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Love between old "enemies"...

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Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
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Does anyone have any stories to share or thoughts on how to handle modern day Romeo-Juliet type situations? A German and a Jew? An Armenian (or Greek) and a Turk? A Serb and a Croat? An Indian couple with a Muslim and a Hindu partner? An Irish couple with a Catholic and a Protestant partner?? Or similar??? If you know a couple from historically 'enemy' backgrounds, how did they manage it? What problems did they face? Was it confusing for their kids?

Or if you don't know any couples like that, do you have any thoughts on managing that type of situation?

 

KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
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My mom was raised Mormon, my dad, Catholic. When they became engaged, my grandfather was enraged. Her family refused to participate in the planning of the wedding, my dad''s oldest sister and mom handled everything (my parents were quite young when they married, she was barely 18, he had just turned 21). On their wedding day, my grandfather informed my mom that "she didn''t have to go through with it" and spent the day at the movies. Her sisters and mom attended.

My father was/is a devout Catholic. My mom attended temple because she was forced to, she left the church immediately after she married my father, as did her brother and sisters To paint a picture for you, my grandfather and grandmother never attended services, they dropped their children off and picked them up, but never stepped foot inside. My dad''s mom attended church every day. His dad, his siblings and he attended at least once a week, as a family, and all attended private Catholic school.

My mom agreed to raise children in the Catholic faith. She held to that promise and went above and beyond. She attended mass every week, participated in school, even worked in the church rectory. We were told at a very young age that my mom was not Catholic. She considered converting for a while, but never did. It just didn''t suit her beliefs and my dad respected that.

It took my grandfather 25 years to develop a relationship with my dad. And he didn''t learn to appreciate my father until he and my grandmother could no longer care for themselves and my mom took over. My dad was more supportive than most husbands would be in that situation as my grandparents were extremely demanding and needy.

Last summer he refused to attend my wedding because the ceremony was performed by a psuedo-priest (our nickname for him, he left the church in the midst of the sex scandals because it detested him, and married a very nice woman, but he still does weddings, he read my MIL her last rights before she passed, etc.). We believe that he also chose not to attend because he would have to face my father''s family, and he was embarrassed by the choices he made 30 years ago.

From my perspective, as their child, what made it work was that they both held up their end of the agreement they had come to. He never pushed her to convert and she raised my sister and I in the church as she promised she would. They share a mutual repsect for one another''s beliefs and made sure that my sister and I knew that neither one was right or wrong, their perspectives were and are just different. The roots of those clashing cultures you mentioned don''t run as deep as those that exist between the Catholic and Mormon church (no outright acts of hate, etc.) but it definitely posed a challenge for my parents, mostly because of how my grandfather reacted.
 

poptart

Brilliant_Rock
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May 23, 2006
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My family is also half Catholic and half Mormon because my Catholic grandmother married my Mormon grandfather, and each already had children raised in their respective religions. We all get along fine... because we don''t talk about our differences in religion, nor is it a real big hangup. I think that is one of the main ways to alleviate the tension. If there is an underlying factor that is the source of the conflict, that doesn''t have to be the only thing you focus on. I also have a friend who is a Cyprian Turk, and she had to spend some time in an international students group that was half turkish and half greek. The whole point of the group was to work out these issues between the cultures and teach tolerance. They did that by discussing the issues while drunk for ten days straight, haha. So people are able to stand each other in different ways. There is also some tension, I think, between the scottish and the english... and my dh is scottish and one of our best friends is english. They would actually just joke about all the wars that happened... although I don''t find Culloden the least bit funny, and it really allowed them to get old sources of contension out in the open. But they couldn''t judge each other solely on the way their ancestors acted. I think the main thing to remember is each person is an individual and their culture or religion is not going to automatically make them opposed to you. If you think that way, then you make them an enemy instantly rather than having an actual basis for disliking them.

*M*
 

hikerchick

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
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804
My cousin got married this past summer. He is Hindu and his now wife is Muslim. He told my sister and I about her when he first started dating her. Our generation had no issues with their relationship. However, when my parents generation found out there was a bunch of "buzz" over the "situation". The "parents" generation was very concerned and is still somewhat unconvinced that this worth all the trouble. However, they are truly in love and I think it is beautiful to see them overcome the historical obstacles of the feuding religions. The families have done very well over the 3 years they dated before getting married. Even the most skeptical of family members have come to realize what a wonderful woman she is and accepted the situation. I can only speak about our side. Until the month before the wedding we were under the impression that her side was also welcoming the union or atleast dealing with it amicably.

However, the sh*t hit the fan the month before the wedding. The wedding was supposed to be a dual Muslim/Hindu wedding. The Hindu priest had agreed to do the ceremony and we were under the impression that their Imam had also agreed. I don''t want to get into all the gory details here but at the LAST minute, the Imam basically tossed everything into a flurry and refused to acknowledge or accept the union. He also sent out a mass email to all their side guests denouncing the wedding and threatening to "turn" them away if they attended the wedding. We had more than 40 people cancel during the last 2 days because they didn''t want to ruin their chances of being allowed to worship at the mosque. This really hurt my cousin''s fiance and her mother. It was an ugly scene. I was impressed with how well they held it together. In the end, the wedding was about 80% Hindu and a small informal Muslim prayer ceremony was put together by close family members. We worked overtime to ensure that everyone felt welcome and the wedding was a gorgeous occasion inspite of the issues.

They haven''t had kids yet since they just got married but I trust that their love for each other and the strong love and support from all the family on both sides will see them through any diificulties. Funny thing is . . . the Hindu Muslim divisions didn''t cause even a fraction of the family problems that we (my BF and I) have been dealing with . . . because he didn''t go to college and this is a bigger problem than the fact that he is white and Christian.
 

TCBug

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 12, 2006
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58
Let''s not beat up on the Muslims. It seems to me that everybody''s a little bit racist. I''m a "white" chick married to a 1/2 Chinese and 1/2 "white" guy (for 20+ years now). During our courtship, the Chinese side of his family split into camps: (a) accepted me and were happy for us; (b) accepted me with some compunction because he was "tainted" anyway (being only half Chinese); (c) accepted me very unhappily because at least I wasn''t Japanese, African-American or Korean (yes, in that order. -- no, I still don''t know why); and (d) have not and will not ever accept me -- even offering to help him meet a "good" Chinese girl over and over. As for my family -- as far as I know, they accepted him with open arms. Hmmm.
 

Munchkin

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 3, 2004
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540
Well...Members of my family are all Red Sox fans, his are all Yankee fans.

We''ve had our struggles. Good thing I love him enough to forgive that shortcoming.
 

Munchkin

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
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Messages
540
Just wanted to add (by the way..where did the "edit" function go?) I''m not trying to make light of peoples'' struggles with cultural differences! I was just hoping to make the OP smile.
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 12, 2006
Messages
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Munchkin, made me grin indeed! haha.

Thanks for sharing these stories, ladies. One thing they illuminate is that people can turn just about any kind of difference into grounds for hatred or exclusion.

Kim: I'm curious. But if this is too personal, just ignore it! When you were growing up, did you ever question the truth of your religion because it wasn't your mom's? I mean, did you ever think to yourself 'If Catholicism is the true religion, how come Mom isn't a Catholic too?' Or maybe religion wasn't presented to you that way in teh first place?

Poptart: You're so right about the dangers of mistaking people for instances of a religion and culture, rather than seeing them as individuals. That goes for the person who thinks they will be discriminated against as much as the person who might do the discriminating. Good will, forgiveness, and generosity of spirit pop up in many surprising places.

Hikerchik: I have a Muslim friend who is married to a Hindu woman and they got a TONNE of flak from a couple of 'anonymous' repeat callers in his community. Luckily, he's a Quranic scholar and skilled theologian, so when random callers explained how terrible he was, he was able to chapter n' verse 'em with the best of them. So to speak. He claims it was actually fun debating them. But that might just be in retrospect.

ETA: It would be great to hear more stories, ladies! M and I are going to have a rather... intense situation to deal with if we get engaged. With close family member trauma... Luckily, our immediate family members seem jittery but welcoming. They all know rationally that you can't blame the children for the sins of their parents or confuse individuals with members of a group but its amazing how visceral these things can be, especially if your own living (and also as a result, your own dead) family members were involved.
 

KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Messages
7,485
Date: 4/8/2007 9:30:26 PM
Author: Independent Gal
Munchkin, made me grin indeed! haha.

Thanks for sharing these stories, ladies. One thing they illuminate is that people can turn just about any kind of difference into grounds for hatred or exclusion.

Kim: I''m curious. But if this is too personal, just ignore it! When you were growing up, did you ever question the truth of your religion because it wasn''t your mom''s? I mean, did you ever think to yourself ''If Catholicism is the true religion, how come Mom isn''t a Catholic too?'' Or maybe religion wasn''t presented to you that way in teh first place?

Poptart: You''re so right about the dangers of mistaking people for instances of a religion and culture, rather than seeing them as individuals. That goes for the person who thinks they will be discriminated against as much as the person who might do the discriminating. Good will, forgiveness, and generosity of spirit pop up in many surprising places.

Hikerchik: I have a Muslim friend who is married to a Hindu woman and they got a TONNE of flak from a couple of ''anonymous'' repeat callers in his community. Luckily, he''s a Quranic scholar and skilled theologian, so when random callers explained how terrible he was, he was able to chapter n'' verse ''em with the best of them. So to speak. He claims it was actually fun debating them. But that might just be in retrospect.

ETA: It would be great to hear more stories, ladies! M and I are going to have a rather... intense situation to deal with if we get engaged. With close family member trauma... Luckily, our immediate family members seem jittery but welcoming. They all know rationally that you can''t blame the children for the sins of their parents or confuse individuals with members of a group but its amazing how visceral these things can be, especially if your own living (and also as a result, your own dead) family members were involved.
Hi IG:

I was taught, both by my parents and many members of the Catholic church (I attended a private Catholic school), including priests and nuns, that Catholics do not believe that they are members of the one true church, that there are many paths to God and Cathalosism (sp?) is only one of those ways. I am now a non-practicing Catholic, with a strong faith in a higher power, pared with a belief that there are many paths to God and that what really matters is believing in something that is bigger than all of us. My older sister is now agnostic.
 

hikerchick

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
Messages
804
Date: 4/8/2007 8:03:10 PM
Author: TCBug
Let''s not beat up on the Muslims. It seems to me that everybody''s a little bit racist.
I hope this wasn''t aimed at my story.
 

hikerchick

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
Messages
804
Date: 4/8/2007 9:30:26 PM
Author: Independent Gal

ETA: It would be great to hear more stories, ladies! M and I are going to have a rather... intense situation to deal with if we get engaged. With close family member trauma... Luckily, our immediate family members seem jittery but welcoming. They all know rationally that you can''t blame the children for the sins of their parents or confuse individuals with members of a group but its amazing how visceral these things can be, especially if your own living (and also as a result, your own dead) family members were involved.
IG,

Hang in there. You will make the best of whatever happens. With enough love even the toughest onstacles CAN be overcome. Those who come around will and those who don''t . . . well, you will find a way to forgive them and be happy inspite of it.

My cousin and his wife have the support of their families and that goes a long way even if the "community" is having a hard time dealing with it.
 

Independent Gal

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 12, 2006
Messages
5,471
Thanks Kim. What you say your parents did makes lots of sense! M and I have discussed a similar arrangement so since it''s something I''ve worried about on occasion, I''m so glad to hear it worked well for you.

And Hikerchik, thanks for the good wishes! I think it will be ok. Both of our immediate families had their moments of worry and jitters for their various reasons, but seem to have got used to the idea. Those are the people we really love and will see often, and they seem to be thrilled that we are so happy wtih each other. Both families consider that the most important thing.

It''s members of my extended family I''m particularly worried about, and particularly my step-granny who went through and saw some pretty unspeakably horrible stuff. Even if she was open minded and forgiving enough to ''let bygones be bygones'' and to take people as individuals (which she isn''t...not the nicest or happiest lady) even hearing the language at the (likely) future wedding would probably be traumatic for her.

Other relatives of mine have made little comments or inappropriate jokes, but I think they''ll get over it. They all KNOW it''s not acceptable. They just have to bring their guts in line with their heads if you know what I mean.

And some of M''s family apparently worried that his (our) children would lead lives of discrimination. Which surprised me, since it never occured to me to be ashamed of my identity, or to think that I shouldn''t have kids because they might be discriminated against. Sheesh!

I''m sure we''ll all settle down and get used to it. And who knows? Maybe our future kids would grow up to be ambassadors of reconciliation and mutual understanding for our two cultures!
 

Julianna

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 19, 2007
Messages
528
Date: 4/8/2007 1:35:13 PM
Author: poptart
My family is also half Catholic and half Mormon because my Catholic grandmother married my Mormon grandfather, and each already had children raised in their respective religions. We all get along fine... because we don''t talk about our differences in religion, nor is it a real big hangup. I think that is one of the main ways to alleviate the tension. If there is an underlying factor that is the source of the conflict, that doesn''t have to be the only thing you focus on. I also have a friend who is a Cyprian Turk, and she had to spend some time in an international students group that was half turkish and half greek. The whole point of the group was to work out these issues between the cultures and teach tolerance. They did that by discussing the issues while drunk for ten days straight, haha. So people are able to stand each other in different ways. There is also some tension, I think, between the scottish and the english... and my dh is scottish and one of our best friends is english. They would actually just joke about all the wars that happened... although I don''t find Culloden the least bit funny, and it really allowed them to get old sources of contension out in the open. But they couldn''t judge each other solely on the way their ancestors acted. I think the main thing to remember is each person is an individual and their culture or religion is not going to automatically make them opposed to you. If you think that way, then you make them an enemy instantly rather than having an actual basis for disliking them.

*M*
Well said.
 

mrs jam

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 24, 2004
Messages
686
Does anyone know of any couples where one person is a Jehovah''s Witness and the other is not? Based on my prior experience, this one would be very difficult because of the no holiday/birthday issue. We tried and tried, but just couldn''t make it work in the long run.
 

Skippy123

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 24, 2006
Messages
24,299
Wow, Mrs. Jam. I am so sorry. I only know one Jehovas Witness that left. Why don''t they celebrate holiday''s? I don''t mean to ask too personal of a question and you don''t have to answer.
 

mrs jam

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 24, 2004
Messages
686
From what I understand, they believe the celebration of religious holidays are displeasing to God because the holidays originate from pagan traditions and "false" religion. Secular or legal holidays and birthdays place honor on people instead of God. Open celebration of such holidays, such as putting up a Christmas tree, can result in disfellowship (their version of excommunication) from the congregation.

I was pretty naive in the beginning of the relationship and thought we could reach some sort of compromise on the holiday issue. I wouldn't put up a tree or expect a gift from him or expect him to participate in the holidays in any way, but I wasn't willing to give up celebrating with my family at my dad's house on Christmas day. My ex explained that any sort of compromise on his part, including "allowing" me to celebrate with my family, would be the same as sinning, and he could not be "unevenly yoked" spiritually with an "unbeliever," which is a term they apply to all non-JW's. I believe in God, I just believe He has bigger things to worry about than whether or not I decorate a tree or carve a pumpkin or spend the weekend in Vegas. I also don't believe the man in the relationship has spiritual "headship" over me and is responsible and accountable for the sins I may commit.

I did try to convert because I loved him so much, but just couldn't commit myself to it. The hours of studying the Watchtower literature, all the meetings during the week, and all the behavior restrictions were just too much for me, especially when there is just so much I don't agree with theologically.
 

poptart

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
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Messages
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Date: 4/11/2007 5:44:07 PM
Author: mrs jam
Does anyone know of any couples where one person is a Jehovah''s Witness and the other is not? Based on my prior experience, this one would be very difficult because of the no holiday/birthday issue. We tried and tried, but just couldn''t make it work in the long run.
I do. Sort of. DH has a family member that married a Jehova''s Witness. When they first got together she practiced a different religion, but ended up converting before they married. I don''t know them very well, but DH does, and from what I''ve heard it''s a very abusive relationship, emotionally. I think this has more to do with his personality rather than the religion, although it seems like the faith does feed it and allow him to get away with more maybe? Anyway, their relationship has worked in the sense that they are not divorced, although neither is very happy. Also, I don''t mean to offend anyone by this post either, so I''m trying to keep the personality and religious belief separate, so if I did offend you, I''m sorry!

*M*
 

anchor31

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Messages
7,074
What an interesting question!

As I''m sure you all know, there''s always been quite a bit of tension between the English and the French... Canada is the best place to see it in action. I''m Québécoise, from a Québécois father and (gasp!) an Ontarian mother. There were never any problems with either of the families, though. My mother, even though she was born and raised in Ontario, comes from an all French-speaking family, and as far as I know, all or most of my ancestors are from France originally. But I don''t think it would have been an issue either if my mother had actually been of English ancestry.

My mother''s first language is French and she learned English in the streets with her playmates; my dad learned it at Ottawa U, where he met my mom. My siblings and I learned it at home as kids. In my family nobody cares who''s Québécois and who''s not... And I''m lucky that my FI''s family is also tolerant in that respect, or at least is not openly hostile. FSIL''s boyfriend has ruffled my feathers a couple of times, but he''s the kind of guy who''ll bitch about anything, so I just shrug it off.
 
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