Post # 1
I have been with my boyfriend for over three years and have been living together for nearly two years now. When I met him, I knew he was a devout christian (protestant). I, however, was raised a buddhist though I can’t say that I really practice the religion anymore. I am not sure what I believe in and have not yet been doing some ”soul searching” when it comes to this.
As I have mentioned, I knew religion is a very big part of his life, and we have on several occasions discussed how we would raise our children. Since I do not practice my religion, I told him that it was ok for me if he wanted to raised our kids to be christian and bring them to church with him every Sunday. Another topic that came up was obviously mariage. We have discussed this so many times, and for me it was clear that he wanted to get married in a church, but that at the end of the day the only thing that mattered the most was that we loved each other and that we would be together regardless of how or where we got married. When he saw me praying at my parents’ not too long ago (we were celebrating Lunar New Year), something made him changed his mind about us apparently. We came home that night and he told me that he wanted to marry me, but that if I wanted to marry him I would have to accept him and his God. In other words, he wants to be married to a Christian wife, and he wants that Christian wife to be me. I have always respected his beliefs and it hurt me deeply that after three years he has decided to give me the ultimatum: we can’t be together if you don’t convert. He told me that his religion comes first, even before his own happiness.
I don’t know where I stand or what my beliefs are when it comes to religion right now so I am not in a position where I am able to give him a clear answer. What we have is amazing, we love each other very much and understand each other on so many levels. I don’t understand why or how this has become such a big issue. What hurts me the most is learning that he is willing to sacrifice everything we have built together in the last three years, if I decide not to convert. I love him with all my heart and I am willing to put up a fight to save our relationship, but I do not like being given ultimatums or feel like I’m being forced to do something. And I think it would be wrong for me to convert simply to make things more ”convenient” between us.
I am sorry my story is so long but I wanted to give you guys as much details as possible so you can give me your opinions or thoughts about this situation. What should I do? Is he wrong for putting me in this position?
Post # 3
I’m so sorry! It’s got to be tough to be in this position, not to mention a shock. I think you’re dead on, converting b/c of an ultimatum sounds/feels wrong to me. I also wonder why the acceptance doesn’t go both ways – as in, doesn’t he need to accept you and your faith as well? Sounds like something about your Lunar New Year observance started this. I hope you two can talk about that and what happened for him. I also don’t think this is about right or wrong as far as SO wanting what he wants… it’s not good that he’s clearly pressuring you to convert, but that doesn’t change the fact that if he’s realized that he wants a Christian wife there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
Post # 4
I’m sorry your Boyfriend or Best Friend sprang this ultimatum on you! My Darling Husband and I are Catholic and Jewish and I can’t imagine how we’d be able to have a relationship if either person tried to impose their beliefs on the other. I agree that it’s not a fair or appropriate request for him to make, especially 3 years later.
First of all, can you take some time to have a serious conversation about this with him? You have a right to understand fully where he is coming from – What’s his rationale? Why now? What prompted it? A couple things I can think of – is there someone else (a relative, a pastor) who’s trying to influence him? Has he grown up without really being exposed to other religions, which made him uncomfortable with watching you celebrate Lunar New Year? Has he always felt this way but is just now brave enough to bring it up?
In terms of how to react, I would make it clear right away that you refuse to accept his ultimatum – that he should respect your right to choose your own religion. Regardless of whether you ever convert or not, this should be your choice. From my own perspective, my husband would love for me to convert to Judaism; however, I was very firm about this being out of the question. He responded in kind regarding converting to Catholicism. The sooner we both understood the impossibility of either person converting, the sooner we could accept that impossibility, get comfortable with it, and start building an interfaith relationship.
Finally, although it might be hard since you live together, I think it might help to have some time apart. You can think about your priorities; he can think about his. Maybe losing you for a time is what he needs to realize that being with you is more important than having “a Christian wife”? If your Boyfriend or Best Friend was really truly fine with your religion for 3 years and this demand is a new development, I think some hard conversations or time apart might help. However, if he has always had this feeling (without expressing it), it’s possible that he’s not going to change his opinion.
In the latter situation, I personally would cut my losses and move on. If you convert to Christianity just to please him, I think it sets a bad precedent for the future. What might he ask for next? If today it’s just becoming Christian, in the future it might be church every week, being a really active member of his religious community, making Christianity a huge part of your daily lives. More generally, it implies that he and his spiritual beliefs are somehow more worthy than you and yours. Not a very healthy foundation to start a life together on.
Post # 5
For me, the only person that can decide what faith they want to be is yourself. No one can force someone to convert to any religion. My husband is Buddhist and I am Wiccan, we each respect the others faith and that is it. There is no, one is better than the other. Honestly, he needs to sit down and realize just what he really wants and by forcing someone into something else. when will that stop. I believe in finding your own path and not being converted because of someone else…
Post # 6
Although i am only going to reiterate what the other posters said, I still need to tell you that your feelings about this are dead on and absolutely rational.
The only reason to convert to a religion is because you feel it fits with your own morals and spirituality, not to make somebody else happy.
Nobody should give you an ultimatum, especially with something so serious. Your guy needs to realize that your Buddhist upbringing is a part of what made you the person he loves. If you have similar ethical/moral beliefs, than evidently your being non-Christian should not be an issue, anyway.
Post # 7
I’ll add to the chorus of “you’re not alone”. I’m atheist and SO is Catholic, and while, I know he would prefer I was more religious, we each respect the other’s ability to believe what the other does. I don’t much mind going to mass with him every now and then- I think it’s really interesting, although I don’t take it as literally as he does. It can still be a good story and a beautiful ceremony.
Post # 8
@tokidoki: I think it is good for him to voice how he feels but he should never force you to change what you believe for him. That is just wrong. I would love it if my Fiance were Christian too but I can’t make him believe something he doesn’t and wouldn’t want him to pretend to believe in something he doesn’t. I am marrying him anyway and we are going to have the most fun, and interesting interfaith marriage and life.
Post # 9
I don’t think that is a fair ultimatum at all. If you don’t believe the same things he does spiritually then you shouldn’t have to “fake” it. My FH is LDS and I am not religious, and I know this is an issue with some of his family. But would I convert if he asked? Never. It’s not who I am, and part of what makes me “me” is my views on religion and spirituality.
I think he needs to realize that he should love you the way you are and not let differing views on faith negatively effect the love you share for eachother.
Post # 10
Wow thats really tough. This is really something he should have thought about before you got too deep in the relationship. But please do not just convert to stay with him. As PP said, religion is a very personal thing and should be something you decide for yourself. If you do it just for him, it wont be real and you may later resent him.
Talk to him and tell him that you love him and dont want to lose him but feel its unfair that you are feeling forced to convert. Let him know that you are open to considering it but its a decision that you have to make. Ask him if its more important to have a Christian wife or more important to have YOU.
Post # 11
Thank you so much for all the comments and advice, it’s very much appreciated.
It’s been about a week since we’ve had this argument, and about three fights later, he broke down one morning and told me that he loved me and that he wanted us to have a future together. I told him that I would, from my own free will, attend church with him every now and then. I have done so in the past, I find the services can sometimes deliver very good messages but it’s not something I can see myself doing every single Sunday, at least not for the time being. I told him that he should always keep in mind that there is a possibility that I will one day tell him that I choose to not convert. I am not ready to give him a clear answer right now and it took a few days but in the end he understood and told me that he does not have a plan and that whatever decision I make, we will figure out a way together to make it work.
If there are any christians out there (preferably protestants but it doesn’t matter), I would like to know how you feel about inter-faith mariages/relationships? I have been reading passages about it in the Bible and that has done nothing but discourage me even more. Like in all small communities, I know people in his church talk to each other and have said how ”wrong” our relationship is because I am not a christian. And not too long before my he and I moved in together, one of the pastors ”somehow” found out about it and mentioned in a service that ”somebody” in the church was moving in a girl who is not christian, and before getting married, and how wrong that was. I know I shouldn’t care about what people say, but this has really upset me and left a bitter taste in my mouth about the church he grew up in (he doesn’t go to that one anymore though).
If it were up to me only, I would say I don’t care where we get married, but I know how much it means to him to get married in a church. Is there any way that it can be done in our case, without me having to convert? I’m not saying I will never convert to christianity, I might or I might not, I have yet to figure that out. But I am not ready to make that decision now and I am certainly not going to convert just so we can get married in a church. That’s why I want to know what my options are? Is it completely impossible? We both want to take the next step together and get married but at this point we are stuck because we don’t know what to do…
Post # 12
Just want to say “I hear you!” I’m Agnostic and Fiance is Christian. Fortunately, I’ve never gotten the ultimatum but our differences have made our relationship challenging at times and we almost ended it twice. I think he’s come to accept that I won’t be converted but I do what I can to be supportive of his beliefs. I’ve agreed to attend church with him on occasion (when he finally starts going again – entirely not my fault that he stopped) and I know that it is important to him that our children attend church sometimes, if not regularly. We’ve realized that we’re good together and that’s all that matters.
As far as getting married in a church, I’m not sure how it works so hopefully someone more knowledgeable can answer that for you. I’m fortunate in that Fiance doesn’t feel the need to have a church wedding and our ceremony likely won’t even be religious at all.
Good luck to you!