Issues because of Different Religions

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Male
My question has to do w/ an interfaith relationship. During our relationship we had a fun time, we both were raised in conservative households, had simlar interest, both of us are well educated and had mutual respect for each other. I had dated my ex for about 10 months, we broke up because of our religious differences. She was raised in a deeply religious family and is devout, where as I was not, but I still feel that religion is an important aspect of my identity (raised in a tolerant household).

The issue was about how to raise the kids, what faith would they be. She felt strongly that they be her faith and I felt that since we are from different faiths let them be raised where they can appreciate and pray in both faiths and when they get older they can follow the faith they feel at one with or find comfort in. I told her that I was willing to do whatever it took to ensure that the children grow up appreciating, respecting, and following her faith since it meant a lot to her. I was willing to learn about her faith, go to their church, support and encourage my children to pray in her faith, willing to contribute my time in service projects and donate to her church. Initially I was a litle hesitant to do all this because it seemed I was "giving up" a lot of who I was, but then I realized that since relgion is important to her, I wanted her to feel and know that I too want to preserve her desires of making her children feel a part of her relgion. I felt the same about my religion, I too wanted to feel connected to my kids, I wanted also to pray with them in my own faith, the way I knew how, I wanted them to also learn about what my relgion was, and to respect and appreciate it. I never asked her to donate, give her time in service projects, I just wanted the children to pray with me as well.

Therefore, I proposed that we could learn about each others faith, support each other by going to each other's place of worship, and make our differences our strength.

To this I was dismayed when she did not agree, she stated they could learn about my faith but could not pray to "my God" (which I am hurt because if she has accepted me as an individual then what is wrong in having our children also believing in my views?) . In the last 6 months I have heard from her how she feels it is her responsibility to make her children her faith, how she would be dismayed if they were to ever choose another faith, and that she wants them to be identified by her faith. Then she also tells me that the children would grow up confused if the were raised in 2 faiths.

I found that a little odd since she has such a zeal for her relgion and has told me all the above mentioned things. Nonetheless, I again tried to reason with her way would cause problems within the family and i wanted all of us to be unified. It didnt work. I have a hard time with this because many times she has told me she loves my relgion and finds it peaceful, then I ask why is it such a problem then? Her actions do not seem to reflect her thoughts/ words. Every time I have addressed the confusion issue on how we can resolve it, she brings about issues that are fundamental differences instead of things that are similar. I keep focusing on our religious similarities and she brings forth our differences, to which I say of course the children will be confused if all we will talk about is our differences.

I dont think she is in fact ready for another religion to truly coexist in her household. I guess my question is that if she really truly feels that the children will be confused why has she not made any efforts to resolve any issues, or tried to alleviate the confusion, or worked on our similiarties?? By saying that the children will be confused, is that her way of ensuring that the children will be raised in her faith?? And finally am I under an illusion that children can be brought up in 2 faiths and can learn to appreciate them both? I know raising children in 2 faiths, let alone raising children period, can be quite a task, I know that it may be difficult and may require a bit of compromise, but I am willing to put forth the efforts to ensure that we stay together and united.

I guess ultimately I am disappointed, I believed a relationship entails compromise, flexibility, understanding and respect - I feel I have "given" /offered a lot to her to ensure that our children understand her faith, but in return I have not gotten the acknowlegement that I have tried very hard to make this work from her. Instead she states that I dont understand her and the importance of religion in her life. How much more understanding can I be? Advice
I think you are confusing religious belief and logic. You are trying to look at this from a logical side - "You believe XXX, and I believe YYY, so we can find where these two idea sets merge and go from there". But religion has nothing to do with logic. In fact many religious beliefs are about believing strongly in something DESPITE logic. There is a famous scene in Fiddler on the Roof where the young daughter (Jewish) wants to marry a Russian (Catholic). The father sadly says, "A fish can love a bird, but where would they build their nest?"

The whole point is that religion isn't just a thing you like - like liking living by the ocean. You can't 'meet half way' and live by a lake and consider it good enough. Religion for some people is a defining aspect of their entire life. It governs everything you do and how you will reach everlasting contentment when you die. It's not something you can do "halfway". You have to follow the beliefs totally, because they have come down to you directly from God directly through a chosen path. You can't pick and choose which to do and which not to do, which to believe and which not to believe. That's the whole point of religious beliefs.

So she is strongly religious, as many in the world are. And she has her chosen path, set of beliefs. If she randomly strayed off of that path because others started telling her to, her beliefs would be pretty weak. Think of it in this manner. If you two got married, you would have the vows of monogamy to each other until you died. But what if she ran into another guy who said "Hey, monogamy doesn't mean no sex with other guys. It means no sex with other girls." And she decides OK, why not alter her beliefs because it makes life fun and easier.

I'm not very religious myself, but I have enough religious friends to know where they are coming from. This isn't something you can 'logically argue' her into - it's something she believes will govern her fate in this life AND the next. So not only would arguing her out of it be really difficult - but if she did abandon her chosen path in life because you convinced her to, that would be a huge issue between you two for the rest of her life. It really seems best for someone who is that religiously directed in life to find a partner with the same religious beliefs, so they can both walk on that same path together. Either you can *choose freely* to convert to her path and walk her path with her, or you can find someone who walks your path.

Love is about two people caring for each other fully the way they are. It shouldn't be about you forcing your partner to change for things to work.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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