Shalom Bayis Litmus Test

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    On one hand Chazal say and demonstrate (Yevamos and elsewhere) that there is such a thing as a bad wife. On the other hand, I’ve seen in seforim that the wife is the barometer of the husband. In other words, if he treats her well she will react in kind and vis versa. So, how can a husband know if his wife’s bad behavior is because she is a bad person or if it is a result of his bad behavior? Is there a Litmus Test?


    It can be hard to know because a couples lives are so intertwined and they affect each other very much. One could say the same about the husband as well. I would say the best litmus test is to be work on yourself in your marriage in a substantial way (specific kabbola/ hachlata), for a substantial amount of time (say a month).

    If she responds in kind, then you know that she was just your barometer. If she doesn’t appreciate it and thinks it’s all coming to her, and doesn’t reciprocate in any way, then she’s a bad wife. But you anyways don’t lose out by working on your middos.


    I would reframe the question in more gender neutral terms of how does a woman know if her husband’s bad behavior is related to her own behavior or simply because he is a paskudnyak. In reality, parties to a relationship may respond to their partners but their core behavior is ultimately their own issue.

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