Thursday, July 29, 2010
Shalom Bayis Issues -- Maybe because my wife missed the candlelighting time for Shabbos.
The issue has been my desire and my NEED for my wife to appreciate that when she comes up with a new thousand-dollar expense which "must" be done because it is a necessary, she owes me a duty to be at least sympathetic towards my feelings of loss. Because while I've been saving up for something to further our family goals, she finds something that benefits *her* and thus we end up spending the money I saved up on her newest expense.
I usually don't disagree with her that her expense is not important, and I usually don't disagree with her or claim that it is not necessary. But for G-d's sake, at least have some understanding that I will be sad that the thirty or so evenings that I put in five or six hours each night staying late in order to save up to pay for some goal have been lost because she found a new way to spend the money we have just finished saving up. After all, I could have left at a regular time like everyone else and I could have come home at a normal hour, sat down by a television to watch whatever sports game is playing or play Nintendo Wii (we don't have a TV in the house or a Wii, by the way). But no, I spent all that time saving up, and now it is lost... again.
So we had a really difficult few days. For the first time in our marriage, my wife missed Shabbos candlelighting. For those of you frum women, you're probably gasping. I was horrified too. Its not like she forgot; she just waited until the last minute and then calculated the time wrong because I told her an hour earlier that shabbos was at 5:05pm rather than 5:03pm (I was looking at the wrong week).
The gravity of this error is that according to our customs (and I believe according to Jewish law), for the rest of our lives, my wife will need to add an additional candle each erev Shabbos (Friday night) to make up for the one time she forgot as she did last week.
Naturally I was a little upset and I was embarrassed on her behalf, but I made sure not to say anything. Her missing candle lighting (which is 18 minutes before Shabbos -- this is known and practiced by ALL JEWS, even those that are non-religious, non-observant, or reform) was the result of a long time fight of ours where I told her so many times that she is not allowed to wait until just before Shabbos to light candles. Men typically use the 18 minutes to Shower, vacuum, and drive to shul because they do not have the candle lighting commandment to worry about because their wives are lighting. My wife feels that she is also entitled to use the 18 minutes as she wishes. We've fought about this so many times, but she would not listen.
Anyway, to my credit, I didn't say anything. Not a critical word. She started blaming me that it was my fault she missed the candlelighting time because of my error, and I told her that I would gladly take the blame for this. Then she accused me about being so non-chalant and non-caring about this serious transgression. I told her I was taking it seriously, but I'm staying quiet. A few minutes later she was still going at it. When I came into the room to see if she needed any kind words to make her feel better (I came up with some explanation that the candle she would have to add is to bring light to the world for the light that the world was denied through our error), she again accused me of taking this lightly, as if I didn't care about it.
At that point, thinking that it would be to her consolation and that it would help her to feel better about the whole situation if I was harsh to her (because I was really in a kind mood at that moment), I answered her accusation that "I'm really shocked and horrified that this happened, and I heard you vacuuming minutes before Shabbos and I thought you were psycho for waiting until the last few minutes before Shabbos came in." To my surprise, this set her off on a rampage of screaming, the part of which that affected me was that she screamed that I am wrong for using the 18 minutes, and that she has just as much a right to use it as I do. This was an ignition of our old fight, and I told her emphatically that woman are not allowed to delay the lighting of the candles once the 18 minutes have come up. When she screamed something back to me, I told her she was crazy. At that point, she lost it and started screaming that I should leave and never come back, or something like that.
I was already dressed to go to shul, and I was happy to leave, but even with my key, I believed that she would lock me out (we have two locks on our door), and I wasn't in the mood to be banging on our door looking like the guy who was kicked out of his own home. It was also a very hot and humid evening, and I didn't want to spend it sleeping outside with the ants and the garbage in my shabbos clothes. So I decided that I didn't trust her not to lock me out and I didn't leave. A few seconds later, I decided again that if this is G-d's will, then I'll take the punishment. After all, it was because I came home late in the first place [because I was taking my time] that I accidentally read the wrong Shabbos time from the calendar after I got home.