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Breaking a Promise


Rabbi David Sperling

Elul 5, 5775
Hello thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask my question,. this morning I had an argument with my wife and she told me that as long I talk to her in the way I was talking then to her with a disrespectful face, she will not answer me, so out of anger I told her if she’s not answering even to the way I’m talking, and i leave the room I promise i would not talk to u for 2 weeks, do i need to keep it? Since i said twice to her out of anger i promise not to talk to you for 2 weeks? Please help, thank you.
Shalom, I was very troubled to read your question, and I am replying in great haste in a hope that Shalom can be restored to your house as soon as possible. It sounds as though in the heat of the argument you said some things that you really did not intend. You are certainly not bound by them, and should find ways to bring back calm and trust between the both of you as soon as possible. Even though breaking one's word is a very serious thing, in this case where the words were said in anger, and will cause so much pain if kept, they are nullified as the dust of the earth. (If a formula of an oath was used – which is not the case here – the law is more serious. But even then we would undertake steps to nullify the oath for sake of marital harmony). Beyond the basic question you ask, allow me to add, that it is great mitzvah to apologize to your wife and appease here in whatever ways you can, in order to bring peace back to your house. This is true even if you feel that from an objective point of view you are in the right, and she was wrong. None the less, if you can bring yourself to a place where you can express regret to her in a way that will bring calm to the situation, and allow you both a fresh start, that is the holy path which you should try and follow. [If your wife would like to send me a question of her own, I would give the same advice to her also! The point is not who is right or wrong, but how to move forward in love and unity.] Here is the halachic wording of what you need to say to your wife – "I'm sorry". You may also add "Please forgive me", and "I'm going to try harder not to talk like that to you in the future". For extra credit you may also use the expression "I love you". Of course, if this situation of bickering and fighting occurs to often, or escalates to a high level, then I suggest that both of you turn to a professional marriage counselor. In fact, there are many good marriage courses that are worth taking even if the problems you have are not so serious, in order to learn to cope with the inevitable stresses of married life. May you be blessed with Shalom Beit -
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