Having been married for almost "fuftsik" years, I know
from experience that disagreements in a marriage are inevitable. Why there's
even a Yiddish proverb that goes, "Tov lashevet al pinat gag me'eshet
midyaneem u'vait chaver" (It is better to reside in a corner on the roof,
than with a quarrelsome woman in a great mansion.)
The Jewish tradition places importance on peace in the home--Shalom bayit.
Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic ("Dictionary of Jewish Words") says, "The
Jewish Tradition of Shalom bayit requires, among other things, that
family members not raise their voices to one another in anger, that a husband
treat his wife as nicely as he would treat a neighbor ("shokhn"/"shokhente"),
and that the commandments for children to treat parents with respect goes both
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (The Jewish Dr. Phil), has eight children. He says that
"parents must first focus on being good people, then on having a healthy, loving
relationship, and finally, on being the best parents they can."
Some couples have an argument ("tayne") even BEFORE the wedding "tseremonye."
A bride-to-be wrote to the "answer maven" at Atlantic Jewish Life:
Q. Everything was going fine until I got engaged. Then I started spiraling out
of control with all the wedding plans, not to mention how many times I've fought
with my fiancÚ over the color of the tablecloths at our reception ("kaboles-ponim").
I'm stressed out. How do I keep from totally turning into Bridezilla?
A. The "answer maven" said--in part--"And as for your fiancÚ, why does he have
to know anything? Ignorance is bliss, my friend, especially when it comes to
choosing tablecloth colors...Give the groom one or two important jobs (like
booking your wedding night hotel, and leave him out of the rest."
According to a new study of 150 couples, conducted at the University of Utah,
women who swallow their anger during marital disputes are more likely to die of
heart disease than women who speak their minds. This is contrary to the Yiddish
"Vos vainiker me ret, iz als gezunter"
(the less you talk, the better off you are.)
The couples, who were videotaped, were discussing sensitive subjects such as how
they managed money or household chores. When men dominated the conversation and
made cutting remarks while the wives sat mostly silent, researchers found
subsequent analysis of the women's heart found high levels of coronary
calcification--a sign of heart disease. Men, on the other hand, suffered no ill
effects from "self-silencing," but showed more evidence of heart disease if
arguments with their wives turned into an open battle for control, instead of a
more cooperative discussion on how to make things "beser."
The researcher, Timothy W. Smith, told The New York Times,
"Can you do it [argue] in a way that gets your concerns addressed but without
damage at the same time?"
Some Jewish women are the type who can say in a calm voice,
"Ikh hob tsu dir a tayne"
(I have a complaint to bring to you)... or
"Makh nit keyn tsimes fun dem"
(Don't make a fuss about it).
Some advice: Try NOT to resort to using the following Yiddish expressions during
"Di gantse velt iz nit meshuge."
(The whole world isn't crazy--so you could be wrong.)
"Oykh mir a meyvn."
(Look who's acting like an expert.)
[sarcastically], "Host du bay mir an avle."
(So I made a mistake.)
"Du farkirst mir di yorn."
(You'll be the death of me.)
"Du fangst shoyn on?"
(Are you starting up again?)
"Gey strashe di gens."
(Go threaten the geese...because you're not threatening me!)
(Stop giving orders!)
"Ruf mich k'nak-nissel!"
(I did wrong? So call me a nut!)
"Nem zich a vaneh!"
(Go jump in the lake.)
And the worst expression:
"Ikh bin der balebos do."
(I'm the boss here.)
I still adhere to the advice given by my mother: "A husband and wife should
NEVER go to bed 'broygez'--angry."
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of a brand new book, "Yiddish for Dog &
Cat Lovers." To order:
19 Market Dr.
Syosset, NY 11791
$13 (plus $3.50 mailing/handling, USA)
$17 (plus $5.50 mailing/handling, outside of the USA)