Jewish Journal

Ask Wendy

by Wendy Belzberg

Posted on Apr. 30, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Fatherhood Faker

Dear Wendy,

My husband and I have been happily married for two years. Before we got married he agreed to have his vasectomy reversed. He now claims to have no recollection of that promise. He is not at all prone to lying and I almost believe him. Unfortunately, I desperately want children. He is quite a bit older than I am, so time is of the essence. He likes other people's children and is a kind, loving and attentive husband. I think he would make an excellent father, but he insists parenthood isn't for him.

Betrayed Mom-in-Waiting

Dear Betrayed,

Sounds to me like the old bait-and-switch routine. You are being far too kind (read naive) to accept your husband's amnesia plea. I could accept different recollections about any number of things: your favorite breakfast food, turtles or puppies for pets, what kind of car to buy or even your willingness to move to a foreign country. But whether or not to have children is not one of them. Ask yourself: would you have married this man if he had told you up front that he did not want children? If the answer is yes, then you will find a way to live with your husband's selective recall. If not, perhaps you can refresh his memory with an ultimatum: no children, no marriage. Sacrificing your desire for children on someone else's account is no recipe for a long and happy marriage. You will only resent your husband and regret the decision for the rest of your life.

In-Law Invasion

Dear Wendy,

My mother-in-law became ill last September when she and her husband were visiting for the High Holidays. Though she has fully recovered, it has been eight months and my in-laws are still in our home. My mother-in-law is critical of everything and everybody --save my husband -- bickers nonstop with my father-in-law and meddles in everyone's business. I have been polite and respectful to her all this time. If I say anything to my husband he gets upset with me. I am ready to move out because I hate being home when she is around. Any advice? My husband will not go to counseling or speak with a rabbi about this.

Packing My Bags

Dear Packing,

If your husband is unwilling to listen to a third party you will have to do all of the talking. Let him know that your in-laws are not the issue. It is your marriage that is at stake. Make it clear that if your in-laws were ill and required full-time care or could not afford to live on their own, you would be delighted to welcome them into your household -- assuming that a serious conversation preceded that move and that the decision was a joint one. The invasion was never discussed, and it's time for it to end. If your husband doesn't see your point, you may have to give him a taste of living alone with his parents. From what you report, you won't need a hotel room for long.

Saluting the Wrong Boy

Dear Wendy,

More than a year ago we celebrated my son's bar mitzvah. My brother-in-law's son attends a military academy and his parents had him wear his dress uniform. To make a long story short, my nephew became the center of attention rather than my son. I asked his parents why he wore the uniform and they said that he didn't have any other suit that fit. I think this was an opportunity for my brother-in-law to direct the spotlight to his son. Do I have the right to be upset?

Simcha Sadness

Dear Simcha ,

Probably you did have the right to be upset -- more than a year ago. It is hard to imagine any adult so insecure that he would need to steal the attention from the bar mitzvah boy -- especially assuming that your nephew had a bar mitzvah of his own, out of uniform. If he didn't, the issues may be other than what you think. But the event -- and your interpretation of it -- are no longer the point. Your son has doubtless got on with his life, and it's time you did, too. Holding on for a full year to any slight -- real or imagined -- or grudge is not good for your physical or mental health, especially since your brother-in-law is oblivious. Bury this one. And remember the bar mitzvah boy, who doesn't sound to have felt slighted one bit on his important day.

Not-So Picture Perfect

Dear Wendy,

At a recent family gathering, one of my sisters asked her husband to take a picture of our family: my parents, siblings and all of the grandchildren --no spouses. My wife felt slighted and thought that everyone should have been included. Was this insensitive on our parts?

Cropped Out

Dear Cropped,

Perhaps it would have been more diplomatic had your sister started with a full group shot and then (allegedly on a whim) pared it down to your immediate family. I can certainly understand how your wife could have been hurt. Having said that, I have a message for her: grow up. Your parents and siblings predate her arrival -- in fact, predate even your courtship of her. If your wife can't understand that, the problem is entirely hers.

Send letters to Ask Wendy at wbadvice@aol.com or 954 Lexington Ave., Suite 189, New York, N.Y., 10021.

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