||"DIVORCE-PROOF" YOUR MARRIAGE
- Thursday, June 14, '01 - Parshas Shelach 5761
We live in a generation in which the marriage institution is breaking
down before our eyes. The epidemic includes, to a frightening extent, the
observant Jewish community. Singles can't find mates, engagements are broken,
married couples fight, divorces are vicious, aguna episodes, and
psychologically damaged children with perverse role models for their
mate-search and marriage career. The human toll is staggering, and grows
worse with time.
The man-woman relationship can be the scenario for the most sublime
behavior and, regrettably, the worst. In this close relationship, partners
grow secure and comfortable, so they put their inhibitions down. The "true
inner person" comes out and, nowadays, that isn't always so sterling. And,
"everything is always the other person's fault and everything I do is
justified." People grow blind to the impact of their behavior and their
meedos (character traits) on his/her spouse, children and soul; content to
follow their instincts, instead of the will of our Creator.
Ironically, the Torah spells out every step and aspect of how to select,
develop, conduct and maintain a happy, stable and enduring marriage. Whether
one is single, married, separating or divorced, one can always start clean,
move forward and do better.
The Talmud (Shabos 62a) refers to women as a "nation unto themselves."
This teaches that men and women have to regard and deal with eachother the
way ambassadors, interpreters and diplomats regard and deal with those from a
foreign nation. Each has a different language, culture, history, mind-set.
Dealing with a spouse is like dealing with someone from a strange country. In
spite of the differences, peculiarities and inexplicability of the other,
each must be able to get along peacefully and productively.
The Chazone Ish wrote to an engaged young man to pay attention to the
fact that a woman has pleasure from being attractive in her husband's eyes.
She needs praise for her cooking, love for keeping his house, recognition for
her efforts, time to have his attention and to feel that she is important in
his busy life. He must speak to her about matters of the house and children.
If he is not sensitive and diligent in such matters, he will hurt and
distance her, bring separation and fighting. Rabbi Pam, Shlita, Torah ViDaas
Rosh Yeshivah, told me that when a man finds that his wife's meedos aren't
the same nice ones he remembers from early on in their relationship, he
should look into his own meedos. Generally, she is reflecting his diminished
meedos. If he returns to sweet meedos, the woman does also. From
co-consulting with other rabbis and counselors, there is a consensus that 90%
of marriage problems come from the man. Similarly, 90% of the sages'
teachings about marital peace address the man. One indication seems to be:
they understood how much of the instruction and discipline, for successfully
navigating the waters of marriage, must be addressed to the man. Of course,
either partner can destroy a marriage. One man spent a session complaining to
me that his neurotic wife weighed twice as much as him and constantly beat
him up. Everything is case by case. When anyone's attitude is: how can I win,
nobody wins. When the attitude is: how can we be DIVORCE-PROOF TOGETHER, BOTH
When the tribes of Reuven and Gad came to Moshe to ask for permission to
remain on the far side of the Jordan River, they asked to stay for their
cattle and children. Moshe replied that they can stay for their CHILDREN and
cattle (Numbers 32:16 & 24). Moshe reversed the order; putting family first,
before business or material interests. Let us learn Torah values and
priorities from Moshe! There is nothing more important to a Jew than his home
- his marriage and children, and having a Torah atmosphere. The term in
Hebrew for peaceful marriage is "peace in the home (shalom bayis)." The
marriage and home are interdependent. Both must be peaceful and of highest
priority for there to be success.