Caring gestures like a homemade, baked item, a small gift, or a card are very appreciated and leave an extra-special warm feeling - that someone with whom you are not particularly close is thinking of you. It also takes away the lonely feeling of being "failures" or "ones who are different."
Be careful to avoid arrogance by not extensively discussing the virtues of your family members to those who are prone to jealousy. This can only fuel more envy.
Active listening is only one part of the marriage equation; learning what to say and what not to say is the other half. And, it’s not just about expressing your feelings, but doing it in a way that avoids hurting the other person.
Dear Dr Yael: My husband and I have seven children; three are married, and our 19-year-old son is currently looking for a shidduch. We are chassidish, so we check out every girl very thoroughly before our son meets her.
Dear Dr. Yael: I found your June 28 column, The Challenge Of Remarrying, to be very true. I too lost my husband and was encouraged by my married children to remarry. I was reluctant to do so, but since the man I was considering seeing was a friend who knew my husband and I had known his deceased wife, I felt there was a real potential. Thanks in great measure to my children’s pressure, we are very happy together.
Dear Dr. Yael: My in-laws have a wonderful reputation in our community. They are looked upon as truly charitable and giving people. However, charity should begin at home. My in-laws never helped us financially, even when approached gracefully and tactfully. But they often give generously to their shul’s tzedakah funds, among other charities – as long as the public recognizes their contributions.
It may be difficult to let go of your husband’s memory, but please realize that marrying again will not mean that you must forget your late husband or your beautiful marriage with him.
Dear Dr. Yael: I admired your very appropriate reply to Anonymous about being careful what you say to others (Nishmah Vena’aseh: Think Before Speaking – 6-7). I painfully lost a son more than 15 years ago due to a drug overdose.
Stacy and Michael walked out of the marriage counselor's office angrier than when they arrived. It was their third session and this last fight over his ex wife wasn't going away. The fifty minutes embroiled in a detailed outline of the battle only fired up their anger and the counselor's request to remember how much they love each other wasn't helping. It would be a week before the next session and both of them were already talking about not returning for therapy.
Due to her family situation, it is understandable that she will have more responsibilities than other girls her age, but she would benefit from having some free time and receiving more appreciation for her hard work.
Dear Dr. Yael: My husband and I are married for three years and want to have children. Thus I’m undergoing fertility treatment, and gaining weight as a result. At a wedding I recently attended, everyone was looking at my stomach. Someone actually approached me and said, smiling, “I see that you put on some weight, so when is the baby due?”
Control may be the most destructive force influencing a marriage. Let me illustrate this point with the following story. About two years ago a woman named Bracha, 47, came to speak to me about her husband’s controlling behavior. This is how she described her precarious situation:
I read the May 10 letter in your column from H.S. (Depression: Not A Hopeless Malady) regarding her husband’s rabbi’s view about depression, and your response to it.
Dear Dr. Yael: Do you really believe that the Internet is the reason why the divorce rate is so high among young couples? This may be so in some cases, but what about the fact that many singles are pressured to get married at a young age despite not having any idea what they are looking for in a mate? And add to that the fact that many are pressured to make a decision about marriage after dating for a very short period of time.
From the moment they stand under the chuppah, newlyweds have two years to enjoy the special bliss that new love brings. This new finding, reported by the New York Times, is based on a study undertaken by American and European researchers. 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over 15 years were followed. The research shows that after two years the couples moved into a more companionable state in their relationships.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
Dear Dr Yael: During a shiur on Pirkei Avos, a rabbi admired by my husband spoke about how some people begrudge others certain things. He mentioned the “D” word (without saying the word itself), and I think he said it was an illness talked about in the Gemara. He said that people suffering from this “machalah shachor” (dark illness) should live in a desert with the wild animals. My assumption was that the person would be left to die there.
Controlling behavior may be the number one reason that your marriage needs first aid. If you are unfamiliar with the topic of control, it’s no surprise. Most people are unaware that control is a major issue for counselors, therapists and psychologists-at-large.
Instead of putting it all on the men, saying for example that they are "trained" by "society" to feel, think and behave as they do, perhaps you could have encouraged these self-described happily-married women to look in the mirror and try to figure out why their husbands seem to act insensitively toward them.
My friend forwarded this letter and I am sharing it with you, my readers as it concerns an issue that affects many in the “sandwich generation.”