Ask Marnie

by Marnie Macauley November 2, 2017


Quarrel between woman and man screaming at each other in megaphone

Shalom, San Diegans: Among other similarities in our DNA, debate has a strand all by itself. (YMMm! for “You’re Making Me Meshuggeh!”). Show me one Jew who can’t do two hours on Hydrox vs. Oreos, Latke vs. Hamantash, never mind Israeli policy on everything from “When is steam kosher?” to a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict. Not only are we biologically programmed to open a “pisk” (mouth off), We Jews have a lot to “pisk” about. And this past year, given the flagrantly peculiar players on the world stage, particularly our President, “pisking” has graduated to plotzing and punching. Our first query looks at political yin and yang. The second is what to do about fear-overload in children with a world in crisis.

The “Politics of Dating”

“Marnie. I’ve been dating a man I thought was a terrific guy and we were headed toward a chassenah. When politics did come up, he said he was an Independent. Then came the presidential campaign and election. My bf suddenly became a Trumpnik. I was raised as a strict Liberal Democrat. Any other point of view was considered not only “un-American” but “un-Jewish.” Our arguments have gone beyond debates! On this, it’s war, and it’s affecting our relationship. He has so many great qualities, but I don’t know if I can get past this. What do you say?”

– Deeply Blue in San Diego

MARNIE SAYS: For you, Blue, I thought. I questioned, I pondered. I role-played (with myself) and, as a last resort, ate an entire cheesecake. And finally, thanks to my years of education and experience, not to mention the five extra pounds, I came up with the definitive answer. And, that definitive answer is … it depends.

Getting It! Your Personal Political Relationship Strategy:

Now, many an advice maven would suggest –“Sha!” Simply declare the whole topic off-limits. But with two intelligent Jews, “sha” would require a third person to apply enough super glue and masking tape on your mouths to build that wall around Mexico. Not only is it messy, but chances are you’d learn to mime your fury.

With all compatibility issues, there are two fundamental questions that can red-light, green-light or yes, yellow light a politically torn love connection.

1. Can a passionate Liberal and Conservative (whatever), or a candidate hater and lover co-exist and at what cost?

2. Ah, but there’s a more subtle issue: What does this passion mean about your deeply held, varying values?

“Politics” is more than lever-pulling. We need to ask ourselves, “What are our basic principles and how do they translate into living together!”

For example, does your Trumpeting love: think all that %(&*% talk about women is just alpha-male-speak? If so, and you fly into attack mode, your relationship will erode. Other compatibility deal-breakers could include: right to life, stem-cell research, gender equality, crime, fiscal policy, health reform and immigration.

*On the other hand, if you share basic principles, and he’s Trumpeting because he loathed the opposition and/or is committed to change – any change – you may find a basis for agreement.

If his terrific-ness outweighs his Trumpeting (and what it means) … compromise.

If, despite his terrific-ness, compromise would require bending so far backward you could touch your tailbone, say “Shalom” and hop a space shuttle. After all, how many times, can you or a partner hear “You’re a yutz!” and still feel that sizzle at the sound of your mate’s voice?

Sane Strategies For Children During Tense Times

Marnie: We have two children, age 10 and eight. Recently, with all the media talk of nuclear war, our 10-year-old in particular has expressed anxiety, especially as images of victims explode around them. How do we best handle this? – Anxious Parent of Anxious Children.

MARNIE SAYS: Picture it. Five-year-olds in kindergarten. When an alarm sounded our pretty sweet teacher, took on a purple hue, and yelled,z “Under your desks! Now!” At least one little girl, terrified, thought, “This pre-war desk is going to protect me if a bomb hits P.S. 158 in Queens?!” That was the drill during a similar time. To this day, instead of counting sheep to sleep, I count how many meals I could make with what I have in my closets during fall-out. I hope your children have better ways to sleep when they’re my age. Let’s look.

Getting It: Strategies … of Hope

Very young children: As adults, we can’t process what’s real and what’s not. One photo is worth a 1000 nightmares. Block out the mega-explosion of 24/7 news and images about war.

Older children: Remember that paper thingy that smelled of ink smudged at the touch and was handy when making French fries? How we miss them. Older children are better served by reading newspapers, which are generally less sensational and more fact-driven. More, you can monitor the source in advance.

Deal with news together. Be there to explain, ask and answer questions, and reassure your child.

Finally, in the wake of natural disasters, teach them empathy and ways they can help. Rachmones is not only a requirement, but a positive way we can teach that, yes, we humans can exercise some control even in the worst of times. A


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