With thanks to Hashem, in honor of Tu B’Av, here is the sixth installment of marriage tips entitled Knowing Your Wife.
I had an inner struggle with writing this article, because of the sensitive subject matter, and because it is all about the private life of a husband and wife, and therefore a little risqué. But I believe that it will help a lot of marriages.
Obviously there is no one size fits all when it comes to people matters because people are different. But I think that many couples will relate to this article and hopefully gain from it. If the shoe fits…
Therefore, I am publishing it. I hope it brings couples closer.
I would like to thank my wife Dina for her advice on the subject. And thank you to all of those who proofread the article and gave me the thumbs up to go ahead and publish it.
Marriage Tips For Men Part VI: Knowing Your Wife
A few years back, I was giving a JLI course on marriage and I would prepare for it at a coffee shop. I did a survey of the people who came in. I wrote on the cover of my teachers manual, “To Listen, To Know, To Love.” And I asked them, “Is this one thing or three things?” All the women without fail, looked at me incredulously and said, “One,” and the men either said, “Three,” or they stood there thinking and began philosophizing.
It became clear that while to women this is part of their nature, it’s not the case for men. And this is a problem, because it’s the key to a woman’s heart and to intimacy, you haven’t truly experienced intimacy until you know her. And this is what she wants more than anything. To love her is to know her.
That is why the number one complaint women have is that “he doesn’t listen.” And even if she isn’t saying it, she is thinking it and it is written on her face, in her facial expression. It is so frustrating to her, because it is so natural to her, she can’t understand why you don’t listen. “How could you know me if you don’t listen?”
As men we don’t have the need to be known, and even if we do, we don’t have the frustration, because our wives listen and they probably know us better than we do.
What Does It Mean To Know Your Wife?
It means that you understand the way she feels, that you know her experiences. That you listen and really understand her, that you know her as well as you know yourself. That is why she gets so frustrated, when you respond to what she says by trying to fix it, because that isn’t why she shared with you that information. What she wants is for you to know her and to understand what she’s feeling. That’s also why they have best friends who they have to tell everything to, because they listen and know her. What she really wants from you, is a friend who really understands her.
For women a true friend is one who listens, if she doesn’t listen, they won’t be best friends for long. And your wife will come home and tell you all about it, expecting you to understand what she’s feeling. If you do, you will know her and she will feel loved. You are starting to get the picture. This is a small example, but it goes much deeper.
Now, I am not going to tell you that it’s easy, because it’s not natural to us guys, most of us often fail at this, including me. It’s not enough to know it, it will take a lot of practice to get it right. If you get it right, it will be so rewarding. Your wife will be happy, your marriage will be strong and satisfying and your intimate life will be taken to a whole new level.
Why do I keep on mentioning intimacy? Because in the Torah the word for intimacy is yada, which means he knew, as in, “And Adam knew Chava.” Because in order to truly be one with your wife, you have to know her.
True intimacy means to be one in body and one in mind. It’s easy for most men to do the body part, to be one in body, but to be one in mind is hard for us and the opposite is true for women. Being one in mind is what your wife desperately needs, just as we desperately need one in body. The key to truly be one in body, is to be one in mind, because then she will truly want to be with you.
What Do You Have To Do To Know Your Wife?
If your wife is a talker, then when she is telling you about her life and experiences, don’t just hear what she is saying, imagine what she felt like and experience it with her. When she tells you about her childhood, understand how she felt and know how she became the person you fell in love with. She is telling you who she is, her loves, her fears, what makes her happy, when she was treated badly, when she was treated well and much more. If you will listen and really understand, you will truly know her.
If she isn’t a talker, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want you to know her, she wants you to know her just as much, if not more. Because she is not a talker, she is less likely to have anyone who knows her well. The same is true for a woman who had a painful upbringing or was abused. Understandably, it will be more difficult for her to open up to you.
How Do You Get Her To Open Up And Tell You About Her?
You have to know that how you act will have a big impact on her and if she will be willing or able to open up to you. If you disrespect or mistreat her, she won’t open up to you. If you don’t treat the children well, she won’t open up to you, because the children are her.
First she has to be completely comfortable with you and trust you. It will take your courage and vulnerability and wisdom and kindness and patience, for her to open up to you.
Then you have to ask her questions about her life, experiences and what is going on in her life right now. It’s not enough to scratch the surface, you have to really understand. It’s a process that never ends, it’s a life long quest, because there are so many things going on in her life and they affect who she is, she is also constantly developing as a person. Don’t assume that if you knew her in the first few years of your marriage, that you know her and it’s enough. Because she is not the same person that she was then.
It’s extremely important to know that listening is more than just hearing what she saying, you have to hear the emotion in her voice, the expressions on her face and what her eyes are telling you. So you have to be totally present and listening when she is telling you about herself, your mind can’t be elsewhere.
If you want to have a good marriage, this has to be a priority. Don’t push it off, because the longer you wait, the more damage you are doing to your relationship and the harder it will be to repair. Remember, this is the most important thing to your wife, this is why she married you.
If you work on knowing your wife, I guarantee that you will have a better marriage.
What Women Can Do To Help The Process
First of all, if you are feeling alone because your husband doesn’t know you, please bring it up, don’t wait until you are at the end. Your husband wants you to be happy, but he has no idea. Don’t assume that he knows this, just because it’s the simplest thing to you, he has to be taught and trained. And if you aren’t getting through to him, bring someone in that can, several times if that’s what it takes. And if that doesn’t work, you and your husband need counseling.
Second, men respond well to positive reinforcement. If your husband gets it right, let him know. You don’t have to wait until your feelings for him kick in, reward him with what he wants most, good intimacy, that is why he married you. And you will see how he will be motivated to know you.
Simply put, the wife wants more to be one in mind, that is how she feels loved, the husband wants more to be one in body, that is how he feels loved. If you will listen, understand and know your wife, she will want to be with you. Then you will both be, one in mind and one in body, and you will both be happy and feel loved, as you will be one.
May we all have good, close and deep marriages.
Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz is the founder of Chabad Jewish Center in Temecula, California. He is married to Dina and has 7 children and is currently living in Los Angeles as he battles ALS disease.
Rabbi Yitzi will be traveling to New York this week. To set up a time to meet or visit with him, text +1-917-634-0706 or email email@example.com
Visit his blog at yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com.
To donate to his medical costs, visit hurwitzfamilyfund.com.