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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 5/11/07

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Readers React To “Put Your Spouse First, Not Last” (Chronicles 4-20)

Dear Rachel,

Having just read the letter from the husband who felt that his wife was too busy to meet his needs, I am wondering: Did he help with the kids or any Pesach preparation? My husband too complained that he was neglected. Well, boohoo for him. I work also and then have to take care of the kids and all the daily chores, in addition to getting ready for Pesach − which included a lot of family members on his side of the family who are difficult to please.

When I asked him to help me kasher the kitchen, he complained that his body was achy from working all day. Do I sound angry? Yes, I am. And even though we discuss how all he has to do is show up, Yom-Tov after Yom-Tov, nothing changes.

The good news is that all my children, boys and girls, are eager to help in any way. So I suggest that if husbands want their wives to have time for them, maybe they should help out and maybe they should buy their wives a gift or a package to a spa, even if it will only be used after the holiday to unwind. Maybe then they will not be so worried about why we are so tired and have no extra time for them.

Busy Mommy

Dear Rachel,

I am not sure which emotion ran through me the most when I read the response by one of our contributors, to which you replied to women, “Are you listening?”

You seemed to endorse the man’s position of making the woman a sex object and nothing more. Intimacy should be a mutual decision, and indeed even the Shulchan Aruch emphasizes the need for intimacy to benefit the WOMAN!

Rather, you seemed to buy into the writer’s complaint without exploring why his wife is not more available. Maybe she’d have more time if he offered to help her or provided her with outside help. Maybe he could try harder to make her feel wanted for reasons other than making meals and sex.

Maybe he could take better care of himself. I am a married man for 20 years, and I respect my wife’s feelings − and if she is not up to intimacy, there are other ways of showing closeness. To have intimacy just to satisfy his needs is selfish on the part of the husband, and I would have expected you to at least recognize that it needs to be mutual.

So before applauding him, please realize what he is really writing.

There’s more to love than

Dear Readers,

Neither you nor I can judge a situation that we are not privy to. Unfortunately, some wives do spread themselves thin in tending to a multitude of errands that include, in the writer’s words, “running to all different organizational functions” − at the expense of neglecting their own families. Chesed, they fail to grasp, begins in one’s home.

With all due respect to your sentiments, the reader will have noted that I specifically addressed the singular (“Woman, are you listening?”) rather than the plural form − precisely to make the distinction between the woman to whom the message may apply and the one who can comfortably disregard it. “If the shoe fits” as the saying goes.

Setting such scenario aside, one can appreciate where “busy mommy” is coming from. If a husband is not inclined for whatever reason to lend two helping hands with the myriad of chores that precedes the Yom-Tov of Pesach for instance, he should at least shoulder the responsibility of assuring that his wife has adequate help, and he should certainly refrain from kvetching about his own needs.

Kudos to “There’s more to love” for recognizing that compassion comes before passion. If more husbands had your attitude, wives would be more apt to go all out to please theirs. However, in all fairness to the writer whom you take to task, his gripe as stated does not automatically render him guilty of treating his wife as a sex object.

As for the brevity of my reply, I confess that I too was mired in Pesach preparation, besides having a work deadline to meet. I was also confident that some of the readers who would “read into the bigger picture” would not hesitate to take the writer on.

I thank you both for your cogent views − which are undoubtedly being met with a round of enthusiastic applause.

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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