Dating for Success: How Is Your Marriage?

A student who had recently gotten married once approached the great Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l. After some introductory conversation, Rav Shlomo Zalman inquired of the young man as to how his married life was going. With an innocent smile, the man replied, “Thank G-d, everything is perfectly fine.” But Rav Shlomo Zalman, who had a particularly close relationship with this student, probed further. “What do you mean ‘everything is fine’? Have you or your wife not been feeling well?” The student was strangely taken aback by the question. “Allow me to explain what I mean,” said Rav Shlomo Zalman. “If the environment in your home is exactly as you described – perfectly fine – then you must be leaving out some information. It is impossible to not feel frustrated or upset at any point of marriage. It is the natural human emotion to have these types of feelings because that is how G-d created us. Men and women, in specific, see matters differently and are prone to disagree. My question to you was how you are managing with that. Seeing things differently than your spouse and disagreeing is expected. An argument can be handled calmly and peacefully. You express your feelings, she expresses her feelings and you come to a mutual understanding. “But if the emotions are completely suppressed, so much so that they are not even articulated, then you have a problem. Bottling up your emotions is unhealthy and will actually make matters worse. What does not need to happen, though, and where you can exert control is allowing your feelings to lead into a bitter fight. You can avoid your differing views from turning into hostile quarrel by calmly and peacefully handling your emotions.

“And so, my dear student, I hope you understand. It is expected and healthy to work through your feelings with your wife. Allowing those feelings to erupt into a fight is where you have the power to restrain yourselves.”