Dr. Sara Genstil- Psychologist

Ask Dr. Genstil

This month, Dr. Genstil will be sharing some questions and answers that she has received from families like yours. If you would like to send in questions, please send an email to psychologist@biznessmag.com and perhaps your question will be featured in the next issue of Bizness Magazine.

I am married for eight months and I don’t understand why my husband doesn’t ask if I need help in the house. I don’t want to be a nudge and ask him, but as a bochur everyone said he had such fine middot…so why isn’t he asking what he could do to help?

Usually, the first year of marriage is the most difficult. Two people from two different family systems, with different perceptions and ideas join together; two people of opposite genders and from different worlds. This can create a clash of beliefs and expectations. It takes time to understand each other. This is a very common phenomenon and you are not the only one experiencing challenges in your new status.

In your scenario, all that is needed is communication. There can be various reasons why your husband hasn’t offered to help as of yet. Perhaps his father never helped in the home for whatever reason, so he doesn’t have the model of helping, and for him it’s only natural not to help in the home. Perhaps he’s afraid that if he offers to help, he is giving a message that what you are doing is not good enough.

When two people marry, it takes time to build trust and understanding, and to be responsive to each other’s needs. Some spouses are hesitant to open up; it’s normal. Find the right time for a discussion and not only might you get some more help around the home, your bond will hopefully grow as well.

I have six kids between the ages of 2-11, and among them is my special needs son, who is five-years-old. My wife is often very busy with our special needs son, and a lot of the housework and babysitting falls on our 11-year-old daughter. In a few months we hope to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah. I think she deserves a special party for all her hard work but my wife thinks that is natural that the oldest daughter should help in the home. Who’s right?

In a family with a special needs child, so much of the mother’s focus and energy goes on that child. It happens to be that I did my dissertation on the extended effect of the disabled child on a mother and have done research as well as worked with many such families. I would like to mention that having a special needs child can be traumatic for parents. You need a lot of support to accept your situation and somehow see it in a positive light, rather than wallow in self-pity.

Regarding your daughter, a child needs to live her childhood. It is very important that the help she provides in the home does not rob her of her childhood. She needs to be able to interact with her friends, attend to her schoolwork, and do things that children do. On the other hand, helping around the house gives her an opportunity to take responsibility and rely upon herself, is an opportunity for learning many skills and builds self-confidence. The key here is balance between your daughter’s needs and the family’s needs.

A big party is a wonderful way for you show your appreciation to her, however, it is secondary if we are to think about the well-being of your daughter.

I am a 31-year-old only child and am still a single woman. I have begun relationships many times but it never progressed after the first date or two. I am considered a professionally successful, attractive person. What could be the reason?

There could be numerous reasons why you are not able to connect with men. Everyone has their own subjective world that influences how they relate to the world at large. It’s impossible to know what might be causing your struggle without knowing your internal organizing principles — what affected you from your childhood until today. Everyone operates in different ways, sometimes subconsciously. Often, women have a hard time connecting with men as a result of stressful relationships with their parents — they are afraid to form close, intimate relationships. Other women may have had a traumatic experience with men in their childhood, helping them form an organizing principle that says, “Men are dangerous.” With others, there is severe anxiety from being rejected, and therefore, they subconsciously push away any closeness in order to prevent rejection. Again, everyone has his own internal world and without understanding what is stopping you from connecting with men, it would be difficult to overcome the problem. The fact that you are an only child, not having had siblings with whom to interact, might be another contributing factor.

I would suggest that you seek professional help in order to explore your own subjective world and overcome the difficulties, and I hope that you will be able to form healthier relationships. The fact that you are a professional suggests that you have internal strength and the discipline required to change. Best of luck!





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