Harvard university press, cambridge, massachusetts




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Families and Family Therapy

factor of studies and the study meetings would not be part of our attachment. Today, each has his own field of study, his own interests, and then there is a much better balance. Now it's not a state where one needs the other's help on unequal terms. In married life there are problems of one sort or another, and each helps the other as best he can. But in an obligation to do your homework, it was not pleasant.

Mr. Rabin: I'll give you another example of the difficulties facing the couple within the group. In the youth movement, there used to be talks, and sometimes a number of members claimed that we two with­drew into ourselves too much and therefore we drifted apart from the collective. So this was one of the problems we had to face and overcome—to bring ourselves back into the collective, as it were. I think that it was very exaggerated, but the social pressure is very strong and you must prove they are wrong. These pressures affect both partners and make it difficult for them.

Kaffman: It sounds as if you were good kids after all. Society wanted you to study more—so you gave up your own personal pleasures. Soci­ety wanted you to contribute more actively and be less withdrawn as a couple, so you accepted it after some worrying about it.

Mrs. Rabin: I can't say that we always accepted the pressure of society (pauses). As we both were from the same class, the same group, we lived a double life. Suddenly we were one unit of the same class, and we suddenly took ourselves outside the group. Nobody thought anything about a boy taking out his girl when she was from another class. Then everyone knows that at a certain hour she disappears and goes with her boyfriend. But because we were both from the same social unit, our disappearance made itself felt—people realized that the two of us took ourselves outside the group.

Mr. Rabin: Sometimes there is an impression that this friendship is not wanted in the groups at the Mossad. Not always, but sometimes you do feel it. Perhaps this explains the fact that couples within the same group are rare. Maybe they are even jealous of the couple.

Kaffman: And yet you managed to continue for many years under these hard conditions. What actually drew you together?

Mrs. Rabin: I think we are a classic example of what is sometimes called the attraction of opposites. I don't think that there are many couples who are so completely contrasted.

Kaffman: Really, then, this will provide a lot of material on the way you treat the problem of contrast.

Mrs. Rabin: We are very different . . . No, first you, Michael.

Kaffman: You are afraid of influencing him?

A Kibbutz Family

Mrs. Rabin: No, I'm afraid that after my words there will be nothing left for him to say.

Mr. Rabin: Analyzing the characters of the two of us is rather com­plicated. I see myself as a much more calm person. I think this is also expressed in social activities. I get along easily with most people at the kibbutz, without any problems. During my studies I did not achieve very much, but in all youth movement assignments, other activity in the Mossad, various jobs at the kibbutz, there were no prob­lems at all. I was active and cooperated in any social task I was asked to help.

Mrs. Rabin: You don't usually praise yourself; at least do it now. Why don't you go on? Mr. Rabin: I think it's your turn now.

Kaffman: Earlier you spoke of contrasts. Is everything Michael said about himself different from your character?

Mrs. Rabin: No, no, the main problem, the main difference—I can't express myself in a nutshell—are the quiet, the calmness, the stability which are his main traits, but which don't exist in me. With me every­thing stands on strain, sometimes negative and sometimes positive, but never an equilibrium. Life for me never flows quietly. And this is why there is much more friction in my relationship with persons. I don't give up. He is much more lenient—towards me too—and I am not. I don't forgive; I get angry very easily. This is how it was, I think, even when I was a young girl. At the Mossad the teachers always used to tell me they don't need an advocate. I have a sort of feeling that my sense of justice is too strong. Every person has it, but many people say, "Why speak, why interfere," and I must react every time. Whatever I think, I say. It's true that many times saying comes before thinking. I think that Michael is different. He is at peace with him­self because he knows: "I've done my duty by myself and by others, so it's all right." More than once it happened that someone for whom Michael had done a lot doesn't try to be the same in return, although it's his duty to do so. I feel very deeply hurt, because I tell him, "You did a lot, why should someone else not treat you in the same way?"

Mr. Rabin: But I tell Esther, "Look, let's forget it." And she is more impulsive and was ready to go to war at once.

Mrs. Rabin: That's right, I go to war; with me there is no nonsense. But apparently you are right. You live more quietly, have a better life.

Mr. Rabin: On the whole, these are very small things, not problems of principle. There's no need to flare up so quickly.

Mrs. Rabin: I quite agree that it's right, but still the character re­

Families and Family Therapy

mains. And just as I react too sharply to these little things which perhaps don't deserve a reaction, so I sometimes think that he doesn't always react when he should.

Kaffman: Let's hear what happens when you really get hurt.

Mrs. Rabin: He doesn't react either.

Mr. Rabin: Sometimes I say something, but perhaps not firmly enough so that it doesn't happen again. In many cases I really don't react, just swallow it somehow, but in some cases, I do react. I say, you can't always settle every dispute, but even my mild reaction has some effect, I think.

Mrs. Rabin: At this point I have something to add, and here again it's one of the differences. I think that during all the time I have known Michael, I've never seen him insult a person. Such a thing simply doesn't exist for him. Anger, yes, but inside him, quietly, with laughter or with scorn. He gets hurt but does not hurt. I, on the other hand, am quick to hurt and to get hurt. I admit that I can insult people. Sometimes I try to stop myself, but my control is much weaker. Michael is much more balanced. People don't like someone who hurts and gets hurt. It makes them uncomfortable. Now with a person like Michael, who takes his hurt quietly, says nothing, it's much easier.

Kaffman: I wonder whether it is the same in the relationship be­tween you.

Mrs. Rabin: Yes, I admit it is. I'll tell you, there is a joke between us which lasts throughout our life together. I always say that we never quarrel, I simply quarrel with myself. I start a quarrel—Michael doesn't answer. I get more and more angry and irritated. I talk to him, but he keeps quiet and doesn't reply. So, finally, I get reconciled with my­self—with him too, but quarreling between us is terribly one-sided, because usually—

Mr. Rabin: I see no reason to turn petty things and passing words into a real quarrel.

Mrs. Rabin: Yes, these are the little things of everyday life when you live in the same room. These quarrels start with me, develop inside me, and finish with me. He takes no part in the quarrels. He just sits quietly and waits, because he knows the storm will pass and everything will come back to normal.

Mr. Rabin: When you are really angry, it's very difficult to put in a word (laughs). The trouble is that Esther flares up too quickly, and you must give her some time to cool down a little. Then the problems can be settled much more logically and thoroughly.

A Kibbutz Family

Mrs. Rabin: But then these problems don't seem important. Mostly they are really small things. Let's take as an example Michael's help in household chores, keeping the flat clean and neat. I think I don't get enough help from him. So first and last, the quarrel is small and petty, but we have to live here our lives every day and we have to keep the room in order, and give some thought to that. So after all, this small matter becomes important, because it will be with me for all my life, it's not a small matter. It's silly to quarrel about, "Did you or did you not put the kettle on?" and yet it's not silly.

Kaffman: Well, here I see that in fact Michael expresses his objection by failing to do some things in his own quiet way.

Mrs. Rabin: Right. His disagreement is usually expressed in inaction. From time to time, there is a blowup, and then in his own quiet way, Michael gets his say, but things go back to normal, life goes on, and that's it.

Kaffman: I see that Michael still manages in his way to make you angry. When Esther asks for more help with the daily household chores, you don't respond, although just a few minutes ago you de­scribed yourself as helping, cooperating, meeting people halfway. Maybe there's no contradiction here. Maybe this inaction has other roots as well. What do you think?

Mr. Rabin: It's true what she says that in many cases I don't do enough, or not at all, such as household chores. But I must say that I really have a very busy working day. For example, I get up at a quarter to six in the morning and can have some rest only at half past eight in the evening.

Kaffman: And until the evening you've no rest?

Mr. Rabin: Yes. So this situation can certainly affect my readiness to do the room, to move the furniture around, to fill the barrel with oil. When I'm too tired, I just don't do it, and this causes friction.

Mrs. Rabin: I understand your reasons, but it's hard to accept. Once again, reason says you are right: after all, when a person gets up early in the morning and doesn't see his bed until 12 at night, it's obvious he doesn't have too much energy left for doing things around the house. With me, the working hours and the whole tempo of the work are not so strenuous.

Kaffman: What work?

Mrs. Rabin: I'm divided: I partly help the doctor at the clinic, and the rest of the time I work at the children's quarters, wherever it's necessary. So however hard I work, and however I believe my day is busy, I always have an hour of rest in the afternoon, before the family

Families and Family Therapy

time. In the meantime your lord and master comes, he's had no rest today, leave him alone. It really seems like it. It's still hard to accept.

Kaffman: So how do you solve such a problem?

Mrs. Rabin: For example, he works at the factory—there is a work­shop there and he could do things I want, a table or a chair. But this is possible only after working hours, and to this I don't agree. So on the one hand, I ask, "Do this and that for me," and on the other hand, "Don't come home late." There's another problem too. I have no hobby and nothing special to do. With him, it's different. Michael has all sorts of hobbies, which take up a lot of his time, and he can't manage them all, so he ends up the loser and he cannot do the things he would have liked to do.

Mr. Rabin: And apart from all that, there are tasks to be done for the kibbutz. As it happened, last year Esther was responsible for the job assignment and I had some other special assignment. And with all this—last and best—we have a little boy.

Mrs. Rabin: At first, it was difficult. It was very difficult to do my job and relax at the hours devoted to spend with the child and taking care of him, especially in periods when Michael had to do his reserve duty in the army. But I think it was a very lovely period just the same.

Kaffman: Was?

Mrs. Rabin: Yes, the good part still continues, but now the burden is not so heavy, because we have finished some of our tasks and now it's much easier.

Kaffman: And you say you are aware of the contradiction between the urge to attack Michael when you feel frustrated and the common sense which Michael represents and which brings you back to reality.

Mrs. Rabin: Yes, and that is why the quarrels are not serious. Anyway, we have no serious problems, as far as I can tell.

Kaffman: So when there is a dispute between you, one of the rules by which the family functions is that Esther flares up, makes some loud criticism, you are able to listen quietly and swallow it all, and then the storm passes. Is that it?

Mrs. Rabin: Just one correction—and it is very important, especially at the kibbutz. Usually, the criticism is not so loud. I do not think the neighbors know about the quarrel. Perhaps they see a sour face or hear some biting remark, but they do not witness any quarrel. It is not done with shouts but usually very quietly. Just a quiet storm. I think it is very good that the neighbors are not part of our private affairs.

A Kibbutz Family

Kaffman: So the circle turns round and round in the same direction. How does it affect you?

Mr. Rabin: The truth is that many times I make plans how I would like to surprise Esther by making some new piece of furniture, or doing something around the house, but objectively it is difficult for me to manage it due to this pressure of not enough time. I think this is the problem. It takes time to do what Esther asks me to do. One day we decide to go to Kibbutz Ma'agal to visit my parents. Another time we go to Kibbutz Ganim, where Esther's elder sister lives. It all takes time, of which we do not have too much.

Kaffman: So, you are a rather busy and divided family—rather dif­ferent from the idyllic picture of the kibbutz which quite a few people have.

Mr. Rabin: Right. With us, it is always "a busy season." There is work, family, the boy, relatives; then one day we go to a play, another day some social work for the kibbutz, and another time there is basketball. So, staying on after work with all this pressure and doing something is—

Mrs. Rabin: And the one evening a week left, you must sleep too {laughs).

Kaffman: So, when you do not quarrel, both of you agree that it is just a matter of objective circumstances.

Mr. Rabin: And still, Esther sometimes claims that I am an idler, and there is something in it. I think it is a positive quality.

Mrs. Rabin: A positive quality?

Mr. Rabin (laughs): Yes, in some cases, it is better not to be too diligent.

Mrs. Rabin: Ah, now you have a theory, an ideological basis. If you have principles, I see it is no use nagging you to become more active.

Kaffman: But one thing is certain, as far as I have seen so far. Esther's constant nagging does not in fact activate you.

Mr. and Mrs. Rabin (together): No, it does not.

Kaffman: The question arises in what way this constant nagging does affect you. As it does not rouse you to doing things, perhaps to a certain extent it irritates you and causes your inactivity. Perhaps here we have a partial explanation of the contradiction between your dili­gence outside and your so-called loafing at home.

Mr. Rabin: There is some truth in what you say. But I still think the main reason is the objective circumstances. This is the problem here at the kibbutz. There is a shortage of manpower, so anyone who feels

Families and Family Therapy

himself a partner, who does not feel that he is dealing with a factory owner who is trying to exploit him but that the plant is his also, any­one who sees the situation like that, cannot evade extra hours when the alternative is stopping production. It is true that there are people who just hang up the keys at the regular hour and care about nothing, but most of the staff work as they should.

Mrs. Rabin: On your technical staff, two out of the four keep their hours very well.

Mr. Rabin: Those two have quite different personal problems, and that is why they behave so. But the people I would call normal, more or less, are ready to put in effort, and they do care. I admit that this situation affects family life.

Kaffman: And would you ask him to stop his work?

Mrs. Rabin: God forbid!

Kaffman: But you complain so much of Michael's hard working con­ditions.

Mrs. Rabin: That is true, but it is not something I complain about endlessly. I just "let off steam" from time to time. Simply for selfish reasons, I ask him to come home at 3 so he can rest until 4, and then I have a fresh and active man.

Kaffman: So, what?

Mrs. Rabin: So, I let off steam; but I accept the fact that, if he finds it necessary to stay on, he knows what he is doing. He does not inter­fere in my work, and I do not interfere in his.

Kaffman: So, you say that, as long as he finds satisfaction in his work, then although you have to pay a certain price, you are ready to compromise.

Mrs. Rabin: More than this, I think the price I am paying is very pleasant; I do not feel I am making a sacrifice. But I think this is also the price we pay for his giving up his home and coming to live with me here at Kibbutz Regev.

Kaffman: Yes, you are from another kibbutz. You were born at Kibbutz Ma'agal.

Mrs. Rabin: That is right, and he gave up his kibbutz. He did not want to do so; I put on pressure. The reason for the pressure was mainly a family one. After all, in his family there are three more young brothers, and his parents are much younger. He is the eldest child and I am the youngest. My parents are much older and much less healthy. So, I put pressure on Michael on the subject of the family.

Kaffman: You mean that you very much wanted to stay at Kibbutz

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