26 Av 5781 / Wednesday, August 04, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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HomeFamily & Daily LifeMarital HarmonyThe True Test of Character - Part 3
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The True Test of Character - Part 3    

The True Test of Character - Part 3

The two most important things to a woman is the knowledge that her husband loves her more than anyone else and that he cherishes and respects her...


Many husbands ignore the wife's inherent need to cling to her family. Without thinking, they fight against it. Remember, the more a husband behaves in a loving and protective manner, like a father and mother, the less a wife will run to her parents. The more he lends a listening ear, like a faithful brother, the less time she will spend on the telephone with her sister. The more he attention he gives her, like an enamored boyfriend,  the less she will seek the company of a girlfriend.
At this point, many husbands are probably angry with me. They want to yell, "Hey, what about my wife? I'll be OK when she starts being OK!"  Sorry, Charlie, it doesn't work like that. Kabala compares the man to the sun and the woman to the moon. She has no light of her own. She is totally dependant on the light that he reflects on her. The keys to shalom bayit, to peace in the home, are, therefore, in the husband's hands.  It's a basic spiritual law and a basic law of the creation: even here, the husband is the giver and the wife is the receiver.
Husbands often lose patience with their wives because their wives won't admit mistakes. They assume that their wives have bad middot (character traits) because they won't admit a mistake. A woman cannot admit a mistake! Even our holy ancestral Mothers could not admit mistakes! When Hashem promised Avraham (Abraham) that Sarah would have a child in her old age, Sarah laughed. Avraham confronted her and asked her why she had laughed, and she denied that she had laughed! Remember, the Midrash tells us that Sarah was on a higher prophetic level than Avraham! Hashem commanded Avraham to listen to his wife when she told him to send away Yishmael (Ishmael(,  yet our holy ancestral grandmother, Sara, couldn't not admit to a mistake. What's going on here?
Admitting guilt in a marriage is contrary to a woman's very nature. Her very vitality depends on the love and respect of her husband. She wants to be perfect in his eyes. When she admits to making a mistake, she takes it to mean that she's is no longer perfect, or even desirable, in her husband’s eyes, and that is devastating to her. She can no more admit to a mistake than her husband can put a knife into his own abdomen. When he yells at her, he's causing her pain and anguish for something she cannot possibly do. Imagine that some seven-foot brute with a whip is standing over you and forcing you to do two hundred and fifty pushups. Every time you don’t succeed, he lashes your back. You plead that you can't do them and he still lashes your back. You're cut and bleeding and he still lashes your back.  Sounds sadistic?  Very!  And that is just what a husband who forces a wife to admit a mistake is doing on a spiritual level.  Leave her alone. Are you perfect?
Let's go a step further: Do you know why a wife makes mistakes? It's her husband's fault. A wife is the mirror of a husband.  She makes mistakes to show the husband his own flaws. I often hear from baalei teshuvas (newly observant Jews) that their wives don't want to cooperate - they don't want to keep Shabbat or cover their hair.  Know this: I have heard Rav Shalom Arush say a dozen times, When a husband makes real teshuva, so will his wife.  A husband must know that he cannot be cruel.  Indeed, he should be understanding and tender. No wife will do teshuva because a husband throws a rock at her. Rav Shalom says that to make genuine teshuva, one must look at oneself. Don't insult your wife and don't criticize her, no matter what she does. As soon as a husband makes genuine teshuva, not just superficially growing a beard or putting a kippa on his head, his wife follow suit. But if he's a phony, she will mirror his phoniness right back in his face. When our wives blow the whistle at us, it's really Hashem showing us our own faults – it's teshuva time, time for us to mend our actions.
Whatever you do, take a deep breath before you criticize your wife. Better yet, don't criticize her at all! A woman is slow to forgive, she remembers the pain of humiliation long after a man forgives and forgets. Verbal insult puts a serious wound on her soul, which is why the Talmud warns a husband that he's risking his life if he causes his wife to shed even a lone tear. That should be enough to make us very careful to treat our wives gently and respectfully. It is so difficult for a woman to forgive, even if she wants to. That's her nature. A husband should consequently go out of his way to guard his wife's honor, because it’s just like guarding the health of her soul.
The two most important things to a woman is the knowledge that her husband loves her more than anyone else and that he cherishes and respects her. The more she feels loved and respected, the more her husband will reap the dividends of peace in the home. A husband who doesn't know this is like a boarder who essentially lives alone. The keys to shalom bayit is love and respect. Even if it's unilateral at first, don't be discouraged. A truly loving husband will eventually discover a truly loving wife. Remember, our true test of faith takes place at home with our wife. Our true spiritual level is determined by our actions at home. And the true test of our character is at home with our wife.
May your home be a sanctuary of love and peace.  Amen.

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