Are religious differences enough to split a long term relationship?
June 26, 2006 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Are religious differences enough to split a long term relationship?

My girlfriend and I have been together a long time. We disagree on a lot of things, as I'd expect in almost in any relationship. However, we've been in a rough patch for a while now, and this religious bit seems to be a major sticking point.

I was raised Jewish, but what I understand now and didn't when I was a kid was that my parents sent me and my brothers to the schools, camps, gatherings, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc so that we would become part of the Jewish community. I suspect that a lot of Jewish families are this way. I know from personal experience that it tends to be the case. No one in my family (extended even) is all that religious either. Certainly not in a god-fearing way. So, here I am as an adult, not religious to even the slightest degree (in fact, I have a whole bunch of issues with the idea of organized religion), but I still identify myself as a Jew (much to the consternation of the gf). I understand how this can be, how one can consider themselves to be a part of that sect and not care about the basic tenets or belief system.

She was raised Roman Catholic. It was solidly reinforced by her family. The whole God-fearing, heaven/hell, everything is a sin upbringing (which I think is a pretty shitty thing to imprint upon a defenseless kid).

-She seems to hold me to her standards of belief. I'm going to hell, either because I don't believe in it, or because I have committed sins applicable in her religion. I ask if I would still be going to hell if I did believe in it, and she says "Yes, probably", to which I reply "So what's the difference then?"

-She sticks by the creationism/Intelligent Design. I try not to get into this too much with her, but it just confounds me that you can ignore everything that's been discovered in regards to fossil records, DNA, etc.

-I've come to believe that she really thinks there's something wrong with me for not being religious. And for believing that it's not necessary.

-I won't even get into what kind of deleterious effects on one's views on human sexuality can be caused by such a background.

I do love her. But I really feel like we've come to a point where our views on life and our existence are so divergent that it begins to affect our interaction with each other. Is that too dramatic? How would it ever work to become part of each other's families? I'm trying to ask these questions as directly as possible to avoid this from becoming too chatfilter-y.
posted by ninjew to Religion & Philosophy (55 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Religious differences certainly can be enough to split a long-term relationship. I've left people over smaller religious differences than you're discussing, and I have many friends who wouldn't even consider dating someone as religious as your girlfriend.

So yes, it can split relationships. The question you have to answer is whether the benefits you get from the relationship outweigh the problems due to the religious differences between you.
posted by pombe at 11:27 AM on June 26, 2006


They were for me, and it was a much more mild divide than it looks like you're having.

Assuming you ended up marrying, how would you raise your kids? As god-fearing catholics? As Jews? There's not much compromise to be made here. One side has to win. If neither can bend, then it has to be time to move on.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 11:27 AM on June 26, 2006


Contempt is one of the few emotions that signals the end of a relationship. Not anger or jealous or even indifference is as great a marker. Doesn't sound like she respects you enough to make her worth it, sorry.
posted by kcm at 11:31 AM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think this might be a deal breaker. There is seemingly contempt on both sides.
posted by lunalaguna at 11:32 AM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


If it can bring nations to war, religious differences can certainly break-up a relationship.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:32 AM on June 26, 2006


D'oh. Kcm beat me to it.
posted by lunalaguna at 11:32 AM on June 26, 2006


I personally know more people who have broken up over religion and beliefs than anything else. If one partner is deeply religious or was deeply affected by a religious upbringing it touches on everything major that can happen to a couple: sex, living together, childbearing and rearing (most importantly education), mutual friendships, relationships with the in-laws, even financial dealings.

It sounds like your girlfriend is a member of a particularly fringe brand of Catholicism to boot (even the Pope beleives in evolution and I've never heard of a Catholic school that didn't teach it). FWIW to get married in a strict Catholic church you'll have to convert.
posted by fshgrl at 11:33 AM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Doesn't sound like she respects you enough to make her worth it, sorry.

And vice-versa.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:34 AM on June 26, 2006


If her family is as solidly conservatively Roman Catholic as she is, with those attendant beliefs (though curiously, the Pope has rejected Intelligent Design) then your disagreements with her are only the tip of the iceberg should you two ever marry (or dog forbid, have kids).

Since being Jewish isn't just about belief, but being part of a people and culture, no wonder she can't understand that you consider yourself Jewish without being part of the organized religion part of it - since without belief in Christ, she would not be a Christian.

Your problem here is not that she's religious - I know plenty of atheist/religious couples that function just fine - but they both have respect for each other's position. I don't see that here - which means that there's not much room for growth. I suspect, honestly, that the "religious" disagreements are mere symptoms of the deeper problems in your relationship.
posted by canine epigram at 11:35 AM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ninjew - I was in a very similar situation to you in a past relationship.

I certainly agree with what both pombe and kingjoeshmoe have to say. It's sad to think about, but you're going to have to realize that the trend for most people is to become more religious as they become older. And more likely than not, this will include your partner?

Are you willing to live with a partner who will actively try to convert you? Are you willing to live with a partner who will insist that any children be raised in her religious tradition? That they even be raised in a strictly conservative interpetation of it?

Those are questions you will have to ask yourself.
posted by huskerdont at 11:35 AM on June 26, 2006


I'm going to hell, either because I don't believe in it, or because I have committed sins applicable in her religion.

You're going to hell because her religion believes that anyone who does not share its beliefs will go to hell.

You can follow the logic here.
posted by haqspan at 11:35 AM on June 26, 2006


Why don't you ask her where she's getting the Creationism/ID theology -- that's certainly not taught by the Catholic Church at all (other than God being first cause which is an entirely different idea than either of those concepts).
posted by contessa at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2006


-She sticks by the creationism/Intelligent Design. I try not to get into this too much with her, but it just confounds me that you can ignore everything that's been discovered in regards to fossil records, DNA, etc.

I know this is a bit tangential to your actual question, but if she was truly raised Roman Catholic it's surprising that she believes this. I went to a Catholic school as a child and we were always taught that the whole Adam & Eve story was just that - a story.

Depending on how strong a role the Catholic church still plays in her faith, maybe having her read this wikipedia entry about evolution and the Roman Catholic Church would be helpful.
posted by sanitycheck at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2006


As a practicing Roman Catholic married to an Agnostic Zen Buddist, I have to ask, "Creationism? Intelligent Design? WTF?!"

I went through 12 years of Catholic school and we were definitely taught that the theory of evolution was perfectly compatable with a belief in God, seeing as the bible was largely metaphorical, not literal, truth. I gotta wonder, where was your gf raised? How old is she?

I think your gf would have a difficult time making a relationship work with anyone outside her very narrow religious frame of reference. Hell, most Catholics would be unable to have a meaningful relationship with her based her belief system. It don't think this can work out between you. Best of luck.
posted by echolalia67 at 11:37 AM on June 26, 2006


To answer your question: yes, of course religious differences are enough to split a long-term relationship. Let me summarize what you're saying:

1) Your girlfriend believes you are damned to hell.

2) Your girlfriend thinks your worldview is defective. And you have brewing mutual contempt.

3) Your girlfriend doesn't accept logic and reason (by your and my own standards). This can make umm, communicating and resolving conflict a bit difficult.

4) The sex is guilt-ridden and stinks if it exists at all. Moreover, because the reason for it stinking are founded up deeply held religious beliefs, fixing this problem will be nightmarishly painful and likely untenable.

I know the folks on AskMe are overeager to call for breakups but in this case it's practically a no-brainer. As someone else noted, from your perspective it's a matter of whether the pros outweight the cons. And if I were in your shoes, there would be no conceivable benefits that could outweigh these issues. How in the world did you let things get this far to begin with?
posted by drpynchon at 11:43 AM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


re: The bit about I.D. Since I was not raised that way, I have no real concept of how she comes to think the way she does other than it must be derived from the "God must have created the world this way." Same with the bit about going to hell.
posted by ninjew at 11:45 AM on June 26, 2006


The differences you list show a lack of respect for you from your girlfriend. I would judge that in this particular instance, you are incompatable. You have my sympathies.
posted by agregoli at 11:49 AM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think what people are pointing out is that the going to hell thing is consistent with Roman Catholicism -- if you don't believe, you cannot be saved; if you do believe but do not ask forgiveness for your sins, you will not be saved -- but the ID thing is not consistent with Roman Catholic doctrine.

So it's not just that she's Catholic, but that she seems to be holding beliefs more fundamentalist than Catholicism. Which is unusual, and is a larger problem in some senses than just trying to reconcile a Catholic-Jewish relationship.
posted by occhiblu at 11:50 AM on June 26, 2006


Get out now. Do not waste any more time; you may well regret it later.
posted by beerbajay at 11:55 AM on June 26, 2006


Frankly it sounds like she is not a straightforward Catholic any longer. Regarding the evolution, ID debate, ask her to read the Catechism of the Church sections 159 and 283.

But, if she is still devoutly Catholic you will be required to agree to raise your children as Catholics. Considering the strength of your reservations about organized religion and your disdainful (some would say unfair and overwrought) assessment of a childhood raised within an organized religion, I don't see how you two could raise children together.

This might make staying together a rather difficult prospect.
posted by oddman at 12:00 PM on June 26, 2006


Context is key: If you asked "is religious difference enough to cause the senseless deaths of millions of people" no one would think there was any answer other than 'yes'.

Sadly, I think your question has the same answer.
posted by tiamat at 12:03 PM on June 26, 2006


Yes. I'm Jewish, and dated a Catholic for 5 years. We started to talk about marriage and raising children, and found we couldn't agree - neither of us was willing to raise children in the other's religion, despite the fact that neither of us was religious and that I, in fact, am agnostic. In our quest to try to come to some compromise we both read The Intermarriage Handbook, which ultimately convinced me we weren't going to work out. It's worth checking out, particularly if you want to have children.
posted by amro at 12:05 PM on June 26, 2006


I don't think religious differences per se are a problem - the dealbreaker is whether they impact on day to day life (or whether they would in future, particularly in relation to raising kids).

My parents (one athiest, one Anglican) have been happily married for 35 years. Us kids were brought up Anglican, but allowed to make our own decisions (resulting in one athiest, one 'non-practising' Anglican and one Baptist). The success of my parents' marriage relies on the fact that they share basic principles and ethics, and agree about what is ultimately important. And the fact that they respect each other's opinions about the existence (or otherwise) of God. The most important thing to them is to be considerate of other people and to give back to society (surely the basis of Christianity). And all three of us live those principles now, in different ways.

How do the 'religious differences' impact on your daily life together? That's the real question.

You ask how it would work to become a part of each other's families. Well, how is it? Does your girlfriend participate in your family's events? Do you participate in your girlfriend's families events? If not, then yes, you have a problem.

And as others have said already, it does sound like neither of you respect or understand the other's beliefs. Which definitely indicates a problem.
posted by bella.bellona at 12:07 PM on June 26, 2006


The differences you describe are far beyond anything that I would accept, and I would be amazed if they did anything but grow over time. Also, I think that the fact that she does not understand how you can identify as a jew is particularly telling of a lack of understanding on her side (I say this as someone non-jewish dating someone with more or less the kind of jewish background you have).
posted by advil at 12:16 PM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Is it possible that she is one of these Catholics?
Definitely outside of the Catholic norm. That being said, there has been a struggle within the mainstream church between people raised in the tradition of Vatican II (less dogma, more emphasis on ecumenism, and social justice) and people who favor a return to Pre-Vatican II Catholicism (strict adherence to dogma, emphasis on ritual and tradition, belief in the RC as the one true church).

Sorry if this seems off-topic, it's just that her belief system seems very alien to the strain of Catholicism I was raised with. The "sex is dirty and even thinking about it means you're going to hell" part? That I get. The other stuff? Not so much.
posted by echolalia67 at 12:20 PM on June 26, 2006


Context is key: If you asked "is religious difference enough to cause the senseless deaths of millions of people" no one would think there was any answer other than 'yes'.

Sadly, I think your question has the same answer.
posted by tiamat at 2:03 PM


Hence my main source of contempt for it.

Since being Jewish isn't just about belief, but being part of a people and culture, no wonder she can't understand that you consider yourself Jewish without being part of the organized religion part of it - since without belief in Christ, she would not be a Christian.

posted by canine epigram at 1:35 PM


Thank you for wording that so succintly. This is what I've always known to be true.

What I find so odd given the comments here is that she's not devoutly religious. She does not attend church very often if at all. She's never attempted to convert me. But she still believes that our planet can't possibly be billions of years old. I never realized how incongruous this was with the standards of her religion. It was always just so blatantly ridiculous to me to ignore the evidence of Earth's history that I never took it upon myself to really delve into her religion's views on it.

I do not hate religion. In the way that I view the world, religion is a source of community. It had been a way to explain the world and it's workings, and this is the part I believe is no longer necessary. I do, however, believe there is still much value in the social aspects of it. As would fit the way I experienced it growing up.
posted by ninjew at 12:21 PM on June 26, 2006


I've come to believe that she really thinks there's something wrong with me for not being religious.

And you seem to believe there's something wrong with her. Like someone else said, this is a two way street. You seem to hold as much contempt and lack of respect for her views as she does for yours. Game over.

FWIW to get married in a strict Catholic church you'll have to convert.
posted by fshgrl


Where are these catholic churches? Must be rare, as I've been to catholic churches all my life and never seen such a rule. Got married in a catholic church to a non catholic, no problem.
posted by justgary at 12:33 PM on June 26, 2006


You seem to hold as much contempt and lack of respect for her views as she does for yours.

Hard to respect the person you are supposed to hold most dear when they regularly tell you matter-of-factly that you're going to hell.

Oh, and for me, ignoring scientific fact really bothers me too.
posted by agregoli at 12:40 PM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


It sounds to me like you want to leave - or at least that you've come to terms with leaving. This is a terrible situation to be in, but if you can handle leaving, I think you should. This is a big issue on which to be so incompatible. If you couldn't bear breaking up, then maybe you would need to start thinking about creative ways to address this issue, and you would have to seriously explore the impact her religious beliefs/practices would have on your life. You could also sit her down and talk about the importance of flexibility and understanding on this issue and see where that got you. But even if she were able to be more open-minded, and she were willing to let your kids grow up in the Jewish community tradition, there would still be lots of difficult issues along these lines over the years - and not to mention the terrifying thought of divorce & your kids being raised in an extremely religious way - so I think if you can leave, do it.

As for ID and Roman Catholicism - Is it possible she is an obedient Catholic, but not necessarily a very thoughtful one? Meaning that she has absorbed the prohibitions and the duties, but doesn't necessarily realize that ID is not part of Roman Catholicism? Is she young? (Just wondering; she sounds young.)
posted by Amizu at 12:43 PM on June 26, 2006


She looks like a fundie, acts like a fundy...if she quacks too, she is probably a fundamentalist even if not an violent extremist.

I honestly doubt you two will go along, unless both of you separately decide to understand what is more important for you, religious belief of staying toghter.

I think the process should work in the way that staying togher IS NOT the cause/ ISN'T used as a cause for giving up certain religios beliefs or for giving up some part of your identity : if she really feel catholic and really believies in what you said she believes into, nobody but herself will shake her from her position, but only herself and only for her own shake. I wouldn't like to be the one she _gave up_ for, it could quickly become an unbearable burden both for you and for her, even if it could vaguely seem romantic or a proof of "strong love".

On a side , snarky note : if she believes there is something WRONG with you for not being religious, that logically implies she looks upside down at you which is never good, expecially in a couple.
posted by elpapacito at 1:00 PM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


As to the question at hand, the answer is yes. If someone believes that their religious beliefs are an important part of her life, then it is likely that they're faith-bound to follow the rules of that religion. You only need to make it clear that you consider yourself nonreligious and that you have no intention of converting to Catholicism. Additionally, you're ethnically Jewish and enjoy being part of that community, regardless of actual religious involvement.

I think that while there are obvious points of contention due to the fact she holds you to her standard of belief. That's not how this works - if she wants to date a Catholic, tell her to date a Catholic. If she wants to compromise and realize that you can take issue with beliefs but leave it as an unspoken issue out of respect you will be much better off.

That's the point of it, really: respect. You question her beliefs but not her right to have them, while she seemingly cannot relate to your casual nature and is making no effort to do so. Either you both agree on a compromise or you part.
posted by mikeh at 1:01 PM on June 26, 2006


4) The sex is guilt-ridden and stinks if it exists at all.

Never even think about having pre-marital sex with a practicing catholic... NEVER... so much guilt... I don't know how catholics can assume so much guilt and still function in the world... (I do know plenty of catholics who are immune to guilt, these are the types that I admire!! )
posted by hatsix at 1:01 PM on June 26, 2006


What does seem a little odd to me is that she holds all these beliefs, but is dating a Jew. That makes it seem as if she might not be as dogmatic as the post makes her come across?
posted by occhiblu at 1:03 PM on June 26, 2006


occhiblue : that's called hypocrisy, it's a religious must ...even if many people don't even realize the contradiction and deny it vehemently
posted by elpapacito at 1:07 PM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hypocrisy is hardly a religious must, elpapacito, and there's hardly such a trend of fundamentalists dating outside their faith to justify such a comment. It's unusual, and worth considering in this instance: If she's willing to date someone who doesn't share her beliefs, in a religion where marriage is a sacrament and dating outside the religion is a pretty big deal, then either those beliefs are not actually that important to her or she's more openminded than we seem to be assuming.
posted by occhiblu at 1:14 PM on June 26, 2006


She's not open-minded. I think her adherence to dogma stems from the lack of thought she gives to it. This is what frustrates me, in that she does not think critically; instead she assumes what she sees and knows to be true, and does not attempt to further disect it. She has led a very sheltered life. She is not looked down upon for engaging in pre-marital sex, nor did ever seem to attach any sort of stigma to it. That doesn't mean she doesn't have guilt regarding it. She wouldn't ever admit to it, but to someone as sexually open as me (which is not to brag in any way), it's glaringly obvious. But I look past it because of who she is in my life.
posted by ninjew at 1:26 PM on June 26, 2006


Yeah, your relationship is done. Once you start posting criticisms of her thought processes and whatnot in a public forum, that's a pretty good indicator.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:32 PM on June 26, 2006


I don't understand how you'd get into a relationship with this woman in the first place. Did you just somehow not notice she was religious (and judgmental -- but I repeat myself) until the relationship had become long-term? Even if you by some miracle found a woman who was religious but tolerated your beliefs, why would you want to be in a relationship with someone who clearly lives on a different planet from you? I just don't understand how this got past, like, the third date.

That said, yes, if religious differences are a reason not to get into a relationship in the first place, which they certainly are, then they are also a reason to split up.
posted by kindall at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


i have seen it happen both ways, a split and where one "converted" to the other's. it's a total crap shoot and depends on the people involved.
posted by blueplasticfish at 1:49 PM on June 26, 2006


I'm not sure religion is all that important here. You don't go to church. It sounds like she doesn't go to church except possibly on Easter/Christmas and even then despite the fact that it's a long-term relationship, you really aren't sure.

She doesn't seem to understand the tenants of her faith. She believes in God, and self-identifies as Catholic since that's what her parents were (guessing). Beyond that, it sounds like her understanding of the bible and her beliefs are loosely based on what she's heard in the media. If they're strongly held at all, I imagine it's only because she feels defensive as a result of your very clear and negative opinions of her faith and upbringing.

So, religion isn't very important to her except at a very basic I believe Jesus was God kind of level, and it isn't very important to you either. I'd say just stop talking about it, and you'll be fine.

However, if you plan to have kids, you should figure out if you can raise them together and agree about how they will be raised. That's the one are where it seems like it would be a problem.
posted by willnot at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2006


Willnot said what I was trying to say, much better than I had managed.

You've been in a relationship with this woman for a long time, serious enough to consider (it seems) marriage. Yet you still aren't really sure about all of her beliefs, it sounds like she's not even all that sure of her beliefs, and you've managed not to have screaming huge break-up-inducing arguments about it in all the time you've been together. In fact, it seems you can get along just fine by not talking about it.

In that case, her beliefs cannot be all that important to her. She may firmly believe them, but I don't see any way they could be the most important thing in her life, or even in the top five. There's no way she'd be dating a non-Catholic if they were.

I firmly 100% believe that Margaret Atwood is a fantastic writer. You cannot shake my belief in that. But it certainly is not the most important belief in my life. It's not even in the top 25. I could quite easily date someone who disliked Margaret Atwood, because his disbelief in her greatness wouldn't be all that important to me.

If I *were* Margaret Atwood, however, that disbelief might rankle.

Just because she's religious does not mean her religion is particuarly important to her. Look at your own example -- you say you're Jewish, but that being Jewish is not all that important to you in most ways.

Why are we all assuming that "Catholic" equals "pious and dogmatic as the Pope"?
posted by occhiblu at 2:11 PM on June 26, 2006


One of the most difficult things I found in the early years of marriage was shedding my family's beliefs and ideas and building a new set with my husband. Simple things like "the best way to fold the towels" can cause a disagreement. If your girlfriend isn't prepared to change from the family ideals she was brought up with (religion altogether aside), it will make for a very difficult marriage. It doesn't sound like she's able to make those changes/compromises.

I have no idea how you go about breaking up, when you still love someone. My sympathy.
posted by b33j at 2:25 PM on June 26, 2006


This might sound backwards, but you mentioned that she rarely goes to Church at all and doesn't really think about it. Maybe that is the problem. As a cradle Catholic myself, my spirituality and frequentness of attending Mass has had it peaks and valleys over the years. However, I find that the more into my religion I am, the more I actually stop and think about that it means why I believe what I do. When I go through periods of not going to Church, my faith-life falters and consequently I stop questioning/thinking about my faith. More than going to Mass, though, and partaking in activities that require critical thinking about my beliefs help- such as going to Bible Study or participating communal activities where religion is bound to come up.
So, Maybe nudging her towards the direction of getting involved with the Church might help to get her thinking as doing nothing seems to make things only worse.
posted by jmd82 at 2:29 PM on June 26, 2006


I could quite easily date someone who disliked Margaret Atwood, because his disbelief in her greatness wouldn't be all that important to me.

But could you date someone who thought that Margaret Atwood was a worthless piece of shit, and that your appreciation for her indicated your own basic worthlessness as a human being?

Sure, they can 'stop talking about it'...if ninjew is the kind of guy who doesn't place a high priority on talking about things like this. Does it seem like that's the kind of guy he is?

Never even think about having pre-marital sex with a practicing catholic...

On the contrary. ninjew, as one secular Jewish boy to another:

Don't have sex with a devout Catholic. Having sex with a lapsed Catholic, practicing or not, is one of the reasons you are alive.
posted by bingo at 2:38 PM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Sure, they can 'stop talking about it'...if ninjew is the kind of guy who doesn't place a high priority on talking about things like this. Does it seem like that's the kind of guy he is?

Given that they've been together this long, I don't see how he can't be.
posted by occhiblu at 2:40 PM on June 26, 2006


I'm sure this will clarify things for a few people here: though the relationship is long-term, neither of us ever took it all that seriously. We have stayed together because we love each other and until recently, were able to enjoy our time together while happily ignoring our many differences. Questions like this (and others) were left until 'some other time'. We've reached that time.
posted by ninjew at 2:55 PM on June 26, 2006


My very simple answer is yes. Absolutely anything can be enough of a difference to split a long term relationship, and yet almost anything can be overcome when the two people involved ultimately want nothing more than to make it work. Doesn't sound to me like either of you really do though.

There are so many factors that can eventually come up and end a relationship; I don't know that I would invest my time and energy into something that already has such a significant problem to begin with.
posted by Ugh at 4:08 PM on June 26, 2006


Kinda what jmd82 said. Sure it could work - if she were either a better or worse Catholic than you describe. One problem is that quality of her practice of religion will vary throughout her life.
posted by klarck at 4:38 PM on June 26, 2006


If you ever had any plans of getting married, I think that would be a very bad idea. She'd want you to convert to get married in the church and raise any kids as one big happy Catholic family. Yikes.

Sad to say, your significant other has a very limited and simplistic view of the religion and her place in the universe.

If you folks just want a long term casual relationship for the sex, then hey then go for it. I think the relious chasm is about to get wider and wider until things go down the tubes unfortunately.

IMHO, find yourself someone more open minded than this gal. Closer to home too. Good luck.
posted by bim at 4:58 PM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


To look at it pragmatically, staying with her has a high Opportunity Cost all the time you spend with her, you could be out finding an agnostic or reasonable christian, jew or whatever to share your life with
posted by Megafly at 5:04 PM on June 26, 2006


I think it depends what you are seeking from the relationship. Is it hard to date someone with significantly different relgious beleifs than your own? Of course. Is that automatically a deal-breaker? That depends more on you. For me, yeah, it probably would be -- as a devout atheist I'd have a hard time with someone who wasn't. And I'd wager more than a few of these responses are based on that. But is that deal-breaker for you? Different question. Maybe love can conquer all... but raising kids is a different issue altogether. Deciding what faith (if any) to raise you children in could be a fundamental block.
posted by modernnomad at 6:00 PM on June 26, 2006


I'm Jewish and have dated both Jews and non-Jews. I will tell you that I never dated anyone with such views and nearly "broke-up" with a best friend when she admitted to me that she thought I was going to hell.

Interfaith marriage can work; but each person has to be open enough to see it from the other's POV and be willing to shape a new future together. Otherwise one person has to be willing to go along with the "my way or the highway" which won't work in this case I would imagine. The reason you've made it this far already is probably because you probably haven't run into anything MAJOR (like kids, trauma, etc) that would truly expose the rift. But when the going gets tough, and you have to make real decisions about things, that's when you start to realize that having some who shares the same outlook as you becomes more important.

In the end, anyone that you love that is judging you on your beliefs and determining that something is wrong with you because of them is not someone that you can work it out with, whether we're talking about religion or anything else. Good luck.
posted by ml98tu at 6:26 AM on June 27, 2006


Most of the points in your post are intellectual (e.g. Intelligent Design). Are you an intellectual? Is it important for you to be able to discuss philosophy with a like-minded partner? If so, this may be a deal breaker.

Otherwise, how does all this impact taking out the trash, paying the rent, watching an old movie, fixing the sink, strolling in the park, and all the other day-to-day things that make up 90% of most relationships.

I'm NOT claiming that the intellectual stuff is unimportant. Part of my relationship with my wife is based on our mutual love of discussion. I'm just suggesting that you work out how strong this desire is in you. It may help you with the stay/leave calculus.

It may also be worthwhile trying to imagine what your relationship would be like if you were both atheists. Stripped of all religious battles, would you problems be solved? Or is fighting over religion a way for you two to deal with other issues? For some people views about religion = intelligence. Are you really fighting over who is smarter? Or maybe something else?
posted by grumblebee at 10:18 AM on June 27, 2006


I'm the daughter of a christian mother and Jewish father - it wasn't an issue for them, mainly because Dad never strongly identified with his Jewishness, and mum, when they married, was pretty relaxed (nb, not catholic) in her faith. She did become more religious about 10 years after I was born, which, I think, did put a strain on their marriage.

I was raised as a christian, and know next to nothing about my jewish heritage, except what I learnt through church, oh, and the matzohs my Gran used to have in her flat.

I think of myself as being a jewish christian, which, strangely, does work - the jewishness being more about my heritage and my family, and the christianity which see's itself as the fulfillment of Judaism.

I know a lot of christians that are gung ho about not marrying/dating non christians, which seems ridiculous to me, but then I'm a very liberal Christian who is accepting of other peoples religions and faiths, but not all christians are like that.

I say that sometimes it can work, but only if each person in the relationship can understand and accept where the other is coming from, and agree to disagree. Also, the child-raising point is especially important.

I hope that you can work out your differences here, but suspect that the problems are too ingrained for that.
posted by jonathanstrange at 4:54 PM on June 27, 2006


My dad's hindu and my mum's a catholic and they've been together for 20 years now. They're both deeply religious and also pray that one another will be "saved" for not worshipping the "right" god. The only times they've argued about religion in relation to their relationship however, is when it has to do with raising us (their kids). Considering your girlfriend's view of religion, I think this will be a major issue if you continue together and will probably cause ripples amongst the family. However, if you think it's worth it, if you love her enough, then you can over look that. You say you're not so serious about judaism but it seems clear from the post that these are problems that won't be going away any time soon. If anything, they could get worse.

There is no one concrete answer that we can offer you, you're the only one in that unique situation that can make that sore of decision. Good luck.
posted by liquorice at 12:17 AM on July 7, 2006


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