Talking to My Boyfriend about Judaism

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This topic has 2 voices, contains 2 replies, and was last updated by  Regi V 7 years ago.

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August 26, 2010 at 3:10 am #5003


I’ll cut to the chase – I (Jewish) have been dating my boyfriend (atheist) for almost 3 years now. We’re both 24, and we recently moved in together. With the move in mind, I’ve been feeling more and more pressure to start thinking about whether I could truly  see myself marrying him.

I was hesitant to start dating him because I foresaw “religion issues” down the road, due to the fact that I want to raise my children Jewish when the day comes. I voiced my hesitations. He reassured me that that was fine, and I didn’t have anything to worry about, and he’d be accepting of what I wanted to do religiously. So, we started dating.

He did seem pretty open-minded in the beginning months of our relationship. But since then, I just don’t see that open-mindedness anymore. I have nothing against an inter-marriage, but I think that *communication* is key. Super duper key. And we already lack that. Whenever I try to bring up a religious issue (which isn’t often), I feel like he either shuts down (“Do whatever you want, I really don’t give a s***”) or gets defensive. He says he gets really annoyed because all of my conversations are hypothetical (due to the fact that we’re not even engaged, yet I want to talk about how we would raise hypothetical children), which is true – they are hypothetical. He has no problem coming to Shabbat or holidays at my house, but I have never felt that we’ve had a truly constructive and positive discussion about a future with Judaism. He just doesn’t make me feel *good* about being Jewish.

And of course, besides the religion issue, we’re an awesome couple. He’s my best friend. If religion weren’t an issue, I could see myself marrying him. But, of course, it is.

Anyway, I’m desperate for tips on how to communicate or help this situation. I’m getting to the point where I think religious differences could cause us to break up (which of course would prompt him to say that “religion divides people” as he often does when we talk religion)….

Help! Thanks for letting me post/vent.


August 31, 2010 at 9:20 pm #5015


Hi Hannah,

I suggest finding a course on Judaism for interfaith couples in your area. It might be the right stimulus to help you engage in conversations about how Judaism will fit into your life as a couple. It also might make your religious situation seem relevant and not just “hypothetical” to your boyfriend.

This website might be a good place to find resources in your area. Good luck to you!

October 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm #5145

Regi V

Hi Hannah,

it occurs to me in these types of situations that religious issues need to be separated from non-religious ones. Just because people are of different faiths and they are having communication problems, religion is not necessarily the root of the problem. For you, I think first you need to figure out things that are important to you (whether it’s religion or anything else). What does your being Jewish mean to you and how are you literally planning to incorporate that into future family life (non hypothetical, since one way or another it will happen, with or without this guy). Once you figure it out for yourself, think about whether and how this guy fits into that picture, and how you feel about that. Has he actually discussed marriage with you? Perhaps the real issue here is you see your future together as very probable, and he only sees it as hypothetical. In which case the issue with this relationship really isn’t about religion at all.

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