- 7 years ago
- Wedding: July 2012
So I guess I am just looking to vent and seek a little advice.
Since we got engaged, we knew this conversation (and the drama that comes with it) was coming. My fiance and I are both athesist. We are not shy about our beliefs (or lack there of), and we are also in no way confrontational. My mom and my sister know I’m an atheist, but I think most of my family just thinks I am just not “that religious”. I don’t intend, by any means, to hide that I’m an atheist, the topic has just never really come up with everyone in the family. However, my family does know that I study evolutionary psychology and fully accept evolution by natural selection, so it shouldn’t really be a giant leap to infer that I don’t accept creationism. My family is not strongly religious (except for my mom, and my parents are divorced so no cross over there) and they do not practice on a regular basis, but they do believe in god, and so we knew that having a completely non-religious ceremony would bring up some questions and could potentially be upsetting, but we did not expect things to get as emotional as they did today.
So this is how it played out…a couple of days ago my sister (who is more agnostic than anything else) called to tell me that my grandma was asking about why I had decided not to get married in a church. My sister said that our dad told her that we were not very religious and had opted for an out door ceremony officiated by a close family friend. Grandma apparently wanted clarification on what “not very religious” meant and my dad told her that that was probably a question she should ask me, that he wasn’t sure of the extent of my beliefs (kudos to dad). I was happy my sister gave me a heads up because it is an important conversation and I wanted to have the right words in order not to offend anyone, especially my grandma.
So today, my grandma came with my sister and my mom to a menu tasting at our venue. My grandma surprising gave me a very generous gift to help with the wedding, and we were having a great day. Then grandma brought the “subject”. She asked me if I would like to use a bible she has to carry our rings. I told her that I really appreciated the gesture, but that Fiance and I were not having a religious ceremony. She then asked if we were religious. I was completely honest and told her no, that niether us us were. I could tell if made her upset, so I explain that I was really sorry if this hurt her feelings, that that was the last thing I wanted to do, but that Fiance and I just are not religious.
I mean I really tried my best to soften the blow once I realized it upset her. I made a point NOT to use the term atheist, because I am so familiar with the conotation this term carries, I did not feel it was necessary to explain that I was not religious. Next grandma said that she just didn’t understand how I was not religious because I had been baptized as a baby.
My internal reaction is “really”? But I again, explained that just b/c someone is baptized as a baby doesn’t mean they are required to practice that faith or those beliefs as an adult. She asked if I was planning to baptize my children (which I have no intention of haveing soon), again I was honest and told her probably not. I explained that I plan to educate my children, but that is a decision I think they should be able to make for themselves.
The conversation went on like this for at least 15min. I felt terrible that she was so hurt, but I was also a bit surprised because like I said, my family is not extremely religious. To make things worse, my mom just kept intrupting to state that my education had brainwashed me (because that is what they do in college these days) and that not to worry I would come around eventually. I felt like this just made things more difficult, and I was hurt that my mom would say this. I have had extensive conversations with my mom about how I feel, and I just thought it was so inappropriate.
Anyways, I felt like things settled well, and that it would be something we could work past easily. Then a few hours after they all left to go home (they live a couple hrs away) my sister called to tell me how she thought I was completely disrespectful for telling my grandma that I am not religious. She said that all the way home grandma said how upset she was, and that at one point she cried. I feel terrible, but I explained that I think I was right to be honest. I mean she asked me directly, was I supposed to to lie? I don’t think so! My sister just kept yelling at me saying I didn’t need to lie, but I should have just changed the subject. It is just so frustrating, b/c until now my sis has been completely understanding. I told her I feel terrible, but it’s not like she won’t find out when I don’t have a religious ceremony and I would rather discuss these things now and be honest them have them come up at the wedding.
My sister just kept saying how selfish I was being. Then she told me that my grandma had said in the car that she had given me the money to help with the wedding because she knew I was struggling to stay on the small budget I was working with, and she assumed that I had been praying every night for god to help find a way to have a dream wedding. This is what really hurt me the most. I am so grateful for her generious gift, but I am shock that this would be her reasoning. I genuinely ask my sister if she got the impression that grandma not regretted helping, b/c I would never want her to feel uncomfortable, and I would rather do it by myself than have her be so upset, or feel like she helped under false pretenses. This just escalated the tension between me and my sister. She kept saying that was ridiculous, and I was over reacting, and just kept repeating that I was wrong to upset her so much. Finally she told me that she was hanging up because I was just being unreasonable to think I was right to upset and old woman.
Ultimately, I feel like I was right to be honest and not hide my beliefs, or worse lie about them (she did ask me). I just know that this is just the beginging, because my dad is going to be upset that I upset grandma, and I feel like my sister and my mom are just making matters worse. I mean I am honestly hurt that they expect me just to say nothing and b/c it is upsetting. I am all about taking one for the team, but I don’t think I should have to in this case. Do you think I’m wrong? Should I be handling this differently?
Fiance, isn’t home tonight…so you all got to hear my vent 🙂 I apologize for the crazy length.
If anyone has been in a similar situation I would really appreciate advise on where to go from here, or what your experience has been with telling your family that the religious aspect is not happening. I don’t want to hurt my family, but I also want our day to be be about us, not pleasing everyone else.
Thanks for listening.