Saturday, March 1, 2008

Shalom Bayis II: Bearing One’s Spouse

Many chassanim would ask Rav Wolbe, zt”l, what they should consider and daven for under the chuppah since it is such an auspicious time. And very often, men who were having trouble at home would also inquire about how to improve their shalom bayis. Interestingly, Rav Wolbe’s answer was often the same for both queries. “The term for marriage is laseis ishah. This really reaches the crux of marriage, because laseis literally means ‘to carry,’ or ‘to bear.’ We are assuming the responsibility to carry or bear our wives for the rest of our lives.

He would continue, “Everyone has his own particular nature which is determined by his innate characteristics and his upbringing, as the Chassid Yaavetz writes. He continues to explain what many do not realize: although people age, they generally don’t really change their middos for the better. Even one person in a thousand doesn’t really change himself from good to bad, although people do alter somewhat due to their choices in life. The vast majority remain the same! So before one tries to change his spouse, let him see how much he has changed himself. Invariably, he will find that he has not changed in any significant way. And if he has, then his own sterling middos will enable him to bear his partner’s bad middos with equanimity! Instead of waiting for one another to change, each should try to really live the verse, ‘Love covers all flaws!’ The most-needed quality of a couple is patience with one another’s faults. This is the foundation of all shalom bayis.”

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