Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mars and Venus on Erev Shabbos (or why men can’t shower until the last minute)

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.

Licht Benching-
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.


MUST Gum Addict said...

I'll post a comment in just a minute... I'm almost done...

MUST Gum Addict said...

I know, I know... I'm just finishing this last thing....

MUST Gum Addict said...

oh, I forgot to do the candles... I'll get to the shower soon... OY, I forgot to SHAVE.

MUST Gum Addict said...

Ok, now I can comment...

Awesome post Shifra! I'm lucky and define my own hours for work. I always work from home on Fridays (and I have a home office, so I don't have to mess up the dining room), but yet, I still find myself pushing the limit of time. Maybe if I would spend less time blogging....

ifyouwillit... said...

At least in Israel Shabbat starts around the same time, unlike the ridiculous range we used to have in England, sometimes as ealry as 3, or in the summer as late as 9 (if you didn't bring it in early).

I've started getting up early on Fridays to make sure I am all cooked and ready on time, but you know how it goes on Fridays...

Jerusalemcop said...

are you my wife?????

you sure sound like it.

wouldn't it be funny if a married couple meet in the blog world, not knowing....

Shifra, excellent post!!

My above comment was sincere, reading your post made me feel like I was there just this past friday.

You obviously can't be my wife because we live on different continents

...or do we?????


rockofgalilee said...

JCop, She's you sister-in-law and your wife asked her to post this because she knows you're a regular reader.

I don't work Friday, but my wife always feels that I always get on the phone to wish someone a good shabbos right when she needs help with the kids.

Jerusalemcop said...


my wife has no idea which blogs I read. She has stated time and again that she has no interest what-so-ever in blogs.

unless....thats what she does at work (Like the rest of us)


Anonymous said...

This is just a thinly disguised message to make aliyah and move to Jerusalem or similar 40 minute city.

Anonymous said...

This sounds very familiar!

Shifra said...

I don't think I'm your wife, but why don't you pick up some chocolate on the way home- just in case ;-)

Shifra said...

Honestly when I wrote up this post it seemed SO deeply personal that I could barely bring myself to publish it. Now that's it out there I see how universal our experience actually is...
That was also quite an amazing revelation!

Elie said...

This was just like me on Fridays, except that I was one worse than your hubby; I almost never make it to shul at all. And it didn't seem to matter whether Shabbos started at 4:15 or 8:15; I always ended up showering like 5 minutes before sunset, and then davening at home.

The only thing that cured me was starting my Friday night minyan at home. Once you have 12-15 men coming over ten minutes before sunset, you feel sort of motivated not to greet them dripping wet in a bathrobe!

Anonymous said...

Usually I think that its not worth commenting just to say "great post," but here I will make an exception:

great post!

Shifra said...

Elie- my husband doesn't make it to shul every week either... I tried to hint to that in my last line without saying it outright.

Ezzie said...

Oh man, this is an AWESOME post Shifra. So true.

westbankmama said...

You must have bugged my house...really!

Another aspect to this problem that many people may not be aware of. I sometimes take over for the mikve lady if she goes away for Shabbat, and I work for her Friday nights. We tell the women to come 40 minutes after candle lighting, because that is when we figure the men are in shul davening.

You have no idea how many times women come in very embarrassed because they "bump into" their male neighbors who are walking to shul late.

Anonymous said...

Man, does this ever sound familiar. GREAT post.

Irina Tsukerman said...

Oh my gosh that sounds... like some people I know (I will not mention any names to protect the guilty.) Absolutely hilarious!

StepIma said...

too funny!

and great advice, too...

now if I could just figure out a way to apply it to myself -- especially in the wintertime. Thank goodness for the inventors of the crockpot and the Swiffer, that's all I have to say...

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. Too bad it's too late to nominate it for best post.

Anonymous said...

In my family, *I'm* the organized-for-Shabat person. Before we got married, I liked to be ready to light candles by minchah gadolah, and then would often take a nice nap. (I often worked from home on Fridays mornings and took all Friday afternoon off.) My wife, otoh, will sometimes *start* preparing the Shabat meals an hour before candlelighting.

What is ironic is that in every other area, *she* is far more organized than me!

Shifra said...

Thanks Happy to b- there is always next year!!!

The back of the hill said...

That was absolutely AWESOME!



Anonymous said...

Hmm... I can't even remotely imagine my wife telling me to stop doing dishes and get myself to shul...

Shifra said...

I read it to my own husband this evening- I wasn't sure how he'd take it but it went over pretty well I think!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, both my husband and I are last minute shabbos (and everything else) ppl. Almost nobody in our extended family is ever on time for anything. And on Erev Shabbos - suffice it to say ending showers 5 minutes before Shabbos would be a major accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I have the exact same experience every week at home.

Anonymous said...

OMG you just describe my husband to the T. 100% except we don't observe Shabbat but its very close to a normal day in our house. Great advice, but it would take every bit of my energy and control not to get frustrated and then angry again with him. It's the ADD in him, it's the controlling nature in me. It the rebel in him, and definitely, the frustrated housewife in me.

Thanks for sharing. Hope you feel better knowing that you are not alone.

Anonymous said...

"We read to know we're not alone" CSLewis

I'm feeling less alone now - thanks

the sabra said...

magnet on my refridgerator 'no matter what time shabbat comes in, we're always ready the LAST MINUTE'

Juggling Frogs said...

This is an excellent, funny, insightful, wonderful, and classic post.

It sounds like our house erev shabbat, too, but with a notable exception:

My husband and I are both Yekkes. He sweeps in half an hour before candle-lighting, gets himself and the older kids ready for shul, and leaves exactly on time. So this has nothing to do with him.

I, on the other hand, have this same experience, only with myself, starting at 10:00 a.m. every erev Shabbat. This whole scenario is replayed inside my head. I'm a split-personality with a mixed-time-marriage every Friday. I play both sides of this dialog, both the hurried and nudging wife, and the procrastinating 'plenty-of-time' - 'just-one-more-thing' spouse.

While your post highlights the need to stop nagging a spouse, I wonder if that also applies to my internal dialog. If I could stop both parts of myself from being so aggravated with one another, maybe erev Shabbat wouldn't be stressful?

Thank you for sharing this!

All the best,

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Anonymous said...

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