DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been dating the same guy for about a year now. We get along so well that I can really see a future with him. Last week, one of our mutual friends informed me that my boyfriend does not see a future with me at all. I was completely heartbroken and confused when my friend told me this and wanted to know why. After an hour of speaking, the bottom line was that my boyfriend will never marry me because I am not Jewish.
I always knew he was very religious, but I did not know that he would let his religion get in the way of a relationship. I am also wondering why he strung me along for a whole year if he did not see our relationship going anywhere. I am wondering what your opinion on religion and relationships is, and whether you think he is in the wrong for letting my feelings get this far. -- Led On, Ithaca, New York
DEAR LED ON: You need to talk directly to your boyfriend. At the very least, he needs to have the courage to talk to you about where he stands in the relationship. It is common for religion to stand in the way of a couple getting married and spending their lives together. This is because religion tends to define many people's values and ways of engaging the world.
In the Jewish tradition, the religion of the children will follow the mother's religion if a couple intermarries. Your boyfriend's family may not be willing to let his children be non-Jewish, especially if they are religious. The one way you could get around this is to convert to Judaism. This is an option that many couples choose and that you can consider. The thing is, you and your boyfriend need to get on the same page to determine whether you do have a future. You can work through anything if you do it as a team.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife and I have been married for over 20 years. I have been the breadwinner in the family while my wife stayed home to raise our three children. Now that the kids have grown up and are all out of the house, my wife wants to start her own business. She has always been very health-conscious, so she has plans to open her own juice shop in Washington, D.C.
I think it is a great idea and have been supporting her in every way that I can. Even though I have been telling her this, she is still doubtful of her business capabilities and does not think she will be able to follow her dreams. Do you have any advice on how I can motivate my wife? -- Supportive Husband, Arlington, Virginia
DEAR SUPPORTIVE HUSBAND: Encourage your wife to get support through the Small Business Administration or a local women's business organization. She can join the local chamber of commerce, too. She should learn as much as she can about how to run a business before she starts hers. By meeting business owners in the area, she can gain insight into how others are managing, what challenges they have had, and what she can expect. Getting support should help her to be more confident and clear about her plans.
(Harriette Cole is a life stylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)