Post # 1
I’ve been with my fiancé for nearly 6 years and we got engaged almost a year ago. He is a Muslim which didn’t play a huge part in our relationship in the beginning as he wasn’t actively practising his faith e.g. drank alcohol, didn’t eat halal meat, didn’t pray etc. But as time has gone on, he has become more and more religious. I am not a religious person myself but I respect others who are as long as they don’t push their views on me.
However he has asked that I ‘pretend’ to be Muslim and that we have a religious wedding ceremony. I think this may be to please the in-laws but it isn’t something I agree with and actually find it to be quite insulting to his religion. I would also appreciate his parents liking me for who I am – not for what faith I believe in. I don’t want to do the religious ceremony but have agreed to do it as it would ‘make him happy’. He says our lives won’t change but I argue that I will always have to pretend to be someone I’m not around his family.
This brings me onto children – I don’t want to raise my children Muslim whereas he does. I believe that they should be given the opportunity to learn about all religions out and be able make up their own mind on what they follow. Children will believe anything they are told from such a young age and apologies if this may come across insulting but for me I feel as though they would be ‘brainwashed’ into following a religion that they had no choice in. We haven’t really settled on an agreement or discussed further on how we would raise our children but I have avoided it as I think it will be a make or break situation.
Religion aside… I just don’t feel excited about planning the wedding. In fact, I’m not looking forward to the wedding at all. We will be having a western wedding first (ceremony with a celebrant followed by a reception) and the Asian wedding afterwards.
With the Western wedding he had asked that I don’t wear a dress that shows too much skin as in the Asian culture the women are usually covered, and I was very upset about this as I’ve always dreamt of a backless dress. Friends have told me to wear whatever I want as it’s my big day after all but at the same time I don’t want to upset his family.
I am started to feel really unhappy and unsure on how married life will be with a Muslim man. I feel guilty for having these feelings because I know he loves me deeply. He is a great person, looks after me well, always puts me first and many people would say he is a catch however I fear our religious differences will pull us apart.
I’m at a point where I don’t know what to do. I want us both to be happy but I’m not sure we will be able to agree on the things mentioned above.
Post # 2
I hope you know that with Islam, spouses are expected to convert and children are expected to be raised Muslim. The fact that he’s getting more religious and starting to ask you to adhere to his religious teachings – like covering up, is a dangerous sign that your future lives together will start trending increasingly towards the Islamic practicing end.
Disagreements regarding children and religion are some of the more common reasons people end up divorced, ranking right after disagreeing about financial issues.
I’m a practicing Christian, I’ve asked my SO to come to church with me and he recently has started…the difference here is, is that he’s a somewhat lapsed Christian who doesn’t mind attending church if it’s important to me (and I’m completely okay if he decides to stop attending again), and we agree that while our children will attend Sunday school (we both like the moral values they instill), they will also be liberally exposed to other religions (I’ve mentioned here before that as a child, I attended Mosques, Sikh temples, Buddhist temples etc.)and they will get to make their own decisions about religion and how much faith they put in it.
It doesn’t seem like your Fiance is as keen on finding compromises and middle grounds, that’s not a good sign. I say all this as someone who grew up with close Muslim friends, and had Muslim roommates in college (including a fairly liberal Muslim guy like your Fiance sounds like, but even he said he would want a Muslim wife…yes, despite drinking like a fish and eating bacon…)
Post # 3
I’m sorry your going through that. For me personally, religion is a deal breaker.
Post # 4
2211anonbee1122 : To me, it sounds like you have only a couple options.
1. Accept that he’s more religious now and pretend to be religious/follow his religion for his happiness.
2. Compromise on different religious issues (ex: you don’t wear backless dress, but you also don’t raise your kids in the faith). If he holds his ground and doesn’t compromise on anything, that leads to…
3. Break it off. (My recommended route)
I’m also part of an interfaith marriage. However, my SO doesn’t expect me to follow his religion or its teachings, we have agreed on how to raise our kids (a big point!!), and he doesn’t expect me to ‘act’ anything around his family.
From what you’ve written, without major compromise on your or his part, I don’t know if this is going to work. You need to figure out what you’re doing with kids first off, because that alone can be a make or break issue, and really think about whether you can overcome these religious issues. I know you don’t want religion to be a make or break thing, but the reality is that it is,, for many couples – especially since it can be the foundation of someone’s morals and viewpoint of the world.
None of this is easy, but you need to face this issue head on and see where you each can/cannot compromise. That will tell you whether this will work long term or not.
Post # 5
A backless dress is not a hill to die on. But I’d break off a relationship with anyone who wanted me to pretend to be someone or something I am not. He’s already showing signs of becoming more observant and expects you to raise children in his faith. If you are not totally on board with that, you should not get married.
I do not, however, see religious upbringing as “brainwashing.” There’s nothing wrong and many advantages IMO with providing children a sense of identity, background, and community from a young age. But with his demands, if you don’t see yourself converting, I would honestly walk.
Post # 6
Sorry bee but to me this would be a dealbreaker.
Post # 7
Whatever you end up doing, don’t pretend to be religious when you’re not. Lies like that tend to snowball. If he can’t accept you for who you are or can’t stand up to his family enough to publically accept that you do not share his faith, then this probably isn’t the right relationship for you.
Post # 8
2211anonbee1122 : So this is the exact thing about weddings and engagements. They surface deep values that will matter a lot when you are married that have maybe not come up before. Things to do with religion, family boundaries, tradition, gender roles, money, etc are forced to the surface when you start planning a wedding together.
What your story above says is “my Fiance is changing into a man I don’t recognize and I’m placating him to get along, but I don’t feel good about it.” Don’t ignore this. These are big issues and they aren’t going to go away. You and he need to work through this and you need to confront the very real option that this might be a deal breaker for you.
FWIW I completely agree with you that’s it disrepectful to “pretend” to be part of any religon just to have a marriage ceremony that keeps your family happy. I also think that the topic of religion and kids is huge and something you can’t just wish away. It may be that your Fiance wants your wedding and your future children to have the cultural practices he’s grown up with. That’s fine if it can be disentangled from religon. An interfaith ceremony could be a beautiful option too, if that’s something that can work in Islam. But what if he’s unwilling to marry you if you are unwilling to pretend to be Muslim? Wouldn’t that be a deal breaker for you?
I’d stick to my guns on this and find a compromise. Even though you’ve already said yes to make him happy I think you need to tell him you’ve changed your mind. Then I think you guys need to come to some sort of agreement or potentially break off your engagement. Getting married to someone is not about the past 6 years that you spent together. It’s about the next 50 that you plan to spend together and if you fundamentally cannot get on the same page on religion it’s going to be a huge problem.
Post # 9
2211anonbee1122 : I am sorry you are in this situation. I want to ask, have you met his family before? What is their opinion about him dating a non-Muslim?
Personally I have been in the exact same situation and chose to end the relationship. My ex was culturally Muslim and when we started dating he told me he didn’t believe in the religion and only believed in a higher concept of God but nothing more. He ate pork, drank alcohol, and never attended services or anything like that. Came to Church with me and celebrated holidays with my family, who were nothing but warm, hospitable, and open to him.
However, once our relationship got more serious he started to say things about how when I met his family I would have to “pretend” to be Muslim, how our kids would have to be raised Muslim and not be baptized, and how we would go “back home” to visit his family who live in a country that is currently in political violence and turmoil.
I had made clear from the beginning of the relationship that I had no intention of switching religions, and that I wanted any kids to at least be baptized even if they learned about both faiths and chose another one later, that I wanted the chance to teach them about both. He said OK at the time but later confessed that he thought he could change my mind on these things. He said it would upset his parents to have grandkids that weren’t actively practicing Islam. I said who is going to teach them since you don’t practice the religion or even believe in it, you only pretend to do so when around your parents. The whole thing felt very controlling and like I was expected to erase my whole religious, ethnic, and personal identity to conform to his and his parents expectations of what a wife should be.
After a ton of soul searching and tearful conversations, I realized it would kill me inside to give up my ethics and beliefs just to impress the in-laws, who didn’t want their son married to a non-Muslim or Muslim convert anyway. It seemed like spiritual and mental abuse waiting to happen, so I ended the relationship. Currently he is dating an Irish Catholic girl who I’m sure his parents hate even more than they hated me, unfortunately. Good luck to you and please feel free to PM me if you need to talk or get some support. This is a situation I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Post # 10
I would never pretend to be a religion I wasn’t to fool his family and I can’t believe he would ask that of you.
I am an atheist, fiancé identifies more agnostic I believe, but his family are on the Christian spectrum (some more religious than others). I keep the peace by not engaging in discussions about religion, I sit respectfully while his father/step mother want to say grace before meals when they visit, I smile and thank people for overly religious greeting cards, I keep my mouth shut when presented with outrageous and misinformed (in my opinion) prayers and religious advice, I have attended Easter pageants and the like at churches for niece/nephews, I refrain from pointing out glaring inconsistencies in the actual behaviors vs the professed belief of so called Christian family members. But I would draw the line at actively pretending to believe or practice their religion just to make them happy when I clearly do not share their beliefs.
Post # 11
If you cannot agree on how you will raise children, then you should not marry. I’m sorry.
Post # 12
2211anonbee1122 : You should not have to pretend to be anything or anyone in order to appease your partner or family. If your partner cannot or doesn’t want to set hard boundaries with his family, you will always come second to them. Realistically you’ll be trapped in a miserable, dysfunctional marriage if you chose to stay.
Go find a partner that shares your views on religion and raising children. You compromise on black beans vs tofu in your burrito bowls not a religion that will force you to pretend to be a person you’re not. You deserve your wedding with your dream backless dress and as much champagne at the reception as you want without worrying about offending anyone. Your future kids deserve to make their own decisions regarding religion instead of being forced into a faith.
Post # 13
Think seriously about what this might be like, raising children with this man. I see big red flags here.
Post # 14
It would be 100% deal breaker for me. When I met my now husband, we discussed religious stuff on the first date, so there is no surprises in the future. I think religion is something couple should discuss way prior serious dating.
Post # 15
Like littlemissdimsum said, in Islam spouses are expected to convert (if they are unbelievers) and have children raised as Muslims. Some Muslims will allow men to marry non-Muslim women who are Christians or Jews (people of the book), but with the assumption that the men heads the household in religious and spiritual matter and therefore can raise children as Muslim.
I am Muslim with an atheist/agnostic SO who is planning to convert prior to marriage. I don’t believe that “children will believe in anything they are told when they are young”. Despite our different backgrounds, we share the same family values. We agree on raising the children to learn about the different religions, but I will put emphasis on teaching my kids my culture and Islam since there is so much misinformation and lack of public awareness of Islam in this country. Whereas white-christianity culture dominates school, holidays, media and everyday lives. We would celebrate all the holidays that people in our family celebrates.
It is very common for Muslims to be perceived as “one of the good ones” or “liberal” as you say, when they are young, single and living abroad. Islam is a very personal religion up until you start a family. Praying and fasting are mostly ‘invisible’ acts of worship. However, when a baby is born, you have family gatherings, people will read prayers and have a small feast. All these ‘community’ things start to happen organically and somehow this makes a Muslim look and feel more “religious”?? IDK.
It doesn’t sound like your Fiance is that adherent though. My problem with your situation is that he did not tell you this up front. You have dated for 6 years, and he never once talked about this requirement prior to proposing to you?? That is quite a red flag. (I had told SO about 3 months into dating so he wouldn’t be blindsided, lucky for me he said it didn’t matter to him either way he would have ‘converted’ for Christianity/Hindu/Judaism if need be). Have you met his parents before? Maybe its time to take a step back and have more discussions about spirituality, child rearing, marital responsibilities, duties as husband and wife, than wedding planning (this isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things).