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  KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted:
May 22, 2006 - יום שני, כ"ד באייר, תשס"ו
 
 

Thank You Mrs. Bush
Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

If you can believe the media, the President’s ratings are down. The President and his advisors have their own explanation why the numbers look like they do and the media have theirs. If we take the issue out of the political arena and ask the President’s wife though, the media is simply wrong. Mrs. Laura Bush said that she does not believe her husband’s approval ratings are at record lows. She said that she travels the country with her husband and she sees how positively people respond both to her and her husband. 

I don’t know how accurate the polls are since the media can manipulate the numbers to reflect anything they want them to or even phrase a question in a way that will rate a Jew taking the poll as an anti-Semite. I do admire something in Mrs. Bush’s sentiment though and perhaps we can all take a moment and learn from her. 

How many spouses support their husband in public the way Mrs. Bush has? I have witnessed scenes of public degradation of a spouse that I would have rather not been privy to. Sometimes it was overt and other times it was subtle - which personally offends me more - but it was always ugly. I have heard complaints from men and women that their spouse not only doesn’t support them in front of their children and among family, but that if they are in a group of friends or other outsiders their spouse leads the pack in mockery and degradation of their job, their weight, their earning potential, their child raising capability, their homemaking ability, etc. 

I am always amazed when I hear these stories from couples coming in for counseling and even more so when I witness it myself. How can a self-respecting man or woman sit at the dinner table or at a public gathering and degrade their own spouse? How can they turn the one whom they married, whom they chose as their lifetime partner, into a public laughing stock? 

What many don’t realize is that if their spouse is a laughing stock, it doesn’t make them look very good either.  How smart can they be that they chose to marry someone so dumb, clumsy or insensitive etc.? 

The wife that pokes fun of her uncompetitive husband proves nothing about her spouse, only something about herself. She is proof that her husband got caught in a marriage with someone who doesn’t understand the basic tenets of respect in a marriage. Conversely, the husband who pokes fun of his wife’s clumsy attempts at housekeeping proves nothing about her other than that she is human. He also demonstrates that she was unlucky enough to marry an unsupportive spouse. In each case the spouse that pokes fun can’t deal with public displays of human imperfection and has deep insecurities so he/she attacks the other spouse no matter who is there to witness it or what the repercussions will be. 

Interestingly enough, those who witness this public humiliation may laugh along with the offending spouse, however people recognize the mean spiritedness in such an attack and the one who does the embarrassing ends up hurting his/her own image. On the other hand when people see that a spouse respects, defends, and praises their “better half” they gain respect for the couple. Those are the couples that are envied. 

A couple with real issues should see a counselor or therapist. Certainly marital issues should never be discussed in public - even in jest. 

We must learn to respect our marriage partners - with all their strengths and weaknesses - for respect will preclude criticism. No one is perfect. No spouse is perfect. But imperfections notwithstanding, everyone deserves support and respect from their partner in life. Thank you, Mrs. Bush for showing us how to be supportive, and stand behind our spouse in private and in public no matter what the numbers say.

 

 
     
 
 
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