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The Most Important Thing a Man Should Do for his Wife
Mom with a View

The Most Important Thing a Man Should Do for his Wife

Giving in is a sign of strength, not weakness.


For the past two weeks I’ve been addressing wives about the singular importance of putting our husbands first. Since it takes two to tango, I would like to address the husbands. What is the one tool that men could implement that would make a significant difference in their marriages? To answer this question, I turned to my husband.

He actually suggested a long list of behavior and attitudes but when asked to boil it down to one, he said, “Always give in and always let it go.” Given my experience with him, I might amend it to “almost always” but that’s another conversation! But I can testify, he is very good at forgiving and letting go.

Men sometimes feel that to give in is to be unprincipled, that to give in is a slippery slope that will lead to no control, that to give in will silence your voice in the conversation. It’s a sign of weakness.

In truth, the ability to give in is a sign of strength, not weakness. Marriage is not about proving who is right; marriage is not about getting your way or asserting your importance. Marriage is about working together and, in this case, making your wife feel validated.

There are very few, if any, situations that are resolved by someone asserting that this is the way things are going to be done. The “my way or the highway” approach does not lead to successful relationships (did that really need to be said?). There may be sincere philosophical differences that require the intervention of a mutually agreed upon third party, but those situations are rare. Most disputes are over issues of relatively trivial value and giving in is the more generous approach. Does it really matter what color the walls are or which couch you choose? Can you trust your wife’s opinion about your children’s education? (If not, you may have a deeper problem that is beyond the scope of this piece.) Discussions are great; arrogance and assertions of power are not.

But what if you are a man who is all sunshine and light and yet your wife doesn’t always respond in kind? She’s a ….human being! She has her good days and her bad days and sometimes, despite all your best efforts, the conversation becomes contentious. The two of you get into a fight. How do you move on?

At this point, the best, the wisest, the most successful course is to let it go. The Torah admonishes us not to bear a grudge. If this is true for all of our relationships, how much more so for our marriages! Just let it go.

The more you hold on, the more resentment will build. The more resentment, the worse your marriage will be, until all you have left are the bad feelings with no memory of what caused them to begin with. Most issues are just not worth it. Maybe you lost your temper – apologize. Maybe she lost her temper. Yes, she should also apologize – but move on. Move past it. Whatever “it” was, it’s not worth holding on to. Not at the cost of your relationship.

Usually after a particularly heated discussion, my husband will say to me, “Are we friends again?” He is always willing to take the initiative. I confess to be less willing. Sometimes I’m grumpy and I mumble, “Not yet”. This is not the full credit response! But the point is, that even if you let go, your wife may still not respond in kind. It’s not magic. You’re not doing it to be noble or get your way or to get brownie points. You’re doing it because ultimately it’s good for your relationship and because that’s the kind of person you want to be.

So even if it takes her a little longer to come around, you’ve still taken the high road. You’ve still shown her that she and your marriage take priority over your ego, over proving who’s right, over your insecurities.

It is not easy. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. But just making the effort will make a big difference.

If this is new behavior, it might take a while for your wife to get used to it. She may be waiting for the other shoe to fall; it may take a few minutes, hours, days for your wife to recognize your silence and generosity. Don’t give up. You will be happy with the new man you have become – and chances are she will also.

February 24, 2018

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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) Anonymous, March 1, 2018 5:03 PM

Yes. But what if...

I see above a question from a husband whose wife wants him to give up Shabbat "for the sake of peace".

What if that's the case?

Or, what if the wife is contentious no matter what?
Or, what if the wife and husband are not the same people at 40 or 60 as they were at 20?
Or, what if the wife, when I say "I do this because i love you very much, says, "Shut up your mouth'?

It is all very sweet and well and good to assume that couples are in working relationships,
but, unfortunately,
there are too many husbands (and wives, too), who are not
and all the platitudes
and all the advice
and all the psycho-babble
in the WORLD
won't help?

Who is speaking to and for these people?

We are not believers in marriage "till death do we part", period.
There is such a thing as divorce, and
when it comes to Shabbat
or your own physical or mental well-being
it's time.

Just an opinion from someone who has been there.
It hurts and it doesn't have to.
THAT is what wee should be asking our counselors and our therapists and our psychologists and our rabbis.

(6) Anonymous, March 1, 2018 11:59 AM

A gorgeous article for women also, thank you Emunah!

(5) Bobby5000, February 27, 2018 10:56 PM

using her insight

Being mature enough to take advantage of your wife's insight is a good trait. She may keep track of things or make suggestions and a smart husband learns. Obviously there are limits and comments made in a nasty fashion may engender problems but a smart husband takes advantage of his wife's knowledge.

(4) doug, February 27, 2018 10:00 PM

always giving in

I try to give in to my wife.but she wants me to drop keeping I drop shabbat ,to make her happy?

(3) Mark, February 27, 2018 3:45 PM

I hope everyone listens to you

I really enjoyed reading your article and believe you hit the nail on the head. Men may feel a little crushed or hurt when our wives argue with us, berate us, are disappointed with us; but it is a temporary argument and temporary emotion and letting go of it, and elevating your marriage and relationship above the transitory, often trivial issues and their accompanying emotions leads to true happiness and trust. Bravo

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