I don’t think husbands of best friends need to be close, or even good friends, but I feel like this is becoming more and more of an issue
y friend Chava is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a sister.
We spent three years in Gateshead sem together and were married within one year of each other. When she moved to Yerushalayim with her new husband I was ecstatic, and I found her an apartment not far from where my husband and I live. Of course I invited her for Shabbos seudos in those early days; after all, she was living far from family and I’d already been in Eretz Yisrael many months by then. I helped her acclimate and we’ve been there for one another ever since.
Many years have passed since those newlywed days. Our children are now in school, and while our lives are independent and our families aren’t that similar, we’ve been fortunate enough to remain very close and consider each other family.
The only issue in our relationship, one which we’ve never openly discussed but is ever-present, is the fact that our husbands aren’t fond of each other. They tolerate one another — after all, they’re mature adults — but when we get together, it’s simply awkward. My husband has expressed his feelings to me over the years, and while Chava has obviously never indicated that her husband feels the same way, it certainly seems so.
Our husbands knew each other as bochurim, but they never shared any friends nor had anything to do with one another. For starters, their personalities are very different. My husband is serious and reserved, and he takes his ruchniyus very seriously. Chava’s husband is the life of every party. He’s gregarious and an open book: you always know what he’s thinking because he won’t hesitate to tell you. I’m sure he takes his ruchniyus seriously as well, but in a different way.
Our Shabbos table is filled with zemiros and divrei Torah, while Chava’s husband enjoys schmoozing about everything under the sun, which makes my husband uncomfortable. We’ve long since stopped accepting invitations from them (in truth, the invitations have stopped, and I’m sure I know why!), and I don’t invite Chava’s family either, as it always looks as if she has to drag her husband though our front door.
Sometimes we extend invitations out of necessity; the Shabbos before an overseas trip, or when one of us isn’t feeling well, but when it happens, the conversation between the men is always stilted and uncomfortable, and more than once they’ve gotten into uncomfortable or even heated hashkafic debates, leaving me and Chava trying to overcompensate by loudly offering more dessert and hastly distributing bentshers.
Over time we’ve figured out how to maintain our closeness while attempting to leave our husbands out of the picture, but it’s hard. Neither of us has family nearby, and we fill that role for each other. My oldest will soon be bar mitzvah, and I feel that Chava’s family should join us for the Shabbos seudos.
Every Purim we would love to share a Purim seudah together, but it’s close to impossible to get my husband to agree. The one year he finally did, Chava, who had initially sounded so excited suddenly “remembered” some lame “other commitment” after she discussed it with her husband.
Every Chol Hamoed my kids want to do something with “Tanta Chava’s” family and I scramble to come up with excuses. Instead, we try to make plans during Chanukah vacation or the like, when it’s just Mommies and kids, no Abbas involved.
I don’t think husbands of best friends need to be close, or even good friends, but I feel like this is becoming more and more of an issue, and it’s painful for me. I certainly don’t want it to drive a wedge between Chava and me, or our kids, who consider each other family. Is there any way to navigate this?
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 648)