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Daughter Is Happy, But My Heart Breaks
Dear Emuna

Daughter Is Happy, But My Heart Breaks

Sometimes the best advice is to do nothing.

by

Dear Emuna,

My daughter seems very happy in her marriage but I just don’t see it. She does all the work around the house and he does none. She works all day to support the family and goes to graduate school at night. Her husband, meanwhile, is slowly getting his Ph.D. – very slowly – and not bringing in any income. Oh, and did I mention that she’s expecting their first child? She’s happy but my heart breaks for her and I worry about the future. What should I do?

Mom with a Different Perspective

Dear Mom,

Nothing. You should do nothing. Actually, that’s wrong. You mentioned twice that your daughter is happy. You should thank the Almighty – loudly and clearly.

She may not have the type of marriage you have or the one that you envisioned for her but it sounds like she has the one she wants.

Don’t impose your assumptions or anxieties on her. Your job is to love her husband and respect her hard work. And, after the baby, a little babysitting help might not be remiss (as long as it’s done with a smile on your face and no comments about her lifestyle choices).


Dear Emuna,

My son is engaged to a lovely girl. They have been dating for a few years and we were really excited when my son finally proposed. They both live near us and we have spent a lot of time together. Her parents, on the other hand, live across the country and we have seen them rarely and briefly. Now that the kids are planning a wedding, we are spending more time with her parents and we don’t like what we see. They are overbearing and demanding and everything has to be their way. Yes, their financial outlay for the wedding will be greater than ours but that doesn’t justify treating us like dirt. What should we do?

Mother-in-Law to Be

Dear Mother-in-Law to Be,

Like the woman in the previous letter, the answer is: nothing. You should do nothing. You should smile and keep your mouth shut. You should definitely not say anything to your son. Don’t let your relationship with her parents cause stress or problems for your son and his fiancé.

The wedding is only one evening; then they will return to their home across the country and you will once again see them rarely and briefly.

Until then, bite your tongue. They are NOT going to change and you need to be the bigger person and just try to ensure that everything runs smoothly for your son and his future wife. You are doing a tremendous kindness for your son, even though he doesn’t know it, and enabling them to begin their married life in peace. That is your true wedding gift for them.


Dear Emuna,

I have a great job with a non-profit organization that does wonderful and important work. I feel proud to be able to make a contribution. My co-workers feel the same way and we are all willing to put in long and hard hours to support the organization. The only downside is my boss. He’s very difficult. He’s extremely critical and shoots down every idea I have. I want to keep my job because I believe in the cause, because I value my friendships with my colleagues and because I need the money. But some days dealing with my employer is just so frustrating. What do you think I should do?

Disgruntled Employee

Dear Disgruntled,

It seems that my answer is yet again “nothing”! I think you’ve made your own argument. You’ve listed all the reasons why you like and need this job. It would be unwise and financially imprudent to walk away from it.

As for your boss, some of it you just have to accept. Sometimes we get frustrated because we tell ourselves that “it shouldn’t be this way”. But it is. And we are usually better off just accepting the reality than constantly railing against it.

We can also learn from it. If your boss always attacks your ideas, stop presenting them to him. For whatever reason (ego?), he’s not receptive and you just keep putting yourself in a position to get hurt if you continue this unproductive behavior.

Either find a way to implement these ideas on your own or just table them for now.

In today’s economy, you are lucky to have a job – and a meaningful one at that. There is not job that doesn’t have some negative elements – some drudgery and some difficult people. Accepting this will give you greater peace of mind and, paradoxically, greater job fulfillment.

Published: January 18, 2014


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Visitor Comments: 24

(16) Bobby5000, February 6, 2014 5:24 PM

Some guidelines

Consider these guidelines from many mother in laws.

1. Tell her at least 143 times how you are surprised that she is doing all the work and communicate the same to at least 19 members of your family. Add, 'and I can't say anything and have to keep my mouth shut."

2. Talk it him in an overly sweet high-pitched voice and be surprised when it seems he doesn't like you. Ask friends and family what did I do???

3. He's working to get a PHD. Like many women, make sure you don't present alternatives, just communicate complaints and dissatisfaction.

4. By the way, weren't you the one complaining when she was 23, When is she going to get married, when is she going to get married?

(15) Elliott Katz, February 2, 2014 12:46 PM

Unfair workload -- share Jewish wisdom with daughter

I am surprised that you advised the mother not to say anything to do the daughter who is carrying all the workload. A parent's most important responsibility is to teach their children wisdom. I know several women and men, now divorced, who were is similar situations. They gave and gave and thought they were showing their spouses how they wanted them to be. They didn't realize that though their intentions were good, they were actually making their spouses into takers. Rabbi Dessler teaches that giving leads to loving. This mother should ask a rabbi to teach her daughter that she needs to give her husband opportunities to give so that his feelings of love for her will grow. The people who gave and gave and who are now divorced wish someone had taught them while they were still married.

(14) Anonymous, January 25, 2014 11:50 PM

it is unfortunate

I pray that what I say does not come true, but in letter No. 2 that the boy's parents are overbearing and demanding, Your poor daughter will suffer for the rest of her life from an interfering mother in law. She will butt into everything. She will tell her how to keep her house, how to take care of the children, will stand in her kitchen with her arms crossed telling her how everything should be done. Their poor son, who probably never stood up to his mother, won't be able to tell her to leave his wife alone. Unless they live a few states away and only see his parents for a few days almost never, will never have peace.

(13) Raphaelle Do Lern Hwei, January 24, 2014 5:50 AM

My response

1. Unfair Workload In the New Family
I will be worried too, unless I know that my son in law is a loving and gracious man. Maybe not housework as he is not that confident (to avoid being berated for burning dinner, ruining the laundry, killing the plants/ Peke by giving wrong supplements) but doing groceries, bringing home the paycheck (he is probably conserving energy to study).

2.Know it All
Hope that the wedding spread is good. The prospective in laws seem very confident. Sometimes it is so. Yes let the Middletons arrange the reception, dinner and decorations. (Referring to Kate Middleton's family)

3. Nasty Boss
Check the Boss' professional experience and work history. Chances are that he is doing very well in his profession but not in your area of expertise as he will like to think so. Better to talk to the supportive collegues. It is stated in the question that the collegues are good teamworkers.
Downside is that you will not get credit for the ideas by yourself. Since you believe in the cause of the organisation, go sound out the collegues.

(12) Michelle, January 23, 2014 7:44 PM

Great Advice!

Once again, Mrs. Braverman gives her amazingly wise and down to earth, direct advice! I love her answers, so clear and direct and amazing!

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