Shared Spirit: Resolving a Tug of War at Home
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Shared Spirit: Resolving a Tug of War at Home

AJT readers are divided on whether a wife and mother should give up her career happiness for the family.

Rachel Stein

Toco Hills resident Rachel Stein writes about spirituality and, working with readers, tries to help community members deal with dilemmas.

A keyboard. a mouse, a pile of paperwork and a desk aren't always fulfilling.
A keyboard. a mouse, a pile of paperwork and a desk aren't always fulfilling.

Recap: Lisa worked as a schoolteacher for years and loved her job. She took time off to care for her young children, planning to return once they were in school full time.

At that point, her husband, Rob, suggested that she join him in the family business. “Having you as our secretary will save us money, and it will be great to work together as a husband-wife team, just like my parents did.”

Assuming the post of secretary, Lisa found herself feeling frustrated, empty and unfulfilled. Is she shirking her familial duty by insisting on returning to teaching?

Don’t Be a Martyr

The answer is so obvious. Ms. Teacher needs to, as her last act as secretary and office manager, hire her replacement herself.

I wonder if maybe being a martyr and blaming her husband are appealing to her on some level.

— Samara Alexander

Family First

A woman’s priority is her family’s well-being. When we lived in Cuba, I worked as a pharmacist. But when we arrived in America, my responsibility became clear: I had to support my husband and children in our new country.

I never returned to the career I had worked so hard to attain, and I never looked back. Building and nurturing my family became my profession.

The results — my beautiful children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren — speak for themselves.

— Zhenia Greszes

Communication Key

Rob sounds like the kind of guy you can reason with. If you have an open discussion and tell him that you’ve tried your best, but this work is draining you, won’t he encourage you to follow your heart?

If he remains obstinate, would he be willing to consult with someone he respects?

If he is unwilling, you need to sit down with someone you respect and explain your feelings.

I believe there are two doorways open to you. One will lead you back to full-time teaching. The other may have you continue to work for Rob, full or part time, and allow you to teach or tutor in your spare time, such as Sundays and evenings.

But, Rob, if you’re an AJT reader, remember the old adage: If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

— F. Klein

Give Up ‘I’

When you got married, you agreed that Rob would be the most significant person in your world. If he needs you and the family would be best served by having you remain the business secretary, I believe you signed up for this.

I know I’m old-fashioned, and some of you may feel that I’m repressing Lisa’s rights to individuality and happiness. But to me, marriage equals giving to the other.

If we would all wake up in the morning and ask what we could do for our spouses, rather than what our spouses could do for us, divorce would be much less rampant, and marriages would be the wholesome, unifying entities they are meant to be.

In a Jewish wedding, the bride circles her husband seven times, effectively agreeing to make him the center of her universe. What does that mean?

Becoming one means giving up “I” and becoming “we.” No one said it’s easy. But it can become the most rewarding and fulfilling relationship of a lifetime.

— Hencha Ostreicher (married more than 50 years)

A Two-Way Street

What are the underpinnings of a good marriage? Mutual understanding, respect and communication.

Lisa, Rob must understand that you can’t be stifled by doing work that you find tedious and unstimulating. You already devoted years to your family, caring for them devotedly while putting your career on the back burner. And now, as you rejoin the workforce, you will continue giving to them with an open heart, including contributing your salary to their welfare.

To this end, there is no reason you can’t pursue a career that will use your talents and aspirations. It’s nice that your husband wants you to work at his side in the family business, but you tried, and it’s not working for you.

It’s time for him to bend and realize that as your husband, he needs to care about your needs and do his best to help you fulfill your goals, just as you do for him and the children. Marriage, like any relationship, is a two-way street.

— D. Green

All dilemmas are submitted by friends, relatives or AJT readers. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

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