- Question: [Monday 1st Shevat 5782]
Is there any Torah or Halachic obligation for a husband to spend time with his wife? Obviously, couples must spend time with each other in order so the relationship grow and stay healthy. However, how often is the suggested practice? Every once in a while, my wife complains to me that we don’t spend enough time together and lately this has become quite an issue of friction. I claim that I am extremely busy providing for our family, and dealing with the kids when I come back from work, and simply trying to relax off the day, and therefore I’m not able to always be there to spend time with her every single day. So we would like once and for all to get some guidance as to what in truth is expected in a marriage?
The daily schedule of a married couple must contain a timeslot for them to spend quality time with each other, in which the husband gives his wife his true and undivided attention. The same way a man is obligated to Daven and put on Tefillin each day, so too he is obligated to invest in his marriage every single day, through investing time which he spends with his wife. This is included in the biblical mitzvah of rejoicing one’s wife which is part of the general mitzvah of loving one’s fellow Jew. While there is no set amount of time that the couple must spend together, a half-hour a day is a suggestive amount of time, as can be suggested from the Rebbe’s letters on the subject. Regarding how this time is to be spent together, it should be spent with casual conversation, and should periodically also be spent to learn a subject of Torah with each other.
Explanation: Getting married comes with a number of marital obligations that each spouse has to the other, as delineated in the Kesuba document. Aside for monetarily supporting his wife, a husband also has an obligation to emotionally support her, to gladden his wife’s heart and make her feel happy and content, and certainly not cause her pain and feelings of being unloved. The Rebbe writes that this is an actual biblical obligation of the Torah. In many letters the Rebbe writes to encourage the husband to sanctify time to spend with his wife, and that doing so is tantamount to the obligation of putting on tefillin daily. It is related in a Teshurah printed in the book “Eternal joy” that when the Rebbe was recovering from his heart attack he told his doctor that when he arrives home each day from his office he takes time to sit with his wife, the Rebbetzin, over a cup of tea and converse, and that he the doctor should do the same. Now, if the Rebbe who was the busiest and most important man in the world set aside time daily to spend with his wife and converse even about mundane subjects, then certainly every individual can and must find time to do so. As for the argument that one is too worn out from spending his time in making a living to be able to obligate himself to spend time with his wife daily, the sages teach us that a happy and content wife brings a blessing of wealth to the family, and hence this is a Catch-22, as by making sure that one’s wife is content in the marriage, one affects his success in his ability to bring in an income.
Sources: See regarding the biblical command to rejoice one’s wife: Igros Kodesh 21:254 “It is a Biblical command of the Torah to rejoice the heart of one’s wife, and this is part of the general great rule of the Torah taught by Rabbi Akiva of loving one’s fellow Jew”; See regarding spending time daily with one’s spouse: Igros Kodesh 12 letter 3,912 “I would like to take this opportunity to arouse you to sanctify time for your wife and children in a way of bringing them close. I emphasize the word “sanctify” being that indeed this is a matter of sanctity and relates to the survival of our holy nation…. This especially applies based on the famous talk of the Rebbe Rashab in which he states that just as one is obligated to put on Tefillin each day so too he is obligated to sanctify from his time to influence his wife and children.” Igros Kodesh 16:358 “In answer to your letter in which you write that your husband is very busy [and has no time for me and our children], in general you are correct with your claim, as indeed a husband and father must sanctify time for his wife and children, and it is completely obvious that this is no less important than any of the other mitzvah’s of our holy Torah. And it is known the words of the Rebbe Rashab regarding the above that just as one is obligated to put on Tefillin each day so too….” Hayom Yom Hamevuar 22nd Teves; See regarding learning Torah together with one’s wife: Igros Kodesh 9,116 “It is obvious that it is worthwhile to set times of Torah study with one’s wife in those matters that are relevant as explained in the laws of Torah learning of Admur chapter 1. And the question itself is wondrous!” Igros Kodesh 30:95 “certainly you have set times of Torah learning occasionally during the week with your spouse,and try to elevate her spirit and encourage her in matters of Torah and mitzvos in a peaceful manner, as after all, according to Torah the woman is the pillar of the home.” See regarding the wealth of a family is in the merit of the wife: Admur Hilchos Onah Ugeneivas Daas 32 “A person should always be careful in the honor of his wife as blessing is only found in the home in merit of his wife. And so taught the sages to their generation that they should honor their wives in order so they be wealthy”