Excerpts from Pele Yoetz

on Love of Husband and Wife

The love between a husband and wife must be a passionate one. We will begin with the love of the husband to his wife for the declaration of our Sages (Yevamot 62b) is known, “That the husband is obligated to love his wife as himself and to honor her more than himself.”…

The primary love is the love of the soul. It is incumbent upon the husband to admonish his wife with pleasant words, to guide her in the ways of modesty, to distance her from slander, anger, cursing, the mention of G-d’s name in vain, and similar things in the Orders of Nashim and Nezikin. He should caution her in regard to the details of mitzvot – especially in the areas of prayer, blessings of benefit from this world, the observance of Shabbat, etc. How good and how pleasant it would be for him to teach her ideas of ethical improvement and to share with her words of the Sages in all matters that are relevant to her and their severity…

If she violates his will and angers him, he must control his emotions so that he does not become angry with her, and it need not be said to shame, curse, or strike her, Heaven forbid. This is the practice of boors and frivolous and rash individuals – in actuality he hurts himself! Rather with soft speech and sweet words he should admonish her…

The way to prevent arguments in his house is by not being so exacting in regards to every pruta (smallest coin) for the expenditures of the house because harsh as the grave is the jealousy of one woman to another. Therefore, each man according to his material blessing must increase the honor of his home at the proper time, and by doing so, appease his wife. For blessing does not reside in a man’s home except for the sake of his wife (Baba Metzia 59a)…

How great is the obligation of a wife to love her husband, to honor him as a king at the head of his army, to fear him, and to fulfill his will and desire with all of her strength. Her entire objective and thinking must be to strive to understand her husband’s psyche, to know his bidding, and to make his desire as her own in order that she find favor in his eyes. The main focus of this love is the soul. As such, she should devote herself to facilitating his service of G-d, for this is her portion. She should speak to him sweetly if she needs to guide him on the good path and console him in his time of anguish…

A woman, who is wed to a G-d-fearing man, especially if he is also great in Torah and nobility, will certainly honor him and love him passionately. However, it is most urgent to give confidence to a woman whose lot has fallen in with a husband who is harsh in character and opinions – a lowly and disgusting man, who shares no good. Not because of this should his honor be demeaned in her eyes, and he be despised in her heart, Heaven forbid. In any case, she should be sensitive to his honor, whether he be a moral person or a sinner, whether praiseworthy or dishonorable, for he is to her as a decree of the King of the Universe…

If the husband is truly poor and he does not have adequate means, his pain, depression, shame, and embarrassment at having to reveal to his wife his deficiency is clearly sufficient anguish. The woman needs to be wise and should not add grief to his pain. On the contrary, she should comfort him with the pleasant whisper of her lips and say, “Do not be saddened by the lack of money, for G-d will not desert us forever.

If G-d’s great name that was written with sanctity, is allowed to be erased for the sake of domestic harmony, how much more so must a husband and wife be willing to forgive each other and nullify their personal will for the sake of a peaceful relationship.

This is a general rule – when there is an argument between people or between husband and wife, and one of them initiated the conflict by stepping out of bounds and opening his mouth without justification, the other individual must be strong enough not to respond at all – neither good nor bad – in the time of his anger.

Therefore, men must be cautious not to pain their wives and women must be seized by trepidation at the thought of crying because of their husbands. Rather they should beseech compassion on their husbands’ behalf.

Excerpts from Pele Yoetz