Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review June 13, 2001 / 23 Sivan 5761

Our friends have become political traitors; Is it love?

By Wendy Belzberg -- Q: What do you do when you've maintained a long friendship with another couple and they turn out to be traitors politically? My husband and I have known this particular couple for years, and always known that they were peace activists. Fair enough. For a while, even the prime minister of Israel was one. But now that what can only be called a genuine war has broken out in the Middle East, these friends continue to advocate a peaceful resolution. My husband tells me to "Let it go." But it makes my blood boil. I feel like I ought to tell them something, if only to explain that I don't want to see them any more.

A: I know friendships that have fallen apart over much less: bad table manners, a difference in opinion about parenting techniques, forgotten thank you notes. I understand that it is difficult, even undesirable, to be with close friends and to feel that certain topics of conversation are off limits. But lest we forget, we are living in a democracy. This means that your friends are entitled to their point of view about the situation in Israel, however strenuously you may disagree with it. Perhaps you should call a cease-fire. Why not explain to your friends that at a time of such unrest, you find your political differences more difficult than usual? (A time-out may be closer to the term since it is usually children who have a hard time accepting a point of view at variance with their own. The question here is which couple should have to sit quietly on the stairs for 10 minutes.)

No matter how certain you may be that your way is right, you have to admit that if there were a solution in the middle east someone would have found it by now. I suggest that until your strategy is proven to be right, you put the friendship on hold in a kind way that leaves the door open. Telling your friends you don't want to see them any more would leave you deprived of this long-standing friendship on the eventful day when Arabs and Jews manage to find a way to resolve their differences.

Q: I'm in love but how do I know this is the right man? Marriage is a huge step. What should I be looking for in a lifetime mate?

If I could answer your question, do you think I would be writing a weekly advice column? I'd be a wealthy marriage consultant by now. Current divorce rates would seem to indicate that no one has the answer to the question you pose. But let me give you a few things to think about:

Do you respect this man? Is he as smart or smarter than you? Are there things he can teach you? Are there things he does better than you? Does he ease or exacerbate your worst qualities? Does he support you and the decisions you make or does he try to make your decisions for you? Is he critical of you? Does he have a sense of humor? Does he order the dessert you would most happily share?

I would think long and hard about the above questions before making a lifetime commitment. Love is important, but in the long run can be undermined by but one of the issues above. And sometimes, by less than that.

Ask Wendy a question -- any question --- by clicking here.

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© 2001, Wendy Belzberg