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Interfaith marriage problems -- already started! :(

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Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
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136
Hello Ladies,

While I still didn''t start dress shopping, we are having some problems. Long story short, my fiance and i are from different religions. as some of you may remember, i am a foreigner and all my family members, friends i grew up with are in another country. we were planning on having two weddings, first one in my country and two weeks later the second one here in NY. Because we can''t really expect our guests to be able to fly long distances or afford to do it, so two weddings would be a perfect solution.

His parents met us a few days ago to talk about our wedding plans. First objection was having two weddings and having the first one overseas. His mother wants his son to get married here first. Whereas I told her, I would like to experience the first excitement in front of my family and friends because it is my wedding. Additionally, my fiance has a sister and she got married last year. So, they already had their joy and this is my time. She insisted that she wanted the first one to take place here.

And then they said, they wanted me to convert to their religion as that was very important to them. I was so furious with all this arguement because at the first place, I didn''t want to talk about those subjects with them, because that is between me and my fiance. So, as you would guess, we had a long discussion; it''s not finalized yet but they said we would go on later, but i have no intention of getting into that again.

His sister even didn''t congratulate us on our engagement which was a little over a month ago. She doesn''t like me and my feelings for her is also the same but i can''t stand her abusing her brother with non-sense thoughts. She and her husband told my future in-laws that they wouldn''t wish their kids to play with our kids if i didn''t convert. can u believe that???
 

goldfish

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2007
Messages
89
May I ask you if his family is Jewish?

I only inquire because I am also experiencing some interfaith marriage issues, and my fiancee is Jewish.
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Messages
136
Yes, he is. But they are reformed jews. Their temple and Rabbi is reformed. Although by the definition of that, they are allowed to marry non-jewish, but his family chooses to be conservative in that matter.
 

goldfish

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2007
Messages
89
Ah, I thought so. My fiancee is Orthodox.

Are you a different religion or just nothing? I''m nothing, not baptized or anything, so conversion doesn''t really involve me leaving anything behind. Is your other wedding going to be civil or religious? How do your parents feel? Are they supportive of you and your couple?
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Messages
136
My parents even didn''t ask what religion he was when i first told them about him. My dad still didn''t ask. We don''t have this kind of religious discrimination in my country. I''m sorry if I offended Jewish members of this forum but what his sister does to me, is a real discrimination. His parents have always been nice, but I didn''t know that it was conditional.

I am quite religious myself but I have always felt like it is in my heart between me and God. And I don''t see why we can not live both religions in one family. My fiance even hardly believes in God. So how come they are trying to push me into something that my husband to be doesn''t believe in?
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Messages
136
Date: 3/13/2007 5:44:45 PM
Author: goldfish
Also, I just found your engagement ring. It''s so perfect!
:) Thank you. I feel sad when I have to take it out before I go to bed.
 

onedrop

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
2,216
First off...I am SO sorry that you are having to deal with this issue, especially during a happy time like getting married and having a wedding. Like you, I am in an inter-faith relationship. And I have experienced some "issues" with people including some family members about these differences. I wish I could say that will be the last of the static that you will get from other people, however more than likely this could be an on-going issue.

If I am putting myself in your place, I would go on with your initial plans especially if FI is on board. Once you start caving to the in-laws that could set a bad precedent. And appears to me that you have tried to satisfy both sides. You are willing to hold two ceremones in two different countries for goodness sakes!!

We plan to have a ceremony in FI''s country to honor his religion and his family''s wishes first. And we will be having a ceremony here in the US for us and for my friends and family. Luckily all important parties are on board. It took time to get to this point, but in the end we just decided that we needed to do what was going to work best for us. It''s nearly impossible to satisfy everyone especially on issues like you have. Trying to please everyone is going to for sure take away from the happiness of planning.
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Messages
136
I think he does. But not for himself, for his family. I wonder if there will be a wedding for us in the future if they keep on the same way. He just needs to step up and tell them to mind their own business, but he doesn''t. That is understandable though, he is a good son.
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Messages
136
Date: 3/13/2007 5:54:37 PM
Author: onedrop
First off...I am SO sorry that you are having to deal with this issue, especially during a happy time like getting married and having a wedding. Like you, I am in an inter-faith relationship. And I have experienced some ''issues'' with people including some family members about these differences. I wish I could say that will be the last of the static that you will get from other people, however more than likely this could be an on-going issue.

If I am putting myself in your place, I would go on with your initial plans especially if FI is on board. Once you start caving to the in-laws that could set a bad precedent. And appears to me that you have tried to satisfy both sides. You are willing to hold two ceremones in two different countries for goodness sakes!!

We plan to have a ceremony in FI''s country to honor his religion and his family''s wishes first. And we will be having a ceremony here in the US for us and for my friends and family. Luckily all important parties are on board. It took time to get to this point, but in the end we just decided that we needed to do what was going to work best for us. It''s nearly impossible to satisfy everyone especially on issues like you have. Trying to please everyone is going to for sure take away from the happiness of planning.
I am glad that you worked out your issues. Have you ever come to the point that you had to show your strict face? I never did, i don''t know if i can be harsh on them but i feel like i need to. otherwise they will think they can make me do whatever they feel like.
 

janinegirly

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 21, 2006
Messages
3,689
ugh, i wouldn''t be able to deal!!

i think it''s nice that he''s a good son, but if he doesn''t set boundaries now, they will continue to meddle with your life until the end of time!
keep us posted, i hope it works out..remember it is primarily your wedding and about the 2 of YOU.
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 17, 2005
Messages
11,016
What is your background? Maybe you could compromise, and agree to raise your children in the Jewish faith without converting...if he is a reform Jew, the father OR the mother can be Jewish... I was raised by a Catholic mother and Jewish father, and though I did not have major religion in my life, I felt Jewish, maybe more culturally than religiously. I think if your fiance knew you were not Jewish and did not bring up converting in the discussion about marriage, no offense, but it is not his parents place to do this now. My in laws were awful to me, even though my mother in law was not born Jewish either and both she and my mom converted...so why be obnoxious? I am raising my children in the Jewish faith, and our temple is reform so it is really not a big deal. We are not super observant, but we celebrate major holidays and my kids know they are Jewish. It is a sad thing, and while I understand it might be disappointing to them, they should be happy that their son is happy and in love...that is what SHOULD matter most but it does not always. Just know that this will be a constant theme, and unless your religion is a large and meaningful part of your life, I would say if you love him, see if you can establish boundaries with the family so this does not come up all the time.

As for getting married one place versus the other, it is his wedding too, but I am not sure if I would be that focused on who gets to see the wedding first, on one hand I can see how it would be important to you and your family, you might have to find a common ground!
 

robbie3982

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 28, 2006
Messages
3,960
ladyoflovers, I feel your pain! My FI and I are in an interfaith relationship as well. I''m Jewish and he''s Catholic. The only problems have come from my parents. My family loves FI and hasn''t tried to get him to convert (which is good since religion really isn''t important to either of us), but they gave us a really hard time about the ceremony. To compromise originally, we were going to have a priest and a rabbi but have the ceremony in a synagogue. Well, my rabbi won''t perform interfaith marriages so we couldn''t have it there. I suggested having it at FI''s church and my mom flipped out...I''m not sure why it was ok to have it in a synagogue, but not a church...

Anyway, I think that it sucks that they''re giving you such a hard time. Their reason for wanting you to convert probably has to do with the fact that in Judaism (at least some if not all), the children are only considered Jewish if the mother is Jewish. By you converting the kids would still be considered Jewish even if they never knew that their father was or never stepped foot in a synogogue. Even if you raised them in a completely different religion, they''d still be seen as Jewish in the eyes of the synagogue.

I''m willing to bet that if I was a man and FI was a woman my parents would push for a conversion too.
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 17, 2005
Messages
11,016
Robbie, in Reform Judaism, there is matrilineal descent, so the mother OR the father can be Jewish and it is totally acceptable. In olden days, it was only the mother, because you could prove who the mother was easier than the father, who might not be around. Conservative and Orthodox Jews of course do not recognize this, but I do not think it matters if you are not planning to raise your kids as anything other than Reform.
 

goldfish

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2007
Messages
89
But if you convert, will you be able to have your religious ceremony at your home? Wouldn''t your conversion and the fact that your fiancee is already Jewish preclude the possibility of having a ceremony involving another religion? Unless your wedding at home would be civil.
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Messages
136
Sorry, I had to go away for a while. Let me answer your questions:

1 - the wedding party/ceremony in my country will be civil. we don''t really have any religious weddings. so, no problem at all for religion side.

2 - about having the first one there: my FI even doesn''t want to have any kind of wedding parties at all. he would be very happy if he didn''t get involved and send a representative to say "yes i do" and sign for him. he surely is kidding but he just wants this because he knows how important to me is to have a wedding. having another one here would be simply to satisfy his parents, it is not his wish. His friends are already willing to attend the one in my country since we have nice beaches, etc.

3 - i''m a Turkish muslim. we are considered as more moderate muslims than common i guess. we just follow the book and do not rely on religious leaders to pray, etc. what i wish is to combine all our holidays and celebrate all. after being with FI for 5 years, there are really a lot of similarities between our religions that it is really highly possible to combine both. i attend their holiday services at their temple, light up the hanukkah candles and get as many gifts as possible during Hanukkah and cook flourless during passover. we have only two holidays in my religion: ramadan which is almost the same time as rosh roshannah and yom kippur, the festival is about 3 weeks after yom kippur. what we do is to get new clothes, dress up nicely and visit family and friends. we serve a lot of desserts during ramadan festival that we call it candy festival in turkey. kids do some kind of trick or treat but instead of tricking, they knock on the doors and get candies or small bills. the second one is 2 months after ramadan and we call it lamb festival, we either donate money to charities or to the poor or get a sheep, have it killed and distribute the 6/7th of the meat to the poor. again new clothes and gifts and visiting family and friends. when i think about it, what harm cancome out of combining all this joyful events together? they are not like on same dates with opposite actions. we surely can go to temple, celebrate new year and then get our new clothes and celebrate ramadan. am i so dreaming? do you see any kind of conflict in this?

4 - i am just opposing the idea of having a piece of paper certifying the faith of a person or an institution''s decision. isn''t it supposed to be between me and God? His mother said something funny to me, she thinks, as long as I get the paper of conversion, i would be considered as jewish; no matter how i feel in my heart or what i practice.

I and FI have never had a problem about religious practices during our 5 years of relationship. We also have been living together for 5 years and we did celebrate 5 holidays all together.
 

onedrop

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
2,216
I did have to show my strict face (or voice) in some cases. It''s really not my way, but I became stern because I felt others need to understand that while we as a couple respect their opinions, we have a preference for doing things this way...yadda yadda. And actually all of the *issues* and/or questions came from my side of the family and from my friends, so it was a bit easier to talk to them earnestly and seriously. His family was pretty cool with the whole situation.

The biggest help to me was my Mom saying that I need to live my own life.
 

poptart

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 23, 2006
Messages
1,899
It sounds like you and your FI have any religious differences between the two of you worked out, which is most important. I think the two of you need to keep living your life the way you see fit. The reality is, sometimes families can never truly be satisfied no matter how much you try. Your beliefs are important for you, and your FI loves you and doesn''t ask you to compromise them. I see no reason why you should compromise your beliefs for the peace of mind of his family. Just tell them that just as you would not ask their son to change his beliefs, you are going to stay with yours, as it is your right.

Best of luck!

*M*
 

Cehrabehra

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 29, 2006
Messages
11,071
oh phooooooey on them!!!! It is NOT their life - it is YOUR life and religion is NEVER up for debate like that. Stand your ground, you * live* near this family - let your family take some joy. I wouldn''t give an inch. If anything I''d be inclined to say one wedding - fly if you wanna be there. Don''t even get me started on freedom of religion. Bah!!
 

Cehrabehra

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 29, 2006
Messages
11,071
Date: 3/13/2007 5:49:50 PM
Author: Ladyoflovers
My parents even didn''t ask what religion he was when i first told them about him. My dad still didn''t ask. We don''t have this kind of religious discrimination in my country. I''m sorry if I offended Jewish members of this forum but what his sister does to me, is a real discrimination. His parents have always been nice, but I didn''t know that it was conditional.

I am quite religious myself but I have always felt like it is in my heart between me and God. And I don''t see why we can not live both religions in one family. My fiance even hardly believes in God. So how come they are trying to push me into something that my husband to be doesn''t believe in?
the same reason my husband''s family kept asking when we were going to baptize our children despite the fact I told them their son is athiest (they don''t believe that and of course they know him better lol). People like to think they know what is best for others, especially their children... it''s irritating as an adult, but as a parent I TOTALLY get it lol!! I''m much more forgiving now that I have kids, but I still wouldn''t entertain the foolishness of conversion or the insistance the wedding be in the US "first".
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Messages
136
ah, cehrabehra; the peace will come to this world when parents will stop being selfish.

i once joked to my FI, saying that, "ok, i will convert and we will live as a nice jewish couple to make your parents happy. but we have to live in turkey for the rest of our lives to make my parents happy, we can''t just keep on making one side happy all the time."

i know it will be tough. they are powerful over FI. I sometimes feel like i''m trapped among them as i don''t have any family member here. well, i love him. so, i''ll fight back.
 

upgrading mama

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 28, 2005
Messages
1,826
Wow, tough situation.

To give you my opinion, I must give you my bias. I was raised Greek orthodox, I am 100% greek. We only really go to church for holidays, and my parents don''t even do that anymore. I met my hubby while I was attending a Free-Methodist college, and already exploring other churches.
He is a pastor''s kid who was born and raised in Africa so I wasn''t sure how my parents would react to him, lol.

Anyway, we as a couple decided how we would have God in our lives. As far as wedding goes, we had a Greek Orthodox wedding and have baptized both of our kids GO but have also had their lives dedicated to God in the Free Methodist chuch as well.

it sounds to me that your FMIL is a bit of a ''religoius'' person and not a person who truly lives a life of faith, with a statement like

"
4 - i am just opposing the idea of having a piece of paper certifying the faith of a person or an institution''s decision. isn''t it supposed to be between me and God? His mother said something funny to me, she thinks, as long as I get the paper of conversion, i would be considered as jewish; no matter how i feel in my heart or what i practice


So, I don''t know if you can reason with someone who values the rules of their religion more than the true faith of it.


anyway, sorry this is so long, but the point is,
please be sure that you and your FI have a foundation for what you want in your lives as hubby and wife and figure out a way, together, to try and get your families on board.. this is not an easy difference, good luck!
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 17, 2005
Messages
11,016
I agree, that comment about being a Jew on paper and not caring what is in your heart, well, that is NOT what a soulful or spiritual Jew would say or believe...that makes me sad, and is really so not on the par with what most parents would want, if their child''s future spouse would be willing to convert in the first place...
 

cara

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
Messages
2,202
Hmm... It seems you are missing a little bit of the picture on Judaism and Jews - I see you are moderate Muslim, some of your ideas on religion as a private matter between you and God, or it being discriminatory for her to want her son to marry a Jew, these seem to not really show complete understanding of your FMILs perspective. Now I''m not saying she''s RIGHT, or even that my description of Judaism is right, I''m just an atheist who worked at an Orthodox Jewish school for a year and these are my impressions:

First off, Jews are a people and Judaism is a religion. There can be atheist Jews, there can be secular Jews, and there can be all shades of religious Jews. The important part is the Jew part. I know there can be fully inclusive non-discriminatory Jews but, at least where I worked, in a strong Orthodox Jewish community, non-Jews were a whole different class of person. It simply was impossible to treat this other type of person the same way one treated a community member because they were not a member of the community. OF COURSE its discriminatory. Of course it is. Wouldn''t you want your son to stay inside your people, the chosen people, to choose his wife? To obey God''s edict and raise more Jews?

Let me provide an example of the importance of this. I worked at a high school, the VP was pretty much the hands on guy in charge of running it, and he said the two most important goals for the school were to (1) not raise axe murders (2) raise them to marry Jewish. The whole point of the school was to socialize the kids Orthodox during the critical high school years, as studies showed this dramatically increased the rate of students maintaining Orthodox practices in college and ultimately marrying Jewish (versus attending public high school.) Orthodox jews are the only jewish subgroup that are increasing in population in the US, and its because of Conservative and Reform jews intermarry at very high rates. And the Conservative and Reform moms are not necessarily happy about this, but have raised their kids in a much more inclusive manner where they, lo and behold, meet and socialize with and ultimately marry non-Jews.

Second, regardless of whether or not your FI''s family is Reform, and what the rules of descent are for Reform Jews, I''m pretty sure that a lot of this is tied up in raising Jewish children and matrilineal descent. Its relevant whether the wider Jewish community would accept your children as Jewish, and unless you or they convert, they will not be accepted as Jews.

I don''t know whether these explanations of Judaism help or not, but I think some of the trouble is that you are thinking of religion in this almost liberal Protestant model of a personal relationship with God, whereas I think the relavant model for Judaism is more of a diaspora with social, cultural, kinship, and religous underpinnings.

As to who gets to see the actual marriage, and who gets to see the replay, this seems a bit silly. One of the weddings has to go first, and in the Western tradition at least, the brides hometown is traditional so arguing over this is a bit ridiculous IMO. Is it at all possible that your FIs immediate family might travel to Turkey to meet your family and, in addition, see the "first wedding"?
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
9,613
I think you need to hold firm on this matter, but have you fully discussed kids and religion with your FI?

You will probably find that FMIL''s fears are actually things like will the grandkids be having bar mitzvahs etc. People can get very sentimental about these things - I''m a staunch atheist, but the thought of my kids never having nativity plays or singing english christmas carols was one of the things that made me leave Italy after 8 years. Yes they have lovely traditions too, but I wanted my traditions. Sounds silly, but I bet it will be the root of the in-laws fears.

My FI is also Jewish and as atheist as me. None of his 4 brothers had bar mitzvahs or anything (his grandfather even converted to catholicism
). But, his cousins are all much more conservative, one refused to attend his own sister''s wedding as she was marrying a non-jew. When I was drawing up the initial guestlist I asked FI if this cousin should be on the list. His answer - no way, he''s a bigot and I''m not having bigots at our wedding.

Our children will be raised as humanists - although FI wants to have some sort of godparents - he wants a muslim friend of ours and evangelical vicar friend of ours - my kids will be sooooooooo confused
.
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Messages
136
Cara, thanks for the information. It was difficult for me to understand the whole chosen special people thing but now i know that very well. I am sorry that their bloodline will be interrupted but still we are all humans, right? As for his family''s attending the first wedding in TR, sure they can. But they said they wouldn''t. The thing is, my mother recently had a surgery from her back and 5 of her discs on her spine were removed and replaced. She can not seven sit on a chair and definitely can not fly 11 hours to attend a wedding here. And since I want to be with my mother on my very special day, it has to be in TR. His mother is just making ridiculous demands. My hesitation is shall I force myself and let them know that they should be quiet or go on being a good girl? The first one will be really difficult but I guess I can after having 2 glasses of wine.

Pandora, yes traditions are also very important to me and I would like to keep them as much as I can. The reality is my husband will be from a different culture with different traditions and it is my duty as his wife to make sure they will be maintained. I am from a diffrerent culture with different traditions and I want to keep them, too. My thinking is, I believe we can do this all without having to give up one or another; my question is, do you guys also think this would be possible as an outsider''s point of view?
 

cara

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
Messages
2,202
I think the important thing is to jointly share with your FI this commitment to keeping both traditions in your home. Is he as committed to this idea? If you are very set of having your traditions, and he... lets say is not very enthusiastic on his own, or at least will not be taking the initiative, then it will not be as balanced as it might be. Part of your FMILs issues might be that she sees a woman committed to her own traditions and her son is not as enthusiastic and committed to his own so she sees how the child influencing will go. Where is your FI on these issues?

In terms of the discussions with your FMIL, I would leave your FI to handle them as much as possible. You two should jointly discuss and decide what you want to do - and if your mother can''t travel this is even more reason for your decision - but he should have primary responsibility for explaining it to his parents. You don''t want to get in the middle. If for some reason he asks for your assistance in talking to them, I would still tread very carefully. Acknowledge what you are asking them to give up - seeing their son married in their home country - and carefully explain your reasoning... Trying not to get your dukes up. Its not a matter of "standing up for yourself" in the explanation, more in the decision making. Stick to your decision, but be as respectful and polite and accommodating as you can in the rest. It will only make it easier going forward.
 

Ladyoflovers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Messages
136
Date: 3/14/2007 12:27:26 PM
Author: cara
I think the important thing is to jointly share with your FI this commitment to keeping both traditions in your home. Is he as committed to this idea? If you are very set of having your traditions, and he... lets say is not very enthusiastic on his own, or at least will not be taking the initiative, then it will not be as balanced as it might be. Part of your FMILs issues might be that she sees a woman committed to her own traditions and her son is not as enthusiastic and committed to his own so she sees how the child influencing will go. Where is your FI on these issues?

In terms of the discussions with your FMIL, I would leave your FI to handle them as much as possible. You two should jointly discuss and decide what you want to do - and if your mother can''t travel this is even more reason for your decision - but he should have primary responsibility for explaining it to his parents. You don''t want to get in the middle. If for some reason he asks for your assistance in talking to them, I would still tread very carefully. Acknowledge what you are asking them to give up - seeing their son married in their home country - and carefully explain your reasoning... Trying not to get your dukes up. Its not a matter of ''standing up for yourself'' in the explanation, more in the decision making. Stick to your decision, but be as respectful and polite and accommodating as you can in the rest. It will only make it easier going forward.
Thanks, Cara. I will follow your advice and will try to have FI get into the frontline more often.
 

winternight

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 12, 2006
Messages
887
Well probably the FMIL''s concerns have to do with future children mostly - I don''t think they will be accepted as Jewish unless you convert before having children or the children convert later. My best friend is 1/2 Jewish on her father''s side and she has had a really hard time dating because the guys don''t consider her truely Jewish - not reform, conservative, whatever in her experience. She''s converting now. I think its always disappointing for parents when their children go outside the faith - frankly consider where you guys end up in the afterlife - theologically not in the same place.

My parents were Catholic and Muslim and it wasn''t an issue but neither of them were very religious - more hippie-like about the whole thing really. So I think for your future happiness you''ll be fine. Oh and I LOVE Turkey, went there a few years ago, loved it, loved the people, love the food, love the culture, great music (I could keep going).

I can feel for you though, I''m basically a vague agnostic and my fiance is a born-again Christian so are his parents - except we''ve decided we''re going to convert to something milder. (Hey at least the in-laws don''t think you''re going to hell....)
 
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