Dear Rabbi,

Things have flared up between my mother and my wife. My mother insists that the family be together every Friday night dinner at her house, but my wife wants to be able to host dinners at our place too.

I never missed a Shabbat dinner at home in my life, but now I am caught between my parents and my wife. And we are married only two months!

Where should my loyalty be?


It is horrible to be caught between two people you love. But there is no question where your loyalty should be. The answer is found in the wedding ceremony.

When a couple gets married, they are led to the chuppah, the wedding canopy, by their parents. But once the chuppah is over, bride and groom leave their parents behind, and walk towards their new life together. This is the choreography of shifting allegiance: you come to your wedding as your parents’ single children; you leave it as a couple.

Your parents will always be your parents. They brought you into this world with love, raised you with selfless devotion, and gave you the freedom and autonomy to get married and start a family of your own. But often, this last stage is the most difficult for them. They will always see you as their little darling, and as much as they want to, it is hard to let go.

But let go they must, as the verse says (Genesis 2:24), “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

You can help them let go. Make it gentle. Make it clear to them that you are not cutting off or rejecting them; you are just adjusting to the new reality of being married. Do it in gradual steps rather than sudden changes. I am sure your mother will be more open to you doing your own thing one Shabbat per month, if you reassure her that the other weeks you will be with the family. In time, you can review it.

More important than anything, husband and wife must be a unit. In every situation, you must present a united front. It is not your wife who wants to make Shabbat; it is you, as a couple, who want to make Shabbat. Never let your wife feel stranded and alone in your parents’ company.

Your parents led you to the chuppah, their faces beaming with pride. They are now watching you leave the chuppah, their hearts torn with mixed emotion. Be sensitive and give your parents their well-deserved respect. Remember, it was their Shabbat dinners that shaped the person you are today.

See Marital Harmony from our section on Married Life in Judaism.