May 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How Can I Get My Husband to Skip the Kiddush With His Friends After Shul?

Dear Dr. Chani,

I have been wondering how to deal with an issue that has been increasingly bothering me. Every Shabbos, my husband goes to his friend’s house for a kiddush after shul and gets slightly drunk. Then he returns home for our family Shabbos lunch in a tipsy state. There are so many aspects to this situation that bother me, but I have not been able to convince my husband to stop.

A few months ago, my husband and I moved into a new neighborhood and joined a popular shul. I was grateful that he found a group of friends very quickly. He was very impressed by how welcoming they were and excited about their routine of having a kiddush every week at a friend’s home after shul. I was very happy for him until I realized what it would entail.

Every week our family waits for at least an hour for my husband to come home after shul. As most families around our block are sitting down to their Shabbos meals, we try to find things to keep ourselves busy as we wait indefinitely for him to return. The children get bored and it is challenging for me to keep their spirits up as we wait.

When my husband finally returns, you never know what you are going to get. Of course, he is in a good mood—which is nice, but sometimes embarrassing comments fly out of his mouth in his inebriated state. It is particularly awkward when this happens in front of guests, but I am still concerned when our children wonder what happened to their father.

I worry that my children will see my husband as a role model and that they will be drawn to alcohol as well. They are definitely getting the impression that drinking is a way to have a good time with friends. When I was growing up, my parents never drank alcohol as a social activity. Drinking was strictly limited to a tiny plastic cup at rare family celebrations. When I see people getting tipsy on a regular basis, it does not sit well with me. I think of this as one step away from becoming an alcoholic.

Still, I am trying to be relaxed and not make a big deal about this issue because I know that my husband really enjoys his time with the guys each week. Sometimes I feel like an emotional pressure cooker ready to explode. Other times, I resign myself to my situation. I’d love to hear your advice on how to deal with this ongoing challenge.

Thanks so much,
Ruthy

Dear Ruthy,

I can imagine how difficult it is for you to handle the issues that arise from your husband’s kiddush club. It sounds like you are walking a tightrope between supporting your husband in his desire to be part of a community and staying true to your own values and vision for your home. This is a significant challenge that you cannot continue to “brush under the rug.”

I am not going to weigh in on the issue of whether or not people should be drinking socially at kiddush clubs and the like. Let’s focus on the issues you are struggling with and how to approach them within the context of your relationship with your husband.

It is important that you bring up your concerns to your husband and work through this together. I encourage you to tell him how you feel about his custom even though he may not agree with your point of view. In a healthy relationship, you can express your feelings even though you have a different perspective than your spouse. Share your feelings about the kiddush with each other.

If you have not done so already, convey to your husband the way you viewed drinking alcohol when you were growing up and what it means to you when he drinks and returns home slightly drunk. Let him hear your concerns about how your children will develop their attitudes and values based on his behavior; share with your husband that you value him as being a positive role model for your children. It is also important to ask your husband to tell you more about how important the kiddush is to him and what he enjoys about it.

Even though you might assume that your husband has thought about all of this and that he is nonetheless committed to going to the kiddush club because it means so much to him, he may surprise you. First of all, he may not have thought about all of the ramifications of his actions and the effect that they are having on you and your children. Furthermore, hearing you explain your perspective and gaining a deep awareness of what his behavior means to you might give your husband new sensitivities that he did not have before.

As you approach your conversation, it may seem like your goal is that your husband must choose between continuing his custom of going to the kiddush club and coming home slightly drunk or skipping his kiddush altogether. Yet you do not have to take an “all or nothing” approach to this problem. Let’s examine different parts of the issue and see how you can work together with your husband to find common ground where you both could have more of your needs met.

Ask yourself, “What are the aspects of the situation that are bothering me and how could they be addressed? Then present your concerns to your husband as different parts so that you can work together to design a creative solution to each part of the problem.

For example, one of the first issues you mentioned is that it is difficult for your family to wait for an undefined period until your husband returns home after shul. Describe to him what it is like for you and your children as you wait for him not knowing when he will return. Ask your husband what he can do to make it easier for your family. He might agree to stay for a specific time frame so that you can expect him to be home by a certain time. This would enable you to plan ahead. If you could plan when your husband was coming home, you might decide to create your own kiddush at home for your children, so that they would enjoy some treats and not be hungry. You could also coordinate an activity for them such as family games, a walk, or trip to a park. These are examples of how you could work with your husband to make sure that everyone’s needs would be met.

Keep an open mind as you turn to each aspect of your situation and explore creative ways to meet everyone’s interests as much as possible. It may take time to try out different solutions and tweak your approach. Hopefully by discussing your perspective with your husband and working on this challenge together, you will not only discover creative solutions that will make everyone happier, you will also strengthen your relationship and your respect for one another.

Wishing you much success,

Chani

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Dr. Chani Maybruch is a social psychologist who has specialized in helping people build and enhance their relationships for over two decades. If you would like to improve your relationship with yourself, your loved ones, or others in your life, reach out to her at chanimaybruch.com.

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