Q. I’m a not very religious Muslim who fell in love with a man who is Christian. We’re planning to be married in a few months in a nonreligious ceremony. My immediate (conservative Muslim) family is upset about this to varying degrees. While my dad hasn’t spoken to me since I broke the news, my sisters are kind of distant but basically polite, and my mom is the most warm and normal with me — until I bring up the subject of my fiance or our upcoming wedding. Then she becomes visibly uncomfortable and tries to shut me down by saying, “I don’t know yet if I’m coming.” My sisters have made it clear they will not be coming.
I’ve tried to take the high road with my family because I know they have a hard time dealing with the fact that I’m not very religious, and in their eyes, I am doing something they believe is a sin. Even though we live in the same city, I haven’t been visiting much except for events like birthdays. It’s becoming more and more hurtful that I can’t talk about the important things in my life — and that they’ve never met my fiance. On top of it all, my mom talks constantly about my younger sister’s upcoming wedding — a month before mine and to a good Muslim boy. My mom says I haven’t given them enough time to process it, but they’ve known about it for almost a year.
Should I insist that they accept me and my fiance for who we are, or stop visiting completely if they won’t allow him to come, too? Is it worth it to continue some semblance of a relationship because they’re my immediate family and I still love them?
For what it’s worth, my fiance’s immediate and extended families and all of our friends are very happy for us.
Tired and Hurt
A. You are living the modern version of families who used to be frantic about interfaith and interracial marriages. It is entirely a judgment call — yours — about whether to see your family if your soon-to-be husband is not welcome. I think your family will be the losers in the long run, but they are not writing to me. The good news is that your fiance’s family, along with your friends, share in your joy, and I suspect your family’s intransigence will solidify the distance you are experiencing now. I offer you a favorite saying of mine: Life is choices. Best wishes on your forthcoming marriage.
Q. Getting down on one knee and proposing strikes me as old-fashioned, if not silly. Isn’t that decision pretty well settled before this display? I can’t imagine the couple hasn’t decided prior to this minuet. I am trying to imagine a guy getting down on one knee, sometimes in public, and the woman saying no. Many wedding stories in newspapers describe where and when the prospective bridegroom got down on one knee. Am I nuts or just not a romantic?
A. You have found a friend in me, dear. I find it a sweet but silly anachronism. The history of getting down on bended knee has to do with religion, royalty, and surrender. Make whatever associations you will. To tell you the truth, I remember only two of the proposals I accepted, and no one got down on one knee. I do know of a long-married couple, however, where the husband got down on one knee — in public — to present his longtime wife with a new diamond, and she feared he was having a heart attack and screamed, “Get a doctor!”All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo.