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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Marriage Advice to Ignore

I often find myself having to rein in my cynicism when reading some of the tripe that's passed off as life advice in many of the publications out there - both Jewish and secular. Most of the "Top Twenty Tips For A Happy Marriage!" and "Ten Ways To Trick Your Husband Into Treating You Like A Queen!" -type lists are, in my humble opinion, often nothing but a waste of time. But this particular gem, from a bonus supplement to the Charedi publication Hamodia (Self-proclaimed as "The Newspaper of Torah Jewry"), was particularly special. From an article titled "Blueprint for a Happy Marriage":
If you find yourself irritable and jumpy when you are with your life partner, see if you can unwind before you are together. Try drinking something that soothes you or going for a brisk walk. These and other strategies might blow off the steam so that you don't take out your frustrations on your spouse.
Um...is Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss advocating the throwing back of a good stiff drink as a technique for calming down enough to treat your spouse properly? Why stop there? Hey, if you have a bad day - consider popping some valium on the train ride home so that you don't take your anger out on your wife. But seriously. There must be some other, more appropriate exercises to follow other than turning to the bottle that can help ease tension between married couples. Like, for example, marriage counseling? I would hardly think that introducing an addictive substance into a troubled marriage is the solution.

Another point Rabbi Weiss makes that I think can potentially be misunderstood:
You should defend and uphold your spouse proudly and staunchly. It is a heinous breach of the marriage contract to cause your spouse embarrassment in front of others. Another aspect of loyalty is not violating the privacy of your relationship. Don't share with your relatives or friends the private details of your marriage.
I understand the point the author is trying to make here, however, there is a lot of room for misinterpretation in a statement such as this one. Obviously truly intimate details should be discussed with great discretion, but a blanket statement does not qualify what should and should not be discussed. For example, an exhortation like this one might cause a young newly married woman to hold back from discussing such serious matters as verbal or physical abuse at the hands of her spouse, or prevent a young couple from asking for financial help during hard times, for fear of causing the providing spouse embarrassment. Or, for an example that is even more relevant to this discussion, it might prevent someone from asking whether it is normal for his/her spouse to need to take a few hits of vodka before initiating conversation. Which, in my opinion, it is not.

38 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're taking what this man is saying completely out of context and on purpose...I am not a huge fan of the Hamodia but nothing said here is wrong in any way...."Try drinking something that soothes you " - have you never heard of a cup of herbal tea? that's soothing!!! He is not saying you should go to a bar and drown your sorrows!!! A walk, a trip to the gym, etc...much better than a grumpy spouse!
as far as the other words of advice, many women find themselves in mother in law sticky situations and more often than not, the husbands stand idly by without defending their wives. I WISH someone told my sister's husband this piece of advice when they were newly married. And as far as sharing everything with your mom after marriage...many people know, from experience, that long after you've made up and forgiven, your mom will NEVER forget and that leaves you in a very bad position. That is what he is talking about.
Don't be so negative that you can't listen to anyone but yourself!!!

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh please. If he wanted to say herbal tea he would have.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first recommendation by the rabbi is problematic--it sounds as if he advocates drinking alcohol for stress relief. A person that takes the second recommendation and applies it too rigidly is an idiot in my opinion. I don't think that the rabbi means for this bit of advice to be followed so inflexibly. Have we (as Jews) become such a nation of social retards that we have to flip off our brains anytime anyone with the title rabbi makes a well-intentioned but unqalified statement?

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

comeon ppl stop looking to criticize and dont take what he said out of context

11:35 PM  
Blogger keithninety said...

I know Rabbi Weiss and I'm certain he didn't intend to convey the nefarious interpretations of his words that you suggest.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rabbi weiss is known for his harsh mussar. Can be enlightening but I would definitely not go to him for practical marital advice.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as far as the other words of advice, many women find themselves in mother in law sticky situations and more often than not, the husbands stand idly by without defending their wives. I WISH someone told my sister's husband this piece of advice when they were newly married. And as far as sharing everything with your mom after marriage...many people know, from experience, that long after you've made up and forgiven, your mom will NEVER forget and that leaves you in a very bad position. That is what he is talking about.
Don't be so negative that you can't listen to anyone but yourself!!!

10:23 PM

Agreed=as one who has been married for decades-the last person a women who wants a happy marriage should do is take their problems to their mother-someone professional OK-even a Rav. The nature of things is that getting a wifes mother involved will be bad for decades, Work problems out yourselves-with pro help-family just confuses the matters.

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I imagined that he was recommending a Iced Latte.

12:26 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Anonymous said...

I think you're taking what this man is saying completely out of context


How could the man's words be taken out of context if I read the whole article?

12:31 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...


Agreed=as one who has been married for decades-the last person a women who wants a happy marriage should do is take their problems to their mother-someone professional OK-even a Rav. The nature of things is that getting a wifes mother involved will be bad for decades, Work problems out yourselves-with pro help-family just confuses the matters.


Of course I don;t disagree. But that isn;t what he says. He recommends against discussing anything that "might embarrass" your spouse with anyone. If he feels that does not include professionals, he should say so. he does not. If he feels that does not refer to serious matters such as abuse or dire financial trouble, he should say so. He does not.

I feel this blanket advice leaves much room for misinterpretation.

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

c'mon. Name one Jewish newspaper that is better written than Hamodia. Quit nit picking. If you care so much about other people and their shalom bais then take the time to write an informative article about shalom bais without grandstanding on a Rabbi's "open for misinterpretation" statements". Become part of the solution not the problem.

12:44 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Anonymous said...

c'mon. Name one Jewish newspaper that is better written than Hamodia. Quit nit picking. If you care so much about other people and their shalom bais then take the time to write an informative article about shalom bais without grandstanding on a Rabbi's "open for misinterpretation" statements". Become part of the solution not the problem.


Please. I don't present sweeping solutions to marriage problems, nor am I a Rabbi. But those who do are leaving their words open to criticism. As far as Hamodia being well-written, that has nothing to do with whether this article has well-advised suggestions.

12:47 AM  
Blogger flatbushrenegade said...

I understood him to mean a cup of coffee. But putting that aside, what would be wrong with taking a drink if one feels edgy? What he was saying, if he neant alcoholic, was that if you would normaly find a drink soothing in a stressful situation, then if this is going to be stressful go have that drink beforehand so as to avoid the stress altogether. Haven't most people, at some point, stopped for a drink on the way home after a stressful day? My wife is appreciative of my stopping and getting myself a beer instead of bringing a stressful day home to her and the kids. To me it seemed that his point was, relieve your stress before it manifests itself in a bad way.
As to the second point, I seemed to understand that he was referring to friends, not professionals, and I concede that he should have been clearer.

12:51 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

flatbushrenegade:
thank you for your thoughtful response. I think he should have been clearer altogether. If someone is tackling as ginger an issue as marital problems - and titling the article with as grand a title as "Blueprint for a Happy Marriage", I am entitled to expect a bit more clarity. There are people who actually read these types of articles and take them to heart.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please. A Rabbi write "something that soothes you" and you insert " a couples shots of vodka". Do you actually think people are going to start pounding shot's on the LIRR based on this article? You could have written to him and asked him to clarify his point before defaming him.
Was this urgent PSA really worth the defamation. In an honest non-defensive moment I think you'll agree that the cost-benefit ratio doesn't work out. Please pull this "stand up" bit from your site. If Rabbi Weiss ignores your plea for clarification then I see that you've been left with no choice.
And yes writing "self proclaimed" wasn't needed to identify Hamodia. It was a backhanded dis.

1:16 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...


Anonymous said...

Please. A Rabbi write "something that soothes you" and you insert " a couples shots of vodka". Do you actually think people are going to start pounding shot's on the LIRR based on this article? You could have written to him and asked him to clarify his point before defaming him.
Was this urgent PSA really worth the defamation. In an honest non-defensive moment I think you'll agree that the cost-benefit ratio doesn't work out. Please pull this "stand up" bit from your site. If Rabbi Weiss ignores your plea for clarification then I see that you've been left with no choice.
And yes writing "self proclaimed" wasn't needed to identify Hamodia. It was a backhanded dis.


Talk about defensive. First of all, there is nothing wrong with criticizing Rabbi Weiss' words. Halachically, he is open to criticism of the sort I leveled here.
And don't worry about what you call my "backhanded dis" of Hamodia. I am sure they can handle it. Besides, they have the banner on the front page of every section of their publication that they are the Newspaper of Torah Jewry. If that isn't a self-proclaimed title - what is?

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, I saw this piece over the weekend. I had the same reaction to the drink comment as you did. Also, the next article about Shalom Zachars was really funny. They describe the father of the new baby running out of the hospital without saying good shabbos to his wife because he is so eager to prepare for the SZ. Of course, the wife in thr story is perfectly fine with that. maybe Rabbi Weiss has some advice for that man in the SZ story.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Don't share with your relatives or friends the private details of your marriage.

Though I agree overall that a more careful wording would have been better in both instances assuming R' Weiss meant a cup of coffee etc., to be fair, he specifically mentioned friends and relatives in this last part. Presumably, that specific mention was meant regarding idle discussions about private issues with such people, and not discussing serious issues with whomever they should be discussed. Also, there's the "common sense" assumption, that people should know that if it's something serious (say, abuse) they should run to get some help - but they may not realize that their mentions of certain things to family and friends can seriously harm their spouse.

prevent a young couple from asking for financial help during hard times, for fear of causing the providing spouse embarrassment.

That's an interesting one. For some people, the embarrassment WOULD be worse than the hard times, and (assuming that eventually it could be dug out of without help - granted, a tricky assumption) therefore it would be better if it were kept private. There's also the factor of one spouse not understanding the financial situation as well as the other one, which I'd say is quite common. They may think that not having money to spend for a while is a poor situation, while their spouse may think that the prepayment of a number of things really frees up a lot of cash in the long-term.

2:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"common sense"

ezzie, peope don't use their common sense when they are taking advice from their rabbanim. did yolu follow the gourmet glatt battle? people take their rabbis advice verbatim. someone writing an article in a major national ultra-orthodox publication has to phrase their words much more carfully.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a cold caffiene free diet coke helps me face my spouse when things are a bit, er...tense.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol! for me, a iced venti light vanilla mocha with 2 equal and skim milk always does the trick.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If u found the article lacked clarity, which it did, email Rabbi Weiss to discuss it or write a letter to editor, which they will forward to him ASAP.
Every human being reads and hears things differently, depending on their personality, culture, upbringing, & mental health.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is incredible! There was nothing wrong with the article. Maybe orthomom is just extra sensitive to certain marraige issues. Does Orthodad like the bottle a little too much? Does he beat orthodom?

Granted, I don't think the article had anything new to offer, other than fodder for this rancid blog, but Weiss wrote nothing that any orthosane person could seriously misinterpret.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is incredible! There was nothing wrong with the article. Maybe orthomom is just extra sensitive to certain marraige issues. Does Orthodad like the bottle a little too much? Does he beat orthodom?

Granted, I don't think the article had anything new to offer, other than fodder for this rancid blog, but Weiss wrote nothing that any orthosane person could seriously misinterpret.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is incredible! There was nothing wrong with the article. Maybe orthomom is just extra sensitive to certain marraige issues. Does Orthodad like the bottle a little too much? Does he beat orthodom?

Granted, I don't think the article had anything new to offer, other than fodder for this rancid blog, but Weiss wrote nothing that any orthosane person could seriously misinterpret.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is incredible!

What's incredible is that you were apparently so happy with your drivel that you posted it twice!! Sounds like a little too much morning pick-me-up talking.

Weiss wrote nothing that any orthosane person could seriously misinterpret.

When it comes to determining what an "orthosane" person would think, it doesn't sound like you should be the one to judge.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

orthomom said...
"How could the man's words be taken out of context if I read the whole article? "

you definitely took the drinking thing and heard what you WANTED to hear- let's face it....you went into reading this article with a negative article and were looking for things to find wrong. I read even just the little quotes you're using as proof that the article is horrible and potentially promoting abuse and read it completley differently...in that way, you took his words out of context. FYI out of context does not mean you didn't read it; it means you read it and quoted it to read what you wanted it to say. Now you learned something new today.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous 5t grandma said...

FYI out of context does not mean you didn't read it; it means you read it and quoted it to read what you wanted it to say. Now you learned something new today.

when a quote is taken out of context, it is taken without considering the rest of the larger statement. That is usually only an issue with quotes or when a larger work is excerpted. Om did not take anything out of context here, she posted the whole paragraph in each case.

Now, mr. anon, YOU learned something new today.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...

This is incredible! There was nothing wrong with the article. Maybe orthomom is just extra sensitive to certain marraige issues. Does Orthodad like the bottle a little too much? Does he beat orthodom?

Granted, I don't think the article had anything new to offer, other than fodder for this rancid blog, but Weiss wrote nothing that any orthosane person could seriously misinterpret. "

What a vile vile comment to respond to a very reasonable post.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

couldn't you just call Rabbi Wiess to clarify before you read into his words and mocked him? what was the urgency that you had to post this right after Shabbos? Is there anything wrong with extending a Rabbi basic human respect?
Please pause before you blog? Sanitation and vacations are one thing but I think it's still OK to have some respect for a Rabbi.

2:30 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Anonymous said...

couldn't you just call Rabbi Wiess to clarify before you read into his words and mocked him? what was the urgency that you had to post this right after Shabbos? Is there anything wrong with extending a Rabbi basic human respect?
Please pause before you blog? Sanitation and vacations are one thing but I think it's still OK to have some respect for a Rabbi.


First: "mocked him"? Hardly. I took issue with the fact that some of his bits of advice can be left open to interpretation. Which brings me to...

Second: My point is precisely what you missed here. The fact that the article left so much open to interpretation is the problem. Every young couple is not to be expected to contact Rabbi Weiss for clarification. These articles that claim to be a "Blueprint for Marriage" should be responsibly and clearly written.

You don't like my opinion on the matter? No problem. I don't need you to.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

I think that this piece is a decent, albiet impercise peice. THe advice it gives is very good, however the two examples that orthomom brings are very problematic. People who drink in excess will use this as an excuse to drink, and then the situation will not get better. Generaly things rarely get better when plied with alchohol (except in the eyes of the drinker) so I think that it should have been mentioned straight out that alcohol is not an appropriate way to deal with a problem.

Actualy that would have been an excelent peice of advice to give. Irresponsability with alchohol can be very dangerous to a family no matter who is doing the drinking. Even if you are a happy drunk, covering up the problems does the marriage no favors. Much better to take a walk to think about the problem, and then come in quietly and discuss it with your most trusted confidant, your spouse. THat way you both can put your heads together and solve it, and noone gets yelled at.

With regards to not sharing private business, I think also this one is a problem as well. People who are being abused regard it as normal, not something that they should bother anyone else with. When passing over such a situation it is always wise to add in a reminder that if your being hit you have to tell someone, most notably the police and anyone else who can help you get out of it. Putting up with abuse and not sharing it does nothing to help shalom bayis. The people for whom this is an issue need that to be mentioned, even if noone else does.

I guess that is really the issue. The people whom need not to missinterpret it, will missinterpret it, and that's what at issue. The people who do not need this advice will not missinterpret this because the advice in and of it's self is already so obvious to them.

And orthmom, my condolences on what ever made this enough of an issue to you that you actualy noticed this problem.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see where OM mocked the Rabbi at all. Basic Human Respect: that is something that is missing from most of the anon bloggers here.

While I don't always agree with what OM writes, it's her blog and she is probably the most respectful person posting here. Isn't the purpose of a blog to post what's on your mind and allow others to discuss ?

I certainly read the "drink" to mean alcohol and agree with OM's thoughts on it.

As to honoring one's spouse, I did not read it the way OM did but I do see her point. I agree in certain situations, that could be very bad advice indeed.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You made him out to be saying "pop valium" before you come home.Would you consider that respect or mockery. Thats mockery.
If you were saying in gereral no articles should be written because they are open for misinterpertation. I'm sorry I misinterpreted what your article. It seemed to be a " look at the silly Rabbi's now" piece.
But you have avoided the main question- If you care so much about people why wouldn't you first take this issue up with him and try to get the matter clarified before publicly calling him out on the carpet. I don't have to agree with your opinion, and you dont have to agree with mine.Obviously. BUT we all agree that public humiliation is a bad thing and should be avoided. Right ?
So if there was a way of achieving your objective without humiliation why did you choose this route? Orthobloging doesn't give anyone the right to throw out the most basic idea's of Judaism.

10:31 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I certainly doubt that I "publicly humiliated" Rabbi Weiss with this mild post that pointed out how this article could be easily misinterpreted. Or that I "mocked" him. I think it was quite clear that I was trying to show the slippery slope of telling a couple to drink a "soothing drink" before facing each other. "throw out the most basic idea's of judaism"? How so? It has been pointed out many times in this forum that respectfully disagreeing with the public words of a public figure (yes, even a Rav) is 100% on the halachic up-and-up.

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear orthomom..as a professional dealing with "closed community " domestic violence, i agree that the rabbi's advice of not discussing "private matters" with anyone is ridiculous at best.. Many women ( and some men as well) need to speak to family and friends for support.. Many "Ravs" tell their congregants that any domestic situation is their own fault and it should be kept behind "closed Doors".. How ill advised is that?? and how deadly is that? this nonsense of "shulum bais ibber allus" is why women in our own communities stay with abusive spouses: fear of community retribution and fear of losing their children keep many in abusive relationsships - sometimes until death ( their own ) I am glad to see you finally agree with the notion that a RAV is not hashem and may actually be wrong. thank you.. malkie.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please, you all are so willing to jump on Rabbi Weiss. Perhaps because you chatter a tad too much with too many people about things that should be private - on BLOGS? Many marriages are destroyed because a spouse talks about his spouse around their coffe clatches or on blogs and lose respect for them. There should have been a P.S. that this does not apply to abusive situations but - if your husband is not taking out the trash or doesn't help out enough or is clueless about xyz you should have enough loyalty not to make it part of the gossip rounds.

8:54 PM  
Blogger soulful said...

I think the big idea here is to find a way to calm and center yourself before you interact with your spouse. Of course, I believe that your interactions with your spouse should be generally soothing anyhow. I think the Rabbi was just trying to help people bring their best selves to their marriage. A good idea, don't you agree?

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1:58 PM  

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