- The Truth about a Wife's Ability to Influence Her Husband Positively
- The Torah View on Shalom Bayis Obligations & Why We Need to Make Sure the Guidance We Receive Comes from Authentic Torah Hashkafah
- Our Inspiration Cannot be Based on Once-in-a-Generation (or Millennium) Outliers; Torah Methods are Attainable and Not Unobtainable
Back when I was feeling confused about this topic due to the way some sources were distorted out of context while other sources were omitted as if they never existed, I decided to research whether any evidence existed of wives making tzaddikim out of reshaim in the world at large.
I decided to look up mafia wives because mafia men are breaking laws at best and committing atrocities at worst, yet a lot of them are okay or even good at home.
A lot are also abusive, heavy drinkers, and unfaithful.
But either way, you have this mix of guys considered bad by society.
And it seemed like a good way to research the influence of wives on reshaim (even though, as Rav Avigdor Miller explained, the secular Leftists are much bigger reshaim & harm society more than the mafia).
It's not really the same because a frum Jewish wife believes in Torah values and belongs to a frum community with those same values.
But this mafia example was the best I could find at that time.
And Hashem led me to exactly the right study (which I never managed to find again, so this goes on memory and no sources, unfortunately).
Basically, the study observed 3 categories of mafia wives:
- Passive wives who went along with their husbands whether she knew of his activities or not
- Wives who influenced their husbands to leave the mafia
- Wives who encouraged their husbands to make it super big in the mafia, and even took over for their husband in powerful positions when he was sick, incarcerated, or dead
As you can imagine the last two (especially the second one) intrigued me the most.
Who Left the Mafia under His Wife's Influence?
It's not the same as the Talmudic scenario of the wicked wife who made her tzaddik husband wicked too, but it's the same idea.
Regarding #2, the study noted that all the men influenced to leave the mafia tended to be small-time participants.
They participated in minor ways & only when they were told to. In other words, half-hearted participation.
Born into mafia families, they lived the mafia life because of their upbringing.
However, they seemed to not to feel the life suited them.
So when their wives suggested alternatives, these husbands were open to hearing them.
Gradually, these men left their lives of petty crime and switched to standard jobs and lifestyles.
I can't remember exactly how the mafia responded to their secession from "the business," but I think it usually wasn't such a big deal because most of these guys were occasional bit players whose participation wouldn't be missed.
The mafia doesn't necessarily care if you get a regular job (though that might depend on the father's position within the mafia and his expectations for his sons).
They seem more concerned that you don't judge them or tattle on them.
At that time, it intrigued me to note how NONE of the wives managed to influence her husband AGAINST his will.
All the guys who left wanted to leave anyway.
The guys heavily invested or powerful in the mafia, or the bit players who simply didn't want to split—these guys never left.
It didn't matter what their wives wanted.
The husbands didn't want to leave, so they didn't.
And this observation shows similarity to the stories in this post:
The Truth about a Wife's Ability to Influence Her Husband Positively
Despite her wisdom, tact, patience, love, and efforts—and even her success in influencing him in other ways (ways he WANTED to go)—I never found any example of a wife who influenced her husband to become a tzaddik or kollel man or baal chessed or whatever unless HE secretly desired to go in that direction himself.
And I guess that's that.