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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Defusing Tension With Kindness

Respler-Yael

Here’s what happened: On a Friday afternoon, her husband came home from work while she was still cooking for Shabbos. He saw a kitchen in turmoil. The first thing he said was, “Wow, this kitchen is a mess.” While not understanding why he couldn’t focus on the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen and the beautiful dishes that she had prepared, she remembered what we had practiced. She smiled at her husband and said, “You must be starving, why don’t I cut you a piece of hot potato kugel?” Her husband, immediately realizing his error, apologized and complimented her for making the potato kugel. This woman turned a prospective argument into a positive marital moment. Her action took a lot of strength, and it resulted in something positive. She was able to get her point across without any yelling or criticism heaped on her.

Since you and your mother-in-law are not in joint therapy, you may not be as successful as the woman described above. However, you are likely to change the dynamic – for the better – in your relationship by adhering to this advice. Perhaps your mother-in-law will even begin to compliment you, as you are teaching her to behave differently. Hatzlachah with this technique. If, however, you do not see positive results, you should seek short-term professional help for guidance when faced with this difficult situation.

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