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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘dr’

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Dear Dr. Yael,

I need your advice. I am developing a strong disdain for my husband of almost 20 years and I don’t know how to snap out of it.

Let me backtrack: My husband and I met and married when we were both 20 and fresh out of yeshiva/seminary. Back then, I was obsessed with him and admired, agreed and enjoyed everything he said and did – he could do no wrong. We discussed our views on politics, childrearing, religion, finance, family, etc. and were on the same page. I was probably living in a unrealistic, fantasy world, because things are very different now. Fast forward 18 years and 4 kids later, and I cannot stand the man.

It is not that he did anything wrong, nor did I. I think we simply morphed into different people. My views have matured and evolved and his have not. For years now, I have disagreed with him and despised his every word and action. He has also lost his zest for life, and nothing I do can bring it back.

As I said, this has been going on for years, but life was so busy with school, jobs and babies that I didn’t have much time to dwell on things, even though they bothered me tremendously. Now that life has slowed down (kids older, secure job) it has really become an issue. I do not enjoy spending time with him at all.

Why am I writing you? I do not believe in divorce, so I figured I should roll up my sleeves and try to get into his world and appreciate his hobbies and interests. I did this for almost two years. I read the same books he read, watched the same films, tried his recipes, hung out with his friends etc. – and hated every minute of it.

I brought up going to counseling, but he refused, so I went alone. This was helpful for a while as the therapist taught me how to navigate this mess, but now I am tired of playing mental chess while trying to figure out which move to make next.

While he is the same person he was at 20 (only heavier, lazier, and more stubborn), I have retained my youthful spirit and figure, while evolving into a professional.

How can I deal with this for the next 50 or so years?



Dear Anonymous,

I read your letter with a heavy heart and wish there was an easy answer to your question, but there isn’t. However, as it sounds like you and your husband once had a deeper connection, it might be possible for you to find it again. It will not be easy and, although it sounds like you have tried all the options, I would like to propose some ideas.

My first suggestion is that you and your husband begin dating each other again. Obviously, this can only work if your husband is willing to try as well. If you can get your husband on board, then try the following ideas:

Make your dates fun! If you can’t agree on something fun, then agree that you will take turns doing things that the other finds fun (one week your turn, the next week his turn) and that you will both make an effort to enjoy whatever you are doing. Having fun together and enjoying the time will, hopefully, spark some of those old feelings. As I said, you do not have to have the same interests for this to work. You just have to agree to enjoy whatever it is you decide to do and make it a positive experience.

Dress up nicely. This is important for both of you. Remember, you are going on a date, so put in the same effort you did when you were in the “dating parsha.” Just because you are married does not mean that you don’t deserve to look special and to feel that the other person cares about his or her appearance. Also, once you make the effort to look good, you will feel better about yourself. When a person is confident and beautiful, it generates a level that happiness. When you and your husband are happy spending time together, it will create positive energy that will, in turn, help your marriage.

You and your husband must compliment each other at least three times a day. The compliments must be genuine and must make the other person feel special. You seem to feel very negatively towards him and, since you allude to the fact that you look thinner and have accomplished more professionally, he may feel very insecure and even be depressed. You may have to begin the positive cycle. However, if you both make the effort, a spark will reignite.

Make sure that you do not rely on your husband for all of your happiness (you seem to have already accomplished this one, but just in case you didn’t, it’s an important point). It’s imperative that you want to spend time with your husband; however, you cannot rely on one person to fulfill all of your emotional needs. It’s important to have friends, to work and/or do chessed to give you emotional fulfillment. Being successful and feeling needed will help make you a happier person and by extension a better wife and mother. The same goes for your husband. Try to help him find his own happiness so that he can be a more attentive and loving spouse

Therapy as a couple is also very important. Explain to you husband that you want to learn how to be nicer to him and that is why it’s important for him to join you in counseling. Once he agrees it will be easier to navigate this situation and improve your relationship.

I hope that these ideas help you and your husband reconnect and feel more loving towards each other. I am glad that you don’t want to pursue divorce as an initial option and it is admirable that you are willing to put the hard work into your marriage to try to make it better. Sometimes people feel that they have to just move on and start over, but what they don’t realize is that this is much harder than it seems.

Hatzlocha with your difficult journey and please keep us posted.

Dr. Yael Respler

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Was A Zionist

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

{Originally posted to the author’s blogsite, The Lid}

When People Criticize Zionists They Mean Jews, You Are Talking Anti-Semitism,” 


Truer words were never said, and they were said by the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. However they weren’t said in a letter as long believed.

Martin Luther King Jr. whose life and dream we celebrate today was a great leader for civil rights. Unlike today’s “Civil Rights” leaders who seek divisiveness and handouts, Dr. King dream was a post racial society where people where judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.

Also unlike most “Civil Rights” leaders today Dr. King was a supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. In recognition of MLK day many Jewish will post a letter supposedly penned by Martin Luther King called “Letter to a Zionist Friend,” but the story of the letter is a hoax.
The most famous line from the letter “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism,” was uttered by Dr King, just not in any letter. Over the next day or two you will read various posts containing the letter— most of the text does not contain the words of the great Civil Rights Leader. The good news however, is it does contain his sentiments.

Over a decade ago CAMERA tried to verify the letter but couldn’t find a source document for it anywhere.

We were initially doubtful of the authenticity of the “Letter to an anti-Zionist Friend” because the language in the first paragraph seemed almost a parody of language used in Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech. Additionally, we could find no reference to the “letter” prior to 1999, which was odd because the text is such a dramatic denunciation of anti-Zionism — one that would have been cited widely.


However, we then found the “letter” in a reputable 1999 book (“Shared Dreams,” by Rabbi Marc Shneier) whose preface was written by Martin Luther King III. Since the King family is known to be extremely careful with Dr. King’s legacy, we assumed they must have verified the accuracy of the book before endorsing it.


Additionally, we found that quotations from the “letter” were used on July 31, 2001, by the Anti-Defamation League’s Michael Salberg in testimony before the U.S. House of Representative’s International Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights. The same “source” (Saturday Review, August 1967) for the “letter” that was mentioned in the Schneier book was also cited in the testimony. Since many in the Anti-Defamation League had actually worked with Martin Luther King, Jr in the civil rights struggle, we assumed again they would be very knowledgeable about King’s work and would have thoroughly checked anything they chose to read before Congress.


However, because we do not ordinarily rely on anyone else’s research, we decided to double-check, by searching back issues of Saturday Review (Rabbi Shneier’s book had referenced the “letter” as being published in the August 1967 Saturday Review). Lo and behold, there is no such letter in any of the August issues, nor do the page and volume numbers cited conform to those actually used by that publication. CAMERA also checked with Boston University, where Dr. King’s work is archived. The archivists too were unable to locate any such letter. We can only conclude that no such letter was written by Dr. King.


(Please note we are not implying that the apparently bogus “letter” originated with Rabbi Schneier.)

However in the same year (2002) Rep John Lewis who worked with Dr. King (but in recent years has become something of a racer-er) wrote an op-ed confirming that the famous quote used in the fake letter came from a speech made by Dr. King,

….During the recent U.N. Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa, we were all shocked by the attacks on Jews, Israel and Zionism. The United States of America stood up against these vicious attacks.


Once again, the words of King ran through my memory, “I solemnly pledge to do my utmost to uphold the fair name of the Jews — because bigotry in any form is an affront to us all.”


During an appearance at Harvard University shortly before his death, a student stood up and asked King to address himself to the issue of Zionism. The question was clearly hostile. King responded, “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”

As it turns out Rep. Lewis was wrong also. King uttered those words at a dinner which took place at the Cambridge home of Martin Peretz, then a professor at Harvard. As reported by Martin Kramer:

King’s words were first reported by Seymour Martin Lipset, at that time the George D. Markham Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard, in an article he published in the magazine Encounter in December 1969—that is, in the year following King’s assassination. Lipset:


Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge. This was an experience which was at once fascinating and moving: one witnessed Dr. King in action in a way one never got to see in public. He wanted to find what the Negro students at Harvard and other parts of the Boston area were thinking about various issues, and he very subtly cross-examined them for well over an hour and a half. He asked questions, and said very little himself. One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, “Don’t talk like that!  When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!”

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man who believed that everyone should be able to live in peace and freedom, no matter how they worshiped God, or the pigment of their skin. He was a fighter for civil rights, and he was a fighter for the Jews.

Dr. King fought for the release of Jews in the Soviet Union.  He was an early supporter of Israel, who knew how to cut through the phony anti-Zionist memes of many anti-Semites. Many civil rights leaders, heck many political leaders today would serve themselves well to better understand the words of this man of peace.



Jews like Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (pictured above with the beard) marched with Martin Luther King Jr. on the road to civil rights. Rev.King marched with the Jews on the road to a secure Israel.

Jews like Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (pictured above with the beard) marched with Martin Luther King Jr. on the road to civil rights. Rev.King marched with the Jews on the road to a secure Israel.



Jeff Dunetz

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Dear Dr. Yael:

I have been following your columns about toxic parenting and toxic spouses. Well, I think I may have a toxic friend. We have been friends since elementary school and today we both have married children. Looking back at our lives, I can say that I was always the studious one while she was always looking to shop. We both came from financially average homes, but her focus was always on what else she could have.

As life progressed, my goal was to marry a ben Torah, go into chinuch and raise a wonderful family. Her goal was to marry a rich guy and have a beautiful house, clothes, jewelry, etc.

And that is what happened. She married into a wealthy family and her husband is very successful. He is also a baal middos and a baal tzeddaka and learns with my husband every day.

My family is much larger and our values are very different. Her husband often shares with mine that he wishes his wife would be influenced by me. Unfortunately, even though I know that gashmius is not the important thing and I see that our children are full of tochen and walking the right path, I envy her easy, rich life.

Don’t get me wrong, she does have plenty of struggles with her children, which, Baruch Hashem, we do not have.

My husband feels that she is a negative influence on me and is prepared to sever the relationship as he sees that her constant flaunting bothers me. I keep hoping to rise above this feeling and influence her. However, whenever we are together, I come home sad.

After reading your column on toxic people, my husband wondered if a friendship could be toxic and if I was in one. I do not want to cut my friend and her family out of our lives, but am at a loss as to how to change things. Please help me deal with this situation effectively.



Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your letter. I do not know your friend, but from your letter it does not seem that she is toxic. Although she may be much more into gashmius than you, and may make you feel badly sometimes, it does not seem like a toxic relationship. Whether you want to remain friends with her or not, is up to you; however, I will share with you signs of a toxic friendship so you have a better idea of what to consider.

A toxic friend is always criticizing you and making you feel small and embarrassed (e.g., a toxic friend will find fault in almost anything you do and will usually find a smart way to criticize you and make you feel bad about yourself).

A toxic friend will not be happy for you when something good happens. Someone who truly loves you will celebrate your happiness. Toxic friends do not.

A toxic friend often lacks empathy and does not seem to care when you are going through a hard time. A toxic friend may even derive some joy from your hardships.

A toxic friend will not be trustworthy and will not keep the secret you ask them to. A toxic friend may even use your secrets against you.

Toxic friends take advantage of your generosity and give nothing in return. They usually do not appreciate anything you do for them.

Toxic friends talk about you behind your back and may spread rumors about you. They have no compunction about ruining your good name or telling lies about you.

Toxic friends are always unhappy, complaining, and dissatisfied. They are the type of people who bring you down and put you into a bad mood.

Toxic friends are often very self-centered. They only care about their own feelings and will not consider your needs unless it serves a purpose for them.

Toxic friends make everything more dramatic. They exaggerate issues and make small things into problems. They add unnecessary drama to your life that you’re better off without. They also may lie if it serves a purpose for them.

Toxic friends are bullies. They use your vulnerabilities and secrets to attack you when you’re down and they damage you psychologically.

Toxic friends can be very judgmental and may only talk about themselves.

Toxic friends can be very stubborn. It’s their way or the highway.

Toxic friends can be picky, very needy, and hard to please; they also get into petty fights because they like to sow division. They get mad at you easily and always seem to be upset at you over the smallest things. Besides for the obvious, this can be toxic because they do not like to work out issues in a mature manner.

Lastly, toxic friends can be very negative. This makes them difficult to be around and unpleasant to deal with as they tend to only see the bad in most situations.

What you described does not seem like someone who is toxic. Your friend may be a little self-centered and may talk about all of the things she has, but this is likely because she is feeling insecure around you. You noted that your friend is going through a lot. Try to be there for her and help build her self-esteem – she may be a better friend to you if she feels more confident.

If, however, I have misread your letter, and your friend does indeed meet a lot of these criteria, then it would be very prudent to begin the process of cutting yourself off from her. No one should be friends with someone who is constantly making them feel bad about themselves and who is going out of their way to hurt them.

Thank you for your letter and hatzlocha with this difficult decision.

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Dear Dr. Yael,

I appreciated the great column you featured on the sandwich generation after Sukkos. I know that Chanukah is an easier Yom Tov since no one moves in and we can celebrate with our families and friends, however, it has become a competition for my children.

Our children have Chanukah vacation and, according to them, everyone is doing amazing things. Some families are even taking their children to fancy islands and extending vacations so that the kids miss class. Others take their kids on cruises, ski weekends, and more.

We can’t afford all of these amazing vacations and, besides, we love having family parties and doing local things with our children. However, our kids are jealous and I am not sure how to make them understand.

I do wonder if things would be less expensive if schools gave off less time for Chanukah.

A Reader



Dear Dr. Yael,

I am very dismayed to see the way Chanukah and other chaggim have become commercialized. It seems as if all we are doing is copying the ways of other nations. We have to have the grand parties, and the fancy gifts. The question is: Do we do enough chesed at this time of year? Do we sympathize with the less fortunate? I would like to ask this readership to take the time to consider what I have written here.

Kol Tov



Dear Readers:

It is a shame that Chanukah today seems to be more about parties, trips, and gifts than celebrating the spirit of the Yom Tov during which we overcame the Greek influences on the physical and re-energized our spirituality.

My own memories of Chanukah are of visiting with family and playing dreidel. Clearly, our generation was expected to behave, do well in school, and be happy with whatever our parents were able to give and do for us.

One present was a treat years ago, but now kids “need to get” one present a night! Going to a family party was amazing, but now family parties need to feature tons of presents. Once upon a time, going on a local family trip was an incredible experience, but now families “have” to take extravagant vacations. We need to scale it down! Try to spend quality time with your children and make the local trips fun, maybe by inviting some of their friends along. Buy your children some board games for Chanukah and make sure to play with them! You will be amazed how much your children will enjoy the quality time with you!

I agree that we need to focus more on chesed and less on materialism. Our children will also benefit so much more from our attention than they do from the things we give them.

Much research has been done on parenting and spending quality time with your children – talking, playing, reading, doing homework, and exercising with your children has been shown to be an integral feature of successful parenting. Furthermore, children are less likely to develop emotional and behavioral disorders when they receive adequate parenting (often manifested by spending quality time with your children).

There are a lot of activities that will promote happy and healthy children and they do not have to be expensive or difficult. The main goal is to give your children your full attention and make sure that you have their full attention. Even doing homework with your children can be a positive experience if you give them your full attention (i.e., put away your phone), give them a lot of specific and accurate praise for small accomplishments (“Wow, you read that word beautifully!” “That was a great, but let’s try it one more time!”), and make sure to compliment them afterward (call your mother, grandmother, or mother-in-law in front of your child and tell them how amazing your child is and how great he/she knew what was learned that day). Not only will this make your child want to do homework more often with you (we can always pray for an easy homework night!), but you will be building your child’s self-esteem and spending quality time with him/her.

If Chanukah gifts in your family have gotten out of hand, it’s important to talk to your siblings and perhaps set some limits on the spending for all the nieces, nephews, and their children.

Thank you for your beautiful letters and in the zechus of making an effort to do more chesed out of the home and with our own children, and may we all be zoche to only good things! Hatzlocha!

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

My problem is something that I am coming to terms with, but as I have been reading your column for years, I am hoping you can be of some help. Once upon a time, I would have suffered in silence, but now I hope that a discussion can help others.

I live in a large urban frum community known for its yeshivos, organizations and institutions. There are sizeable contingents of every “flavor” of Jew: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Modern Orthodox, etc. Before our family moved here to partake of the educational resources for our children, we lived in several smaller communities and one other large urban city where different types of Orthodox Jews came together in various shuls and programs. In each community, smaller groups and families maintained their standards of tznius, hashkafos and divergent minhagim largely without judgment and usually with a degree of openness.

Unfortunately, people who heard we were moving to our new location told us things would not be like that here. I didn’t believe it at the time, but alas, they were right. So far, we have been made to feel socially isolated and only marginally important.

No matter what social gathering we attend, melave malka, wedding, a simple lecture or B’nos group, people are very guarded, perhaps because there seems to be so much competition between them.

I have met many people over the years and am adept at small talk and making solid friendships. I have never encountered such a culture of coolness and competitiveness among frum people. I fear that despite all the learning and observance of mitzvos that takes place in this “community” we are failing our ultimate mission as Jews. We are taught to be mekabel kol adam besever panim yafos. Imagine how much different things would be here if people took this idea to heart? Wouldn’t this enhance our ability to recognize sincerely the Tzelem Elokim in each person and to draw closer to Hashem’s ultimate rule?

A Frum Jew


Dear A.F.J.,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us. Some time ago we featured a letter from a baalas teshuva who was experiencing similar frustrations as you express. I know that there are, unfortunately, groups of people who act this way, but I am not sure why.

It hurts when people are unfriendly to me until they find out that I am “Dr. Respler.” Shouldn’t people be friendly to everyone? When I get warmth only after they know who I am, I feel the pain for others who have to struggle with coolness.

If you go to a simcha and see someone sitting at a table alone, sit down and start up a conversation. What does it cost to say hello? Will it hurt us to be a little more caring, friendly and less self-focused? So what if someone is less frum, less educated, or has less money than you? Does that mean that he or she doesn’t deserve the same friendliness you would accord someone you considered your equal?

That being said, sometimes people are shy and are perceived as being cold. When people are unfriendly to me, I greet them and they generally respond. Perhaps you could try saying hello to those who are cold to you – you might be pleasantly surprised.

I once met a very rich, confident successful man who told me that he lived in a snobby community. Whenever someone would snub him in shul, he would go over, greet the person warmly and wish him or her a “Gut Shabbos.” The person would have no choice but to respond in kind.

I don’t want people to perceive this letter as a reflection of Klal Yisroel, since it only portrays a select few. Let us hope that your letter has a meaningful influence on us all and will bring the coming of Moshiach soon. Hatzlocha!

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

The minute I read your December 2 column, I was reminded of a great book I once read called, Toxic People. The author explains that allowing toxic people into our lives gives them the power to destroy us. He says that the minute a person does something we cannot tolerate, we should distance ourselves from him or her. I totally agree with this notion. Life is too short and precious to stay close with those people who say and do things to hurt us. And if we can not do it alone, there is no shame in asking for help.

Thanks for letting me share my view.



Dear Dr. Yael,

I read your column this week and, although, you were talking about toxic parents, I worry that I have a toxic spouse. My husband always makes me feel inadequate and inferior and as if I can never do anything right. Is he a toxic spouse?

A Reader


Dear G.S. and A Reader,

Thank you for taking the time to write and allowing me to clarify this complicated issue. Yes, toxic people can exist in any relationship. In the column you both referenced, we were discussing toxic parents. This week I would like to focus on toxic spouses.

Marriage, as we know, is a lot of hard work. That is one of the reasons why I believe that reading fairy tales to young children is a disservice – they make marriage seem magical. Now, it’s true that couples do experience amazing magical moments, but only when both spouses put in the work necessary to make them possible.

Toxic is a very extreme word. It is defined as “acting as or having the effect of a poison; poisonous.” If thinking of your spouse as poisonous to your life sounds absurd, then maybe things are not as bad as they seem. But if the definition resonates with you, then it would be prudent to look at the signs of a toxic spouse. Some signs of a toxic spouse are:


  1. Make You Feel Inferior – While its normal to sometimes feel badly about yourself, if your spouse is continuously making you feel inferior, something is wrong.
  1. Find Fault in Everything You Do – Everyone makes mistakes and messes up sometimes, but constant criticism from your spouse is not okay, especially if there’s never any positive feedback.
  1. You’re Always Walking on Egg Shells – It’s extremely unhealthy if you do not feel safe to discuss issues with your spouse. Everyone is entitled to a bad day or even a bad week, but you should not feel that you have to constantly censor what you say or that you can never have a conversation with your spouse.
  1. Encourage You to Withdraw From Family and Friends – If your spouse encourages you to or forces you to cut off your family and friends, this is a huge red flag. There are circumstances under which you may feel the need to withdraw from someone, but in general, your spouse shouldn’t be encouraging you to cut people out of your life.
  1. You Lie About Your Relationship – If things are so bad that you are afraid to be honest about how your marriage is going, it may be an indication that you think you deserve better.
  1. Are Controlling – If your spouse controls how you spend your money, who you hang out with, or even little things like what to eat for dinner, then it would be prudent to seek professional help immediately. This is a pretty clear sign of toxicity.
  2. Don’t Take Responsibility for Their Actions – “You chose to feel that way,” is the most passive-aggressive comment you’ll hear from a toxic spouse. If your spouse never takes responsibility for his/her actions, you have an issue. Constantly being told everything if your fault, especially when it’s something you have zero control over, is very damaging to your sense of self.
  1. Aren’t Sorry for Making You Upset – Sometimes in the heat of the moment, your spouse may not show any remorse, but once you both calm down, your spouse should feel bad for upsetting you and want to make it better. The three most important words in a marriage are “I am sorry!” If these words are completely absent, then you are likely dealing with a toxic person or one who needs intensive therapy. Of course, someone who is constantly putting you down, being emotionally abusive and then apologizing is no better. However, someone who always thinks he or she is right is also dangerous.
  1. Ignores You – When someone ignores your feelings and communication efforts it can make you feel alienated and alone. It’s a terrible feeling and can be a very bad sign. Some people have very poor communication skills and need to work on this, so this sign alone is not a deal breaker; however, if you are nodding your head to many of these signs, it’s definitely a sign of danger. Poor communication skills are easy to remediate if caught early on.
  2. You Feel Miserable All The Time – The most crucial sign to look for is feeling miserable every time you are around your spouse. You’re supposed to be happy with your spouse. There will be days where he or she is driving you crazy and you just want to be along, you should not be feeling miserable and unhappy on a daily basis when you are with your spouse.


People are complicated, but anyone making a concerted effort to work on him or herself is likely not toxic. However, if the signs noted above are prevalent in your marriage it is imperative that you seek professional help.

Staying away from toxic people who are not in your immediate family is a whole other story and will be addressed in another column. Hatzlocha!

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

As this is not the first time I am reading about grandparents and their Yom Tov experiences with their children and grandchildren (11-25), I was most interested to see how you would answer the writer. I thought your answer was tactful, delicate and full of common sense. You were able to point out that the children did not intend to “dump” their families and relax, and I commend you. Your insight and caring shows in all of your articles.

I, too, am a grandmother, and although my children do try to reign in their own children’s natural exuberance and are very helpful to me in the kitchen and house, it is only natural for squabbling, messes, etc. to occur. (My father lived with us the last three years of his life, so I also know about the “sandwich” aspect, which wasn’t actually addressed in the letter.) After our last get-together, when I was putting the pieces of the house back in order, I stopped to reflect that I would rather spend time straightening and cleaning up than be in the position of other older women I know, some of whom do not have children, and some who are not even married yet! Perhaps if this lady would consider that, she would be able to count her blessings, along with putting all of your suggestions into practice.

Please keep up your columns. I know your readers appreciate you!

Best wishes,
A Reader

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your letter and your kind words. You are correct that we all should count our blessings and feel fortunate that these are the “stresses” that we experience. Many people cry to me over Yom Tov that they wish they had these pressures instead of being alone. That is why it is important to be sensitive to people in these situations and to not complain to them about your family-related stresses. As you said, no matter how hard it is to host family, it sure beats not having this “hardship.”

Of course, the original letter was written mostly in jest in order to bring home a point. It’s helpful to bring up these issues as many times both parties do not see the other person’s perspective. Most children are giving and loving, but are stressed by their own lives. Many women are holding down jobs while taking care of their households and this can be very taxing. Many men are learning and/or working full time, while trying to be helpful at home. This can also be demanding and tiring. Most couples look forward to coming home, so that their parents can “take care of them.” It is useful, though, for them to read about how their parents feel. This can help them be more aware of the little things they can do to make Yom Tov more enjoyable and less overwhelming.

On the other hand, it is also valuable for parents to understand their children’s perspective. Most are not trying to dump on their parents, they just want to feel “taken care of” again. They look forward to being with their parents and, although it is not easy to pack up a whole family and share rooms to be together with family, they do so gladly. With some healthy boundaries, parents can spoil their kids (if they want to), while not feeling taken advantage of. Of course, if you do not want to take the brunt of the work, you need to make that clear from the beginning in a loving and positive tone. Saying something like, “We wish we could spoil you, serve you, and take care of the children while you relax, but we are getting older and this is getting hard for us. We would love to have you for Yom Tov, but we will need you help with…” Perhaps your children would prefer that you come to them or will be happy to comply with your requests as long as they are spelled out in the beginning. Communication is key!

In general, it is a good idea to focus on the positives, it makes us happier and less anxious. After all, we all have different struggles and no one gets away “scot-free.” Of course, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by day-to-day things and especially by hardships. During those times, it is helpful to make checklists and be organized, even if this is not your nature. This will help you keep on top of whatever it is you need to do. Remember, try to ask for help when needed so that you do not feel resentful of your family.

For more stressful situations, the more you can focus on the good in your life and use a lot of positive self-talk (i.e., “I can do this,” “I am amazing for doing what I do with my daily struggles,” “I am worthwhile and contribute a lot to my family and society”), the better you will feel and the more able you will be to deal with these struggles. Try to seek professional help from someone who can help you overcome the overwhelming feelings if these suggestions are not helping.


Dr. Yael Respler

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/dear-dr-yael-101/2016/12/16/

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