Articles that Appeared in
The Jerusalem Post
Some years ago, I wrote a regular column in The Jerusalem Post, entitled Uncommon Sense.
Readers described issues with which they were grappling, and the column responded.
Below are several articles.



ISSUE: Non-compliance with sound medical advice
My 42-year-old husband was always healthy, though a bit chubby. Recently, blood tests connected to a stubborn fungus showed high levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. Our family doctor referred him to an endocrinologist, who in turn sent him to a dietician. The three made it clear that he must follow a strict regimen of regular mealtimes, nutritional balance, exercise, blood test s and medication. To my great chagrin, he is not complying. He’s not stupid, and completely understands that he is imperiling both the length and the quality of his life.
Why is he behaving this way? How can I change matters?
-- Worried Wife --


Dear Worried ,
It sounds like your husband has NIDDM (non-insulin-dependent diabetes, once called “Type II”). Many people with this illness, which is less severe than “Type I” (“juvenile” or insulin-dependent diabetes), feel quite well during the initial years, making it easy for them to “forget” how important it is to adhere to physicians' instructions in order to continue feeling well. However, in the long run, this carelessness can lead to vascular and renal (kidney) problems, recalcitrant infections, neurological damage, impotence, gangrene in feet and legs and even blindness. Since your husband is well aware of the risks, why he is ignoring medical advice?
      First of all, the task he faces is very difficult -- rapidly changing longstanding habits and resisting temptations. The boundaries aren't always clear. For example, people who must give up smoking know that there is no such thing as a permitted cigarette, that every single puff is a “sin”. In contrast, dieters must eat, and it is very easy to slip into self-deception (“yesterday I didn't eat much, so today it's okay to have more margarine”; “there really isn't much difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon”).
      Second, the very act of compliance with a medical regimen forces your husband to face, four or five times a day, the unpleasant fact that “Yesterday I was healthy and free. Today, and forever, I am ill and enslaved to a body that has betrayed me”. Ignoring doctors' orders lets your husband forget, for a few hours, the disagreeable major changes in his life and his identity (“sick” instead of “healthy”).
      At the practical level, you and the rest of the family can help by keeping out of the house “forbidden” foods that he finds irresistible. You might be able to exercise together (walking or swimming will probably benefit you too!). It is also important to let him know that health-status is only a small part of his identity. This is a great opportunity to tell and show him how much you value him, and why.
      However, in the final analysis, responsibility for his health is HIS. If there is no improvement in his compliance with his regimen, counseling should be considered. There is no shame in needing psychological help. Your husband is having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Sensitive therapy can shorten and improve his adjustment to his new circumstances.



ISSUE: Getting along with neighbors and their teen-age children
Last summer, my neighbors went abroad for two weeks, leaving their teenagers (boy age 16, girl age 14) to fend for themselves. These kids (who are not particularly considerate even when their parents are around) took advantage of the situation. Day and night, they hosted endless numbers of friends, and the noise was intolerable. Once, when I went over to ask them to quiet down, I was appalled by what I saw. Dirty dishes were all over the place, “decorated” by busy ants and cockroaches. I also saw empty beer cans and magazines of a sort they wouldn't dare bring home when their parents are there.

One evening, the boy didn't come home at all and the girl panicked and asked for my help. It turned out that he had gotten drunk in a pub and then slept at a friend's home. The next morning, both kids begged me not to tell their parents, and I reluctantly promised. A day before their parents' return, the kids cleaned the apartment thoroughly, leaving no traces of the month-long bacchanal.
In two weeks, the parents are traveling again. Should I speak with them about the situation? Our relationship is polite but distant.
-- Harried in Herzliya --

Dear Harried,
      It is not clear what worries you more: suffering from noise and insects, or the welfare of these teenagers.
      You certainly have the right to a peaceful and hygienic environment and to freedom from “Help!” appeals. However, arranging these conditions doesn't necessarily require speaking to the parents. They might interpret your comments as criticism, and the kids might view you as a tattletale. Instead, why not find a way to talk to the kids themselves? They are a year older now. Hopefully, they are more responsible and also remember that you are a decent person who kept a difficult promise.
      On the other hand, if you're motivated by concern for these kids' welfare and worried that speaking to them won't be enough, consider what might be the best way to achieve your goals. Don't wait until a day before the parents' departure, when they will be preoccupied and pressed for time. And are you the best person for the task? Maybe a neighbor with closer ties to these parents should approach them, gently telling them what happened last year and even tactfully offering help (“If you want, I can look in on the kids every day” or “Given the security situation, I'd be happy to give the kids my cellphone number, for emergencies”).
      If the only alternative is speaking to the parents yourself, do so soon, in a relaxed atmosphere, over a cup of coffee, to give them enough opportunity to talk things over afterwards with their children, or to make other arrangements for them. Offer technical assistance (collecting their mail and watering their plants if the children go away) and ask how they can be contacted when abroad. Promise, of course, not to use this phone number except in the case of a real emergency.



ISSUE: Grown children's reaction to a widowed father's romance
I am a 75-year-old widower. My late wife died after more than 50 years of romantic marriage. During the four long years of her illness she insisted that "afterwards" I should rebuild my life, because "that's what you need, and I want you to be happy ".
After she died, my world fell apart. That's why it's so bewildering for me to find myself in love, only a year later. I didn't go looking for this; I met a widow by accident, waiting on line at Bituach Le'umi. We want to get married. She's been alone for many years, and her children approve. In contrast, my children and their spouses are disgusted and have even refused to meet her. Friends have also reacted coolly, hinting that if I can get involved with a woman so soon, something must have been wrong with my relationship with my wife. Others have warned me that my friend, whose fin
ancial status is lower than mine, may have ulterior motives .
-- Confused and Dejected --


Dear Confused ,
     The grief and pain that accompany the loss of a beloved spouse are unbearable. Every corner of the house reminds you of what you no longer have.
Many people think that someone who had a wonderful marriage will never be able to remarry, because any new relationship will pale in comparison. The price of a past happy marriage, they say, is the loss of any chance for love and contentment in the future .
     However, in many cases this is simply not true. People who have experienced the mutual thoughtfulness and generosity of a good marriage, and the specialness of a spouse, know what blessings these are and yearn to have them again. Seeking a new marriage is not betrayal of your wife: it is a compliment to her .
     So why do your children object, and why are your friends raising doubts? 
Your children have lost the only mother they will ever have. If THEY aren't looking for substitutes, why are YOU?, they wonder. How could Dad have possibly gotten past his grief so fast? They may not realize that you did much of your grieving while your wife was still alive and the illness inexorably devastated both her body and your life together. Your sadness and loneliness began long ago, during long hospitalizations and periods when drugs and illness dulled her consciousness. Your children, busy with their own lives, were probably less involved in caring for her. When she died, they were left grieving, but not alone. It is hard for them to grasp how different your situation is from theirs .
     There is also another possibility. They love you and DO see your awful loneliness. They, and your friends, are worried that this loneliness may be interfering with your ability to evaluate whether your new friend is the right match for you. They don't want to see you stride hopefully into a relationship that might hurt you more than the isolation you are trying to escape.
Your own confusion stems from feelings, thoughts and doubts similar to those that others are expressing out loud. You are -- justifiably! -- angry that your family is critical of a woman they haven't even met. Ask them firmly to get to know her, not "to meet the woman I love" but rather "so that      you can help me make a decision". This isn't just lip service. If loneliness has indeed blinded YOU, your children may really be able to see more clearly. On the other hand, if grief has impaired THEIR thinking, becoming acquainted with this decent woman should allay their fears.
     If you do decide to marry, prevent present or future bitterness with a prenuptial agreement that guarantees both of you comfort and dignity "until 120", but preserves the rights of your respective heirs .


ISSUE: Internet love – virtual or real?

I am 32 years old, married for five years and the mother of two. My husband and I are healthy and have satisfying professions and economic security. On the surface, we are “the couple who has everything”.

My husband is intelligent, sensitive, decent and good-looking. I must admit that, right from the start, I realized that I love him, but am not IN LOVE with him, I decided to marry him for three reasons: (a)I knew he would be a good husband and father; (b) at 27, I had begun to fear that I wouldn't find anyone else of his calibre; and (c) I thought that maybe “falling in love”, in the way that I imagined, exists only in movies and novels, and that I ought to be more realistic.

About half a year ago, in an Internet “chat group”, I “met” an 
enchanting man, and we exchanged email addresses. Since then, we have been corresponding on a daily basis. I am head-over-heels in love with him and think about him all the time. He is pressuring me to send him a photograph, to reveal my identity, and to meet. On the one hand, I don't want to risk hurting my family; on the other, I don't want to lose “the love of my life”.
-- Torn in Half--

Dear Torn,
     Chat-group, Facebook or email correspondence can be extremely intoxicating. During ordinary dates, we are influenced by a variety of impressions: appearance (fat/thin, tall/short, youthful/old, well-dressed/shabby, etc.), tone of voice, odors, behavior (punctuality, generosity/stinginess, eye contact, listening skills, body language, sense of humor, an the like). In addition, we are very conscious of the impact that we are making (or striving to make) in “real time”, and often be tense from this effort.
     Compared to what transpires on dates, email contact has enormous advantages. Anonymity is very liberating. Each correspondent feels free to expose him/herself and see how the other reacts. Each party can invest as much or as little time as he/she wants in writing and editing letters (in other words, slips of tongue or pen, or spontaneous but embarrassing expressions can be prevented). And if one's e-pal becomes boring, annoying or frightening, it is easy to break off contact. This secure setting provides fertile ground for the development of strong emotions.
     However, these apparent advantages conceal grave risks. The freedom to expose oneself is also freedom to lie brazenly. The opportunity to compose letters at leisure gives talented writers the chance to create tapestries of eternal love and happiness, romantic illusions unsupported by commitment and uncorrected by daily events.
     It is possible that your e-friend is a con artist or prankster who has found an easy mark, due to your yearning for deeper love. It is also possible that he, like you, is a sincere person caught in the thralls of virtual love. Either way, in 99.9% of cases, closer acquaintance restores realistic thinking and reveals that there is no point in continuing the relationship. But don't use that statistic as an excuse to set up a meeting! Divulging your identity and telephone number may expose you to harrassment and/or blackmail and/or the chance that your husband and others will discover your secret. These dangers are not worth the gain of dispelled illusions. Although this tempting but excruciating experience has focussed your attention on what your marriage lacks, it has also proven that you ARE capable of falling in love. This awareness can contribute to improving and deepening your relationship with your husband, on your own or with professional assistance.




ISSUE: Helping a loved-one who has symptoms of mental illness
My brother-in-law Ilan, 26, married with one child, lives in a small settlement in Judea and is studying law and economics at a university. He was always quiet, but not introverted. He has always been a considerate person who makes decisions logically and views events in his life in proper perspective and with cautious optimism.
During the last year and a half there have been changes in his 
personality. He has had periods of depression, in various degrees. At first, both he and we attributed the depression to his concerns that Israel already has too many lawyers, and he may be unable to find decent work after he passes the Bar. Later, we blamed the depression on tensions connected to his driving on terror-prone roads.


After buying a special car-alarm system, Ilan's mood improved greatly, maybe even too much. He suddenly began to see everything through rose-colored glasses, to drive recklessly and to spend money wildly “to compensate myself for the months of depression. And besides, I'm an economics student, and I understand money better than the rest of you.” He invested a significant sum (savings earmarked for something else) in high-tech stocks, which plummeted shortly afterwards. He crashed together with his stocks. Now, his depression is so deep that my sister is afraid to leave him alone, lest he commit suicide. Their family doctor recommended a psychiatric evaluation, but Ilan refuses. He says: “I don't believe in all that psychiatric crap; and anyway, you would be depressed too if you had lost so much money.” I hate seeing him this way, and my sister is collapsing from exhaustion and worry. What should I do?
-- Concerned Brother --

Dear Concerned,
     “Uncommon Sense” is not licensed to diagnose, and in any case, much more information is needed in order to determine what has happened to Ilan. However, a few things are very clear. Ilan is in agony (depression “hurts” as least as much as physical pain); he is not functioning well, and is endangering his educational, professional and social status and reputation; and the whole family is suffering. One the one hand, there are logical reasons for his sadness and anxieties (possible unemployment, terror attacks) and for his period of euphoria (his hopes when the government changed hands). On the other hand, it is possible that these objective circumstances are obscuring the true state of his mental health. If Ilan had developed these extreme mood swings without a visible cause, he or the family would surely have sought medical advice much earlier.
     The good news is that Ilan can be helped and restored to good spirits and excellent functioning in a relatively short time (several weeks). First of all, he must have a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation (assessment of his behavioral and emotional state, blood tests and other physiological tests), so that his doctors can select the most appropriate treatment (probably anti-depressants or lithium, a medication that restores equilibrium to people with bi-polar disorders). Even though Ilan scoffs at psychiatry, he may agree to an evaluation, to please his wife who is caring for him with such patience and devotion, or because “there is nothing to lose”. Find any way you can to persuade him to make this step, so that this misery can end as soon as possible.




ISSUE: Financial manipulation and conflict, between divorced parents
I was divorced three years ago, and have three sons, ages 12½, 10 and 7. Although according to the court-ratified divorce agreement, my ex-husband must pay 2700 shekels in child support (a sum that barely covers their expenses), he always pays up late, after tearful entreaties from me (which bring him great satisfaction). For the last two months he has not paid at all, claiming that his income has dropped (he is a travel agent). I don't believe these tales of financial woe, because the children have not reported any drop in his life-style.

He has the right to have the boys in his home every Wednesday and every second Shabbat. They complain that they are bored there and miss their friends. I need to know two things: (a) Since my ex is violating the divorce-agreement by not paying, maybe I have the right to refuse to let the children visit him (visits which, in any case, they hate). But is this a good idea? (b) My oldest's bar-mitzva will be in half a year. He discovered that the date falls on a Shabbat that “belongs” to his father, but he doesn't want to read the Torah in a synagogue where he has no friends. However, my ex, who had promised our son a lavish celebration, has declared that if the Torah reading is not in his synagogue, the mid-week party is off. What should I do?
-- Deprived Divorcee --


Dear Deprived,
     Essentially, both of your problems arise from a single issue: the influence of money on post-divorce relationships. If there were no money involved, you might have formulated the questions differently. (a) How can the quality of the time my children spend with their father be improved? (b) My ex-husband wants our son to read the Torah in his synagogue, but the boy wants to do so in our neighborhood, so that his friends can be there. How can both desires be met?
     Discussions with your children, perhaps with their father participating as well, could probably produce intelligent and creative ideas. Take some time now to imagine some possible solutions.
     However, the reality is that money has entered the picture. You are very angry about financial deprivation and even more furious about the way your ex uses his economic power to demean you. He, on the other hand, may see the children's dissatisfaction with weekends in his home as bitter proof that you are more loved and important to them. Maybe he is using financial pressure to even the score. Perhaps if you all figure out a way to improve the weekends and settle the bar-mitzva issue (two Torah readings?), your ex, feeling more secure and respected, will abide by the divorce-agreement.
     But what if he persists in his behavior? You can't control his actions, but you can decide how you will proceed. Decide what you want for your sons. The best situation for them is rewarding and continuous relations with both parents. This is something you can promote once you disentangle your desire to reduce the stress in your children's lives from your need for financial security. Don't take revenge at the children's expense. Get the money some other way, with the help of your personal attorney or one from an organization such as Na'amat.




ISSUE: Pregnancy, alcohol, and in-laws
I am in the second month of my first pregnancy. My husband has agreed to my desire to keep my condition secret until the fetus begins to move around. In the meantime, we have a weird problem. My father-in-law, an amateur wine-maker, holds ceremonious wine-tastings every time we come for a weekend, and keenly observes each taster's reactions. However, my gynecologist has strictly forbidden any alcohol. What excuse can I use? My husband says that I am blowing this issue out of proportion, and nothing will happen if I sip a bit of wine. All his married sisters imbibed a bit while pregnant, and their kids are fine. He thinks the doctor has taken an extreme stance, to protect herself from malpractice suits by parents of children with birth defects who would blame (and extort money from) physicians instead accepting the blows of fate. He also says: “If you insist on not drinking -- OK. Let's just tell the truth. What's so terrible about telling the family something they'll hear about soon anyway? Let's give them another reason to say ‘L'Chaim!”.
-- Mother-to-be --



Dear Mother,
     Your gynecologist is 200% right! Any pregnant or nursing woman should stay away from alcohol. Although warnings against excess alcohol have appeared in medical literature, until recently most doctors saw no harm in the occasional drink; some even recommended its calming effects on mother and baby. However, during the past 30 years, medical advances (ultrasound, CT, MRI, epidemiological techniques, etc.) have produced new information about the effects of alcohol on fetal and infant development.
     The cells of the brain and other organs form and grow according to a very exact timetable. Therefore, theoretically, drinking alcohol might be harmless on one day and catastrophic on another, when critical cells happen to be developing. Think about it: Would you bathe a one-month old infant in a bucket of alcohol (similar to the amniotic fluid of a woman who drank an hour ago)? Would you let a baby guzzle a martini? If even imagining this gives you the shivers, how can you consider pouring alcohol into the fetal environment?
     Because a fetus's liver is immature, alcohol lingers in his body longer that in the mother's, increasing risk. Fetuses exposed to large amounts may die, or develop fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition which can include serious forms of retardation or learning disabilities, small skulls, deformed faces and joints, low birth weight, heart defects, and delayed growth. Relatively low exposure may lead to fetal alcohol effects, a partial or less severe form of the syndrome.
     Regarding your father-in-law, you have a number of options. You have the right to turn down his wine, without explanation. However, if you believe that he will be hurt (even though all the other guests others are enthusiastically sampling his wares), ask your yourself what is more important to you, in your personal scale of values: keeping your sweet secret a few months longer, or the feelings of someone you love? A third possibility is to evade the issue gracefully, by “happening” to be in another room when the cork is popped and the glasses poured. Less elegant, but more reliable, is a white lie about an intestinal bug. Of course, this sort of cover story will probably require your abstaining from other
Shabbat goodies as well (definitely no cholent!), but the family will undoubtedly compensate you another time, when you give them good news to celebrate.




ISSUE : Coping with personnel and policies in your children's school
In my opinion, Israeli schools stifle creativity and employ teachers depressingly immune to any thinking other than their own. Sounds extreme? Here are two examples .
Last year, my son's sixth grade teacher proudly announced a new computer-assisted program to encourage reading. This program, she promised, would ensure that each child would read two books a year more than usual. (No, that is not a typo. Two books a year.) The books would be selected by the teacher. My son, who is quite a bookworm, brought home a boring and childish book, whose content, style and vocabulary are way below the level of books he chooses on his own. He let it collect dust. His punishment was to hand-copy 10 pages of the book and a letter asking us, his parents, to forbid him to play computer games until after he completes the program's software assignments .
My other son is in eleventh grade, in a school known for helping average pupils achieve above-average Bagrut results. From the very first day, his mathematics teachers put the class into high gear, and sent them home for Succoth vacation with 650 (!) equations to solve. My son, who is NOT an average pupil, approached the teacher discreetly and said: "I know this stuff. If you don't believe me, test me. I'm not lazy and I'm not trying to weasel out of work. All I ask is: give me a different assignment, something less boring and more challenging." The teacher huffily refused, termed the request "khutzpa" and made it clear that if my son doesn't do the work, he shouldn't bother returning to school after Succoth .
-- Gritting My Teeth --


Dear Gritting ,
I don't know whether to laugh or cry .
     Parents are in a terrible bind. They want their kids to learn as much as possible in school, but fear that if they criticize bull-headed teachers, these glorious pedagogues will take their anger out on the kids. A different sort of problem arises when parents see that a teacher is devotedly investing a lot of time and energy and is convinced that she is giving her pupils the very best service (a new reading program, a weighty math assignment), while they, the parents, view the investment as erroneous or even absurd and harmful.
     Things get even more complicated when our kids rebel. On the one hand, we want to educate our children to respect their teachers, complete tasks, and acquire good work habits. On the other hand, we want them to develop critical thinking, the ability to distinguish between useful work and time-wasters, and the sense that adults treat them with fairness and consideration, so that they too will act that way when the time comes .
     In cases like the ones you describe, parents have to cope with the situation at two 
levels, concurrently. In your relationship with a school, try to find the staffer who has both an open mind and enough clout to influence policy. If no-one like that exists, grin and bear it, or transfer your child to another school, provided you are convinced that the gains outweigh losses (such as separating your child from friends). In your relationship with your child, remember that, over the course of his life, he will encounter many absurdities. The ability to cope with them with humor and tolerance is no less important than other skills. Help him learn to discern when and how to be assertive and when to lie low and let the waves pass. If his school is disappointing both of you intellectually, decide together whether this stimulation can be obtained elsewhere (museum enrichment programs, for example) or whether switching schools should be
considered.


ISSUE: A friend's disappointing behavior
I live in an apartment on the sixth floor. Late one night, when my wife was hanging laundry, she was horrified to see a vehicle backing into our new car. Being inappropriately dressed, she couldn't race down in time to confront the culprit. Although the damage wasn't disastrous, it also wasn't negligible (400 shekels, plus a day of being carless). But what was really painful wasn't the cost. The offending Peugeot belongs to a neighbor, whom I consider(ed) a good friend. My wife was pretty certain that very night, but to be completely sure, we checked all the autos in the parking light the next morning, and found blue paint from our car on his fender.
Because no note was left on our windshield, and no message on our answering machine, I waited several days, hoping my friend would come in to talk with us. He didn't.
I am very upset. If he or his wife was driving, why don't they apologize and pay? The only excuse I can imagine is that the basher was their 18-year-old son, a newly-minted driver, and that he hasn't told his parents. My wife says that I should initiate the discussion, because it's important for these people to know about their son's driving and evading responsibility, so that they can re-educate him.
-- Disappointed--


Dear Disappointed,
     It is very difficult to sustain a warm relationship with someone you suspect is inconsiderate and/or dishonest. Even being civil when you meet him in the elevator is tough! However, being worth a lot more than 400 shekels, friendship merits efforts to preserve or restore it. As the injured party, you may feel that HE should take the first step; but true friends don't bother which such petty calculations. It's obvious that you won't rest until you know the truth, and you won't know the truth until the two of you talk. In the meantime, don't rush to judge him.
     Superficially, the picture is clear: his car thumped yours, and his silence is deafening. At second glance, however, a lot is obscure. Who was driving -- your friend, his wife or his son? Could it have been someone else -- an employee
perhaps? If so, your friend might be completely ignorant of the incident.
Did the driver know the auto is yours? After all, you mentioned it is new. Maybe the driver recognized your former one and didn't know you traded it in. If the driver did know, maybe he/she intends to contact you and just hasn't gotten around to it. If the driver didn't know the owner's identity, why didn't you find a note? Could winter winds have blown it away, or rain disintegrated it?
      Although talking about the accident may be unpleasant, you have nothing to lose. As things stand now, with suspicion and bitterness gnawing at you, the friendship no longer exists. If, since the bang-up, you have been cool to your friend, he may be bewildered but hesitant to ask you to explain. In the best-case-scenario (which is what I'm hoping for), a frank discussion will expose the facts and bring both of you relief. The son's possible guilt will automatically arise, and if he is indeed to blame, his parents will decide, on their own, how to handle the situation. (Resist any temptation to lecture; the father will be squirming enough, thank you). If you end up learning that your worst suspicions are true, you will sadly have to relinquish this false friendship, but at least you will be able to put the whole incident behind you.


ISSUE: The first year of marriage: Life-style changes and communication
I am a "modern Orthodox" man of 30, who got married about 8 months ago. My pals and I like to get together without our wives, because we're more relaxed that way. My wife is not enthusiastic about this (to put it mildly...). She says we got married to have fun together, not apart. I do this only once every few weeks, not every day, so what's the big deal? She can use the time to be with her girlfriends .
-- Feeling Shackled --


Dear Shackled ,
     Although the first year of marriage is exciting and fascinating, it isn't always easy. Often, especially if their courtship and engagement were short and busy, newlyweds discover that they have different, or even contradictory assumptions about certain things. One couple I know met in the fall, got engaged in the winter, wed in March, and had a mini-crisis in May, when the husband came home from Friday night prayers and was shocked to discover, instead of steaming chicken soup, an elegant light dairy meal (virtual heresy!). His wife was no less stunned: "You MUST be kidding. Your family actually has a heavy meat meal at 9 PM on summer Shabbatot ?"
     If even menus can astonish, imagine what happens around more significant issues. For example, the fact that you and your pals like "guys' night out" doesn't automatically mean that your wife and her friends would enjoy something equivalent .
     Superficially, "who to spend time with" is a practical question, answered by "The best ways to use our limited time to meet our needs, as individuals and as a couple, are..." However, this seemingly neutral issue is often very loaded, inviting statements like: "Spouses who spend free time with others are selfish, inconsiderate and disloyal", or "If my spouse wants to be alone with other people, he/she doesn't love me ."
     Both the technical matter of time allocation and the emotional echoes of each choice are worth discussing. First, figure out how much time is really at your disposal. If both of you are working and studying, with barely a moment to breathe, your hours alone with friends may really be stolen from what little time
you can spend with your wife.
     Is it possible that each of you is influenced by "ancient history"? Maybe your wife feels that her parents led separate emotional and social lives, and your desire to see friends alone makes her worry acutely that this will be the fate of her marriage as well. Or maybe you are so miffed by your wife's objections because you felt suffocated (shackled!) by a family did everything together ?
      What about your basic natures? Some people need and want a lot of social stimulation, while others prefer time alone and contact with just one or two close friends. There is also the matter of habit. As an Orthodox male, you may have left home for yeshiva at 14, and become used to having your social needs met largely by friends, whereas your wife's experience might be quite different.
      Talking openly about hidden assumptions and fears will help each of you see the other's styles and needs as legitimate and not intentionally threatening, and will have the added benefit of enriching and deepening your relationship .