Dear Rachel,

My husband is an extrovert, and I’m an introvert. He wants a lot of guests on Shabbat, and I don’t. I’m tired from managing the home all week and as a result of other responsibilities, including work and the kids. Plus, I’m not so into entertaining. But my husband works hard all week and loves to be with other people on Shabbat, so he’d like us to have guests. What should I do?


Dear Awesome Mother and Wife,

First, celebrate yourself for who you are and how much you’re handling in your life, especially as an introvert who requires more down time than an extrovert. Good for you! Put your hands up in the air and say, “Yay, me!” You need to be your own cheerleader. I know that may seem silly, but recognizing how well you’re managing helps maintain your empowerment, giving you strength and positivity to continue your role as a Jewish woman, wife and mother.

Also, have compassion for yourself. Of course you’re tired! The fast pace of life in this day and age is even more of a challenge than it used to be for introverts. Self-care is a must for maintaining grace and good mental health—for remaining grateful instead of resentful, accomplished rather than defeated, and healthy instead of drained.

When I use a flowing pattern throughout the day of inward energy, outward energy, inward energy and outward energy, I can be my best self and show up for my loved ones and the world in a positive way. Downtime is the essential ingredient for staying centered and being kind to myself and others, and I intersperse that inward energy with chunks of outward action in order to “get things done.”

Inward energy involves things like meditation, prayer, contemplation, inner processing, conscious breathing, walking or sitting in nature, breath exercises, journaling, resting and reading. Outward energy activities include work, socializing, talking, playing on social media, decluttering, exercising, doing errands and going over my “To Do” lists. These can all be mixed around, but with the continued pattern of inward energy, outward energy, inward energy and outward energy.

Now, back to your question—entertaining guests for Shabbat. I think it’s important to clarify that while it’s a wonderful thing that your husband wants to have guests, the real mitzvah of hachnasat orchim is inviting those who are in need of a place to stay or eat (examples could be guests who are traveling, or who live alone or who have a hard time making ends meet, or those who are just beginning to keep Shabbat and need support on their spiritual journey, etc.). Just having friends over, while a very positive thing, is not necessarily a fulfillment of the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim.

That being said, how can inviting guests be manageable for you, as well as enjoyable, practical and comfortable? Your mental, emotional and physical health is a priority along with a calm rapport with your children. Since you’re an introvert, being respectful of your energy is key. So, what things can you and your husband put in place to make this mitzvah possible?

1. Establish Boundaries

Do you feel comfortable having a few guests twice a month? Once a month? Discern what would be OK for you, feel that in your body (expansion, stress, tension, relief or neutral), and then consider where you can come together with your husband about this.

You can share with your husband how you’d like to have guests in the way you feel you can handle because he’s expressed that it’s important to him. Remember, you are on the same team of raising your family and honoring each other as husband and wife.

“I’d like to have guests twice a month, about three people at a time, because I know that’s what you would enjoy. I’d also like to end the meal at a certain time—one that we decide beforehand—so it doesn’t go on too long and I can get some downtime afterwards. I can only entertain for so long before my energy feels drained. I’d also love more cleaning help and help with food shopping.”

2. Be Selective in Who You Invite

Being careful with who you invite is very important as well. Choose people who are respectful of your time and your needs. As you know so well, too much conversation may drain an introvert, so being aware of your own boundaries and need for quiet time is very important. This is why you can be selective about the type of guests that you have.

Is it too much for you to have guests with young children? Does that feel chaotic and overwhelming, or is that actually wonderful for your children? Maybe they’ll be more entertained that way.

If there are guests who talk too much or require a lot of attention, those may be best saved for when your kids are grown. Though our hearts go out to everyone, if engaging with certain types of people causes you stress that you cannot handle (a constriction in your body, a tightness in the chest and jaw, a drop in the stomach), then they may be best left for others to have.

3. Minimize Your Work

Make it easier for yourself by choosing simple recipes. When you have young children, too much time in the kitchen with fancy recipes can lead to neglect of what’s really important. Your children need time and attention, and guests usually feel very grateful and content with a warm atmosphere, simple food and Torah conversation.

Keep the food light, healthy and easy to prepare so you won’t fall into the resentment trap. Fresh salads, cut-up vegetables and store-bought dips are filling. Crockpots and air fryers for either fish or meat can cut preparation time in half without standing over a stove. Also, if your guests offer to help serve and clear, let them! Receiving help is not only good for you, but for the one offering, it makes them feel useful. Trust that if they didn’t want to, they wouldn’t offer. But hopefully, you’ll be inviting guests who do offer.

This way of compromising and working together with your husband is a beautiful thing for your marriage. Respecting your husband’s desire for guests, as well as attending to your introverted nature, is definitely possible. These tips will help you do that mitzvah of welcoming guests in a way that is kind to you and to others.