Religion: Already having Planning Troubles

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 18, 2010 6:22 PM

So the problems have hit already.

My fiance is apart of a very religious family. He is religious in that he is a believer--does the occasional prayer. He attends ceremonies and traditions with the family but wouldn't go out of his way to do it on his own.

I attended a wedding ceremony from the church. I did not want it. Having that ceremony would make me very uncomfortable. I would feel like an outsider at my own wedding.

He discussed this with his parents (who he is very close to) and they said that they would not attend the wedding unless it was performed by a Russian Priest.

They acknowledged that I am not very religious (I was baptized but I am not a practicing Christian)and that since it is not important to me and it is to them--I should succumb to their wishes.

But my marraige and my wedding are important to me...

I'm at a bit of a loss.

My fiance is going to attend church tomorrow and he is going to see if he has an opportunity to talk with the Priest.

I don't think they really do compromises...

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 18, 2010 7:05 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

Dear BTS,

You have two issues here.

The first is easy.

"If you do XYZ, I will not attend your wedding."

"I'm sorry to hear that. We will miss seeing you there."

XYZ could be anything:

"If you invite Uncle John..."
"If you get married in a church..."
"If you get married outside a church..."
"If you get pregnant before the wedding..."
"If you marry someone of the wrong race..."
"If you don't wear white..."

The answer to each of those is the same.

"I'm sorry to hear that. We will miss seeing you there."

Second issue: Getting married in his church.

You don't feel comfortable imagining your wedding in his church with his traditions. That is understandable. It's one thing to attend the church as a guest, but quite another thing to get married in the church.

If your fiancť was, himself, very religious and involved in his church then my answer would be different. I would answer along the lines of "It's his wedding, too.".

However, you say he's moved away from the church of his childhood, which actually happens a lot.

Here is my best suggestion. Discuss the issue thoroughly with your fiancť. This involves discussing the non-attendance of his parents, future children's religious upbringing, etc. Then, make an appointment to see the priest at his parents' church.

Talk honestly with that man. (If we are talking about Russian Orthodox, then it will be a man.) Ask, first, how he feels about officiating at a wedding between a non-believer and a lukewarm believer. The lukewarm believer has parents who are pushing you into this church.

Then, next step, ask the priest how you can inlist his help in dealing with FH's parents. Maybe the priest can talk to them and exert his pastoral authority to convince them that you have the right to get married in whatever church or other venue you desire. Maybe he can convince them to support their son in his new life as a married man, regardless of whether or not he is married in their church.

You need to stand your ground and try to get the priest on your side. Then, you can present a united front to the pushy parents.

Finally, be aware that many young people drift away from the church of their childhood, only to find a great desire to rejoin the church once they reach early middle age or have their own children. Are you prepared for that eventuality? If you have kids, and if their father (FH) wants them to be raised in his church, can you go along with that cheerfully?

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 18, 2010 7:51 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

First thing: Children

We have discussed this a fair amount. Especially since his parents said that future children 'had' to be baptized in the church. I am actually fine with that. As they grow up they will eventually choose their own path, and if they choose to embrace the Russian Orthodox faith that is fine. We will introduce them to some of the Russian holidays such as Russian Easter--and we will discuss my beliefs. They can choose to follow whatever they want--they can follow Judaism or Hinduism for all I care.

Secondly: The parents.

That response would never be OK with my fiance. His family is so close. It irks me a bit how easily influenced he can be by his parents--I feel like this is a very common problem.

He will hopefully have a chance to talk with the head Priest tomorrow. The prist married his parents, married two of his siblings and baptized him and all of his siblings--so he is a very important figure within the family. My fiance doesnt have as close as a bond with him.

What actually also bothers me is that one of the siblings who is in a very serious relationship plans on going away and eloping and hasnt told her parents. So I am feeling forced and obligated into this wedding that I dont want--while one of their own children is actually planning on completely abandonning everything. Ugh.

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 18, 2010 8:52 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

Dear BTS,

"Especially since his parents said that future children 'had' to be baptized in the church."

Ummm... grandparents do not decide if and where a child is baptized. Parents make that decision.

"We will introduce them to some of the Russian holidays such as Russian Easter--and we will discuss my beliefs."

"Some" of the Russian holidays? Why not all?

Would you send your children to school occasionally for lessons? Would you be happy if they learned to read to a third-grade level, but never farther?

"His family is so close. It irks me a bit how easily influenced he can be by his parents--I feel like this is a very common problem. "

Sure, it's a common problem, leading to divorce.

A man has to choose between his parents and his wife. The guy who is more concerned with pleasing his parents than pleasing his wife needs to grow up before getting involved in a marriage.

Don't just take my word for it. It's in the Bible.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Gen 2:24

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife Mark 10:7

Those are only two passages addressing this issue. There are lots more.

" So I am feeling forced and obligated into this wedding that I dont want--"

Then put your foot down and say "No". You are the Chief Executive Officer of your own life. This could be a deal-breaker.

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WellWisher Posts : 175 Registered: 1/2/10
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 18, 2010 10:17 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Sounds like you need to have another conversation with your fiance: this one about what's going to happen when you and his parents have different views on a situation. The wedding is just the beginning of what actions and power control you both will have in the future. Like AOTB said, there are many passages in scripture that tell how connected a man and wife must be.

I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, being a Christian myself. I can see how your in-laws want your marriage to be under the official Sacrament, since they are religious. At the same time, there are many things that at sacramental (with a little s) without being done in a church. I don't know about RO, but in most churches something that is done to reach towards the highest good is sacramental (with a little s). Having this conversation with your fiance may be beneficial to find what you two, and not also his mother, want out of your wedding.

Now, about what's going to happen WHEN you and his parents disagree, because it's going to happen eventually. Have you ever seen "Everybody Loves Raymond," where the main actor can never choose to side with his parents or his wife? The show is considered funny because of the outrages both parties throw, but in reality it's a very sad way to live.

You seem like a beautiful person who wants the best for everyone. I recommend being very strong in this situation with a) what your expectations are and that b) they aren't going to change, so don't count on it. After that, it's your fiance's decision whether to side with you, or to side with his religious family. Both sides have scripture to back them up. But if he's not going to side with you, it might be a red flag. If he wants a religious wedding then he should be open with telling you that, but in any case you need to decide on something together and stick with that plan as a team. Don't let him be a Raymond.

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 19, 2010 4:45 AM Go to message in response to: WellWisher

Oh boy, I knew this thread would be coming way back when you mentioned your FH is Russian Orthodox. We have a Russian Orthodox church in a town nearby me, and I know how strict they are. I can totally understand why you wouldn't want to marry there (the standing, the foreign language, the demeaning talk of women, etc.).

What you need to ask your hubby is: do you want a religious wedding for yourself and your own gain? Or do you want a religious wedding to please your parents?

This, as bad as this is to say, is the time when battle lines are drawn. FH has to decide whether he supports you and your decisions, even if that means rocking the boat with his parents a bit, or if he is going to side with Mom & Dad to keep the peace.

I'll be the first to admit I'm a people pleaser. It's a terrible habit, it causes me undue amounts of stress, but I always try my hardest to please everyone (mainly as a means of keeping the peace, because fights in my family are brutal and grudges are kept). Thankfully, my SO is the one who knocks some sense into me and asks "What was it YOU wanted, again? Not your Mom, not your sister, you?"

If FH is close to his family, he may be afraid of disappointing them and losing their approval. That is an issue you two need to work out together, it's not necessarily a sign he isn't ready to get married. If he makes an earnest effort to try and change his people pleasing ways, then that's already half the battle. But if he just wants to be a wimp and let Mom & Dad walk all over him, even after you two have tried to work it out together, that's a sign to call off the wedding and wait until he's ready to be a Big Boy.

Trust me, I know how hard it can be to stop thinking of others when you make decisions that should only be made for yourself. Families are great for guilt-trips. Just be there for your FH and talk, talk, talk. No angry screaming fits, just calm discussions.

As an added note, if and when your FH does decide to side with you, and has to explain to his parents why you two are choosing not to have a religious ceremony, he should explain to her which things you weren't comfortable with that were legitimate concerns: the vows and entire ceremony in a foreign language, texts about women being lesser than their men being prevalent in the ceremony, etc. Maybe Mom has never tried to see it from an outside perspective since she undoubtedly was raised in this religion and hasn't ever considered why someone else would find this unappealing.

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 19, 2010 9:02 AM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

BTS - I was also afraid of how this might shake out.

First I want to address the issue of his sister - You can't control that she is eloping without even telling his parents - I know you feel frustrated by it because you are being upfront and they are set in their ways and inflexible. Course, eloping is always an option for you too.

I don't supposed she's planning on eloping any time soon? LOL

Next I'd like to say people who threaten things and use that to manipulate others around them, especially their kids, PISSES me off. But I get even MORE annoyed by the fact that your FH is willing to give into them over your issues and objections.

Is EVERY issue that his parents use their presence or disapproval as manipulating tools going to end up being where he then takes their side? This is a BIG deal.

I am aware that Russian Orthodox is very similar to Greek Orthodox and it's not like there are things you can incorporate into a ceremony that is not performed in the church - or if there are things you can incorporate into the ceremony, I doubt it would still be acceptable to die hard religious followers. I would like to think they would be willing to compromise, but why would they if they know he'll just give in.

Hopefully something good will come of the talk with the priest - but be prepared for an all or nothing stance.

Then you have some decisions to make - these will not be lightly and need to involve a lot of talk with your FH - he needs to know where you stand and why. You know what your options are.

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 19, 2010 5:10 PM Go to message in response to: PharmToxGirl

Ladies,

I'll offer a general observation, based on years of watching marriages form, succeed and dissolve.

In general, your best chance of success in a marriage is when the two people come from similar backgrounds. Granted, no two unrelated people come from EXACTLY the same background, but it is good when they have a common culture, common religious beliefs, common child rearing beliefs, etc.

Inter-cultural marriages can succeed. I have seen many inter-cultural marriages succed in my lifetime, as well as many that fail.

The failed marriages usually dissolve because the couple cannot bridge the gap. One MUST have this, while the other MUST NOT have it.

Successful inter-cultural marriage have one thing in common: flexibilty. The couple takes a flexible, compromising approach to their life together, incorporating bits and pieces from each person's background to create a whole. Similarly, the families involved also have to be flexible. They recognize that the new family, and new generation, will not do everything as they did in the Old Country.

What I see here in the OP is a bride and groom who are embarking on an inter-cultural marriage. The groom's family is far from flexible. They want Old Country traditions followed for the wedding ceremony as well as for important events in the children's lives. The groom is unwilling or unable to stand up to his parents, thus, he is by extension as inflexible as his parents.

The OP, the bride, needs to understand that if she marries this man, she will face a lifetime of stress between the Old Country beliefs and traditions and those of her own background and those of the New Country, America.

Based on what the OP has written in her messages and based on my lifetime experience in observing inter-cultural marriages and being involved in a modestly inter-cultural marriage myself (Protestant/Catholic), I truly believe she needs to seek out pre-marital counseling and make a fully informed decision before entering into a marriage.

If she is running into a religious brick wall at the wedding planning stages, she will see teh same brick wall at every significant point of her future married life. This will go on until and unless her husband learns to stand up for his wife when faced with his parents' demands.

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 19, 2010 6:42 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

I totally agree with the idea of pre-marital counseling. I'm a huge advocate for it, for every couple, to be honest. Even if there doesn't seem to be any tension in a relationship, it can be very helpful in developing problem solving skills and opening communication lines. *:)

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 21, 2010 7:15 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

Hey BTS:

I married into a Catholic family. My parents are Baptist. I am a Unitarian Universalist.

The religious trip wires at our wedding were....interesting.

DH's mother wanted the full blown Catholic proceeding, and every time she talked to ME she'd go on about it. I would just make non-committal noises about it and look at then DH.

I was willing to compromise and try to find a Catholic priest to offer a prayer or blessing at our wedding. DH didn't want a priest anywhere near our wedding.

I told him HE had to deal with his mother. I had to deal with MINE.

(And both of our moms wanted religious elements in our wedding that neither of us were comfortable.)

I compromised .... slightly. The only thing I gave in on was I had a reading. I Corinthians. You know... the Love is passage that is so commonly used.

But here's the thing. DH and I were united in what WE wanted. I would have compromised for HIM...but not for his mom. The same is true for him. If I really wanted some religious element...because I wanted it and felt I needed it, he'd have been fine with it. But just because my mother felt it was necessary? Nope.

We wrote our own wedding and held it in the Unitarian Universalist church. And both of our mothers loved it.

Misty

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 22, 2010 8:26 AM Go to message in response to: CatStandish

Hi everyboy!

I haven't run off--just have very minimal down/lone time right now.

I will give all the posts a thorough reading later! Just wanted to say thanks so far to all those who posted.

I did a quick scan. And 'I' like the idea of the blessing. I actually suggested it to FH a couple of nights ago. He seemed to think it might be considered 'tacky' (for a lack of a better term) to ask for a blessing and not perform a ceremony/his parents wouldn't approve.

I think it's something to look into though.

I also had a big chat with FH. He assures me that he is on 'my side' and that we are a team and that he is going to prioritize my wishes over his family's. I was a little concerned for a second.

So we will have to see how it goes in practice!

I will do a better reading/response later.

Thanks ladies! Hope the holiday season is treating you all well!

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 26, 2010 10:22 AM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

I also had a big chat with FH. He assures me that he is on 'my side' and that we are a team and that he is going to prioritize my wishes over his family's. I was a little concerned for a second.

OK - I feel a lot better hearing this!!!!!!!!!! This was a HUGE concern for me and others that have posted on here. :-)

He can ask the priest about options in a blessing manner and you know, it's called compromise. Basically his parents are saying it's our way or we're NOT there - that's manipulative BS.

He talks about a blessing of sorts with the priest (I know though that this is difficult to do in the Greek Ortho Church, hopefully his priest is a little progressive) - and then presents it to his parents. It might have to be a take it or leave - especially if he's on your side in this.

But let's cross that bridge when/if you come to it.

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CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 26, 2010 9:36 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

Good luck! I'm glad to hear he's with you on this.

Misty

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 27, 2010 11:44 PM Go to message in response to: CatStandish

Pharm, I was just as concerned as the rest of you.
I was so relieved during that chat.

We have let it go for the holidays and are just enjoying Christmas right now.

He was explaining to me that his cousin's long term relationship is struggling right now. They are the same age as us and we started dating during the same month--so it was like we were parallel relationships. Anyways I asked what was wrong with it and he goes "oh apparently her family is really controlling" and then he just looks at me and goes "don't say a word!" THE THINGS I COULD HAVE SAID.

My God I hate his family...

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CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: Religion: Already having Planning Troubles
Posted: Dec 28, 2010 8:13 AM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

ROTF!!! That's funny.

Yes, a controlling family is annoying (my parents TRY, and I give them a little slack on certain times...but not a lot) However, just because a family TRIES to be controlling does not mean you have to be controlled. That might be what the problem is. His poor cousin is dealing with a double dose of controlling families. And he's recognizing his for what it is :)

Good luck

Misty

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