So, I (31/f) grew up in moderate Muslim background. I’m more liberal than my parents and don’t believe all the same interpretations as my parents but I still consider myself a part of my faith and my faith is still very important to me.
My bf (31/m), of 3 years, was raised by a very Catholic mother, but considers himself atheist.
My bf has always known that though I’m a more liberal leaning Muslim woman in a lot of ways, I am also (when it comes to my own preference) more of the “prim and proper” type, probably at least in part due to my upbringing. More specifically, marriage is very important to me both because of my faith and religious beliefs and also I just want to be married, I didn’t think this was totally odd or unreasonable previously. I brought up marriage very early on in our relationship just to know his thoughts on marriage and to establish that it’s something that’s important to me. At that time he said we’re still getting to know each other and he doesn’t think it’s a conversation we can have just yet. This is my first interfaith relationship and in my past relationships it was just established that marriage is the end goal, so I thought maybe what he said makes sense and thought that I had at least successfully established that the importance of marriage to me. I thought I would wait until he was ready for that conversation.
My boyfriend recently brought up the topic of living together and having kids, and I was a little confused. To me having kids is wayyyy more serious than marriage because you’re bringing a new life that is entirely dependent on the two of you into the world. I told him that I don’t intend on living together and especially having kids until marriage. He’s now started to tell me that he doesn’t care about marriage and he sees no value in it aside from tax purposes. And I told him if he doesn’t care and sees at least one value and he knows how important it is to me, why wouldn’t he consider it. And he said it’s a very serious thing and he wouldn’t consider it until we’ve lived together. I mentioned that he was essentially living with me for three months while he was looking for a new apartment and we stay at each other’s places for days at a time and doesn’t that give him the info he needs? And he said “actually live together for an extended period of time”.
He then brought up my family situation and how my mom still isn’t accepting of our relationship and I haven’t told my dad (my relationship with my dad is not that level of close, and normally I would only tell him if we had decided to get engaged – like I did with my previous relationship). I told him that getting engaged would actually probably help make the situation with my parents much easier and his response was that I care too much what they think and I need to be comfortable with a “modern relationship” and not “give two shits what they think” and that I should be able to do that and that I should know him well enough to know if I see a future with him or not. And I can’t place prerequisites like getting engaged/married because that’s just me wanting “everything to be perfect/my way”.
But if I should know him well enough by now, shouldn’t he also know by now whether he sees marriage with me also? I mean, I just feel crazy or like I’m missing something because I just don’t understand how I’m being unreasonable here. When I said marriage is also very important to me because of my faith and that I’m not going to take other steps like having kids until then he started talking about how stupid religion is. I’m not asking him to believe the same things I do, but if you’re with someone who has certain beliefs shouldn’t you at least have some modicum of respect for that? Otherwise why enter into a relationship with any person of faith?
I just don’t know where to go from here.
I’m sorry to tell you that I’m not getting a sense that there is anywhere to go from here. You are both seriously incompatible. Your values do not coincide at all. And that will never change.
You have stretched yourself to the point that you have consented to live with him for months at a time, which surely goes against your values. If he doesn’t know that you’re the one for him after months of living together, he’s not the one.
He sounds very inflexible. How dare he ask you to violate your values to the point of having kids outside of marriage?
If he said, “Let’s live together and then we’ll get engaged and wait to have kids until we’re married,” I’d feel better about the situation.
From the way you have reported your conversations, he sounds controlling and judgmental. Even if he were to come around and say he’d marry you, do you want to be married to someone who looks down his nose at your values?
He is already demonstrating a rigidity of character. I am afraid for you. I fear that your life with him will be filled with many arguments in which he belittles and disrespects you.
I have a suggestion. I have a chapter in Kiss Your Fights Goodbye on Value Conflicts. In the chapter, I explain that values are not wrong or right. They are simply either the same or different. Couples with different values must be willing to respect each other’s values as essential parts of the self. The only way to work with value conflicts is to come up will collaborative choices that respect both partners’ values.
I would like to see whether he is willing to read this chapter and embrace the truth of what I say.
If he is not willing to read the chapter and shift how he handles your value differences, run for your life!