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Several weeks ago, a young husband and father wrote a letter to Dr. Yael Respler, columnist for The Jewish Press and a psychotherapist, asking for advice on how to stop smoking. He mentioned that his father, a heavy smoker had died of lung cancer. The young man wrote that he loved his wife and children and hoped he'd be zoche to have a long life with them. His problem, "I am also a chain smoker since my time in yeshiva as a bochur."
Many parents admit they yell too much, but do not know how to avoid exploding when irritated. It takes effort and discipline to defeat any addiction, whether it's overeating or cigarette smoking and the screaming addiction is no different. Thankfully, when we really want to grow spiritually, we are given Heavenly guidance.
This story was told by Mrs. T., a woman in her 60s who I've known for three years. Mrs. T. attends my synagogue and sisterhood functions. Over the years, Mrs. T. always appeared to be shy and tense. She rarely spoke and usually had worry lines between her eyes and around her mouth. When she and her family first moved to our neighborhood, her husband also attended synagogue. However, he suffered from a chronic illness that kept him home on many a Shabbat.
In Part I, I responded to some of what Dr. G. had said about our role as caregivers. I reiterated that without legal documentation, you, as the spouse might have little input into the treatment plan for your partner. Whether by design or oversight, not being appointed the Health Proxy may totally cut you out of the care plan and even bar you from receiving treatment information. This week, I'd like to address what Dr. G. said about what being a caregiver requires of us.
When one decides to have children, one has to decide: how one intends to bring them up, what values one will imbue in them and how one will stress their importance. Whatever they may be, when one instills the right values in a child, one later receives the dividends of one's efforts. This was proved so true this past Yom Kippur for Rebbetzin Judith Friedlander.
I'm not a doctor, nor a biological scientist, but I do know that people under stress produce a hormone called cortisol, which helps the body deal with a stressful event by increasing energy and immunity and even lowering sensitivity to pain.
The mitzvah of taharat hamishpachah (family purity) can be a source of great marital fulfillment and vitality, yet can also - especially for the female partner - cause significant stress, confusion even misery.
Dealing With Your Own Feelings
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