Q. My husband doesn't want to put on tefillin! We are traditional family, we observe kashrut, we make Kiddush and don't use electricity on Shabbat, and we try to keep what we can. My husband comes from an anti-religious family, and it took me a long time to help him overcome the obstacles and agree to build a traditional home. Unfortunately, I have still not been able to convince him to wear tefillin. Do you have an idea how I can help him to want to do so?
A. It is truly gladdening to know that your husband has taken this significant step of coming from an anti-religious family to build a traditional home. This is not an easy process, and he certainly deserves much admiration.
It's important to know that marriage requires great investment and effort. When one spouse undergoes a change towards the other side - in this case, your husband coming towards you Jewishly - it is important not to take this for granted. It could very well be, as I have seen many times, that for him, it still requires great effort to remain on this "new" spiritual level. Therefore, every encouragement you can give him - and certainly no displays of disappointment in him! - can only strengthen him and help him along even further.
And so, with all your good intentions that he continues to advance more and more, you must not pressure him, but rather accept him "where he is" with appreciation.
I addition, the two of you together have accomplished something great; rejoice in it and value it!
Only when you feel that another step further won't be too hard for him, and he feels ready to embrace it, should you "push" for it. Until then, you must have lots and lots of patience. That's the name of the game.
The next stage is to create a strong basis for the next advancement. This basis must be a good feeling between the two of you, a lot of serenity, and happiness. From here can sprout a desire and ability to delve further into Torah observance.
The stage after that is to think together how else you can progress Jewishly as a family. Usually something relatively not-demanding will be easier to adopt. Tefillin, for instance, is a very important mitzvah, and could be a good "next step" - but you must remember that it is "his" step and not "yours" as a couple. He's the one who has to do it! Therefore, a "next step," I would advise that you choose something that you can do together, and this will strengthen both your Jewish experience and your marriage.
Remember, patience can bring great rewards.