4 Cheshvan 5781 / Thursday, October 22, 2020 | Torah Reading: Noach
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Is He the Right Guy?    

Is He the Right Guy?

Is he right for marriage? Is he spiritual? Real spiritual, holy men do their best to think about sex as little as possible, even if they are already married...


Dear Racheli,
I am a recent BT (baal teshuva) and met a wonderful guy, also a BT. He's extremely knowledgeable and very spiritual, and things are getting very serious. There's just one problem- he has a history of sexual addiction. He says he's over it, but in my heart I don't feel it's really true. As a BT, I want to wait until marriage, but lately he's been pressing me, and it's causing pressure in our relationship. Otherwise, he's a really fantastic guy, and living the life of Torah that I want to live, too. I'm so confused...
Stop right there! You're spinning yourself in circles with your confusion. Don't worry, we'll clear this all up.
On the one hand, he's got everything you're looking for in a guy. He's good-looking (I assume), has a decent job (I hope!), and is a baal teshuva. Obviously he knows what's important and not important in life. He knows that materialism + shrimp cocktails = emptiness, and Friday nights singing “Shalom Aleichem”+ Kiddush = spiritual high. On paper, things look good.
Now here's the confusing part: he's a man. As such, he has all kinds of things he needs to fix. The list can be endless. But that's where you come in! As a future wife, you have the honor of helping him go through his life-long “what's wrong with me and how do I fix it” workshop! Actually, it's impossible for a man to even begin to work on his tikkun (spiritual correction) until he gets married! What can I say? Men- we should feel sorry for them. And yes, you really are that righteous.
But let's be very clear, Iris. This doesn't mean you need to pick up the first stray dog you see on the street! There are some things that you can tolerate, and some things you shouldn't. In my opinion, any type of addiction is something that should be worked on before the person gets married. Otherwise, it will add tremendous stress and complication to the marriage, and even more so when you have children. Just ask any couple who is dealing with a spouse's addiction- it can be hell for the entire family.
You are extremely lucky that you're not married yet, even though you might not feel that way. Hashem is giving you a chance to decide what parameters you are setting up for your future life. What are you willing to put up with? What are you not willing to handle in a person? What exactly are you looking for in a husband? Now you have the chance to use hitbodedut, personal prayer, to ask Hashem to give you the best husband for you. Do you realize what a gift this is??
Regarding this stray dog in particular, it is clear to me that he is not over his addiction if he is pressuring you to be with him. Furthermore, it shows he is not as “spiritual” as he makes himself seem. Real spiritual, holy men do their best to think about sex as little as possible, even if they are already married. They certainly do not pressure their wives, they guard their eyes, and they don't desecrate the brit.
I once knew a married couple who got divorced as a result of the husband's sex addiction. He was cheating on his wife for years! I have to give your boyfriend credit for admitting he has an addiction. Many people hide it until it completely destroys the family.
Ultimately, the choice is yours, Iris. Do you want to be a girlfriend and future wife, or a girlfriend/therapist?
If you choose the first option, don't feel bad- you're entitled. It's not easy to have a successful marriage with a person without addiction problems as it is. You certainly don't have to intentionally make it harder on yourself if you feel that you won't be able to cope with such a challenge. If you choose the second option, you must decide: are you willing to wait for him to fix his problem? How much baggage are you willing to carry in your marriage? As I'm sure you're aware, addictions are not an easy or an overnight fix. Sometimes, they never go away.
That being said, I would like to address people suffering from an addiction. I understand how painful it is when we desperately want to correct a part of ourselves, yet we keep stumbling every time we come across the same issue. For example, I really,really want to stop yelling at my kids when they get me really, really upset. But many times, I can't help myself. I cannot imagine how much more difficult it is for a person with an addiction that he would do anything to get rid of. He is fully aware of how terrible his addiction is, and he knows how much he is damaging himself and the people who care about him. Yet, he feels powerless to change. I deeply feel for such people.


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