This post is dedicated in memory of Shlomo ben Aryeh Zalman. May it be an aliyah for his neshama.
By Shoshana Rosa
I've said this before but it bears repeating, "The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants" (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).
That's not to say that women should resort to trickery in order to get their husbands to do what they want.
But, sometimes, it takes a little diplomatic cunning to keep everyone under one roof happy, not to mention sane.
This is because guys, once their minds are made up, are hard pressed to see matters any way other than their way...
Not that women are being asked to move aside as guys remain, in all their stereotypical finery, hot headed, emotionally shallow and stubborn while the wives show up to the table well dressed, cool as cucumbers and understanding.
I mean, no one's going to stop you from stepping into the Stepford Housewife complex if that's what you want but it isn't the ideal in a happy marriage. In Judaism, we don't advocate for two people to lead parallel existences until 'death do us part'. In fact, Judaism requires the opposite: an ideal marriage is about the coming together of, the meeting at a halfway point of, and the compromising of two young (or old) someones, open to growing together. Once that foundation is laid, one can take a look at the roles women and men play so that they can work toward building a harmonious home together.
As far as diplomatic cunning, one of the secrets to a good marriage is a woman's ability to make her man FEEL like he's king of the household. That doesn't translate to his actually being in charge. Not necessarily. Nevertheless, the dynamic in the house needs to be such that the man feels like he's the one calling the shots. Even though the woman might be the one running the show, she needs to figure out how to make him, as well the children, feel like he's in charge.
Some women might feel resistance to this. (Who am I kidding? Most modern women do feel resistance to this. Including me.) This is because many of us have become used to wielding some bit of power in our own lives; experiencing the feeling of relinquishing that power is painful, to say the least. I would even go so far as to say that for some of us, it feels like carving out part of our identities. Than again, our thoughts don't have to take that direction.
While it's healthy to acknowledge conflicted feelings, we, as women, must understand the bottom line, which is that ladies need to feel like they can respect their men. They also need to feel like they need their men. That's part of the tikkun (cosmic fixing) we were given after Chava (Eve) talked Adam into eating from the Eitz HaDat, Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. "Your desire shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you" (Genesis 3:17).
Never forget that, on the opposite end, a man must cherish and value his wife. His obligations are to take care of all her needs: the physical, emotional as well as spiritual. And remember: becoming a human doormat was never part of the job description for a wife. In any case, the disclaimer is that disrespecting a wife is what caused feminism and masculo feminism to rear its ugly head.