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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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Life’s petty annoyances…

Dear Rachel,

What can I do about a sister-in-law who dresses like a slob? When she comes to visit us for Shabbos, it is embarrassing for me to be seen with her or to have other company over. I’ve even offered to take her shopping, but she finds excuses not to take me up on it and doesn’t really seem to care. Truth is she lives in Brooklyn and we are in Long Island, and so we don’t get to see one another much on weekdays.

I should say that her husband (my brother) isn’t too bothered by his dowdy-dressing wife so soliciting his help wouldn’t do a thing. My husband says live and let live and doesn’t understand my obsession with this or why it gets to me at all.

Do you see any way for me to knock some style sense into her?

Chic she’s not

Dear Chic,

You’re trying too hard. Designer labels are not for everyone and the fashion police won’t issue her a summons for failing to be fashion conscious. The reality is that some people simply can’t be bothered fussing with a wardrobe and are perfectly content and comfortable wearing loose-fitting and casual clothes that may strike another as colorless and boring. As the saying goes, to each his own.

Instead of focusing on your sister-in-law’s exterior, try concentrating on her inner qualities and talents. For her birthday you can make the effort of presenting her with a nice sweater or top that was “on sale” and that you thought would go well with the color of her eyes or that skirt she seems to favor. Other than that, give it a rest; surely your energy can be put to better use.

Dear Rachel,

There is a couple in my neighborhood whose marriage is on the rocks and from what I’ve been led to believe, her relentless nudging may be a contributing factor. They’ve only been married a few months but it seems that the wife is constantly berating her husband for not going to shul on time on Shabbos mornings.

How would I know? Her husband confided in mine, and I would just like to put the message out there for wives to stop berating their husbands and treating them like babies.

The worst thing a wife can do is to make her man feel inadequate or worthless. Chances are he’s been getting up early all his life and was nudged by his mother in his single years about getting to shul on time. Now is his chance to be independent, to do his own thing, and his wife should let him.

In time, especially with kids in the picture, he is bound to come around and get up on time on his own. Right now, the wife should mind her own responsibilities and keep mum about his. He is a grown boy and knows what he has to do.

Marriage is not about nagging

Dear Nagging,

Right you are. The last thing a husband wants is a mother figure in a wife. If nothing else, voicing her displeasure is not likely to motivate him to get to shul on time.

She can try getting up early herself to fix him his favorite morning beverage and then prepare to join him enthusiastically on his walk to shul. He may even start looking forward to making it on time. What is certain is that you can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.

Dear Rachel,

How do I stop a yenta from minding everyone else’s business? I work in a large office with many other girls and this one woman is always questioning me about my personal life. At first I thought this was just her way of being friendly, but before I knew what was happening I was bombarded by twenty questions, from my age and where I live, to how many kids I have, when I got married, where my husband’s from and what my sandwich consists of (no kidding; we were in the lunch room).

Am I being too sensitive? I am sort of a private person and old school; details of my personal life are no one’s affair unless I volunteer to share them. How do I handle this type of situation and what should be my comeback to Ms. Busybody when she next intrudes on my lunch break?

The nerve!

Dear Nerve,

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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