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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Dear Reader’

Stressing The Positives

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

My husband and I are, Baruch Hashem, happily married for five years. But there is a stumbling block constantly facing us.

I grew up in a home without any shalom bayis, as my parents constantly argued and fought. They tried to be good parents but they were always in bad moods because of their relationship. I often hated being home and was embarrassed to bring friends around because of what they might witness.

With maturity and a lot of soul searching, I finally understand their issues. I am have stopped blaming them for what they put us through and instead try to respect them for the efforts they put into raising us. But when it comes to my marriage, every time my husband says something that remotely resembles what my father may have said to my mother, I find myself responding the way she did. This happens even if what he said doesn’t bother me when I think about it calmly. For his part, my husband understands the way I grew up and tries to be patient with me, but his patience is wearing thin.

Related to that is although my husband and I are happy now, I am sure that unhappiness will soon set in. After all, my parents were probably happy when they were first married; their unhappiness developed over time. And that make me wonder whether or not we are actually happy now.

All of this is taking a toll on my marriage and I am not sure how to deal with it. I’d also like to know if this is normal.

Thanks in advance for your advice. We are looking forward to hearing your suggestions.

A Reader

Dear Reader:

You appear to be experiencing transference in your relationship with your husband. Transference is when someone transfers the negative feelings he or she feels toward one person who is important onto someone else.

Your attitude is a key issue in your marriage. If you believe that you are happy, you will in fact be happy – as happiness is a state of mind. Therefore, it is not healthy to think negatively.

It sounds as if you have worked on your personhood. The fact that you are so aware of your issues demonstrates your strengths. Take advantage of this and work on improving the way you respond to your husband. Just believe that you can find positive ways to react – once you believe that you can, it will be easier to do!

There is something called the Imago Theory that I often employ in therapy sessions. Basically it allows people to recreate their imago – the image of their own childhood in their lives and in their marriages.

What often happens during the dating process is that you are attracted to someone who, in your mind, may resemble one or both of your parents. This may present challenging issues to you (and possibly to your spouse as well) in your marriage. You may want to subconsciously recreate your childhood problems and work them out through your marriage. At times, even if your husband does not really behave like your father but does certain things that sometimes remind you of your father, you may overreact to those things because of your childhood.

As to your important question about whether your situation is normal: it falls within that category. But please remember to reasonably do what it takes to fight your negative feelings and the overall depressing cycle.

Since your husband is attempting to not allow you to recreate your childhood, you may need individual therapy. While as you say your marriage is good right now, you are falling into the trap of responding the way your mother responded to your father.

Much of what is transpiring is not on a conscious level. Thus, a therapist will hopefully be able to help you focus and build your positives. Through the building of those strengths, you will enhance your chances of overcoming your nisyonos (challenges) in life. I honestly believe that it will be difficult for you to change the way you respond to your husband without professional help.

Keep in mind that the therapist’s personality is key to your success in being helped. Seek a therapist who is cognitive-behavioral and solution-oriented. In order to conquer your problem, help the therapist in his or her attempt to focus on all of your strengths.

Acting Respectfully Always Pays Off

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:
Although I agree with your advice to A Passive Reader (Showing Respect Gets Results, 4-20) about how to deal with difficult people, I emphatically disagree with your decision to take the blame for the impatient frum guy who was honking his horn. If you saw him run someone over with his car, would you take the blame for that too? If you had gotten a ticket, would you have paid it? If the officer had arrested you, would you have gone to jail? I am not a rabbi, but I would be surprised if not informing means taking the blame as well.

Meanwhile, the “young, impatient frum guy” sat there and let you take the heat for him. He may be frum, but he’s no tzaddik. In fact, he is a coward and should be ashamed of himself.

The simplest thing would have been to say to the officer, “It wasn’t me. Check other cars.” The officer must have been pretty ignorant himself not to see that someone else was blowing the horn.

Massering is very problematic, and sometimes it is used to protect people who have done terrible things. At best the guy honking the horn committed a nuisance act and not a crime, but for you to take the blame and the heat was plainly wrong. Best wishes, A Reader

Dear Reader:
Thank you for sharing your interesting thought, but you missed the point of my response. I am not advocating that people take responsibility for things they did not do. My point was how one should deal diplomatically in a difficult situation, so that an angry or argumentative person can be dealt with in a manner that mitigates the situation.

I received many responses regarding this column, including two amazing stories from people who found themselves in similar situations. Both stories are about people who committed driving errors and deserved to be ticketed, but were saved from getting tickets due to the way they handled the situation.

Although my intention is not to instruct people on ways to avoid getting tickets from the police when they are in fact guilty of a driving misdemeanor, I will share these stories so that people will learn that you get further in life – and become more productive – by speaking in a respectful and honest manner than by screaming or being disrespectful. Both stories are about the issue of ticket avoidance.

Story #1: One of my husband’s physician colleagues was driving slightly over the speed limit in a carpool lane on a Sunday when he was pulled over. He was late to his grandchild’s birthday party, having been delayed due to attending to patients’ needs in the hospital. When pulled over, he thought about how to handle the situation in a way whereby he would not be ticketed (which could have meant points on his license). He also wanted to ensure that he would not cause a chillul Hashem.

He decided that the best course of action would be that of respectfulness and honesty. He thus told the police officer the truth, speaking respectfully to him and explaining that he did not know that he was not allowed to use the carpool lane on Sundays. He also acknowledged that he knew that he was driving slightly over the speed limit, but that he felt the need to rush to his granddaughter’s birthday party to which he was late. He told the officer that he had gotten stuck all morning in the hospital treating patients. The officer, seemingly impressed with his honesty and respectful tone, responded, “Okay, doctor, be careful and do not do this again.” He then let my husband’s colleague go on his way.

I believe that what prompted the officer not to issue the doctor a ticket was the fact that the doctor spoke respectfully to him. He addressed him as “officer,” said “yes, sir” in a nice tone, and imparted the truth. His actions made the policeman feel that he was being treated with deference. The lesson: In many situations we can persuade people to be more lenient toward us by treating them with respect. This makes them feel that they are worthy of our respect.

Story #2: My friend was driving her son to his friend’s house for the purpose of getting a ride to his yeshiva dorm. It was around midnight and the streets were quiet and desolate. Being tired, she did not notice the red light on a side street and drove through it – and was suddenly pulled over by a police officer.

The officer took down her license information (she had no violations), saw a teenaged boy and luggage in her minivan, and noticed how tired and overworked she seemed. My friend apologized to the officer, saying that she did not see a light on the small street. She said that she stopped as if for a stop sign, and then made a right turn. She emphasized the point that she was a careful driver and would never purposely pass a red light. As she was very courteous, the officer told her to go home, saying, “You look overtired and overworked. Be careful.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/acting-respectfully-always-pays-off/2012/05/04/

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