Extended Family Issues - FQA
Question: "I have been dating a Greek girl for nearly a year. We both love each other very much. Up until recently she believed that if the relationship was to proceed to the next level I would have to convert to Greek Orthodoxy. However, recently she has found out from her mother that even if I convert, the family would not be happy with me. Yesterday, she informed me that nothing could ever happen between us. She now believes that it might be better for us to break up. Can you offer any advice?"
Answer: When I have encountered similar extended family dynamics, couples either (a) ended the relationship or (b) slowed things down and separated until they could make some decisions about their future together. Since I don't know the two of you, I won't be more specific. However, based on the information that you provided, if I were the two of you I would not take this relationship to the next level until the issues you've briefly described are resolved. If they remain unresolved and you become engaged, one or more of the following possibilities will likely result: (1) She will one day feel guilty and resent you for convincing her to defy her family. (2) Her family will have nothing to do with you or treat you like a second class citizen. (3) Her family will cut her off for a period of time - generally a lengthy period of time.
Finally, rather than put too much credence in what I've written, I would encourage the two of you to consider making an appointment with a couples' therapist. A few sessions with a competent couples' therapist should help you both make some decisions about your relationship and it's future.
The following Web sites can prove helpful to you in your efforts to locate some help:
Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
Question: My son’s wife (married civilly) was christened in the Greek Orthodox Church. Her mother motivated her to do this. Her mother is dying of cancer and has been given three to six months to live. I welcome your advice on this issue. Because of my sons wife’s mother's situation, my son and his partner moved up their marriage. My son’s wife is now living with her mother to take care of her while my son is traveling on business.
They were married recently by a minister. They have yet to set a date to get married in the Orthodox church. My son told me that he and his partner would like to get married in the Orthodox church privately with just their sponsor. How might I motivate my son to do this as soon as possible? I realize that it is important that my son wants to get married in the Orthodox church, rather than do this for me. I am very concerned that he is out of standing with the Orthodox church at this time.
Answer: Your daughter in-laws baptism in the Orthodox Church would suggest to me that your son and daughter in-law will eventually receive the Sacrament of Marriage in the Orthodox Church. As a result, I am inclined to encourage you to ask God to help you find patience. Pushing too much at this time could sour your relationship with your daughter in-law, resulting in further delaying or indefinitely postponing what you've written to me about.
I suspect the couple - especially your daughter in-law - may need to attend to her mother at this every difficult time and cannot focus on receiving the Sacrament of Marriage. It could also be that your son wants to give his wife give the time she needs - undistracted from other concerns. In any event, patience and support at this very difficult time will go a long way toward strengthening family ties and making it easier for them to receive the Sacrament of Marriage in the Orthodox Church.
Question: “I live outside of the United States. My boyfriend lives down the street. He is Muslim. I know several Orthodox girls married to Muslims. Their life is just fine. They didn't have to convert. My father has informed me that if I marry my boyfriend, he will disown me. Is there is a way I can still be with him and also have my family’s support? “
Answer: My sympathies to you. You are in a very difficult place. Here is some information related to your question that might help. Contact me again if you have additional questions or concerns.
The Orthodox Church will not permit you to marry a Muslim in the Orthodox Church. As a result, Orthodox who fall in love with non-Christians must consider marriage outside of the Orthodox Church. When they do, they lose their good standing with their faith group and they are not permitted to receive the Sacraments. For more specifics, I would encourage you to review the information in the Interfaith Marriage Web site:
With regard to your question related to your family, based on what you have written me, it does not appear as though your father will accept your decision to marry this young man. Moreover, I do not know what I could write to you to help you convince him to change his mind. The following article might give you some insight into what your parents may be going through. (refer to her Father, since he is the one she mentions)
Again, based on what you've written, it seems to me you are faced with the following two choices. You can choose to marry this young man and try to make a life with him apart from your family in hopes that they will accept you back one day, or you can give up on this relationship, grieve the loss and with God's help move on with your life.I am sorry I could not provide you with more hope. Unfortunately, in your case, I do not believe you have any attractive choices. Things are as they are. I wish they were different for you, but they are not. May our Lord’s love comfort you.