Love Her, Hate Her

During a few appearances in California recently, I found myself counseling three sincere and newly married young rabbis.  They had all enjoyed the good fortune of marrying lovely young women deeply devoted to religious ideals along with an eager willingness to adopt the mission of being rabbis’ wives.

It turned out that all three were experiencing the same mild marital problem and it was resolved for all of them with exactly the same directive.  It’s one my wife and I dubbed “The 3-A challenge for men”.  I directed these three well-meaning newlyweds to create regular opportunities to make themselves authentically feel and then tell their wives how much they Appreciate them, Adore them, and Admire them. 

Please don’t for a moment think that my three young men meekly acquiesced to my instruction.  They didn’t.  They insisted that their wives knew how they felt. They insisted that such spiritual wives as they were blessed to have would see such compliments as mere flattery. Again, I patiently explained that unless they took the time and effort to really feel deep appreciation, adoration, and admiration for their wives, saying it would be nothing but flattery.  Furthermore, I insisted, their wives were entitled to husbands who really felt that way about them.  Furthermore, a great many wives, unless told, tend to doubt the esteem in which their husbands hold them.

Two of the three have already expressed profound, and in one case almost tearful appreciation to me, assuring me that I couldn’t possibly have any idea of what a tremendous difference this simple instruction has so quickly already made in their marital relationships.  I’m sure I’ll soon hear from the third guy as well. 

Husbands are usually astounded when I explain how common it is for a wife who is not assured of her husband’s affection to begin suspecting she is disliked or worse.  Here’s how I know:

If a man has two wives, one beloved, and another hated…
(Deuteronomy 21:15)

After reading that verse from Deuteronomy, anyone with even a rudimentary familiarity with the Bible will remember the following story:

and he [Jacob] loved Rachel more than Leah…
And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated…
(Genesis 29: 30-31)

There aren’t many characters in Genesis who married two wives.  There is only one who married two wives, one of whom felt hated while the other felt loved and cherished; his name was Jacob.

Our Deuteronomy verses teach that when a man’s ‘hated’ wife gives birth to his son and later his beloved wife does the same, he may not favor the son of the loved wife over the boy’s older brother.  Yet, this is exactly what Jacob did.  Jacob’s wife Leah gave birth to Reuben and much later, his beloved wife Rachel gave birth to Joseph.  Jacob displayed favoritism towards Joseph which stimulated years of enmity between his sons.

Not surprisingly for those of us who treasure the Bible as God’s blueprint for living,  the word SeNuAH (hated) occurs only twice in the Five Books of Moses; once in the story of Jacob and his wives and the other in the legislation against favoring a younger son found in Deuteronomy.  Clearly we are being taught to link the story to the legislation.  Though God had not yet formally prohibited favoring a younger son over the first-born in Jacob’s time, it was still a very bad idea.

There’s another vital lesson we’re being taught.  Note that Scripture never even suggests that Jacob hated Leah.  We are only told that Jacob loved Rachel more.  Nonetheless, while Rachel basked in the knowledge of his love for her, Leah felt hated.  Indeed, God accepted that she was hated in a way that perhaps Jacob himself was oblivious to.  I can be closer to one sibling, cousin or friend more than to another one and yet they and I know that I love them too. That is not so in marriage. And this isn’t only true for multiple wives. Women can feel hated when they see their husbands seeming more passionate about work, sports or other people than they are about them.

Most women intuitively understand that their husbands need physical reassurance of being loved. Fewer men realize that their wives need, and deserve, emotional reassurance of being loved, expressed in words and actions. While courting their wives, most men understand the value of positive words and gestures like flowers. I’m delighted that my young rabbis learned at an early stage of their marriages that those tangible signs of adoration, appreciation and admiration are a lifetime commitment.

23 thoughts on “Love Her, Hate Her”

  1. I was very sad to read the letter by Brea L. and would like to send her a message if you allow this. … Dear Brea, my husband, God rest his soul, passed away a year and a half ago. Please do not wait until your husband leaves this earth to see all the wonderful things he does for you. After so many years together there are many things and ways about him that I’m sure are precious! I think woman get stuck on focusing on their great ideal in their mind’s eye- so much so that they cannot see all the wonderful, sweet ways about their man. It may not be in accord with the great ideal of our mind’s eye,? but trust me when I say, they give with all their heart and soul, in the best way they know. Enjoy him Brea. Love him, and cherish him. Do not allow your mind’s eye to blind you to how blessed you are to share your life with him. Do not wait until he is gone to understand your blessing. Love, joy, and a good eye to you darling! Love MargaretJayne

    1. You are so sweet MargaretJayne. Thank you for your kind words and I’m very sorry for your loss. My marriage is complicated but I will definitely take your words to heart. B.L.

  2. Dorothy Faulkner

    Makes me think of the book “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. It’s similar to the Love Languages theory but bigger in scope. His thesis (rudely put) is that women try to get love by giving love and men try to get respect by giving respect but women basically need love (including your wonderful 3 A’s) and men basically need respect so we have to learn what the other one needs and speak that (foreign to us) language to them. It was a real eye opener for me. Thank you, Rabbi Lapin (and Mrs. Rabbi!) for your much helpfulness.

  3. Thank you so much for these words of wisdom. I wish I could ask my husband to read this but I’m afraid even if he did he wouldn’t get it! 🙁 We have been married for 40+ years and I’d say the majority of those years have been challenging (to put it mildly). My husband and I have listened to the Madam, I’m Adam CD set both together and separately. (I’ve listened at least 3 times by myself gleaning something new every time.) Such wonderful counsel packed into these two CDs!!! When my husband and I discuss the lessons on those CDs the only thing he focuses on is my role to respect him. It’s true, I really, really want to respect him but sadly enough through the years I have seldom – if ever – felt your “3-As” and I have never felt cherished – quite the opposite – I have felt SeNuAH (hated). His needs are always paramount. As a result the respect I had for my husband in the early years has slowly and totally been “sucked out” of me. Your message above is spot-on – I know I could start restoring the respect I’ve lost for my husband, even at this stage of marriage, if I felt loved – Appreciated, Adored and Admired! I hope my words can serve as an example to help someone in the early stages of a marriage relationship. Thank you again for your timeless wisdom Rabbi and Susan.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Brea–
      It’s not too late to try bring about a marriage renewal; but as we teach in our Let Me Go audio program you need outside assistance. There surely must be some person you both respect….a pastor, a relative, maybe a professional, or a marriage retreat….It’s worth exploring.

  4. rabbi should i marry a woman im not attracted to, she is a good woman and a good christian but im just not attracted to her phsically, in asian culture and background the families arrange marriages.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Phil–
      There’s not really enough data for us to answer your question responsibly. Are you actually repelled or is she just very different from the image you’ve carried with you since you were a teenager? Do you find yourself wondering whether your friends would find her matching your standards? I would probably advise you to go on four dates with her and then see how you react to her. When I’m in charge, men will have to commit to four dates before ever seeing what she looks like but only after several hours of telephone conversation. In other words, let your ears work before you throw your eyes into the mix

  5. Always wise advice Rabbi! I would add that one of the most helpful books to both my relationship with my wife and to that of my children was The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. He encourages people to learn how others feel most loved and express their love in that language. For some people its words of affirmation. Others may feel most loved when given a small token of appreciation. Learning this has helped me connect better with my wife and my children.


    Thank you, Rabbi Lapin, for your “Love Her, Hate Her” advice. If you don’t mind I’m going to “borrow” your words and pass them on to one of my grandsons (who is, by the way now the father of my sixth great-grandchild). Be blessed.

  7. Dear Rabbi Daniel
    I receive many good emails of wisdom and godly counsel from you. I loved his recent one on the three A’s … “tell your wives how much you Appreciate them, Adore them, and Admire them.” It is brilliant!
    Thank you for caring enough in sharing these truths of God’s word.
    Blessings aplenty for you and your lovely wife, Susan.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you for writing, David,
      Your words are uplifting and we receive your blessing with gratitude

  8. Pastor Sikhumbuzo Moyo

    Thank you Rabbi D Lapin, for these wise words helping us man a lot, I NORMAL assume my wife knows I love her,but through you i ought to verbalize it…

    Will do more say and see how it goes

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      It’ll go well, Pastor Sikhumbuzo Moyo,
      Do let me know
      Please remember that guys like us who talk for their living, well, you’ve heard the saying that the shoemaker’s children go barefoot? I think that those to whom we minister get our best words and we simply have little left for wife and children. That is not right. When we come home all we want is the luxury of silence but that is not what our wives need or want.

  9. Wow,

    Thank you so much for this article.

    Your work has put on such a wonderful journey, in understanding The Holy Scriptures better, and how the world really works.

    It will be such an honour to meet you next time you tour/visit South Africa.

    Having been exposed in events planning and organizing (myself), seminars and conferences – I will appreciated the opportunity for being involved in planning for your next coming to South Africa.

    In Him,


    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Madimetja–
      I am ministering in Ghana right now and yesterday morning a South African businessman recognized me in the hotel and expressed interest in arranging my visit to South Africa. If it moves forward I’ll put you in touch.

  10. Dear Rabbi Daniel,
    I admire your work and the help you give to those you serve. How sacred the institution of marriage and yet how fragile it can be. I find your words and teaching in this posting perspicacious and of the utmost value. My wife and I have been married for over 40 years during which we have had our challenges and trying moments. Even so, we have learned and we have persevered. Our love and appreciation for one another has grown and has never been better.
    Your words of advice are priceless…..and practical. The 3-A challenge for men: Appreciate them. Adore them. And Admire them….Always; in the newness of marriage; in the comfortableness of marriage; and in the duration of marriage. “A lifetime of commitment.”
    I especially appreciate your words regarding Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. I learned something today.
    Thank you and God bless you and Susan in your Faith, Finances, Family and Friends.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Steve, for your wonderfully encouraging words,
      Remaining married to one wife for forty years means that you have definitely learned a thing or two. No question!
      Enjoy the next forty!

  11. Thank you Rabbi for the wise advice. If there had been a “love language” in my marriage, we may have been able to work things out.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Esther-
      I am saddened to hear that you were not able to make it work out. I hope you’re doing well. It’s not so much a love language because how you feel is one of the least important elements in marriage, counterintuitively. How you act is far more important than how you feel. But you now know that.

  12. Helpful thanks, Love you’re podcast I wait with anticipation every week to listen thanks again keep up the good work people need to hear how the world REALLY WORKS! . B. From N.H.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Brian–
      I’m happy to know that you are listening regularly from New Hampshire. People may NEED to hear how the world REALLY works, but few actually want to. It is so much more comfortable living an illusion anesthetized by entertainment.
      From one happy warrior to another,

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