From the Torah it seems that the wife is supposed to be subject to her husband. Is this true?
Now you have to understand certain things. If you’re going to insist on your wife being subject to you, then you’re going to get the wrong results. If you’ll be polite and patient, then your wife will cooperate with you much more readily. And what I’m telling you is so important.
There’s a man – I had a case like this – that I was dealing with and he was telling me “ma’shekansah isha kanah ba’alah” – that whatever a woman earns belongs to the husband. So whenever she earned a little bit of money, he took it away from her. He thought he was a lamdan. A foolish lamdan. I said to him, “Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Forget about it. It’s her money – let her keep it.” Don’t be a makpid on things that you think the Halacha is telling you. You can’t learn ma’amarei chazal in a vacuum. And it’s very necessary to live with common sense.
You have to make every effort – every effort – to treat your wife with the utmost respect and to earn the respect of your wife. Don’t rely on a ma’amar chazal that your wife should be subject to you. Forget about it. A wife could try to remember that, but the husband should try to forget about that ma’amar chazal.
A wife should always try to please her husband. And she’ll get Olam Habah for trying to please her husband. And a husband should try to please his wife too. And he’ll get Olam Habah as well.
You should know that your measure of success in this world depends, to a great extent, on your success in marriage. I’ll tell you why. Your wife is a human being, after all. And she’s a Jew. The husband is also a human being. And a Jew. The way you treat each other is equal to how you treat a thousand other people. If you treat your wife or husband in a polite way you will have the mitzvah of treating more than a thousand Jews politely because you are always encountering your spouse. That’s your measure of success in Olam Hazeh. For a husband and a wife that is the true measure of success. Your encounters with your wife or husband are more frequent than your encounters with anybody else. And therefore if you are successful in polite diplomacy, in patience and in choosing your words carefully, maybe you will be a success. And not answering back. Not answering back is so important. Just keep quiet and you’ll discover that not only is that the best way in life for your own health and happiness, but maybe you’ll discover someday, that this was your ticket to Olam Habah.