In today’s ‘brave new world’ of coronasteria many husbands are finding themselves in familiar yet uncharted territory.
With their wives and kids.
Day after day.
For some – like this introverted, homebody writer – it’s great. Finally, no beating myself up about not being one of those type ‘A’ go-getters. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to get, anyway.
But many others feel like fish out of water; like they’re spinning their wheels – instead of being out there conquering the world, they’re wasting their precious time and energy doing nothing more significant than trying to get along with their spouse.
But if I daresay, they may just have their logic upside-down.
Western society tends to judge a person’s greatness from the outside-in. Career, fame, world-shaking influence are the prime measures of success. From there, one ‘spirals inward’ – how is he looked upon by his employees/coworkers, neighbors, relatives, and finally his wife and children? These things, while if positive are certainly a plus, are merely feathers in the cap of one who’s ‘really made it’ in the wider world.
The Torah looks at it differently. The primary measure of a person’s success is how successfully he relates to those closest to him, and particularly his wife. A man’s marriage is his core relationship – it cuts to the bone. It’s the place where he can least hide, least create an image or avatar to stand behind. It’s the place that reveals his true essence. I heard once from talmidim of a renowned spiritual giant that their rebbe would routinely tell his young married students: “Your entire ruchnius (spiritual standing) is determined by how you talk to your wife.”
Once this is in place, once can (and should) begin to ‘spiral outward’, giving to his children (yes, even they are meant to play second fiddle to his wife), neighbors, friends and associates, and finally the wider world according to his situation and abilities. But all of this is only of true spiritual value if his core relationship – his marriage – is solid, and that these wider relationships come as its embellishments – not at its expense.
We all hope and pray that health and safety soon returns to the world, and with it could well come the return of ‘displaced husbands’ to their offices, kollels, etc. But it could just be that G-d is giving them this little timeout to shore up and own their spiritual cores – their marriages – and then their subsequent ‘spiral outward’ will be so much more valuable and real.