My fiancé and I both believe that there is more than one “right” answer, more than one way to get to heaven (or whatever you believe the good afterlife is), and that it is most important to be good people.
We each believe what we believe, with no intention of changing religions, but also with no deep-seated beliefs that the other is wrong or going to hell. However, he also knows that being Jewish is also a culture and that it’s important to me to be able to pass down the observances, which are faith and culture intertwined. (In return I will take his last name when we marry, as will our future children, so we can each pass some of our history on to the children. For those who were trying to keep score, this is a big deal for us since I was a diehard for the hyphenate camp before.)
His parents were understandably concerned about being left out, but we talked with them about our plans for our future kids- for example, we said we would try to go visit his family for Christmas as much as we can (living 1000 miles from them makes this difficult to do every year), as that is a big family gathering for them. But I remain convinced (despite the many commenters who argued to the contrary) that visiting grandma’s Christmas tree is different from having one in your own living room and so that is one concession I am not willing to make. I realize that everyone has their own comfort level, but for me personally, that’s the line.
I’m sure things will pop up for which none of us realize how strongly we feel until the children and situations are real instead of hypothetical. Planning the wedding, as you predicted, has been a good chance to test those waters, but we have navigated it well. When we get married in February, it will be with the blessing of all four parents, in the presence of our family and close friends, officiated by both a Rabbi and a Catholic Deacon.
It is difficult to explain in the small space of a letter your entire religious philosophy and parenting method, a fact which commenters seemed to forget. My first letters stirred up some pretty strong reactions, as well as some very insightful comments. I am thankful to those who offered advice. Even some of the harshest dissenters helped prepare us for the concerns his parents would later have, so we could refine our stance on the big issues before they put us on the spot.
Wendy, your advice was very helpful. I have really enjoyed seeing snippets of how you have dealt with similar issues now that you have Jackson rather than “hypothetical child.” Thanks so much! -Inter-faithed
Best wishes to you and your fiancé for a long and happy life together. Sounds like you’re off to a good start and both have loving and understanding families who can help you along your path.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at email@example.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.