Sailing Relationships with R’ Ali

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Question: Dear Rabbi Ali, Baruch Hashem, I have a wonderful husband. He works hard, helps out with the kids, and is very kind to all of us. I even feel ungrateful mentioning this issue, but it has been bothering me for some time. It seems like he never has time for me. Even when he is home, he either has more work to do or needs his space to unwind. I totally understand this, but I would like to spend more time with him. I don’t think that I’m asking much. Does the Rabbi have any suggestions? Thank you in advance and thank you for all your wonderful advice that you give. 

 

  

R’ Ali’s Response:  Thank you for the positive feedback, I do appreciate it. You mention so many good qualities about your husband. It is wonderful that you are appreciative. Unfortunately, many people are not so appreciative of their spouses. Also, it’s important to isolate the wants that we have and not make our whole relationship and its success contingent on this one thing that we so badly crave. You say that your husband is wonderful and he probably is. This issue should not take away in any way from the good that you have in your marriage. 

 

With that being said, let’s try to give some ideas and shed some light on your situation. First of all, your desire to spend more time with your husband is completely normal and does not make you ungrateful. We all have wants and needs and if we’re honest with ourselves we should identify if our wants and needs are reasonable or not. Without any other information, it seems from your question that what you are looking for is reasonable.  

 

First and foremost, you can try to approach the situation in a different manner than you have been using until now. Many times, we act out of frustration and fail to just ask for what we want. We may say things like, “We never go out anymore,” or “You’re always so busy, when is it my turn?” The problem with these statements is exactly what they are, statements. Many times the simplest way to get what you want goes overlooked. Just ask! I know this sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many times we fail to do this. For this specific scenario, I would say to approach it in a non-threatening manner at the right time. When you are out for a walk or are eating dinner, just turn to your husband and say, “I would love to go out with you tomorrow night. Does that work for you?” Another mistake we make is ask at the wrong time. When we’re frustrated and our spouse is busy we’ll bombard them with demands. That is the worst time and the worst way to ask for anything. Your first tip is to wait for the right time and to just ask. 

   

The next tip is to be specific about what you want. If you have been asking your husband to go out more often it may have sounded something like this, “We never go out anymore.” “Can we spend more time together?” “You have time for everyone except for me.” Aside from those statements not being direct, as I mentioned in the first tip, they are extremely vague. It’s very likely that he did not take the hint, but rather took your words as an attack. Start with something specific. “Would it be possible to go for a walk tomorrow night at 10:00? If not, do you have a better time? It would be great to go out with you.” This sentence includes a direct and specific request. 

 

The next idea is extremely important and is successful with many couples. It is called “stop demanding and just request.” A request is much less threatening than a demand. “It would mean so much to me if we went out sometime this week, no pressure.” This comes off as non-threatening and gives your husband a chance to make his own decision. Everyone wants to make their spouse happy. Request gently and most likely your husband will fulfill your request. As I always say, be patient and persistent, and don’t give up so fast. With that you are sure to 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.