By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Be a Gentle Man, with No Exceptions
ויהיה דיבורו עמה בנחת ולא יהיה עצב ולא רוגז
Seeing that we just learned that speaking in a less-than-gentle manner is already a violation of imposing undue fear, what is the Rambam adding by telling us that one must always use a gentle manner of speech with one’s wife and not express unhappiness or irritation to her? The answer is this: one may have thought that it suffices to be generally polite, gentle, and respectful; even if from time to time he speaks in a less-than-gentlemanly manner.
When it comes to other people, one can perhaps be excused if he is sometimes a bit curt, standoffish, or gruff. We all have our better days and those times when we are a bit in the dumps. If a coworker, fellow staff member, or the like comes in one day in a grumpy mood and is a bit ill-tempered that day, we forgive him and pay it no special attention. Why? Because we also have our days where we either woke up on the wrong side of the bed or are going through a tough time, and we expect people to be understanding of that fact and not get insulted if we are less than fully courteous and solicitous. Therefore, we are willing to afford others the same consideration. Sure, a person is meant to work on himself to try to make his internal angst uninfluential to his treatment of those around him, but that’s a very hard thing to do which most people don’t necessarily manage. It’s a part of life. You’ve got your ups and you’ve got your downs, and you can’t always be expected to be Mr. Nice 100% of the time, your whole life.
Yes, this is all true, albeit with one notable exception: your wife! When it comes to your wife there are no excuses. Ever. Maintaining a gentle manner of communication and interaction 100% of the time is non-negotiable in marriage, for you. Regarding her, it’s a whole different story, and later we’ll discuss that. Now, you may feel that this is unfair or simply an impossible demand, but there’s a very basic fact that a married man is never allowed to forget. Your wife, as a married woman, lives 100% of the time in a very delicate, high-pressure state of balance.
Imagine a person straddled over a ravine, each one of his feet on a different side. The two cliffs are just close enough for it to be done, but it is by a hairsbreadth. And this guy is straddled on them. He cannot possibly move, ever (!), because the slightest move will cause him to go hurtling down the ravine. His survival is completely dependent on forever maintaining his state of tenuous balance.
There is a Gemara in Bava Metzia that says a man must always be careful to not cause emotional pain to his wife, for since her tears are always at the ready, the punishment for causing her anguish is likewise quick to come. The Maharal points out that although there is an issur d’oraysah prohibiting causing any Jew emotional pain, Chazal specifically warned men to be extra careful about this regarding their wives because a wife vis a vis her husband is much more prone to being hurt than others. This, explains the Maharal, is a function of the dual reality within which she lives. On the one hand, she is to a great extent subservient to and dependent upon her husband, as the pasuk says v’hu yimshol bach. On the other hand, she is also his equal for she is his spouse, not a maidservant; this, in addition to the fact that she has her own, independent identity in which she percieves herself as an important individual.
This very delicate balance can generate a tension within her that makes her exceedingly sensitive to even the slightest slight from her husband. Her equilibrium and healthy sense of balance may quite possibly be completely dependent on each one of her feet being firmly planted on each side of this balance. On the one hand, she has an essential, existential need to feel completely bound up with the identity of her husband. His love, appreciation, and approval are vital to her sense of self. On the other hand, she is not his maidservant. She is his wife, and in that sense his equal, and she needs to feel that she also has her own, independent significance; that she is also a major contributor to their relationship.
This balance is complex and delicate. The slightest push can throw it off and send her hurtling down into the ravine below. Even the most seemingly insignificant snub or somewhat harsh word carries the potential payload to deliver her what can be a crushing blow. This doesn’t mean that it necessarily will. What is being described here is the natural tendency of women; that to which they are inherently prone. A woman can use techniques that will help her to “roll with the punches” and not have the wind knocked out of her any time her husband is not 100% nice with her. But you most definitely cannot bank on that.
From your perspective, you need to view the situation precisely as described above, wherein the slightest wrong move can be just absolutely devastating. This state of delicate balance is her perpetual reality. She cannot ever leave go of it. It is with her 100% of the time, her entire married life. That is why, in respect to her, you have to be gentle and courteous 100% of the time your entire married life. There can be no allowances for the “down and out” days vis a vis your wife because the stakes are just too high. It is extremely difficult, if not most of the time impossible, for her to be able to simply brush it off and chalk it up to your bad mood. The pain it can inflict on her is so strong and so real, that you simply have no other option than to follow Chazal’s injunction to always be careful from causing her emotional distress. That is what the Rambam is adding in this final phrase, that even when you may otherwise be excused for behaving in a grumpy, gloomy, or gruff way, with your wife there are no exceptions. A gentle, contented demeanor and mode of communication is an absolute must at all times and under all circumstances.
Granted, this is a tall order, and many men may not muster the strength and stamina to maintain this standard at all times no matter what the situation. So what are you to do if, for example, you had a really hard day and you just do not see wearing a smile on your face and talking all lovey-dovey a realistic possibility from the moment you walk in the door until the moment you fall asleep? What then? If that is the case, then at the very least what you need to do is keep up the show at least from the moment you walk in the door through the first ten minutes you are home. Think about it, if you had to put on such an act for a very important guest, certainly you’d manage ten minutes no matter what you went through that day. Ten minutes is definitely manageable, so long as you see it as being a top-level priority.
So, you walk in the door with a bright smile and maintain convivial conversation for those first ten minutes. Then, after those ten minutes are up, you say to your wife as follows. “Dearest, I had a really difficult day today. Because of that I am unfortunately feeling down. I just wanted to let you know this so that if you notice that I am in a sour mood you’ll know that it has nothing at all to do with you. I love you and appreciate you always. I just had a rough experience today and that’s why I am not at my best.” Realize that even with this your wife is prone to feeling hurt by your upset mood. Despite the fact that it truly has nothing to do with her, deep in her heart she may feel that if you would be perfectly happy with her and love her, you wouldn’t be in a bad mood. Still, if you see that you just will not manage to keep up the show the whole time, doing this is infinitely better than starting off in a bad mood and/or being in a bad mood without providing her any explanation.
Even with this, there is no excuse under any circumstances to be snappy, rude, or insulting with your wife. The above is only a “heter” to appear glum or grumpy around her; but you most certainly cannot ever take it out on her. (And even this “heter” is not really a heter; it is more like damage control. Meaning, if you aren’t going to manage doing it right, at least minimize the avlah to the best of your ability.) If you feel that you are in such a bad mood that you cannot keep yourself from irritable and short-tempered retorts, then you need to excuse yourself from her company. Tell her, “Dearest, I had such a bad day today and I am in such a terrible mood that I just cannot deal with myself at all. If it’s ok with you, I think I need to be alone until I manage to calm down. I love you so, so much and I do not want that chas v’shalom anything cross should come out of my mouth, and I am in such a compromised state right now that I do not feel in control of myself. Please realize that this has absolutely nothing at all to do with you; on the contrary, you are my silver lining in the dark cloud that I am in right now. So, if it is ok with you I’ll just grab a quick bite to eat and go straight to our room to hopefully cool off, and maybe I’ll even get an early night and go right to sleep.” If you are in too sour a mood to say even this, then write it and hand her the piece of paper.
Realize, though, that she may also be worn out, harried, and at her wits end by the time you come home. If she works, she has her own pressures at the job place. In addition to that, she has to manage a home which is no small endeavor. And taking care of children, despite the great satisfaction that it provides, can be extremely wearying and nerve-fraying (just try it for an hour!). Therefore, she might really need you when you come home and may not be at all amenable to your escaping or sulking. She will justifiably perceive that not only as an insult but as an abandoning-ship. Not good.
That being so, you are better off not coming home, if possible, when you are in such a terrible state that the chance of withholding short-tempered, gruff words is next to nil. Call home and ask your wife if it is ok if you come home really late today (you can make up an excuse and say you have to work overtime or you have a chaburah that you need to finish preparing). Go buy yourself something to eat and hang out in the Beis Medrash until it is time to go to sleep.
Even this will not always work, though. She may tell you on the phone that the home-front is a disaster and she absolutely needs you there. If that’s the case, you are just going to have to be misgaber. You got married and you have a responsibility that you cannot shirk. The only exception would be when you feel that you are really in a kind of emotional-crisis type of state where going home will only make things worse, perhaps much worse. If that is the case, it is obviously better for her to be angry at you for a bit and apologizing and making it up to her later than risk going home and having a full-fledged conflagration.
To reiterate, these “heterim” are not heterim at all. They are contingency plans of damage control that are only to be employed when absolutely necessary. You cannot take the ten-minute-show, the I-need-to-be-alone-right-now, or the coming-home-late as an excuse to wriggle out of your responsibility as a married man every time you’re not feeling upbeat and contented. To be a man means getting used to the fact that life is often not rosy, there are plenty of rough bumps along the way, and you nevertheless need to learn how to maintain a pleasant composure; at least vis a vis your family. Only on rare occasions should these “heterim” be used, when there really is no other alternative.
Don’t be Caught Off Guard
There are a few things of which men need to be aware and for which they need to be prepared. These are situations or occurrences that without prior warning could really catch you off guard. With a little bit of knowledge, though, you should have no problem navigating these “bumps” in the road.
The first one we’ll call zihara. Why? Consider the following Gemara in Brachos about Yalta. But, first, a bit of background about her. Yalta was a very, very chashuveh woman. She was the daughter of the Reish Galusah (the Reish Galusah possessed king-like authority, power, and stature), and the wife of Rav Nachman who was of the very greatest Amoraim of his generation. Besides her impressive lineage and family prestige, Yalta herself was heavily involved with communal affairs. So, yes, this was one seriously chashuveh lady.
Now for the story.
Rav Nachman was accustomed to the opinion that maintains one should offer one’s wife to drink from the kos shel bracha of bentching. One day, Rav Nachman had an extremely illustrious visitor: Ulah. Ulah was one of the undisputed Gedolei Torah of that generation. So much so, that Rav Nachman addressed him with extreme respect. Upon concluding their meal together, Rav Nachman honored his eminent guest to lead the bentching. Ulah happened to be of the opinion that there is no reason whatsoever to offer from the kos shel bracha to the woman of the house. He held that the bracha of the woman is transferred to her via her husband. Being unaware of Rav Nachman’s differing opinion and thus that to which Yalta was long-accustomed, Ulah did not leave over any wine from the kos shel bracha for Yalta.
Well, that didn’t go over too well with Yalta. By the time Rav Nachman managed to query Ulah on his divergent custom and the latter provided his scholarly explanation thereof, Yalta realized that she had just been deprived of partaking from the kos shel bracha and she flew into a rage; literally. She got up, says the Gemara, went to the wine cellar, and proceeded to smash 400 (!) jugs of wine.
And that’s not all. When Rav Nachman saw how incredibly upset his wife was, he asked Ulah to send her a different kos in lieu of the original. Ulah did so, accompanying it with the explanation that all of the wine that was on the table during bentching is included in kos shel bracha. Well, if they thought that would pacify her, it didn’t. Her response, although much of the flavor gets lost in translation, was, “From itinerants we get words and from rags we get lice.”
Suffice it to say that this is not exactly how we would expect anyone to speak to a Gadol b’Torah, certainly not someone as great and important as Yalta! Yet, the Gemara does not take her to task over this seemingly incredibly inappropriate behavior; not even the slightest hint of censure or disapproval!
So what exactly happened here? Rav Eliyahu Goldschmidt explains that because of their sensitive, emotional nature, women may at times experience such an intense emotional stress that it explodes like a pressure cooker that was left on for just a bit beyond its limited capacity.
That is why, explains Rav Goldschmidt, in describing Yalta’s fit of rage the Gemara employs the term zihara, which literally means a flash of light, as opposed to the word kaas, rogez, or rischa. Because, really, this was not an anger management issue. Rather this incredibly intense reaction was a light beacon for Rav Nachman to be able to see that there was something weighing upon his wife so heavily that the emotional strain was completely unbearable for her. She simply exploded. Not with anger, per se, but from the overwhelming strain of emotional distress.
Now, this is obviously not meant as an excuse for a woman who does have anger management issues to be able to poo-poo away her issue by saying, “What do you want from me? I am a woman, after all, and you hurt my feelings; so that’s what happens!” That is most certainly not the point of this story of Yalta.
What the point is, is that it is practically inevitable for every woman to have such an outburst from time to time. Yalta was as chashuveh and as great a tzadeikes as they come. Much, much (much, much, much…….) greater than any great Rebbetzin that we may possibly conjure up in our minds. If it could happen to her, that means it could happen to anyone; yes, anyone. Also, there is no way to predict when it will happen. It can come all of a sudden and take you completely by surprise like a flash of lightening that suddenly tears through the calm night sky. Therefore, when it does happen, you have to make sure to keep your wits about you to not get hurt or insulted by it.
Realize, and this is the main point, that whatever your wife my say to you or about you in these fits of flashing rage do not at all reflect her true feelings about you. Consider the following, true account.
A man, we’ll call him Yaakov, was sitting in his study doing some work. Without any warning, his wife, we’ll call her Reizy, barged in and started lambasting him for this that and the other. Having recently learned some very important skills in shalom bayis, Yaakov maintained his composure and just remained silent. He allowed Reizy to get her whole tirade and diatribe against him off her chest. After a few seemingly interminable minutes, Reizy completed her invective and exited Yaakov’s study with a slam of the door.
“Oh boy,” thought Yaakov to himself, “this was a big one. Alright, I’ll just finish up a couple of things here and then I’ll begin to try sorting things out with Reizy. It’ll probably take me up to six hours to do so, but it needs to be done.”
Lo and behold, after a very short time, Reizy came back in to Yaakov’s study, but this time she was all contrite and apologetic. “I don’t know what came over me,” Reizy stammered, “to say such things to you. Of course, none of what I said is true, and it’s not your fault at all. Please forgive me for having spoken like that. It’s not true at all. You’re always so nice and considerate…”
An unmarried man (or a married one who has not yet learned how to negotiate such situations) can find such a thing extremely difficult to believe. As a matter of fact, he may even be suspicious of such behavior. At the very least, he may wonder if his wife is perhaps emotionally unstable. How could it be possible for a person to spit out such a vindictive attack and within a few moments be all contrite, apologetic and full of praise for the erstwhile object of their diatribe?! The answer is, in the words of one woman, “I don’t know what came over me. I felt as if I was possessed by a demon.” No, she is most definitely not possessed by a demon. But she is not able to control herself under the circumstances. Women’s emotions are very powerful and run very, very deep. At times, a strain on those emotions can become so unbearable that it literally causes an explosion. When that happens, she may have no ability whatsoever to stop it. At the same time, it is crucial to realize that she doesn’t really mean it; at all! It is not her talking, it is her pain.
Therefore, a wise and mature husband will not allow such “assaults” to upset him at all. On the contrary, he will take it like a man and react only with care and concern and with a compassionate desire to ease her pain however much he can. He will happily remain silent in order to afford his wife, whom he loves so much, the opportunity to get it all off her chest. Then, he will profusely apologize for whatever it is that she has accused him, even if those accusations are completely fabricated. Because, again, that is not the point at all. She is hurting, deeply. He wants to help her feel better and he’ll do whatever he can to do that.
Nine times out of ten, if the husband keeps his cool and reacts only with silent compassion, the wife will afterward proffer her own profuse apologies for having wrongly accused him, just as in the story of Yaakov and Reizy. Even if she doesn’t, though, perhaps because she is too embarrassed, you still won’t take it to heart; for one thing is absolutely certain, whatever she says in those fits of flashing rage do not at all represent her true feelings about you.
Although not possessing the “got you off guard” quality nearly as much, testiness is nevertheless another good example of putting a man’s true mettle to the test (pun unintended). Because a woman so badly needs the love, appreciation, and approval of her husband, she may at times act in a deliberately aggravating manner to see what his reaction will be. “For if he truly loves me,” she thinks, “he will not get upset at me even though I am not acting in a nice way.” Quite literally, she is testing him. She may make sharp comments or do things that are very upsetting just to see how he’ll respond.
You’ve got to take it like a man and realize that the way she is behaving does not at all reflect her true feelings about you. Actually, it is precisely because she loves and adores you so much that she is acting that way, because she so badly wants and needs to be convinced of that fact. It is also wholly possible for a woman to behave in such a manner without consciously awareness of it. She is not making a conscious decision to act unpleasantly; it is her powerful, emotional undercurrent that is pushing her to it.
Some women may even act in this manner on a constant basis.
The Gemara in Yevamos recounts how both Rav and his uncle Rabi Chiya had cantankerous wives. Whatever Rav would request for supper, his wife would do her best to give him the exact opposite! Nevertheless, Rav learned from Rabi Chiyah the secret of how to deal with such a situation: “It is enough for us that our wives raise our children and save us from sin.” In other words, you needn’t take your wife’s cantankerous behaviors so seriously. She does so much for you, don’t you see? The Gemara proceeds to recount another fascinating account.
Rav Yehuda was learning with his son Rav Yitzchak the pasuk that says, “And I find that which is more bitter than death, the woman…”; whereupon Rav Yitzchak asked his father, “Like who?” Rav Yehudah answered, “Like your mother.” Is that so? A different time Rav Yehudah was learning with his son Rav Yitzchak and taught him that a man only finds full contentment with his first wife, as the pasuk says, “Your source shall be blessed and be happy from the wife of your youth.” Rav Yitzchak asked, “Like who?” Rav Yehudah answered, “Like your mother.” The resolution to this apparent contradiction is that maskif tekifah, she could be very tough and harsh, v’avurei mi’avra b’milah, yet she was easy to pacify and she would let go of what was bothering her.
The upshot of that statement is that it all depends on how the husband handles the situation. If, when she is in a flash of rage or is in general acting cantankerous, the husband gets insulted and returns fire; then he will spiral into a situation that is more bitter than death. But if acts like a real man by keeping his wits about him and responding with level-headed maturity, then he will successfully navigate the situation such that his pleasure and contentment in life will be greater than imaginable. Sure, getting called names, having nasty comments directed at you, and ill-mannered spousal behavior stings and is not easy to deal with. Don’t forget, though, that the Ribbono shel Olam gave you a powerful seichel. Use it well and you will reap the great rewards.
This does not mean that you should not try to do something to make the situation better. If you feel this is a too-oft recurring issue, you can definitely try to remedy the situation (but it’s not a bad idea to first speak to a wise person to see what he thinks about it). When you are both in a good mood and frame of mind, broach it with your wife. Just make sure that you don’t do so in an accusatory manner. Keep the tone respectful and loving. Make sure to choose your words carefully. For example, instead of “why do you say…it’s so hurtful,” say this instead, “when you say…it makes me feel bad…perhaps you could use a gentler expression like…” That way, instead of making it a matter of her poor behavior, you are making it an issue of your sensitivities. Realize, though, that she may also have a few things to tell you, and you must keep an open mind to hearing that criticism despite whatever impressions you may have.
Another rule of thumb is that you should keep the comments brief. Just state your point, in a loving and non-accusatory manner, and go silent. In addition to not making her agitated from a long-winded presentation of what you’re unhappy about, this also gives her an opportunity to absorb what you said and respond.
At times, it may be necessary to elicit outside assistance, like a Rav or marital therapist. If that’s the case, make sure to find someone that you’ll both be comfortable speaking to. The main thing is to always make sure to maintain a frame of mind that “whatever issues we may have, it is not about me versus her, it is about us; our marriage, how we together can work on it and improve.” You and your wife are one unit.
After all is said and done, though, you need to realize that the most primary determining factor of how your wife is going to relate to you is how you handle her; particularly when she is upset or testy. Sof kol sof, the main responsibility lies squarely on your shoulders. As Chazal say, “If he acts meritoriously she will be an aizer, a supportive force for him; and if he does not act meritoriously, she will be k’negdo, a warring opposing force.” It is all up to you.
A Bit about Hormones
Absolutely essential to be aware of, is that women have major things going on inside of them that greatly impact their mood and state of mind. One witty individual put it pithily like this: You are not marrying one woman, but three. One during the time when she is permitted to you, one during the time when she is forbidden to you, and one when she is pregnant.
In truth, that statement is only partially accurate. It could be broken down into many more distinctions. Pre-menstrual, menstrual, post-menstrual, post-mikveh, first trimester, second trimester, third trimester, during labor, post-birth, nursing, and so on. This can seem absolutely mind boggling to a man.
The fact of the matter is, though, that because of the cycle of major physical and chemical upheavals going on inside a woman, there could be any number of major mood-affecting hormones coursing powerfully through her blood stream at any given time. Be aware of this reality and calibrate your preparedness and responses accordingly.
For example, you may come home one day expecting to see your pretty, smiling wife waiting for you with a nice, warm supper ready on the table. Instead, you walk through the door and see nothing but a pile of dishes in the sink, a mess on the table and floor, and everything in a general state of disarray. You futilely say “Hello?” in a louder than usual voice to see if anyone is home. Beyond the stark silence, you seem to make out the faint sound of a long-suffering moan. Realizing that it apparently came from your bedroom, you make a beeline to find out what is going on. What you find inside your room hits you even harder than what you saw in the rest of the house. Your wife looks absolutely disheveled. She is in her bed, moaning and groaning, and there is a bowl next to her that has something inside of it that does not look particularly appealing. Worried, you ask “is everything ok?” But you are only met with another long groan, just louder than before. You slowly inch your way to her bed and lovingly sit yourself down next to her. As you begin to compassionately stroke her arm and are about to ask if there’s anything you can do to help her, she practically yells, “Don’t touch me! And get off my bed!” And the moaning and groaning continues.
What happened? Oh, nothing much. She just happens to be pregnant. Maybe neither of you are even aware of it yet. When it hits, though, it can hit hard. It is entirely possible that for most of the first trimester, yes three whole months, she may have very little to no interest in any form of physical affection. Ditto for after birth. Even after the first six weeks, she may still be totally exhausted and drained from the constant sleep deprivation and nursing that she is dealing with, let alone the barrage of hormones rushing through her system. And that’s all in addition to having gone through the beyond-describe physical-trauma of labor and birth! After all that, she may just not have much energy left, if at all. And that may continue for many months.
It is not possible to enumerate all the myriad fluctuations that women can go through as a result of their physical, hormonal cycles, because although there is a certain generality to it, it can vary greatly from one woman to the next how it precisely manifests itself. The main thing to realize, though, is that you’ve got to always keep your wits about you and stay cool and level headed. When all of a sudden you are confronted by something totally unexpected – whether it is an inexplicably profuse weepiness, sudden extreme neediness, bizarre volatility, or who knows what else – don’t get all worked up.
Whether it is her emotional sensitivity in general or particular hormonal flux that is causing it, there is no reason for you to get upset, annoyed, dismayed, or insulted. Your wife is not crazy or weird. She is completely normal. Instead, keep your cool and do whatever you can to empathize with her and alleviate her distress if possible. Beyond that, just continue to conduct yourself as normal, albeit with sensitivity to her distress, and be a supporting, stabilizing bulwark of strength. You are the rock and anchor of your family. By keeping yourself even-keeled, you are keeping things steady with your marriage and family even when tempestuous storms create strong turbulence.
That being said, you do need to keep your eye out for possible signs of depression and the like. Particularly after birth, but not limited thereto. Because women undergo such intense hormonal and chemical shifts, they can sometimes be prone to contracting some form or other of psychological illness. Do not stick your head in the sand and just wish it away. If you suspect that your wife’s symptoms are beyond the normal range, do reach out to someone who has knowledge and experience in these matters. The gynecologist and/or family doctor is a good place to start. Alternatively, you can contact a support center or mental health professional. Leaving issues unaddressed can inflict an untold amount of unnecessary suffering on your wife, yourself, and your whole family, in addition to causing much damage to the functioning of the family unit. So, if you suspect something, reach out and get help.
Mistakes, Don’t Let Them Get You Down
Don’t let mistakes derail you. Even big ones. Many couples (if not most) get into fights from time to time. Particularly early on in the marriage when experience and wisdom is at a premium. No, this is not an excuse to fight; but it is nonetheless a reality. If you make marriage into a lifetime work of concerted effort towards employing maturity and wisdom to go about it the right way, then hopefully such occurrences will be few and far between and relatively mild, and over time will cease to occur at all. Make no mistake, though, there will always be differences of opinion. The goal is to ever improve the way you handle those differences of opinion. To engage in mature, mutually respectful discussion about the issues instead of such differences becoming a battle of wills or c”v worse.
Nevertheless, despite your best efforts you may at some point make a mistake. Perhaps you were particularly exhausted and under a lot of intense pressure, and you just didn’t manage to catch yourself; and before you know it you find yourself in a nasty altercation. If such a thing does happen, don’t let yourself get bewildered and panicky about it. Don’t brood in self-castigation or think that now you’ve ruined your shalom bayis. You’ve done no such thing. Yes, you’ve made a mistake. Perhaps even a big one. Realize, though, that it is completely normal. It can and does happen to the best of us. One of the starkest points we see from the entire Chumash is that great people are not defined by how they never made mistakes, but by how they managed to pick up the pieces of their mistakes – even really big ones – and grow from the experience. Great people are not the ones who never make mistakes; they are the ones who despite their big mistakes keep shooting for the stars. The way to deal with such an eventuality, then, is to make up as quickly as possible. Take all the blame, even if you were not completely to blame. Apologize profusely. Perhaps even buy her a gift. You’ll see, your harmony will be immediately restored.
העושה שלום במרומיו יברך את עמו ישראל בשלום
These eight installments of the Shovavim Shalom Bayis Initiative were adapted from Kuntras Sameiach Tesamach. To receive a copy of this kuntras (in English or Hebrew), send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note if you are a chassan teacher, as there is an additional cheilek that serves as a teaching aid for chassan teachers. The kuntras has been reviewed and approved by Rabbonim.
 Rav Yitzchak Silver.
 By the way, disagreements are not fights. As Rav Reisman often says, there is no reason why two intelligent, thinking people cannot each view a given issue in their own way. A fight occurs when lack of agreement devolves into a confrontation. It is learning how to successfully negotiate disagreements and adopting the art of mutual respect and compromise that prevents disagreements from turning into fights.