Dear Emuna

I have a lot of small children (five to be exact) and frequently find myself exhausted and grumpy. My husband bears the brunt of my bad moods and I often yell at him or complain about his lack of support. In truth, he is very supportive but I just take all my frustrations out on him. I recognize that it's not good for my marriage but I can't seem to stop myself. Can you help me?

Out of Control

Dear Out of Control,

I'm glad you said "can't seem to stop myself" instead of "can't stop myself" because clearly you can. It is within your ability and your control to cease sniping at your husband, to stop making him the victim of your bad moods and the recipient of all your frustrations.

I understand that you're tired. But you know what? That actually never goes away! Welcome to parenting! What you don't want is that this wonderful gift of children should somehow, God forbid, damage your marriage.

The fact that you are aware that your behavior is inappropriate and that you want help is a good step in the right direction. Now you have to take that self-awareness and translate it into action. Since you know that your husband is not the cause of your exhaustion and grumpiness, stop taking it out on him. Find another outlet – exercise perhaps – that allows you to decrease your stress. Share your challenges with friends in similar situations. You will benefit from their support.

Apologize to your husband and make him your ally instead of your enemy. Brainstorm together solutions to your situation. Maybe you need a babysitter. Maybe you need a part-time job. Maybe you need a hobby. Maybe you need to get out to a class. Maybe you need to discuss your dilemma with your Rabbi or Rebbetzin. There are many possibilities but you need to choose to act. It's easy to sink into a place of inertia and despair. But that won't help you or your husband.

Even though it's one more thing on your to-do list, make the effort to find a new coping strategy. Your husband will thank you and you will feel like a different human being. Ask the Almighty to give you the strength and insight you need. Focus on feeling grateful for your children instead of resentful. Think about those who would trade everything to have a wonderful family like yours. And give yourself pep talks. You can cope and you can do it with grace.

Embarrassed by Parents

Dear Emuna,

My husband and I didn't grow up as observant Jews but now we are and we live in a wonderful and supportive community. My particular challenge arises when my parents or siblings come to visit. They live a different lifestyle and my husband is embarrassed. I remind him that they are family but he is stuck. How can I help him?

Family-Oriented

Dear Family-Oriented

One of the basic tenets of Judaism is that the Almighty runs the world and everything is in His hands. If He had wanted you to have different parents, he would have given them to you. If He had wanted you to grow up orthodox, you would have. This is the life and this is the family that you were given, by design.

Understanding this should allow your husband to react well and to embrace your family. After all, they were given to you by the Creator Himself. And just as we should never allow our children to embarrass us, we should never be embarrassed by our parents either. We are not responsible for their choices or actions. We are only responsible for ours, and certainly for treating our parents and everyone we meet with respect and kindness. Even, or perhaps especially, when we disagree.