A Disappointed Wife

Dr. Weinschneider advises a wife who is disappointed in her husband’s post – pandemic choices. 

By Dr. Ely Weinschneider

Dear Dr. Weinschneider, 

I noticed that ever since the outbreak of Corona last year, my husband has  stopped davening with a Minyan. It has always been difficult for him to wake  up early for Minyan, and I feel that Corona was the perfect excuse that allowed him to sleep in every morning without feeling guilty. He already tested positive  for antibodies so I don’t believe it is an issue of health. It is just that ever since  he stopped going to Minyan during the lockdown, he rarely ever gets up early  enough to go to Shul anymore. When I confront him, he blames it on the pandemic, but I am quite sure it is just laziness and his struggle with waking up  early. I don’t want to act as his Mashgiach as I know that won’t be productive,  but I am extremely disappointed about this situation and I feel that this is also setting a bad example for my son. What do you suggest is the proper way to deal  with this situation? 


Disappointed Wife 

This is an important question, and I respect the caution and seriousness in which you are taking this issue. Although you are trying to put your own feelings aside, you are still carefully weighing the importance of the role-modeling your son is receiving, while trying to maintain your husband’s respect and dignity by not becoming his mashgiach.

This issue didn’t come to be in a vacuum, and it did not evolve overnight.

This issue didn’t come to be in a vacuum, and it did not evolve overnight.

I don’t know why your husband is struggling with this- it could be he was harshly forced to go to davening as a kid, perhaps davening with a minyan was not a priority in his family of origin, or a host of other possibilities. The bottom line is that at this point it is a deeply ingrained habit that needs to be turned around so that at the very least his self-respect and the respect that you and your children have for him can grow.

While there might be a time and place for direct action and intervention, it is far from ideal.  The Pasuk in Mishlei (14:1) states: “chachmos nashim bansa baisa…… The wise among women, each builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her hands”. In the long term, your chachma-wisdom, will get you much farther than any pushy action (i.e., yelling, sarcasm, demanding, guilt trips, etc.) may get you temporarily.

I believe that respectful patience is called for. I would encourage you to tap into your “binah yeseira” and continue to be patient- but with a plan.

As an example, think back to the beginning of your marriage. I’m sure there was a dish you made that didn’t elicit a “wow!” response from your husband. I am sure you don’t make that dish often or at all anymore. Your husband didn’t ask you to not make it, and he hopefully didn’t make any negative comments, but the “blah” feedback, or lack of positive reinforcement, took the excitement out of the picture and you probably make it seldom or perhaps never. Whereas if you made a cake or kugel that your husband went nuts over, I am sure it became a staple in your house. It is very likely that you never had a discussion about it, it just kind of evolved as such.

I would encourage you at this point to not say anything and not push him to go to a minyan. However, anytime he does anything that involves ruchnius, and specifically davening, it is imperative that you sincerely, authentically, express and show how important it is to you. It could be giving him a fresh coffee and danish when he returns from shul (“the path to a man’s heart is through his stomach 😉”), a warm smile, or a sincere warm word of appreciation and respect. This will not likely change an ingrained behavior pattern overnight, but you’ll be surprised how powerful your warmth and sincere respect can be, and the growth you will experience both individually and as a couple, will be a beautiful example for all of your children.

Dr. Weinschneider is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Lakewood, NJ, and the Founder of The PINNY Institute. He can be contacted at drely@drelyweinschneider.com for private appointments, speaking engagements or workshops.