Posted by Golie Zarabi
I am 29 years old and have been dating my boyfriend for almost a year. We are very happy together and have been recently discussing a future marriage and a family. Though I am excited to be in such a loving relationship, there is one very important topic we have not discussed. My boyfriend is not Jewish. I know that my family will not support a marriage unless I am dating a Jewish man or unless he converts. I do not know how to ask him if he would convert to Judaism? Is it too much to ask someone? Or do we need to break up before we move any further?
In love & concerned
Dear In Love & Concerned,
Thank you for your question. I can imagine how difficult it must be to have your heart in a relationship and yet your mind tells you that decisions need to be made. It is evident that your family is important to you, and that you value their support and blessing. I wonder, is marrying a Jewish man and raising a family with Jewish religion and culture solely important to your family, or is it equally as important for you? It may be that you have an image of what you want your future and family to look like, and you are concerned if your partner has the same plan? You are wondering if you and your partner are on the same page. Do you have the same goals, and are you willing to make compromises for one another to move to the next step? I do not know if asking your boyfriend to convert would be asking too much- only he knows that. It is important for you to bring your needs and concerns to the table, and give your partner the opportunity to figure out what his needs are. This is a discussion that may be beneficial to have sooner rather than later so you both know what future you want to create together. Good luck!
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January 2, 2012 | 7:10 pm
Posted by Natalie Landver
I feel stuck in a very stressful situation. My daughter is 23 years old and lives at home with my husband and I. She is working at her first job and saved some money for herself, and has recently been bringing up the idea of moving into her own place. She points out that most of her American friends are already living on their own, and that she wants to be more independent. However, in our culture, it is not so common for young adults to move out of the house until they are married. We don’t know why she wants to leave us. We give her everything, and allow her as much space as she needs. This has caused stress in our relationship and is very concerning to us. How do we deal with this?
Dear Confused Mother,
It sounds like you really care for and adore your daughter. We understand that this situation is complex and a difficult process for you and your husband. There is a lot to consider here. Culture and tradition is a strong component especially among immigrant families versus the first generation Americans. However, there are also developmental dynamics that are worth considering. Do you have real concerns about your daughter’s safety or wellbeing? Do you believe that your daughter is capable of living on her own yet? Do you trust that her bond to you is strong enough that she will remain connected to you? All those issues considered, it is not unusual for parents to experience the empty nest syndrome at the exact time as you are experiencing it. Don’t forget that you have had your daughter to focus on for 23 years. Your life may have revolved around your plans, your goals, and your dreams for her. Of course it makes sense that the possibility of her moving away is threatening to you. You may feel that you are losing her. However, her desire to leave does not mean that she wants to leave YOU. It means that she is ready to fly and explore the world through her own eyes. You have provided shelter and love for her for 23 years, and hopefully you have prepared her to become independent and to have skills to take care of herself; you have given her the biggest gift of all. Usually at this stage, parents have to reevaluate their roles and identities. This can be a growth experience for both of you. Ironically, as your daughter grows to become an adult, and you reevaluate your identity separate from being a mom, you may find a deeper and more mature connection with her. You might want to consider, that if anything, you have done a good job raising her and instilling enough confidence in her so that she has the courage to take this step.
At the end of the book Chosen by Chaim Potok there is a story from Talmud about “a king who had a son who went astray. The son was told, ‘Return to your father.’ The son replied that he could not. The king then sent a messenger to the son with the message… ‘Come back to me as far as you can, and I will meet you the rest of the way.”
Ask Your Therapists Team
December 22, 2011 | 2:11 pm
Posted by Monica Farassat
As psychotherapists we have the humbling privilege of being invited into so many worlds. There is something greatly touching and profound when one bears witness to another person’s internal process, and emotional experiences. It is the biggest gift, the most intimate phenomenon that can penetrate into one’s whole being. In moments like that, in a therapeutic setting, when the client allows one to see them, when he surrenders to his fears, releases all defenses, and unleashes his deepest vulnerability, he in essence, is giving and receiving the gift of deep connection.
Connection seems to be all that it’s about. I have observed it in my work with individuals, with couples, and with groups. Everyone is longing to feel connected; everyone wants to love and to feel loved; everyone yearns to form deep attachments to some other individual or even group; everyone wants to know that they exist in someone else’s world. In fact we can feel our existence only if we feel we exist at least in another person’s mind. This becomes our birthright at the time of conception, as we begin to exist in the mind of our parents, and as we begin life by attachment to our mother through the umbilical cord.
So what happens? What happens that despite this vital need and universal yearning, so many people feel lonely, so many develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, addictions, etc., either to cope with or to avoid the “hole,” the emptiness of feeling irrelevant in this world? Why despite this fundamental human longing, some are so inaccessible to form attachments, or yet some others despite their desperate attempts fail in forming the desired attachments?
The answers lie in our hearts, in our histories, in our belief systems, in our survival skills, in our levels of trust in the world around us, and in our unconscious minds. I remember reading somewhere (I am not sure where), that healing begins when one bears witness to our pain, and our story.
At AskYourTherapists, Monica Farassat, Psy.D, collaborates with two qualified interns in training, Golie Zarabi, MFTI and Natalie Landver, MFTI (see biographies). We are committed to listening to your stories, and providing sound, responsible and honest responses to your questions.
With warmest regards, we look forward to hearing from you.
-Ask Your Therapists Team