Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review / Nov. 28, 2000 / 1 Kislev 5761

My ex is ruining my kids' souls;
the mouth that won't stop

By Wendy Belzberg -- When we were married to each other, my ex-husband and I were on the same page about our children's Jewish education. Now that we are divorced, he refuses to take the kids to shul when it is his weekend with them, refuses to pay for their day school tuition, and has even taken them to non-kosher restaurants.

What's the point in being divorced if you are still allowing your husband to push all of your buttons? Don't panic: Instead of having a lasting impact on how your children feel about being Jewish, your husband's plan could backfire and simply have a lasting impact on how they feel about him. It's hard to predict without knowing how old your kids are.

If you are looking for a shoulder to cry on you've come to the right place. But if I were you I'd be looking for justice. Your children need you to defend and protect them. You may want to enlist the help of the rabbi whose shul you attended together when you were married. Beyond that, I suggest you hire a ferocious lawyer and a professional counselor.

* * *

My husband is in his mid-fifties and has been gaining weight every year since we first met twelve years ago. With twenty extra pounds, not only is he less attractive to me, but his cardiologist has expressed concern due to a family history of high cholesterol. I've tried gently to coax him to make better food choices and to exercise more regularly, to no avail. He claims he wants my support, and yet my words fall on deaf ears. Any suggestions?

Short of having your husband's jaw wired shut while he sleeps, it is impossible for you to force him to lose weight. However, since he is behaving like a child who does not know what is best for him, why not treat him as you would a child? I reward my children with chocolates and toys. Instead of promising your boy Lego or remote control cars, why not try an incentive program using flattery and favors? Show your husband the extent of your support by joining him in his deprivation: remove all sweets from the house and forego desserts yourself when eating out. Or, if financial incentives work best, agree on a dollar amount you will save for every pound lost--and spend a multiple of that for every pound gained.

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

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