Sunday, August 08, 2004

The Good Husband

Rabbi Lazer Brody of The Lazer Beam has a post of (what he calls) the Ten Commandments for a Husband:
  1. Never criticize your wife, no matter what. In an environment free of criticism, she'll blossom emotionally, and she'll do everything in her power to please you, so ultimately, you won't have anything to criticize.

  2. Never make a negative remark about her parents or family. Call your inlaws once a week. If you develop a good relationship with them, your wife will forever hold you in high regard.

  3. Never say "no" to your wife; if she asks for something that you can't afford, tell her you'll get it for her as soon as you have the money.

  4. Spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day listening to your wife - not talking, just listening. Show her that her life is important to you. If possible, you should set aside an hour a day for quality communication time together (sitting in front of the TV with beer and pretzels is not quality communication time!).

  5. Never go to bed angry.

  6. Agree on a mutually-acceptable third party (a clergyman you trust, etc.) to air your differences.

  7. Never say a derogatory word about your wife to anyone.

  8. If your wife is displeased with you, don't be angry; it's usually a sign that The Almighty is displeased with you. Rather than arguing with her, do some soul-searching, and you'll see how things work out.

  9. Smile always, and try your best to speak softly to her always. Nothing makes a wife nervous like an angry husband.

  10. The more you trust in G-d, the more you'll develop inner strength. Wives love nothing more than a husband with inner strength.

These are all interesting ways to make a marriage better. Of course, I don't expect everyone to agree with the religious context that Rabbi Brody has placed around these.

What I find interesting about these "commandments" is the extent to which they should be followed. It is if they suggest that a husband should give his wife every ounce of respect that she could deserve. It is much easier in a relationship to play the tit-for-tat game. Rabbi Lazer suggests that no anger on the part of a husband is justified, which is probably true. Furthermore, he puts a lot of responsibility for the wife's condition on the husband.

The most interesting of the commandments is the fourth: one-half hour of just listening, no talking. We tried this. Twice this week I let my wife speak to me and said nothing else. Nothing else was happening. I was not folding clothes or cooking food. I just listened. And it was hard--for my wife. She gave up after less than fifteen minutes and said, "I am tired of my own incessant yammering!" I like the idea of this exercise, but is there some way of making it slightly more participatory on my part so that the exercise is more participatory rather than solo.

The important undercurrent of all these commandments is "... [i]n an environment free of criticism, she'll blossom emotionally ...". Perhaps that is reason enough to follow them.


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