Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review / Dec. 18, 2000 / 21 Kislev 5761

Babes in Chanukah Land; my husband the kvetch; bad hair marriage?

By Wendy Belzberg -- This will be my baby daughter's first Hanukah. My wife and I want to establish some small traditions that we as a family can share. Do you have any suggestions?

A 1-year-old, even a genius such as yours, notices little more than the flicker of the candles. Still, I applaud your forward planning. It is never too soon to prepare for the coming years.

One suggestion would be to make a different menorah with your daughter every year. Another idea is to dedicate one night of the holiday to helping others less fortunate than you: take your menorah and dreidel in hand and visit a home for the aged or a children's hospital.

Since this is your first child, you may be keeping a journal. Even if you choose not to have more children, there are seldom enough hours in the day to keep the journal current. Make Chanukah a time when you make an entry in the family journal eight nights in a row. Record your thoughts, impressions and funny stories; your daughter can draw pictures and dictate stories until she learns to write. If you have more children, keep a separate, dated journal for each child.

Finally, do something madcap and tell your daughter the full story of Chanukah at least once during the holiday. You'd be surprised how quickly children forget everything but the gift giving, latke-binging and chocolate gelt.

* * *

My husband and I are newlyweds. I don't want to make the same mistake my parents made in their marriage, bickering all the way to the finish line. But despite my best intentions, my husband and I seem to have many arguments, sometimes the same argument several times. How do I make sure we do not turn into my parents?

I hope you were wearing a parachute when you leapt from being a newlywed to being your parents at the end of their marriage. A free-fall like that would scare the wits out of anyone.

I consider it a positive sign that you and your husband fight: if there's no power struggle at the start of your marriage then one of you has already surrendered. No fighting means no challenge; no challenge gets old real quick. As for having the same argument over and over, you have been watching too many sit-coms if you think arguments are resolved after 22 minutes (actual air-time after commercials.) Issues have a habit of rearing and re-rearing their ugly heads. The answer is not to avoid treacherous terrain; it is to learn to navigate it early on in your marriage before your tracks turn into ruts from which you can't escape. Don't confuse bickering and fighting. Bickering is what happens when the air isn't clear. And nothing clears the air like a good fight. Think how much time your parents could have saved.

* * *

My boyfriend and I are modern orthodox. He wants me to cover my hair after we get married. I don't want to. Now what?

Before you even get a toehold in the argument, your boyfriend will no doubt play his trump card claiming halacha--Jewish law--is on his side. And don't kid yourself, his is a compelling argument.

Is this a disagreement over fundamental religious beliefs or do feminism and an itchy scalp factor in to your point of view? A difference in religious observance and commitment will create real issues in a marriage, especially after you have children. To cover or not to cover: is this the tip of the iceberg? I don't recommend marriage if you can't agree to respect each other's level of observance. On the other hand, if you expect a special dispensation on this issue alone and see eye to eye on all other matters, case closed.

Ask Wendy a question -- any question --- by clicking here.

12/04/00: My niece is a no-goodnik, when lifecycle events become dangerous, Orthodox v. Reform education
11/28/00: My ex is ruining my kids' souls; the mouth that won't stop
11/21/00: Battling brothers; how to keep a nanny
11/08/00: OY VEY! my son wants to become Orthodox; kiddies should avoid family therapy
11/08/00: Rabbi v. therapist, grandparents bearing gifts, I want my son's teacher for a sister-in-law
10/24/00: Let him enlist?, 'My son the actor'? Eating with the 'help'
10/10/00:Tipsy teens, protective spouses, kosher common-sense
10/03/00: I'm not Jewish --- not that there's anything wrong with it; mezuza machlokes; when granddad has cancer
09/25/00: I can't take Rosh Hashanah! Something for nothing? My husband needs a dinner mate
09/18/00: 'My kids' Jewish education stinks', boyfriend bandit, and single mother not by choice
09/11/00: Bris brouhaha breaks my heart, LET ME SLEEP! --- and Why can't I hold a job?
09/05/00: Righteous anger, 'dissed' daughter --- and how not to make a match
08/21/00: When one spouse becomes more religious than the other; "But the cleaning lady is part of the family!"; Why He invented 9-month gestation periods
08/21/00: 'Fessing up to granny about abandoning one's people, non-kosher sis-in-law, and 'my niece is marrying a loser'
08/14/00: Marrying 'in' for questionable motivations; Should a do-gooder be reimbursed?
08/07/00: Communing with the clouds, betrothal, and banishing bosses
07/28/00: Small-city guys, self-centered siblings
07/21/00: When a child takes religion seriously, marriage obsession, and guests who just don't get it
07/14/00: Divorcing brother-in-law, uncampy kids, and a dot.comer who makes it big time
07/07/00: Hypocrites, reality checks, and the 'real estate challenged'


© 2000, Wendy Belzberg