By Rabbi Dovid Markel
The Torah (Bereishit 2:24) states regarding marriage: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
In explaining the meaning of “one flesh,” Rashi comments based on the Talmud (Sanhedrin 58a): “The fetus is formed by them both, and there [in the child] their flesh becomes one.”
One’s children are not merely a physical composite of both spouses, but the emotional makeup and character is a compound of the two of them – the synthesis creates an entirely new entity, not only the sum of the two of them.
The above thought can inform a person of the supreme importance of Shalom Bayis and marital harmony in ensuring children that are emotionally and spiritually healthy.
When there is discord amongst the parents, and they cannot tolerate each other, they deeply affect their children–at least on a subconscious level.
Not only is shalom bayit is an essential factor in ensuring emotionally healthy children as it imparts to them a sense of safety, security, and unconditional love, but there is a somewhat deeper psychological point as well.
Freud was right in his astute explanation of an individual’s subconscious and super-ego being formed by his or her parents.
A person naturally hears the voice of his or her parents in their mind either encouraging their behavior or critiquing and tension between parents is reflected in emotional tension in the offspring.
Instead of a synthesis taking place, the sides of the personality similar to the individual parent often duel in the individual themselves causing internal conflict and lack of self-acceptance and low-self esteem.
In order to break this cycle of shevira and tohu, a tikkun, or balance is needed. Instead of the person being in tension with himself, the sides of the personality must learn to live together in symbiosis.
While a person must often heal his or her own wounds, and internal conflict, to ensure that this cycle of conflict not continue, he must work on his or her own shalom bayit.
For shalom bayit is not something that only pertains to the parties involved, but the ripple effects literally have repercussions on generations to come.
The same is with the positive: In the blessing that is customarily wished to young couples, one wishes them an “everlasting edifice based on the foundation of Torah and Mitzvot.”
The relationship between spouses is not a temporary one that lasts as long as the couple is together, or even their entire lives, but is one that has “everlasting” repercussion “adei ad.”
When a couple acts towards each other in love, respect, compassion, and camaraderie, they literally affect the emotional and spiritual health of their children, grandchildren, and generations to come.
I think if people were to truly realize the vast repercussion of their actions on children and future generations, in causing them to be healthy or G-d forbid the opposite, they’d be much more attentive of their spousal relationship that is of supreme value for generations to come.