What does it mean and they shall be one flesh? There is certain kind of a bond that only marriage produces. In some way, when you’re married, you’re more “related” or “family” with your wife, then you are with your mother. How is that possible? I don’t know. A mother and a child are very close. Doesn’t say anywhere in the Torah that they’re one flesh. If you separate from your mother, it’s sad. Separating from a wife is like an amputation. In fact, when the rebbetzin of the Tzemach Tzedek passed away, he told his sons, “The loss of a wife is more painful than the loss of a mother.”
How does becoming one flesh happen? Practically, you live together year after year. You share a life with the same pains, worries, pleasures, and begin to merge. In other words, time and experience meld you together. In reality, becoming one flesh begins under the chuppah, wedding canopy. As soon as you say, “Harei at mekudeshes,” then you become one flesh and to separate would be an amputation.
Sharansky, in Russia, was arrested during his sheva berachos. His “wife” traveled around the world for nine years trying to secure the release of her husband from Russia. You would think she’d say, “I’m not his wife. Were in middle of sheva berachos. I barely know the guy and he’s in jail. Too bad, I’m going to hang around for this. What do I need this for? They took him away. I may never see him again. I’m finished. I’ll go get married with someone else.”
It’s not that they lived together for many years and became close. No. It was in middle of sheva berachos and yet, her husband was sitting in jail. Then, for nine years she went around asking people to save her husband. That’s marriage, not something special (Read What Does “Happily Ever After” Really Mean?)
Why aren’t all marriages wonderful? What damages the relationship in most marriages? In the most part, it’s getting too comfortable. You get so comfortable or used to each other, that you start hurting each other in tiny little ways that you don’t even notice. Yet, over time, becomes abusive. Imagine, after a year of being married, your wife says, “So, what are we going to do about this?” You respond, “Whatever, OK” or “Will you stop BOTHERING ME.” That is so abusive. If you ever say that to your wife, I think the punishment should be malkus.
You hear husbands and wives talking to each other with the tone of, “Alright leave me alone already!” That is WORST thing that you can say. You can have a disagreement or argue intensely about something. That’s nowhere as bad as saying to your wife, “Whatever just leave me alone”. “Leave me ALONE?” your wife responds, “Did you just ask for a divorce? Because that’s what it sounds like.” You respond, “Not a permanent divorce. For the rest of the day, can you leave me alone?” NEVER speak to your wife in that tone of voice.
Where does that come from? It comes from being too familiar. One guy actually said to me, “Why do I have to be nice to her? We are married already?” In his mind he actually thought, “You’re nice to someone to get them you to marry you. Once they marry you, you don’t have to nice to them.” There’s this notion, “We’re married. If I hurt your feelings, what are you going to do? You live in my house. At some point, you’re going to have to come home. So I hurt your feelings? What’s the big deal?”
This is like every kosher restaurant. There’s a bug in your soup. What are going to do, eat non-kosher? You’re going to have to come back to eat my soup again anyways, so who cares? You’re stuck with me. I don’t have to be nice to you anymore. The same is true with a yeshiva, “You don’t like it? Send your kid to public school. Ha, you can’t, eh? So put up with me.”
Everybody is like that. It’s terrible. Being too comfortable means you don’t speak the same way that you spoke to her when you got married. You think before you say something. In addition, you say it politely, respectfully and considerately. What happens after you walk out of a chuppah? Immediately you say to her, “Go sit over there.” Also, did you ever hear a guy say to his wife, “Come over here”? What happened to your tone? Who are you talking to? Your trained dog.
Every guy, who runs a business, talks nicer to his customer than to his wife. If he is an employee, he talks much nicer to his employer than to his wife. Why? Because he doesn’t want to lose his job. Losing your job is not an amputation, while losing your wife is an amputation. Maintain the right tone, don’t lose that. It shouldn’t be obvious to everyone in the room that you’re already married more than five years and you’re starting to sound like it.
A husband and a wife are at a l’chaim. The wife says, “It’s getting late, maybe we should go home.” He responds, “You want to go home? Take the car and go home and leave me alone.” They didn’t just get married. This is the damage comes from being married for many years. You don’t talk like that.
Have you ever listened to one side of a telephone conversation and you know who’s on the other side because of the tone? You know immediately whether someone is talking to his father or to his child. It’s a different tone, saying exactly the same words. If you don’t know, this guy is bad. If he talks the same tone to his father and to his, it’s not acceptable.
You watch a guy sitting in his store. He’s screaming and arguing with somebody and his phone rings. He’s middle of shouting while picking up phone and responds, “Heeellloo?” He knows he has to change his tone. You’re sitting with someone in his office and the phone rings. He picks it up and says, “Yah.” You know that he’s talking to his wife. It’s terrible. Why? Because he would never talk to a customer like that.
Who do you talk to like that? Do you honestly “think” that your wife doesn’t realize?
On a positive note, here are two ways to enhance ones sholom bayis on a daily basis:
1) Stand up for your wife when she walks into the room: once in morning and once in the evening. [Eventually she will do the same for you].
2) Every night before going to sleep, take a piece of PAPER and ask your wife:
a) What she would like to succeed in - i.e. her physical and spiritual endeavors
b) What physical and spiritual difficulties she would like to overcome.
Once she spills out her heart to you, write it down and daven to Hashem that she should succeed in both those areas: (a) and (b).