I heard a sermon over Succot about the need for us to appreciate the hard work that goes into preparing and hosting meals on Jewish holidays.
I only remember once on a Shabbat or Jewish holiday, the man of the house publicly putting down his wife’s home-keeping skills. I wanted to flee when I heard that. I felt horrible. The poor woman was just worn down by Pesach. I was a guest for the seder. And the man of the house was just on her case. This happened in Fairfax/La Brea.
I’d say I’ve been to more than a hundred Ashkenazi baalei teshuva (newcomer) homes and in at least a third of them, the wife is running down the husband before the guests. She’ll get on him about the way he says hamotzi and kiddush. She’ll tell him to hurry up or to slow down. She’ll cut him down for bringing out the wrong napkins or wrong benchers (mini prayer books). On many a night, there’s nothing he can do right.
I notice the children imitate her contempt for dad.
If dad tries to defend himself, the situation gets really ugly, so 95% of the time, the men just stay silent and grit their teeth as the wife reams him publicly.
It’s horrible to be a guest in such a situation.
I never want this in my marriage.
I only notice this in baalei teshuva Ashkenazi Orthodox homes. I don’t see it in Sephardic homes, where male-female roles are more defined and traditional. I don’t see it in FFB (frum from birth aka Orthodox from birth) homes.
I have asked around my experience is not unusual. So why is this? I think it’s feminism. It’s become cool in the wider culture to belittle men.
Then I thought about something author John Gray said to Dennis Prager on the radio, “Husbands appreciate their wives much more than wives appreciate their husbands.”
That rings true with the small slice of life that I’ve seen. Men are often displaying tremendous gratitude for their wives, but it is rare to see the reverse.
So I asked a married friend in the Succah this week, “It seems in my limited experience that men appreciate their wives much more than wives appreciate their husbands. Is this true?” He shushed me and said to ask him privately.