Shalom! Who should build life in a Jewish home: husband or wife? Who should decide where to put the sofa and where to put the dishes? It seems that this is nonsense, but weeday life is 90% of the communication between husband and wife. This stupidity is the main problem of my family. And another question: is it really necessary for a woman to completely abandon herself as a person in order to preserve the appearance of a family?
Answered by Miriam Klimovskaya
Shalom, dear N.!
Questions of everyday life can not always be called “nonsense” or “stupidity.” Many people (even men!) drew themselves a certain image of their future home before marriage, and now it is very important for them that these dreams become a reality. Someone may have negative childhood memories and a natural reluctance to see anything like this in their home. Not everyone is even aware of what causes certain emotions in them, and there is no need to delve into the depths of the subconscious. If your relationship is basically built on mutual trust and understanding, it will be easy for you to compromise in frank conversation on issues that are really secondary to the main goal of marriage. But, perhaps, “everyday” disputes point to deeper problems that we will try to analyze.
In a Jewish family, the roles of husband and wife are clearly defined. The husband is the “foreign minister”, most of the time he is away from home, comes into contact with different people, earns to support the family, etc. The wife is the “Minister of the Interior”, her task is to turn the family’s habitat into a real home, and, most importantly, to lay the foundations for the future generation. When both spouses remember their roles, it helps them solve a lot of problems, or rather, not to create them. Of course, in all important matters relating to the family, one must consult with each other. Each spouse should feel that his opinion is important to the other. This is one of the manifestations of mutual respect – the basis of “shlom byte,” real peace in the family, and not just “the absence of war.” If one of the spouses always tries to insist on his own even in small things, perhaps he feels insufficiently significant in the eyes of the other. Showing respect in all situations, and, especially, yielding in controversial issues, the second spouse can restore his lost dignity, and conflicts, hopefully, will decline or stop altogether.
The average wife is in the house more than her husband, this is her “workplace”, and she should feel comfortable and pleasant in it. Therefore, it is desirable to leave the choice of environment to her. Of course, if the endironment is also important for the husband, a smart wife will certainly consult with him and take into account his wishes, thereby showing respect and recognizing his role as the head of the family. It happens the other way around: there are men who do not like to be “pulled over trifles”. In this case, a wise wife will show respect by taking control of the house into her own hands. In each family, the ratio of the needs of both spouses is individual, so it is difficult to give universal advice.
As for the question of whether a woman should give up her identity in order to maintain the “appearance of a family”, I would like to first clarify a few points. First of all, what is the difference between the “appearance of the family” and the “family”. In a real family, each of the spouses to some extent refuses those manifestations of his personality that can interfere with the construction of a strong Jewish home. A person is like a diamond, and in order to polish it and turn it into a sparkling diamond, it needs constant contact with other diamonds. It is clear that the most intense friction occurs between the closest people: parents and children, brothers and sisters, closest friends, and most of all between spouses.
The Torah gives the husband the leading role in the family. When the life of the family is properly established, each issue is decided by the spouse in whose jurisdiction it is. In case of conflict, the wife is required to agree with her husband, even if it is not easy. If the question concerns the correct implementation of Jewish laws, it is recommended to turn to a rabbi, just as in any matter requiring certain knowledge, one turns to a specialist. Accepting the opinion of an authoritative specialist (and by obeying her husband, the wife accepts the authority of the Torah) does not mean giving up her own personality. On the contrary, it purifies and elevates the personality, allowing her to develop self-control and overcome selfishness.
The situation is quite different with the “appearance of the family”, when two separate people exist in parallel, without internal connection, and each of them jealously guards his Ego from apparent or real encroachment on the part of the other. It is clear that such coexistence is detrimental from the point of view of the Torah and common sense, and it is worth making every effort to turn the “appearance of a family” into a real family.
It must be remembered that in a real family, none of the spouses pulls the blanket over themselves, but, on the contrary, takes care of both of them. Even if 90% of our communication is occupied with everyday matters, this time can be filled with manifestations of a touching care for each other, and not with small skirmishes and major battles. Voluntarily yielding to the tastes and interests of another, we feel the unique sweetness of giving.
The ability to give is the privilege of a strong side, because the one who has something to give, gives. And vice versa, the desire to gain the upper hand, always and in everything to be the first, testifies to inner poverty, the desire to assert oneself even at the expense of a loved one.
There are no winners in such a war, because its result is the “appearance of a family”, and even a completely destroyed family. Both spouses should know that giving up the infantile desire for superiority for the sake of a higher goal forms a real Personality.
I sincerely hope that you, with God’s help, will overcome all difficulties and be happy in your family!
Source: Кто должен строить быт в еврейском доме — муж или жена? — Муж и жена | Иудаизм и евреи на Толдот.ру (toldot.com)