Review: The Garden Of Peace: A Marital Guide For Men Only
The Garden Of Peace: A Marital Guide For Men Only by Shalom Arush
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A marriage book for men by an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. So it was a mixture of great insights on the one hand, and poor handling of Scripture on the other.
He nails some very important principles.
The husband is to be the initiating giver to his wife. "A man gives, a woman receives" (99). When the man demands things of his wife before he demonstrates his own change, it only makes things worse.
The husband is responsible for what goes on in the home. "The wife is a mirror of the husband.... Any deficiency he sees in her is actually his own deficiency" (41). Instead of seeking to correct her, he should focus on correcting himself. A great example is on page 268: if he doesn't give her the attention she needs, she'll find it with long phone calls and visits. When he complains about this to her, "He doesn't realize that he's responsible for all this."
Compliment instead of criticize. I could tell the author has done some counseling when he wrote this: "Be consistent with your compliments....If she brushes them off, it's only because she wants to prove to herself that you really mean it" (271).
A wife needs to feel loved by her husband. "A woman's greatest desire is that her husband should love her. If she sees that this is not the case... she feels so alone... her world grows dark" (273).
I could tell by these that Arush has dealt with plenty of clueless husbands.
I write as a Christian, so a lot of the Jewish lingo was off-putting to me, especially appealing to the authority of the sages and meriting reward. Sometimes merit just meant obedience leading to joy. Other times it's really harmful. Relating a man struggling in his marriage, Arush says "All he had to do was try a bit harder" (206). Other times it was simplistic: "children born within the context of family purity are sweet and well-adjusted; those born from a mother who didn't immerse in a proper mikva are rebellious and insolent" (339). Other times it was weird: "Each prayer creates a mighty angel that assists a person at some point in their life" (339). At other points the rejection of grace as Christians know it was obvious: "It is forbidden to do any kindness for someone who is ungrateful" (183). "Heaven only has mercy on people who have mercy on others. When a man has mercy on his wife, he opens the gates of Heavenly mercy for himself" (278). He even assumes reincarnation, which I found surprising for an Orthodox rabbi (307).
This is not the book I'd give to someone struggling in their marriage, though some of the above principles are useful for husbands struggling to love their wives.
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