Sorry, I wrote a novel.
I was raised Protestant and am converting to Catholicism (FI is Catholic). We share the faith – Christianity, there are some beliefs that vary and the tradition is quite different. It works for me personally because I appreciate the community, formality and tradition of my new faith. I am extremely lucky to have a supportive group at the church that is welcoming and warm. It is a choice for us because we want to have one consistent way to teach our kids.
However, there are things that you think and he thinks that are just never going to change and you don’t always realize that. I have difficulty wrapping my head around another way of thinking even though I’m deliberately learning about it and accepting it. There are things that he doesn’t understand about the way I think. We agree to disagree but deep down we both think we are right and the other person will come around on it. We both also (I hope) understand that even if our varying opinions never change we will love each other any way.
For example, a challenge I am having is the gender roles that seems to come with his old-school growing up (he tries to be quite progressive but its part of his culture). Its a no-brainer for him that women do certain women things and men do certain men things. This drives me NUTS. We’re both pretty open and conscious of this, but it does bring up issues from our very different backgrounds. He comes to conclusion without thinking – that if there’s no underwear or milk its a reflection of me not doing my job. Even though we’ve talked about it and he’s a grown man and fully able, capable and willing to do his own laundry and work in the kitchen. Its this underlying upbringing of how things are supposed to be that we both default to. It creates problems – nothing that we can’t work through – but we’re both very commited to working between our values to find a united approach.
I guess my response to your question is that its extremely complicated and there’s no real answer. Both of you may be unwilling to do certain things when it comes to raising your kids. I guess its just important to know that you have to compromise and that’s part of loving each other. I think having a faith community is an extremely beneficial thing so maybe for consistency you can find one that you agree on and will raise your kids in it. Your man sounds understanding and that he wants to make a move from the tradition he was raised with – part of marrying you is accepting your beliefs and working with you. The big surprises probably have to be dealt with in turn.
I might suggest a pre-marital course of some kind that will ask the big questions. We did the Catholic Engaged Encounter and it was good to have forced conversations about how we will raise our kids so we’re on the same page. Even if our opinions change, which they are bound do because circumstances change, we will at least have talked about it.
Just some ideas that helped me: what school will our kids go to? will we take them to church? who will take them to church? what holidays will we celebrate? with which family? where will we celebrate these? how will we commit our time to both families? how will we discipline our kids? who will discipline them? will they follow a specific diet? who will help with childcare? how will this affect our kids values? what specific (name them) values do we want our kids to have? will we travel with kids? where to? what do we not want our kids to see? how long will kids live at home? how much financial responsibility will we take for them in their adult lives? do kids come to restaurants and weddings? what adult situations are kids not involved in? who takes care of baby? who gets up in the night? where will baby sleep?
Some of these answers are weird to me – but Fiance and his family feel a certain way on them and I have to respect parts of their culture. Kids go absolutely everywhere (if kids aren’t invited they don’t attend) and families raise them together. FI’s sister sleeps with her 5 year old. Mom cooks, dad works the farm. Grandkids learn the language.
What if your partner did change his mind and wanted your kids to be raised Muslim? Could you work with that? Or say you want to raise your kids atheist – is he ok with it? Maybe hypothetical conversations would help your feelings on this topic. Is there a community you could agree on to raise your kids in if you want some type of religion, or is he ok with having none? Another aspect to think about is the culture that goes along with the faith – there are non-religious traditions that will be part of your life that he might want your kids to be part of.
Anyways, its a huge discussion… PM if you want to chat more or just want a buddy and here works too 🙂