Greet your spouse with a smile as soon as he walks through the door.
- start off with kvetching,
- shove the screaming baby in his arms (tempting as it may be),
- give him a list of things that went wrong.
- smile at him,
- ask how his day was,
- offer something positive that happened.
I remember hearing this bit of advice when I was single and thinking, “How hard can that be? I’m going to be the best wife ever!” Hahahaha – whew. Well, a few years, a couple of screaming babies and many off-kilter days later, I now appreciate the value of Rabbi Krohn’s advice.
Not only is it nicer for my husband to come home to a pleasant smile, a kind word of concern about his welfare, and (hopefully) some hot food, but it also helps me with how I’m feeling. When I focus on all the things that “went wrong” (usually it’s just “went differently than I wanted”), I become a giant ball of stress. And who needs that?
When I take the time to put myself together, think of something cute that the kids did, and get ready to greet my husband with a smile, it puts me in a better mood. And that, in my opinion, makes me a better wife, which makes for a better marriage. Ka-ching.
Also, our Sages tell us that
“it is better to show one’s white teeth (by smiling affectionately) to his friend than to give him a glass of milk” (Kesubos 111b).
A good mood is contagious. So is a grinchy one. If you want a happy spouse, be a happy spouse.
Now, Rabbi Krohn also makes the point that if you have been dealing with a screaming baby all day, and are at your wits’ end, by all means give the baby to your husband and give yourself a break. Just give him a couple of minutes to decompress first, and then ask (as nicely as possible) for the help that you need.
We’re not supposed to be Stepford wives here. You’re allowed to kvetch, decompress, relax, whatever. However, make sure that it’s in a way which is bringing you closer to your spouse rather than creating distance.