Wednesday, August 16, 2023

A young man asks, "What qualities to look for in a wife?"

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

How are you?
As you know, I am looking for a wife these days.  I also have a keen interest in avoiding the kind of terrible situations you have blogged about recently where husband and wife become estranged and enemies.  Do you have advice for avoiding this outcome?  Do you believe it's avoidable (in some cases, most cases, all cases)?  What is your advice both for during the marriage and also proactive steps that can be taken beforehand in the process itself of seeking a wife.   Ie, are there particular traits or attitudes to be wary of, how to discern them in the prospective partner, etc.  Or a certain dynamic between the two people that will more likely lead to these problems later on? 
On the subject of how to achieve a fulfilling a relationship, I enjoyed the TED video you posted.  Granted it was a short talk, but I don't think she ever gave an actual suggestion or a solution for how "erotic couples" as she termed it (sexually and emotionally fulfilled) strike the balance between love and desire (reliability / mystery, responsibility/ freedom, etc).   The first thought that entered my mind was that the laws of nidda would be conducive to rekindling the desire through distance and separation as she described in the healthy couples and when they most desire their spouse (when they're away).   But yet we see, as you stated, these problems exist also in the Orthodox community.  So it must be more than that.  What would you say is the missing link here that is causing it to not work in the frum world?
What resources would you suggest for learning more about this subject as I aim to build a positive relationship that will succeed?
On one last point, I didn't quite understand why you cited that particular psak of Rav Moshe because it sounded like he only permitted this type of learning in the few days before the marriage for groom-to-be (because at other times it could lead to fantasies when we are not supposed to be preoccupied with those thoughts).   But by posting the video I would think you encourage this learning at any time to understand how a relationship should work. For example, I wouldn't need to wait until 3 days before marriage to view the TED talk.  It seems you take a more liberal view than Rav Moshe based on your professional experience.  Or am I not interpreting the cited psak correctly?

Dear ....,

You are asking an important question - which doesn't have a clear cut answer. Let me answer you last point first. Rav Moshe Feinstein's teshuva that I cited is referring to specific information regarding physical relations between husband and wife. In contrast the TED talk is talking about the psychological dynamics involved. I don't see any reason to assume a disagreement. If talking about marriage and marriage issues is problematic - then you would need to prevent the learning of Kiddushin and Kesubos and other gemoras until after marriage.

update: Regarding your main question. Start studying Igros Moshe (Y.D. I. #90).

[to be continued]


  1. If you seek to avoid difficulties at divorce, write a marriage contract!!!! That's key, and everyone should learn to do it!

  2. Here is what I suggest when you get married:

    zero criticism, million compliments

    before you start or join any argument, view the argument as if it cost $500. then decide whether it is worth it. if you would not be willing to pay that price, don't do it. (settling differences peacefully is okay)

    if you follow this advice, it is extremely unlikely divorce will ever be a real issue.

    ben dov

  3. You can start with this:

    Awake My Glory (by Rav A. Miller):

    1095. There cannot be two kings. The marriage relationship is twofold. 1) The wife is submissive. This is not only Jewish but natural. There can be no harmony when there are two commanders. Without this indispensable condition, the home is disordered. "Arrogance is unbecoming a woman" - Megillah 14B. For a man it is not an ornament, but for a woman it is as if she wore a mustache. 2) The second, but equally essential foundation: a man must always demonstrate respect for his wife. This is "the way of Jewish men that... honor and support their wives in truth" as stated in the Jewish marriage contract. "He honors her more than his own body" - Yevamos 62B, Bava Metzia 59A. He is the captain, but she is the First Mate whose counsel is respected. She cannot be made a doormat, she need not beg for money, she deserves some assistance in the house chores, and the husband sides with her against his kin. He must express frequent appreciation and give words of encouragement, and he should remember his wife from time to time with gifts, big or little. Husband and wife should always say "Please" and "Thank You" and never forget to be always polite to each other.

    1105. Before marriage it is imperative to ascertain the young woman's attitude toward feminism and "women's rights" and careerism. It is out of the question to build a Jewish home, or any home whatsoever, if the prospective wife has been tainted with these anti-natural and anti-social preachings. The woman's career and happiness are in her home: absolutely and entirely. Her husband, her children and her home are the expressions of her personality and her Free Will, and they are her chief forms of serving G-d. The modern orthodox "Rebbetzin" with a college degree and a job in secular professions is a misfit even in a non-Jewish home. The ideas of revolt against a husband's authority and the unrealistic dream of equal leadership in the family, lead only to unhappiness and failure, and very frequently to divorce. A Beth Jacob girl should be wed soon after or before graduation. Every day after she leaves the Beth Jacob marks another step away from idealism, for the street and the office and the secular school have an unfailing effect which increases from day to day. It is never a simple matter to achieve harmony in the home; effort and wisdom and fear of G-d are required. But with the additional burden of feminism, all problems become aggravated; and like all the unnatural and anti-social affectations of the libertarians this leads only to failure and unhappiness.

  4. Marry a woman who acts like a woman, not a man, and you'll be OK.

  5. The MAIN way to maintain a successful relationship is mutual RESPECT for each other. If your wife does something that you don't like, don't speak to her like you would to your worker or to a friend, speak to her like you would speak to someone you have to show respect to. The same way you would want her to speak to you, and not shout or demand.
    This worked with me very well, even when we had tension between us, and I felt like yelling, I control myself and talk respectfully. It always works to save a fight.
    If you can't respect the one you want to marry, then don't get married.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.