Women Lead Pendidikan Seks
June 09, 2016

Should I Continue My Interfaith Relationship or Forget About It?

What Madge thinks about interfaith relationship.

by Madge

Dear Magdalene,
I've invested myself in a relationship for 4 years now. He's the man of my dreams, maybe not as perfect but he's everything I've been asking for and more. But this is the problem: we have different religions and you know how big the problem is when you live in Indonesia.
I was born in a family with different religions and it didn't work out. My parents got divorced (even though actually it's not because of the religion, but because of my father's bad habit). I lived my whole life mostly with my mom's family, and I grew up in a strong Christian family. I was a believer until I met my boyfriend, and then I started to learn how judgmental people in my family and my church actually are. I finally could see the world from a different perspective, I learn not to easily judge other's beliefs and also learn Christianity from the other side; from my own perspective. My bf never forced his religion to me as well, we live in harmony (so far), getting to know each other's religions more, steering straight every bent.
To be honest, I can't imagine living without my bf. I lost my virginity to him; I even had a scar from my ectopic pregnancy when we both lost control one time and that scar would be a reminder on how much I've gone through with him; and I can't imagine, if someday I'm looking at that scar but all I can remember is pain, because he's not there with me.
He loves me as much, but again family is the problem here. He and his family can't marry me if I don't convert my religion to his, while in my best conscience, I can't do that. Aside from the many Muslim values that I can't comprehend (but I still respect), I can't convert my religion since my mom is finally going to the church again after abstaining from God's presence for almost 25 years.

Once I imagine what that's like, living without him, and I'm running out of breath. But I also imagine how it'd be like if I change my religion, all hell will break loose.
What should I do? Sometimes I convince myself I'd meet a nice man, just as good as he is, with the same religion, someday. But at the same time, I know, I want him and only him.
Thank you.
Best regards,

Hi M,
This is a question that you really need to answer yourself. Be prepared, however, that the choice you make – whatever it is – will probably require some sort of sacrifice. Nobody is going to emerge unscathed in the aftermath of the decision you make. But, then again, people are strong. People get over things. Interfaith marriage is often a source of conflicts in families – some of them are eventually resolved over time (sometimes the couples are accepted by their families after children are born, or sometimes when they realize what a strong and good bonds the couples have).
I can, however, tell you that before you make that decision, make sure you put yourself and your happiness in the equation. Would you be happy if your mother is unhappy? Would you be happy if you have to convert to a religion you do not entirely agree with? Think about the long run.
And by the way, an interfaith marriage is not a legal impossibility. Read this piece. And there are many interfaith marriages that thrive as well. I know so many interfaith couples who are in happy and loving marriages. Never assume that religion is the most important aspect in a marriage or any long-term relationship. Other factors like love, respect, understanding, financial security, personal space, support for each other’s needs for achievements, family, even sexual relationship often play a greater role in the success of a marriage. In fact, I’ve seen so many marriages of couples of the same religions around me crumbled, even after having made religious efforts (like going on a pilgrimage together or getting church counseling) to fix them.
You’ve only been with this guy for four years, which isn’t that long (I know an interfaith couple who were together for 16 years before they got married, had children and remain happy to this day – no conversion happened). If you’re still not sure now, why not wait a few more years, while softening the ground? Maybe then both your families will be more accepting then. Getting his family’s approval may be more challenging, but I suggest use the time to consult with people of authority, who are supportive of interfaith marriage. There are religious scholars on this side of the issue who can probably counsel your boyfriend and his family (as well as yours). Check out with Nikah Beda Agama – they have some useful articles and offer counseling as well.
Finally, if he thinks a marital union with you is too complicated to pursue because of your religious difference, then perhaps it’s time to rethink about your relationship. Some people may not be meant for us. If you mean so much to him, then he should also be wiling to do all he can to make your relationship work.
Hope everything works out eventually.