Friday, May 8, 2009

ARE-EE-ESS-PEE-EE-CEE-TEE

Well, I finally got my bloggering self married. Yup. It was actually a fun wedding, though very different from the first one.

The first thing I've noticed about being married again is that almost nothing has changed. I don't feel too different, at least not yet. My focus has shifted, of course, and I'm a little busier and a lot happier. But other than this bauble on my finger (a pretty damn flippin' gorgeous one, I must say), and this rug on my head, I just don't feel all that different. Well, except for the respect thing.

I first got married in my early thirties, which means I spent much of my adult life as an unmarried woman. In between marriages, I was divorced for about two years, and so I was able to step back a little and get some perspective on how marital status affects the way people see you. Over the course of this journey, I've been a part of three separate Jewish communities, two of them in New York. Interesting to see how things work.

No question that, across the board, I got and get much, much more respect as a married woman than as a single or divorced one. There is just no question. And it is really troubling.

As a single, I didn't even understand what it meant to get any sort of respect or recognition. I was used to being asked if I "needed" a Shabbos meal. I was never asked to help with any Jewish organizations or really to participate in any meaningful way in the community, other than doing singles stuff. The most common topic of conversation was shidduchim, dates, what (not who) I was looking for, what I could do to meet people, etc. I was barely half a person and didn't even know it.

Then came marriage. Instant credibility. I was asked to serve on several boards of Jewish organizations. I was treated as an asset at Shabbos meals, rather than as a liability. People in the Jewish community came to me for advice on finances, career stuff, community issues, etc. I was less of myself because of my horrible marriage, but my marital status somehow made my personhood status skyrocket.

Then came the divorce. I became persona non grata faster than the speed of light. No one asked me to volunteer anymore. I was an even greater liability at Shabbos meals (got invited out much less), I guess because divorce is still a stigma, or perhaps because I was a living reminder of failure and unpleasantness. I just don't think the frum community knows what to do with divorce(e)s, especially the ones without children.

And now, suddenly, my star is rising again. The Husband and I are completely booked for every meal on Shavuot, with invitations to spare. We both noted that last Shavuot, we each had only one invitation in our then respective communities. I've been snagged to teach some women's classes and two organizations have invited me to serve as a board member. The Husband too is re-emerging in the community.

I hate this sort of in-bias in the frum world. Why is it that someone who is not married is considered less than valuable? Why does marriage, rather than accomplishment, buy you instant respect? Why isn't there a higher place in the frum food chain for singles or divorced people?

I told The Husband that having been through this particular ringer, I was going to fill up our Shabbos and YomTov tables with singles and divorce(e)s, and try to engage them to become more involved in Jewish leadership roles wherever I could. He agreed.

Not everyone who is part of The Tribe is also part of the mainstream. Time to start hacking away at the bias.

9 comments:

BrooklynWolf said...

Mazal Tov!!! May you and your (re)new husband have long lives of health and happiness.

The Wolf

Nice Jewish Guy said...

When I fist divorced, I did get swamped with invites, at least initially. Maybe it's different for men than women. But it didn't last, and several years later, it's only a sparse handful of people who invite me, and it's usually a standing invite. Yom tov is a little better.

I agree that singles and divorceds are second-class in the frum world.

Oh, and put me down for a meal, any one!

frum single female said...

congratulations on your marriage.
singles and divorced will never be part of mainstream judaism. its too scary for the mainstream to accept us. unfortunately they are also to scared by us to help us find our basherts as well. i wouldnt say everyone is apethetic but alot are.
anyway, im happy for you that you are back in the mainstream

smoo said...

NJG,
"When I FIST divorced..."
That is one sure way to get divorced!

Ms Taken, er Mrs. Taken,
Is all the added communal tasks worth the risk of marriage? (jj)
Seriously, I experienced a very similar pattern. Once divorced, the community wants to sweep you under the rug but there are always the few exceptions that stand out in my mind. The few who constantly offer me food (akin to putting out milk for a stray cat) or invite me regularly. If I don't make an effort to invite couples out, there would be more lonely shabbatot.
Glad you're enjoying your status upgrade!

WebGirl said...

You know what's weird? Though I have crossed over into the so-called mainstream, I still identify strongly as a divorcee. I mean, really, what part of my life story is actually "normal?" I am a childless NY FFB with a somewhat unusual career and background, who married, divorced, and remarried an out-of-town BT with a few unusual callings himself. There is nothing conventional or typical about our story.

So I have the title, the ring and the rug, but frankly, in my heart, I will never leave my experience as a divorcee behind. Well, maybe it's too soon to say that. But I identify and connect with divorced people so much more than with marrieds. Maybe being divorced has really broken me in some way. I don't mind feeling this way, actually. It makes me feel like I survived something important and like I have some proprietary knowledge.

JM said...

Anyway. Mazel tov!!

anon1 said...

Mazel tov -- hope you and the Husband have many, many happy years together.

Lubab No More said...

Mazel Tov! Glad to hear how happy you are. I wish you all the best.

Jacob Da Jew said...

Was catching up on some reading and whew! what news, I'm way behind but please accept a warm mazal tov.