Question: My wife does many things that irritate me. For example, she never seems to be ready on time, she gets very emotional, or she insists on long conversations before we go to sleep. I find this all very irritating. Sometimes we even fight about all of this. This is not what I want from my partner. I don't see a way out.

Desperate for a solution

Answer: Marital relationships blossom when a husband and wife not only tolerate, but actually celebrate the differences between each other. People need different things in life. Beyond the basics, some people need extra portions of respect, others affection, while some people cherish autonomy and independence, etc. Celebrating differences provides the opportunity for each individual within the relationship to secure, without conflict, what he or she wants or needs.

Cooperating with your partner in his or her efforts to attain his or her unique physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual goals creates a relationship imbued with genuine acceptance that lead to feelings of being understood, appreciated, and loved. Individual goals certainly must be reasonable, ethical and not injure anyone. If they meet this standard, it becomes the partner's privilege to support these goals in every possible way.

Marital relationships blossom when a husband and wife not only tolerate, but actually celebrate the differences between each other.

A selfless attitude brings with it not only peace and harmony, but also creates feelings of being loved and cared for by your partner. When you both take a position of acceptance with each other, you will both feel as if you are receiving daily gifts of love. This will then generate affection and friendship.

I would suggest to "Desperate" that you lower your expectations of what you want from your spouse as much as possible. Be honest with yourself. A relationship has certain basic requirements that cannot be compromised. The following are some useful strategies to help you achieve an accepting attitude toward your partner:

1. Understand that you and your partner are unique—and that this is a good thing. If you had married someone exactly like yourself you would have very quickly become bored.

2. Nobody is perfect. Not your spouse, nor you. As you want to be accepted, quirks and eccentricities included—so does your spouse. If you "accept" your partner, you increase the likelihood that he or she will in turn "accept" you.

3. By learning to adapt to your partner's special ways of doing things you become a better person. You learn humility, patience, and how to love unconditionally. All valued character traits and necessary ingredients for a healthy and happy life.

Strive to create pleasant interactions—actions devoid of criticism, anger, or judgment. For example: Talk about topics that are of interest to both of you, spend time together working on valued project, or take turns sharing meaningful feelings and future goals. Doing so will make both of you feel good being together and will create an atmosphere in the home of genuine peace and harmony. When you and your wife emote acceptance and appreciation, soon your feelings of "desperation" will be transformed to feelings of being "loved."

A person's relationship with G‑d includes how he or she relates to others. This applies in particular to how we treat our marital partner. You have an opportunity to perform the greatest mitzvah of Ahavat Yisroel (love for another Jew) specifically with your husband or wife. Why? Because no one else is in the unique position to help, comfort, or love him or her as you are.

The Torah teaches us a universal lesson: "Who is a happy person. The one that is happy with his or her portion in life." Your greatest portion in life is your husband or wife. When you are "happy"—you celebrate— how your partner is special.