By Rabbi Hanoch Hecht
Twenty years ago, the divorce rate in the frum community at large was significantly lower than the secular world. In the past decade we have seen a significant rise in our communities. One would think that we would be eager to address this unfortunate upward trend, but that is not so, and this too, is sadly falling through the cracks.
There are many reasons for divorce; it is not limited to one age group, from newlyweds to the “veteran couples.” Each relationship goes through its own trials and tribulations and takes its own course. However, every couple shares something in common, the premarital stage. I strongly believe that if our community would adopt the practice that until now is “The Unspoken” premarital therapy.
In many circles the person performing a wedding will not marry off the couple unless they have attended pre-marital therapy. Pre-marital therapy is when one learns to recognize that they are starting a completely new life along with another person.
In addition to all the differences two individuals have, the fact that they are of opposites genders makes the situation all the more delicate. Each one’s upbringing, experiences, and gender affects his or her vision of what marriage should and will be like, as well as their relationship. Having known the person for only 3-6 months, I think it is fair to say that is a lot to deal with.
As children grow they are taught the proper way to talk, walk, and behave. Each family has different expectations and methods of how that is done. Now with these two individuals starting this new life there is a completely new manual of how to combine these two views. Many disagreements and hardships arise in marriage because there is a lack of understanding of how to do this in a constructive and non-hurtful manner.
Why is it considered a thing of embarrassment to get advice from a person with knowledge and experience in successfully dealing with marital issues? How come we walk into this blind-folded and unprepared?
I strongly suggest that engaged couples take the time and attend pre-marital counseling. This is a good time to learn the hows and whats of marriage. The least it can do is give you some tools to help you through the challenges ahead. May we continue to build a dor yeshorim yevorach.
Rabbi Hanoch Hecht is the Spiritual leader of the Rhinebeck Jewish Center and director of Chabad dutchess.