Monday, May 24, 2010


Okay, so I went to shul and cried to Hashem.  I asked him why I can't get a normal job, and why I can't have a normal relationship with my wife, and why can't we think along the same lines, etc.  I finished davening, packed my stuff, and was heading home.  Before I left my wife said she'd look up plans about taking a trip either to NJ or Connecticut because there are a bunch of things to do there that my mom would enjoy doing.

As I walked out, one of the rabbis stopped me and reminded me about the whole wrapping-our-son-in-a-tallis-and-taking-him-to-cheder thing.  I planned on attending minyan in the morning at 8am to discuss this with them, but after the whole fight with my wife, I forgot about this and showed up to shul after minyan ended and I pretty much davened alone.  I'm glad that I was flagged down and reminded about this by the Rabbi before I left.  He told me that Lubavichers don't lick the honey off of an Aleph-Bais, but instead, they use a laminated enlarged version of the first page of the Tanya.  "Cute," I thought.  They allowed me to borrow one to take home so that I'll have one with me when I bring my son to cheder the following day.

I came home feeling pretty good about myself and ready to spend the day with my wife, mom, and kids.  When I got home, nothing was done, nobody was ready to leave.  My wife was in her pissy mood, and when I asked her if she looked up places to stay or things to do, she said she didn't because she was taking care of our kids.  I brushed off the insinuation that me being at minyan left her alone with the kids and thus I wasn't doing my part of the parenting.  I put the laminated Tanya page on the bookshelf in full view hoping that my wife would notice it and be appreciative that I took care of this because a few days beforehand, she accused me of not knowing what I was doing with regard to the upsherin.  I wanted to let her know that I was on top of it all, just as I *WAS* on top of everything that had to be done the day before, even though she accused me of ignorance about that topic as well.

I half hoped that my wife would have taken the initiative to take my son to fix his haircut as we spoke about this morning before the fight broke out, but apparently she had no intention of doing so.  I joined her in the privacy of our own room and asked her if she had any response to anything I said earlier that day, because I didn't feel like driving to Connecticut if we didn't resolve our bad feelings from earlier that day.  She said that there was nothing to say and that she flatly disagreed with pretty much everything I said and that she thought I was a moron and that I didn't know what I was talking about.  She understood that everything I said was a criticism of her, and that I just went on and on about how I was upset about the haircut.


At this point, I didn't know what to do.  Obviously I wasn't going to go on a day trip if my wife and I didn't resolve such an important argument as we had this morning.  When I told her this, she said, "I have absolutely no interest in going around with you or showing your mom a good time.  Don't think that you're doing ANYTHING for me by taking me us out today."  I was so saddened at hearing this because I was so sure she wanted to go do everything we planned, and *I* WAS THE KIND ONE THAT I WAS TAKING OFF FROM MY LAW OFFICE FORMATION EFFORTS TO SPEND TIME WITH THE FAMILY, AND I WAS ACTUALLY A BIT UPSET DURING DAVENING THAT MY WIFE DIDN'T CONSIDER THE IMPORTANCE OF ME WORKING TODAY AND INSTEAD ONLY WAS INTERESTED IN HER TRIP TO CONNECTICUT.

So now I just spent the past two hours shut in our bedroom with the laptop battery about to run out.  I feel sad, and I feel alone.  My wife is not interested in my feelings, and she is not interested in hearing anything I have to say about the upbringing of our family.  She has completely ignored me since I came back, and I'm about to burst into tears because I don't know what to do.  Do I pull her aside and have my mom watch the kids while I make nice to her?  Do I talk to my mom and get words of wisdom and advice on what to do? Do I call my rabbi who will only tell me that I'm right, but that I have to give in to keep shalom bayis?

I feel like the whole situation is helpless, and that I don't have anywhere to turn.  I really feel that this has been a breakdown of communication, and that we really need to see a marriage counselor.  I feel so violated and hurt.  I have never been more floored by today at her uncaring and cavalier attitude towards our marriage or our relationship.  I've always given her the benefit of the doubt, but there is no excuse here, no way to explain her way out of this one.  She simply doesn't care. :(  What do I do?


Okay, I'm taking a deep breathe and pushing myself to finish this blog entry.  Really what I want to do is call my Rabbi / mashpia / adviser and cry to find out what to do to rectify this situation.

In short, after clearly explaining to her that she cut off the payos and even though it's not that big of a deal, we need to give our son a proper haircut so that he fit into the community as a Jewish boy rather than one of the Israeli kids who's parents don't respect halacha.  She agreed that the haircut was inappropriate, but admitted that the cuteness of our son wearing that haircut was growing on her, and hence the haircut was growing on her.  I told her to keep her head straight and not get seduced by our son's cuteness, and that the funky haircut was growing on me too since we both love our son so much.

Then after a few hints that maybe she should hear me out about my feelings about the haircut and the upsherin and my experiences, she allowed me to speak.  I told her how wonderful the event was.  Then all hell broke out when I told her about her father and how much it bothered me that he cut a lock off the peyos after I told him not to.  She denied this vehemently and defended her father over my statement, and then tried to shut me up when I was telling her about how I felt as a father when she took our son to the barber and cut off his payos after me making such a big deal about it the whole day before.

In short, my mom got involved which was the fuel that was poured on our flaming conversation and the whole conversation erupted into a shouting match.  My wife walked out and I finished giving my mom my opinion about the whole thing.  I then decided to take a shower and cool off.

In the shower, I clarified my thoughts that I wasn't upset at the peyos nor was I upset about the haircut in general.  I was upset that I felt that my voice wasn't being heard and that I felt shut out with regard to how to run my OWN family and I felt that I had a right to have a say in what goes on, particularly with regard to how my son looks when he goes to shul or school.  I also clarified that I was feeling that my own feelings weren't being attended to, and instead of calling my wife heartless and spewing words of hatred towards my wife, I softly told her how I was feeling and that I felt that I wasn't being listened to and that I was hurting because I felt that my wife wasn't prioritizing my needs and that she was ignoring things I was saying as unimportant and this has been hurting me lately.  I did this in the privacy of our own room so as not to allow it to elevate again with my mom involved.  In short, I softly bared my soul to my wife and made myself completely vulnerable so that we can have shalom bayis even though what I really wanted to do was rip her head off.

I left to go to minyan, and I expected that everything would be better when I returned.  My mom intervened again as I was leaving and she fanned the flames fighting my wife's side as I was leaving.  I felt that this was inappropriate, especially since I just made myself look better to my wife by sharing my feelings of vulnerability and here my mom again made me look like a monster by comparing me to her husband.

Last part of the story in the last post...


Okay, part two.  The haircut.

I didn't think much about the haircut after the upsherin.  I knew what needed to be done -- a regular haircut and leave the payis and let us determine how long or short to make them.  My wife asked me if I wanted to go, because I didn't want to leave my dad alone with either my mom (they're divorced and it wouldn't be tznius) or to leave my dad alone with my wife (for some reason I had it in my head that it would have been a yichud issue, although at this point I can't remember what my reasoning was -- I was feeling ill and tired at this point, so with hindsight, there likely was no yichud issue, but I thought there would be).  All this being said, I thought my mom would enjoy the experience and I trusted my wife that she knew what to do.

Oops.  First of all, I was slightly upset that I knew that my wife wouldn't tolerate the local religious guy to give our son his haircut.  So I was fine with her taking our son to Supercuts as I often do with reservation (I don't feel good about it when I go).  However, apparently she didn't know what to do because she let the barber COMPLETELY cut off our son's payis.  Plus, he gave our son a goyishe haircut.

Now this is horrible to say, but in our community there are the frum guys, and there are the non-frum guys.  Usually the non-frum guys are the Israelis who don't respect halacha and do whatever they want.  They make up their own rules and don't follow Lubavich minhagim (or any minhagim for that matter) and so I see what haircut they and the other non-religious parents give their kids.  That's the haircut my wife gave our son.

When I saw this, I was horrified, but I didn't say anything [until this morning.]  I'm getting tired at this point, and I'm really now upset at myself for going into all this detail and I don't think I have the energy to write the final blog post which is the WHOLE REASON I wrote everything up until now.

In short, when I told my wife that I was upset that she didn't consult with me before cutting off the peyos, she insisted that she kept the sideburns which are peyos.  When I exclaimed to her that they weren't, and when I told her she gave our son a goyishe haircut, she refused to hear me out.  This really hurt me because I was already hurt from her not listening to my input on so many issues until now.  In short, to spite me, she will not fix his hair and is keeping the goyishe haircut just to spite me.


First, the upsherin.  Yesterday was my son's birthday and hence his upsherin.  Mazal tov to everyone involved, including me, my wife, and our son.  My wife worked very hard planning the whole thing.  She made a big party, served a bunch of food, rented a hall, etc.  All of this in my estimation was much bigger and gaudier than it had to be.  I had in mind just clearing out the couch and the table in our apartment and having people come and go here like a revolving-door party.  I thought the whole idea of a "big" event thing was a dumb idea since we are terribly unemployed and in a really bad financial position, and thus I thought throwing a big party now was a waste of money.  However, I went along with it nonetheless because it was important to my wife because she had in her mind that it was important to my son who I don't know whether he would have remembered either way where he had is party or its size.  I suppose I'm a minimalist in many ways, and I carry that mentality to many areas of my life.  Simpler and cleaner is always better.  More fancy usually means more cluttered and thus no longer so comfy.  Either way, my wife is usually more realistic about things and so she usually pumps them up in size to what is appropriate. 

So the party was a hit; everybody had a great time.  The rabbis of the community showed up, and I'm sure my son had a great time.  What would have been just an average event if I did it ended up being a large community event, and it looks to me as if a lot of people had a great time.  I smiled a lot, waved, and said hello to a lot of people, and I was proud of my son.

One thing in particular that upset me was that I kept speaking to everyone who was cutting the hair to cut the back, the front, etc. but not to cut off the payis.  Obviously Lubavichers don't keep the payis, but I wanted it to be my wife and my choice how long or short to cut them.  Everyone agreed with me and cut around the payis except my wife's father who completely ignored what I said, disagreed with me, and took a large snip of my son's payis RIGHT AFTER I TOLD HIM NOT TO.  Wow was I upset, but I shrugged it off and said to myself that maybe he didn't understand me or maybe he didn't comprehend the importance of what I was saying.  Maybe he didn't even hear me because he wasn't listening because he was so happy for us on our joyous occasion.

Then it came time for the party to be over.  Nobody was leaving, and there was a big mess on the tables because nobody was cleaning up.  So I took a few garbage bags and started cleaning off the tables.  It was innocuous.  Nobody minded.  My wife's dad and my dad both noticed that I started cleaning up and so at first without my knowing, they started breaking down tables.  I didn't think much about it because they were not kicking anyone out and I knew my wife would freak if she thought that we were kicking people out because she has a firm belief that guests should leave on their own and not be escorted out and I respect her opinion.  After a while when I noticed people started leaving and congregating by the exit doors (with the exception of a few groups who were still sitting and chatting), I also started breaking down tables and moving the chairs against the wall.  After everything was over and the tables were broken down my wife came over to me inflamed why I was kicking out our guests, but I told her that I had nothing to do with that and it was her own father that started breaking down the tables.  She backed off.

The whole day I was feeling ill from a stomach virus that I got from going over one of my wife's friend's houses a few days beforehand.  For the past few days, I've been vomiting and I've been dizzy and nauseous, but I pulled myself together to help my wife out in any way she needed to set up for this event.  After the event ended (we only rented the hall for a specific few hours and we noted those hours in our invitations), however, nobody was leaving and a few of my wife's college buddies started to show up.  My wife's parents were also ignoring the time limits of our stay there, and they were wasting time playing around.  My daughter was being pushed around on a skateboard, and my son was running around with his grandfather.  Obviously since nobody was going anywhere and I was feeling sick as hell (I was dripping wet from sweat), I spoke to my mom and she told me that she didn't feel as if there was anything wrong with me excusing myself and going home.  That's what I did.  I spoke to my wife, and she agreed that I should go home and get some rest since the event [even though it was over] wasn't ending any time soon.

Instead of going to bed and resting when I got home, I spent some time cleaning up the house and getting it back in order because it was a wreck by the time we left for the event.   Feeling faint, I whipped up a vegetable shake in the blender to get some nutrients into me, thinking that maybe it will clear up my head and give me some energy to make it through the day.  My wife walked in at this point, she saw me and snarled, and then commented that "if I was well enough to be making smoothies, then I should have stayed behind and not left her alone at the event."  I explained to her that I really wasn't feeling well, and that in addition to her dad and mom helping out, I also left my dad and brother behind to help out as well (as they did because within the hour they were all here at the house.)  Fair enough.

Then it came time to cut the hair.... [next blog post].
I feel at a loss for words; I feel alone.  I can't complain to you about my wife because then I'm the bad guy, and I can't talk to anyone around me because I've surrounded myself with her family and her friends.  I can't go to marital counseling because every time I've suggested it she throws the money issue in my face and then finds reasons why the person I picked is too close to the community and she doesn't want to be embarrassed having a community member know our business.  I'll discuss this in the coming posts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just complainin' about a bad day with the Misses.

In my experience it's usually a bad idea to write blog entries when you're in a bad (sad) mood.  So here we go.

I passed the New York bar exam.  Woohoo.  Now I get to start my own practice.  I won't limit it to intellectual property / patent law, although that will certainly be part of it.  I'll make it a "bread and butter" practice, doing anything that pays the bills.  I'm listening to generalist courses right now on how to run a practice from the point of view of family law, employment, etc.  Should be fun.

On another note, I had a rather upsetting conversation with my wife today.  I told her that if she wants me to have my office here in the apartment and if she wants me to forgo renting office space, she needs to understand that I'm at work even when I'm not sitting at the computer in our small closet.  I need to be at work at 8am and not 10:30am or 11am as has been the case these past two weeks.  I can't be taking our son to school or babysitting a screaming toddler who needs attention while she goes shopping as if she only has a newborn.  If I am going to do this (start a practice), then I need to do it wholeheartedly.  That means that she needs to treat me as if I'm working even when I take a break or walk around the house.  Much of being productive happens when you're not typing away at the computer, or making phone calls.  It's the downtime that allows for so much uptime, I told her.  She coldly looked at me and said, "okay, if you're at work, then I'm getting a maid."  I told her to do whatever she wants to do, so I suppose we're getting a maid now.  Wouldn't it be nice if I had the income to make that possible?  So far it's zilch.

On top of that, we've been having disagreements all night.  It seems that everything I say irks her and that's not fair because I don't want to be shut up every time I want to have a conversation with her.  She treats me nastily and I don't know how to react -- do I react with sadness? anger? do I stand up and leave?  For most of the evening, I shook off the anger she was throwing at me.  When I asked her why she was acting so angry (she was looking at job postings all night), she retorted with some witty angry comment.  If I was a bit less tired, I would have been hurt, but instead, I stood up and walked into my office (yes, I'm sitting on the floor of our walk-in closet in our two-bedroom apartment.)  I think it all started this afternoon when I was reminding her that whatever we pay into day care, she needs to match in income by the end of the year, or else we lose all of the income tax deduction, as we did this year.  We lost out on hundreds of dollars because my wife didn't work.  I wasn't criticizing her, but nevertheless she still blew a fuse.

She started accusing me of judging her and criticizing her when that was the furthest thing from my mind, just as she accused me earlier in the day of judging our Shabbos guests when I was just trying to have a discussion as to what brought them to be in the situation they were in at this moment.  I wasn't judging them just as I wasn't judging my wife, but she took it that way even though I flatly told her where I was coming from.  No, I was wrong according to her.  I was judging her.  Whatever.  Making $6,000 in a year is not such a big deal anyway, especially for someone of her caliber with her degree.  It would be like a check mark on a to-do list.  Really I wasn't even asking her to get a job - I was just talking with her about what was on my mind and the fact that we missed that deduction was on my mind -- it was a random thought. 

Anyway, this was one of many attempted conversations.  Another was me asking her to cover her hair when we are together.  I don't know, but there's something wrong about a religious woman walking around the house with uncovered mezuzahs and her hair being uncovered.  I was particularly annoyed because I've spoken to her about it just earlier in the day and somehow she was defying me by not wearing anything, as if that really made my day or not.  I just felt that to maintain the level of piety that we have in the house, it is inappropriate for her to be walking around without a head covering, just as it would be inappropriate for me to be walking around without pants in my tidy whiteys, topless, or without a yarmulke or tzitzis.

Anyway, it's not the end of the world that we're not getting along tonight.  So she's having a bad day, that's it.  Life doesn't end when she has a bad day and takes it out on everyone around her.  I just wish she confided in me more and was more expressive of her emotions or her needs.

This evening while job searching, she asked me whether I thought she should be looking for just any job in her profession or a job that was in her particular specialty field.  I told her that if looking, she should be looking for any job.  Really I had no idea what she was looking for, but she gets things into her head and comes up with conclusions without talking to me about them.  I know we started speaking about whether she should get a job while I start a law practice and the consensus was that it was a good idea (probably), but I am torn as to whether she should work or not.  I wish she'd do what she's supposed to do and be a stay-at-home mother rather than looking for work.  But she doesn't trust me that I can make everything work out.  She doesn't have faith that I'll succeed.  Otherwise why would she be looking for a job?

Lastly, I've been sad these past few days because just about everyone I know forgot my birthday.  My wife made me and my son a cake (for a shared birthday), and her parents got us a juicer after we told them we didn't want one (we have a vita-mix which juices just fine), but other than that, she really treated me like dirt all day long.  I got no affection, no love, and no thoughtful gestures.  A few weeks back my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  I told her, "just love me and be nice to me."  That was too much for her.