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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

The other night, the Cap’n and I watched the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” episode where Dax and Worf finally wed.  There were plenty of ups and downs in the story with the wedding on and off every few minutes.  Unwavering adherence to Klingon tradition, a difficult mother-in-law, and sudden time pressure to include Worf’s son at the wedding all seemed to create resentment and conflict between the bride and groom.

As we were watching it, I realized that while I felt sympathy for Dax wanting to throw Klingon tradition aside (and with it her requirement to pass muster with Sirella Martok), and instead get married in Captain Sisko’s office in a civil ceremony, I didn’t really want her to do that.  Why?  Because the Cap’n and I have seen so many movies where a religious/traditional person falls in love with an unaffiliated person and to make the match work gives up his or her beliefs and practices.  (We really liked “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” because it didn’t involve the Greek falling off her derech; instead the white bread guy converts to Greek Orthodoxy.)

For Worf and Dax to be married in a parve ceremony felt wrong.  Worf is thoroughly dedicated to Klingon tradition, and Dax herself (throughout at least two of her seven lifetimes as a Trill) has been fascinated by Klingon culture.  As we watched the events unfold, it became increasingly clear to us that this situation is very much like any other intermarriage and as dedicated Jews, we were rooting for the unaffiliated partner to convert.

I spent a post some time ago comparing Klingons to Arabs.   One commenter to that post claimed that Klingons are modeled on Vikings.  Perhaps in some sense they are, but I suspect that Vikings did not share the Klingons’ reservations about intermarriage, since intermarriage is an effective means to conquer and fully assimilate another society.  In this episode (“You Are Cordially Invited”) Klingons began to look to us like Jews too with their adherence to ancient tradition, their reservations about intermarriage, and their belief in a relationship as a joint spiritual journey where both partners must be in sync for it to be a successful marriage.  When the episode ended on a happy note, we were satisfied that all had turned out to everyone’s satisfaction.  Worf married in a Klingon ceremony, his son was present, the Martoks did their bit, Dax grew up a little, and I’m sure Quark made a tidy profit on blood wine at the reception.

Who could ask for anything more?

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Summer is here, which means birthdays in the Crunch household: Banana’s at the start of Tammuz, Beans’s, Peach’s, and the Cap’n’s in Av.  Of course, summer birthdays often mean cramming classroom birthday parties into the last few weeks of school or gan.  Beans and Banana had theirs with cake, musical chairs, and brachot (birthday wishes) from their peers.  Peach has chosen a party at home in lieu of a school party, so I am preparing for 7 friends to descend for a party tomorrow morning at Beit Crunch.  But Hashem has bestowed upon me the blessing of a bat mitzvah girl in the neighborhood who hires herself out as a party planner and executrix, so all I have to do is provide the food, and she’ll provide the fun.

Then, of course, there are the gifts.  Back at the New Year, the Cap’n’s North American company ran out of cash, turning a posse of incredibly highly-skilled hi-tech workers out into the streets.  The Cap’n has since found a job at a reputable company in Jerusalem, where the benefits are not to be beat, but where the salary… well, let’s just say the Crunches are not big spenders, but we are nonetheless discovering for ourselves how it is that Israelis survive high prices, steep tariffs, and low salaries: by going into debt.  (So in between planning birthdays, running the house, ripping up smelly, dusty old carpet we inherited when we bought the house two years ago, assisting the Cap’n to buy a car that fits the whole family, making Shabbos every week, and shlepping Beans to get her ears pierced, I’m supposed to be looking for work.  La!)  So my solution this year?  Each girl gets a party (at school, gan, or home), a gift (not large, but something the child will enjoy), and an experience.  Banana had her party at gan, I bought her our favorite book (that I read her at gan at least once a week), and she and her siblings were taken to a kids’ fun place at a nearby kibbutz.  Beans had her party at school, I’m outfitting the sewing box my mother gave me for Christmas when I was 12, which is still in excellent condition, and although getting her ears pierced was actually the pay-off for a behavior contract we had, I think that is going to suffice for an experience.  (She’s so over the moon about it that I may not have to get her anything else until she enlists in the army.)  And Peach wants her party at home; I haven’t thought of a gift yet for her (fingers drumming); and perhaps a family trip to the beach in our new/used Mitsubishi Grandis will do for an experience.

The sad part, of course, is that by the time the Cap’n’s birthday rolls around near the end of Av, I am so wiped out from the hurricane of girls’ birthdays, I don’t know what to do for him.  For the past four years, we have been packing for SOMETHING (aliyah, moving, or trips to the US), and the Cap’n’s birthday has been swept aside by the flurry of boxes, suitcases, carry-ons, travel-size shampoos, and the like.  (Last year we had the inestimable joy of being with close friends in Boston, with the traditional JP Lick’s ice cream cake, but that is far from the norm.)  By his birthday, I am usually sick of the taste of cake, and one more chorus of “Happy Birthday” or “Hayom Yom Huledet” will send me over the edge.  And while he is a wizard at choosing gifts, he is the hardest person I know to buy something for.  So what shall I do this year?  Try my hand at a homemade ice cream cake?  The family-size gelato cakes at the divine Sorrento gelato stop in Beit Shemesh are a whopping 85 shekels, and I already have an ice cream maker.  A party?  We haven’t yet made friends close enough to consider what we used to call “the Usual Suspects” with whom we always did birthdays, but we’re getting there slowly.  An experience?  We could both use an overnight getaway somewhere (the Dead Sea, perhaps) with good food, massages, and no sound of giggling or fighting at 6 AM, and there are plenty of competent sitters around.  How to pay for it, though, short of selling Bill for scientific experimentation, is a mystery.

But hey–there’s always Gaza.  Aussie Dave has a write-up of Gaza’s Aldeira Hotel.  For $185 (the price of a mediocre room at the Sheraton Tara over the Mass. Pike in Newton) you can get this bedroom,

this bathroom,

and this fine dining experience.

Hey honey!  Where’s my burka?

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O Cap’n, my Cap’n

As of the 5th of Iyar (or May 10 on the secular calendar), the Cap’n and I have been married 10 years.  Through boom economy and unemployment, health and sickness, four kids, aliyah, and a year when the only time we were ever alone together was when we’d hire a babysitter on Sunday nights (our first year in Israel), we have survived, and even thrived.   This is due to a number of factors, but perhaps the strongest is our communication.  Over the years, our ability to communicate has been helped enormously by two principal resources: Deborah Tannen’s book, You Just Don’t Understand and a video of a workshop given by Barbara DeAngelis on how couples can fight (i.e. argue) constructively.

When the Cap’n and I were first getting acquainted, we were often amused to discover that we had both read a particularly obscure book.  (To this day, we cannot get over having both read the awful spy novel Shibumi by Trevanian.)  But one particularly helpful obscure book we had in common was Georgetown linguist Deborah Tannen’s book on the differences between how men and women communicate.  A bestseller in the early 1990s, its novelty had faded by the time we met.  And yet I remain eternally grateful that we’ve both read it.  Written for a popular audience (rather than one dedicated to the obscurities of academic linguistics), it discusses in fascinating detail the differences between how men and women communicate.  Thanks to this book, the Cap’n knows that when I am griping about something, I’m often doing it to connect emotionally with him or to elicit sympathy.  (Or because I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, something the book doesn’t get into but which the Cap’n knows by now.)  Where a man would normally suggest ways for me to solve my problems or give general advice on the subject, the Cap’n (because he’s read this book) knows not to do that.

The DeAngelis workshop is something I brought to the relationship, and in which I still have greater skill (though I’m encouraging the Cap’n to continue to make progress in this area).  I don’t remember every single phase she took couples through in her seminar on communication, but I remember watching couples she had coached carry out fights, with the stages of the fight subtitled on the screen.  She encouraged both partners to take a few minutes to process their feelings aloud for the other partner, beginning with what was upsetting them, why it bothered them, how it made them feel, what past experiences it reminded them of, and what they would like the other partner to do differently next time a similar situation arises.  Each partner would take a turn, and the end result was an exploration of the problem with proposed solutions.  (This does not mean that the couple will only fight about a given situation once, but it certainly puts them on the road to solving the problem, if both are willing to give each other a hearing and try to break out of old behavior patterns.)

Thanks to these two resources, the Cap’n also knows that when he screws up, he needs only to wait until my ire has subsided, then approach and ask what he should say next time.  (I’m very good about feeding him his lines in advance.)  This fosters frank communication and prevents endless repetition of verbal gaffes.  But most of all, instead of getting frustrated, angry, or clamming up when we don’t seem to be understanding one another, he is willing to sit down and discuss it.  (Sometimes with help from me, but still…)

Thank you, Cap’n, for 10 years of love, laughs, and good fellowship.

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