Putting the “24-Hour Rule” into Practice | Dr. Meir Wikler

The “24-hour rule” refers to spouses agreeing not respond to what the other one said about a controversial or sensitive topic until 24 hours later. The main objective of the 24-hour rule is that the spouse who is the speaker should remain listened to for a full day. Even though the speaker is fully aware of the fact that the lis­tener is only “following the rules” by not responding, it is nonetheless reassuring for the speaker to hear no rebuttal from the listener until the next day.

In order to get a bird’s-eye view of the process of actually imple­menting the 24-hour rule, here is a summary of one week’s dis­cussions at home between “Shmuly” and “Nechy.”

Day #1:

Nechy was the speaker and complained to Shmuly about how much she hated to remain at shul on Shabbos for the kiddush without her husband, while all of the other women had their husbands to walk home with after the kiddush.

Day #2:

Shmuly now had the chance to explain to Nechy how uncom­fortable he felt in social situations. He hated making small talk and much preferred to go straight home after davening to begin the Shabbos seudah.

Day #3:

Nechy elaborated further on how much she looked forward all week to the opportunity to socialize with friends and neigh­bors on Shabbos at the kiddush. She described how rushed she felt all week and how socializing during the kiddush added so much to her oneg Shabbos each week.

Day #4:

Shmuly brought out the point that he did not mind at all if Nechy wanted to stay for the kiddush in shul, as long as he was free to return home. He conceded that he would be willing to stay occasionally, but not on a regular basis.

Day #5:

Nechy spoke about how jealous she felt toward all of the women in shul whose husbands stayed for the kiddush with them. She talked about how much she felt abandoned whenever she would stay at the kiddush without Shmuly. “I’m a married woman,” she insisted. “I don’t want to walk home alone without my husband.”

Day #6:

Shmuly contended that he felt awkward trying to make con­versation with people with whom he was not that friendly. But if it was so important to Nechy, he was willing to stay for kid­dush once a month on a trial basis, just to see how it would work out.

This was an acceptable compromise for Nechy who then expressed her sincere satisfaction that Shmuly was willing to be flexible in order to accommodate her wishes.

Day #7:

Nechy spoke about how much she was looking forward to having Shmuly with her at the kiddush that week and how proud she would feel having him walk home with her.

Eventually, Shmuly became accustomed to the idea, felt more comfortable with socializing at the kiddush and even came to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of that informal social event. After three months of attending the kiddush on a once-a-month basis, Shmuly voluntarily increased his attendance to every week, much to the delight of his wife.

Certainly, other issues took much longer than seven days for Shmuly and Nechy to resolve. But the summary above provides a bird’s-eye view of what the scenario can look like and what can be accomplished when the 24-hour rule is put into practice.

_ _ _ _

Dr. Meir Wikler is an author, psychotherapist, and family counselor in full-time private practice, with offices in Brooklyn and Lakewood. He is also a public speaker whose lectures and shiurim are carried on TorahAnytime.com.


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  1. This sounds beautiful on paper but this idea is very impractical. Our lives are hectic and having 1/8 of a conversation at a time will just lead to burn out at some point with one spouse just eye rolling and giving in to just get this long uncomfortable conversation done with already. Why drag out a confrontation and have a week of weird vibes between the couple? I’ve heard a better idea of the speaker holding something small and as long as they are holding its their turn to speak before handing off to the other participant. This allows each person to feel heard and the conversation taken care of in a timely manner.

    • Your idea sounds better but how many couples do you know of that used your method and had their Shalom Bayis restored? Dr. Wikler, who has been helping people for over half a century, seems to know that this indeed works. As they say “Experience is key.”

  2. Are these real issues? I Hope this lady gets some therapy of her own as She seems very insecure that she can’t tolerate being at a kiddush or walking home without her husband because of jealousy. Or maybe She is even somewhat controlling and this is his way of him being able to escape her presence. It’s not always a bad thing for a man to skip a kiddush. Depending on the environment there can be excessive food, drinking, or mixing between genders.

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