Dear Dr. Yael,
We are a newly married couple and Baruch Hashem we have a great marriage. I love my husband very much. My husband is very caring and loving to me. My husband is learning and I am supporting him with the help of both of our parents. We live in a beautiful rented apartment and we pay for our heat as well as our air conditioning. My husband grew up in an apartment house and I grew up in a private house. His apartment was always very hot while my parents kept the house cooler in the winter as well as in the summer. In the winter my husband wanted to keep the heat up higher than I was accustomed to in my house. Now as summer is approaching he wants to keep the air conditioning off as he is fine when it is hot. We go away a lot to our parents for Shabbos and Yom Tov. I am always hot in my in-laws apartment and my husband is cold in my parent’s house. My husband claims that we must keep it warmer in our apartment so I am always hot in the winter and the summer. He claims that the person who is cold takes priority and therefore the house has to be warmer always. I get headaches from the heat but I listen to him although I am uncomfortable in such a hot apartment. I am also uncomfortable in his parent’s apartment although they are such nice loving in-laws. Please help me.
Suffering from the heat
Dear Suffering from the heat,
Thank you for your letter. Baruch Hashem you are lucky to have a good marriage and this should always be your biggest fight! I asked daas Torah about your situation as I know it is a common difficulty. I asked Rabbi Shea Hershkowitz, a dayan for Nutei Gavriel. Rabbi Hershkowitz said that since you are the akeres habayis, and you have to run the house, your comfort is of utmost importance. In addition your husband can put on a sweater to be warmer and sleep with more covers, but you cannot do much to deal with the heat. It appears that you have to try to navigate this situation in a loving manner and try to help your husband understand that you get headaches from a hot house. Perhaps you can say something like, “I know we have different internal temperatures, and I do not want to fight over this anymore. Do you think it is possible for you to wear a sweater in the house and we can buy you a warmer cover? I know it’s not comfortable to be cold, but if we can help you feel more comfortable, would we be able to keep the house at a colder temperature? I am getting headaches from the heat, and it is very difficult for me when the house is too hot.”
Often the way we are raised affects our preferences in temperature, food, cleanliness, as well as our middos. It appears that your husband is a caring person. You can buy him warm covers, as well as try to be positive and appreciative if he agrees to wear sweaters and accommodate your needs.
This was not a simple question for me, which is why I asked daas Torah. If your husband still does not want to keep the house cooled, perhaps you can suggest to him to speak with his Rav. I think if your husband would discuss this situation with his own Rav, he would also agree that this is the psak. I researched this topic as well and there are some ways to help you deal with the situation. You can try to keep cool by taking cold showers, unplugging unused appliances, walking around barefoot, putting your pillowcases in the freezer 30 min-1 hour before bedtime, keeping curtains drawn to keep out the sun, using LED light bulbs, and drinking cool drinks with ice throughout the day. Your husband can try to keep warm by wearing socks (double up if necessary), drinking warm drinks, wearing sweaters, and taking a hot bath or shower. You should both try to be considerate and flexible in order to move beyond this issue. In life, those traits will help you build a bayit ne’eman b’yisrael. Hatzlacha in dealing with this situation!