Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shalom Bayis Issues -- Maybe because my wife missed the candlelighting time for Shabbos.

What a bad few days these past few days have been.  There has been almost no Shalom Bayis.

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.


Anonymous said...

So did she lock you out?

Zoe Strickman said...

Nope. The rest of the story is in the "Salt" posting. :)

Anonymous said...

Good Lord! It should not be like this! I have no words.

Ahuva said...

"she owes me a duty to be at least sympathetic towards my feelings of loss" -- If the loss is her desire to visit her ill Safta (assuming that her Safta is seriously ill and might not be around when it's more financially comfortable for her to visit), then you both should be thanking Hashem that you were given the means for her to go comfort her Safta. It's a great mitzvah and should NOT be a bone of contention between the two of you or a cause for you to feel a sense of loss.

"I thought you were psycho" -- You said this and you were SURPRISED that it set her off? Zoe, you really need to learn to use more diplomatic language.

"I told her emphatically that woman are not allowed to delay the lighting of the candles once the 18 minutes have come up" -- This is a matter of custom. I go into the 18 minutes all the time (as do the vast majority of women I know). Lighting an extra candle when you miss is also a matter of custom, not halacha. Why don't you two go together to your Rav and ask a shailah?

You told her the wrong time and she missed candle lighting. It happens. You two are FAR from the first family to make this error. Talk to your rav. You may be making the BT mistake of placing importance in the wrong areas. Perhaps the important thing is to be supportive of your wife... which is what you started out doing.

"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 "
This was the wrong move. A better response would have been something to the effect of "Darling, I'm not trying to take it lightly. I'm trying to be supportive of you because I love you. What would you like me to say? Would it make you feel better if I was critical or hurtful? Please help me. I'm trying to be a loving supportive husband, but it's not coming out right. What should I be doing?"

She might very well continue to yell, but she'll hear those words of love and support and remember them when she calms down.

Zoe Strickman said...

How should it be?

Anonymous said...

I can remember growing up and either once or twice the candles were not lit on time (using the eighteen minutes) and so we went without candles that shabbat. t was strange to not have candles lit but nobody yelled at anybody. We as kids just realized that the candles were not lit but we also saw people being respectful of one another and a beautiful shabbat was enjoyed together as a family. Next week we were more careful to watch the time and that was that. No anger. No harsh words. Just beautiful Shabbat family memories.

Why do you both seem to get so angry with each other about every little thing? remember, this is what your kids see and hear.