You are now at the beginning of a wonderful marriage. You
have the opportunity to start off properly. It is much easier for a kallah to
initially learn the right attitudes and interaction skills than to relearn and
retrain herself after she has grown accustomed to various nonproductive
patterns. There are many factors to consider when entering a marriage. Listed
below are a few of these factors.
This is your marriage for the rest of your life, God
willing, and you are going to invest the effort and make the adjustments
necessary to keep it flourishing. Hashem has sent you your lifes partner, one
who is predestined for you. This partner is the completions of your neshama. Your
mission is to maintain shalom bayis and build a true bayis neeman. As time
passes, these goals must be remembered and reexamined.
Hashem has sent me my lifes partner, and I am committed to
make our marriage grow
Until marriage, an individual attends to him or herself and
works on personal growth. After marriage, another person must be considered at
all times. Whereas any kallah knows, on an intellectual level, that sensitivity
toward her chasan is a high priority, conscious effort is necessary to
translate this conviction into practice. The kallah has to train herself repeatedly
to keep a spouses feelings in mind. Naturally, people seldom intentionally do
things to hurt their spouses, but many inadvertent slights could be avoided
with some thought. A wife can try to anticipate what makes her husband
comfortable, even if he doesnt verbalize his feelings.
Devorah looks forward to a day of shopping with her husband.
Her plans include a visit to a favorite aunt of hers. Devorah should take the
time to consider how comfortable her husband will be with this plan.
Am I considering my husbands feelings?
Everyone walks into marriage with expectations, based upon
their upbringing. When expectations are not met, disappointment results. These
expectations are often subconscious, and neither the chasan nor the kallah can
identify the root of a disagreement until the underlying expectations are
Yehudis has been married for just two weeks. She assumes
that her husband will buy the challahs for Shabbos since that is what her
father does. Her husband is unaware that she made that assumption. If she
greets him erev Shabbos at 2 p.m. with Why didnt you buy the challahs?, he
will feel hurt and perplexed. If Yehudis wants her husband to assume the
responsibility of buying challahs and tells him politely, he probably will be
very agreeable to do so.
The above example of challahs is rather simple and easy to
rectify. People come into marriage with many varied expectations, and are
disappointed when these expectations are not met. One woman may expect her
husband to sit and converse with her for two hours every night. Analysis of
expectations is the first step to establishing mutually acceptable routines. Communication
and compromise are the next steps. Sometimes people set up unrealistic
expectations, and demands. People date with imaginary mental lists of what they
expect to find in a mate. A wise kallah puts her list aside as soon as she
Am I reacting on the basis of my unwritten assumptions? Did
I clarify all my expectations with my husband?
Creating An Island with Bridges
Right after your wedding there is a new household in
existence. It is similar to an island with bridges. A couple interacts with the
rest of the world, but at the same time maintains seclusion and privacy.
There are many well meaning relatives who wish to be
involved in the life of a newly married couple. Indeed, their interest is
appreciated and they can be very supportive, but the couple must create an
independent life that revolves around the two of them exclusively. Although a
girl may have a close relationship with her mother, after marriage certain
issues must be left on this private island.
Parents do make assumptions and requests. These requests
should be assessed by the husband and wife together, so that decisions that are
mutually acceptable will be reached.
Yaffas parents expect her and her husband, Asher, to visit
them every Sunday. Yaffa loves her parents, but she realizes that this schedule
is not practical. She and Asher sit down to discuss the situation, and decide
that they will visit every other week, and call twice a week. Although Yaffa
wishes that she could comply with her parents request, she understands that her
main focus should be on building her home with Asher.
Although a husband and wife should envision themselves on
their private island, they need not imagine that they are isolated. Extended
families provide a beautiful support system to a newly married couple. In
addition, at times it is very helpful and proper to reach out for guidance to a
Rav or mentor on any number of matters. The Rav can steer a couple in the right
direction. Occasionally, adherence to certain halachos will cause strain in a
relationship. A Rav must be consulted. The halachah cannot be changed, of
course, but a Rav will have the expertise to guide a couple in how to integrate
the halachos into the situation at hand in the most appropriate manner.
Good friends are very important, and it is not necessary to
distance yourself from them after your wedding. However, discretion is
necessary when deciding which topics you will not discuss with others. Also
remember, if you tell people negative things about your marriage, they will be
remembered by others long after they have been forgotten by you.
As this island is fortified, a womans relationship with men
other than her husband is curtailed (with the exception of close family
About the Opinion of Others
It is proper to act in a way that will create a positive
impression on friends and relatives. However, the major consideration when
making a decision is what is best for our island and our home and not what
others will think
Sara, a young kallah, is perfectly content to forgo a dining
room set so that the money can be sued elsewhere. But she wonders what her
friends and relatives will think. Concentrate on your island, Sara!
Am I creating a proper balance between independence and good
relationships with others?
Every Husband Is Unique Avoid Comparisons
People are constantly making comparisons. Little children
stand back-to-back to see who is taller. It takes a conscious effort to outgrow
the urge to compare yourself and your family to others. Comparison of your
husband to someone elses husband is unproductive and is to be avoided at all
times. Just as it does not matter is one husband is taller that another
husband, other comparisons are also irrelevant.
There are two reasons why it is unwise to compare. Firstly,
one cannot be sure what someone elses husband is really like. A friends
husband may seem kind or helpful, whereas the facts could be very different. Secondly,
no two people can be compared. People possess so many qualities; one person has
one strength and another has a different one. No person is in the position to
decide who is better and who is worse.
Adina wants her husband to take her on a vacation. Will this
question motivate him t o do it: Why cant you take me on a vacation like
Shanis husband does?
The following message should be repeated whenever one starts
to make mental comparisons:
Comparisons are unproductive
Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, made men and women different
from each other in many ways. It is important for a woman to be aware of these
differences so that she can better understand her husband. Women tend to be
more verbal, more sensitive and more emotional than men. They are more
intuitive and more attentive to physical details than their husbands. Not all
women fit these generalizations, but it is valuable for both husband and wife
to take the time to understand their spouses nature.
Chava and Moshe went to pick out a wedding band. Moshes
parents had recommended one specific store, which was owned by friends of
theirs. Chava could not decide which ring she liked best and sat deliberating
for a long time. Moshe couldnt comprehend why someone had to be so particular
about a ring, and he began to pressure Chava to make her choice quickly. Moshe
did not appreciate that jewelry is important to most women, and that Chava was
determined to put much thought into the choice of a ring. If he had realized
that Chava was not being unreasonable, he would have been more understanding. If
Chava had realized that, as a man, Moshe could not be expected automatically to
understand how important this was to her, she might not have felt hurt by his
lack of sensitivity and rushing her.
If a husband seems baffled by his wifes nature, the wife
should not respond with an attempt to give up her femininity. A man wants to be
married to a woman who has feminine characteristics, not to one who acts like a
There can be many differences between two spouses, based on
each ones background and upbringing. What is acceptable in one family may not
be acceptable in another. The ability to recognize and accept these differences
is important in making a smooth adjustment. Also, the way people go about doing
things often cannot be labeled as right or wrong, but people are more comfortable
with the patterns familiar to them.
Ettis family has always been very health-conscious. Hot
dogs and lunch meats have never been on the menu. Yitzchak is accustomed to
those foods and does not feel a need to modify his diet when he marries Etti. Yitzchak
should resist the urge to mock Etti for her adherence to this healthful regime.
Etti, too, should be careful not to ridicule Yitzchak for his habits. Although
she may wish to convince Yitzchak of the benefits of her eating habits, she
should not mount an aggressive campaign to reform him. Hopefully, if Etti
gradually introduces alternative food choices without belittling Yitzchak,
changes will occur over a period of time.
Still other differences can be attributed to ones
personality and temperament. One person will leave everything to the last
minute; another will be ready far in advance. One person will enjoy spending
Yom Tov at home; another will enjoy going to relatives. The list is endless. In
all cases, equitable compromises can be achieved if both partners begin with the
attitude of accepting their spouses differences.
Ahuva got sick shortly after the wedding. Her husband
Michael politely inquired if she needed anything. He brought her Kleenex and
tea, and then left her alone for several hours. Ahuva was perplexed and hurt. She
would have appreciated her husbands company. Why did he disappear? Ahuva
recovered after a day or tow, and she chose not to bring up Michaels so-called
Several months later, Michael didnt feel well. Ahuva
attended to his needs and the pulled up a chair to keep him company. She wanted
to demonstrate how to attend a sick spouse. Ahuva was further perplexed when
Michael requested that she leave him alone. It took her a while to realize
that, although she appreciated company when she was ill, her husband preferred
peace and quiet.
My husband and I are different in some ways and we will work
to make the appropriate adjustments.
Honesty and Trust
A marriage must be based on trust. People who trust one
another have a positive feeling toward each other. If someone feels that he has
been deceived, he will find it hard to maintain his trust. Once trust has been
broken, it is difficult to reestablish it. It is simpler to begin with a
commitment to honesty. Honesty does not imply that a person must disclose every
derogatory thought that crosses his mind. Discretion is necessary to decide
which things are better left unsaid, but what is said should be the truth.
Tova had just turned twenty. Her parents told the shadchan
that she was nineteen, so the shadchan told Meir that Tova was nineteen. Several
months later Tova and Meir became engaged. Tova felt that the time had come to
tell Meir her real age, but she couldnt bring herself to do so. What an uncofrotable
feeling for a young kallah, to enter marriage with some measure of dishonesty!
And when Meir eventually discovers the discrepancy on his own, will he not feel
that his trust has been misplaced?
Trust and honesty are vital to a marriage
Marriage requires effort. This is a concept that some find
difficult to fully comprehend because the society we live in is devoted to
making everything in life as effortless as possible. It also leads us to expect
instant results. Consider the calculator, the microwave and the computer; these
are just a few of the inventions that discourage effort and encourage us to
expect results immediately.
In addition to not recognizing the value of effort, a young
person is influence by todays society to consider many things in life as
disposable. After all, we through out paper plates, aluminum baking pans and
broken tape recorders.
Previous generations were taught the value of repairing an item when necessary
in order to make it serviceable as new. Today it is far more expedient to
replace the item. So in essence, we are not accustomed to preserving things.
Since we subconsciously treat many things as disposable, it
is important to stress that there are certain things in life that are too
precious to throw out. Greater effort is required to maintain something than to
discard it, and as we said, we live in a society where effort is also
discouraged, so we must be careful not to be lulled into underestimating the need
for effort in many situations. You should always keep your marriage foremost in
your mind as something permanent and valuable, something certainly worth the
investment of constant effort in order to improve it. Results may not be
instantaneous, but the rewards will be great.
This article is reprinted from Dear Kallah published by Feldheim Publishers. Click here to purchase.