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  • Family and Society

Wrong spouse


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Shevat 8, 5775
In an answer to a question about when is divorce good choice you said: "Nevertheless, Judaism differs strongly with Catholicism, in that almost all mistakes in life where man chose wrong, he can correct by choosing right, including that rare case when one clearly married the wrong spouse." But is there such a thing as a wrong spouse? If there was physical attraction and mutual altruism and family purity, what grounds can there be for divorce? If there was no physical attraction- why did they marry? If there was not mutual altruism then patience, forgiveness and teaching should be practiced from the offended side. If there was no family purity- then this can be corrected too. Secondly, why would God give a divorcee a better match later? Is that deserving at all? Doesn’t divorce belong in mistakes that cannot be changed?
It’s true that when there’s no mutual altruism, then “patience, forgiveness and teaching should be practiced from the offended side”, nevertheless, there is a limit how much one can remain in such a situation, if the other partner refuses to grow. The “Living Torah” is very practical and knows that there are egocentric people, who rather than mirror and learn from their altruistic spouse, prefer to exploit their niceness, and it would be tragic and impractical to be locked into such marriage with no way out. God, in His love and mercy, has a huge “selection” of various challenges, and life is a lot more complex than just “reward and punishment”, like children think simplistically that the “deserving” have it easy and the bad have it difficult. A loving Father may sometimes give a better match, or easier challenge, after the person may have previously failed (or not…). Often, the person/s at fault may learn from their mistakes and act differently in the next match. Obviously, every case is different, but divorce is always seen as a last resort, and the norm is that even difficult situations can and should be improved through altruism, patience and effort. Why wait to do so in the next match, but rather start immediately with the present one, to re-kindle the original attraction. There are almost no mistakes that can’t be changed.
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