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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am a modern Orthodox machmir professional man. In the Orthodox world, I am not considered young, which means I have been dating for a while.  Recently, I met an amazing woman who fits all my wants and needs. One of the things we both enjoy doing is watching the series, “Soon By You,” as we feel it accurately depicts single life in our world.


So, why am I writing to you?  You see, she really wants to make aliyah.  It’s not that I don’t love Israel, but I have a great career and can’t see myself moving away and commuting.  In addition, and probably most important, I come from a very close-knit family who suffered the loss of a child, my brother.  That is one of the reasons I can’t imagine sending my children to the Israeli army. Yet, we are very committed to each other and would like to get married.  Do you think she will resent me if we don’t move to Israel? We both look forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue.



Dear J.G.,

Thank you for your letter. I am so happy for you and this wonderful woman you have met and hope that your way continues to be smooth.

It has become harder and harder for singles to connect and it’s great when two people can share the same goals and dreams.  I understand your concerns and agree that making aliyah is a life-altering commitment.  Have you discussed the possibility of moving at some time in the future, when it may not be as hard for you?  Until then, if it is financially possible, you might consider buying an apartment in Israel and spending time there, maybe for the chaggim.

Marriage is all about compromise and making sacrifices and I would hope that your soon-to-be kallah is mature enough to realize that. I cannot tell you if she will resent you if the two of you do not make aliyah, but it is important that you talk about it openly with each other.  If she truly feels that this is a make-or-break issue, I would recommend speaking with a therapist to see if there is a way to get past it.

However, if she feels that she can fulfill this need through frequent visits and you are willing to make that sacrifice (remember marriage is all about compromise and sacrifice), then you can move forward without feeling anxious about starting your marriage on a bad foot.

Having a happy and successful marriage is rarely about where you are living.  If two people are loving and caring and keep communication lines open, they can deal with many issues before they become problems. It is hard to predict the future, but if you make it your life’s work to make your future wife happy and she does the same for you, your marriage will be successful no matter where you live.

I’d like to share the following story.

A loving family once lost their home to a fire.  It was some time before they found a new place to live and in the interim wandered from home to home.  In spite of that, the children felt loved and protected and continued with their normal school routine.  A stranger once commented to one of the older siblings, “I feel so bad for you. Your home was destroyed.”  The young teenager responded, “Don’t worry.  It was only our house that was destroyed.  Our warm and loving home is intact.”

So many people live in beautiful homes, but have cold and unloving relationships with their families. The fact that the home is spotless, expensive, and newly renovated does not necessarily make for healthy and happy children. Rather, it is the communication and commitment between the couple and their children that creates the environment in which happy and healthy children can flourish.

It is not where you live but how you treat each other that is the foundation of your life together.  I have met many extremely successful and happy people who grew up in small apartments. They had a nurturing home and that was what mattered most.

I hope that you and this woman you would like to spend your life with can find a way to make your relationship work. Hatzlocha!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to [email protected]. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at