I’m An Atheist, He’s Jewish, And He Wants Me To Convert

I’m not a religious person, but I think it’s great that a lot of people are in tune with their spiritual side. That’s one of the things that attracted me to my boyfriend. However, since we’ve started talking about marriage, he’s mentioned wanting me to convert to Judaism. I did not see that one coming.

  1. Is it a deal breaker? My boyfriend bought this subject up pretty casually, so I don’t know how big of a deal it is to him. I’m reluctant to bring it up again until I wrap my head around everything. If it was a deal breaker, what does that say about our love? I think that love is supposed to be unconditional, so the idea that he might leave me for not wanting to convert rubs me the wrong way.
  2. Would his family accept me if I didn’t convert? Let’s say my boyfriend is fine with me not converting. What about his family? They’re a pretty tight-knit group, and I’m pretty sure everyone that’s married into his family, has converted. I don’t want to be the odd one out, and I don’t want to make him feel like he is. I want to be a part of his family and for him to stay as close to them as he is now. I’d hate to create any distance in his family. Many women don’t care if their boyfriend’s family hates them. I do.
  3. Does converting for him make me a liar? I’m not religious, but I’m pretty sure believing in a higher power is a big part of it. If I convert for my boyfriend, it will be a purely superficial act for me. For some reason, making false confessions of faith doesn’t sit well with me. If I don’t believe then I don’t want to make a mockery out of a system that millions hold dear.
  4. Will I have to live a particular lifestyle? Now, this is where we get into some dangerous territory. I’m not sure if converting is merely a matter of going through a few ceremonies or if my boyfriend wants me to take part in all the religious things he and his family do. I’m already uncomfortable with the idea of pretending to profess a particular faith. Sitting in a place of worship and reciting various chants seems like taking things too far. I don’t want to be a hypocrite!
  5. Does it mean I’ll have to raise my children religious? I’ve pictured the type of mother I’d be for years and religion has never fitted into it. I want to raise my children to be good people. I don’t want to have to pass on religious beliefs that I may not agree with. Also, I want my kids to decide what they believe when they get older. If it’s important that I convert to marry my boyfriend, I fear that he’ll want our kids raised religious too. I’m not down with that.
  6. What if I decide to subscribe to another faith? I’m an atheist. Have been forever. But what if I went on a spiritual journey and fell into another religion? If my being Jewish is such a big deal for my boyfriend, I don’t know where that would put us. I don’t want there to be an unnecessary strain or for him to feel betrayed.
  7. Why didn’t he tell me this earlier? This is the one question I keep coming back to. When we met, we both mentioned our religious affiliations. My boyfriend said that he wasn’t devout. Him asking me to convert sounds like a pretty devoted thing to me. I want to support him in every way, but I would have preferred to know this information earlier. Right now I’m in love, and so I fear that I can’t make a clear decision.
  8. Would I regret walking away for a single reason? If I did decide to walk away, I wonder if I’d regret it. My boyfriend and I are in love, and we complement each other in the best of ways. Religion is a pretty big thing to not be on the same page about, but I’ve seen couples work through things. I’ve also seen couples stay, and watched things get ugly. I guess hindsight will be 20/20, but I’ve always been the kind of person that fights for things. I know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If my boyfriend says that converting is a deal breaker and I walk away, I don’t want to wonder “what if?” for the rest of my life.
  9. Would I regret staying? I’ve seen the effects of staying in an unhappy marriage in a lot of older couples in my family. At some point, hostility creeps in and people start to feel trapped because of their children. I don’t want that to be me. It’s better to be single than in a crappy relationship. The truth is that right now I’m not sure that I could convert but I’m sure that I love my boyfriend, which leaves me in no man’s land. I wish he’d brought this up earlier so that I could think with a clear head. Right now my heart if muffling every thought. It just sucks that when you think you have everything figured out, another thing pops up.
Hannah is a twenty-something-year-old freelance writer, obsessed with reality TV, and all things sweet.