Dear Dr. Yael,
I am writing to you about a conflict that I have with my husband, whom I love dearly. He is a very upbeat person and everyone loves being around him because he has an amazing sense of humor. He is a great father, loving, caring and very attentive and fun with the children. I also love being around him. He exudes positive energy and is funny and complimentary. You are probably reading this column and thinking “So what is your problem?” My problem is that sometimes I really need him to be more serious about issues that are important to me. He thinks that by being jovial he is actually bringing simcha into all our lives. He is truly a happy person. However I really need him to take my issues more seriously. He is a very responsible person and very successful financially. People love doing business with my husband. He is extremely sought after in our community. I know that I am very lucky to be married to such a special person.
However, sometimes I yearn so deeply to be understood to have a more serious conversation. My husband is also very frum and truly believes that Hashem is in charge and we have no reason to be upset with anything that happens to us. He feels strongly about this concept and has had his own challenges which he handles with aplomb. Please help me deal more effectively with this situation as I yearn to appreciate this special husband that Hashem blessed me with.
A Loving Wife
Dear Loving Wife,
Thank you for your interesting and special letter. While it is amazing most of the time to be married to someone like your husband, I understand your feelings and know that it can come with its own challenges as well. Sometimes it can be hard to be married to someone who deals so well with issues and this may make you feel less competent. I want to answer your question with several ideas. First, it is best that you try to value all this humor and positive energy. Studies have demonstrated that people who have a positive attitude and a sense of humor live longer healthier lives. He also is helping you to raise emotionally stable children, who will remember having a loving, humorous, and positive father. However, I do understand that you probably need validation and your husband with his positive attitude and great bitachon may not get this particular need.
My question is do all our needs have to be fulfilled by our spouse? Maybe some of your needs can be met by siblings, good friends, or close cousins. It is important to appreciate your husband’s positive attitude and also get your needs met. Perhaps you can do both if you leave the more serious conversations to your other close relationships. Does this mean you can never have a serious conversation with your husband? No! It’s also a good idea to share your feelings lovingly with your husband. You can tell him what an amazing person he is and how much you appreciate his positivity. You can then tell him that while you love his personality, sometimes you feel you need to have a serious conversation with him. Ask him if it’s possible to be able to do this for you when needed. He will likely want to do this for you, but I’m not sure if he’ll be successful. Try your hardest to remain positive and to keep trying to reach your husband through love and calm words.
In the meantime, to further appreciate your husband’s sense of humor, I did some research and found that having a sense of humor can actually help reduce death and sickness. One study even found that preventing an increase in stress hormones can buffer against conflict in social situations and overall stress. When stress hormones, such as cortisol, are constantly elevated, they suppress immune functions, which can allow someone to more easily get sick. Their findings also show that sense of humor is a cognitive coping resource that can protect one’s health (Solfrid Romundstad et al., 2016).
Hatzlocha in this amazing situation that also comes with this challenge. Try to find other sources of support for more serious issues and reach out to your husband when his support is really necessary. I’m sure he will do his best to be the person you need him to be! Lastly, enjoy your husband’s personality as much as you can as it is a huge bracha!