(Closed) to convert or not to convert…

posted 9 years ago in Christian
Post # 3
Member
2470 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Do you mind sharing what faiths you each currently belong to?

I’m not in a similar situation but my sister (who is Catholic) married my BIL (who is Baptist). While it is important (most especially for my mother) that they be on the same page religiously. But really it came down to them both believing in the Christian values in the end.  Neither has converted yet, but that may change. 

But then again, your situation may be largely different depending on your religions.

You may want to check out the Religion Cultural boards on here… there is a great support system on there.

Post # 4
Member
115 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2009

MissBK, I think it might help if you sit down with your fiance and discuss why it is important to him that you to convert. My fiance is a different religion than I am (he is Jewish, I am not religious), and before we even got engaged we had many talks about religion, what it mean to us as individuals, what it would mean when we got married, and what it would mean when we had children. Through our talks I learned that it was very important to my fiance that our children learned about Judaism and celebrated Jewish holidays. He also feels that religion is very personal and doesn’t want to push anyone (including me or our future children) into something they don’t believe in. I expressed to my fiance that I wanted to raise our children in a loving, open-minded household where they could explore their beliefs without judgement (since this was something I never had the opportunity to do growing up, and it ultimately left me religiously "confused".) Together we came up with compromises that we are both very happy with. I even started celebrating Jewish holidays with his family and learning more about Judaism in general. Although I don’t know if I will ever convert, I know that it makes me fiance happy to see me take such an interest in his culture and faith.

Although I can’t imagine being given an ultimatum to convert, perhaps sitting down with your fiance and explaining to him that while you might not be ready to convert to a new religion, you would love to learn about and even attend services for his religion. (Of course, say this only if you really are willing to learn about his religion!) Since his religion is such a big part of who he is, it makes sense that he wants to share it with you. There is definitely a way that you can embrace and learn about his religion without converting to it. 

There are a lot of interfaith websites and books with tons more advice about this, and even though you aren’t religious, you might find some good advice there! I wish you the best! 

Post # 6
Member
12 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: April 2010

i think you should keep talking about it with him, reiterate your position on your children being raised Muslim and you continuing to attend the Mosque for services and classes. And see what happens. It is such a drastic difference from the religious tradition in which you were raised – not like different versions of Christianity with the same overall belief- that you shouldn’t rush into converting. Ultimately it is about belief. Would he really want you to say you believed something you didn’t, or weren’t yet sure you did, so he could tell his family ? I definitely don’t think its something you should rush into.

Post # 7
Member
611 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

Do you think you can convert just on paper? Or does going through the process inevitably forces you to give up some of your identity? I don’t know what is involved in a muslim conversion process but it’s common for ppl go through religious conversions for marriage reason (esp to please inlaws), without losing one’s identity. E.g., one could get baptised as a christian or catholic but do not take eucharist in subsequent church attendance.

I’m sorry if I’m not helpful but try also to understand that it’s not that ur FI is choosing religion over u but some religions r very strict & that’s how he’s raised, esp when he did tell u b4hand. He’s also probably hoping that his marriage would be largely integrated into his family & maybe a muslim marriage is not negotiable w/ his family….

Another resource is to talk to the director/muslim rabbi. If the rabbi is pretty liberal, he may have good suggestions for ur dilemma. Best wishes!

Post # 8
Member
304 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

I am in a similar situation.  I am not religious and my fiancee is Jewish.  I was hesitant to convert at first, but I realized that it was extremely important to him and his family that I convert.  Since religion was not as important to me, I decided this was something I would do. 

As for your identity, I’ve always felt that identities are defined by more than just culture and religion.  I think there are ways for you to keep your identity even if you are giving up your religion.   Perhaps consider what ways you can still keep your cultural identity even with conversion.  I drag my fiancee to Christmas and Easter dinner as well as all cultural events so I will never feel like I’ve lost myself by marrying him.

Post # 9
Member
1246 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

Do you have anyone in the Muslim community with whom you’ve connected, an elder or somebody that you trust, who could advise you on this? You sound conflicted – rightly so, I think, because this is an important decision – and maybe some additional religious guidance might help clear your head, or give you additional perspective?

Post # 10
Member
2004 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

Now here’s a book for you:  

I also converted (from technically Episcopalian [but really more agnostic] to Roman Catholicism) a few months prior to my marriage. Converting to Catholicism is something I had been flirting with for years before I met my husband, but it wasn’t something that really gathered steam until I met him and investigated it more seriously. He was the catalyst. I converted when I did (i.e., before our wedding), because I wanted to have a marriage in the Catholic church with all the bells and whistles (which you can’t get if you’re not Catholic). A lot of people, my family included, thought I was going out of my mind. Here I had been dating a guy for less than six months and I was converting to a new religion for him? Thinking on it now, it does seem kind of bizarre how fast it all happened. 

Here are some things I have learned from the experience:

Religious differences and conversion will have much more relevance in your day-to-day life relationship than in the context of the larger faith. For me, it matters less that I’ve converted to Catholicism and more than I’m married to a seriously Catholic man and that I’ve said I’m going to join him in living his faith. Trying to carve out a shared faith for our family to one day raise our children in—that’s our main task. We’re doing it on the outlines set out by the Catholic church, but our individual circumstances mean more than the institution. It will be the same for you. What matters is not so much what Catholicism or Islam is like but what my husband the Catholic or your fiance the Muslim is like. What are his expectations? 

If your husband is serious about his faith, I can think of many potential changes that might be in store for you if you convert. There are lots of practices asked of Muslim women that are not asked of non-Muslim women or of Muslim men (I am thinking of some common behavior requirements like not being alone with men you’re not related to, and of some common dress requirements like wearing a head scarf and very modest dress). You might be excused from these practices because you’re not yet a Muslim, but once you are, I would be surprised if someone as religious as you’re describing your fiance to be would let his own wife be an exception to the rule. Who are the female role models in his life? He has probably learned his ideas of good female behavior from them, and will expect you (perhaps unconsciously) to follow suit, whatever suit that is. If his life has some progressive, in-name only Muslims in it, you might be in for a different ride than if his life is full of very traditional and observant Muslim women.

If he’s very religious, is he going to be happy with an in-name conversion, or will he eventually ask for more? And how comfortable are you with these changes? If a faith requires vastly different things of you than you’re used to giving, it will be easy enough to give it at first, but as time goes on and the novelty wears off, you will see that you are still the same person you were to begin with. Converting may change whose registry book your name is in, but it doesn’t change all of your heart (though it can help). The bulk of the work you have to do yourself. What are you really signing up for?

So say you are in for a lot of changes, and you’re willing to go through with it even if your heart isn’t totally in it, because you love him and you gave your word (even if in haste) and his family is demanding a Muslim wedding, which you can’t get if you’re not Muslim. 

Here’s the rub: If your conversion is a contingency of your marriage, what happens when your doubts don’t resolve themselves right away either? My husband never asked me to convert (though he supported it 100% and was very happy about it). If I hadn’t done it he would have married me anyway. More important, he is not going to leave or divorce me if I do change my mind someday. What if you convert and then you change your mind? What will happen to your marriage? Will he leave you, or divorce you?

You need to be able to discuss this with your fiance. I’ve done it and it’s not a pleasant discussion. Our bottom line is that he acknowledges that while it would make our relationship more difficult if we did not share the same faith, he is going to be true to the marriage commitment he made to me because he loves me. I feel so much more secure in my commitment to Catholicism knowing that I’m doing it for myself and because I feel it is right and not because I am afraid of hurting or losing my husband.

Converting is hard enough when you do it for yourself, for your own reasons, and after a long period of intense and careful study. It’s normal to have doubts and setbacks and wonder what on earth you’ve done. I converted, with my heart fully in it, and I still felt identity crises. What had I done, getting myself involved in an institution that has some tenets I feel uncomfortable with? Had I done it in the heat of the moment? Should I have taken longer to consider? Did I do it just because I wanted to marry my husband right away so we could have sex again already? Had I misled him? Had I misled myself? So you can see, I felt/feel a lot of what you’re feeling now. There aren’t easy (or perhaps, any) answers to these doubts. The answers aren’t the point; the process and having the support of your fiance/husband as you make this decision for yourself is the point. My husband, who I have just read this whole post to, says, "I have more faith in you than to be worried about a few doubts." What does yours say?

What got me through the identity crisis stuff, in addition to my husband’s support, was showing myself and my family and my husband that I was still the same person through it all. Still a good listener, still a teller of bad jokes, still an insatiable clotheshorse. Focus on the things that you share, and the things that are true about you no matter what church you go to. What keeps me from going nuts is knowing that this religion question is ultimately between me and God, not me and my husband. Will it be the same for you?

Post # 11
Member
2004 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

I was very interested by the post from misscremebrulee who converted from Christianity to Judaism for her fiance—what struck me was that it was a choice she made for herself and that she was comfortable with, and also that she keeps up with the cultural aspects of her original religious affiliation (like going to Christmas dinner with her fiance).

Is there a possibility where you could convert but maintain your "cultural Christianity"? Moreso, could this be something you share with your fiance? I agree that it does sound unfair that you will share his religious culture with him but not he yours with you, even if you do technically belong to his. He has chosen to be with someone who comes from a different background than him, and I think he is bound to respect that. Even if you haven’t made a big deal of it so far, it is an important part of you (as evidenced by your current trepidation) and he needs to respect that.

Post # 12
Member
304 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

Just to clarify, while I drag my fiancee to Christmas and Easter dinners, he understands that I want us to be there because we’re spending time with my family. He respects my need to follow these traditions. I don’t drag him to church every week.  And as much as I try, he still won’t let me have a Christmas tree.  Nor a Chanukkah bush.

Post # 13
Member
145 posts
Blushing bee

I was raised Catholic but am not at all religious.  My fiance is Christian.  The biggest challenge of our entire relationship was accepting each other’s religious beliefs.  I’m not converting, but we are having a Christian wedding.  I struggled with the idea that I was giving up part of my identity by having a Christian wedding, but then I started realizing that it wasn’t "giving up"–it was COMPROMISE, and that’s what marriage is about.  

This is a compromise I’m willing to make because it’s very important to him but it doesn’t matter all that much to me — it’s not my ideal, but my days and nights are not going to be haunted because I had a Christian wedding.  As Chelseamorning mentioned above, there’s a wide range of meanings of conversion.  If it’s more in name only, just so you can get married in his mosque and raise your children Muslim, and he doesn’t expect you to sudden believe wholeheartedly and veil yourself in public, then it seems like it would fall under the heading of "compromise."  If, on the other hand, he expects you to change the way you live, never visit your church again, never spend holidays with your family — well, that’s less a compromise and more a red flag. 

Post # 15
Member
903 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

I think you’ve already heard a lot of good advice on here, so I don’t think there’s much more that I can add. I agree that you should carefully consider this decision, though, and if you’re not comfortable, don’t rush into it, even if it means postponing your wedding while you figure it out. If it’s that important to your FI, I doubt he’s looking just for a conversion in name. I can understand his view in wanting to share his religion with you (I can’t imagine marrying someone who wasn’t the same faith as me), but at the same time it concerns me a little that he’s marrying you expecting you to change for him. One of those standard pieces of advice that you alwasy hear is "don’t marry someone expecting that you can change them." I think if I were in the same situation, I would have worked out those things (including the actual process of converting) before we got engaged. Maybe sit down with him and talk about what exactly he’s expecting from you religiously so you know what level of commitment he’s looking for. That way you can decide if you’re prepared to step into that specifically.

Post # 16
Member
1573 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

we’re both Catholic which is handy; I love being catholic, very convenient he is too it would be too lonely going to mass alone for the rest of my life; he’s the first guy I actually ever went to mass with

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