Dear Emuna,

My husband would like to add a second sink and dishwasher to have separate ones for meat and dairy. I'm not 100% sure why I'm against this plan, but I have a lot of reasons. The main underlying reason is that my father (unintentionally) ingrained in me that people who have a lot of money and spend it on things that our family can't afford are bad people. Getting an extra sink and dish washer seem like luxuries. It's expensive; it causes jealousy; we should be happy with what we have.

I am happy with the kitchen the way it is (and I do 99% of the cooking) and I'm nervous that changes will causes things I don't like. Why mess with a good thing? (I like having elbow room and adding more appliances by definition means there will be less space.)

I also grew up with one sink, and my husband grew up with two, so obviously what we're used to influences what we think is reasonable. I think new fancy things are exciting, but I just can't bring myself to do this one. I've read about great rebbetzins who didn't want fancy things in their home, even when they got them for free. I'm not a great rebbetzin but the concept is something to value.

Is this one of those situations where you're just supposed to give in to make your husband happy? He's kind of annoyed that I'm not getting with the program. Growing up, my father usually had ideas about things he wanted to change in the house, and my mother didn't always think it was a good idea, but he usually "won" and then later she would always say even though she hadn't wanted it, it turned out to be a good idea. Is that the right way to do it?

Confused

Dear Confused,

So am I! You have mixed up so many different ideas in here that it’s hard to know where to start. It seems that the main issue (as you acknowledge) has to do with your father – both with his philosophy about spending and his domineering way with your mother. Those are serious psychological impediments to looking at this situation objectively.

Your husband is not your father.

But even more problematic, they are serious psychological impediments to looking at your husband objectively. He is not your father. It is unfair to lump him in the same category and/or make judgments about him based on your experience with your father. I suspect that this is not the only area or situation where that issue plays out and that’s something you need to work through in order to give your husband and your marriage the fair chance they deserve.

I really should stop here because I think this idea is so important and takes precedence over any other issue you raised. But since you wrote, I will address some of your other concerns as well.

Of course, we should be happy with what we have; that is not a contradiction to purchasing new possessions that may enhance your life – either in beautifying mitzvot or in making life easier. I don’t know where you live but I see that in many neighborhoods two sinks and two dishwashers are not considered luxuries (true confessions: I have two sinks and two dishwashers and I am very grateful for that fact!). I think that an extra sink and dishwasher fall into the category of making your life easier and freeing you to spend time with your husband, children if you have and to engage in learning and other spiritual pursuits. You can continue to enjoy and appreciate whatever it is that you have!

I don’t think you should judge yourself by people you read about; you don’t really know their circumstances or challenges. You need to do what works for you in your life – and aspire to grow based on who you are, not who they were – and certainly not based on a book’s depiction. If you would really find it inconvenient to have an extra sink and dishwasher (hard for me to imagine) then that is a compelling reason not to get them, but my guess is that, once installed, you will enjoy the freedom they provide.

It seems that you have a lot of prejudices and preconceived notions of what’s appropriate. Not only do you need to work through (and let go of) the negative influence of your father but you also need to figure out what you believe and what you want, who you are and how you want to live. It’s good to have role models but it’s also important to be realistic and to know when a particular philosophy applies and when it doesn’t.

One of the best ways to determine this is for you and your husband to sit down together and discuss without rancor (and without your father’s hovering psychological presence) the kind of home you want to have and the values you wish to embody and how that will work practically. It’s the kind of conversation that all couples need to have and it’s actually wonderful that a relatively trivial issue (sink and dishwasher) will allow you to delve more deeply into your united goals and aspirations, with emphasis on united.