Interfaith Weddings

How do you handle the differences?

My FI and his entire family are LDS (Mormon). I am Agnostic with my own beliefs that just don't happen to fit an organized religion. I'm still trying to learn about and understand his faith but I find it overwhelming sometimes. Despite the fact that he would never pressure me to convert and he's assured me that he'd rather marry me than marry anyone else in the temple (that would be what they call an eternal marriage - death and beyond) I feel pressure. Now his family is wonderful and they've made me feel welcome but I feel like I'm out of place, mostly on Sundays. The Jesus thing is just weird for me. Maybe it's just because his family is very strictly religious and they've all had temple weddings. I just fee like the odd sheep out and I know his mother would prefer if I were Mormon. I saw her face when we said it wouldn't be a religious ceremony.

How did any of you handle fitting in with your new family?
imageGraphics In a world of crazy we need as many hugs as we can get.

Re: How do you handle the differences?

  • jenandcrisjenandcris member
    Tenth Anniversary 500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I'm glad you're taking a step into learning about your FI's religion. I feel that religion helps keep your bond stronger. And so what if you don't have an "eternal marriage" per the temple? Your love for each other should be what matters. I say just go with it. If your FI's family adores you, and you are trying to learn more about them, then live and let live.

    FWIW, my father's side is Buddhist and my mother's side is Baptist Christian (I am a Baptist as well.). I'm having an ethnic ceremony to make my dad's side happy... and I'm having a Christian ceremony as well. FI does NOT believe in any Buddhist practices (nor do I...) and has made that clear. But he wanted my family to accept him/our union, so he's biting his tongue.

    GL with planning!
    Married in Boston, MA: Nov 8, 2013.
    Me: 27. Him: 30. DD: >1.
    Vow Renewal in Beavercreek, OH: July 1, 2017.
  • mvasqu03mvasqu03 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I know exactly how you feel... I am in the exact same boat as you. I feel out of place as well. How are you coping with it? I know his family loves me, but that still doesn't help the sinking feeling i get. What are you guys planning to do if you have children? How will they be raised? I'm catholic by the way...
  • edited December 2011
    As far as children the plan is that they'll be raised in the church. However I do plan to augment that with education about other religions of the world. I do feel that his church carries many values that I believe in. If we didn't have the same morals I don't think it would have come this far.
    imageGraphics In a world of crazy we need as many hugs as we can get.
  • mvasqu03mvasqu03 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    We also have the same morals and values but I dont know if I will want my children brought up strictly one religion. I think we will split their religious education equally and as they get older, they can choose where they want to be.
  • edited December 2011
    Wow!  I'm glad I found this board!  I was up WAY too late last night finding theknot again.  haha.  I was on here about 4 years ago, but now need its services again.  :)

    So, I can relate to you (and the other poster) in a weird way:  I was actually RAISED in the LDS church, but now feel that while I am spiritual, no particular faith fits me. I have a 4 year old son who goes to church when he's with his dad (who suddenly started going again when we were getting divorced), but when he's with me, we'll usually do our own sort of "meditation".  My ideas would probably be closer to Buddhism than any other religion, but not even exact with those-- kind of a blend of several-- and I've chosen that I just don't really like organized religion.  I plan to let my son attend several different churches with me, so he can choose for himself as he gets older.

    BUT now dating someone, it's serious, but not "official"  yet.  And just last night he said "So are you okay with it being a Catholic ceremony?"  I'd never thought about it, but it worries me.  I don't want to jump into ANY religion, and kind of consider myself a "freebird." 

    He's not hard-core-- he attends mass periodically, and his 8 yr old goes to a catholic private school.  His family are all Catholic and their spouses all converted in order to have Catholic weddings.  His first marriage is Catholic (I've learned in my googling that apparently he'll have to have that 'annulled' in the churches eyes before he can remarry).  His parents are hard-core-- in fact, his dad is a Deacon. :P SO, there is a lot of pressure/expectation there.

    However, since my "baptism" was in the LDS church, and in 2001 the Catholic church came to the decision that LDS baptism is not "valid" for the purposes of being a "Sacrament,"  FI would not be able to have a Catholic ceremony with merely a "permission" for me.. it'd have to be a "dispensation,"  and it'd be a "Natural wedding" not a "sacramental wedding". 

    I now realize, though, why this is  such a big deal for his parents, and maybe even for him on some level--  if he is divorced, and then remarries-- he has a "probationary" type period.. but if he remarries "outside the Church".. he's technically not allowed to take communion anymore unless/until I joined and it became a sacramental marriage.  *sigh*

    So I'm feeling the pressure, even though he assures me that if I "joined" for marriage, that I could just not practice after (I've told him that just b/c I'm not mormon anymore doesn't mean I want a new religion).  So I don't know quite what to do.  I guess I could just "join" just for the sake of a wedding, but don't they frown on that and try to prevent that?  I'm not good at faking that kind of crap.  And I also don't take religious stuff lightly b/c of my background.

    In your situation (and the other reply-poster), the trick for you is to realize that even if your FI will really never pressure you to join, there are a few things that WILL happen if his family is hard-core mormon:  THEY will endlessly try to convert you.  THEY will be disapproving of any child being involved in other religions too, and THEY will see you as a "risk" factor in making him "fall away" from the church.

    I'm not trying to discourage you.  There's a lot of things about mormon guys that I respect, but you need to make sure that you and he have a serious talk about what will be acceptable and not acceptable between you and him, religion, and his family. 

    You need to set the rules early for his family not being allowed to be over-present with opinions and decisions.  For example, even though it can't be a temple-wedding since you are not Mormon, they will frown on a wedding of any other religion, or even a non-denominational religious ceremony, and they will frown on the idea of it seeming like a big "celebration" (at least at first), because to them, non-temple weddings should be modest and almost a level of being solemn b/c it's not in the temple.

    So, I definitely think it's something you have to prepare yourself for.  It's an interesting culture-- the LDS/Mormon one.  It's hard to explain until you've experienced it  (which being part of an LDS family, by marriage, you'll experience that culture for sure).  I will say-- it can be challenging at times, as there are some definitely quirks that can be annoying at times, but so long as you understand and respect the idea that they, just like any religion, are just doing what they think is really the only best way, then it's sometimes easier to overlook some of it.

    Good luck.  If you have questions, let me know.  :)  Having been raised all my life in the LDS church, and choosing to no longer follow any religion in the last couple of years, I might be able to share a lot of the dynamic.
  • edited December 2011
    Thank you so much imJacksPGbelly. Your words have meant a lot to me. Sometimes I'm scared because I know that religion is the one place me and FI don't agree. I spoke with him just the other day and told him I think religion will be the biggest hurdle and the one thing that might tear us apart. It's good knowing that he would do anything just to be with me in this world. I know that it wont be easy with his family and raising children will be interesting. I really appreciate your advice and your uniquely helpful point of view.
    imageGraphics In a world of crazy we need as many hugs as we can get.
  • lildevi15lildevi15 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I've seen a lot of brides/grooms feel the same way (including myself sometimes).  And honestly I believe every married couple feels this way sometimes because no matter what, you two are bringing two different cultures together.  Different faiths and ethnicities are just extreme cases of bringing two different cultures together. But over time the families see that the bride and groom share the same values regardless of differences in faith (and I've definitely seen families where the non-religious-in-law ends up being the better person and fit to the family than the religious-in-law - THAT throws people for a loop!).  Of course there'll be family members that will never understand; but those closest to your FI will probably become more accepting rather quickly.
  • graysquirrelgraysquirrel member
    2500 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    I am having a similar problem. My family is very strict Christian and my FI is agnostic. He is trying very hard to understand my beliefs and enjoys going to church with me, but my parents keep saying that he isn't "The One". It hurts when they make me feel like I am jipping some mystery out there man out of a good Christian wife. My FI loves me and has changed a lot for me. It is hard to put him into a situation where he can't be accepted in the same way that he accepts me.
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  • edited December 2011
    Graysquirrel I think you parents will come to accept your decision in time. You shouldn't be worried about any "deserving christian mystery men." If you know who you love then you can make it work. As the odd sheep out let me tell you that the support you give him for his own beliefs will come full circle and he will stand behind you and encourage you in your faith. Don't let your parents attitudes come between you.
    imageGraphics In a world of crazy we need as many hugs as we can get.
  • guavaberry_79guavaberry_79 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I am a catholic married to a non-christian.  He is basically non-religious and his family belongs to a different religion, but they are also not very religious, so they and him (hubby) have agreed to raise the kids Christian to make me happy.  You ask how does one cope: I cope by focusing on the good in him and his family.  However, I can tell you it's been hard.  We've been married a year and a half, and I've had that sinking feeling many times since married. Though my family is the religious one, I feel like his family would like me better if I belonged to their religious background. They treat me really well, but I still feel like an outsider.

    At the same time, I myself have had a hard time coping with it, because as the religious one, it's hard for me to go to church and see families praying together, and notice that the seat next to me is empty or has a stranger in it.  This feeling has many times led me to have discussions with my husband where he feels judged and forced to convert.  That in turn has made him be more critical of my faith, wich in turns hurts me more.

    You may or may not be experiencing the same issue, but my advice here is not to take it lightly.  I would not rush into a marriage.  For the religious and not so religious people equally, it helps tremendously if the fiance/fiancee is supportive and doesn't force you to do anything you don't want to do.  However, for the religious: note that you will feel very lonely at times and unable to share something that is so fundamental in your life.  Note that you may feel jealous of others who have a 'perfect' marriage in your eyes. And also note that your frustrations may cause you sometimes to (unconciously) make your partner feel like he/she is not good enough, and end up hurting them.  For the non-religious: note that you may feel forced at times by your partner's frustrations to be someone who you are not.  It helps tremendously if, even when you don't believe in their faith, you show tolerance towards it, and you show your religious partner that you trust them with this. They may not need you to agree with everything, they may just need your understanding and trust.  And sometime a little hug helps :)

    I guess what I'm trying to get to is: don't take this lightly.  Love sometimes is not enough to build a family, i think you need to feel fundamentally good about your decision to marry this person, and you need to feel 100% at peace with it.
  • laurajj419laurajj419 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I agree with guavaberry.  What do you each need in order to live out your beliefs and to feel supported in that?  My FI is Catholic and encourages me to take meditation classes and read Buddhist books, because that is what I need from him.  In return, I attend Mass with him every week.  I don't take communion or participate in those aspects of the service with which I'm not comfortable, but I know he appreciates my presence. 

    We also pray before every meal together - my prayer is more of a petition to the universe for protection and strength, his prayer is a connection to Jesus/God.  Either way, we're sharing a spiritual moment.

    Because of these rituals that we've developed together, he feels more confident in defending our relationship to his Catholic family.  And I feel more at ease talking to his family about their concerns, because my FI and I have talked about our differences in belief extensively, so I already know how to respond to them.  It's not a flawless system, because his family might always want him to have a Catholic wife, but at the same time, I get to interact with them and discuss their concerns with them, and ultimately, build a relationship with them.

    But, if that doesn't work, move to Antarctica or something.  Then, you won't have to deal with the family. :)
  • light539light539 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I have the reverse situation. I grew up Mormon and my parents are very strict Mormon, and my FH was raised Catholic and considers himself Catholic but doesn't really practice. My mom is constantly nagging at me about having a temple wedding and how the kids will be raised but it's not one of my concerns. My FH is talking to the missionaries but with the sole purpose of learning about my religion, not to convert. He has asked multiple times if I want him to convert and while that would be nice just for the simplicity of the wedding and then kids, I truly do not want him to feel like he has to get baptized in order to marry me because it isn't true and that would be completely the wrong reason. 
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