July 24, 2024
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My Husband and I Are Divided About Making Aliyah

Dear Dr. Chani,

Over the past several years, my husband has been hinting to me that he would like to make aliyah. Now he has come forward and asked me to move to Israel for at least one year to see if it could work out. I would not have considered making aliyah, but now I need to think about it so that my husband will be happy. I am very torn about this decision.

When we were dating and during the early years of our marriage, my husband never mentioned that he would like to live in Israel. I took it for granted that we would buy a house within driving distance of our parents and live in a community with people who share our values. We have had a great life in our community for the past 10 years. We have friends, our children are comfortable in school, and, as a bonus, we have a beautiful and spacious house. Really, our life could not be more perfect. So I was really surprised when my husband began to discuss making aliyah.

At first, I thought that he was just dreaming about it as a theoretical idea. He can be idealistic and philosophical at times. Yet, as the world around us has drastically changed, my husband has become more interested in practically planning to go ahead with his idea.

We have had many conversations about this and my husband knows that I am not interested in making aliyah for several reasons. First of all, I do not want to live so far away from my family. It is very important to me that my children have a relationship with their grandparents. Secondly, I am worried that we will have a hard time finding a community and schools that are the right fit for us. Thirdly, our children are doing so well in school and so well adjusted socially; I am extremely hesitant to pick them up and plop them down in a new country with a foreign language and culture. Of course, I would also miss my house and the many conveniences of living in America, but, hopefully, we could manage and figure out how to supplement with whatever we need.

When I mentioned my worries to my husband, he told me that he shares the same concerns but that he feels we need to try. He feels an emotional and spiritual pull to move to Israel that is above any rational excuses not to do so. He is asking me to have faith that everything will work out in the end.

It sounds like a fairytale fantasy in my mind, but I love my husband and I would feel terrible if I stood in the way of him fulfilling his dream. I also do not want to be unreasonable since he is only asking me to be willing to try it out for a year. I would love to hear your advice on this.

Thanks in advance,

Bracha

 

Dear Bracha,

I can only imagine your angst about making the decision to move to Israel—even for a year. It sounds like you feel like the world that you worked so carefully to build is about to have the ground pulled out from under it. You wish that you would have never had to face this issue in the first place—that you would have been able to continue life as usual. Yet, your husband has developed a deep desire to make aliyah that you cannot ignore. Admirably, you are willing to entertain the idea of moving to Israel for a year to support your husband in fulfilling his goals and dreams. Yet you are unsure about what to do. So how can you go about dealing with this challenge and making this decision while doing what is best for you and your family?

Before you get to the process of making this decision and the practical details involved, it is important for you to allow yourself to feel what you feel. You feel like your husband has changed the terms of your life plan, and you are unsure how to deal with it. You had thought that you shared the same goals and dreams as a couple. Yet now your husband has introduced a new plan that you were unprepared for. It is important for you to acknowledge that your husband’s newly revealed goal has rocked the boat for your relationship. Your husband’s shift has caused you to feel a distance between the two of you. You believe that you need to choose to either take the opposite point of view and convince him to join your side, or sacrifice your plans and join his side.

Feeling like you have been suddenly thrust into a position in your relationship where you find that you and your husband are on two different sides of an issue can feel somewhat traumatic. While it sounds like the life change of moving to Israel is the key issue here, you might realize that a deeper issue is the change you sense in your relationship with your husband. It is important that both you and your husband have the opportunity to express your feelings about how this impending decision has affected you and your relationship as a couple.

While you mention that you have had conversations about making aliyah, it sounds like the conversations until now were mostly practical in nature. You voiced your concerns about how making aliyah would affect your life as a family. Yet it is just as important, perhaps even more important, to discuss how this situation is affecting you emotionally.

Your ability to have open conversations with your husband about how you feel this issue is affecting your relationship can play a crucial role in how things turn out—whatever your decision may be. Allowing your husband to understand you and support you through your uncertainties, frustrations, and stress, can help you come to a decision together—a decision that you can both live with.

Whether you choose to maintain the status quo of where you live, or whether you move to Israel for the year, your goal should be to invest as much time and energy as possible into communicating with one another about your emotions through the process. Allowing yourselves to be as “real” as possible and sharing your feelings—even if they may threaten one another’s point of view—can surprisingly lead you to find a path forward where you both feel understood and supported. This process of communicating and supporting one another through your worries and uncertainties can lead you to strengthen your relationship and to develop a deep sense of trust that you will be able to rely on going forward.

Wishing you much success,

Chani

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Dr. Chani Maybruch is a social psychologist who has specialized in helping people build and enhance their relationships for over two decades. If you would like to improve your relationship with yourself, your loved ones or others in your life, reach out to her at chanimaybruch.com.

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