Post # 1
We are just a couple months away from the wedding, and suddenly a huge issue has come up and we are even talking about breaking up over it. I am so lost and overwhelmed by it.
We are different religions; we had agreed to raise any children with both traditions, obviously realizing that we couldn’t do, say, a bar mitzvah or a first communion. However, I always assumed my kids would be baptized so they could go to church and participate in the services and traditions. The other day, it turns out that my fiance was not on the same page and is in fact completely against it. I told him that this is a non-negotiable for me. He said he feels the same way.
We’ve taken a couple of days to logically think this out. We’ve discussed this for hours and hours, and are completely lost. We love each other so much and want to be married, but I will never be happy if my kids aren’t baptized. He says he’ll never be happy if they are.
I don’t know what to do, and I feel like we have no one to talk to. None of our friends are in interfaith relationships, so they don’t have anything to say on this issue. Our families are obviously biased towards their own religion. Neither of us has a place of worship that we regularly go to, but in the past, clergy we’ve talked to is also biased towards their own religion. There’s nothing helpful online – there’s all these stories of couples who choose one religion to raise the kids in, but no stories about how to do that when you’re stuck.
Canceling the wedding would be the last thing I want to do, but I don’t know what else we can do. It seems irresponsible to delay this issue any longer – it’s not going to fix itself.
Does anyone have any thoughts or advice that might help us?
Post # 3
Is it not possible in your faith tradition to wait and allow your children to decide if they want to be baptized? If they aren’t baptized as children, can they not even attend services? I understand that it is important to you, but by insisting on infant/child baptism, I see it as sort of “drafting” your children into a faith without their consent. I can see how your fiance would object, if he wants parity for his religious traditions.
I grew up Protestant, but my mother decided against baptizing me or my sister as children, because she said she wanted it to be something we decided to do because it was meaningful to us.
I’m sorry I don’t have any really concrete advice, but it sounds like you and your fiance have taken very black and white stances here. I wish you peace and good luck as you try to negotiate this one.
Post # 4
Wow, my heart really goes out to you. First, I think you should be proud of yourself for recognizing that this is such a big issue and addressing it head on. It says a lot about the two of you as a couple that you can talk about it, even though it is painful. It is also good that you are discussing it now, before the wedding.
I am in an interfaith marriage (I’m Baptist and he’s Jewish), so I can relate. One thing that might be helpful, if you haven’t already done this, is look at why baptism is so critical to you. For some people, religious rituals are part of their faith, and for some people, religious rituals are more about culture and tradition. My husband and I have negotiated these conflicts by first figuring out why something is important to us and then looking to see if there is a compromise. For example, regular church attendance was important to me. When I looked at why, it was less about religion and more about creating a community. So, we decided to make regular attendance at a temple a priority to give our family the sense of community.
That said, some things are simply non-negotiable. If you can’t reach resolution on this issue now, I would hesitate to move forward. It only gets harder once children are involved.
Post # 5
Oh, how awful! Where were you going to be married – in a church or synagogue? Is there a pastor/rabbi you have been working with for the ceremony? I know you said that clergy has not been helpful in the past, but I think if you went to one clergyperson from each religion and explained that you are thinking about breaking up over this, they would help.
I really think a third party is going to be the best help here -if you don’t want to talk to clergy, could you at least try a relationship counselor?
This is a huge deal, and it’s really good that you talked about it in advance. But it would be terrible to walk away from the person you love. I feel so bad for you.
Post # 6
I was going to comment something similar to what fifinell commented. If you both plan to raise your children with both faiths, why can’t your children make their own decision to be baptized when they are old enough to understand why they would want to or not want to.
Post # 7
Unfortunately, I’m not religious at all, so I don’t think I can give you any advice either. But I do know that if my husband WAS religious, I would probably be against baptising my children as well (though I don’t know if it would be a deal breaker for me… it might be close though).
I agree with @fifinella, can you just not baptise your children as infants and allow them to decide if they want to get baptised when they are older? I hope this is an option for you – I would think your FI would be okay with this if, at that time, it’s the child’s decision and not something you’re “forcing on them” as he probably sees it now.
I wish you all the best!
Post # 8
That’s a tough one – I’m very sorry. I’m Jewish and FI is anti-religion; however, he appreciates Jewish traditions and heritage and is fine raising our children Jewish so long as we don’t raise them religious. I agree you need to figure out what baptism means to you and to FI and that might help explain why it’s important to you to do it, and important for FI not to do it.
Post # 9
hmm, i don’t usually comment on religious issues but i’m going to put one foot in the pool here.
just putting it out there: i didn’t know you had to be baptized to go to church and participate in the services. however, you know better than i so, ok, is there an equivalent to a baptism in your fiance’s religion that he is also willing to give up?
were you planning to go to eachother’s places of worship as a family every week? have you thought about putting off your child’s baptism until they are older, like in their early teens? then they could decide for themselves which religion they would like to persue and hopefully it wouldn’t upset either parent.
my grandparents are both christian, but my grandfather is not religious. they worked out a way to keep everyone mostly happy when they started having kids by having my grandmother taking the kids to church every sunday, and my grandfather going for the major holidays to make her happy. he also taught a lot of those life lesson things that helped my aunts and uncles turn out to be pretty damn good people. he did not oppose the baptism thing, though, so not sure if this helps at all.
really hope there is someone here who has already been through it who can help you more. i hope you do not lose someone you love so much over a religion your children may not even want to be a part of. good luck sweetheart!
Post # 10
you need to go see a couples/marriage counselor – they are the only unbiased person you can turn to really at this point. they will help you figure out and learn to communicate about these important issues and help you talk about hot button topics (like religion) in a way that is positive and non-threatening to you both. i would not call off the wedding unless you have already exhausted this option.
i am also interfaith – i’m jewish and FI is chinese and not religious. we did a number of pre-marital counseling sessions and it was extremely helpful (not just this issue of religion/culture, but other important hard-to-talk-about topics, like money).
Post # 11
Can I ask what religions you both are? If you don’t mind sharing…
The good thing is that you are talking about this now. My heart goes out to you immensely though bc I know this is a huge deal and must be so difficult. Hang in there!
Post # 12
@PinkPinstripes – he’s Jewish and I’m Catholic. Not an easy combination.
@fifinella and others: To clarify about why baptize children as infants –
The traditions that are most important to me are for baptized Catholics. Something as simple as crossing yourself, which is done many times during the course of mass, is for people who have been baptized only. If my child isn’t baptized, we couldn’t even pray together at night, because that involves crossing yourself 🙁
Also, it is very important for me to have my marriage recognized by my church. We are getting married in a civil ceremony, but the plan was always to have a private religious ceremony at my church within a year. However, the Catholic church requires him to agree to have the children baptized in order to marry us.
Post # 13
I’m just going to throw this out there, but have you considered exploring the Anglican Church? (Similar traditions, values, liturgy, but no infant baptism requirement. Or is your FI against any kind of baptism at all?)
Are either of you actually attending church/temple on anything like a regular basis?
Post # 14
@Interfaith: Do you think you could still take your children with you to church for the experience of the teachings and community without having baptized them or does that not sit well with you?
I know it must be hard, but if you can separate the teachings of Jesus from the rules of the church, it’s difficult to imagine that your children would not be welcome…ya know what I mean?
Post # 15
I’m sorry. I think religious differences can be the most difficult to overcome. I don’t have an interfaith marriage, but my heart goes out to you.
I’m guessing you might be Catholic? You of course can go to mass if you aren’t baptized. No one will kick you out. But there is so much more to the mass. If you just baptize your child and they don’t make their other sacraments, they’ll miss out on going to communion.
I have seen children go through RCIA and make their communion and confirmation together. (Young kids, pre-teen.) So it’s not like they will have to go 20 years before getting baptized.
I can understand your dilemma, though. I for one, would not want my kids to go unbaptized. Also, it sounds like both you and FI are strong in your religions. And it’s hard to know how either of you will feel as your children decide on their religions. How will you feel if they choose the other parent’s religion? What if none of them choose your own? What if they just don’t pick anything? The best case scenario leaves one of you satisifed and the other not. The worst case scenario leaves you both feeling disappointed.
Bless you. Good luck.
Post # 16
I’ve just started the pre-cana process with my priest (Catholic) and agreeing to baptize and raise your children Catholic is a huge deal.
I completely understand where you’re coming from- I can’t imagine not having my future kids not baptized.I’m sorry I don’t have better advice for you, but keep the communication lines open and good luck!