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The Rambam (Hilchus Ishus 15:19) writes:

כן צוו חכמים שיהיה אדם מכבד את אשתו יתר מגופו ואוהבה כגופו

The Chachamim instituted that [each] man should respect his wife more than himself, and love her as [he loves] himself.

When it comes to the laws of loving others, the verse states:

ואהבת לרעך כמוך

You shall love your friend like [you love] yourself.

What practical difference is there between the obligation to love a wife and the obligation to love a friend, when they are both defined as 'like yourself'? (In other words, what did Chazal add by instituting the obligation to 'love your wife' which wasn't already included in 'love your friend'?)

  • I wonder how a wife feels If her husband only loves her because it's a commandment to do so? – user9806 Oct 28 at 19:04
  • At a wedding I attended, the mesader kiddushin told the following joke: A wife asks her husband 'Do you love me?' The husband replies 'Of course. I love all Jews." – Ze'ev Felsen Nov 19 at 19:19
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Well, you seam to have a misunderstanding of the Ramba"m. Loving someone and respecting someone are two different concepts. Even being respect a natural consequence of love, one may respect someone without loving him. That said, you have the obligation to love your wife like yourself and every other Jew, and the obligation to respect your wife more than you (think about decisions when only one of you may be fully respected - make the respected one be your wife and not you).

Anyway, I also recommend you marrying someone you love more than plain ahavas isroel, which makes it more than yourself.

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