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Jewish Weddings

Can I convince the in-laws to accept me?

So I'm converting, or rather being adopted into the local Secular Humanistic congregation. I've strongly self-identified as Jewish for years and even speak quite a bit of Yiddish. My partner believes hir family will never fully accept our relationship even if I were to properly convert as I wasn't born or raised Jewish. They're mostly quite fond of me in person, so it's not exactly me, though they're not fond of my career choices, namely not being a doctor. We've yet to announce the rather new engagement. They're always kind to me, but actively attempt to pair my partner with someone they deem more suitable when I'm not around, and lecture hir on making smarter life choices than their own previous failed marriages.

What can I do to make them like me, other than magically going to medical school?

Don't harp on my partner because ze is taking responsibility for communicating with hir family and working on accepting their positions, but I know it makes hir sad and I want to help.
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Re: Can I convince the in-laws to accept me?

  • sari5765sari5765 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    That's a tough one. But here's the thing: other Jews are not supposed to judge Jews-by-choice. It's a big deal to treat converts differently- you're not supposed to mention their journey to Judaism unless they mention it first. It's a no-no. I'm very sorry you've been made to feel uncomfortable. It's an admirable thing to convert, as it's not an easy journey. Hopefully, your in laws will learn to respect that. But, I'm afraid there's really no way you can force them to do that. All you can hope for is that with the help of your partner and rabbi, they will eventually accept and love you the way you deserve. And Mazal Tov on your engagement!
    check out our wedding blog at http://kellyandsari.com
  • 2dBride2dBride member
    2500 Comments Fourth Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Ok, let me start by trying to wade through the pronouns here.  Is this a same-sex or otherwise queer-identified marriage?  Trust me, it's ok by me either way. (See my icon.)  I ask only from a strategic perspective.

    If it is a same-sex marriage, or if you are male, you are likely to have less trouble with this issue as time goes on.  Right now, they think in the abstract that it would be nice for their child to marry a doctor.  However, as you let them know about your engagment and eventually get married, the issue will not be the abstract one of whether they would like their child to marry a doctor, but of their realizing that the person their child married is someone that they like.  Most Jews who are religious enough to care about the religion of their child's partner are also family-oriented enough not to seek to break apart a couple that is already married.  That is doubly true if you plan to have children.  They will be a lot more loyal to "the parent of our grandchildren" than to "the person my child is dating."  And because adoption or other nonblood relationships with children are not taken into account for purposes of Jewish law, your religion (or lack thereof) would not affect the religious identification for any children that were biologically your partner's.

    The one area in which gender makes a difference is if you are female, your partner is male, and you intend to have biological children.  In that instance, any children the two of you have will not be born Jewish, at least under Orthodox standards, unless you convert before they are born.  And even if you do, the Chief Rabbinate in Israel seems to be lobbying hard to get most nonOrthodox conversions rejected there.  Thus, your FILs may need to do some mourning for the fact that they will not have unquestionably Jewish grandchildren.

    However, even then, the issue is more in the abstract than in reality.  While your FILs may regret not having unquestionably Jewish grandchildren, they are still likely to prefer any grandchildren they have to no grandchildren at all.  And if you are able to tell them truthfully that the grandchildren will be raised as Jewish, that will give them at least some comfort.

    Obviously, you are in a painful situation at the moment.  However, the good news is that this is probably as difficult as the relationship with them will ever get.  Over time, the gratitude that their child has a loving partner is likely at least to soften their negative feelings.
  • edited December 2011
    You can pick your spouse/mate, but as with your own, you can't pick or help who they are related to.  In a perfect world, everyone would like everyone, but that's just not reality.  It could be that no matter what you do, they simply won't accept you.  If that's really a big deal for you, then you really have to decide if the love you and your partner share is strong enough that you can put up with the hurt - because it won't get easy.

    Despite my best efforts, there are some members of hubby's family I get along with, and other that just made it so difficult that I don't see myself having anything but a very, very cordial and informal relationship with.  Hubby didn't help matters when we first started and so it's been really hard breaking the status quo.  Having gotten married, not much has really changed.  Personally, I've gotten over it and don't care anymore, as long as folks don't expect they will suddenly be involved with things once kids arrive when they couldn't care much beforehand.

    Hubby wants everyone to get along, so I told him the onerous is on him and his family, as it would be on me and mine to make him feel a part of our fold.  I even recently reached out to his dad and sis and had mixed results.  Basically, his dad is sexist, so I don't see us having much of a relationship; his sister is pretty open so we'll see what happens there (he has another sister who lives out of state that I have tried more than a few times to work things out, and she's just stubborn and selfish so I'm keeping our "relationship" simply to holiday gatherings, nothing more; and his brother is a non-existent factor, as far as I'm concerned).

    The problem for me is that hubby's parents are divorced, so I literally married into two distinct families and his dad's side is just such a pain.  I used to get super upset about it, to the point of tears and real anger.  Sometimes it bothers me, but one day I just told myself that if being myself isn't enough, it's truly their loss.  It's not easy, but it's not worth getting stressed out or getting an ulcer over.  Who's to say what I'd do if I could turn back time, but I'm sticking with things now and can only hope matters ease up over time, or becomes tolerable.

    I wish you much luck.  All you can do is be yourself - if it's not enough, you have to decide if you want to stick it out, or just really cut your losses and more along in hopes of finding a love with a family that will accept you.
  • ki10ki10 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Thanks for the kind words and personal experiences! I use gender-neutral pronouns where possible, but 2dBride has a point about gender and their expectations: I'm bio-female genderqueer and partner is a bio-male man. Their expectations for grandchildren are likely weighting their judgment, since I'm not converting to a recognized denomination, and he's the only child supposedly likely to give them grandchildren in the next decade. We're childfree but haven't brought that up; I dunno whether it'd be better or worse.

    For now, I'll just be glad they like me on a personal level, which is better than a lot of in-laws.
  • edited December 2011
    The only advice I can give you is to be yourself around your FILs.  If you are confident in yourself and your relationship, then that's all you can do.  You can't change how other people are going to act, only how you react to them.  Good luck! Maybe once your FI talks to the family they might realize they're acting a way that they didn't even know it was coming across that way.
  • edited December 2011
    Parker - hope your wedding goes well.  Look forward to hearing the updates!

    She's right, be yourself and if that's not enough, what can you do?  I sympathize with the grand kids thing.  Hubby's parents are divorced and his dad has two more children, so while he'd like them now, figure at least 2 of his other kids will have children, so no pressure.  My hubby is the only chance for his mother; his sister is far from being in any kind of relationship and isn't too far from 40.  I know, I know, but I don't see her having any, assuming she manages to get her social life in order.

    His mom constantly mentions visiting her husband's grandchildren and she can't wait to babysit and a ton of other things.  My mom has six but I express to hubby that that doesn't mean his mom will somehow get more privileges with our kids.  We were going to try this year but I'm thinking maybe we hold off and just see how things with the family settles down, establish boundaries, and then worry about kids later....
  • edited December 2011
    Thanks Slbriz!  How long have you been married?

    We're getting pressure from both sides to have kids, as we're both the oldest children in our families and oldest grandchildren on my dad's side and both of FI's sides.  I keep saying don't ask me until I'm 30.  And they've stopped bothering me for a little.
  • edited December 2011
    We were married on May 30th and our three year dating anniversary was just last week.  Guess folks think we've had plenty of time and should get to baby making, but I have a career and dating someone and being married to someone aren't the same thing.  I think though his mom has calmed down because I'm very independent and didn't ask for any help, so they kind of know I won't tolerate that discussion.  I still feel like I'd like to wait another year, though that'll mean trying to conceive at 36 but what can you do.  6-7 months of peace at not telling anyone we are pregnant might not be enough, so I'm hoping to add another year to the mix.

    If you aren't even 30 yet, you have plenty of time; wish I was young again... :)
  • Jeni35Jeni35 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    You cannot make people accept you. I also am in this boat. The mother and sister are slowly coming around and have been back and forth; however I have given up caring about it. yes, I care if they are physically well and that sort of thing; but since we've moved- the distance has helped (as i am sure it has also helped them). We would like to have children. I will be 33 the week before the wedding and FI is 40. I would never turn away his family's desire to know the grandchildren and nieces/nephews. I would have to admit that my family is much more thoughtful, loving and understanding.  Your partner needs to reaffirm that you are the choice for him. I must admit that I am not sure why you are doing a humanistic conversion; however it is your choice. I am religious (Conservative) and my congregation is openly accepting of homosexuality, as am I. I wish you well and trust me, you are not alone. Btw, congrats n your engagement. Do not be afraid to mention it. 
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