Dear Rachel,

My husband and I keep butting heads on important decisions. We both have such differing opinions about how to run a home, how to discipline the kids, our work schedules and even the food we eat. What can I do to have my opinions and decisions respected and avoid feeling like we’re battling all the time?

Differing Opinions

Dear Team Member,

I’m so sorry to hear of the tension going on with your husband. That’s definitely a difficult place to be in a marriage.

When I have times like this with my husband—that time of butting heads about important things—I try to remember this: We’re on the same team! And according to Torah, we’re not just on the same team, but actually one: A husband’s and wife’s soul are two halves of a whole.There’s no tug of war and no winning side; we both need to win as one entity working together towards peaceful wholeness and unity.

Our desires are the samewe both want what’s best for each other, our family and our home. Once I click into this very important truth in the midst of a clash, my energy shifts. My guard drops, my nervous system calms down, and my ego releases its very selfish grip. As two Jews coming together, our G‑dly soul can overpower the evil inclination’s goal of division. This is an empowering thought and brings such spiritual strength to the situation.

Another technique I’ll use to help elevate the situation to a higher spiritual vibration so that peace can prevail is to bring into my mind a mentor or righteous individual. I’ll imagine that in the room with us is someone of great Torah standing, and this will also help shift my energy to a calmer state. Peace within ourselves helps to bring peace outside of ourselves.

Then, if I can give affection, I do—I’ll take my husband’s hand and say, “Hey, we’re on the same team! We both want what’s best. So how can we work together to make this happen?”

With this calmer energy, I also share with my husband what I’m afraid of. Oftentimes, when tensions rise, we’re both fearing something—a loss of time, connection, health, money. Especially when it comes to the kids, there are many fears. When we’re locked in a “debate” of sorts, I’ll prod my husband to ask what I refer to now as the magic question—“What are you afraid of, honey?” When he asks me this question, my guard immediately drops, and I’ll share with him what really is concerning me about the subject that we’re in conflict about. That question is so helpful in bringing us together rather than apart.

I’ll give an example because storytelling is an easier way to remember things.

Once I found out that my young children who left the house with my husband on their way to synagogue on Shabbat were told to continue on their own when my husband had to stop off first at a neighbor’s house. Meaning, instead of my husband having the children wait for him, he told them to go ahead and walk on their own.

I’m more protective of my kids in terms of walking around the neighborhood than my husband, and our synagogue is a good 20 minutes away with some busy streets to cross. When my daughter mentioned it to me that afternoon, I felt my nervous system rev way up. The heat rose to my face; I was not a happy camper. My mama-bear energy had arisen!

The question was: How was I going to speak to my husband about this in a respectful way without locking horns? How was I going to not come off in an attacking manner that would rev up his nervous system, get him defensive and result in me not being heard? And that’s when I used the techniques that I share above.

Resting in my recliner that Shabbat, I came to see that we’re on the same team, wanting safety for the kids. I realized that we obviously have different ideas of what that looked like. He obviously felt comfortable with them walking to our synagogue alone; I did not. Later that day, I had a chance to speak to him (after his nap!), imagining someone I highly respect sitting there in the room with us. I took my husband’s hand and said, “I know that we both want what is safe and best for our children. I’m concerned ... ”

I believe that because my nervous system was in a calm state and I had started the conversation with connecting energy, my husband heard my fears and acknowledged them. He agreed that in the future, if he needed to stop along the way, he could just have the kids wait for him because that’s what made me feel better and safer. The conversation concluded with closeness and agreement rather than distance and dispute.

I invite you to try these suggestions—spiritually raise the atmosphere, expose your feelings, get vulnerable and find agreement. Connection is the key to resolving the tension. And remember, you’re on the same team!