Dear Dr. Yael: A few years ago, our family went through a very traumatic period of time when my wife was diagnosed with a brain aneurism. She has suffered through so much pain and rehabilitation, and things have not returned to normal.
Recently, there a number of articles dealing with the difficulties singles are having getting married have appeared in various publications. Unfortunately, many young people in their 20’s (and some even in their 30’s) are struggling to find their bashert.
Dear Dr. Yael: I am the oldest child in a family of seven; one of my sisters is a year younger than me. Even though we basically have the same responsibilities, somehow I always get stuck with all the household chores. My sister has a tendency to take her time, all the while doing one job. Honestly, sometimes it takes her three hours to do the dishes. She says it is because she is a “schlep.” She actually gets angry with her when I ask her to move quicker, saying that “I am not understanding of her feelings” and “she needs time.”
Dear Dr. Yael: I am part of the “over 50” crowd and am having a really hard time with computers, cell phones and the rest of the modern-day technology. I work as a well-paid secretary, but am stuck in the same position with little room for advancement due to my poor computer skills. All the while I see all of my younger colleagues, with less experience, getting raises because they are more technologically advanced. Despite taking courses to improve in this area, I am finding it hard to succeed.
One of the most powerful dimensions of a successful marriage is a couple’s ability to keep focused on each other's good points and unique personality traits. Too often, people become fixated on the negative, sweating “over the small stuff," and forgetting the positive points that brought them together in the first place.
Dear Dr. Yael: I am a female driver dealing with challenges of derech eretz while driving in my community. Every time the light is about to turn green, the person behind me seems to immediately honk the horn, yet no one has a problem double-parking, making me feel as if I am driving on an obstacle course.
Self esteem is one of the most important factors influencing human behavior. Despite what some people believe, self esteem can be a critical issue in marriage, where unresolved identity issues from childhood can place unwanted stress on a relationship.
Dear Dr. Yael: I am writing to you in regards to your article, “Easing The Trauma Of Divorce” (Dear Dr. Yael, 11-16). Now in my 30s, I am the product of a divorced home in which my parents made me, an only child, a pawn. Throughout my life the trauma and hatred I witnessed between my parents was unbearable. As a result, I am terrified to get married, despite the desire to do so in a normal and happy setting. I have gone for therapy, but this great fear is hard to overcome. I wonder if this feeling will ever leave me.
Dear Dr. Yael: I have an issue and it is causing problems in my marriage. The home I grew up was not a warm one and I never received much love. For that reason, showing love to others is difficult for me – and for my husband. He is a warm and caring person and does not deserve my lack of affection. While I am working hard to change, I was wondering if you could offer some suggestions that might be helpful to both him and me. Anonymous
Creating direction in a marriage is similar to going on a long journey. To get to where you want to go, you need to have a plan that includes directions, supplies and the ability to navigate along the way. You will also have to be prepared for many possible factors that may interfere with your trip, including wind, rain, unpredictable mechanical breakdown and human error. Most importantly you will need a map to guide and help reorient you in case you lose your way.
Dear Dr. Respler: I am currently involved in a yearlong custody battle over my three children, who are all under the age of 10. I...
Sometimes you just have to wonder, "What were they thinking?" My wife and I speak on marriage-related topics to variant crowds. We know what we're going to say, but we have no idea what the audience may offer. So, when we speak publicly, before we open the floor to comments or questions (which we welcome), we always preface with a cautionary word not to make any personal or disparaging remarks about one's spouse.
Dear Dr. Yael: I am struggling in my marriage after just five years. I am, by nature, a very outgoing person. I love to go out with friends and have people over for Shabbos meals. My husband, on the other hand, is quieter and would rather be home and stick to our routine. This causes a great deal of friction; between work and the kids, I do not have much of a social life and always want to invite people over or go out with other couples.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Thus begins Jane Austen’s classic marriage-themed novelwork of marriage, Pride and Prejudice.
Dear Dr. Yael: I feel extremely guilty about my elderly father and am filled with anger toward my sisters and brothers in regards to his care.
I often share with my clients a simple yet powerful analogy: think about your relationship as you do about your bank account. That’s because investing in your relationship is similar to saving money; the more you put into your bank account or relationship, the more you can take out when necessary.
Dear Readers: Much of my private practice is devoted to helping couples in conflict resolve their differences. I have discovered over the years that personality compatibility is an essential component of a happy marriage. Many of the couples I see in therapy struggle with reconciling radically different modes of communicating and coping with life’s issues. As a result, it is often the case that arguments ensue, empathy is strained and estrangement sets in. With that as a backdrop, here are several fictitious vignettes of couples that are personality incompatible.
A mother and father living in accord and harmony is one of the best presents that can be granted to a child. Yet what happens when G-d’s natural design of child rearing becomes stripped away from a family? What happens when the notion of enjoying quality time with both parents together becomes non-existent? I am of course referring to the ramifications of divorce. Divorce eradicates the stability of a traditional family unit and invites the inherent difficulties of single parenting.
Dear Readers: It is Motzei Rosh Hashanah as I write this letter. I have been a therapist for over thirty years and devote a large part of my practice to marital and pre-marital therapy. This year I have had many clients seeking my services after they sought help from other frum therapists. Regarding this, I wish to address the following phenomena:
Dear Dr. Yael: I am a man in my 50s who, Baruch Hashem, has had a good life. I am married with children and grandchildren and was always a happy-go-lucky person, thankful for all the berachot bestowed on me. This year, though, has been very difficult for me, with many family and personal problems. I have begun to experience something that I have never really had before: depression. Out of nowhere I begin to feel upset and anxious, and I do not know what to do to get rid of these feelings.
Mordechai, 36, and Chani, 35, were married for six years and came to me for advice on how to save their relationship. They seemed to have everything going for them. They were working professionals, successful and upwardly mobile; they shared many common factors including similar religious beliefs, intelligence levels, and were both pleasantly extroverted.
Feeling like a prisoner, I went along with a shidduch she wanted for me. Baruch Hashem, the girl was sweet and beloved. But I held out hope that after the wedding I'd be able to ask my wife to gradually change. I knew this could cause problems, but I was hopeful. Sadly, after 12 years of marriage and six children, my situation is the same; my wife is unwilling to change. As a matter of fact, contrary to what I had hoped for, the opposite is happening: my wife wants me to change. She says that I am too modern and should become more frum.
Dear Dr. Yael: My husband and I are, Baruch Hashem, happily married for five years. But there is a stumbling block constantly facing us.
If you would like to know if your marriage is relationship centered or not, the way to find out is to ask yourself about your core values. For example, what is the most important principle of your marriage? Is it your desire for money or pleasure? Do you dream about being comfortable, being honored by your spouse and having a lot of fun?
As we begin the New Year it is with a sense of hope that we can avoid the painful arguments, hurtful remarks and misunderstandings which have harmed our relationships in the past. We seek to make amends with friends and family over the High Holidays and resolve that things will be different in the future. But moving forward, we may also wonder if we can really change patterns of relating that have been perpetuated for years or decades.