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A husband must make sure that his family never feels that he cannot support them. Under the marriage canopy, he promised his wife that he will care for her needs…


The Garden of Riches, Part 11

The first words of the marriage contract are, "b'siyata d'Shemaya," with Hashem's help. Only afterwards does the marriage contract list the obligations of a husband to his wife. This teaches us that a husband's obligations toward his wife are dependent on emuna, the pure and simple faith in Hashem, because only with emuna will we be able to fulfill them properly.
The marriage contract goes on to inform the husband that he is required to go to work to support his family. Our Rabbis derive from this that it if a groom cannot provide his bride with all her needs, he is required to go to work to provide for her needs. This contradicts the arguments of those people who claim to be such great believers in Hashem that they have no need to work. When their wives complain that they don't have food to feed their families, these people chastise their wives saying, "What? You don't have emuna? Hashem wants us to have financial problems, so accept it with love. Where is your trust in Hashem? Don't you believe that everything that happens to us is for the best?" Such "believers" are actually angry with their wives for their lack of trust!
But our Sages decreed that the groom sign, under the marriage canopy, that he is obligated to work to support his wife! And if he does not have the wherewithal to support his family, then he should get up from his easy chair and go to work! It does not state in the marriage contract, "I am obligated to teach my wife emuna." It does state, however, that the groom is obligated to provide for his wife and family. He is obligated to leave the house every morning to go make a living. Instead of speaking about trust in Hashem and emuna, a man should trust in Hashem and have emuna while going to work to provide for his family.
But what about all those stories of poor tzaddikim, who barely had food to put on the table? Yes, they were poor, but they were not in debt. And since they were not in debt, they were satisfied with what they had, and transmitted that positive feeling to their wives. So although they were poor, they never felt poor.
Managing Money
Here’s a story that demonstrates the proper way to behave when it comes to making a living:
Someone came to me for marriage counseling. He told me that his wife was constantly complaining that he wasn't earning enough money, and that they had just had a bitter argument over finances. I asked him, "What did you say to her?" He answered, "I told her that she must strengthen her trust in Hashem, and that Hashem will provide for us. Not only did she not accept what I said, she became even more upset."
I answered, "You probably assume that your wife is lacking in emuna, and that therefore she refused to accept what you told her. But you are mistaken. It is your responsibility, and yours alone, to provide for your family. Instead of talking to you wife about emuna, you should have said to her, ‘My beloved wife, you are completely right. I will strengthen my emuna and trust in Hashem. I will turn to Him in heartfelt prayer, asking Him to provide me with a source of livelihood, in addition to doing everything possible on a down-to-earth physical level to solve the problem’."
I continued, "When you told your wife that it was her responsibility to strengthen her emuna, you also gave her the feeling that it is her responsibility to support the family. You made her feel that you were completely in the right, since you lovingly accepted the difficult financial situation without taking any steps to solve the problem. You made her feel that she was to blame, but the truth is that you, and only you, are to blame for your family's financial problems. The marriage contract obligates the husband, and only the husband, to support the family. It does not obligate him to teach his wife about emuna and trust in the Almighty."
In Bereishit (Genesis), Hashem cursed Adam: "with the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread." Adam was cursed, but not Chava (Eve), his wife. From this verse we learn that the man (the name "Adam" also means "man") and not the woman is responsible for supporting the family.
Our Rabbis say that when a man marries a woman, he is accepting a yoke on his shoulders. What yoke? The yoke of supporting a family. It does not say that when a couple marries, they are accepting a yoke on their shoulders. Why? Because the woman is not responsible to provide for the family. Even if the woman is a woman of valor and the sole bread earner, the moment she encounters any difficulty, the responsibility for the support of the family falls squarely on the husband's shoulders.
A young married man once told the Gaon, Rabbi Ben Tzion Abba Shaul that since he is learning Torah, he is too poor to purchase a new dress for his wife. Rabbi Ben Tzion Abba Shaul retorted, "Close your Gemara and get a job. Buy your wife the clothes she needs. In the marriage contract you gave your word that you would support your wife properly, and learning Torah does not give you permission to go back on your word or allow you to ignore your vow." This story demonstrates how seriously our Rabbis view a man's obligation to support his wife.
A husband must make sure that his family never feels that he is incapable of supporting them. Under the marriage canopy, he promised his wife that he will care for her needs, and Hashem will assist him in fulfilling that promise if he looks for Hashem's assistance.
The book Shevet Mussar advises a husband never to tell his family about his financial difficulties because they are unable to assist him. In other words, the position of being the family's "support" is the man; he is there to listen to his wife's problems and to encourage and support her. That is his emotional makeup. But a woman is not emotionally able to listen to her husband's problems and provide support for him.
For that reason it states that a man marries (nosei, carries) a woman, in other words, he supports her, while she does not support him. From my experience, when a man tells his wife about his problems, not only is she unable to assist him, but she completely breaks down, and then the husband has an additional problem, coping with his wife's emotional suffering.
There are three possibilities as to who is in charge of the family's spending:
1 - The husband is completely in charge.
2 - The husband and wife are jointly in charge.
3- The wife is completely in charge.
According to possibilities one and two, there is plenty of room for argument. Because the husband is involved in how the money is spent, he might criticize his wife and even accuse her of wasting his hard-earned money. If a woman feels that she is lacking the things she needs, she might have complaints against her husband. However, when a husband lets his wife be completely in charge of the family's expenditures, she feels secure and confident that her husband trusts her, and cannot complain that her husband is not providing her with sufficient money. If, Hashem forbid, there really is not enough money, when the woman is in charge of spending it is easier for her to empathize with her husband's difficult financial straits.
To be continued.

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