“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Remember that saccharine line from the famous 1970 movie “Love Story?” It sounded icky to us then, and it sounds icky to us now, but since, like us, many of you also came of age under the spell of that cloying mantra, we’d like to set the record straight once and for all: it’s a big fat lie that has nothing whatsoever to do with love.
Note from Dr. Respler: In A Plea To My Husband’s Ex (The Magazine, 12-9-2011), I mistakenly left out one important detail. Her husband has legally sanctioned visitation rights to his children, and despite this his ex-wife has largely prevented their children from having contact with their father. The father has been advised by his rebbeim and many legal experts to refrain from returning to court to fight for his relationship with his children. He is following this advice. This letter is in response to my reply to that letter.
Psychologist David Richo defines love in terms of five A's: appreciation, affection, attentiveness (listening), acceptance and allowing (as in allowing others the freedom to fulfill their own dreams). Love is the opposite of control.
Whenever I speak at a shul or event I’m usually asked what I think are the vital aspects of good communication, and by implication, what makes for bad communication.
Readers respond to the letter from Wounded In-Laws (Magazine 12-2-2011)
Dear Dr. Yael: My husband recently started davening in a vasikin (sunrise) minyan. Our problem is that I am a light sleeper, and he sleeps right through his alarm. I realize that while he is not trying to be cruel by intentionally leaving on his radio in the middle of the night just to hear what is going on in the world, my patience is extremely thin at 4 a.m.
If you are in a difficult marriage and are considering seeking help, you're probably wondering: what would the counselor make us do during the session? Would my counselor know the appropriate technique to use for our specific case? Is our counselor's style suited to our problem?
Dear Dr. Yael: After reading your columns about bullying, I wanted to share with you a wonderful story about how our son went from being a bully to becoming a tzaddik.
I am writing to you on my husband’s – your ex-husband’s – behalf. While driving home from work the day after Sukkos, my thoughts were occupied with his broken heart. I do not always clearly hear his pain, but that day my heart began to ache for the pain you are putting him through.
Dear Dr. Yael: We have taken our daughter-in-law into our home with warmth and love. Unfortunately, her parents are divorced and she grew up in a dysfunctional family with neither of her parents giving to her financially or emotionally.
The country's economic indicators may be falling, but incidents of domestic violence are rising.
Dear Dr. Yael: I wish to share some thoughts with you and Despondent Daughter-in-Law (Magazine, 10-28-2011). I am a happily married woman who has a great relationship with my mother-in-law. Although it might seem to others that my mother-in-law sometimes favors her other children’s families over mine, I don’t let that bother me – I have a different approach toward the whole situation.
Mrs. Sharon Russ, Hotline Director for Shalom Task Force, prays every day that her job will cease to exist. Alas, her prayers have yet to be answered. Over the last fifteen years, thousands of Jewish women have summoned up the courage to reach out and contact the hotline, asking for help. They rely on Shalom Task Force's guarantee of anonymity and privacy and awareness that an Orthodox Jewish wife will often delay efforts to seek advice. This is because she is fearful of embarrassment and the potential negative consequences for her and her children. When she finally gathers the courage to face her dilemma, calling the hotline is her first step towards getting help.
Dear Dr. Yael: Respectfully, I was greatly disappointed with your 10/21/11 column regarding bullying. Although my experiences relating to this issue occurred more than 15 years ago, and the bullying did not, Baruch Hashem, affect my son as he journeyed into adulthood, I am still extremely bitter about what occurred.
The challenges that married couples face everyday can be quite complicated, not to mention filled with unique nuances. Issues of infidelity in one couple are different from issues of infidelity in another.
Q: My husband and I are having trouble in our marriage. We tend to fight about the same issues every day and he’s so emotionally distant. At what point should I consider seeing a marriage therapist?
Are we doing enough to prepare our children for marriage? I'm not talking about matters of Jewish law which couples learn about with their chassan and kallah teachers before they get married. What I'm referring to is the lack of knowledge of effective communication skills needed to make marriage successful and relationship-building tools that can enhance feelings of love and camaraderie.
In my last article I had mentioned that often one of the symptoms of autophobia, a fear of abandonment, is that as adults people suffering with this condition may become extremely sensitive to rejection.
In part one (Family Issues 04-29-2011) we mentioned that often a symptom of the anxiety disorder, the fear of abandonment, is a strong need to be in control. That is because the person suffering from the disorder has lost someone in their past - due to separation, divorce or death - and may unconsciously blame themselves for the desertion.
Q. I’ve had some problems getting over the anger I’ve carried throughout my life towards my father. He left my mother for another woman and my mother never really recovered. Even now, 20 years later, I still have difficulty dealing with him because of that. He hasn’t ever apologized, blaming my mother for sharing the information with me, and expects me to forgive and forget. Every Yom Kippur becomes a painful experience - feeling immense pressure to forgive and the guilt of my not wanting to. I feel I must forgive him but don’t know how. An angry daughter
The fear of abandonment, also known as autophobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by an acute fear of being alone. Often, one of the symptoms of this particular anxiety is a strong need to be in control. This is because one has previously lost someone close through separation, divorce or death and may unconsciously blames his or herself for the event. When this happens, any type of separation may traumatize the person, even the marriage of his or her own child can be viewed as a life-threatening event.
Question: My husband is always telling me the wonderful things he’s done to make me happy. If he makes the bed, makes calls on my behalf, works hard in the office, I hear about it. The other day he had to take care of a health insurance issue and he made sure to tell me that it took over two hours and three phone calls, in case I thought it went smoothly. I don’t constantly tally up what I do for him and I find it childish that he does. My friends tell me that their husbands don’t do this – so, why does mine?
Question: My husband and I both travel a great deal, independent of each other. My husband owns a start up company and I am very supportive of his need to travel constantly during the next couple of years. In the meantime, I am the primary wage earner and occasionally have to travel myself. Our youngest child is in college so we aren’t tethered to home. A long time ago, about 15 years, my husband was unfaithful. Obviously we worked through it and determinedly rebuilt our marriage. While he has not given me any reason to doubt him, lately it seems as if we hardly talk. We spend so much time apart and when we are together, we are both so exhausted. I have not brought up this issue with him as I am not sure what to say. Can you help?
The following was a letter sent as a response to the article, "Children of Shame" (02-04-2011). The article addressed the fact that children learn at a very young age to disconnect their feelings as a mechanism to end their feelings of shame. As these children become adults, they find it difficult to reconnect those out of fear that once again they will feel the pain of shame.
Question: My son is three-years-old and we have a great relationship. However, his mother and I are divorced and every time I go to pick him up he runs around and sort of avoids me. It's seems more like a game than anything else. I say that because once I chase him down and get him, we go off together - no tears, everything is great. But then, when I drop him off, he runs away without saying goodbye. For me his behavior is somewhat disturbing, how mother though has said that all this means he really doesn’t want to be with me. Other than pick-up and drop-off everything is truly fine between us. Shouldn't my ex-wife try to help instead of doing nothing and complaining?