One of the secrets of a good marriage is good communication. The Torah teaches successful communication.
I met some people at a wedding recently. I gave them our “You are Special Card” by Ohr Binyamin. It lists 36 reasons why you are special. I told them once someone asked me “Do You have a card on Shalom Bayit / peaceful relations at home?” I replied: Yes – read one of these reasons on the card to your wife every day. A wife needs to feel appreciated by her husband. A simple “thank you” or buying her a gift regularly can go a long way for more peaceful relations. Take 2 minutes a day to think about & do what you can do to make your spouse happy.
Learning from Animals
… Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Even if the Torah had not been given, we would nonetheless have learned modesty from the cat, and that stealing is objectionable from the ant….
What can we learn from parrots? Parrots repeat what a person says.
Empathy in Marriage
A spouse seeks empathy – an essential part of communication. Empathy means that you understand & feel the feelings of the other person. Men tend to be “problem solvers”. Women tend to be “Empathizers”. How do you empathize with someone? Repeat what they say in other terms – sincerely. For instance: Wife comes home from work and says “The boss was upset that I came late today.” The natural reaction of the man is – “Let’s put on the alarm a little earlier for tomorrow.” The wife doesn’t necessarily want to hear solutions. She wants you to feel for her that she was upset by the boss being upset. By empathizing you validate the other’s emotions. A more proper response would be – “I understand that it is upsetting when your boss feels frustrated.”
One lesson learned from the parrot.
You can also learn it from the Torah – in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers chapter 6 – One of the 48 ways to acquire Torah is – Noseh Be’ol Im H’avero / Carrying the burden with your fellow. Noseh Be’ol also includes noticing the burden of your fellow and doing what you can to relieve it. You see a large pile of laundry – put a couple loads in the washer and dryer. Sensitivity to others is one way to become greater person.
The Wife Mirrors the Husband’s Actions
Once my aunt in a department store. She was looking for her sister, who looked similar to herself. She saw a woman and she waved. The Woman waved back. She thought she found her sister – when she realized that she was looking at a mirror.
G-d runs the world Middah Keneged Middah / Measure for Measure – what one does – comes back to them. One of the reasons G-d commanded a person to get married is for each to grow together. Having a partner – gives you many opportunities for growth. What a man does – is sometimes shown to him through his wife. If one gets angry at his employee – when he comes home his wife may become angry at him. If he was kind – she may be kind with him.
So – if a man sees that his wife is not acting with respect – the obvious – but incorrect – reaction is being upset with her. The Torah’s recommended reaction is not to correct her – to but to correct yourself – correct the action you did that prompted your wife to become upset.
If she reflects your deeds – you should not get angry at her – correct yourself and that will hopefully extinguish the negative attitude of your wife. Obviously – your reaction also depends on the situation. This is a simplified answer – to bring out the point. This point is also brought in the book “Garden of Peace” by rabbi Shalom Arusch.