Posted by: rabbisol | November 19, 2012

Tough Problems Easy Solutions

How do you advise a couple about to get married when the Bride digs in her heels and insists things have to be done her way? In my last Blog I wrote about such a situation. The Bride looks at her Groom straight in the eye and says:”No way is your Mother to participate in the wedding processional. I hate her!! She treats me shabbily and has shown no interest whatsoever in our wedding. She is a person of means. Her husband left her a rich widow and she offers no financial assistance to my parents who are paying for the whole shebang. She has lost the right to be given any kind of an honor like walking you down the aisle..” The Groom protests: “But she’s my Mother!” The Bride stands her ground and says: “I don’t care , no way is she to participate in the ceremony.” In my last Blog I mentioned that the best way to solve a conflict is collaboration, where both are willing to put “I” on a shelf and work as a team to solve the issue. When there is a team at work there is ample opportunity for creative thinking. But, when one party refuses to collaborate it will be a win- lose result. I turned to the Bride and asked: “Are you sure you want to get married? If you are determined to dig in your heels on a matter like this, what will you do when there is a major issue facing the both of you?” I had to do the creative thinking for the both of them, since the wedding was just a week away.  But, I warned the couple that afterwards they would need intensive marriage counseling if there was to be any future for their union. They agreed and this is what we came up with. The Bride planned to walk down the aisle with her father. Her mother would be accompanied by her brother. I suggested that the Groom accompany both Mothers down the aisle and that the Bride make her appearance in a Horse Drawn Carriage, with a properly outfitted coachman (tall Chimney Hat and whip in hand ) with the Bride and her Father sitting in the back seat. The groom will step forward, to greet his Bride and help her down from the carriage. She went for the plan. Every one was happy. However the problem remains. You never, never dig in your heels when confronted by an issue that affects more than one person.

Posted by: rabbisol | July 24, 2012

Why Don’t Zebras Get Ulcers/ Continued

Last time, we dealt with a conflict between  a groom and his bride, where the bride demanded that the groom’s mother not walk him down the aisle. Why? The bride feels her mother-in-law to be just doesn’t deserve the honor.  She shows no interest in the wedding…she won’t participate financially ..and  she is a “terrible human being.”  The groom insists that she is “my mother” and I want her to walk me down. So what to do? Professor Michael Dues reminds us when there is a conflict there are 5  strategies: One is avoidance, making believe there is no problem.  This is a win-lose strategy.  The second style is competition: “do it my way, or else!”  One gets what he/she wants at the other person’s expense.  This is a win-lose situation.  The third strategy is compromise where each one gives up something.. In this approach process each one can feel defeated or cheated.  I believe that compromise can almost be a lose-lose situation. The fourth style is accommodation…where one tires and gives in without getting anything in return..That is a win-lose situation.  According to Thomas and Killman the best conflict strategy is collaboration where you give up concern for yourself for concern for the other person   In collaboration, you shelve “I” for “We”…you step back together as a team and examine the problem. If one refuses to cooperate and is in hot pursuit of his own point of view  there is no satisfying solution.  On the other hand, if the bride and groom are able to step back and look at the “problem” while never abandoning their sense a humor, this can be a win-win solution.  My bride and groom are collaborating  right now.  I should have their solution next time.

Posted by: rabbisol | July 18, 2012

Why Don’t Zebras Get Ulsers? Why Do We?

Professor Robert Sapolsky raises the question: “Why don’t Zebras get ulcers the way we do? ”   Well for one thing zebras  don’t need to contend with in-laws. For example, a couple about to get married  cannot escape the wishes and whims of their respective in-laws. Tensions mount within the family constellation  especially when one set of parents is prepared  to foot a good part of the bill and the other set refuses to participate.  The tension that emerges can give any couple ulcers!

I encountered such a situation recently where the bride is so angry and resentful of the groom’s parents that she refuses to permit them to  walk their son down the aisle.  “They don’t deserve the honor”, the bride contends.   “they have the money, they are cheap and are willing to put the burden on my folks. Besides, I don’t get along with his mother.  And, I don’t want  them to  have the honor of walking my groom down the aisle. And I stand firm on this!”  The groom says: “Look, I appreciate how you feel, but they are my parents and I want them to bring me down the aisle. It means a lot to me”

What is to be done when you have such an impasse?  One thing is for certain when there is an emotionally charged issue between 2 people in love, there must be  be a win/win result.  If it is a win/ lose situation, the one who loses will always resent it.   Read my next blog and I will tell you how this issue was resolved.

Posted by: rabbisol | December 3, 2011

Manage Pressure Before Pressure Manages You..Part 1

I read recently about a lecturer who held a glass of watewr in his hand and asked: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Anwsers from the audience ranged from 20g to 50 g.

The lecturer replied: The absolute weight doesn’t matter.

It depends on how long you try to hold it.

If you hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem.

If you hold it for an hour, you’ll have an ache in your arm

If you hold it for a day , you’ll have to call for an ambulence.

In each case , it’s the same weight, but the longer you hold it, the heavier it becomes!

That’s how it works with the forces that cause stress in our lives.

Of course,  stress in general is a very natural part of life.  But too much for too long a period  causes distress. Try to keep on sweeping the ever mounting turmoil you are feeling inside under the carpet and that spells trouble.  According to the Mayo Clinic, when the pressure you are experiencing  exceeds your ability to handle them, your body reacts. There is a break down in bodily immunity against diseases of all kinds.How often do you hear of a person coming down with cancer following a painful divorce or a death in the family or a lost job? Life out there is filled with potholes, boulders and  dead ends..How do I survive   and remain whole and healthy?   There are 3 tools we can use to mange stress before stress manages us.


I will tell you  how to use them in my next Blog

Posted by: rabbisol | August 3, 2011


Things are tough out there and no one wants to lose his job.  Let me tell you what happened to a young man who came to me with a serious dilemma.

“Rabbi, you officiated at my marriage several years ago.  You promised me that I COULD ALWAYS COME TO YOU IF WE HAVE A PROBLEM.”

I am close to being fired. My supervisor is out to get me.  He keeps on complaining about me to my boss who looks at me strangely. I feel sick all the time. I have palpitations. My legs feel like rubber.  I suffer from terrible migraines and then there are those night sweats. My whole world is collapsing before me. Now let me tell you what happened y yesterday when came home from work. My head was pounding. As soon as I walked in the door I shouted at my wife who was in the kitchen preparing dinner (she just came home from work herself): ‘What’s for dinner.’ She replied Hamburger. I exploded. ‘is that all your xxxxx mother showed you how to make.’ My wife came storming out of the kitchen. ‘Drop dead!!’ I answered: ‘where do you want me to drop dead…here or there by the toilet’ I stormed out of the apartment.  Now I feel awful for my behavior. She didn’t deserve my behavior.


There is no such thing as correct or proper feeling. How you feel is reality and should not be judged as right or wrong. If the young man had come home headache and all, kissed his wife…and then described all of his symptoms, she would have understood that he was hurting. At that point when he exploded she would have understood that neither she nor her mother were targets. It would have simple for her to help ease his pain and the altercation would have been avoided.

Next blog:  What to do when there is no talking…just silence between lovers who had a fight?