GR US

Ask Stavroula: I Am a Christian in Love with Someone from a Different Faith

The National Herald

Dear Stavroula,

My name is Martha and I am 22 years old. My family is very religious, and my siblings and I grew up going to church every Sunday, observing the fasting and religious customs.

I never expected this to happen to me, but I fell in love with a guy who is not of Greek descent and follows a different religion. I met him in college, he is a sweet and tender man who loves me and cares for me and I dream of building a life with him, as he does with me. My problem is how to tell my parents. They have understood that I am in a relationship, they keep asking me who he is, they ask to meet him and I make up a thousand and two excuses and evasions to avoid it and pull the wool over their eyes. I am afraid that if they learn the truth they will try in every way to convince me to break up with him.

On the one hand I am very ashamed that I have not told them the truth, and on the other hand I am afraid that they will find out. I am terrified by the thought of what will happen if I have to choose between my family and my loved one ... What should I do?

Martha

Dear Martha,

Each of us is born into a specific social context and growing up in it, internalizes patterns of behavior, perceptions, values, and dominant elements of culture. Through our interactions in this context, we gain self-awareness, and learn socially acceptable ways of behaving. We accept all of these as truths and seldom challenge them from the moment they are incorporated into us from the beginning of our lives.

That is why when two people belonging to different cultures create a relationship, it is very likely that they have a different way of looking at the relationship and a different worldview.

So, the first thing you should probably find out is if you and your boyfriend treat life the same way, if you have the same view of relationships, if you have values and principles that go hand in hand, and finally if you have common dreams for the future and common aspirations.

Because many times we are attracted to the other romantically, but in reality when the early stage of love passes and we need to live with the other person, we tend to look for what is familiar to us. And what fascinated us at first, we cannot stand.

The second thing that is equally important is to have respect for the other's difference. Especially in the matter of religion that concerns you, you are required to accept each other's values and principles, to take for granted your right to worship the God you believe in.

This of course requires great maturity from both you and your partner. You grew up in a deeply religious family. Can you stand your husband having a different religion, or do you expect him to embrace your faith out of love for you? Have you discussed it with him? Does he accept your religion? And what if you have children?

If you have the answers to all of the above and you feel satisfied with them, then you will also find a way to communicate your relationship to your parents. You will have the power to face their reaction and make your own choices. After all, this is what one would expect from any young adult woman. Parents are entitled to counsel when asked for their opinion, but not to make life decisions for their adult child.