Posts tagged " marriage "

The Men Behind Great Women

September 7th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 23 comments

Back in March, I read a fascinating book about Clementine Churchill that led me to write a Musing about the aphorism, “Behind every great man stands a great woman.”  I have just finished another completely absorbing book that leads me to ask a different question. How many women achieved public greatness because of their husbands?

The book I just finished, Will and Ariel Durant: A Dual Autobiography, was written in 1977, a few years before the famous historians, philosophers and authors died within weeks of each other. Brought to the United States from Russia as a toddler, Ethel (later renamed Ariel by her husband) grew up in a Jewish immigrant family that struggled economically, socially and religiously. Left much to her own devices, as a young teen she removed herself from public school joining a radical school named for an anarchist. Meanwhile, Will Durant, born to a fervently Catholic, stable family, made his own way to the school as a teacher after abandoning religious training in seminary and embracing atheism. When the fifteen-year-old student and the twenty-seven year old teacher married, few objective observers would have greeted the incongruous couple’s commitment with optimism. As it was, their partnership of close to seventy years produced not only their daughter but their epic volumes, “The Story of Civilization,” along with numerous other writings. These garnered them not only a Pulitzer Prize but also Medals of Freedom from President Gerald Ford.

The last few volumes of “The Story of Civilization” bear both Will and Ariel’s names as authors. This reflects how her vocation moved from supporting spouse to research and editing assistant until she eventually occupied an equal platform as co-author. Her husband’s passion, training and skills became her own as the couple balanced marriage and craft.

Such was also the case for Lillian Gilbreth, most popularly known as the mother of the Cheaper By the Dozen clan. She too started as a research and editing assistant to her husband, Frank, as he developed the field of  motion-study. After his untimely death, it became clear that she had absorbed his passion and talents as well as she continued the business with herself at the helm.

It would take a tremendous leap of faith to believe that Ariel Durant would have pursued a career in history or that Lillian Gilbreth would have chosen to work in her field had they not been married to and mentored by the men in their lives. Like Clementine Churchill, their intelligence and talents would, had they been developed at all in the public arena, been applied in other areas. There are, of course, countless other women who were able to accomplish what they did in their own spheres of interest only because of their husband’s resources. Jennie Butchart, for example, after studying chemistry so that she could assist in her husband’s business, turned his abandoned limestone quarry into the magnificent gardens located on the Saanich Inlet of British  Columbia.

Neither Winston Churchill, Frank Gilbreth nor Will Durant would have been recognized by most women as Prince Charming. They were brilliant, driven, focused and passionate men fortunate to find and cultivate brilliant women who appreciated their drive, respected their focus and came to share in their passions. The women they chose allowed their own destinies to be molded by marriage, enriching their own lives and the lives of many others in the process.

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Let Me Go: How to Overcome Life’s Challenges and Escape Your Own Egypt

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Sandy R. 

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Am I too intimidating to get married?

September 5th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 22 comments

I have listened to your analysis of romantic relationships and am left wondering what your best advice is to a charming, active, healthy, financially well off, single woman who is over 50 who dearly misses the intimacies of married life?

I am called intimidating and “a tough act to follow”.

Janet

Dear  Janet,

As always, we start with the disclaimer that without knowing you personally we might be way off the mark in our advice. However, we hope we can at least encourage you in the right direction.

You certainly have a lot going for you. At the risk of sounding completely politically incorrect (all right, we enjoy being politically incorrect but it still is risky in our “gotcha” society) perhaps you have too much going for you?

How can that possibly be? As hard as the social engineers have tried to change human nature, men still thrill to being needed. We don’t know who calls you intimidating and a “tough act to follow,” but whoever is doing so may be trying to point you in the right direction.

We aren’t suggesting that you give away your money or damage your health. We certainly would encourage you to stay charming and active. We don’t mean that you should hide your intelligence or conceal your competence. But perhaps you could nurture a softer side of yourself?

We have a suspicion that not only might this help your love life, but it could help friendships as well. Practice giving your point of view in a gentler way and allowing others to speak without pointing out their mistakes. Allow others to take care of you rather than always being in the leadership role. You might even try dressing in ways that are more feminine and soft.

We hope that you will rediscover a part of you that you might have suppressed and that will round out your character.  We sincerely wish you speedy success in meeting a worthy partner.

Gently yours,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Egypt- a place and also a situation. We’re all in Egypt at some time and need to get out.

Let My People Me Go: How to Overcome Life’s Challenges
and Escape Your Own Egypt

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Self-Made Women

July 20th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 15 comments

The cover story headline on Forbes magazine, America’s Richest Self-Made Women caught my attention. Surely, the stories of the sixty women listed would shine a light on women and money. It did, though I’m not sure that what I saw will make social engineers happy.

Here are some sentences from the top four bios:

#1) Ilitch and her husband, Mike…cofounded Little Caesars pizza… (Marian Ilitch)

#2) The Wisconsin native cofounded the business with her late husband, Ken… ( Diane Hendricks)

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My Ambitious Husband

June 28th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 11 comments

My husband has a great deal of ambition and works long hours. I know that he is doing this for our future but I feel like we have no life to speak of at present. How do I deal with these feelings?

Karma

Dear Karma,

Without knowing you, your husband or more details, this is one of those questions where we can do no more than raise discussion points and questions.

First, we’d like to make a few general comments. You and your husband are both fortunate. In today’s day and age, many males have been emasculated leaving them with neither ambition nor persistence. It is wonderful that you are married to a man who wants to provide well for his family.

At the same time, cultural propaganda teaches women that everything that goes wrong is the fault of men. Unlike you, those women would not ask how to deal with their own feelings but instead they would immediately castigate their husbands.

The first step is for each of you to appreciate how you are both contributing to your marriage. Your husband is taking his role seriously and you are wise enough to recognize that what you see as his relentless focus on work could crack the foundation of your relationship. Getting on the same page now can yield immense results.

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I’m trying to cut expenses, but my wife won’t get on board

May 16th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

I have been listening to your podcasts for about a year now and find them very insightful. I was raised a Baptist and am now a confirmed Roman Catholic. I find that every week your subject matter always seems to address something that is going on at that moment. 

I have had a lot of changes in my life recently, some by choice, others by necessity. At 38 I have realized that my wife and I need to start being good stewards of our money and to stop living beyond our means.

 I now have a career that requires that I have good credit but is a decent paying job. My problem is that I am having trouble getting my wife onboard with the idea. I realize that we need to tighten our belts for the time being. 

Do you have any advice on how to convince her of this?

Thank you for your time and God bless you.

Sincerely,

Frank G.

Answer: 

Dear Frank,

Congratulations on the new job as well as on entering the world of economic adulthood. Living beyond your means isn’t a good idea at any time, but recognizing that in your late thirties rather than later hopefully gives you time to turn things around.

You don’t mention how long you’ve been married, but it sounds like you are unilaterally changing the rules of the marriage. If until now, you and your wife have been spending indiscriminately and somehow making do, it shouldn’t be a surprise that you can’t just come home and announce a new way of living. You may have had an epiphany but your wife hasn’t.

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Separate vacations for married couples?

April 19th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 23 comments

I am thinking about taking a 7 day bicycle/camping trip. However my wife cannot go for many reasons ( mostly because she dislikes biking). We have never been apart this length of time.

What does ancient Jewish wisdom have to say about being apart, by choice? 

I have read all of your books ( except the Thought Tools I am currently reading) and listened to all your CDs -some many times and watched your DVD’s. I must say this has help me very much in business and relationships. Thank you! I look forward to more.

Thank you, 

Jerry R.

Answer: 

Dear Jerry,

First of all, we appreciate hearing that our resources are helping you. It truly encourages us.

Your question is a great one and we compliment you and your wife for thinking this through. While husbands and wives can certainly have different interests, using the limited vacation time most of us have to follow those interests separately has the potential of becoming problematic.

Ancient Jewish wisdom specifically speaks about reserving the first year of marriage for building the marital relationship and we would suggest hesitating if you are newly married. It also insists that at any time in the marriage a husband cannot change his field of work to one that requires more time away from home without his wife’s agreement. So, separation is treated seriously.

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Harmful Hysteria

April 6th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 59 comments

I wasn’t planning to write about the Mike Pence non-story concerning his commitment to his wife because that is exactly how I saw it—as a non-story. To protect his marriage, he doesn’t dine alone with women other than his wife and, unless he is with his wife, Karen, he doesn’t attend parties where alcohol is served.  This very basic personal marital agreement was treated by feminist and liberal outlets with the same hysteria they would have accorded to the revelation that the Vice-president was actually Jack the Ripper.  Since hysteria on steroids has become the hourly response of many since November’s election, I decided to ignore the story.

I changed my mind and wrote the following because I remembered an encounter I had with a bright, conservative-leaning, religious young woman back in 2007. She explained why she was going to vote for Barack Obama and I was so taken aback that I was unable to respond. Later, I realized that her youth was leading her to believe campaign statements that sounded wonderful, without having the tools to judge them against history or reality.  Along with that recollection, I became aware that Karen and Mike Pence’s commitment had become a target of comedy shows. Laughter harnesses tremendous power that, if used negatively, is hard to combat and silence didn’t seem an option for me any longer.

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Should I leave a job I hate to become a chef?

April 5th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 25 comments

I am 33 years old, married, no children yet, but probably soon. My wife works as a school teacher and I work a low level office job. I am considering switching careers to go after a dream of being a professional chef. 

I am struggling with the potential financial ramifications, feeling I am being “irresponsible,” and feeling money will always be a problem if I go down this path. My wife is very supportive and wants me to go after this dream instead of staying in a job I dislike. We already live on her income alone so money will be tight, but we will not starve. 

Am I being selfish if I make this change and putting my family under unnecessary stress? I am so conflicted! I appreciate your advice. Thanks.

David

Answer: 

Dear David,

Please accept our compliments for facing reality and asking the tough questions.  While we don’t want to sound harsh, it sounds to us like you are being irresponsible by remaining in a low level office job at your stage of life. You mention that you and your wife hope to have children soon, but that you are dependent on her salary as a teacher for your basic expenses. That sounds like trouble is simmering on the horizon.

We want to praise your wife for supporting your dream while also carrying a heavy load.  It is clear to us, and obviously also to you, that a  change is needed.  We are pretty sure that your wife’s support for your idea of becoming a chef is partially her profound  hope that you will do something to accept responsibility for improving your financial situation.

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If God is in charge, why is my effort necessary

February 15th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 16 comments

Question:

If God determines our wealth and marriage partner, is there a point to purchasing a book on how to obtain these?

Tom P.

Answer: 

Dear Tom,

Did you ever watch the 1960s’ TV show Gilligan’s Island? Seven people became castaways when their boat foundered. One of these was known as the Professor. While the show was far from reality TV, the Professor had access to the same raw materials as each of the other stranded passengers. While they fashioned cups out of coconuts and used fronds to fan themselves, he turned the same materials into communication and transportation systems.  We each construct something different with the raw materials assigned to us and what we construct often depends upon what we know.

We do believe that before conception, God declares who our ideal marriage partner is and that each year He decides what our ‘work-multiplier’ is.  That is not the same as handing us those things. Just as one person can turn a one-room apartment into a palace while another can turn a mansion into a prison, we can mess up a relationship with the greatest potential and elevate a relationship that starts out as second-rate.  Without the right knowledge and without having acquired the correct patterns of conduct, we may never meet our divinely assigned partner, or having met her, we might repulse her.  

Similarly, God may allot us a certain ‘work-multiplier‘ meaning that He has decided how much financial abundance each unit of our work will deliver.  But the kind of work we do and how effectively we do it is entirely up to us and those decisions are very much a function of what we know and what best practices we have absorbed. Again, information and wisdom are vital.

So, we would strongly encourage you and, indeed, all of us to treat marriage and wealth acquisition as areas where we constantly want to read, listen and learn how to improve. We should each strive to make the most of what God graciously prepares for us even as we pray for His help in doing so. 

Be a professor,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

May  we suggest starting your search for practical help with our audio CD
Boost Your Income: 3 Spiritual Steps to Success (available by download or by mail)

I Hate My Girlfriend’s Tattoo

November 10th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

Question:

I am very much in love with my girlfriend and I want to marry her. Recently, she got a tattoo on her left wrist that I do not like whatsoever. I am trying to get over it but the idea of looking at it the rest of my life is not thrilling.

I keep telling myself it is not a big deal but why do I loathe it so? She did not get it behind my back. Due to some miscommunication she got it anyway. We have had several conversations before about how I do not like them.

Do you have any advice for me to try and get over this faster?

Luke

Answer: 

Dear Luke,

We’re not crazy about answering questions with our hands tied behind our back.  That is what you’re doing by asking us to help you get over this. Perhaps that is the direction in which you should go, but we would be remiss if we didn’t suggest that the depth of your loathing (your word) demands that you rethink your premise.

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