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March 2, 2015 / 11 Adar , 5775
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To A Lonely Wife: Give It A Rest!


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Dear Dr. Yael:

I read the March 2 letter from A Lonely Wife who feels unappreciated and neglected as she seeks more attention from her husband. It is necessary for her to receive a reality check – in other words, mussar.

While apparently having it all, she is unfulfilled. Well, how would she feel if she had to provide for her family? How would she feel if her husband was sick, or if she had to be the caregiver for a sick child or elderly family member? Perhaps her husband gives her too much of the good life.

What if he lost his parnassah? She would have to do her part by going out into the real world and earning one herself. And that would undoubtedly lead to her becoming a whining, miserable woman once she saw that others have more than her.

In short, she appears to be extremely needy and self-centered. She is a narcissist and, unlike her husband, disconnected from the real world. A Lonely Wife should understand that parnassos today are fleeting, and that there are potentially enormous problems associated with raising children. She needs to get with the program and shed her image of what the “perfect life” should be like.

As a therapist you need to tell her the truth, namely that she has had it too good. There are plenty of struggling single women who would be thrilled with such a successful husband – who is also a ba’al chesed! Please tell her to get off his back.

A Realist

Dear Realist:

Thank you for your response. We should always empathize with people who are going through hard times, and we should be thankful for all of our brachos. No one’s life is perfect and we must always look for the good in our lives, so as to remain positive and appreciative of the gifts that Hashem bestows on us.

Having a relationship with your husband is not something that is negative. On the contrary, we should all strive to work on our shalom bayis and improve our relationships with our spouses. Maybe others read the letter in question differently, but I read it as being written by a woman who wants to improve her relationship with her husband. Perhaps, but not necessarily so, she has too much time on her hands.

Many of today’s men are very busy earning a parnassah and doing important work on behalf of the klal. But they must understand that it is also important to be good husbands and fathers. Men who are constantly on their BlackBerries or iPhones need to shut them off when they walk in the door, or at least resist answering every text, phone call or e-mail.

The working world is not easy, but it is also not easy to be home with the children all day. Women need to have their husbands available for some kind of sharing or communication. That is not a selfish or narcissistic need. With the limited information she supplied, it is hard to assess whether A Lonely Wife just wants some much-needed communication or is needy and selfish. But I tend to give others the benefit of the doubt, and thus assume that this woman is a good person who just needs some communication with her husband. Hatzlachah!

Dear Dr. Yael:

Did I recently read correctly about couples with children complaining about their parents? Well, of all things!

Don’t these children have a clue by now of what their parents had to do to raise them? Regardless that they feel wronged, the biblical mitzvah of honoring one’s father and mother is unconditional. (Maybe in extreme situations, one’s rav should be consulted.)

And to still complain about parents who are still helping you after you’re married? I for one can’t stomach seeing or reading about this nonsense. Nothing personal, Dr. Respler, but I find much of what goes on in your profession enabling and/or legitimizing this behavior.

I thank my parents and grandparents for what they’ve done for me. I can never repay them, and can only ask them to stay exactly as they are.

No longer a teen, I have come to realize that they have no faults.

D.L.

Dear D.L.:

Thank you for your reality check. We need to have kavod for our parents no matter what they do or say. A frum therapist who follows daas Torah would never legitimize being chutzpadik; rather, he or she would try to help the young woman change her perspective and work on having a better relationship with her parents and/or in-laws. Therapists are listeners, trying to help their clients work on different relationships in their lives. We cannot change how people feel and we need to validate their feelings, but we can help them see things from another perspective and give them insight into different relationships. Parents may not be perfect and may have faults, but that does not change a child’s requirement to show them derech eretz. For their part, most parents want their children to be happy and want to be good to them, and are thus willing to work on their relationships with their children.

While I appreciate your letter, you are perhaps being harsh on the younger generation. I understand your feelings since I am probably in the same generation as you, and we had no expectations from our parents. In fact, we mostly thought about how we could take care of them. You seem to be reflecting the feelings of many of our contemporaries.

The letter writer appeared to exhibit derech eretz for the parents that were mentioned. As we age, we often realize how hard it is to raise children. This makes us admire our parents more, seeing less of their faults. However, I take issue with you that therapists encourage a lack of derech eretz. In my column, it is imperative that I look at all sides of the situation. Since it is unclear as to exactly what is transpiring, the goal is to promote shalom on all sides.

People sometimes give with too many strings attached. As those factors were unclear in that column, I tried to answer by offering many possibilities. Thank you for taking the time to write. Hatzlachah!

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