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religious differences
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religious differences

Me and my husband are from different religious backgrounds. He’s muslim and I am Sikh. I am 19 weeks pregnant with our first one and we’ve been married for almost two years now. My In Laws have been against our marriage as we did not conduct a religious wedding where I had to convert to islam. My husband didn’t have any problem with me converting or anything, but in their religion conversion is must. He promised me that I don’t have to convert if I don’t want to.
Now the problem is that they have been pressuring me and my husband since the day we’ve been married that I must convert at any cost. Either I convert or He should leave me. I don’t talk to them at all from the past year as my mother in law told me that she don’t talk to non muslim people. I still feel hurt because my husband goes to their house at least twice a week and they talk to him EVERY day over the phone. We live separate - 20 min diff.
I feel like they have taken over my family; my husband and almost everything. My husband loves me but He loves his parents a lot too. Every week they will yell at him and he’ll be stressed. The only reason we fight is about his family. He says that they will understand us one day and stop bugging us. It’s been almost two years now and I don’t want to spend rest of my life stressing about this. But he never sets any boundaries or tells them that this is it; it’s his family and he knows what he is doing.
Sometimes I feel like I should talk to his parents and tell them myself but He told me not to as it will end everything (me being really high tempered). They know that I am pregnant and now they really want me to convert before I deliver the baby. I have tried learning about his religion while we were living with his family for 4 months and didn’t like the way I was being treated. That being the reason, we moved to our place. We are going to teach our child both religions. I am scared that they will interfere in my child’s life too but again he says that they won’t.
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765715_tn?1235402261
Hello Tanya,

First, my disclaimer: I haven't met you, your in-laws, or your husband. Individuals may have personal idiosyncrasies that may render evaluations based on culture and strategy useless. So please take these words only as background ideas for your upgrade via more intimate knowledge of the situation. You may also want to consult someone who is expert in this particular Hindu/Sikh social and political issue, as I am not beyond a general knowledge of the ongoing conflict. If you feel your marriage is unraveling because of this issue, seek local marriage counseling before it actually does!

Your problem is obviously a tough one, with no simple problem-solving answer. There are two possible basic paths, each with possibilities and pitfalls.

One option is to make peace (or pretend to) so that your husband does not have to choose. This might be a better way if he is lacking in will now (why is he talking to them EVERY day?) but you think he'll get stronger as he gets older, still young enough to be dependent on his parents, or if there are other issues with them that mean you two will have to wait to separate from them effectively through strength, not war, and win your position in that separation.

If you don't care about religion, perhaps you'd want to just pretend to be swayed by their needs to the extent of converting, and then hold your husband to his promise of raising the child in both religions. The problem is that if he has to pick you over his parents right now, he may resent you down the road. Also, we have to be a bit pragmatic here: you now have to negotiate not only for yourself, but also for your child. What's ultimately in his or her best interests, next year, or 5 or 10 years from now?

Another way to go is to put it to your husband that it's time he stood his ground, and backed the independent judgment of his wife in a matter that she considers to be solely her affair (though his parents do not). This is not a card I would play unless I knew there was a high probability of success. A person weak by character, lack of maturity, or situation will be in no position to say yes to you, even though in his heart he may want to. He'll say no or simply say nothing, playing for time, and if so you'll have to drop the issue or drop him, neither of which is a good solution. By the way, if you DO have to talk to them to clear the air, I recommend that the two of you choose to do this together, presenting a united front. This way you're less likely to be the only
"bad guy", easy to scapegoat.

Another angle on all this is for the two of you to further analyze how "dug in" his parents really are. Are they serious hard-liners who will in fact try to influence the upbringing of your children? Are they intrusive and disruptive? One answer might lie in their friends' dealings with grandchildren. How do THEY behave? I recognize that some people are quite moderate generally, except in some particular life aspect: religion is most common. If that's your in-laws, you'll have to either play it very moderate or very tough. A caution: don't just make a decision based on your identity as a fighter, strong-willed. What you want is to win, not just maintain your reputation as a forceful person.

In sum, we need to assess the probabilities: how hard line the in-laws are, what the odds are they will soften, what the odds are that if you take a tough stance your husband will ultimately back you, what odds if so that the in-laws will relent as opposed to going to war. And if so, what are the odds they'll force the two of you apart. It's time for cold, clear, analysis. In the meantime, by the way, stop lecturing him. If you stop, he'll feel less pulled apart, and more supported by you, and maybe see his mother as more the person who he has to resist.

There are really three ways to go, as above: relent, pretend to relent, and refuse. Each one requires assessment as to probability of success. You could make two errors: make peace when you don't have to, or make war when it leads to ongoing lack of support by them and unhappiness of your immediate family, and of your husband. So let's take a close look at the character and situational power of these people. Accuracy of that assessment is vital here.

Sincerely,

Dr. P.
4 Comments
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1412924_tn?1305164805
It didn't fit :[


What should I do? Should I convert just for the sake that they’ll shut up or should I stand for myself and talk to them in person. His parents say that they will accept me if I convert and will not have any problem afterwards (which I highly doubt). I am really stressed as it is affecting our marriage and I feel it will end soon. My husband feels that when he comes home I start lecturing and when he goes to his parent’s house, they start the same thing. He’s caught in the middle of this. He’s a really nice guy and I really don’t want to loose him. But sometimes I feel that’s the only choice left for me.
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765715_tn?1235402261
Hi Tanya,

I want to give your question a considered response. It is complicated. I'll be back to you soon.

Dr. P.
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1412924_tn?1305164805
Dr. P

Thank you, waiting for your reply!
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1779395_tn?1314595623
I have read about instances like this and there is no easy choice for sure.  I was born and raised catholic and my husband to be is Sikh. I gave been a practicing Sikh before k met him, so it's not a problem for us. I have studied many religions and Muslim us not one I would to even touch. They are very cult like and not at all peaceful like Sikhism. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes because I could not raise my child to hate other people and that is what will happen. I am no expert and no doctor but u do know that religion can ruin lives.  You were raIsed in a good faith who treats people equally don't forget that.  Be true to who you are even if it means you raise your child alone.  All the best and know I will be praying for you.
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1779395_tn?1314595623
Sorry for the spelling errors I am typing one handed since my other one is broken.
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