DEAR HARRIETTE: I need some advice about religion and love. I am Catholic, but I do not practice many Catholic traditions. I would not consider religion to be a big part of my identity, but still enjoy partaking in some traditions such as Christmas and Easter. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is Jewish. He would also not consider his religion to be a big part of his identity, but that is not the case for his mother.
My boyfriend's mother is an Orthodox Jewish woman who keeps kosher and follows all the Jewish traditions and rules. She tries to motivate my boyfriend to keep kosher and things like that, but he simply has no interest. I respect his mother’s values as well as my boyfriend’s, but when it comes to discussing marriage with him, he says marrying a Jewish woman is important. I don’t see why this is an important factor in a potential wife when he doesn’t care about it now.
Do you have any insight on why that is, or if I could discuss it further with my boyfriend without starting any drama? -- Not-Kosher Girlfriend, Commack, New York
DEAR NOT-KOSHER GIRLFRIEND: This is an important topic that you should sort out if you think there’s a chance you want to marry this man. In the Jewish tradition, when someone wants to marry a person of a different faith, it is common that the spouse converts to Judaism. For some families, this is acceptable.
I did a bit of research on this topic, and I can tell you that it is rare for a religious Jewish family to agree to an interfaith marriage. That said, many interfaith couples have successfully built lives together. It can mean that they suffer a loss of closeness with one or both families, though. Talk this through together and talk to your parents, all of them, to get a sense of whether you will be strong enough to marry.