An Effective Countermove-A Success Story – In Therapy- By: Dr. Yael Respler

The daughter-in-law worked hard to prepare a beautiful Shabbos.  She had just redone her home, had a number of children, and was a professional who worked part time.  She was hosting her in-laws for Shabbos.   She really was a super-woman in that she was a good mother and a good wife, as well as she ran a beautiful clean home and was a great cook.   Her mother-in-law was a very negative critical woman.  She was in therapy with me and was trying to deal effectively with her mother-in-law.

She said to me “Dr. Respler this weekend is the test…I am going to use all the techniques that you taught me and I am not going to get upset…I will be happy and strong.  I am prepared…I know all about effective countermoves and I know things will go well.”

She comes into the next session smiling.   “I don’t think that I am going to need any more therapy, but you deserved for me to come and tell you how I handled this weekend.  If I must say I was amazing and I kept thinking of you, our therapy, and your ideas.  I can’t wait to tell you what happened.”

“Shabbos was going well, I prepared amazing food, and the house was super clean.  The kids behaved beautifully.  Everything was going so well until Mincha.  My husband left for shule with my father-in-law and the older boys.  The younger children were playing quietly.  My mother-in-law said to me ‘Come let’s sit on the couch and have a chat.’

I knew something was coming and then she said ‘You know my dear daughter-in-law, you have no mind of your own …for everything that you did in this house you needed a decorator.’  You know Dr. Yael, my decorator is my sister-in-law who is very cheap and is really fair to me and a great decorator.   Well Dr. Respler, I thought carefully about everything we talked about in therapy and took a deep breath and said ‘YOU ARE RIGHT MOM…I NEEDED A DECORATOR’ and I smiled and that was it.  She was so quiet.  In my heart I wanted to say ‘You know I did this major renovation in four months.  I chose everything for the three bathrooms in one hour..I have a large family..I work and I have small children…and I keep a beautiful home…but I said nothing…I was not defensive I told her that I needed a decorator and that was the end.’

I feel great.  I remember all the tears I used to shed and all my defending myself..for what?  I was strong and secure and she was not able to upset me or get me into a fight…Wasn’t it a great countermove?

{Dr. Yael Respler speaking.}

I smiled and said “Yes you handled the situation beautifully and I see how good you are feeling..I am so proud of you…”

Hi.  I am Dr. Yael Respler.  I wanted to share with you a great story that came out of short term therapy with this young woman who was trying to handle a difficult mother-in-law.  As I often say people who are in therapy are often in therapy to deal with the people who need therapy.  I taught her countermoves and I thought you would enjoy this success story.

[Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice in Brooklyn who can be reached at 718-259-4965.  She writes a column for the Jewish Press, [Dear Dr. Yael] and hosts a summer psychology radio show on Thunder 102.1 10:00 PM Sundays  in the Catskills.  Her radio shows and columns can be accessed on her website     Dr. Respler specializes in dealing with stress, dating issues, marriage counseling [the intimate relationship] and parenting conflicts.  She is a certified Hypnotherapist, [Smoking cessation, phobias etc,] and is currently running Shalom Bayis [Marital Harmony] groups for married women.  She works with her daughter Dr. Orit Respler-Herman [a child Psychologist] who can be reached at 917-679-1612.]

Filed Under: Relationships


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About the Author: Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice in Brooklyn who can be reached at 718-259-4965. She writes a column for the Jewish Press, [Dear Dr. Yael] and hosts a summer psychology radio show on Thunder 102.1 10:00 PM Sundays in the Catskills. More about Dr. Yael Respler

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  1. Sivan says:

    Dr Yael I just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading your story very much. I too have a very difficult family member who I have dealt with for years on end and have always had problems with no matter how good I have been. I am trying to deal with this person in the same way I feel you would say to deal with her. Thanks much for the support and for your work.

    • gitty says:

      Dear Dr. Yael,
      Congratulations on your wonderful words of wisdom! What you did was true tikun olam – two people felt empowered and happy instead of having an all out war who is more powerful. I wish more of our community would include your techniques into their relationships.

      It all boils down to being humble with a blend of self-esteem. We should learn this from our ancestors.

      Yael you are the greatest!

      Gitty F

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