Dear Dr. Yael:
I am truly disturbed by the views expressed in your June 20 column, “Conversational Lessons.”
Do you and M.G. honestly think that married people are so weak that they will act inappropriately toward and run off with someone any chance they get? If men or women cannot sit at a Shabbos table without having impure thoughts, how will they ever be able to work with someone of the opposite gender? And how can they even go to shul? After all, while they are waiting for their spouses after davening they may see someone else’s spouse.
We were fortunate to move to an out-of-town community where other young couples live. We all ate meals together on Shabbos, planned Sunday family activities – and even went out as couples on Saturday nights. We all had children, gaining and losing weight in the process. While I am sure that the husbands noticed this, there was never a question of anyone crossing lines. And now we are all lucky enough to have our married children and our grandchildren in town sharing friendships – making this a three-generation chevrah.
And yes, they too get together for meals and activities!
I know that divorce sometimes happens because someone’s spouse becomes friendly with another’s friend. But how often does this occur? I also know that office romances happen at least as often. In these instances, the marriage affected by either of these behaviors was not meant to be.
Concerning the rising divorce rate, perhaps couples should stop their panicky rush to get married quickly and at such young ages. Many singles settle in their quest for a spouse for fear that they won’t meet anyone better. Others are simply too immature to be dating in the first place. I also don’t think it’s helpful that the men are learning in beis medrash and spending time with their friends all day while the women are often isolated at work or school (or both) with no way to meet other young women because they don’t socialize with their husbands’ married friends as couples.
Here’s the bottom line: People are responsible for their actions. And I, for one, would not want to have a husband who second-guesses his love for me every time he sees one of my prettier, thinner, or richer friends. I would also not want to be married to someone who has no self-control and whose thoughts lead to actions.
A Longtime Wife, Mom and Bubby – With Lots of Couples As Friends
Dear Longtime Wife, Mom and Bubby:
Thank you for your heartfelt letter. One of the most important points I may have forgotten to include, or that you may have missed, is that there is no uniform scenario.
Getting together with friends on Shabbos or going out with them on Motzaei Shabbos is fine, but I advise married couples to also make time to spend with just each other. It is unhealthy to always be with the same couple, never spending private time with one’s spouse.
Of course the husband must have self-control and be able to love his wife for who she is, but that does not mean that the wife should constantly be parading beautiful single women in front of her husband. One must use common sense. The wife should certainly invite friends over, do chesed with them, and enjoy some nights out with them – all the while making certain that she exhibits appropriate behavior and ensures that she spends quality alone time with her husband. This will help cultivate their relationship.
Some yeshivish couples do not believe in going out with other couples, but that does not mean that the women cannot have social lives. There are many shiurim, women’s events, and other opportunities for women to participate in, helping them enjoy spending time with each other. And plenty organize a women’s night out.Dr. Yael Respler
About the Author: Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.
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