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What If I'm Already the Perfect Husband?

Sunday, 31 May, 2020 - 8:03 pm

 

Question of the Week: 

I keep hearing that during this time of isolation we should be improving our relationships. Thank G-d my marriage of over 15 years is amazing, and I honestly can't see how I can be a better husband than I am already. I'm not boasting and my wife agrees. I treat her like a queen and never raise my voice, even when she upsets me. I listen and do everything to make her happy, which isn't always easy to do. Am I fooling myself or is there a point that you can say you can't do any better?

 

Answer:

 

Sounds like you do all the right things, and say all the right things. That's a credit to you. But there is another layer of relating that you didn't mention. Apart from doing and saying, there is thinking. And even if you do what a good husband should do, and say the things your wife needs to hear, you may not always be thinking what a truly devoted spouse should be thinking. 

 

I can't read your mind. But here are some thoughts that may have crossed it:

 

"Why does she always complain about every detail? Why can't she be more like my friend's wife who is always positive and happy-go-lucky? I bet she never criticises him like my wife digs into me. After all I have done for her! She can really get under my skin sometimes..."

 

I know you would never say any of this out loud. And just thinking it alone may seem harmless. But it isn't. Thoughts have power. They shape your outlook, they create a mood. And they don't remain inside. Unspoken thoughts accumulate into a bundle of resentment. In time they will be expressed as anger in some form, perhaps not verbally, perhaps not even directed at your wife. But someone will suffer from it. 

 

We learn the power of thought from the last of the Ten Commandments, "Do not covet your neighbour's wife." The word 'covet' is used only when quoting the Ten Commandments. It means desiring something that isn't yours. Even if you do nothing wrong, the thought is already a problem.

 

I have no doubt you are a great husband. But great can also get better. So here's a challenge. Stop thinking negative thoughts about your wife. When they arise, push them away, by replacing them with warm and loving thoughts. What do you think?

 

Good Yom Tov and Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

 

Sources:

Sefer Hachinuch and Ibn Ezra on Vaeschanan, who understand the prohibition to apply to thoughts even without any plan of action. 

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