A Guest Post by Shifra.
My husband and I are a mixed marriage – he’s an 18 minutes man, and I’m not.
We come by it honestly though:
My father is probably the world’s most organized man.
He is early to everything. He wakes up early and goes to bed early.
He never misses minyan.
His hobbies include stamp collecting (the organizing and reorganizing of tiny pieces of paper) and safrus (the placement of neat brushstrokes in a specified order onto parchment).
His closet contains (from left to right) Long sleeved white shirts, short sleeved white shirts, polo shirts, black pants, grey pants, chinos, suits, bathrobes.
He sets the table for shabbos on Thursday night.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
My father-in-law on the other hand feels that an hour late to anything is considered pretty respectable, two hours late is “running a little behind.” He gets his work proposals in at midnight on the day they are due. He wakes up late, goes to bed late, files his taxes late and to my horror uses the 18 minutes on a regular basis. If he gets to shul in time for Boruchu it’s a miracle. You get the picture.
Since the winter began, and maybe even before that, my husband and I started having the same fight every erev Shabbos, which escalated like this:
2 hours before Shabbos –
My husband, who gets out early on Friday, has picked up the kids at school and taken them to get library books. He begins working from home.
I rush home and arrive at about the same time.
I feed the kids a snack, and cook up some vegetables. I set up the cholent.
I remind him of what time shabbos starts and ask him to start packing up his stuff which is all over the dining room table.
1.5 hours before Shabbos –
My husband is still working from home.
I clean up the living room and the kitchen, and get the kids ready for shabbos.
I remind them that if their rooms are not clean they cannot have friends over – I shut my own bedroom door first so that the hypocrisy is not immediately obvious. I take a shower.
I ask my husband to empty the wastebaskets and take out the trash – he says he will- I remind him to shower.
1 hour before Shabbos-
My husband has not moved.
I call my family and wish them a good shabbos. I set up the candles and the hot water urn. I wash a bunch of dishes, then I ask my husband if he will wash the pots because I’m sick of it. “No problem” he says- I tell my husband he should get in the shower.
30 minutes before Shabbos
Husband still working…I ask him to get up I need to set the table. He starts putting his things away.
I heat up the food and break up several fights between my kids.
When I return he still has not showered.
10 minutes before Shabbos-
Husband starts washing the dishes…
“What are you doing?!” I say
“You asked me to wash the dishes, I’ll get to the trash in a minute”
“Go take a shower, you’ll be late for shul!”
“I’m doing the dishes I’ll be done in a MINUTE!”
"Just stop" I say
"Don't ask me to do things, and then tell me not to do them!"
3 minutes to Shabbos-
I have leave the kitchen to keep from exploding, and return to turn off the stove.
My husband has the trash bags out and is scouring the back of a pan with steel wool.
“FORGET the DISHES already!” I say “shul is starting now.”
“I just have to take out the trash and then I’ll get in the shower”
“JUST SHOWER!” I should taking the grabbing the sponge out of his hand.
"FINE!" My husband gets very annoyed and leaves the kitchen.
My husband gets in the shower…
I light candles entirely bent out of shape.
“Why is Abba showering on shabbos?” my youngest asks.
“It’s not shabbos yet for him” I say grinding my teeth
-10 minutes until shabbos
My husband comes down dressed for shul and starts collecting the trash.
By now I’m seeing stars.
“You don’t look very well” my husband says, “do you want me to stay home?”
“GO…. TO….. SHUL!” I yell
Good Freaking Shabbos!
That’s no way to start the day of rest is it?
So on the good advice of a friend I decided to try something new (see I also TAKE advice, not just give it). Since all the reminders and yelling and getting upset didn’t change anything…maybe I could try just NOT getting upset. “Oh, and SMILE” he said, “and mean it!”
What? That’s ridiculous, I thought to myself.
So I tried it this way:
Friday morning before work I tell him the jobs I’d like him to do and when he gets home.
I also tell him what time shul starts.
When we get home, I leave him alone. I do what I need to do and work around him.
“I’ll get in the shower soon” he tells me (unsolicted) several times. “OK” I smile “whenever.” He looks confused.
Soon enough he’s taking out the trash and putting his stuff away. I smile again. He asks the kids if he’s forgotten our anniversary. They don’t know.
He somehow manages to get in the shower before licht benching. When he comes downstairs all is quiet. I hand him his coat wish him a good Shabbos (much more smiling) and he leaves for shul (also smiling).
So what’s the lesson here? Well for me it’s:
A) On a personal level: Don’t be such a Friday afternoon control freak
B) With regard to my marriage: Women sometimes want to treat their husbands like an extra kid, but treating him like a man is infinitely more effective and sweeter all around.
C) On a religious level: Tosefes shabbos (adding to the shabbos) is important, but shalom bayis (having a peaceful home) is important too especially on Friday night…Maybe even more important.
An early Good Shabbos to all of you and a shout out to the Lab Rab for his unbiased source material on the subject of the “18 minutes.”
Where ever my husband ends up late Shabbos afternoon, he davens Kabbalas Shabbos facing Eretz Yisroel.