updated 11/11/12 In the discussion about the nature of marriage - the prime question is the role or necessity for love between husband and wife. It is important to note there is an apparent contradiction between the language of the Talmud and the language of the Rambam and subsequent authorities. The Rambam clearly states that the obligation to love one's wife as oneself is rabbinic. However if he is basing himself on Yevamos (62b) - which the commentaries state is his source - there is no assertion of a rabbinic obligation. It simply says that if one does love one's wife as oneself and a bunch of other things - there will be peace in his tent. At most it is a wise suggestion. An additional problem is that the Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna (Kiddushin 2:1) clearly states that the obligation is from the Torah command to love your fellow as yourself. That is the language of the gemora Kiddushin 41a. So is the Rambam basing his obligation of love on a Torah command or rabbinic? Is he basing himself on Yevamos 62b or Kiddushin 41a? Are there two obligations of love as Rav Zilberberg suggests below? Finally it seems from the following sources that love is refering to caring or not hating or not doing negative things to another person . It is not referring to the emotion that we call love.
Yevamos (62b): Our Rabbis taught: If a man loves his wife as himself and honors her more than himself and guides his sons and daughters on the straight path and has them married close to the age of puberty - the verse (Job 5:24) is applied to him, And you shall know that your tent is in peace.
Rambam(Hilchos Ishus 3:19): Similarly a man should not marry of a child nor should he marry a woman until he has seen her and she is acceptable in his eyes. That is because if he doesn’t see her first it might turn out that she doesn’t find favor in his eyes when he does see her.
Kiddushin (41a): Rav said that it is prohibited for a man to marry a woman until he has seen her because when he does see her he might notice something which disgusts him and the Torah (Vayikra 19:18) has commanded, “You shall love your fellow as yourself.”
Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:19): Our Sages have commanded that a man should honor his wife more then himself and love her as himself.
Rambam(Commentary Kiddushin 2:1): It is correct that each man marry directly rather than through an agent, since we have a general rule that a man should not marry a woman until he has seen her. That is because we are concerned that she won’t find favor in his eyes and yet he will remain married to her in spite of not loving her. Such a thing is prohibited since there is a rule, “You should love your fellow as yourself.” Therefore it is important that the man marries directly rather than through an agent.
Aruch L'Ner(Kerisus 28a): This that the Beis Shmuel says that a man should honor his wife – we do not find that this means an obligation. In fact in Yevamos (62a) and in Sanhedrin (76b) it says that if a man honors his wife more than himself... the verse You shall know that there is peace in your tent is applied. This language implies that it is only a act of piety (midos chasidus) to not be insistent on one’s honor against her. Nevertheless according to the straight law she in fact is obligated to honor him more than he honors her
Eliyahu Rabbah (#16): One who fulfills the wishes of his wife and directs his children properly and marries his son before puberty before he comes to sin – about him it says “you shall know that there is peace in your tent (Job 5:24).
Pele Yoetz (Love between husband and wife): The love between a husband and wife must be a passionate one. We will begin with the love of the husband to his wife for the declaration of our Sages (Yevamot 62b) is known, "That the husband is obligated to love his wife as himself and to honor her more than himself."
Pele Yoetz (Love between husband and wife): The primary love is the love of the soul. It is incumbent upon the husband to admonish his wife with pleasant words, to guide her in the ways of modesty, to distance her from slander, anger, cursing, the mention of G-d's name in vain, and similar things in the Orders of Nashim and Nezikin. He should caution her in regard to the details of mitzvot – especially in the areas of prayer, blessings of benefit from this world, the observance of Shabbat, etc. How good and how pleasant it would be for him to teach her ideas of ethical improvement and to share with her words of the Sages in all matters that are relevant to her and their severity.
Yad Rama (Sanhedrin 76b): The braissa says that if a man loves his wife as himself – that means that he should have mercy on her as he is merciful to himself but more than himself is not relevant. That is because love is something which is in the heart and a person is not able to love another more than he loves himself. However regarding honor that is something for which it is possible that he can honor her more than himself with clothing which is nicer than what he gets for himself.
Kiddushas Levi (Bereishis 224:67): And Yitzchok brought her into his mother’s tent and she became his wife and he loved her. What was the reason that the Torah tells us that Yitzchok loved Rivkah? A possible answer is based on the fact that there are two types of love a man has for a woman. The first type is the physical lust that a man has for a woman because he wants to satisfy his desires. Because this type of love is solely concerned with what he wants, it is actually not love for the woman at all but entirely love of himself. The second type is the love which is not concerned with satisfying his physical lusts but rather is because she is an instrument that enables him to fulfill the commands of his Creator – thus he loves her just as he loves the other mitzvos. This is called love of his wife. That is the meaning of “And Yitzchok loved her.” He had no thoughts regarding physical lust but only loved her because she enabled him to fulfill the mitzvos of G‑d.
Ramban(Bereishis 24:67): What was the reason that the Torah mentions that Yitzchok loved Rivkah and was comforted? This alludes to the fact that he was very distraught at the loss of his mother and could not be comforted until he was comforted by the love he had for her. Because otherwise what could possibly be the reason it would mention that a man loved his wife?
Rav Chaim Paltiel (Bereishis 24:67): And Yitzchok loved her This statement of the Torah is surprising – does that mean that originally he hated her? A possible answer is when he had the first sexual intercourse with her - he did not find signs of virginity. That was becasue she had fallen off the camel when she first saw him and this caused her to lose the signs of virginity and therefore she had the halachic status of one was lost the signs because of a physical blow (muchas eitz) – not because of intercourse. As a result of not finding the signs of virginity he hated her because he suspected that she had had relations with other men. She protested that she had done nothing wrong with any man. Eliezar also defended her innocence of wrong doing. She explained that when she fell of the camel, the force had caused her to lose the signs of virginity. She added, “Perhaps G-d will do a miracle and I will find the signs of virginity.” They went to the field where she had fallen and they found the signs of virginity on a stone and a dove was sitting on them in order to preserve them from the sun.
Rabbeinu Bachye (Kad HaKemach – Ahava): ... The attribute of love is great but the attribute of desire (cheshek) is even great than love. That is because love means loving the person in all his actions whether they are open or secret. However there are times when the love disappears and he forgets about her – such as when he is eating or drinking or sleeping. In contrast desire (cheshek) is when the person’s thoughts are constatnly attached in great and powerful love and there is no interruption at all in his desire. An example is Bereishis (34:3) where it says that Shechem soul clung to Dinah and Bereishis (34:3), Chamor said that his son Shechem’s soul desired (cheshek) Yaakov’s daughter. When someone has desire then he thinks of nothing else. Even when eating or drinking he doesn’t stop thinking about her. In fact sometimes he will lose his appetite and not eat at all. Even while sleeping that which he desires will appear to him dreams and will speak to him... Shir HaShirim is based on this attribute of desire (cheshek) which begins with (Shir HaShirim 1:2), Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth....
Rav S. R. Hirsch (Bereishis 24:67):... A man’s love for his wife grows with time. An example is the marriage of the son of the first Jew. This is the way it is with the majority of Jewish marriages. They are not built on the basis of lust (cheshek) but rather on careful deliberations. The parents and relatives make the decision as to whether these young people are compatible with each other. As a consequence of this objective compatibility, love grows with the marriage as the couple spends more time together. In contrast the majority of non-Jewish marriages in the world are based on what they call “love”. One has only to look around to have clear proof that there is a great chasm between the “love” prior to marriage and that which exists after the marriage. One sees how quickly things change after marriage and are so different than what people imagined they would be. This “love” is blind and false. In contrast the Jewish marriages are described by this verse, “And he took Rivkah and he married her and he came to love her.” The Jewish wedding is not the result of the flowering of love but is the cause of it.
Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein (Chashukei Chemed - Yoma 2a): Question: It says in Yevamos 62b) that one who loves his lives as himself and honors her more than himself....will have peace in his tent. The Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 15:19) writes that the Sages commanded that a man should honor his wife more than himself and love her as much as himself. But this requires an explanation as to why they gave such a command since we already are commanded to love our fellow man and a person's wife is obviously included in this Torah command? Answer: I asked this question to my brother -in-law Rav Chaim Konievsky and he replied that it was because there are times when a person is not obligated to show love from the Torah command of "love your fellow as yourself." For example it says in Nida (16b), Rav Shimon bar Yochai said there are 4 things that Gd hates and I don't like. 1) A person who suddenly enters into his house and surely into the house of another person [because person they are involved in intimate matters - Rashi]. The Maharasha writes, "G-d hates them because these are matters of pritzus (immorality) but regarding himself Rav Shimon just says I don't love them. That is because it is possible that these things are not pritzus that would justify violating the prohibition of hating another." Consequently in such a case if the wife suddenly enters into the house then at that moment there is no obligation to love his wife from the aspect of the Torah law of "love your fellow as yourself." However in regard to the command that is derived from "you will have peace in your tent"- there is still an obligation to love her. Furthermore there is a question regarding what the halachais when a wife sins. There is no longer an obligation to love her from "love your fellow" - in fact the opposite is true and there is an obligation to hate her. Is this rabbinic command "of peace in your tent" still applicable? It would seem that even if there is no mitzva to love her there is still a mitzva to honor her. That is because the obligation to honor her is because of gratitude because she raises the children and saves him from sin. This gratitude is still obligatory even if she sins. Therefore it is correct to honor her and to buy her appropriate clothing - even though she sins. Rav Shmuel Arvah gives an additional answer why there is a special verse to love his wife. It is based on the Maharsha (Shabbos 31a) which explains the answer of Hillel to the goy who wanted to learn the entire Torah while standing on one foot and Hillel replied that what is hateful to you do do to your fellow. The question is why he worded in a negative way that he should be good to his fellow as he is to himself? He answers that the Maharsha says that the verse of "loving your fellow as yourself" only applies to negative commands such as not taking revenge. However not to the positive commands of the Torah to do good to others. That is because your life always comes first. Consequently we can say from the obligation of loving your fellow as yourself - there is no obligation to be good to your wife as to yourself. However from the obligation to honor your wife - there is an obligation to honor [sic] her as yourself.