My husband is very hard to deal with. We have a kosher home, and he learned to keep the kitchen kosher, and we have Friday-night dinner and Shabbat lunch together. He does the kiddush, and the children overall enjoy the atmosphere. But after the meals, they just want to get back to TV, etc. He does not like to go to shul with me; it’s a constant strife. He does not observe Shabbat at home in any way. Same with the children: They watch TV, play video games on the computer, etc. So my Shabbat observance is very distracted because I am surrounded by all this noise and un-Shabbat behavior. I knew that he did not want to became observant when we were getting married, but I had no clue that it would be so difficult for me to deal with. I feel very lonely; at times, they treat me like I’m literally a “crazy fanatic.” I lost my peace of mind because in my own home, I am treated as not “normal.” What is one to do? Is there hope?


I can imagine it must be stressful for you; but, yes, there is hope.

The key is to stay true to your own feelings about Shabbat without imposing your religious standards on your family. Instead, let them see that having Shabbat makes you a happier, more pleasant person. Let them enjoy a terrific meal, a table nicely set. Try to get everyone talking about what they like—sports, friends, politics, a new book—whatever is of interest to each individual. Focus on making this an hour of simple family dinner, enjoyably. Tell them it’s important that you share this time together.

Then, once dinner is over, leave them alone. Find a nice place where you can just sit and read or schmooze with a family member, or study . . . whatever. And if they’re watching a great show on television—and say, “Hey, Mom, look at this!”—you don’t need to grimace, frown or even react. They’re enjoying themselves and you can respect that, so that they can learn to respect your Shabbat and one day want to join in your weekly holiday bliss.

The point is to show your family how Shabbat makes you more enjoyable to be with. You’re happy, rested, calm—you’re not busy with other stuff. And eventually, the kind of atmosphere you want in your home for Shabbat will slowly evolve. It starts from you.