Dear Rabbi and Shira
I’m not sure what to do. I married my wife over a year ago thinking that she was a typical woman from a similar background as myself.  We both grew up in Flatbush and are more modern than our parents. The problem is I didn’t realize how modern she actually is. Slowly after we got married, she started wearing shorter and shorter skirts, and sometimes now even wears pants. She has what she calls her “Flatbush closet” so when we go back to Brooklyn she can still dress the part.  While she use to say  parts of Shacharis each morning, that has all but stopped. I haven’t seen her siddur leave our bookcase in months. I’d like to say something, but I’m not keeping everything either, so I feel kind of hypocritical to bring it up. What should I do?
Faked out in the Five towns  


Dear Faked out in Five Towns,
Hi. This sounds like a very difficult situation.

We are curious if you have spoken about these Hashkafic issues before you got married? Did the two of you ever discuss what ideals, values and halachic norms you would share to in your future home? How did that conversation progress? Were you satisfied with the results?  Are her actions a complete surprise to you or have you had conversations in the past that gave you a glimpse that this could be the direction she was heading towards in the future? Did something recently happen, that has caused her to be less connected to Halacha?  Why do you feel its hypocritical for you to bring up these problems? What are you doing that is not in line with Halacha?


We know this is a difficult conversation to have, but this is a topic that must be disscussed immediately  as her actions will not only impact you but your future family as well. Even though  you may not feel that you have lived up to Torah standards of Halacha, and that you would feel hypocritical to bring these issues up, if this is not the way you want to live your life, now is the time to discuss this.  You can be honest, “I know that I  don’t always do what Halacha prescribes but I have been really thinking about our future and our direction.”

Please consider the following before starting the conversation.

As you would like this conversation to be productive choose a time to discuss it when things are calm in the home. Don’t have a discussion when you’re in the mood for a fight. Start by telling her why you love and appreciate her,  then bring up your points of concern.

It is so crucial for both of you  to each  share your feelings, perspectives, and expectations. You should ask her what values and practices she feels are important for herself, for you and then for your future children.  It’s important to consider how ones  actions and life style  will play a factor in one’s  ability to fit in to certain communities and social circles in the future.  Both of you should  choose a community that matches your religious expectations, so your children will receive cohesive messages between the home and community.   


There might be a lot of emotions involved. Issues of observance and acceptance can be very emotionally evocative, touching on family history, education and self-esteem, as people do not make their choices in a vacuum, and each person’s choices have layers of meaning behind them. By being understanding collaborative and supportive, we think you’ll be able to make progress to understand each other and what your needs and expectations are.

If you find yourselves unable to discuss these differences  or come to consensus, or you both feel that you are no longer compatible for each other, seek professional guidance immediately.


Rabbi and Shira Boshnack