Rav Ezriel Tauber says that a husband and wife are like two rough diamonds. A rough diamond can become a priceless, pure jewel, but only if another diamond is used to remove the impurities. So HaKadosh Boruch Hu puts together two perfectly matched rough diamonds. He makes sure that they have their little differences. The friction from these differences scrapes away at their impurities so they gradually become multi-faceted, pure, shining jewels.
However, when the differences go deep, when the problems – perhaps temper, perhaps criticism, perhaps lack of help – rock the shalom bayis, then the scraping and rasping of those two diamonds can often be too much to bear. Trying to “dig out” either spouse’s “impurity” without an anesthetic is hardly likely to decrease the pain.
There may be another way to purify the diamonds. Perhaps a solvent where the couple joins forces to dissolve the problem might do the trick.
So let’s imagine a couple and hear what they may say:
WIFE: I tried so hard the other day. I got up at 5:30. I slipped out of bed as quietly as I could and left the room on tiptoes so as not to wake my husband. I dressed, davened and made everybody his or her lunches. Then I heard the children stirring. All their clothes were ready, so I popped my head into their room and said, “Come on children, time to get up. Off you go to do neggel vasser and then you can get dressed.”
My bed wetter had wet his bed. I calmly stripped his bed and said, “Well, tonight you can try again.” I was so pleased with myself for not getting angry. My dreamer was still sitting on his bed singing to himself, lost in some imagining game. “Come on,” I said, “it’s time to start dressing for school.” On the way to the washing basket with the wet sheets, I heard the rumblings of a children’s squabble. I dropped the sheets and dashed to the bedroom to prevent a full fledge war. My husband also heard and came in, rubbing his sleepy eyes. “What are these wet sheets doing in the middle of the hall? I could have tripped over them! Why can’t you keep the children quiet for the few extra minutes I have before it’s time to get up for minyan?”
I kept my mouth shut tight. I was not going to answer back. I was not going to let that larva stream of angry defensiveness pour out of my mouth in burning words and accusations. I tried encouraging the children to get dressed but my message came out all wrong. My voice was too loud and my words sounded more like demands and commands than encouragement.
“There you go again shouting at the children. Why can’t you make our mornings a happy, fun time?”
“Stop it!” I screamed. “Stop criticizing me in front of the children!” I ran to my room, took a deep breath, wiped my streaming eyes, and promised myself that I would calm down and make another try for a good start to the day.
“Come on kids. If you hurry up then I’ll have time to read to you before the school bus comes.”
I did it. I really did try again.
“I want my book,” piped up the oldest.
“No, I want the crocodile book.”
Meanwhile my “dreamer” was still singing away and all the neat piles of clothes had been thrown haphazardly on the floor.
“How do you expect the children to find their clothes in this chaos?” was my husband’s “helpful” comment.
I lost it, lost it, LOST IT! “Stop criticizing me. I’ve been up since 5:30 getting everything ready for all of you. I tried to quiet the children. I dropped those wet sheets in a vain attempt to stop their squabbling. I…”
“That’s half your trouble, you’re over tired. You should get more sleep.”
“There you go again! Will you please listen to me…?”
The children shook into their clothes. They came to breakfast and the silence was deafening. Not a word from anybody. They silently left for school. I gave each of them an unresponded to kiss and told them I loved them.