Dear Bronya,

I have become more ritually observant and unfortunately my wife is not. I understand, and she has stated, that this is not what she "signed up for." My question is how to get past my daily frustration regarding this, especially when it comes to our being role models for our three daughters. I work very long hours and she spends the most time with them.


Dear Frustrated,

I understand the challenges you face, and can certainly understand your frustration. You must keep foremost in mind that above all your marriage must be respected. When a Jewish man and woman marry, they establish, the two of them, a home in Israel. A binyan adei ad—an eternal edifice. Your marriage is for all eternity.

You say that you've become more "ritually observant"; no doubt you're referring to Shabbat and kosher, to tefillin and mezuzah, and I admire you for that. No doubt you are saying the morning prayers, and no doubt you've recognized that the morning blessings end with the passage, "....these are the precepts, the fruit of which man enjoys in this world, while the pricipal reward remains in the World to Come. . . bringing peace. . . between husband and wife..." Furthermore, before even beginning the morning prayers you regularly say the following: "I hereby take upon myself to fulfill the mitzvah, 'Love your fellowman as yourself.'" This mitzvah of ahavat Yisrae' – contrary to some misconception – most definitely applies to one's spouse!

Both of these passages are in the morning prayers. You cannot begin your day without saying them. Think about this, think about the significance. As important as are 'ritual' observances, these sentiments are repeated every single morning—it is with these specific sentiments that you continue in prayer.

So you are frustrated that your partner in life, your soulmate, does not share your passion for ritual observance. What about your passion for making her happy? What about your passion, now that you are more keenly aware of Torah obligations, for loving her unconditionally? Your passion for increasing, in every possible way, the peace between a husband and wife?

Show her what it means to be a servant of Torah. Show her it makes a man more sensitive to his wife, more attuned to her needs and her anxieties and her dreams and her hopes. Make for her a husband who, through his Torah observance, has become the man of any woman's dreams!

She did not 'sign up' for this, but she most certainly did sign up for a caring, concerned, tolerant, respectful, and loving soulmate....

Be that.