you think about what I wrote.
Why are such parents selfish? Rav Arush is very clear on the reason: he says that when parents fight in front of their kids, they rob their children of their only sense of security. I understand that all parents do this. I myself am guilty of inciting my husband in front of my children, and thank God, he’s good at not reacting. But I’m not referring to silly fights about trivial matters. Even these fights children should not witness. I’m referring to an all-out screaming match, filled with insults and threats. I’m referring to parents who throw things in child-like tantrums and slam doors like a 5 year old. I’m referring to parents with no self-control.
Since this person hasn’t and most likely will never come to me for advice, even though I gave him “The Garden of Peace” months ago, I will berate him indirectly. If this applies to you as well, so be it. It’s about time someone gave you a serious reality check. Let’s begin:
Let me ask you- ARE YOU CRAZY?! Do you even stop for ONE MOMENT to think about what your children are witnessing?? A fully grown man running around his house, yelling at the top of his lungs about what his wife is doing wrong, while the kids are watching, scared out of their minds?? You’re screaming like a lunatic about how everything that is wrong with your marriage is your wife’s fault, and you’re perfect? All you do is focus on how she’s behaving- going out with her friends, acting like a single woman...but do you know who’s fault that is? It’s YOURS!! If you were giving her the love and attention she deserves, she would never be acting out like this!
Rav Brody tells the story of how a couple came to him, and the husband complained the wife had 300+ pairs of shoes. He turned to the husband and said, “Do you know why she has so many shoes? It’s because YOU are not giving her the attention she needs! So every week, she needs to fill the void because you’re not doing it! In this case, buying a pair of shoes is her way of filling it. Give her proper respect and attention and you’ll see she won’t be needing a new pair of shoes every few days!”
I LOVE Rav Arush and Rav Brody; I never met anyone that promotes admiration and respect for women like they do.
Back to my rebuke: You’re ranting like a crazy person, while your wife is screaming back at you because she doesn’t know how else to defend herself, and your kids are DYING inside! Do you have any idea of the emotional scarring you’re creating in them? How are they ever supposed to have a healthy marriage when they’re older? Don’t you see that your daughters could become promiscuous because they had such an unstable father? Do you want them dating men 20+ years older than them and letting these men take advantage of them? Do you want their demons to come out when they have kids of their own?
Where is the safe haven they deserve? Kids are under attack in so many ways in our cold, heartless world. The one place they need to feel safe is at home! But you took it away from them! You’ve shattered their one safe place, and now they’re completely helpless and vulnerable with no one to protect them. You’re supposed to be the one protecting them! Instead you have become their murderer!
Don’t you see?? You are dooming your children to a marriage just like yours, because kids learn by example! I remember the famous commercial where a father finds his son’s stash of marijuana, and he angrily demands to know where he learned to do drugs. The son tearfully replies, “I learned it by watching YOU!” And then comes the famous voice-over: “Parents who use drugs...have children who use drugs.”
Wake up- this is no different: “Parents who get divorced...have children who get divorced.” I know this rule doesn’t apply all of the time, but let me be clear about this- you are giving your children a major handicap in their marriage already, because you didn’t give them the tools for a healthy marriage. You didn’t teach them to talk sensibly and cordially about their differences. You didn’t teach them to have common decency for one another. You didn’t teach them to appreciate everything their spouses will do for them. You didn’t teach them to respect their children’s fragile emotional state. All you did was show them how to destroy a family.
And these problems won’t just apply to their marriages. They’ll apply to any situation in which they are stressed! How do you expect them to behave like adults when they are under attack by their friends or their boss? Do you think they’re going to magically stay composed, when all you’ve done is show them the opposite?
My father saw one of your kids the other day. He said his heart was bleeding for him. The sweet boy, not even 6 years old, was once a happy, rambunctious child. Now he sits quietly, looking forlornly into space. His eyes are dim with sadness. He doesn’t feel safe in his home. You should cry for your son. Your heart should be breaking for him; for the deep, aching sadness he is suffering because of you.
You have killed your children.
But you can’t even see this. You’re too busy wrapped up in your own warped perception of how your wife is the evil one. Your wife wronged you. She didn’t do anything to you! She agreed to devote her life to you, to give you children, to raise them, to build you up and to be the backbone of your family. And you selfishly think you deserve better! Who are you?! What kind of egotistical thinking is this?! God doesn’t owe you anything! He didn’t have to give you a beautiful wife and family in the first place! YOU DESERVE NOTHING!! And this is how you thank Him? By throwing it back in His face? You’re telling God He made a mistake? You think you know better than God about your soul correction? Who gave you such an ego??
Will you ever wake up? I don’t know... I can only pray that one day, before you finalize your divorce, you will see that you destroyed the greatest gift you ever got- your family. I only hope that you will humble yourself enough to admit that you have serious issues that must be worked on. Who you are to the outside world is just a facade. The real person you are is at home, and he’s an ugly, selfish man. Put your ego aside and begin to pick up the pieces before it’s too late. You’ve already traumatized your kids to the point where they’ll need major emuna therapy in order to reverse the emotional damage you have done to them.
But as Rebbe Nachman says, “If you believe you can destroy, believe you can rebuild.”
From this moment on, you can start fresh. You can decide once and for all to confront your demons. You can admit that you have a problem, and you can begin to fix it. Don’t do it for yourself. Do it for your children, whose future depends on you. Don’t let them be continuously murdered by your selfishness. Give them the lives and family that they deserve. Love them as you should.
If you are a parent in a similar situation, you owe it to your children to do your best to fix the situation. And don’t say it’s irreparable: even if you’re divorced, you can still heal yourself, your children, and your relationship with your ex. Here’s Rav Arush’s prescription:
1. Read “The Garden of Peace” (men) and “Women’s Wisdom” (women)
2. Listen to the CD’s: “All in the Family”, “The Family Connection”, “Peace in the Home”, “A Woman Builds”, “Guide to Self-Composure”, and “Overcoming Anger.” All are available at the online store at www.breslev.co.il.
3) If you want personal counseling, email Dr. Zev Ballen, a world-renowned psychotherapist who combines his years of experience with the life-saving wisdom of emuna. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.