Year three without a Christmas Tree for Christian mom married to Muslim man - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-28-2010, 08:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a North Eastern mainline liberal Protestant married to an Egyptian Muslim. When our daughter was born he suddenly became more restrictive regarding expressions of my faith and heritage than he had been before. He promised me that I would always have a Christmas tree and now says that his Muslim baby will not have a Christmas Tree. He does not allow her to go to church with me except for Christmas and Easter. This holds even for special occasions.
He tries to control my Sunday mornings and I have not been to church regularly since I was pregnant. I have tried to be supportive of him but he doesn't attend prayers regularly and even going on one of the Eids is hit or miss. He simply doesn't want her to feel closer to my heritage and religion than his.
I am miserable. I don't think anyone can solve my problems but some suggestions to alleviate my misery would be helpful. I always loved holidays, he always went along before baby. Is anyone in a similar situation? I have always wondered if there was some sort if support group for moms in mixed marriages like mine. Just feeling not alone would be nice.
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Old 11-28-2010, 04:23 PM
 
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I'm afraid I don't have any, "Been there done that" wisdom.  But the thing that occurred to me while reading your post is how controlling of you your DH seems.  Is he this controlling of you in other areas? 

 

I can imagine that raising a child with someone who not only does not share your faith, but is of another faith entirely, would be challenging. 

 

For the specific Christmas Tree issue, could you find out why the tree bothers him?  I'm a Christian (protestant) and never saw a Christmas Tree as an expression of faith, but as a secular part of the holiday.  Perhaps you could negotiate.  Are there any Muslim traditions or holidays you could include in your lives to kind of balance out the tree?


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Old 11-28-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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fwiw, I don't think this is a cultural/interfaith problem, I think this is a relationship problem that you and your husband need to work out. Your entire post you write how controlling he is around this issue. Whatever the issue, be it money, religion, how to raise children, having one partner be 'controlling' is not okay. Unless you are exaggerating his behavior or just expressing frustration, I don't think you are at the point where tips about how to have a successful interfaith relationship are going to be useful--because it doesn't sound like he is willing to negotiate around this.

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Old 11-28-2010, 05:06 PM
 
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Hugs first. hug.gif

 

You are not alone.  I don't know if there's anyone on this forum with your particular situation, but things like this happen very, very often in interfaith marriages, particularly where cultures are so divergent as well.   For several years after we married, dh and I didn't do much Christmas.  He and I are both Christians, so it wasn't a faith issue.  He was going through culture shock, and really found American-style Christmas almost offensive in it's departure from the Biblical account of Jesus' birth.  He has since softened, but it took a while.  Suddenly one year he came home with a tree (fake), which we kept until it fell apart.  Now, I can take or leave the tree, so I've changed some over the years too.

 

For me, as much as I wanted my pretty German decorations back and upset as I was with him (I viewed him as being a complete Scrooge), and to make things for my kids just as they were in my childhood, the time when dh abhored American Christmas ended up being very good for my spiritual life.  I needed to let go of the trappings and pay attention to the reason Christmas exists in the first place. 

 

I am sure that it hurts very badly to have your faith controlled and rejected like this.  However, you are in good company.  Many people, whether by spouses, extended family, culture, or government find themselves similarly restricted, or in even worse situations.  Your faith can live one, and be transmitted to your daughter, in spite of your husband being controlling and petulant about it.  It may take a more "underground" form, and not be the form and practice that you were used to growing up, but it can remain and grow stronger.  And when circumstances change (whether he changes, or you relationship with him changes or ends) and you are more free, those deep hidden roots will help it to blossom.

 

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Old 11-28-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by la mamita View Post

fwiw, I don't think this is a cultural/interfaith problem, I think this is a relationship problem that you and your husband need to work out. Your entire post you write how controlling he is around this issue. Whatever the issue, be it money, religion, how to raise children, having one partner be 'controlling' is not okay. Unless you are exaggerating his behavior or just expressing frustration, I don't think you are at the point where tips about how to have a successful interfaith relationship are going to be useful--because it doesn't sound like he is willing to negotiate around this.

I agree, especially the bolded. In a healthy relationship, people talk about these things and come to a compromise. One partner does not control the other the way your dh seems to be doing.

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Old 12-01-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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not sure what to say? because i've never been in this situation.

 

but the first thing that came to mind was to maybe practice some of his holidays (if you have no problem with that) with your child, and then maybe that will encourage your husband to open up more to your holidays? it almost sounds like he doesn't want your religion to influence over the other, and if that is the problem, then maybe show him his is totally okay with you to celebrate around your child.

 

if you have a personal problem with doing that, however, you have every right to feel that way. so just discard my advice, hehe!

 

i'm a nondenominational christian married to a japanese agnostic. which i'm not sure it's okay to call him that since we do go to the shrine a couple times a year to have prayers for our DD. i think in his culture it's more of 'tradition' rather than 'religion.' i'm always open for that kind of stuff, and i think that makes him feel comfortable about me practicing my faith (whenever i do, openly.. not an avid church goer, to be honest).

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Old 12-07-2010, 11:21 AM
 
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i agree that you may need to take a moment to see this situation as it is.  i don't think it is so much a religious difference issue as it is a controlling situation.  in a healthy relationship, all sorts of compromises are made.  maybe you all need to talk about getting back to the basics.


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Old 12-07-2010, 02:50 PM
 
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a big 'yes' to everyone who said this was a relationship issue, not a cultural one. my dh is strongly catholic, and i am very much athiest. but i allow, and even encourage, my dh to educate our boys about his religion, and i go out of my way to find catholic-related items (books, toys, whatever) because the man that i love wants these things passed on to his children. BUT! he also lets me have my point of view. he doesnt agree with alot of things that i do/believe, but he never discourages me from telling the kids or from discussing it with him.

 

its give and take. you need to take a good, hard look at your dh and your marriage.


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Old 12-08-2010, 12:15 PM
 
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Sorry to forum crash, but it doesn't really sound like a religious issue to me, it sounds like a cultural issue first and then a controlling issue second.

 

FWIW, I don't have any personal experience, but a good friend of mine, who is an ordained minister was seriously involved with a devout, if not particularly observant Muslim for several years.  He and his family, and a lot of his Muslim friends in their local and international community (think: West Bank) acknowledged Christmas.  They didn't celebrate it, no, but they acknowledged it because Jesus Christ is still an important figure in Islam.  He was always at Christmas Eve services with her when they were together.  The three of us would sit together: the protestant on her way to being a minister, the Muslim, and the deist!

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Old 12-09-2010, 12:53 PM
 
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I have to agree that this is a control issue, first and foremost.

 

FWIW, My husband is Palestinian and was raised Muslim. I was raised Catholic. Neither of us are religious, but we do celebrate Easter and Christmas as secular holidays. If we happen to be with his family during Ramadan or Eid, we participate as well, but DH has never been interested in celebraing those holidays when it is just us.

 

That said, when I approached him about taking the boys to Christmas mass (basically so my mom could show off her grandkids ;)), he was not OK with it. It wasn't a huge deal to me, so we didn't go. For things like baptisms and weddings, we do attend as a family, and then we can both take part in the discussions about religion that take place afterwards. I think DH will always worry a tiny little bit that I will suddenly find religion and it will pull us apart. I understand that. I'd want to have a good long discussion if he suddenly wanted to take the kids to the mosque, too.

 

I know you know this already, but what he is doing is not OK. You should be able to practice your faith freely, and to participate fully in decisions about how and when your child is exposed to both religions. I hope you are able to work it out.

 

Also wanted to add, I don't think you can look at your husband's lack of effort to make it to a mosque as a sign of lack of faith in the same way that you could look at a Catholic or mainstream protestants failure to make it to church. It simply isn't the same thing. I know some very devout Muslims who pray 5 times a day and have gone on hajj and all that, but go years without stepping in a mosque.

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Old 12-09-2010, 01:05 PM
 
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My dh is from Turkey (I'm American).  This is a relationship problem as the pp's have said, not an interfaith problem.  In Turkey, there are Christmas trees EVERYWHERE.  While Dec. 25 is just another day, they are as festive as any other nation.

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Old 12-15-2010, 11:23 AM
 
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I agree with all of the above who said it's a relationship issue. I think it's perfectly fine for him to express doubts or not feel comfortable with celebrating a religious holiday that is not of his faith. What is not okay, is that the two of you are apparently not having a open dialog about it, but it's his way or the highway. This is not acceptable in a healthy relationship; there needs to be some give and take. If he doesn't know how his behavior is affecting you, you must let him know and if he doesn't want to engage you in a discussion about it, suggest going to see a counselor about it.

 

FWIW, DH and I both grew up atheists and celebrated Christmas only as a cultural holiday. I've been attending a Protestant church off and on for several years and believe in God. I am a very open-minded liberal Christian who is still finding her way so I completely understand my DH's atheism and I would never take hy DS to church against his wishes, but only after we discussed this and came to the final decision together. I don't bully him with my faith and he doesn't bully me with his atheism. And DS gets both sides, neither of us is raising him to be believing or non, nor are we standing in his way to religion and faith.

 

Sorry about making this message a bit more about myself than about you, I just wanted to show you that it's possible to be religious, have opinions about how holidays should be celebrated and yet still be receptive and open to your spouse's feelings.

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