Good Tips for a Happy Marriage
Rabbi Zamir Cohen provides practical and vital tips that will strengthen your relationship and make it the most fulfilling it can be
Listen to your wife’s complaints
Even if you’re absolutely sure that your wife is wrong about you, hear her out and listen to her complaints. Maybe it will suddenly occur to you that she is right? After all, even King David a”h who possessed the holy spirit had said the following about himself: “When those who harm me rise against me - my ears will hear”. Even though they hate me and are evil to me - I will still hear them out - perhaps there is some truth to their claims. So is your partner for life less important than King David’s worst enemies???
Consider your gains and losses before reacting
Even when you are upset and resentful about your wife’s words or behavior, and you have an urge to react with rage, weigh your gains and losses on a scale. Place the resentments you feel towards those who have wronged you on one side, and the devastation that will result from your arguments and aggression on the other side. Clearly, the latter will tip the scale. And if merchants base their business operations on gains vs. losses, then wouldn’t you weigh these factors too when your inner peacefulness and well being is at stake? There’s no question that a wise man who thinks a few steps ahead, will change his reaction during a stressful situation when his anger is raging, and try to correct the matter without creating further dispute.
Admitting your mistakes
When your spouse points out your shortcomings, get into the habit of admitting you were wrong without worrying that your partner may think less of you for doing so. On the contrary, a person who admits his faults is more respected and valued in the eyes of those around him, as admitting the truth is a praiseworthy virtue.
Are you feeling disparaged? Check yourself
If your inquires, requests, demands and needs are treated with disdain, and you are not being heard, examine your deeds and behavior towards your fellow man. Perhaps your actions are causing this contemptuous attitude?
What does your partner value?
Enough time has lapsed since your wedding day and at this point, you most certainly know what’s important to your wife, and what areas she is most sensitive to. Instead of trying to change her, try adapting yourself to her. Start with the areas that are most critical to her and less significant to you. The peace that will consequently ensue will prove that the effort was well worth your while. Especially since your partner will begin to accommodate you in the areas that are important to you as well.
Use of Information
If your wife reveals some information to you, never use it to taunt and offend her!
This is a building zone. Authorized personnel only
Do not involve family members in the hardships and difficulties of the marriage - especially in the first few years. And don’t allow them to meddle in your relationship with your wife. As in every construction site, entrance is granted only to people who are authorized - in this case, that would only include a great Torah scholar or a professional marriage counselor.
Appreciate the good in your spouse - even during difficult times
Show appreciation even when you’re feeling hurt, and even if you feel this way on a consistent basis. Even though you may be bitter and resentful and you are sure that you are right, reflect upon the important aspects of the home and show your wife a bit of gratitude for them. Our sages tell us about Rabbi Chiya who used to suffer a great deal from his wife. People always used to ask him, how is it that despite everything your wife does to you, you still buy her gifts and wrap them in a beautiful way every time? He would say: “It is enough that our wives raise the children and save us from sin”. In other words, what is most important to me in life is the upbringing and wellbeing of my children and being saved from sinful thoughts. Other than that, I don’t need anything else from from my wife. This type of gratitude has the power to create a harmonious environment.
Lower your expectations
Anyone who reflects upon the previous tip will discover an additional piece of advice. Despite what you had hoped for, you must lower your expectations of your partner in areas that are difficult for her to change and be satisfied only with that which is truly important. When there are no expectations there are no disappointments.
Not every mistake has to be criticized
Did your wife make a mistake? Don’t be quick to criticize her. If it’s a one-time occurrence, the criticism will do more harm than good. But if it becomes a persistent issue that truly bothers you, it would be important and beneficial for you to give constructive criticism, but it should be done according to the following rules:
You’ve decided to criticize? Stop and think
Before you criticize, you must think about the question: What am I trying to accomplish with this criticism? A fight or an improvement? I obviously want to see improvement. If so, I must think about the way in which I will go about giving criticism. And these are the questions I must ask myself before I begin:
1. Would now be the best time to point something out?
2. How can I convey the message in a gentle way? (Even with a hint), in a way that will be accepted without insult?
3. What compliments can I give her before I begin? And what compliments can I end with?
And one more important principle: One must never criticize too frequently.
Offer praise, a compliment, and a smile
Ask yourself the following from time to time: When was the last time I gave my wife a compliment? When was the last time I smiled at her in a loving way? Remember what the sages said about the verse:
“White-toothed from milk” - it is better to make someone smile than to give him milk to drink. A big smile that reveals the teeth is a heartfelt smile that declares without words: I’m happy to see you! As it’s been said: “A smile does not cost the giver a penny, but it’s worth millions to the recipient”.
Even if you’re in a real heated argument, G-d forbid, control yourself and don’t say things that might scar your wife’s heart. Even if you later try correct what you’ve said and explain what you meant, the bitterness of the words will still remain forever. Always remember: There’s life after…an argument. When you don’t say something, you are in control of it, but after you say, it is in control of you.
In conclusion, remember this:
We must have as much life in our days as there are days in our life. Focus on living a real life - a life of spirituality according to the instructions of the Creator, and a life of peace that is so dear in His eyes. You will then discover that all efforts and sacrifices were well worth your while.
Adapted from "The Keys to Life" by Rabbi Zamir Cohen