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Let It All Hang Out
Mom with a View

Let It All Hang Out

Our home is not Club Med. It is not a place where anything goes.


My friend and her husband had a big fight the other day, a huge knock- down, drag ‘em out fight, the kind where the repercussions reverberate for days afterwards. I think some dishes may have been broken… it was bad. Luckily the kids were out visiting friends.

When the dust had settled and tempers had calmed, my friend asked her husband what had happened. “I’m under a lot of pressure at work,” he replied. “I have to listen patiently to my boss, smile at our new clients and treat my employees with kindness and sensitivity, even when they mess up. By the time I get home, I’m wrung out. I’m too tired to exercise self-control and why should I have to? This is my house; this is the place where I can let it all hang out.”

Was this explanation a comfort to his shaken wife?

No relationship in the world is more important than the one we have with our spouse. It’s the place where we should be on our best behavior, not our worst.

Isn’t it ironic that we can be calm and polite to strangers whose opinion is irrelevant to us and rude and nasty to the one person whose opinion we value the most?

Isn’t it a confusing message when we dress up to go out for lunch with our girlfriends and scrub off our make-up and throw on a pair of sweats when we get home? (This applies to men as well; don’t think it’s only women who have to dress for their spouses!)

I think it, unfortunately, reflects confused priorities and expectations – mistaken priorities in the sense that we put the strangers and friends before our spouse and erroneous expectations in that we think home is the place to let it all hang out.

Sure we want to have a sense of peace and relaxation in our homes. But, as our story demonstrates, this is not achieved by removing all boundaries on our behavior.

Only through maintaining an appropriate discipline can we create the kind of atmosphere we want in our home and set an example for our children.

Yes, that means that being at home is work too. That’s reality. Certainly we want to model for our children an elevated way of speaking and behaving. We’re usually sane when it comes to our offspring; we know that they would not benefit from a “let it all hang out” home.

Our spouses deserve the same consideration. Our marriage deserves the same attention. And our self-respect demands that we lift up and act better, preserving our precious sense of dignity.

Do we always feel like it? Of course not. Is it difficult? You bet. But if we compare how we feel about ourselves after a big fight, where we totally lost control and said and did things we are not proud of versus the how we feel when we’ve made the effort to create a calm home and resolve our differences peaceably or keep our frustrations out of the house, then we recognize that the effort is worth it.

Our home is not Club Med. It is not a place where anything goes. The Torah suggests that our homes are meant to be a miniature sanctuary, a place of elevation and holiness. It’s only our behavior that will determine which it is.

December 7, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 8

(8) rachel, December 17, 2013 4:39 AM

why is your friend telling you?

This kind of thing should only be discussed with a counselor, not a personal friend. I am horrified that you would then turn it into fodder for a post!

(7) Paul B, December 13, 2013 4:35 PM

My Rabbi's teaching

No Torah , No Peace or Shalom,.. Know Torah, Know Peace

(6) Anonymous, December 13, 2013 12:05 AM

you had to give advice.....

okay, so they come home from work, tired, and not in the mood of "behaving" in front of their spouse . What should they do to "GET" into a decent mood?
1. Always have cereal or fruit bars in
your bag, or in your car and eat and drink something on the way home. Even if you have to stop for five minutes to buy something. DO NOT COME HOME STARVING
2. NEVER, NEVER NEVER discuss any bad thing that happened during the day
before, or during dinner. Dinner time is for funny and interesting stories. There is no point in blowing off steam. I prefer to tell my horror stories in the morning after we both had a good night's sleep.
3. If you were unable to have a snack, make yourself a nice cup of coffee and milk or a tea. This will refresh you or better, ask your spouse if he or she would like something hot to drink and take those five minutes to sit quietly together and enjoy the moment.
Do not attack the cookie jar!
Kids: when your parents walk in, NO COMPLAINTS! Always ask if they need help (sometimes they come in overloaded with grocery bags) offer them a drink Be nice to them, and I guarantee they will be nice to you back.
Another suggestion is just to look out the window and ask Hashem to give you peace of mind (menuchas hanefesh). Say the mincha prayer to reconnect.

(5) Nancy, December 12, 2013 10:07 PM

I'm very concerned about the fact that some dishes may have been broken during this heated argument. Is this man physically and/or verbally abusive? It sounds like he has not learned appropriate ways of expressing his frustrations at work. Does he take the view that his home is his castle, and he can do whatever he wants? Re: Dressing for one's spouse. There is a WORLD of difference between wearing stained sweats and/or t-shirts with holes, and wearing comfortable clothes that are clean and decent looking. My husband and I like to change into plain t-shirts and sweats when we get home from a long day. Both of us feel better and the change of clothes signals a time to relax.

(4) Yehudit, December 12, 2013 5:07 PM

Not only adults...

This is very true: it is also true for children. How many of us have children who behave beautifully everywhere else but "let it all out" at home? I often chide my kids regarding table behavior, for example, asking them if they'd do the same with so and so, and they realize that they respect others more than their own. But I can't say that I'm. The best model either! Emuna you hit the nail on the head, for all of us.

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