Should a wife remind her husband to go to learn, or will it be considered as if she is a nagger and that she lacks confidence in him?
It states in Mishlei (14:1), חכמות נשים בנתה ביתה – the wisdom of women build a house. If you want to build a house you just can’t say, “I’m going to take some beams from the lumber yard and some cement and bags of concrete and I’ll build.” You have to learn the wisdom of building a house. And the woman who wants to build a house has to learn wisdom. You cannot build successfully unless you do it with wisdom. And how does she do it with wisdom? So she has to try to learn wisdom.
If you have a difficult husband, then if you have wisdom it’s easier to manage him. If you just go with your desire to make him over into your idea of what a husband should be, all you’ll do to get into trouble. You’ll frustrate yourself and you’ll be fighting.
The truth is that to change your husband is not an easy job in either case. The best thing is to get someone who has changed before you married him; his mother changed him already or his rebbe changed him. Never marry a man with the intention that you are going to change him; that’s an almost hopeless task.
But suppose there are certain things you do want to change; so you can do it by various methods, methods of insinuation, of praising him. If you put him in a good environment that he should imitate his friends, that’s also a method.
There are a number of ways, but all these ways require wisdom, because not only to change a man, to change a woman, to change anybody, is a very difficult task.
And so, as I said before, the best changing is when it’s done beforehand. This is a piece of important advice – you should strike while the iron is hot. The iron is hot before the engagement. Before you make the engagement you can tell him what you want and he can tell you what he wants of you. After the engagement it cools off right away because he has you already or you have her already, and you’re not worried about obeying the other party. Before the engagement – if you’re talking to a girl and you’re interested that she should be desirous of a big family, and that she shouldn’t be a big spender and she shouldn’t want to travel; that she should want to be a homebody, she should be interested in home economics, cooking, baking and sewing; all these things you have to tell it to her before the engagement. After the engagement it’s almost all over.
Therefore it’s possible to change somebody, but you have to utilize a great deal of diplomacy to do it.
TAPE # 457 (August 1983)