"Our Two Faiths Are Tearing Us Apart"

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His Turn

Religion vs. Cultural Heritage

"My wife has a strong personality. She's fiery, and her temper has become a problem. If Kristina disagrees about something, she immediately threatens to leave. Her drama-queen antics make me so angry; it's hard to feel loving when you're always being screamed at. Half the time, I'm not even sure what I've done wrong. The Christmas pie is a good example; I didn't realize Kristina wanted me to rave over it. Once I realized I'd hurt her feelings, I tried to make it up to her, but she kept ranting about how I didn't care about her traditions. 

"This whole religious question has me confused. It's true that religion was never important to me as a child; I was raised Jewish, but my late father was a nonpracticing Catholic. Our family went to temple only on the High Holidays, and I never went to Hebrew school. Still, I don't like the idea of a Christmas tree. To me, a tree isn't much different from a crucifix, and having one in the house would make me uncomfortable, because it goes counter to my faith's teachings that Jews don't worship Jesus. 

"Now that we have a child, I feel a much stronger pull toward my religious roots. Maybe it's for the cultural heritage. Maybe it's for the sense of belonging, which was always a struggle for me. I was adopted, and my parents handled the issue as well as anyone. But I still remember relatives saying, 'We love you. You'll always be a part of our family.' It made me feel as if I weren't really related to them. 

"I'm Tired of Dealing With Her Rages"

"Dad was always stressed-out. Mom complained all the time that he never paid attention to her, and she depended on me for things that he wouldn't do, like going with her to the movies. Both of my parents were very strict. If I was late coming home for dinner, left my socks on the floor, or talked back, they'd send me to my room. After a while, I learned it was better to keep my mouth shut.

"I guess I'm doing the same thing now. Though I've told Mom a thousand times not to barge into our apartment, she just doesn't get it. The thing is, she's letting us live there rent-free, so I don't feel right making demands. Besides, we won't be living here much longer. 

"My hours are long and I come home drained. It's an effort to put on a happy face after seeing sick children in pain all day. I do try, but Kristina doesn't give me a break. The way she exploded at me about the medical conference is typical. I don't want to miss my son's first birthday, but there's nothing I can do. This is an important business trip, not a vacation, and it'll be a disaster if I'm exhausted from caring for a crying baby.  

"I'm tired of dealing with Kristina's rages. Whether we're fighting about the holidays or my mother, she's at such a high decibel level all the time, it seems I can't get a word in edgewise. We've got to find a way to get along."

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn


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