When Spouses Disagree About Aliyah; But First…Dating and Aliyah

A few days ago, I posted a blog with responses to reasons people give for not making Aliyah. That post generated a lot of discussion and, hopefully, made some people think a little differently about their decisions to make Aliyah. At the end of that post, I said that I would address another common issue on this subject; namely, when one spouse wants to go and one does not want to go on Aliyah.

I’ve found this topic to be even more complex than I had expected and so, over the next couple of posts, I’d like to share my thoughts on various “stages” of these issues and open this up for discussion.

Over the years, as I have spoken to Olim and potential Olim, I cannot tell you how many dozens of times I heard this common refrain: “I want to go, but my wife/husband doesn’t!” When it says that opposites attract, it certainly seems that way in many marriages, when it comes to Aliyah.

Before addressing this issue, I would like to take a step back–a few steps, actually.

For those of you who are single and are reading this post; if you have strong feelings that you wish to make Aliyah after you get married; or if you are contemplating Aliyah but not yet sure it is for you, please do yourselves a favor and read on.

Most people enter the dating world with certain “lists” in their heads. There are the certain qualities that the person they seek should have. There are the areas in which they are looking for a partner who will compliment them in areas in which they themselves may not be particularly strong. And then there are the Red Lines. These are areas in which you are not willing to compromise at all. In that last category, if Aliyah appears on that list, it is necessary that at the very first date, this topic be mentioned and stated as a “definite” in your future, even if at the moment it is still an uncertainty. It is, as they say, “on the table.” From this point on, it will be known between you and anyone you date that this is a key factor in your future; one that you are not willing to compromise on. 

 If the idea is important to you or if even possibly it may happen for you in the future, by dating someone who does not share that same dream or drive and not making it clear at the beginning—you are creating a recipe for future problems. By being open and upfront, you lay the groundwork for any future discussions on the topic.

As your relationship gets more and more serious, usually, the discussions of a future together become more serious and intense in their nature. Likely subjects you will discuss may be how many children you would want; how do you want to raise your children; how do you both see your religious observance in the future, etc., etc. One of the critical issues, of course, is where will you live. When your potential mate says unequivocally that he/she wishes to live in “X” and “X” is not somewhere in Israel, you can be clear and honest that the issue of Israel was on the table from the very first date. Not to say that this topic should only come up then. But that the subject of Aliyah is paramount at the very beginning of the relationship is one of great importance for your future. 

When you date someone who does not know your ideas/plans/thoughts for the future regarding Israel–even if they are not fully concretized, you are doing a disservice to yourself and to your relationship in the future. Imagine, you want to make Aliyah…it never is raised at some point as a Red Line and then, two days after you get engaged, you decide to bring up the subject. Now what? Why has this not been mentioned as a priority until now? This lack of disclosure and desire is a plan for disaster and emotional distress.

This does not mean that your potential mate must be jumping up and down with joy on the first date when he/she hears of your plans for the future. However, if that person has no interest in this form of future, it is at the very beginning that this be made clear. I can’t promise you that as a result of that Red Line being made clear you will for sure make Aliyah. But, I can guarantee you that if this is never discussed or if it is not made clear from the get-go, you will be facing either an uphill battle or a situation in which you may have to “choose” between two loves of your life: your mate and the Land of Israel. 

For those of you in other stages of your life when the question of Aliyah arises, stay tuned. More posts to follow!

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5 thoughts on “When Spouses Disagree About Aliyah; But First…Dating and Aliyah

  1. Thank you for the interesting posts. The next scenario to address is what if both spouses are gung ho initially about making Aliyah but based on life circumstances (financial, social, religious, health etc.) one spouse changes their mind or becomes less gung ho.

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  2. 1) Wouldn’t it be better for the single person who is “red line” set on aliyah to move to Israel before dating? Isn’t it easier to integrate that way? Also, maybe the single person’s time in Israel only consisted of a gap year yeshiva/seminary. A Real Life experience may be convincing one way or the other.
    2) I would recommend that shadchanim/friends setting people up always ask both potential dates whether they are planning to make/considering/thinking about aliyah. (In my limited involvement, this is what I do, not sure about other people) At least it should be a “hava mina” in everyone’s head.

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    1. Yes,it would be much better…I have heard both positive and negative about making Aliyah alone and single. But…no.doubt from the marriage issue it would make things much easier.
      Secondly, for sure shadchanim need make sure to say this to any prospect for whom Aliyah is a red line. Yasher koach!

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