August 21, 1997
I have had a strange, traumatic, roller-coaster life, but I havefinally settled down with a truly wonderful man. The problem I haveis that I cannot understand why I feel so empty and have no sexualdesire whatsoever for my prince.
When I was small, my mother was subject to horrible mood swings(my grandmother thinks it was because of the constant diet pills) andmy father, a "businessman" (gambler) of questionable morals, draggedus around from city to city to keep ahead of loan sharks, year afteryear. My mother died when I was in my early 20s, and I have losttrack of my father.
My 20s were spent running from one destructive relationship to thenext, job to job, city to city -- basically, it was more of the same.
I thank God every day for my husband of four years. He is stable,financially responsible, honest, handsome and adores me. And, yet, Ifeel like a caged tiger and fantasize about running away or having anaffair. Why? What can I do?
My dear woman, you wouldn't recognize how to be in a stablerelationship if it left teeth marks on your tush. Your problem seemsto be an addiction to adrenaline. Unless life feels familiar -- inother words, fraught with danger of any sort -- you don't know whatto do with yourself.
This predicament is not easy to solve. It may involve learning howto have some legal thrills in your life (every try hang gliding?) orin your marriage (ever try sex while hang gliding?). Or start talkingtachlis (bottom line) with your husband about how you feel,and see what you can come up with together. And if you get stuck, trycounseling.
The one immutable fact about all this is that unless you choose toteach your brain mastery over your adrenal glands, your life will endup looking a lot like those of your parents. Good luck.
Man and His Doll
My adult son, a never-married, successful 46-year-old attorney,has brought upon us this family's worst nightmare: She is blue-eyed,blond, half his age, and has two small children and an ex-husband whodoesn't pay a penny of child support. She is uneducated, a totallydim bulb and, most importantly, not Jewish -- although she says thatshe is willing to convert. They became engaged after a shortcourtship.
What can we do to convince him of this huge mistake? Why would anintelligent, educated man choose such a bimbo and suchresponsibilities?
Why would a man choose a woman whose IQ is about room temperature?Well, perhaps her beauty seems to him an even exchange. Or who knows?Perhaps her IQ is a relief to him, a soothing, gentle breeze after aday of brain torture. Then again, there have always been men whoprefer to flaunt a trophy wife above all else.
Look, you're probably never going to know why he chose her unlessthis mystery reveals itself over time. Who knows, with a little luck,maybe you'll find a mensch beneath the peroxide and learn toaccept his choice.
Do not, however, under any circumstance, think that you can showhim the error of his ways. You may use your Mom license once, andonce only, to let him know that you are concerned about his choice.If he asks why, tread ever so carefully on these egg shells. "She isyoung, and then there are the children, and will the conversion bereal, or will there be an Easter egg hunt the third day of Passover?"But do not even consider touching the IQ business, as you will proveyour own to have fallen off a few points.
Your son is a man making his own life, choices and mistakes. Asdifficult as it is to stand back and quietly watch this story unfold,remember: The "bimbo" you scorn today could be the mother of yourgrandchildren who will scorn you tomorrow.
United We Stand
My fiancé and I have decided to have a Sunday-afternoonwedding, a small reception and then a formal dinner. Partly due toexpenses and partly due to personal preference, we have decided tonot include children at the dinner.
We want a quiet, elegant affair. The children will be welcomed atthe reception. For dinner, we have arranged for qualifiedbaby-sitting, games, videos and pizza up in a suite at the hotelwhere the wedding will be.
The family is in an uproar over this. One sister-in-law hasthreatened not to come. When I asked why, she said that she feltuncomfortable handing her children over to a stranger. I encouragedher to meet and spend time with the baby sitter the night before sothat the children could get to know the sitter, but she still wasunwilling. A cousin already declined because she disagreed, inprinciple, with our no-children decision and fears that her daughterwill feel hurt. She thinks that it is not a proper simchawithout dozens of children in attendance. The whole family seems tobe ganging up on us. Should we cave in to the pressure?
Choice A: Give up the "quiet, elegant" wedding dinner of yourchoosing and replace it with a shrieking, pint-sized progeny party.Then be prepared to continue giving in to these rude, disrespectfullouts the rest of your marriage.
Choice B: Stand united in your choice to have the wedding youwant. Some of the less mature adults will not attend, will hold itagainst you awhile or, in an act of unbridled passive aggression,will do something as spectacular as spilling red wine on the bridalgown. So big deal. A pox on their minivans.
On the other hand, they may get over it and learn to respect yourchoices now and always. Good luck.
Deborah Berger-Reiss is a West Los Angeles psychotherapist.
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