I love my boyfriend dearly and I have a vision for a wonderful future with him. The only problem is… he’s Muslim, and I’m Christian. We haven’t talked about religion yet, and I’m a little worried that he’ll ask me to convert. My religion is really important to me and I don’t want to make any changes, but I love him very much and don’t want to break up. Is that a sign that our relationship is doomed?
-Confused Anna in Chicago
Dear Confused Anna,
Welcome to the wonderful world of relationships and religion! First, let me tell you that I can relate to what you’re going through. My husband is Jewish, and I’m a Christian, and we have a strong marriage based on love and values that we share – even though we don’t practice the same religion.
Now, it should be noted that I’m not trying to “save” my husband and get him to accept Jesus Christ. But every now and then I look and him and I’m like, “You know I love Jesus, right, babe?” He knows that if any one of his Jewish family members asks, I’m going to tell them that I love Jesus!
So here’s the bottom line when it comes to religion and your relationship: it’s important to know where YOU are with your own personal relationship with God. No one – not your partner, not the parents of your partner, not anyone – should be able to shake your relationship with God.
Because I married a Jewish man does not alter my faith walk, and the same goes for him. I encourage him to attend services, and I’ll even go with him to Temple (just so long as he knows that if anybody asks, I’m gonna tell them I love Jesus!).
So the question becomes: How important is it for you that your partner is also Christian? I always tell people that when you’re dating, you should create a “must have” list and a “cannot have” list. What are the qualities and aspects that you would consider absolutely intolerable in a partner?
Different people have different deal breakers. Some people won’t date smokers or they simply must have a partner who enjoys travel. Getting clear on your deal breakers is important so you can answer this question: Is his religion a deal breaker for you, or do you think you can work through it?
If this is a deal breaker, don’t even go there. You can’t control who you’re going to fall in love with – if you spend a lot of time with him, you’re going to fall in love and make the inevitable outcome all the more painful.
If this isn’t a deal breaker, a conversation needs to happen right now before you go any further in this relationship to make sure he is on the same page. If you suspect he’ll ask you to convert, isn’t it better to find out sooner rather than later? You wouldn’t want to look back two years from now and think, “Dang, I kinda knew it back then…”
You can do it, Anna! And if he’s not the right one, it’s time to move on and make space for the perfect partner to come into your life.
Are you in a relationship with someone of a different faith walk? What specific things do you do to honor your own relationship with God and your relationship with your partner?
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