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Before I got married, I thought most of the things people fought about were silly. Then I discovered a new side of myself that I hadn’t known existed. Most of the time, Asher couldn’t even understand what he had done wrong
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Before I got married, I thought I was a very easygoing person. I never got into serious spats with my friends; I rarely got upset with people. I thought most of the things people fought about were silly, and I managed to remain above such pettiness.
I can’t say the same for my parents. They bickered often, and did not have the dignity to keep their disagreements private. Not only did they fight in the presence of their kids, they also fought in public, and in front of my friends, which was extremely embarrassing for me. Sometimes, during the Shabbos meal, my mother would storm off to her room for the duration of the meal, after getting insulted by something my father said.
My mother was extremely sensitive, and the slightest provocation could send her into a tizzy. From a young age I learned to tiptoe around her and not push her buttons. I would never mention her sister, for example. They didn’t get along, and that was a sure-fire way to set her off. I also learned to keep my feelings to myself and share as little as possible with her. If I had any kind of issue with my friends or at school, I figured out how to handle it on my own, knowing that my mother would not be able to understand or help.
I wanted my house to be a calm, relaxed place. That’s why, when my husband Asher and I were first married, we resolved that we would not care if things in our house broke. “Life happens,” we said. “Why get bent out of shape because something got bent out of shape?”
With that in mind, we were able to laugh and say “Gam zu l’tovah” when a crystal vase shattered, when wine spilled all over the carpet, and when our car was rear-ended.
As time went on, however, I discovered a new side of myself that I hadn’t known existed. True, I didn’t care about objects that broke, but I found myself frequently getting upset about how Asher responded to me. Even if he merely failed to acknowledge or validate the feelings I had expressed, I would get upset and shut off emotionally. Most of the time, Asher couldn’t understand what he had done wrong, and many a day in our marriage was ruined because the two of us were in a huff over something that made no sense.
“You’re not understanding me!” I would complain.
“Shani, you’re being way too sensitive!” he would retort.
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