Sailing Relationships With R’ Ali  

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Welcome everyone to my marriage column. My name is Rabbi Ali Cohen and I am a Relationship Adviser. I give guidance to the Jewish community on marriage and all relationships. Here, I will be discussing common questions and topics in a very practical way. I will try, with Hashem’s help, to give clarity on these topics so you can better understand your spouse and hopefully enhance your relationship.  

 

Here is a real-life question that is relevant in many marriages. 

                                                  

 

Question: Dear Rabbi Ali, It seems that lately my wife and I have been arguing or even fighting much more than usual. I feel like it’s getting to the point where this has become “the norm” in my relationship and I would appreciate some guidance on how to get things back to the way they used to be. I would appreciate any advice that you can share with me. Thank you. 

 

 

R’ Ali’s Response: First, you should know that this is fairly common and that nothing is wrong with your relationship. Many times we are unsure if our marriage is “normal” and that itself can make us feel confused or hopeless. Many people go through this and similar situations and learn how to work through it. As a disclaimer , it’s almost impossible to give specific advice for this specific situation. There are so many variables that can be contributing to the arguing it would be irresponsible of me to give specific advice. Speaking to someone one-on-one would be much more helpful in order to get the whole picture. However, sometimes a few small ideas or tips can be an eye opener that give us the tools to navigate on our own. 

 

In general, I like to say there are three different types of arguments.. One could be due to differences of opinion. How to renovate a house, how to spend money, where to go on vacation, or even where to park the car could be examples of differences of opinion that turn into a fight. Another type of an argument could be due to ongoing issues that were never resolved, such as where to live, how to raise the children, or maybe even spirituality issues. 

 

The third source of arguments could be much trickier. There could be some hurt from past experiences or possibly a spouse feels misunderstood or mistreated and therefore turns everything into a fight. 

 

Let’s start with difference of opinion. These differences are healthy and normal and can be dealt with in a mature way. When you sense a disagreement turning into a fight, just stop and say, “We disagree, let’s figure this out.” Either compromise or agree to disagree. Sometimes we get defensive or maybe even just plain stubborn . Your wife is not attacking you if she has different political views than yours.  

 

If there is an ongoing difference that was never resolved, usually we’re getting stuck on the “either it’s my way or yours” and can’t see past the options you have considered in the past. You’d be surprised how many other options there are by just talking it out with someone who is a drop more subjective. Sitting down with your wife and letting her know in a nice way that you’d like to settle this once and for all could be helpful. Many times we tend to either hope that the issue will just go away or pretend it doesn’t even exist. Both ideas are not going to help the situation. 

 

Regarding the third type of difference, you have to be a bit more wise. It might take some investigating and picking up clues. However, people usually let their spouse know what’s really bothering them. If a husband is not around often enough, usually his wife will tell him so. He may justify his behavior, but that won’t help the relationship. Read the writing on the wall or maybe even ask your wife if there’s anything that bothers her. 

 

Remember, every marriage needs work and letting things just ride most likely won’t turn out too well. Try to identify if any of these situations are yours and get to work. If you have patience and are ready to be a bit flexible, you’re sure to “fix” things up and have a smooth sailing relationship. 

                                        

 

Rabbi Ali Cohen Has been in chinuch for the past seven years, teaching boys in our community from sixth to twelfth grade. He is a Relationship Adviser and gives guidance to people on marriage and parenting. He has a podcast/WhatsApp group called, “sailing relationships” that deal with many different relationship topics. He can be reached via email at alcohen@levtorah.org.