Posts tagged " marriage "

Finances: a sticky point in our marriage

August 18th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 4 comments

I love your program and rarely miss a podcast.  We have a bit of a conundrum in our marriage and would like to avoid pitfalls and are wondering what you recommend.

I’ve (Jennifer) worked in the business world for many years now and have worked my way up to management positions.  Years ago, I read your book Thou Shall Prosper and it has really helped me to keep my career on track.  I started out working from home when our children were small so that I could take care of them and so we could afford to buy groceries.

My husband is in law enforcement, a career that notoriously doesn’t pay very well.  He does well for where we live, but as the second-in-command of his office, he is at the top of what he can possibly earn, especially in this current political climate where departments are making cutbacks and now his department’s pay has been cut even more by our commissioners.  He’s got 4 more years until retirement and would like to stick it out that long so that he doesn’t lose his pension, which by law, 10% of his earnings go into.  He’s worked his way up to an administrative position and that has been a very welcome change for our family as far as his work schedule is concerned.  We both work full time and we homeschool (we have one child left at home), so him being more available has been a tremendous help.

Our conundrum is that I now out-earn him by a considerable amount. I have always handled the family finances, so it’s not something that he regularly worries about as this is not the “department” he deals with on a regular basis, however, when we do discuss finances, it’s clearly difficult for him to be in such a position.  It’s okay as long as it’s not really discussed.

How can we best keep this issue from becoming a problem?  We don’t have high expenses…we don’t have any debt besides our home and we live within our means.  We are finally at a place where buying groceries, having a vehicle in good running order, and buying fuel to get to work are not a concern.  We do live in a low-wage/high-cost-of-living area of the country.  My additional earnings have really lifted the financial burden for our family and now we make ends meet much more easily.   

Additionally, as a second career, my husband plans on earning his helicopter pilot’s license in his spare time over the next few years prior to retirement from law enforcement, an expensive venture. This will provide him with another career and far less stress once he leaves law enforcement.  My income will make the necessary education possible while he pursues this.  Getting this license and his first responder and search and rescue training will enable him to continue to provide a valuable service to the community in a different capacity.

Anyway, how shall we best handle this?  Avoiding discussing finances isn’t a good option.  It doesn’t seem reasonable for me to quit and go to a lower paying job when I’d be investing the same amount of time away from my family.  After I got my last raise, I dreaded going home and telling him about it…in fact, it took me several weeks to mention it because I don’t want him to feel insufficient.  I don’t bring my earnings to light, but he does.  I feel like my contribution is no greater than his…we’re both just working to take care of our family.  How do we avoid this becoming a serious issue?

Blessings,

Jennifer F.

Dear Jennifer,

Double congratulations to you; first for writing so lucidly on a sensitive topic and second for being so competent at your business that you have merited promotions and raises.  And, no, you absolutely should not even think about quitting your work and taking a lower-paying job or doing something way below your level of performance. Let us also tell you at the outset of what will necessarily be a bit of a gloomy letter, that we have reasons for believing that you are going to succeed in making your marriage continue to work well and perhaps even improve it.

But the problem you raise is a very real one. Unlike for women’s sense of femininity, a  man’s sense of masculine identity is closely tied to his earning. It is not tied just to an objective figure but it is comparative. In other words, how is he earning compared to others?  When he compares his earnings to other men, the resulting spur to ambition is usually quite healthy.  When he compares his earnings to his wife’s we have an entirely different and less positive dynamic.  What is more, a marriage suffers significantly higher stress when the wife out-earns the husband and the likelihood of divorce rises meteorically. We are very familiar with the literature on this subject, such as the three-year-old study done by Organization Science and widely discussed at Harvard. Seven years earlier, Forbes magazine picked up on the business implications of the work done by the Journal of Family Issues relating divorce to higher-earning wives. Recently, the American Economic Association probed the Stockholm University study trying to understand why marriages are imperiled when the wife wins raises and promotions but not when the husband does.

Nonetheless, we emphasize that our own knowledge and understanding of this matter comes not from countless studies but chiefly from Scripture and ancient Jewish wisdom. We smile reading the numerous articles and we note that though they have correctly identified the phenomenon, their varied prescriptions are way off. They range from, “Well, hubby just has to get more ‘woke’ and be happy that the ‘wage-gap’ is now on the other foot,” to, “Perhaps if he helps more with the laundry, the income difference will be less obvious.”  In other words, none of the studies with which we are familiar (and that is most of them) have the slightest idea of what to do about the problem.

And unfortunately, we’re not a whole lot better.  We feel a bit like the doctor whose sedentary and self-indulgent patient insists on living a lifestyle of gourmand gluttony, but complains when he puts on weight and demands that his doctor does something about it.  Society insists on creating tax and other incentives that lead to the end of traditional marriage and promotes ideas that compromise women by making them want to emulate men and emasculate men, yet citizens are shocked, yes shocked, to discover that their choices threaten the viability of marriage and imperil its durability.

It’s a mistake to believe that the passage of time will help people adapt to new enlightened ways of equality or that, “men must become more feminized” or, “women must become more assertive ” and then it will be fine as we all live happily ever after. No, long before that, our sick society will stagger its way to terminal decline while we struggle to cope with the consequences of collapsed families. Every attempt to revolutionize patterns of human life has failed.

As in most games, in the ‘game of life,’ it is better to know the rules than to shake a defiant fist at the umpire.  It is better to understand that the way God created us (or how unaided materialistic evolution evolved us if you prefer) most women will lose respect, sometimes even without being aware of it, for a man not pulling his financial weight.

We apologize if you feel we’re reading too much into your letter but we get to read, study, and scrutinize a whole heap of great letters like yours every month.  We note that your letter is remarkably devoid of any words of personal praise for your husband. Is he a great father? A warm and attentive husband?  A really good man?  We don’t know. Forgive us, we can’t help asking ourselves if perhaps you have started losing just a little respect for your man. After all, in a six hundred word letter, there’s nary a word of warmth or appreciation for the guy with whom you built a family.  Your letter really could have been written about a roommate and it would read much the same.

What is more, we didn’t read of pride in his occupation. If the two of you tremendously value dedicating oneself to promote the welfare of the community, as both law enforcement and rescue workers do, then the money might be secondary to the feeling that the two of you are dedicated to a joint ideal. Instead, and of course, we could be misreading, but this sounds like your husband’s career decisions are his alone.

We credit your wifely wisdom in first spotting the potential problem and for being so sensitive to it.  We’re sure it was hard and a bit sad, not to be able to jointly celebrate your last raise.  We wish it had been your husband writing to ask us about what you rightly describe as your conundrum. If he had, one of the first things we’d have recommended is that he decline your gracious willingness to underwrite the tuition at helicopter flight school out of your income.  Being fully aware of the slightly added cost of interest, we nonetheless would strongly recommend that he takes out a loan to be repaid entirely from his earnings as a SAR pilot.  Accredited flight schools may be eligible for federal low-interest student loans. If that doesn’t work, Sallie Mae (Student Loan Marketing Association) has been making loans to students enrolled in flight school. In any event, whatever it takes, we are sure this avenue would be an excellent investment in your marriage. This would encourage him to deal with the economic reality of his job choice.

But your husband hasn’t asked us and we are sure that it would be a very bad idea for you to be the one to suggest that he takes out a loan to prepare for his next career. (Remaining where he is until his pension vests is a good plan unless he unexpectedly receives another job offer paying twice what you earn.)  Jennifer, we sincerely hope that you have a very wise family friend, perhaps your pastor, or maybe an older relative whom your husband thinks well of. (Male, needless to say.)  If there is such a person, show him your letter and this, our response, and ask if he can approach your husband and make the loan suggestion in a compellingly persuasive way. Obviously, you would have to have complete trust in this person.

You ask “How shall we best handle this?”  The “we” part is a bit tough because seldom does a husband feel more alone than when he worries about money. In fact, we are sure that you are wrong when you say that the financial income disparity between you is, “not something that he regularly worries about.”  We are certain that he is constantly concerned about it.   However, there are some things you can do to help mitigate the reality you find yourselves in. It sounds as if your earnings are actually needed on a regular basis to help, “make ends meet much more easily.”  But apparently there would have been enough surplus also to cover helicopter flight school.  Typically, to get FAA commercially rated and gain enough flight hours, at least 200 hours on a rotary-wing aircraft, that is to say, a helicopter, can take an employed person, say, two years and cost maybe fifty thousand dollars. If flight instruction will be covered by a loan, close to that sum ought now to be available from your earnings for saving towards, or investment into, something you both care about. Sharing that joint project will be so much better for the marriage than for you to pay for your husband’s flight instruction.

What else can you do, Jennifer?  Of course, we don’t know you and we stand at a distance, but from our understanding of these marriages, of which we’ve seen more than a few, we’re going to go out on a limb here and guess that manifestations of physical affection are less than ideal in both quantity and quality.  That too is typically a casualty of what we call MIDS-marital income disparity syndrome. What makes it so problematic is that it causes the condition to cascade with each cycle of resentment and withdrawal feeding on the previous. As ancient Jewish wisdom puts it in Aramaic: “Dai lechacimah beremizah”–To the wise, just a hint is sufficient. Only you can mend this and the consequences of its repair will be wonderful and widespread.

We urge you to search your heart and find a group of women whose husbands uphold our communities through their work (military, police, firefighter wives etc.) and who take pride in that sacrifice. The families of these men often make sacrifices so that their husbands can serve and you are doing the same. You should feel pride in and respect for both you and your husband and that feeling should be conveyed to your children as well. We don’t suggest showing fake interest in what your husband faces, but we do encourage you to recognize his role in keeping society safe.

Finally, find opportunities to ask for his advice.  There will be those readers who bristle at the idea of a woman deliberately feeding her husband’s ego by asking for his advice. They are wrong.  All civilized interactions, whether personal, business or even diplomatic are lubricated by certain conventions.  We ask, “How are you?” not because we desire a detailed catalog of current diseases being endured but because we want the person to feel we care about them. A man might tell a woman, “I think you’re beautiful” and an ambassador might address the local despot by saying, “With all respect, your highness.” Like a woman seeking opportunities to elicit her husband’s advice, these are all effective conventions for smooth interactions.

These dear Jennifer are some of our recommendations for avoiding the pitfalls in your marriage.  We do feel confident that you will succeed in doing far more than merely avoiding the pitfalls. Because of our evaluation of the sort of woman you are, we anticipate you carefully putting into place each of the many golden bricks of marriage that will together knit themselves into an impregnable fortress of love, respect and tranquility.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin

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My turn to be a Matchmaker?

June 24th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

Dear Rabbi and Susan,

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom.

Very dear friends of mine have a daughter in her mid 30’s. She is a modern orthodox Jew or at least Lubavitcher.  She lives in the Houston area, which doesn’t have a huge Orthodox population so there aren’t that many opportunities for her to meet suitable men.

How can I help her? She’s a beautiful gal with charm and wit. While she works, she doesn’t think of herself as a career gal.  She still lives with her parents whom she helps to support.

What would you recommend?

Blessings and thank you for all you do.

Sammy T.

Dear Sammy,

You are a very kind person and we think it is lovely that you are concerned about this young woman and want to help her.  While it can be mocked through the use of stereotypes as in the plays Hello Dolly! or Fiddler on the Roof, matchmaking at its best is a lovely sign of caring. It is simply wanting to assist others to find a life partner and establish a home and it is a time-treasured pastime among religious Jews.  In matchmaking, we are emulating the Almighty who Himself introduced the first couple to one another.

Like many other religious groups, many young Jews spurn the dating system for meeting a potential life partner. They seek not only shared interests but especially shared values. That is often facilitated best by a wise third party who knows both the man and the woman.  Considering the emotional roller-coaster ride that dating often inflicts, on women particularly, many couples feel profound gratitude to their matchmakers.  Matchmakers can be informal friends or relatives but often they are trained men and women who take their profession very seriously.  (We know of what we speak because as leaders of the synagogue we planted in Southern California a few years ago, we were privileged to serve as matchmakers for more than a hundred couples.)The task doesn’t end with the introduction—it has then just begun. The fledgling relationship needs to be nurtured and during those fifteen years of our lives, we were accustomed to many late-night after-date phone calls from excited or sometimes distraught men and women.

Within the religious  Jewish community, in addition to formal matchmakers, friends, and family, there are many online and offline resources that help in this search. Couples frequently meet each other using these paths. Before COVID, it was not at all unusual for a man or woman who lives in a smaller community to fly a few times a year into a larger one for a few days specifically to meet and date someone they either met online or whom a matchmaker suggested. If this woman is over 30, affiliated with the community and looking to marry, you can be quite sure that she is very familiar with most of these resources. 

Honestly, Sammy, you are so well-intentioned, but since you are not involved in that religious community yourself, the chances are high that you would be lost in a maze trying to actively help her unless God puts someone right in your path who seems appropriate. (It has been known to happen.)  Why do we say you are not involved in that community?  Because you wrote that she is  “modern Orthodox or Lubavitcher”.  You see, that is somewhat akin to saying that she is looking to live only in Miami or only in Montreal. Men and women who fit into one of those categories do not easily fit in the other one.  In fact, they are even more distinct than Miami is from Montreal.

What can you do? Foremost, you can pray. Whether you can do more than that is really a question of how close is your friendship with her parents. Doing more might be perceived as prying and poking your nose where it doesn’t belong and could be an awful idea. There certainly could be reasons she is still living at home and other family dynamics of which you are unaware. A very narrow line separates concern from intrusiveness.

If you are convinced that involving yourself would be welcome, you might tentatively see if your friends could encourage their daughter to spend time in a larger Jewish community on a regular basis. If you knew a warm family in Miami, Montreal, Baltimore, Los Angeles or New York who would be happy to host her and introduce her around, that might well be your most valuable contribution.  This may very well mean her spending Shabbat and holidays away from her parents. The more friendships she cultivates, the more people will be looking out for a good man for her.

You sound like many a frustrated parent who watches a child not move forward in his or her personal or career life. The reality is that by the time someone is in her mid-30s, she is the main actor in her destiny and the biggest steps need to come from her. 

Keep her in your prayers, and know that dancing at the wedding of a couple you introduced is a special joy.

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Am I Having a Mid-life Crisis?

June 16th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

I am a 35-year-old male who is sole supporter for a household of 7 and I feel like I am at or near a mid-life crisis. I admit this probably isn’t the middle of my life, but from what I read and others tell me all indications suggest this is what I am experiencing.

Are ‘mid-life’ crises normal and if so what are some strategies for managing through them? Or are they a sign that I am not living right?

W.

Dear W.,

We, too, hope that thirty-five isn’t the middle of your life, but your question stands, and we would like to approach this from four different angles.

Labels are both potentially useful and potentially harmful.  We knew someone who used to go through a full-fledged “mid-life-crisis” every two or three years of his life.   Recognizing that two-year-olds have abilities and desires that babies did not, allows parents to change the way they speak to and act towards newly independent toddlers. However, if parents chalk up every problem to “terrible twos” or, even worse, dread that period, the label will make those years less fun and more difficult. (We, personally, loved that age and if we generalized at all it was by calling it the “terrific twos.”)

Similarly, there are constantly things to be aware of as we move year-by-year through life. Many of us ignore yearly check-ups when we are young and feel invulnerable, but it is always a good idea to discover if there might be a physical cause behind emotional difficulties. Barring any physical reason, being able to label feelings as a mid-life crisis can lead to finding resources and ideas that help, but it is far more likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most people today have little patience for going through a plateau or even a darkish period.  Experiencing a down few days or even weeks is perfectly natural and perfectly normal.  It really doesn’t need a label; just know that, “This too shall pass.”

Secondly, while what we wrote to you above is true, that is not to suggest that you ignore the real obligation to probe into yourself for some explanations for how you feel.  You termed yourself as the sole supporter of your family. Unless you are a single father or your wife is completely incapacitated, your perception is false. Even if you are the sole “bringing in income from an outside source” partner, you are not the sole financial support, let alone the sole physical and emotional support. You and your wife are one team and should be seeing yourselves that way.

The team does many wonderful things; it brings in income, raises a family, nurtures a marriage and runs a home. If you and your wife see yourselves more as independent contractors in a joint venture, then both of you will get less fulfillment from what you are doing. For instance, you need to internalize the reality that the income you earn is actually as much your wife’s achievement as yours. Getting nutritious and appealing meals on the table is your accomplishment as well, even if your wife does the shopping and cooking. If either of you fails to appreciate the contributions of the other, life is less rewarding. Your feelings could well be alerting you that your marriage needs more attention.

Likewise, if you view yourself as an outsider to the decidedly noisy and hectic activities of a house full of children, then you will not derive the pride, pleasure, and satisfaction you should from that family. If you only see your children as mouths to feed, then you certainly need to reassess your family goals, structure,  practices and above all, values.

Thirdly, human beings who are not growing do not stay at the same level, they deteriorate and they stagnate. Sometimes, we grow at a tremendous rate in one area of our life, but stagnate in others. Medical and law students are notorious for sometimes being rather boring. They are so focused on the one area of their challenging studies that other areas stagnate. For this reason, we talk of regularly needing to assess the five Fs in your life: Faith, Family, Fitness, Fortune and Friendships. A “mid-life crisis” whether one is 25, 35 or 65 might alert you to an imbalance.

As our fourth suggestion, we strongly recommend that you try this experiment. Obtain for yourself a notebook (or use the journal we have prepared) and each evening before you retire for the night, seclude yourself for ten minutes and discipline yourself to write down at least 3 things for which you’re grateful. It might be something that happened at work, something you realized for the first time, the smile one of your children gave you, how well your car runs, or your wife’s calm demeanor at the children’s bedtime. Don’t do this on a computer or other digital device. The full benefit of this activity is derived best by doing this on paper because it stimulates different cognitive processes.

We feel confident that these four points and your reactions to them will help you and perhaps also give you other ideas to consider. Bouncing these ideas off a carefully gathered group of male friends and mentors can yield much support as well.

Wishing you many fulfilling years ahead,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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The First Time You…

May 26th, 2020 Posted by Thought Tools 18 comments

In the charming 1980 South African movie masterpiece, The Gods Must Be Crazy, the Kalahari bushman hero found an empty Coca Cola bottle dropped from his plane by a careless pilot.  No life experience or knowledge gained till now prepared Xi to understand the bottle’s purpose.  He couldn’t imagine its value other than as a magic talisman. 

In a similar way, no education or experience in the lives of many young men today prepares them to view a wife as anything other than an economic asset in an attractive package. They marry with a picture dancing in their minds of the larger house for whose mortgage they will now jointly qualify.  Understandably, they can’t imagine the magic of a marriage partnership in which each partner carries responsibility for a separate specialty just as in a successful business partnership.

Social media and occasional news articles reveal the existence of an informal association of women devoted to the homes and families of the husbands who happily support them.  These women, in the U.K., Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States gather beneath the banner of traditional wives and have assumed the hashtag #Tradwives.

Angry voices in mainstream media malign these women in terms so vituperative that you’d think traditional wives drank the blood of journalists.  You might have thought that feminism’s commitment to “choice” would praise these wives for making their own unconventional choice. Yet, they disparage these wives in the vilest ways going so far as to drum up today’s ultimate charge—racism.  Yes, these primitive and bigoted women are not only setting back women’s “progress” by decades, but they are obviously trying to have and raise more—that’s right—white children.

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My Unemployed Husband is No Help to Me

April 29th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 23 comments

Your shows are so impacting.  They help me to adjust my thinking, but I am having some challenges letting my new thought pattern influence and change my situation.

In short, I am employed and my husband is not. He lost his job because he did not meet the company’s new requirements and qualifications. While at home, he sleeps for several hours and watches TV.  I am still left to care for the children and the house after a 10-hour day.

When we talk about work, he says that he is entitled to rest from work because he has worked for many years.  He goes on to say that there was a time when I was at home (with the kids) and he brought in all the money (which was not much).

This is exhausting. I feel like a single parent with a lazy bear in my house.  It’s ok that I taught myself not to depend on him for anything, but it would be good to have some support.  What should I do?

Rheon

Dear Rheon,

As we repeat from time to time, we are not offering personal and comprehensive advice since we only know you through your short letter.  We will try to raise questions and make points that we hope may be applicable to your unique situation.

Having said that, our hearts really do go out to you. Loneliness within a marriage is a cruel form of misery. While your husband’s being out of work sounds unrelated to COVID-19, many couples today are grappling with unemployment.  The emotional and intimate aspects are often more severe than the economic, though of course they are related. 

Our impression, Rheon, is that your marital problems go way back further than your husband losing his job. Mutual disrespect leaps out from your words. You minimize the income he brought in when he was working and his words, which you quote, disparage your contribution in running a home and raising a family. Disrespect, whether through hostile words, sarcasm, “humor”, or facial expression is a machete that hacks away at a marriage. It is incredibly hard to change the way spouses talk to and about each other, but it is vital to do so for a marriage to succeed.

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Male Highs and Lows

April 20th, 2020 Posted by Thought Tools 23 comments

“No questions are out of bounds,” I explained to the awkward-looking young man who approached me.  “Nothing in the entire spectrum of human experience falls outside the purview of ancient Jewish wisdom or beyond the Torah upon which it is based.  Go ahead and tell me what is worrying you,” I assured him.

He shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other and with his face betraying inner embarrassment, he finally blurted out his question.  “Why did God create men to both urinate and reproduce through the same bodily orifice whereas with women it’s different?”  I had to stop myself from smiling.  Having finally got this conundrum off his chest, he looked like he couldn’t decide whether to feel relief or a desire to flee.

“That is a wonderful question and a very important one,” I told him.  At this point, all panic vanished from his face.  I then told him the answer and added that I would be writing about it in a future Thought Tool for everyone else who had thought of the question but lacked his courage to ask it.  Trent, this one is for you!

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Should men pursue women or the other way around?

February 5th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 16 comments

I have been taught all my life that a man is to pursue a woman to marry her. The only scripture that comes to my mind is proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.”

Yet, going back to Genesis, God brought Eve to Adam. Adam didn’t have to find her, also it doesn’t sound like Adam had to pursue her since she was the first and only woman on earth. Correct me if I am wrong.

Thank you!

Kenneth O.

Dear Kenneth,

As we discuss in some detail in our practical marriage guidance audio CD, Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden, God could have chosen to begin populating the world in many ways. Among other choices, He could have created a number of people at one time, He could have created woman first and He could have created man and woman at the same time.

Kenneth,  the Bible is not a history book about what happened millennia ago, instead, it is really an instruction manual about how to live your life today. , It, therefore, makes sense that the Bible’s account of Adam’s and Eve’s creation is full of messages as to how the world really works. One of these lessons is that by creating Adam first, a protocol is being set that the world works best when a man invites a woman into his world rather than the other way around.

We also see the man choosing the woman in Deuteronomy 24:1, “When a man takes a wife…” The Torah never says, “When a man and woman decide to marry.”  It also never says, “When a woman or a man decides upon a mate.”  Written the way it is, serves to confirm your wording. Indeed, the best way is for a man to choose a woman.  (It is her prerogative to accept or reject him.) We see the world’s adoption of this ancient Biblical principle in the widely observed practice of a woman marrying and taking her husband’s name.

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My Mother-in-Law is Impossible

October 23rd, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 10 comments

Dear Rabbi and Susan Lapin,

Do you have some wisdom for me?  My mother-in-law has been a constant strain on our marriage.  To give an example:  This last weekend we made a special trip to an amusement park where we joined up with my in-laws.  While we were there,  my mother-in-law did everything she could to keep my husband from riding rides with my children or being around me. 

It went so far, that my mother-in-law spun the old story: about how she used to carry my husband around everywhere and she made him promise that he would one day carry her around.   After this retelling of the story,  she got him to carry her around like a bride crossing a threshold for 5 minutes.   🙁  In the amusement park.  🙁  In front of everyone.   🙁

I don’t know what to do. I have so many in-law stories it is ridiculous.   I keep making myself choose JOY because it is a choice.  At the same time however,  I would love to hear some teaching for me or me and my husband, on the topic of unhealthy in-laws and healthy in-laws.  This way maybe I  can be a good mother-in-law someday, and my husband and I can traverse this choppy ever recurring water. 

Signed,

Your friend

Dear Friend,

We absolutely love the way you are using a problem in your life as a springboard for training yourself for the future. The Bible repeatedly tells the children of Israel to be kind to the stranger “because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”  Obviously, the Hebrews had little choice and didn’t want to be strangers in the land of Egypt but people still  can choose how to react when they are treated badly. Tragically, some take the attitude of “payback time,” looking to mistreat others as they were mistreated. You have cleverly and bravely adopted the Biblical response of using your own mistreatment to make you more sensitive to others.

Nonetheless, you and your husband do have a problem. However, it may not be the one you are thinking of. Let’s  focus on the phrase you used, “…she got him to carry her around…” As an adult, your husband made the decision to carry his mother around. Your mother-in-law may be difficult; she may be very difficult, but she probably did not whip out a pistol and force her son to do so. The problem is not your mother-in-law.  The problem is that you and your husband haven’t yet got onto the same page dealing with this problem as you most likely have for so many other issues in your married life.

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She’s offering me security. Is that enough?

October 16th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 34 comments

I am in my late 30s and not doing so well financially (but that’s absolutely about to change having come in contact with your teachings).

I am currently with a lady who is 5 years older than myself and doing pretty well for herself. Should I for financial security settle down with her even though I am not totally confident when I am with her in  public, or leave her and take my chances?

Francis H.

Dear Francis,

While we take great pride in our books, CDs and DVDs and our many other resources and we are elated about the many thousands whom they have benefitted, we’re afraid that we have to question your assumption that they will help you. We are not sure you are ready for them.

We say this because your letter reveals a very unmasculine passivity. One can be in his late 30s and go bald without having done anything to have caused that to happen. You can be in your late 30s and be less agile than you were at 18 even if you eat healthily and exercise. You don’t get close to 40 “not doing so well financially” without having taken some wrong steps in the past and having failed to take some very necessary right ones. Our resources, we feel, are superb but they are not magical elixirs— in order to be effective, and they can be stunningly effective, they need commitment, hard work and willingness to significantly change. Are you ready for that? Think seriously; are you really ready for that?

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Does Financial Independence Sound Appealing?

September 18th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 21 comments

I may not be exactly the audience the Wall Street Journal’s money advice for those starting their careers is targeting but, nonetheless,  I was interested in what they had to say. Five successful business individuals wrote short pieces sharing their wisdom. I recognized names like former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and I had heard of the companies that these professionals lead like Land o’Lakes or a subset of Merrill Lynch. There was only one  exception – Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble.

Ms. Herd stood out on a few fronts. Not only did I have no idea who she was or what her company did but looking at the drawings of the featured three women and two men suggested that she was the youngest of the group. Most importantly, her advice was of an entirely different type than everyone else’s.

If, like me, you aren’t familiar with Bumble, it is a dating app. Its unique property is that it gives women sole control of the first point of contact. What interested me, however, wasn’t the company but its thirty-year-old founder and CEO’s advice. You could file all the other respondents’ advice under the category of financial literacy. They included concepts like understanding debt, valuing savings and measuring job opportunities by looking at growth potential and skill acquisition as well as salary.

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