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Judaism’s Bill of Obligations in Marriage

Judaism’s Bill of Obligations in Marriage

A daily reminder on what it means to be a mensch.


Judaism is a system for living that is built on obligations as opposed to rights. This is especially true with respect to the Jewish approach to marriage. Obligations foster responsibility and giving. Rights foster a sense of entitlement which can lead to irresponsibility. In Judaism, one is not entitled to anything. Everything good we have is a gift.

So with this in mind, I present Judaism’s Bill of Obligations in Marriage:

I have an obligation to:

1. To be a mensch. (Need I say more? Then let me spell it out for you…)

2. Strive to give my spouse pleasure, not pain.

3. Avoid blaming and attacking my spouse for things that bother me.

4. Express what I need and not expect my spouse to mind read.

5. Take my spouse’s feelings and needs seriously.

6. Make sure that my spouse feels emotionally safe with me.

7. Give my spouse a consistent and enjoyable physical intimacy.

8. Consistently express love and affection.

9. Consistently recognize and express gratitude for the kind things my spouse does for me.

10. Acknowledge and take responsibility for my mistakes.

11. Work with my spouse to find win-win solutions to our problems and disagreements.

12. Seek professional help from a licensed psychotherapist or rabbi if we cannot solve our issues by ourselves.

13. Always speak to my spouse with respect.

14. Always treat my spouse with respect and dignity.

15. Always “fight fair.”

16. Never fight with my spouse in front of our children.

17. Support and encourage my spouse’s personal growth.

18. Always strive to be a good friend to my spouse and share his/her personal struggles.

19. Set boundaries to protect our marriage from damaging, outside influences.

20. Make my spouse my #1 priority -- not my career, the children, nor my parents.

21. Never discuss problems in our marriage with anyone without my spouse’s knowledge and permission, unless I am sure he/she won’t mind.

22. Maintain “healthy” boundaries between myself and those of the opposite gender.

23. Be financially responsible.

24. Be happy and know that my spouse is not responsible for my happiness.

25. Strive to create a peaceful and relaxed home environment.

26. Never yell or scream in anger, be violent, cause fear, or be controlling.

27. Let my spouse know where I am, where I’m going, what I’m doing, and who I’m with.

28. Give my spouse his/her space and privacy.

29. Build my spouse up and never tear him/her down.

30. Have fun together and strive for balance in our lives.

31. Never threaten my spouse with divorce.

32. Do my part to ensure that we are working together as a team.

33. Be a mensch! Now you know what it means!

Related Article: A Husband's Promises

February 18, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 25

(16) Mordechai, September 30, 2013 2:00 PM

Excellent guide

This is a great list to read through daily until you are familiar with it, and weekly after that. It's kind of unfortunate that the readers seem to be mostly women, if the comments are anything to judge by. Responsibility in any relationship can't be one-sided, although each side needs to hold themselves to a standard of "I am personally responsible, not the other." That way their is good-wiil, as both sides are working for success, and there is room for forgiving mistakes, since neither spouse is operation on a tit-for-tat basis.
Jewish consciousness is that we each have to live as if "The word was created for me." Rav Noach explains (probably from commentaries) that this means to instill each individual with a sense of personal responsibility, NOT with a sense of personal entitlement.
Great list!

(15) Anonymous, April 24, 2012 5:29 AM

Number 27- to what extent? Isnt it a sence of control over me- which is not what i want?

Tanya, August 26, 2013 6:52 PM

it's not about control

I always want to know where my husband is because we have 4 kids together and I need to be able to reach him any time or if I can't reach him I need to know why. It is not because of trust issues. I trust my husband 1000%, but we live in a crazy world and things happen (traffic/accidents/shootings/etc.) I don't call him non-stop "to check n him" but if he leaves the office or runs late he always lets me know. It is simple human consideration. Besides if you're doing something you can't tell your spouse... you probably shouldn't be doing it (unless it's preparing a surprise party or buying a gift for him/her).

(14) Katie, April 2, 2012 12:44 AM

An Excellent Ideal

This is an excellent ideal for marriage and I believe it is attainable between mature adults - not so for young couples - especially those who have not witnessed what being cherished by another means....I love the list and understand now what a "mensch" is.....

(13) Jean, February 24, 2012 9:28 AM

Thank you!

Inspiring for people like me in preparation to make a choice of our spouses to be, equally inspiring for those who are already married. Thank you!

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