Learning Chutzpah From My Husband

July 24, 2019

Nine years ago, my husband, Daniel, and I were broke and trying to survive in New York City. On our first date in 2010, I fell in love with him over frozen yogurt.

After seeing a free puppet show, Daniel took us to a nearby frozen yogurt shop. He told me he didn’t have any money but he’d get me dessert anyway. I watched him request 12 free samples. It was enough to make me full … full of sugary goodness and, yes — love.

I’d never met anyone like Daniel. During my WASP-y upbringing, I never learned about chutzpah. I was afraid to honk my horn at someone, and wouldn’t dare start a meal without putting a napkin on my lap. I was so wound up and scared of doing anything out of the ordinary in case I got into trouble.

Daniel didn’t care. He was a rule bender. He was fearless.

He lived in Brooklyn, but that didn’t stop him from having a rooster in his backyard. He was best friends with his gangster neighbor, who lived in the apartment next door and had a tattoo parlor in his kitchen. Daniel talked to strangers on the subway and knew all the hacks for finding a bathroom in Manhattan. (Daniel’s insider tip: Either pretend to look at a menu for a few minutes, then bolt for the bathroom, or tell the host or hostess you’re there to meet a friend.) 

I needed Daniel to push me out of my comfort zone. When we met, I was only 21 and a recent college graduate. I wasn’t going to survive in the real world without someone pushing me to go my own way and block out my inner criticisms and fears.

“I believe that HaShem sets up opposites for a reason.”

Over the past nine years, Daniel has done just that.

Back then, I’d come home from a job, crying every day because my boss was mean to me. Daniel taught me how to stand up for myself. I eventually quit and moved on to better opportunities.

After our wedding, Daniel, a comedian, got a gig in Holland and arranged for me to go with him. He insisted we travel the world then, because who knew how long we’d have to do something like that? We were away for six weeks and traveled to 10 countries, including Israel, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Scotland and England. In the past, I could not have imagined ever doing something like that. Looking back, I don’t know how we managed it. I guess it was our collective chutzpah.

When I recently wanted to go back to school for coding bootcamp, Daniel encouraged me. He knew it would be tough on us financially for a few months and that I might become overwhelmed, but it would be worth it.

Throughout our relationship, Daniel has also become more like me. He’s learned how to tone it down when he needs to, become focused and be more practical.

I believe HaShem sets up opposites for a reason. Of all the successful couples I know, they are opposites. One is a little more daring, adventurous, open-minded and creative; the other is more organized, straight-laced, introverted and logical.

These two personality types complement each other perfectly.  Daniel and I certainly had our growing pains, but it allowed us to mature in many different ways and become the best versions of ourselves.

And isn’t that what marriage is all about? Now, please excuse me. Some free frozen yogurt is calling my name. 

Kylie Ora Lobel is a Journal contributing writer.

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