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Ask the Patriarch 9
Should I fake my religion?

Even though my own marital life has been notably less than successful, people do write asking for advice about theirs'.

From H

A discussion has been opened on this correspondence. To provide your own comments, please use the contact form.

Dear Sir:

I am a 28 year old male. My fiancée cancelled our wedding 10 days prior. This is a woman I have known for over two and one half years, and have been engaged to for over a year. Her reason was that she wanted to live a Christian life. We never went to church and it was never an issue. I would consider us to be very moral - we don't do drugs, don't drink to excess, and generally do good in our community. She said that she had to be married to a Christian man, her mother and brother (who is a minister) talked to her. I am agnostic, I see too many contradictions in the Bible and believe totally in science. I have always thought of the stories in the Bible as merely stories to teach - not to be taken LITERALLY. I have been going to church and meeting with a pastor since then, completely to appease her. Since then, religion really does not play a big part in our lives, we are still the same people we were before. My question is; "Is it all right to subdue this part of me?". I really don't care about religion at all.

H____

The Patriarch replies:

Dear H____:

Based on what you have told me, I think it is just as well this issue came up before marriage.

People with different religious views can have happy and lasting marriages - if they are both prepared to respect each others views.

But for one partner to insist that the other change (if only on the surface) is not the basis for a sound relationship. It means the entire marriage is based on a lie. While there may be some need for a little dishonesty in a relationship ("Honey, you are the most beautiful woman in the world to me") it should not be a fundamental element of the marriage.

If you did suppress your beliefs and cater to her wishes to act Christian, you would probably start hating yourself and the relationship in coming years.

Also, what about children? By submitting, you would be abandoning your right to inform them that there are alternatives to their mother's beliefs. If you adopt a Christian facade, you would appear to be a hypocrite if you started to advise your children about alternatives. So, by submitting, you are also committing your unborn kids to your wife's beliefs.

Another area to be concerned about is the influence of the brother and mother. If she is going to them to discuss issues, you have a three against one situation on any problems. Even "perfect" marriages have their difficulties - and a couple must have some way of settling differences between them. If her way of problem solution is to bring in reinforcements, you had better be prepared to be the one always in the wrong.

You have to make your own decision on this. But, my advice - which you are free to ignore - is that you should accept your fiancée's action in cancelling the wedding plans. Wish her all the best in finding a truly Christian husband, smile and say goodbye.

And start looking for someone who views marriage as a partnership.