> Current Issues > Dear Emuna

Short People

June 28, 2015 | by Emuna Braverman

I’m really frustrated about being short.

Dear Emuna,

My problem is pretty trivial compared to the other letters you receive but it bothers me. And it’s getting worse. I’m short – under 5 feet. It never used to be an issue. When I was growing up, people always thought I was younger than my actual age and put me at the kid’s table which really annoyed my adolescent self, but other than that I accepted that “good things come in small packages” and I was at peace with it.

As an adult, I always have to ask someone to help me reach items on the top shelves in grocery stores and I keep a step stool handy in my kitchen. But these are minor inconveniences. What really annoys me is that if I’m ever in the back seat of a car I am always asked to take the middle “squishy” seat. I may be the shortest but do I always need to be the most uncomfortable? In many situations, accommodations are made for tall people but no one notices that my feet frequently don’t reach the ground which makes sitting extremely uncomfortable. I’m getting more frustrated daily. Please help.

Friend of Randy Newman

Dear “Short People” Fan,

I can honestly say that I totally empathize with your situation. I am also under 5 feet and have encountered some of the same challenges. I think I have always unconsciously adhered to the words of my late grandmother-in-law who made it a point to “never complain about the things I can’t change.” It just is what it is. Yes, I may be uncomfortable in the middle seat but everyone else would be more uncomfortable. This is actually my opportunity to do a kindness for someone else – and, when you come to think of it, a relatively easy one at that.

Where my feet don’t reach the ground, I try to use items I have with me (like a backpack on a plane) to prop them up and serve as a portable ottoman. Or I just make the best of it. Because really what choice is there?

In my grand scheme of things to complain about (and I could easily find things!) this doesn’t even make my list.

You don't mention your gender. I think that even in today's so-called "gender fluid" (whatever that means!) society it is harder to be a short man than a short woman. For whatever social/cultural/biological reasons, taller men are seen as more confident and with greater leadership potential. Your job is to not let this be a self-fulfilling prophecy and to make the most of the gifts and skills you do have. As I repeatedly remind my children, "This is the way the Almighty made you" – and therefore it must be just right.

Of course the reason I "repeatedly remind" them is that we all struggle with these or similar issues! There is always some inadequacy, some talent we wish we had, some weakness we wish we didn't. But as I also "repeatedly remind" my children (and myself!), the Almighty runs the world. He knows what He's doing and He's given us the exact and specific tools we need to be successful human beings.

Focus on the real good you have – and the real challenges out there – and hopefully it soon won’t make yours either.

Angry Husband

Dear Emuna,

My husband does not know how to control himself. It has become very difficult to communicate with him because he gets upset at everything, whether it is something I said, did, didn't do or didn't say. For him, I am always wrong! I'm not saying I am a walk in the park but when I got married, I came to the realization that life is no longer only about me and I have to take into consideration my partner. I feel like he still hasn't outgrown it and his selfishness is really affecting our marriage negatively. Please advise further.

A Distraught Wife

Dear Distraught Wife,

I don't blame you for feeling distraught. It’s a little unclear what your husband's issue is although it sounds like his anger is out of control.

This raises many questions and red flags. Is he violent/dangerous or is it just (really) unpleasant yelling? Are there children in the home? What are the risks to them – physically, psychologically, emotionally? Does your husband recognize that he has a problem? Is he willing to do the hard work required to repair the situation?

These are some of the tough questions you need to be asking yourself.

You mentioned that you have your own issues ("not a walk in the park"). Those are all you are capable of addressing. And you should.Whatever your husband's issues, you still have an obligation to grow and change.

But, on the other hand, no matter how kind and calm and patient and giving you are or become, you can NOT change him. If he has a short fuse or is very self-centered (and the two are connected), it's up to him to do something about it.

I highly recommend profession counseling – perhaps marital and definitely individual.

You wouldn't have contacted me if you didn't want your marriage to succeed. Assuming that your husband does also, get help asap. For everyone's sake.

Breathing Space in Marriage

Dear Emuna,

My husband is an attentive husband a parent. He is a good provider and successful professionally. I lack for nothing. Except for one thing – breathing space. He's not controlling or abusive. He just wants (almost) all of my time and attention. It's flattering but it can be oppressive. I don't want to hurt his feelings and I love him very much but I feel like I am losing myself. Help!


Dear Suffocating,

Someone might suggest that this is a high-class problem! Many (dare I say most?) women would be grateful to be in your situation. Most women feel under-appreciated and unloved. They feel unneeded and are dying for more of their husband's time and attention. So you definitely need to take a step back, take a deep breath and focus on how lucky you are. Every relationship has trade-offs, compromises. Every relationship has a "price" so to speak.

After taking a new look at your blessings, you need to decide if your husband' needs are a price you can pay – or not.

If not (which I understand) then my advice is simple but of course the execution may not be.

You and your husband need to talk this out. Your challenge is to do this is a loving and gentle manner. You don't want to hurt his feelings or push him away.

As with all situations where constructive criticism is needed (let them be few and far between!) begin with words of praise and love and end with the same.

Presumably a man who loves his wife as much as yours does will want to make her happy, will be surprise to learn she isn't and will make every effort to change.

Be patient and supportive (a little prayer never hurts!) – and grateful – and I am optimistic that your marriage will change, thrive and flourish.


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