Once, I had a conversation with one of my colleagues I don’t usually speak to simply because we aren’t in the same unit. It was the day before Christmas, and the newsroom was deserted except two or three journalists present to assume the permanency of the newspaper in case of some hot news. He and I were the only journalists on that day. We talked about many things, and I learned that he was a Muslim. He converted to this religion because his wife was into it. But he also told me that she didn’t force him to do that. It was only his will because for him, it was an act of love.
Another friend of mine, who was Catholic, did the same thing for her man. In fact, she converted to Judaism. “I didn’t feel obliged to do it. In fact, he never asked me to do that. But I wanted to prove him my commitment for him, and I thought this was the best way to do that” she says.
But what if the one you love asks you to convert to his/her religion?
Many years ago, when I worked as a banker, I had this client who wore the hijab. She was the only one in the neighborhood where the bank was, and also the center of the conversation because she had converted to that religion. Nobody understood her decision, and rumors circulated about her forced conversion to Islam, because her husband wasn’t very tolerant about this. I didn’t know if those rumors were true, but all I know was that when we saw her in the bank, she always had a sadness in her eyes. I’m sure it had more to do with all the mean talks about her in the neighborhood, at least, I hoped so.
“I dated for three years a Jew that wanted me to convert to his religion if we wanted to get married. But I was raised as a Catholic, and I couldn’t imagine changing my religion, even for someone I really love. He was so insistent about my conversion to his religion and never listened to what I wanted to say. We broke up because of that. I was convinced that if he didn’t listen to me for that, he wouldn’t listen to anything else” L., 35, said.
“I accept to convert to his religion, mainly because he didn’t insist on this. I just knew I there was nothing else that will make him happy” M., 32, said.
And what if you don’t share the same religion with your companion?
I’ve met a lot of couples who believe in different religions. And they all coexist in peace, as long as they respect each other’s beliefs. Yet, it is quite challenging. It’s easier to believe in the same religion than your wife/husband, for a practical reason. “I’m married to a Muslim, but I am a Catholic. And there is always a period in the year where this is a little bit tricky: the Ramadan. His lack of food during the day makes him a little bit shaky and nervous, and it difficult not to fight with him during those days” joked G., 35. “We have each our religious rituals: I’m Buddhist and He’s Jew, and we try to assist each other’s religious events, but it’s not always easy” said H., 34.
Most of my family works on this dynamic. Jews, Catholics and atheists never argue about religion simply because we just respect each other’s beliefs. It’s a delicate subject, however. Sometimes, in conversation with the others, there will always be someone that will criticize other religions, openly, or just with allusions. That’s why it’s never a good idea to bring that subject on the table, especially when you don’t know about the others’ religion.
So, is religion (a different one than yours) a turn off for you?