1. The photograph’s tale
After 17 years of marriage, one could say that they were running a factory, with German meticulousness, of which the most precious and yielding assets were their three children. They shared the absolute knowledge that they would never dismantle the family unit so as not to harm the children. prima facie.
However, there was a twist in the plot.
He used to back up his cellphone on the home computer and one time she happened to snoop around it. Among the thousands of pictures that were downloaded from his mobile to the computer, one photo caught her eye. It was a photo of a familiar body in an unmistakable position. She admitted to me that she hadn’t been really surprised since it has been four years since he last touched her, that she was pretending that it did not bother her and that everything was normal. It turned out that she let six months pass without telling anyone about the photo, just keeping it to herself and occasionally glancing at it in secret.
“So why did you come to me now?” I asked.
It was her husband who began to express dissatisfaction with the marriage and, a few days before my meeting with her, had deliberately initiated a quarrel during which he had argued that maybe they should get a divorce.
She had already been to another attorney who advised her to hurry up and submit a request to settle a dispute in Family Court so to preempt any attempt by him to start a procedure in the Rabbinical Court. She was not sure it was the right thing to do and came to consult with me.
When I asked why she had waited six months with the photo. her eyes filled with tears and she explained that she loved him, that he was part of her and that she was terrified of the idea of divorce even though she understood that there was not much left of this marriage.
Legally, I explained to her, the race for jurisdiction was not an issue in her case because the end result in both courts would be similar. Contrary to common belief, the Rabbinical Court does not always rule against women and in her case might even provide a better outcome than Family Court. She did not seem to be ready for divorce and certainly not for initiating one herself, so I sent her to therapy to help her understand why she was willing to settle for such a partial relationship and how to deal with the fear of the expected change. To be continued.
The moral of the story:
• Do not believe every warning regarding the race for jurisdiction. It is case by case and sometimes it is actually preferable for a woman to start a procedure in the Rabbinical Court.
• If you are in a relationship where something is broken but you are scared to death by the prospect of change, go to therapy that will help you – either fix whatever is broken or love yourself enough not to be satisfied with a broken relationship.
2. A tale of Infidelity
After 13 years of marriage, she wanted excitement. Not that she was miserable in her marriage or that she didn’t loved her husband, both their boys and their photogenic family, but she was bored. Not an all-encompassing boredom, but a creeping boredom that one learns to live with, like the traffic jam she endured every morning on her way to work.
At a school Hanukkah party, she noticed the stares from one of the dads. Penetrating glances that gave her butterflies, so she waited to bump into him again at school. They found themselves together as chaperoning parents on a school trip, after which it was impossible to stop the fire and the forbidden excitement, and so an illicit affair took off.
Her observant husband saw the sparkle in her eyes, a spark he recognized from earlier times full of excitement of new beginnings in their relationship, so within 24 hours he discovered everything.
The big drama calmed down quite quickly, mainly because she was overwhelmed with sorrow and repentance and was honest enough to confess and ask for forgiveness. He forgave her but demanded a financial agreement, one that would secure his own private wealth, which up to that point was used freely for their joint assets.
This week they came to my office to sign the agreement. They sat a little apart and we talked about the crisis and the steps they took to fix things. In her eyes I saw sadness and in his – mostly frustration.
"It’s not the infidelity that bothered me," he said, "it’s the lie and the secrecy. If she'd told me she wanted to experiment with someone else, I would have had no problem with that, too bad she hid things from me … " She sat and was silent and only nodded her head every now and then. “Where do I sign?” was her only question.
The moral of the story:
I’ve been saying for years that 90% of men forgive infidelity, in the sense that they don’t see it as grounds for disbanding the family, and rightly so. However, to truly overcome the crisis and save the marriage, it requires true forgiveness, from the heart, the ability to take responsibility for the crisis and the ability to let go and move on.
3. The obsessive woman
Five years ago, she was fired from her job and since then has not returned to work, spending her time with their two girls, lunching with friends and volunteering once a week. “Everything was fine,” he said, “until she developed a sickly obsession with me.”
She monitored the amount of underwear he put in the laundry, the amount of coffee he drank, the time it took him to shower, how much battery he had left on his mobile when he got home and how long it took him to answer her calls. She could not see him working on the computer without asking every few minutes what he was doing, although she got the same answer every time. she would check his cell phone obsessively and when he was at home, most of time she held on to it anyway. In general, he described her as someone who was possessed with him.
Several times he told her that it was impossible to go on like that and threatened to leave home. She would then beg him not to leave her, telling him that she loved him so much and that she depended on him. When he asked her to start looking for a job so she could concentrate on other things, she promised she would look for one, but then didn’t follow through and remained at home. She refused to consider therapy and thus was living her life through him, promising from time to time to try and ease up on him.
Then, for a period of time, she seemed to be able to reduce the obsession level, and he felt at least 60% relief.
“When she acted normal she was amazing,” he would later tell me. He ordered them a pair of flight tickets for a weekend in New York.
On the second day she went for a walk in Central Park and accidentally forgot her cellphone on the hotel bed. In his sleep he felt the vibration of incoming messages and groped to find the device that disturbed his sleep.
The screen was lit by a message – “Did you leave already? Are you alone?” Completely awoken, he tried to unlock the phone and read the messages but discovered that she had changed her password and he was unable to guess the new one.
When she returned he waited for her with the phone in his hand and demanded answers, but she denied everything and claimed that it was a case of a wrong number. When he asked to see the messages and get the new password, she categorically refused, claiming that it was a violation of her privacy (!).
He gave in and handed her the phone and they finished their vacation in New York barely talking.
In the week after their return she apparently feared that he would leave her and that fear drove her to resume her old obsessive ways. He did not say a word.
This week I served her with the divorce papers.
The moral of the story:
When you are in a sick relationship and there is no consent to treatment – know that some unexpected developments may occur or leave first.
And finally, a bonus –
“‘You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it’ Margaret Thatcher (prime minister). Good luck at the hearing. with love, Liri”
that was a note written in a childish handwriting I received from an inspiring kid, entering the last hearing before court summer recess.
And so, unintentionally she summed up with one sentence my entire year in court, which ended this week.
Thank you Liri, you're amazing.