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    Dear Rabbi and Shira,
    Hi, I hope you can answer this question for me. My boyfriend and I are really struggling with this issue and we can’t seem to get an objective answer from anyone. We
    are both divorced with kids, have been dating each other for quite some time and are planning to get married. We both grew up and raised our kids in “frum” homes/
    schools/shuls, and our kids who are not yet out of the house are in local yeshivot/day schools. Since my divorce, I (like many other people who I know, especially women)
    have become less observant, while my BF has remained “frum” – minyan 3x a day, chavrusa/shiurim, fully shomer shabbos, and he has a connection with Rabbonim
    who have not been helpful on this issue. My house is kosher (he eats by me all the time), I consider myself “Modern Orthodox”, but I recognize that my level of Shabbos
    observance and kashrus outside of the home is less than his. So far, we have found a way to make it work. I don’t expect him to do things he is not comfortable with, and he doesn’t ever try to force me to be “frummer”, except of course on the things that will impact him directly. We are both very respectful, we get along great and we love each other. We
    talk everything out and we have never not found a solution that worked for both of us. My family is concerned that when we get married, he will try to force things on me. I really don’t think
    he will, but perhaps love is blind. And I don’t want to be in that situation. Also, his kids are not so ok with our situation – some of them have expressed that they won’t eat in my home (even
    though it is 100% “Glatt”, under his supervision!), whcih means they won’t come for Shabbos. He is willing to put me first and told them that is their decision. They have also claimed that my behavior will “farshteir” shidduchim for them. He said he would not want as machatanim anyone who would refuse a shidduch because of me. What do you think? Is this a recipe for disaster? Or can we make a life together even with these issues? – Blending in Brooklyn

    Dear Blending in Brooklyn,
    We’d like to start by saying that there are no crystal balls, and
    no one knows the future. There are a lot of people involved, and
    expectations to navigate. Communication is going to be the key
    to deciding if you want to make a life with your boyfriend, and
    it will also be the key to maintaining that relationship.
    Blending families always is complicated, each family is its own
    culture and system. When we bring two members of different
    cultures together there are growing pains and challenges, as they
    are merging different cultures and ways of doing things. With
    more people, we increase the participants in this system. As
    each of you comes with a family, you will be bringing two entire
    systems together, and will be attempting to merge them. Every
    system resists change. The status quo is comfortable, and the
    unknown is scary. His children’s protests can be coming from a
    number of levels. They could be about upsetting the status quo.

    It could be ruining their hopes that their divorced parents will
    get back together. They could be understood at face value. How
    were you introduced to them? How often do you interact with
    them? How can you create bridges to communicate with them
    and reassure their concerns? As you have mentioned some of his
    children are older, and their inclusion and participation would
    be important. How do your children feel about everything
    which is taking place? What are their concerns? Have they met
    your boyfriend? What has their feedback been?
    Can you envision what a married blended family would be like
    with all of the “participants” involved? What are your hopes,
    dreams and concerns surrounding this? Have you shared this
    with your boyfriend? What are his thoughts, and visions of this
    blended family?
    This is also true regarding the issue of the different levels of
    practice. It’s important for the two of you to start thinking

    practically and in a very detailed way, asking yourselves, what
    is the life that you wish to live together. What is Shabbos and
    Kashrus going to look like for the both of you when you are
    married? What community will you live in? What are the
    obligations which you have to your preexisting families and
    how they are being raised currently? How different is the way
    that they are growing up? Are you willing to navigate these
    Clear communication is the key to try to understand his and
    your expectations, but then only you can make the decision
    whether this is a life which you would like to create with him.
    If you have any follow up questions please let us know.

    Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack